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First off today, Scott Daugherty at the Virginian-Pilot reports that Rocky P Ouprasith has pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement for his role in operating the sites RockDizMusic.com and RockDizFile.com, both of which were shuttered last year.
RockDizMusic was founded in may 2011 and operated until October 2014, when it was shut down by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Ouprasith was arrested. According to court testimony, in January 2014 the site received nearly 1 million unique visitors and over 7 million page views. The Recording Industry Association of America claims that the site, in 2013, was the second largest file sharing site aimed at pirating music.
Ouprasith admitted to earning as much as $4,000 per month from the site but swore that he has nothing to do with the new RockDizMusic site that emerged after his was shuttered. In the meantime, Ouprasith is scheduled to be sentenced on November 17, where he faces up to five years in prison.
Next up today, Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that a Minnesota appeals court has ruled that attorney Paul Hansmeier, an attorney working with Prenda Law, should be held personally liable for a $64,000 sanction that was filed against his firm after he moved the cash from the his firm’s account and dissolved it.
Prenda Law is commonly known as a copyright troll and they have sued or threatened to sue thousands of defendants accused of illegally downloading pornographic films in hopes of securing quick settlements. However, when one such case fell apart, a judge ordered Hansmeier’s law firm, Alpha Law, to pay a $64,000 sanction.
Just before the ruling was handed down, Hansmeier moved nearly $66,000 from the firm to a new venture, Class Action Justice Institute. Shortly after that, just after the motion to show cause, he moved $80,000 from the firm into his personal account. According to the appeals court, this represents an abuse of the corporate-liability shield and makes Hansmeier personal responsible for the sanction.
Finally today, Ann Maher at the Cook County Record reports that Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) Administrator Jerome Larkin has brought seven charges against Prenda Law attorney John L. Steele.
According to the charges, Steele and his associates filed 118 copyright infringement lawsuits against nearly 16,000 John Doe defendants over allegations they infringed pornographic films. Once he and his firms learned the identities of the defendants, he reached out to them directly demanding thousands of dollars in settlement to avoid a public lawsuit and trial.
However, the campaign has become mired in allegations of unethical and illegal activity including falsified business papers, identity theft, bad faith litigation and more. These allegations prompted the ARDC to file the charges against Steele. Those charges could lead to a variety of punitive actions including suspension and disbarment.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.