Otis Wright Porn: Judge Sanctions Lawyers For Fraudulent Filing in Porn Cases

U.S. District Judge Otis Wright in Los Angeles has imposed sanctions against a group of lawyers who conned the legal system by fraudulently filing hundreds of actions against unnamed individuals they accused of illegally downloading copyrighted pornography videos from the Internet.

Yesterday, Connecticut Law Tribune reported that Wright has also referred the lawyers to licensing authorities for possible misconduct and to federal prosecutors for possible criminal violations of the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

According to Wright, the perpetrating lawyers named in the case, John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy and Brett Gibbs, made off with millions by settling with their accusers for around $4,000 per case. They accused downloaders of failing to pay royalties due to the pornography’s copyright holders. In actuality, the copyright holders turned out in many cases to be the lawyers themselves, Wright said. "So, now," Wright wrote, "copyright laws originally designed to compensate starving artists allow starving attorneys in this electronic-media era to plunder the citizenry."

The lawyers took advantage of pornography as a taboo subject, correctly assuming that the accused would rather settle than face the stigma of being identified as having a “porn habit.” The lawyers also rightly assumed that the accused would not have the proper means to scale a legal defense. In cases where the accused did resist and attempt to mount a legal defense suit, the charges were quickly dismissed, Wright wrote.

The method behind the madness was quite simple. In fact, maybe it was too simple. The lawyers identified the downloaders by posting their video clips on sites like BitTorrent  and then filing paperwork seeking the identities of the downloaders through IP addresses. Thus, attempts at resistance by the accused essentially had to be thrown out because the lawyers were either unwilling or unable to meet the requirements needed to prove in court that the people being sued had actually downloaded the porn.

As Wright precisely put it, the alleged criminals "discovered the nexus of antiquated copyright laws, paralyzing social stigma, and unaffordable defense costs. They exploit this anomaly by accusing individuals of illegally downloading a single pornographic video. Then they offer to settle — for a sum calculated to be just below the cost of a bare-bones defense." Wrong? Yes. But still genius.

To build up their litigation, the lawyers were consistently deceitful to the courts, methodically falsifying court documents and testimony. Their dishonestly led to Wright recommending the perpetrators be disbarred for “moral turpitude,” among other things. Although not the first of its kind, Wright’s ruling was the largest sanction to emerge from nearly 1,000 suits filed against individuals during the past three years over allegedly copyrighted pornography. Those representing the individual defendants have called the cases part of a “legal shakedown to extort settlements from people who don’t want to be publicly identified as having downloaded pornography.”

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Sylvia Camaj

21. Daughter. Sister. Girlfriend. Lover of life.

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