TECH NEWS – Despite being a lawyer (with good wage), he ended up being behind bars.
A lawyer in the United States, named John Steele, who uploaded pornography on to filesharing sites (The Pirate Bay is one of them), then sued people who downloaded it, has been sentenced to five years in jail. The only reason he didn’t get ten years is that he cooperated with the prosecutors, reducing his penalty. (However, his partner, Paul Hansmeier, was jailed for fourteen years in June, so Steele got away fairly easily…)
Steele and Hansmeier founded a firm called Prenda Law, and via it, they ran the porn-trolling con between 2010 and 2013, and they allegedly gained no less than six million dollars out of the scheme by accusing people of pirating pornographic films it had uploaded to filesharing sites. Many of the accused people decided to pay thousands of dollars to Prenda instead of going to court to defend themselves.
The federal investigators began probing Prenda as early as 2012 after it sued two large ISPs in the United States. Prenda accused them of helping subscribers pirate pornographic films. Their investigation discovered that Prenda had been uploading the pornographic films (to which it owned the copyright) to file-sharing sites itself to encourage people to pirate them. The fees paid by those alleged pirates had been funnelled through shell companies with one goal: to hide the fact they ended up in Steele’s and Hansmeier’s pockets.
According to Ars Technica, at his sentencing hearing, Steele said he had made „stupid decisions,” and his lawyer agreed, adding his actions had been „reprehensible, abhorrent, and criminal.”
Steele and Hansmeier have also been ordered to repay $1.5m to victims of the porn-piracy scheme.