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Prenda Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Elaborate Porn Copyright Trolling Extortion Scheme

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By George Khoury, Esq. on March 09, 2017 10:59 AM

If you haven't been following the saga of the Prenda Law porn copyright trolling extortion scheme, the following might be a bit a shocking. For those of you that have been following the utterly unbelievable story, it just got better. This week, one of the principals in the scheme just plead guilty.

For those who don't know: Lawyers at the law firm Prenda Law were accused of making pornography in order to have that pornography "illegally" distributed online so that they (the lawyers) could sue (or shakedown, or extort, or blackmail, settlements from) the pornography downloaders. The sheer outlandishness, and brazen flaunting of the law, makes it even that much more shocking that the allegations have been substantiated by the guilty plea.

How and What Was Happening?

When a person downloads a copyrighted file from a website, or anywhere online, and the downloader does not have permission to do so from the copyright holder, that is a violation of copyright law. This sort of violation of law exposes the downloader to civil liability, meaning they could be forced to pay monetary damages in court to the copyright holder.

The lawyers here actually produced their own pornography, then had that pornography copyrighted, then had the copyrighted materials put onto the internet. From there, they got the IP addresses and identities of the people who downloaded the porn files, and would send demand letters to those individuals threatening to sue, unless they paid up.

Because of the sensitive nature of these cases, those who received demand letters frequently paid up. After all, what individual would want to be hauled into court because they violated a clearly established copyright law when they downloaded pornography? In the end, the illegal extortion operation pulled in approximately $6 million before it came to a grinding halt.

Unfortunately for the lawyer who pleaded guilty, he may still be looking at a jail sentence of several decades behind bars. His alleged accomplice, however, maintains his plea of innocence, at least for now.

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