U.S. News | Lawyers Behind ‘Sham’ Copyright Suits to be Sentenced


On June 4, 2019, John Steele and Paul Hansmeier will be sentenced after they were found guilty of taking payments to settle sham pornography film copyright infringement lawsuits.

The duo were prosecuted because of ‘honeypot’ copyright infringement scam. In 2017, Steele pleaded guilty to working with Hansmeier to set up “sham entities” to obtain copyright over pornographic films.

The victims uploaded the films themselves to torrent sharing websites in order to attract people to download the movies.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Steele and Hansmeier then filed copyright infringement lawsuits while concealing their role in distributing the films.

The U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota has indulged the victims to appeal for restitution pending sentencing.

“At the sentencing hearing, the court may, but is not required to, order Hansmeier and Steele to pay restitution to the victims of their scheme,” the attorney’s office said last Wednesday, April 24.

Restitution may be available to those who paid money to settle lawsuits brought by entities controlled by Steele and Hansmeier, including the now defunct Prenda Law said the prosecutor.

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About Nathaniel Adebayo 338 Articles
Nathaniel is a News Reporting Intern at Nigerian Law Intellectual Property Watch (NLIPW). He has a passion for writing, capacity building and social media marketing. He is a graduate of Federal University of Technology, Minna, where he graduated with BTECHAGRIC. He is a member of Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN) and the National Union of Campus Journalist (NUCJ). Nathaniel has served as Editor-in-Chief for a number of magazines and as a contributor to various online repositories. Email: anathaniel@nlipw.com

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