Prenda Law: Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Our coverage of the Prenda Law saga is collected here.

You know, if I got my brother involved in an enterprise that culminated in a furious federal judge demanding that he fly across the country to show cause why he shouldn't be sanctioned, I think I'd step up and represent my brother, or ask my attorney to represent my brother, or hire a separate attorney for my brother.

But then, I'm an only child; there may be nuances to this sibling relationship thing I don't grasp.

You may recall that when United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II ordered Prenda Law participants to appear in his Court for the March 11, 2013 hearing, one of the people he ordered to appear is Peter Hansmeier, brother of Paul Hansmeier. Judge Wright probably ordered Peter Hansmeier to appear because the Doe defendants allege that he, through a company called 6881 Forensics LLC, had been paid for "forensic" work related to Prenda Law's litigation activities.

You may also recall that John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, and Paul Duffy hired attorneys to appear for them and their paralegal and to file a request to excuse them from appearance on March 11. Those attorneys didn't appear for Peter Hansmeier. As far as we knew, nobody appeared for Peter Hansmeier.

Today we learn that back on March 8, 2013 — the Friday before the March 11 hearing, and the same day that Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy, and John Steele filed their unsuccessful ex parte application — Peter Hansmeier attempted to file a pro se ex parte application to relieve him from showing up on March 11, 2013. The application is here, and his supporting declaration is here. The clerk of the court only filed it to PACER today. Judge Wright rejected it back on March 12, 2013 because it didn't include proof that Peter Hansmeier gave notice to the other parties that he was making the application — a necessary element of an ex parte application (that is, a motion to the court filed outside the normal motion schedule required by local rules).

There are a few notable things about Peter Hansmeier's ex parte application.

First, Peter Hansmeier says he doesn't want to show up because he is not a party, could only be a witness, and has "no dog in this fight." Yet Hansmeier shrewdly captions his application as being from Peter Hansmeier of Livewire Holdings LLC — one of the Prenda Law plaintiff entities, which has also been ordered to appear, and which Judge Wright clearly suspects is connected to fraud on the court.


Second, Peter Hansmeier says in his one-page declaration that he lives and works in Minnesota and intends to continue to do so. Yet his declaration, like his ex parte application, is captioned Peter Hansmeier, pro se, of Livewire Holdings LLC at its Washington, D.C. address.

Peter Hansmeier's ex parte application has some law-talk in it; it's been worked upon by someone who is either a lawyer or an informed amateur. But making the "I have nothing to do with this mess and I live in Minnesota" assertion on a pleading captioned with Livewire Holdings LLC in Washington D.C. is a blunder of epic proportions. Moreover that blunder probably could have resulted in the document not being filed at all — someone appearing pro se can't appear for an entity in court, and the caption makes it somewhat ambiguous whether Peter Hansmeier is intending to appear pro se just for himself or also in some capacity for the entity Livewire Holdings LLC.

Maybe if someone had referred Peter to a competent lawyer, or even hired one for him, he might have avoided such a blunder. Instead, it appears that the lawyers who got him into this mess — including his own brother — let him appear pro se and effectively incriminate himself.

That's some cold shit, yo.

Edited to add: Commenter Robert points out something I missed — the "Peter Hansmeier" ex parte is just a cut-and-paste of arguments from the ex parte application filed by John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, and Paul Duffy. Yet someone still managed to stick the "Livewire Holdings LLC" into the caption. Ooops.

Edited again to add: "How about no."

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Lucy says

    Wicked cold shit.

    He's been hung out to dry.

    Are they slowly going to start turning on each other? They don't seem like the type of people who would implode discreetly.

  2. Dan Weber says

    I wonder if Paul didn't tell Peter to get competent counsel because competent counsel would have told Peter to blame it all on Paul.

  3. says

    This reminds me of a court case that's closer to home for me, this kind of stupidity and incompetence seems to be rampant. It boggles my mind that people can make such blatant mistakes and contradict themselves so thoroughly.

  4. MattS says

    "But then, I'm an only child; there may be nuances to this sibling relationship thing I don't grasp."

    Every hear the term "Sibling Rivalry". There are circumstances where one sibling with go out of his/her way to get another sibling in trouble.

  5. Robert says

    Peter Hansmeier's motion sounded kinda familiar to me. I compared it to the earlier motion filed by John Steele, et al., which Ken posted here.

    It turns out that Peter's motion is just a copy/paste variation of the earlier motion. I.e., Peter took the motion that was drafted by Steele's attorneys and restyled it as a "pro se" motion on his behalf.

    I thought that this might explain the reason for the "LiveWire Holdings" address in the document — i.e., that it was in the original motion, and was left in by accident in Peter's motion. That might explain the screw-up.

    Nope! The original motion was addressed by the attorneys at "Klinedinst PC" of "San Diego California." Someone (Peter?) must have taken the time to replace that address block with the "LiveWire Holdings" of "Washington DC" address block. Not smart!

  6. Pro Hac Vice says

    Maybe he didn't think he needed a lawyer because he learned everything he needed to know by watching his brother practice law?

    Oh… right.

  7. LW says

    Isn't he supposed to be Peter Hansemeier of 6881 Forensics, LLC, an independent contractor paid $6K per month?

  8. Ygolonac says

    This is clearly a case of an error caused by lack of visual acuity.

    Do you know how *hard* it is to see the monitor due to all the smoke of burning documents in that office?

    Next week we'll see the Borderland 2 level cap increase, while Judge Wright is rumoured to be working on the new True Bill of Indictment playthrough mode.

  9. Anonymous says

    Is it too much to wonder at this point if Peter was personally involved in these activities, or indeed if he even exists? I don't believe he has made any court appearances or been identified in any of the photos of our boys partying.

    Given Paul's penchant for using friends and associates as vehicles for his lawsuits, the Alan Cooper problem plus Alan Mooney disavowing his involvement in some of their newer schemes (, why should we expect Peter to have any idea what his name has been used for?

    There is the fact that Peter's signature looks exactly like Paul's but with the "aul" photoshopped out.

    And then Paul's strange lack of knowledge of anything to do with his brother, in spite of relying on him as a forensic expert, as documented in Paul's deposition.

    I initially assumed, because of their respective roles in the scam, that Peter must be the younger brother, set up and paid as a patsy for his big bro's big league scheme, but my understanding now is that Peter is mid 30's and Paul is early 30's. Given the way sibling dynamics work out, I could see if Paul was like a 10 year older brother and just really didn't care what his younger brother was doing because he had long ago gotten on with life, etc. But I find it hard to believe that a younger brother, only a few years younger, would know absolutely nothing about his older brother. If they were estranged or from a broken home, that would be one thing, but considering Dad and both brothers seem to be in business together, that does not appear to be the case here.

    It might be illuminating to do some public record searching and see if Peter is dead, never born, went abroad 10 years ago, etc.

  10. says

    A great Soap Opera! One question, though. There's Peter, there's Paul, but I can't find Mary anywhere? But I do have my Red Swingline at the ready.

  11. says

    I should have bought stock in the popcorn companies.

    @ Anonymous – I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that Peter has no idea that he's been working for any of these companies in any capacity… or that he's theoretically been paid by them for his work.

  12. bhi says

    Although I'm not a lawyer, but I'm loving your coverage. I also wanted to bring this to your attention (in the event there is some significance). The address used on that letterhead is of a UPS store — the kind where you rent a mailbox. The thing about UPS mailboxes is that they use "Suites" instead of mailbox numbers to sound more professional. I know because I have one, which is how I recognized the hyphenated suite. Does the address on the letterhead need to be a physical location where he is supposed to be present? At face value, that address would give the impression that is an office where he goes to work every day and a place where one might go to serve him papers.

    Screenshot of their website:

  13. JonMChe says

    Since it is pretty obvious that including the LWH work address is a stupid, detrimental choice. It might be beneficial to brainstorm why he choose to do so. It seems likely he is afraid to publish his real address. The first possibility that comes to mind is that his friends and neighbors are unaware that he is a pornographer. If he has a family, it could be a massive stigma. Would you let your children visit the home of a pornographer? I bet probably tells people he works at an IT or forensics firm, not in porn. His brother, Duffy and Steele have tried to keep their names off the Porn sale and distribution business so that can say "we aren't pornographers, we are lawyers" they obviously felt no need to so protect Peter.

  14. MattS says

    There is a Facebook page and a Twitter account for Peter Hansmeier, they appear to be the same person (both in Minnesota, photos similar) and the twitter account profile mentions Computer Forensics, so he would appear to be a real person.

    The thing I find interesting is that Paul Hansmeier is not one of his Facebook friends. Things that make you go Hmmm.

    What would really be funny is if this Peter Hansmeier showed up in court in CA and denied being related to Paul Hansmeier or having anything to do with Prenda Law.

  15. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Has anyone here ever seen a sitting Judge have a temper tantrum? It may not happen often (IANAL, so how would I know) but I smell one coming, and I think it's going to be epic.

  16. says

    "If they ever make stupity a criminal offense . . ."

    …then we could finally solve that little problem with America's only native criminal class. Hopefully it'll be a capital offense.

  17. Valtiel says

    C. S. P. Schofield: I imagine it's quite a sight, best viewed from a country with no extradition treaty.

  18. Delvan Neville says

    @MattS: Yeah, I found the same facebook profile. Consider that none of the Prenda et al. income has been taxed as far as we know because none of the companies or lawyers have ever been paid. That facebook page suggests their mutual relative mark works for the IRS, and has since 2008. Searching both names suggests all three are indeed relatives.

  19. says


    YOU TOO. I AM PITER Hansmeier only honrable brother of Poul Hansmeier formerly distinquished Lawyer in big leagues of Saint Kitts and Nivia Island. This is not a scam. I address to you myself hoping to associate myself in business with yourself for mutually profitable purposes because of your reputation for honesty and fair dealing.

    Honorable brother (Paul) receiving monies of $10,000.00 (ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS U.S.A.) every day deposited $10,00.00 (TEN THOUSAND) dollars in Missesota (MO) bank said funds daily accruing every day.

    Due to unfortunately circumtances in courtroom, my only brother (Paul Hansmeier) constrained to abandon bank account in Minnesota and valuable mail box in Capitol of U.S.A. Washington D. of C. As wholly unassociated in business with only brother while being mere prinicple owner of many shell companies, I have no knowledge of distribution of porn films being christian of many generations in family reputed for honest dealing.

    As honorable only brother of Paul Hansmeier, i obligate myself to recover money deposited in Minnetota (MI) bank. inconvenienced to fly to Minnesosa (MS) i seek your honest assistance gaining entries to bank for withdraw of $100,000.000 (ONE HUNDRED U.S.A. DOLLARS) each day. Hoping for honest dealing with you I expose to you myself for mutual profet.

    Before withdraw of $10,00,00.00 DOLLARS U.S. is reguired of rental fees for facilities in Washington Capitol of U.S.A. total of #3,000.00 (FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS U.S. OF A.). Money to be wired to Bank of Nevia and St. Kits to make available to pay rental fees. When this concluded can begin to withdraw funds.

    Hoping to be dealing honorably with you as christian generations I also promise not to be suing you for download gay porn on internet (WORLDWIDE WEBB) opon conclusion of business with mutual satisfaction.

    Govern self accordingly to big leagues.

    Peter Hansmeier

    p.P.S. if unable to avail of opportunity could please forward mail to 10 (TWENTY) of your closest friends only of reputed honesty and fair dealing.

  20. Delvan Neville says

    Ooh, also.

    Here's Peter's signature next to Paul's in regard to Hard Drive Productions in Illinois(1:11-cv-02981)

    Take a look at the signature on Peter's ex parte application. No extraneous dots, just the dot that would go over the i in Hansmeier. Completely different H, squiggly-wiggly line, incomplete P. That difference would have gone a long way towards pretending he knows nothing about the use of his name… if he hadn't identified himself up-front as being associated with Live Wire. Whoops!

  21. says

    @Stephen – Wow, that was awesome.

    "Govern self accordingly to big leagues."

    had you ended it with "Burma Shave!" it would have been poetry.

  22. MattS says

    Delvan Neville,

    That doesn't preclude a forgery on the ex parte application, but it does point to one of the other Prenda Law principles as the forger rather than Peter's brother.

    Personally I don't think Peter would have been dumb enough to use the Livewire LLC address. To me this points to a forgery by the Prenda Law gang and the Livewire address is used so they can intercept any attempt by the court to communicate back to the real Peter Hansmeier.

  23. Anonymous says

    And today Waxler files additional proof of attempts to serve Gibbs' homies.

    It's quite remarkable that Gibbs managed to work for Prenda, its predecessor and successor firms for two years without being able to reliably contact any of the "senior partners" who he swears (literally) were making every decision and directing his every move.

    One is left to marvel at how, if he couldn't actually communicate with his bosses, he was able to file so many lawsuits against so many defendants without some autonomy and decision-making responsibility.

  24. Delvan Neville says

    This memorandum for Case 1:12-cv-04222 mentions an affidavit of Peter Hansmeier (Dkt. No 6-2), which among other things details his forensics methods. Perhaps someone with a PACER account set up could pull that? It'd be interesting to take a look at a third signature, but I'm also very interested in actual commentary on their forensics methods.

  25. naught_for_naught says

    Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don’t know," he replied. "Am I my brother’s keeper?"

    This really is some Old Testament stuff — dishonor to their parents, theft, bearing false witness, covetousness. This is grim, so I'm going off topic — sorry Ken. When the world seems like too much of an open sewer I have to connect to something that is fundamentally good in other people, which in turn brings me back to God. Today it's this guy, Adrian Holovaty. Check out his Gypsy Jazz version of the Beatles' tune Honey Pie — guaranteed to make you feel better and a little less scummed by the bad players in this world.

  26. orvis barfley says

    @dfbaskwill-in the words of another well-known minnesotan:
    queen mary, she's my friend.

    my guess is peter and paul had a bit too much mary before cranking out peter's application.

  27. AlphaCentauri says

    I'm not convinced the signatures don't match. It looks like whoever wrote it learned cursive using the Palmer Method, then became increasingly careless until it was just a squiggle after the first letter. He might not be able to sign two signatures exactly the same if he tried.

    What it looks like to me is that the first two were photoshopped from the same source, and the third was someone using freehand to try to copy the same signature. I doubt any of them are orignals.

  28. Anon says

    The only thing that could possibly make this funnier is for him to plead bad legal advice if the court doesn't buy this.

  29. MattS says


    I have a thought on a way to shake the Prenda tree and see what falls out. I wouldn't do this without your approval, but I thought I would put it out here as a suggestion.

    Just for gits and shiggles.

    Have someone send a message to Peter Hansmeier on either Facebook or twitter with a message that the sender believes that his brother Paul might be forging his signature on legal documents in the CA courts with a link back to this article.

    One of the CA lawyers here could even offer to represent him free of charge just to get a front row seat for the coming Prenda smackdown.


  30. Hazard says

    So, if Peter Hansmeier filed a claim of working in Minnesota and gave a business address in D.C., does that make this another attempt to defraud the court, on top of everything else?

  31. Anon says

    BTW, I can't find it now, but didn't Ars Technica have an interview or something with Steele a year or two back, where he essentially blamed piracy for destroying his music career or something like that and describing how he planned to eliminate piracy or somesuch?

    The article I'm thinking of had a picture of Steele wearing costume devil horns, if that helps narrow it down any. They've written so much about him lately that I can't find it any more.

  32. Anonymous says


    This is essentially how Alan Cooper learned his identity was being misused. He received an anonymous text message, asking if he knew John Steele and had anything to do with his companies, and that triggered a cascade of events that lead us here.

    Someone in the community did the legwork and took the initiative to contact him. Could be interesting to try poking Peter, I think it is very interesting in and of itself that he has a public Facebook profile while the rest of them do not exist on social media, save for John Steele's pathetic pseudonymous Twitter accounts. It's as if the guys is completely oblivious…

  33. Bob Brown says

    May we please have some "upvote" buttons? And, Jess, if you ever decide to marry someone old enough to be your grandfather, please let me know. "Peter principle." I LOVE it.

  34. En Passant says

    Delvan Neville wrote Mar 28, 2013 @4:22 pm:

    This memorandum for Case 1:12-cv-04222 mentions an affidavit of Peter Hansmeier (Dkt. No 6-2), which among other things details his forensics methods. Perhaps someone with a PACER account set up could pull that? It'd be interesting to take a look at a third signature, but I'm also very interested in actual commentary on their forensics methods.

    Hear! Hear! I second that.

    I will note that an Intelius search for Peter F. Hansmeier in the USA returns only one result, indicating

    Peter F Hansmeier, 33
    Sauk Rapids, MN

    If I didn't screw up the link, that result is here.

  35. He really said that...?!? says

    This saga just gets better and better. I almost wish Judge Wright had set a date further out, just so we could see what the Prenda gang might come up with next.

  36. gramps says

    Anonymous posted at 1:18PM:

    "… or indeed if he even exists?"

    I was considering this also. Has anyone any evidence that there are indeed two persons, a Peter and a Paul? I can see where someone may have created "Peter" and his forensics persona to pump up costs of litigation to enhance the settlements sought.

    When the Prenda film finally goes into production, although he cannot take the role, R.Lee Ermy should be considered as a dialog coach for Judge Wright.

  37. MattS says


    If Peter Hansmeier doesn't exist someone has gone to an awful lot of trouble to fake it.

    Why couldn't R.Lee Ermy take the role of Judge Wright?

  38. Joe Pullen says

    To: Anonymous @ Mar 28, 2013 @1:18 pm and anyone else.

    If everyone can pass me what you have to date (perhaps we can create some sort of "clearinghouse" or worst case put it in a PasteBin location and zip me a link), I can very likley find out for you if "Peter" actually exists, and if so where is he located relationship to Paul, etc.

    Who knows could be interesting.

  39. Nate says

    Since Paul Hansmeier supposedly went to law school at the University of Minnesota I checked their directory for anyone named Hansmeier. A Peter Hansmeier came up. He was last enrolled in the Law School in 2008. There is a phone number and local address. (I'm not going to post them here, but you can look him up: (Paul supposedly graduated in 2007. Based on my checking the directory for people I know, I think 2008 is the last year they have online directory records for.)

  40. Clownius says

    These guys are doing the best impression of digging their own grave im yet to see.

    This case just keeps on giving. What a bloody mess.

    Good to see family looks out for each other anyway.

  41. says

    "But then, I'm an only child; there may be nuances to this sibling relationship thing I don't grasp."

    This situation here is quite historically normal whereas it seems that one brother was Kanekeen to get out of the situation, and the other one was more Abelable.

  42. Anonymous says

    I don't think the Peter Hansmeier Facebook profile is fake. These guys are not up for subtle and well-planed deception, everything they do is ham-handed and Steele in particular could never stop talking and giving himself away.

    I am suspicious of every other aspect of the purported relationship though—whether they are related, whether they are brothers, whether Peter knows about any of this, etc., etc. These guys are too dishonest not to double-check everything.

    That said, I think it most likely Peter is a real brother of Paul. Paul stuck to that story during his deposition even though he was ridiculously evasive about everything that was suspicious. I imagine verifying whether people have siblings is easy to do if perjury is suspected, so that would be a dangerous lie. On the other hand if he had already lied about having a brother, it's not like there is a graceful way to back out, and it's not something people are likely to question.

    The two items that IMO are super-suspicious are Paul's apparent lack of any knowledge of his brother in spite of basically employing him by way of a company Paul used to work for himself, and the signatures. I think all three of the Paul/P Hansmeier signatures are awfully similar, although at least the latest one on "Peter's" declaration doesn't look like a Photoshop of the others.

    Consider the timing of this document, which was filed on the 8th, the Friday before the hearing that went terribly wrong. Prenda was still working with their pre-hearing assumptions and expectations; this was supposed to be a sanctions hearing about Brett Gibbs' conduct, but the judge apparently wanted to ask them some questions.

    Consider how much crap Prenda has gotten away with over the last two years, and the number of times they have cut and run, dismissed cases when questions were raised, blown off hearings, etc. Did they believe there could be consequences if they didn't show? Did they suspect it could turn into a full-scale inquiry of Prenda's pattern of apparently fraudulent practice in federal court? Did they really think that Alan Cooper of MN would show up and testify under oath that he believes Prenda has forged documents in his name? Especially considering their own aversion to showing up anywhere? Did they guess Brett Gibbs would be put under oath and questioned about the inner workings of Prenda and the shell companies? Did they think that instead of just getting a remote verbal reprimand and maybe a token sanction, Wright would continue the hearing, order them to appear again, and be even more serious the second time?

    I don't think they believed any of the things that happened on the 11th would happen. They probably figured they were just throwing Brett Gibbs under the bus, and Brett would have to eat an even bigger shit sandwich for being the only guy there to get in trouble.

    To say they miscalculated is a colossal understatement, but in context, if Prenda has indeed been filing forged "P" Hansmeier documents for going on two years, with painfully suspiciously photoshopped-looking signatures, and the courts haven't given a shit, then back on March 8th it may well have seemed like filing yet another forged document was the natural, low-risk thing to do.

  43. Nate2002 says

    On the face of it, Waxler is doing all he can to find the people he needed to send service too. However, I think En Pessant has just proven that he's really not going the full mile as it seems that he's not even tried to serve on home addresses, which are apparently right there – albeit that you have to pay to access them…what are the chances they don't already have paid access to such things (you can bet if they were suing the Prenda lot that he would pay to access those addresses).

    What I'm not entirely clear on is why service has fallen to Gibbs (or rather his more competent attorney) rather than it coming from the court itself. I mean, sure, I know Judge Wright is super pissed at Gibbs (though possibly not as much as he is at the others) but is it usual that a judge would order a party in the case to do the service? I also can't help but wonder how much shit Steel & co's attorney will be in for saying she couldn't accept service (assuming she's still their lawyer).

    With regards Peter Hansmieir's signature, this signature is different enough to the previous one we saw that it makes me think there's something fishy somewhere. Add to that how it's more than a little suspicious that Peter's ex-parte motion is a cut & paste mash up of the other one but with such a rookie mistake as attaching himself to Livewire & in DC rather than Minnesota, it makes you wonder at whether Paul said he'd 'help' and then threw him under the bus. It does look like they've worked hard to keep personal addresses out of it &maybe it's the only remaining 'active' Livewire address. Given the way Paul & his gang stitched up Alan Cooper, could we really put it past him to do the same to his brother? I think he's more than capable. Kinda like: "Sure, Peter, I'll help you with your homework" and ensuring he gives only the obvious right answers but deliberately fills in enough wrong ones so he gets an F. Or in this case, enough that he ends up carrying the can.

  44. Myk says

    The signature on Peter's pro se application looks to me like a crude attempt by Paul to put some distance between himself and the forged "Peter" signature(s) he's been using. It has the hallmarks of the forgeries but is clearly handwritten cf. Photoshopped. The stroke across the 'H' shows wavering hesitation, not the decisive stroke of someone who's signed that signature thousands of times. Further, the "P" no longer displays the looped downstroke of previous forgeries, but a more hesitant 'hook'. Given that we're aware the various Prenda parties are frequenting Popehat, and that the forgeries have been exposed and discussed here, Paul has realised he's gonna have some 'splainin to do.

  45. Lucy says

    Maybe Peter is finding out now that he has been forged but since he clearly isn't the favorite, daddy and family are pressuring him to just roll with. They aren't helping him with resources though, which is weird.

  46. Lucy says


    That IRS connection is a juicy tidbit. Not at all insignificant. I hope to see more of that thread unfold in the future. Hopefully through lawful investigation.

  47. Votre says

    Is there a pool going for just how soon one or more of these characters decides discretion is the better part of valor and disappears from these shores?

  48. No One says

    Peter, Paul, and Mark are all brothers, within about 5 years of each other.

    Peter did attend the University of Minnesota law school, starting after Paul.

  49. James says

    The fact that we have Peter, Paul and are looking for Mary is an interesting footnote to this case. However, what has been overlooked is that the hearing was rescheduled so that Judge Wright would have adquate time to rehearse his part "It I had a gavel, I'd pound them in the morning, I'd pound them in the evening, all over the court. It's the hammer of justice . . . "

  50. says

    There's got to be a "robbing Peter to pay Paul" joke in here somewhere…but I can't find it.

    I guess I'll just have to go with – Peter, Paul, and Mark…this is going to be a disaster for them of Biblical proportions!

    Also, I would like to disavow any connection to John Steele. He's sullied the good name of Steeles everywhere. Remington and I are not pleased.

  51. EnnuiThePeople says

    @Stephen Hutcheson: +10 awesome

    I'm not a lawyer, and I wish I could join in the fun…I am a graphic designer, though; maybe I could make an updated flow chart of the Prenda Saga?
    I might play around with the signatures in photoshop, too. Where can I find the highest resolution pics of them?

  52. Mitch says

    I would like to introduce the Prenda Law principals to the First Rule Of Holes:

    When you are in a hole, stop digging!

    Govern yourselves accordingly.

  53. Davey says

    I'm obviously not a lawyer, so bear with me as I ask a very basic question about this whole affair:
    So what?
    I'll stipulate that the judge is furious, but his language is still very restrained compared to, say, an oilfield roughneck. What kind of actual sanctions are the Prenda Law actors actually facing? Disbarment? Jail? A felony rap? A stern talking-to?

  54. ULTRAGOTHA says

    Yes, all of that.

    Based on the evidence presented at the March 11, 2013 hearing, the Court will consider whether sanctions are appropriate, and if so, determine the proper punishment. This may include a monetary fine, incarceration, or other sanctions sufficient to deter future misconduct. Failure by Mr. Gibbs to appear will result in the automatic imposition of sanctions along with the immediate issuance of a bench warrant for contempt.

    Of course, based on the March 11 hearing, what the judge did was set another April 2 order to show cause hearing. But all that is still on the table.

  55. Nate says

    So if we think it's possible that Peter Hansmeier may be ignorant of his name being used in this whole harebrained copyright lawsuit scheme, what is the general opinion regarding the father and wife's role in the class action scheme? Could they have also been ignorant of their roles, or is that impossible bc of how objections work (IANAL)? Is there anyway to get handwriting samples for comparison's sake?

  56. James says

    The class action scheme consists of sending a letter alleging that the firm represents a member of the class who may choose to file an objection if the settlement is not forthcoming immediately. It isn't necessary to file the actual objection for the scheme to work since the threat of derailing the near-term payday for class counsel is the impetus for a quick settlement.

    A better question to ask is whether anybody bothers to verify that the relative in question has proof that they are actually a member of the certified class. It makes you wonder how often it happens that so many related persons in a single family are party to so many successful class action suits within such a short period of time. We might need to engage an actuary with a PhD in stochastic calculus to work out the probabilities, but I am guessing there are a lot of zeros between the decimal point and first significant digit.

  57. Anonymous says

    Worth remembering here is that in several cases, when Prenda has been challenged regarding Alan Cooper's identity, or even just challenged at all, they have accused opposing counsel of manufacturing John Doe defendants or pretending to represent John Doe defendants that have not actually retained their services.

    Why would a guy like Paul Hansmeier have fake clients on the brain?


  58. Anonymous says

    Oh and just noticed our Facebook Peter Hansmeier is friends with none other than Padraigin Browne, Paul's wife.

  59. Kat says

    To me it's a good idea to send a poke Peter's way, not because it might make the case juicier, but because he may genuinely be unaware of what's going on and be completely uninvolved. In which case he really needs to know immediately, because he's going to get in legal hot water and he works on the faculty of of a journal of law and technology. This is career-ruining stuff.

  60. Malc says

    IF Peter is not actively involved (and I think that is a possibility if not a certainty), my bet is that he is aware that his name is involved, AND that he is a conduit for the money. Don't overlook the possibility that Mark (the IRS guy) has provided advice, and e.g. Peter leases the SpiffoSoft IP identification tool from Paul, and the monthly lease payments happen to correspond to Peter's "6881 Forensics" etc. revenue from the scams.

    In short, Peter may be part of a mechanism to legally extract money from the client trust accounts.

    I personally think it unlikely that he is unaware that his name is being used; the question for me is whether he is actually doing anything, or whether he is just a name and SSN.

  61. Malc says

    @Nate2002 Gibbs got the obligation because it is HIS side (of the case) that Judge Wright wants to talk to. The judge thinks that there is a reasonable chance that the plaintiffs have committed a fraud on the court, so he wants to talk to the plaintiffs lawyer (Gibbs) and anyone from the plaintiffs side who may have participated in the potential fraud.

    The reason why Waxler is likely not serving the Orders at various home addresses is probably a simple one: Waxler's client (Gibbs) may not want to pay for it. It would not surprise me if the various shadowy figures are (foolishly) thinking that Carreon-style service avoidance serves their best interests…

  62. htom says

    I just noticed that this coming Tuesday 2 April … I take two hours off and go to the VA to donate blood.

  63. Nick says

    Looks like the judge is focused on Paul… he denied Peter's motion by referring to "Movant Paul Hansmeier".

  64. Allen says

    We are not the people you are looking for…


    I'm not convinced there are any real clients. I think that might be part of the scam. Make up a client, represent said "client," extort money through fear, pocket the take.

    Have you noticed that never once has anyone shown up as the purported copyright holder. I think the Alan Cooper, who is not that Alan Cooper, claimed he held one of the copyrights, but even that may be bull.

  65. MattS says


    I don't think that the Alan Cooper, who is not that Alan cooper, actually exists.

  66. Delvan Neville says

    @Nicholas Weaver:

    Thanks. Signature is the same photoshop-looking signature.

    Shame we can't convince the trolls to out-troll each other. Troll A uploads a copyrighted work, but renamed to look like one of Troll B's works. Troll B downloads said video to confirm it is Troll B's work, Troll A sues Troll B for infringing on their copyright. But of course its a lot more cost effective to harass John & Jane Does for a shakedown than lawyers.

  67. Shay says

    I cannot wait until April 2d. If there's some kind of continuance, I think I may cry.

    And Stephen Hutcheson is a god.

  68. Anon says

    That declaration is the lamest thing I've ever read. It says only that he has some self-made program to find infringers and that he uses it for various companies (probably all of his brother's corps). There is NOTHING in there about how they work, whether they can detect fake peers listed by, say, TPB, or anything of the sort. It waxes poetic about how one must install BT software, but doesn't mention that anyone can leech anyone else's wireless (there are even convenient CDs with cracking tools if the networks are protected).

    It also has howlers like "The more peers that join the swarm, the faster the rate of data transfer typically occurs because the odds of connecting to another peer improves." Odds? The tracker lists all the peers it knows about and individual peers can exchange them. There are no "odds" involved at all.

    They talk about "long lasting impact on the swarm" but neglect to mention that there's something called the "ratio" that tracks exactly how much of the work a given peer has shared.

    They talk about the "sophisticated and proprietary" data they grab, but neglect to mention that anyone can get all that and more by looking at the "peers" tab of uTorrent. Their verification is merely to download the file from the swarm. From which peers? Who knows. It's sophisticated. And proprietary. The fact that just anyone could copy random IPs into a document is not mentioned. All of that data is really, really easy to fake.

    He might just as well have said that he downloaded torrents of stuff he thought was theirs, copied whatever he saw in the "peers" tab and declared everyone an infringer, whether they were a fake peer inserted by TPB or whatever. He never testified to downloading anything from each individual peer to make sure they were actual peers and not fakes, just that he got one copy of the file from the swarm from persons unknown. He offered only conclusory statements about how good their detection is, gave no actual details on the software used, the process, or how we know that data isn't completely fake either due to trackers that insert false data or errors on their own part. After all, it's proprietary, so they shouldn't have to bother to explain how they know that this list of numbers they totally didn't pick at random all identify people who owe them tons and tons of money. It's not like they have any incentive to want to find a lot of people to give them money or anything.

    My proprietary BS Detector says they're completely full of crap. And I bet it's way more accurate than anything they have. There's nothing here that couldn't be copied out of a Wikipedia page on BitTorrent combined with a "trust me, I'm really smart, I _know_ who the infringers are" statement and a few random numbers. I mean, anyone can say that or some other IP is serving up Prenda's copyrighted works. The court is left essentially taking their word for it, and the whole investigation of them underway doesn't really make that seem like a good idea.

  69. Anonymous says

    One of the things that has been very interesting about Wright's dissection of Prenda's operations and "investigative" techniques is that he took them to task for their snapshot-oriented excuse for an investigation. Specifically, in his first order to show cause why Gibbs should not be sanctioned, Wright said:

    What is more, downloading data via the Bittorrent protocol is not like stealing candy. Stealing a piece of a chocolate bar, however small, is still theft; but copying an encrypted, unusable piece of a video file via the Bittorrent protocol may not be copyright infringement. In the former case, some chocolate was taken; in the latter case, an encrypted, unusable chunk of zeroes and ones. And as part of its prima facie copyright claim, Plaintiff must show that Defendants copied the copyrighted work. Feist Publ’ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361 (1991). If a download was not completed, Plaintiff’s lawsuit may be deemed frivolous.

    In this case, Plaintiff’s reliance on snapshot evidence to establish its copyright infringement claims is misplaced. A reasonable investigation should include evidence showing that Defendants downloaded the entire copyrighted work—or at least a usable portion of a copyrighted work. Plaintiff has none of this—no evidence that Defendants completed their download, and no evidence that what they downloaded is a substantially similar copy of the copyrighted work. Thus, Plaintiff’s attorney violated Rule 11(b)(3) for filing a pleading that lacks factual foundation.

    Wright really did his homework and has challenged the foundations of the copyright trolling business model to a degree that, as far as I know, no other judge has come close to. It was pretty clear at that point that Gibbs and friends were going to have some 'splainin' to do, above and beyond their usual excuse-making.

  70. MichaelM says

    I have no background in law other than serving on 7 juries, but I'm in total agreement of the points you made. As a techie myself with a cursory understanding of the processes involved with torrent sharing, I'd say that the brothers Hansmeier are using what I'd label as "Mickey Mouse" logic. As I see it, their extreme arrogance has led them to believe that stringing together some technical terms and cyberbabble, they'll win over the court. In reality, what they delivered was laughable– their explanation has more holes than Swiss cheese at a picnic of mice.

    From my experience serving on juries, which I concede is not much at all, what's needed here is an expert witness well versed in this particular area of technology, backed by a CV outlining his experience. The "not a lawyer" Hansmeier clearly does not fall into this category. Perhaps at this stage, such experts aren't cleared for that stipulation yet–and since tPrenda's business plan doesn't include ever taking cases to trial, being as paltry as possible on expenses is the name of their game.

    I'm quite excited this is all going down in my hometown of LA. I'm thinking this is gonna be far better than any stage show or play–with an admission price anyone can afford. I just wish they let members of the public bring along the popcorn!

    Looking forward to the show on Tuesday….

  71. That Anonymous Coward says

    It would be fun if the Judge were to ask what happened to the $250,000 infringement detector Steele used to brag about using in his cases.
    The super expensive, years in development software that was the ultimate tool… did it just get handed over to 6881? Or did Steele bin a very expensive tool because it was a guy taking screen shots of a torrent client?

  72. Anonymous says


    Wow! Great catch! Thanks for jogging my memory!

    I remember Steele's $250,000 custom, infallible software claim from ages ago, but had totally forgotten about it. Just goes to show that with these guys, you can't forget anything or let yourself take anything for granted.

    I found a Chicago Tribune article in which Steele discussed the software:

    Still, a growing number of small to mid-level studios — which Steele said have revenues of $1 million to $8 million — have signed up with his Media Copyright Group, which he said is only paid a percentage of any money recovered. Steele said he and a partner spent about $250,000 to develop software that tracks illegal BitTorrent sharing from an office in Minneapolis.

    For those playing along at home, compare this to Paul Hansmeier's statements in his deposition:

    A. I was trained to use the software that was developed for the purpose of catching infringers.

    Q. Who trained you?

    A. The software company that produced the software.

    Q. What were they called?

    A. I can't recall their exact corporate name. It was something along of the lines of Alena (phonetic) or something like that.

    Q. So the software that was developed by the company — I think you said was Alena or something similar — is that the software that Steele Hansmeier used at the beginning when it started filing copyright infringement lawsuits?

    A. Steele Hansmeier has never used software.

    Q. How does to Steele Hansmeier record IP addresses that are involved in copyright infringement cases?

    A. Steele Hansmeier is a law firm. It doesn't do the recording activities.

    "the software that was developed"

    Seriously? When two years earlier Steele was bragging to reporters about developing it?

    There's a bit more in the article, although I don't believe the article catches Steele explicitly saying his law firm runs the software, it does seem clear that Steele funded the development, and even giving wiggle room for journalistic license and inaccuracy, it sure seems like back in 2010 John was not shy about taking credit for it. I am guessing the "partner" mentioned in the article is Hansmeier.

    So illuminating to see how their story changed with their fortunes. That article is pretty damning in light of recent events. You have Steele essentially bragging about the level of collusion between himself, his clients, and the "investigators." Great stuff!

  73. Kat says

    Despite my concerns, I do have to say that I love how there's no explanation or anything on the order, there is just basically DENIED. IT IS SO ORDERED.

  74. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Anonymous – its one of my talents, my brain holds onto random factoids. I might get fuzzy on some details, but I get enough of it right that people can find what I am recalling.

    For the bonus points try to find the articles on Steele that came out after the 70 yr old Grandmother in SF (?) went to the media about the shakedown letters and calls. She flat out called it extortion. After the media started asking questions Steele admitted an error had been made, but never did specify where it was made. They basically hounded the woman, said oops, stopped hassling her and added someone different. No one ever said sorry to her.

    It might be around that time they stopped referring to the inhouse product.

    It escapes me if the FL Pure Discovery cases were a 3rd party or 6881…

    Oh… I got distracted and accidentally some links…

    Is this the quarter million program?

    I swear if someone actually got serious in these things you could mark changes to threat letters, tactics, company names, methods to timeframes close to coverage on the web.

    I always enjoyed Steele posting FUD and trying to gloat on the boards.
    If he was so sure we were wrong, why would he follow all of the posts.

    MCG was pretty much copied off of Righthaven and mashed up with ACS:Law. We keep 80% because we laid out all the cash… (80% was the percentage ACS:Law was keeping).

  75. AlphaCentauri says

    "Pádraig" is the Irish spelling of "Patrick." "Pádraigín" would be the feminine, the equivalent of "Patricia." The Christian missionaries who first decided the Roman-character equivalents of Gaelic words had a wry sense of humor, it seems.

    It's similar to so many parents naming their daughters "Caitlín" instead of "Kathleen" now. It does make "Quvenzhané" look pretty normal, though.

  76. Ygolonac says

    Hmmm. Considering all the assorted Hollywood and .gov (US) IP ranges that keep getting outed as participating in torrent activity, it's amazing that Prenda/etc. somehow managed to miss finding even *one*. It'd be a real coup to be able to bag a Congressman or industry exec as a pirate, especially a *porn* one.

    It's almost as though they filter their "results" to remove any chance of accusing someone who could hire the level of counsel/investigators/experts to call bullshit on the process…

    (I don't keep up on the piracy/enforcement/moneygrabs, so I may have missed such things. Probably not from the Prendactapus, else I'd be seeing it in the coverage/comments.)

  77. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Ygolonac – There was a troll, I don't believe it was Prenda, who admitted they checked the list and removed anyone who was in law enforcement, elected, or active duty military.
    Going after cops is always a bad idea, elected officials can make your life much harder, and military personal have easy access to JAG.
    Its not that it doesn't happen, its that they can easily fight back and will go even further to make the trolls life hell…

    If these 'crimes' were so horrible one would expect even application of the 'rules'… but that only exists in the theoretical concepts of justice.

  78. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Anonymous – I finded some links, but the spam catcher is holding it hostage atm.

  79. Pro Hac Vice says

    > There was a troll, I don't believe it was Prenda, who admitted they checked the list and removed anyone who was in law enforcement, elected, or active duty military.

    I believe you're thinking of MediaDefender? Their emails were leaked quite some time ago. They also did things like making the file sizes of the last file of their fake torrents divisible by a particular prime number as a flag, while another firm did something similar with their hashes so that they could be automatically recognized by other firms like MediaSentry.

    Also, given that these troll programs are always trade secrets that magically accuse people while denying them any ability to examine the evidence against them, I should mention that I've heard of a strategy for countering that. One can simply subpoena (from the ISPs!) the number of requests they got that could not be matched to a subscriber. Then you infer an error rate from that. From what I've heard, the rates are pretty bad.

  80. That Anonymous Coward says

    @AlphaCentauri – the brother who waited to file his answer on his own… Peter.

    @Pro Hac Vice – it might have been, but I do not remember this as a leak but a gloating interview. My foggy memory suggests TorrentFreak or maybe Ars. Pretty sure its TF, but its a while back…

    There was a clear admission to a Judge in court of at least 30% error rate, it is a number the community has locked onto because all things being even it means that for every 10 Does targeted 3 of them are being harassed because of an error rate in their perfect software. 30 from 100… 300 from 1000… run that puppy all the way up to 300,000 accused. Can you say travesty? I knew you could.
    Now remember that most of these cases end up dismissed without prejudice… and some trolls keep making calls and sending letters and they have YEARS to keep it up because they can refile… not that the rules actually ever stop them.

  81. AlphaCentauri says

    @That Anonymous Coward: That's what I thought, but it says "The Ex Parte Application [95] for Order Withdrawing Order filed by Movant Paul [sic] Hansmeier on March 8, 2013 is hereby DENIED." Is that a typo, or was Peter's filed under Paul's name somehow?

  82. Pro Hac Vice says

    @That AC

    It's possible that you remember a TF article on the MediaDefender leaks. Pretty sure there was one. I know the MD leaks admitted to a lot of embarrassing things.

  83. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Everyone – You can call me TAC. It's a short form of my nym that I am perfectly fine with and often use it when I'm posting stuff.

    @AlphaCentauri – maybe its a trap as they all seem to sign each others names to things.

    @Pro Hac Vice – Nope wasn't MediaDefender. I can't find it, I've been poking and looking and it is eluding me. It was from one of the first trolls IIRC, after USCG aka DGW and before Evan Stone getting slapped in court. You'll have to forgive me for not having more details to offer but this was an honest to goodness troll who openly admitted he removed those people from his "settlement" actions.

  84. Pro Hac Vice says


    MediaDefender & Media-Sentry were the first two I remember hearing about, but it's possible I didn't hear about this right away. I'm pretty sure TF did a series on the MediaDefender leaks, though. And I'm pretty sure there was a letter or something in there discussing how they took politicians off the list. But it's been a long time and perhaps my memory is fuzzy.

  85. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Pro Hac Vice – its moments like this I wished I had been building a wiki of these stories.

    If we get very lucky SJD, DTD or Raul might stop by this story again and have the missing detail.

  86. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Pro Hac Vice – I founded it…

    "In response to motions from defendants, White explains that these mass-lawsuits are warranted because not all the IP-addresses they filed suit against are actually targets worth pursuing. To keep the costs low, joining these IP-addresses in one suit is therefore a practical (and financial) consideration.

    Although the above holds no ground as far as the law is concerned, the lawyer does review a few interesting details about the IP-addresses they target. As it turns out, even undercover cops have been caught red-handed, downloading and sharing porn.

    “In similar copyright infringement suits filed by Plaintiff’s lawyers across the country, a police department running a covert investigation was identified as a John Doe defendant, and Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed that John Doe,” White explains.

    Besides undercover cops, the adult entertainment company also has a policy of dismissing their cases against military personnel stationed oversees, according to the lawyer. The dead and famous are not settlement material either.

    “Several of the John Doe Defendants have died prior to being identified. Several John Does have been public or political figures who Plaintiff did not choose to sue,” White writes."

    One wonders why undercover cops would be torrenting films as its a civil matter for the FBI. But then pissing off cops leads to problems.