ABA Journal


Copyright Law

Judge boldly uses Star Trek references in opinion blasting lawyers who sued porn downloaders

May 7, 2013, 01:21 pm CDT


Since he was going with the Star Trek theme, you'd think he'd be able to work in a reference to the Ferengi

By Yankee on 2013 05 07, 1:55 pm CDT

The fact that one of the attorneys is named John Steele is just too wonderful

By Bill Hudgins on 2013 05 07, 2:17 pm CDT

Time for these guys to move on to challenging class action settlements, pending mergers or proxy disclosures, so they can be bought off like the big dogs.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 07, 3:21 pm CDT

Unless one of the porn stars in the material at issue was a virgin, "boldly go where no man has gone before" seems inappropriate.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 05 07, 3:25 pm CDT

@B. McLeod:
If I recall Popehat's discussion of this case and the players, at least one of them has been involved in challenging class action settlements, though not mergers or proxies. But I guess that will be over once the various bars have their say.

By Derek on 2013 05 07, 3:36 pm CDT


I was a little confused by that as well, is the Judge equating Star Trek with pornography?

By OKBankLaw on 2013 05 07, 4:06 pm CDT

I don't know if this is the same law firm, but at least one firm out there was doing this specifically with regard to gay pornography -- essentially threatening to out teenagers (and older individuals) to their parents if they didn't pay up.

By Anonymous on 2013 05 07, 6:13 pm CDT

@1: Judge leads with by qoting Spock; I doubt he's a Next Gen fan, and I don't think the Ferengi appeared in TOS. I'm not sure though, because I don't watch TOS, because its crap.

By Patrick on 2013 05 07, 9:29 pm CDT

I agree that given what followed it, TOS can accurately described as "crap". Still, there was a time 40 years ago that is all we had, bad special effects and all.

By Yankee on 2013 05 08, 6:26 pm CDT

@9: You make an excellent point. Plus, Shatner.

By Patrick on 2013 05 08, 6:43 pm CDT

(Begin Overly dramatic voice)

Patrick... What.. Could... You... Mean... About... Shatner!

(End Overly dramatic voice)

By OKBankLaw on 2013 05 09, 1:28 pm CDT

Porn AND Star Trek? Life just keeps on getting better and better!

By Dark Lord of the Right on 2013 05 10, 12:13 am CDT

as the Judge pounds his gavel into oblivion...

By Grayghost on 2013 05 10, 11:17 am CDT

"Oblivion" was in the two-part "Backlash" parody (peppered with great Star Trek references, such as "Jim Beam me up"). Great movies. Highly recommended.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 10, 12:19 pm CDT

I represented a client sued by Prenda, and I can assure you: this couldn't have happened to more deserving folks. I actually know copyright law, and when I got done reading the complaint and laughing, I called one of their principals to discuss the merits of the claim. Within 2 minutes, it was clear that he either had no idea what he was talking about, or knew his claims were BS and couldn't articulate any reasonable basis to support them. But he did make clear that, unless my client paid up, his name would get released into the public record. I do give them points: usually, when lawyers exort you, they try to be a little less brazen about it. I would have loved to fight the case, but my client didn't have the stomach for the risk. I'm glad to see someone DID fight them, and I'm not surprised (but am delighted) at the outcome.

By The Saint on 2013 05 10, 12:51 pm CDT

Take TOS for it was, and appreciate the political and social forwardness of the show - the show put mixed races together and took race out of the topics covered, there was an interracial kiss, commentary on communism, Israel, Utopias. The special effects were great for the time - and may look cheesy now. But, the messages: timeless. Kudos to Gene Roddenberry for boldly going where no television show had gone before.

By Trekkie on 2013 05 10, 1:37 pm CDT

The Ferengi made their first appearance in TNG. They were supposed to be the new big bad guys, but they look ridiculous so they made them capitalists. The first episode with the Ferengi had Armin Shirmerman (who later played Quark on DS9, the best of the treks in my opinion) and they wore almost caveman-style furs and had energy whips. It's actually a decent "bridge episode" from the cheese of TOS to the more modern sci-fi of TNG.

We need more Trekkie judges. This is awesome.

By Gul Dukatja on 2013 05 10, 1:57 pm CDT

When it comes to porno and Star Trek,he was just spokking up laying down the law by exploring brave new worlds.

By NOW JERRY on 2013 05 10, 2:28 pm CDT

Do yourself a favor and read the opinion. It is a thing of beauty. He smacks them down so hard and you will find yourself more and more joyous as it goes along. The inclusion of the pictures and the flow chart in the order are even better. That and he made those findings of fact. Oh, and that footnote, it was great too.

By Wouldn't You Like To Know on 2013 05 10, 3:19 pm CDT

The article quotes Spock - "The needs of the many . . ." Let's not forget that Spock is quoting Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities.

By English Major on 2013 05 10, 4:30 pm CDT

God bless U.S. District Judge Otis Wright! I hope these “extortion lawyers” get at least reprimands from, wait, what am I saying? The only legitimate authority that I recognize, the Court itself, has already given them reprimands, and sanctions. God bless him! God bless him! God bless him!

Now, for anyone who happens to accidentally see child pornography online, here is a cite for you to anonymously tip off an authority who has expressed an interest:

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 05 10, 4:55 pm CDT

The opinion is amazing, but my Question is how did they find a judge in California willing to sanction attorney blackmail artists. My experience is that there is no real downside for California blackmail artists, even when the case is in Federal Court.

I agree with @19 that the inclusion of pictures was wonderful. It looks like you have 4 or 5 people who have conspired to create this shakedown racket.

By Charles Victor Szasz on 2013 05 10, 5:47 pm CDT

I especially enjoyed SaltMarsh

By Wow on 2013 05 10, 5:53 pm CDT

When is someone going to do a class action against the law firm for RICO worthy behavior ?

By Just a Thought on 2013 05 10, 5:56 pm CDT

A client brought one of their Complaints in last year. The original lawsuit was filed in Colorado against an Internet service provider, and it refers to hundreds of John Does as potential parties. They get the provider to identify the ISPs of the various computers who have "hit" their sites, and they just work their way down the food chain until they get to some poor guy whose teenage son used the family computer to watch a naughty movie.

In this case, they sent the dad a letter that gave him 30 days to settle his "case" for $4000 or face being involved in the Colorado litigation. As the above article pointed out, that is a "sweet spot" which is just below what it takes an attorney to do a "bare bones" defense. I am glad the Courts are catching on to this practice.

By JimfromBham on 2013 05 10, 6:25 pm CDT

@#8 - the good judge used some references to the Borg and assimilation, so he demonstrates enough knowledge of TNG that I think he would have known of the Ferengi. I do agree they would have been a perfect reference, but it might have been a little close to name calling. THough something like "in an escapade worthy of a Ferengi merchent" might have been a fair reference . . .

By RecentGrad on 2013 05 10, 9:38 pm CDT

Seems like another copyright troll got his butt in a pinch. Or maybe his other bits since it is porn downloads.

By Anna Gray on 2013 05 11, 8:09 am CDT

After all, do you want people to sit at home, relax, have some beer, watch porn, and play with themselves or do you want them to get freaked out, pick their gun, go out, and start shooting other people?

By Anna Gray on 2013 05 11, 8:13 am CDT

Mo' Gr'ups?

By Blue & Gold on 2013 05 13, 2:25 pm CDT

Good point.
Judge Wright was the gr'up and, in a role reversal, the gr'up bonked "Steele, Hansmeier, and Duffy" on their heads and in their wallets.

By Charles Victor Szasz on 2013 05 13, 6:31 pm CDT

There might be some claims here against the Shell Company and the Attorneys. But, they probably spent all the cash . . .

By O. Rosales on 2013 05 13, 10:02 pm CDT

I had a friend who was sued by these clowns, so I did a little investigating myself. Their claims lack merit and have real proof problems. If you have the cojones to stand up to them they move on to easier targets. They do pre-filing discovery to get the names and wait for the money to roll in. If you write them a GFY letter, they don't even file suit.

By Kevin on 2013 05 15, 1:48 am CDT

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