Saturday, February 20, 2021

Copyright troll in Minnesota (leveraging P2P setups) gets 14 years in prison for wire fraud, etc.


central MN, 2011

A copyright troll, Paul Hansmeier, operating in Minnesota, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison. The 8th Circuit has denied his appeal.  Leonard French explains in his "Lawful Masses" YouTube series. 

His firm Steele-Hansmeier, starting in 2010, maintained registers of IP addresses of people who tried to download copies of movies by P2P file sharing.

They would send litigation coercing settlements ($4000) to defendants who could not defend themselves and would have been embarrassed by the public disclosure of their having downloaded movies.

Apparently they set up a honey pot to lure people into downloading the movies.  Later on they set up a front law firm, Prenda Law, and obtained copyrights to films and pretended to be real plaintiffs.

Later they formed more shell companies apparently creating the appearance that defendants had hacked company systems.

The criminal conspiracies involved wire and mail fraud, and suborning perjury. French talks about the "tree-legged stool" theory.   This is the first case I have heard of where trolls have deliberately enticed violations with entrapment.  

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