There's little love from the general public for the legal system, and less still for attorneys. For most, the law is something to be avoided, or suffered when you find yourself within its machinations; few share the view that it can be restorative, or can provide protection or remuneration for harm done to themselves or their property. And few do more to bolster the negative view of the legal process than patent trolls. Distinct from the parties that engage in good faith attempts to protect their intellectual property, patent trolls are simply looking to wield patents as a weapon, looking to make as much money from a flawed system as they can.
Given the endless bad faith on the part of patent trolls, there's no sympathy to be found when the system fails to work for them, and perhaps a sense of justice when the law seems to work as it should. TorrentFreak reports on the case of one Paul Hansmeier, a lead attorney at Prenda Law that was recently sentenced to 14 years in prison for his part in a host of crimes related to a plot to extract settlements from those pirating material from The Pirate Bay.
On its face, seeking damages on the part of copyright holders seems like a worthwhile and fair enterprise, given that the people on sites like The Pirate Bay are, well, pirates, breaking the law by illegally downloading copyrighted material without permission or authorization. Where the case becomes interesting (or more accurately wrong) is the revelation that Prenda was operating a "honeypot" on The Pirate Bay, uploading the files that they purport to protect, with the obvious aim of having them downloaded and giving themselves another target to pursue.
The malfeasance drew the attention of the FBI, and the misdeeds were uncovered when the IP addresses were traced to a host of other activities related to Prenda and other entities tied into the case, once again proving that those committing crimes are never quite as clever as they believe. Hansmeier and fellow Prenda attorney Paul Steele were facing charges including money laundering, perjury, mail and wire fraud. Hansmeier is also required to compensate victims of the scheme to the tune of $1.5 million.
Certainly the temptation exists to say that it feels good to see those engaged in such malicious practices go to jail, but those who follow and care about the law understand the need for justice to be dispassionate. Instead, we can say that it feels good to have the law work as it should in the instances that it does.