Friday, May 31, 2013

Prenda Law Firm Rebrands Itself After Raising the Ire of Judge Otis Wright

Recall my earlier post about Prenda Law Firm which was the pornography copyright troll that made its money by preying on those who illegally downloaded porn from the internet.  As you may remember, Prenda Law Firm would send cease and desist letters hoping to cash in on a quick settlement because the "infringing" party would be too embarrassed to fight.  And, if the "infringer" did lawyer up and fight, then Prenda would drop its lawsuit and move on to the next sucker, er mark. 

You may also recall that Judge Otis Wright caught on to Prenda's blackmail gig and came down hard on the attorneys and the law firm.   In a particularly creative sanctions order, Judge Wright used quotes from and references to Star Trek to sanction Prenda Law Firm and its attorneys in the amount of $ 81,319.72.  Judge Wright Order also informs the law firm and its attorneys that he will be referring their misdeeds to law enforcement, the IRS, and to every court in which Prenda has a case pending. 

You would think that would be the end of the story.  You would be wrong.  Prenda Law Firm principal, Paul Duffy, sent cease and desist letters to "infringers" under the name "Anti-Piracy Law Group."  Apparently, Mr. Duffy (and his cohorts?) wish to extort a few more settlements before law enforcement, the IRS, other courts, and/or any other agencies act on Judge Wright's information.

Unfortunately, the concept behind protecting intellectual property is a valid and noble one, intellectual property laws lend themselves to abuse because the lawsuits are so costly and the intellectual property so valuable.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Recently, several states have begun to enact laws that prohibit companies from monitoring their employees' personal social media accounts.  The impetus of this spate of legislation was to protect an individuals' privacy and to stop companies from asking for an employee's social media passwords.    

Last year, California, Illinois, Maryland, and Michigan adopted social media privacy laws.  Utah's social media privacy law took effect this month.  Thirty-five other states have similar privacy laws at various stage of the process.  Those who support these social media privacy laws say that the laws are necessary to protect employees--even when the employer may be the subject of social media messages made using an employee's personal account.  They say that giving employer's access to an employee's social media accounts is akin to asking to review the employee's photo albums on a regular basis, or listening in to his/her conversations. 

Securities regulators are seeking to create exemptions to state laws that allow certain financial firms to sidestep bans on looking at personal social media accounts of employees.  According to the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (the Wall Street authority that regulates Wall Street), financial firms need to follow up on "red flags" indicating that an employee is misusing his/her personal account.   Apparently, FIRA fears that employees will provide financial advice on Facebook or Twitter which would lead to an unregulated and unchecked avenue for these employees to create Ponzi schemes and other frauds.  Of course, the SEC recently issued a new guidance that allows companies to use social media to disseminate market information.  The privacy right protection laws promulgated by the states would prohibit or hinder efforts to monitor and regulate those schemes. 

The legislation does provide an exception when the company may be under an investigation for alleged employee misconduct.  There is also a question as to whether the Federal regulations allowing for monitoring of communications by securities sellers and the like preempts the state privacy laws.  Whatever the ultimate outcome between these competing interests, it is clear that the state of the law will be unclear for quite a while.