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First off today, Christopher Smart from The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has threatened legal action against MormonLeaks, a website that publishes secret LDS documents in a bid to force greater transparency on the church.
The site, which launched in December, has published a vide variety of private LDS documents. It recently published a PowerPoint document from LDS that looked at issues that lead people away from the church. This prompted a swift response from LDS, which sent a letter to the site’s founder threatening litigation over alleged copyright infringement.
The document document in question was removed though MormonLeaks’ operator, Ryan McKnight, says it was not his doing. McKnight says it was the action of Docdroid, the site that was hosting the document, and that he would have preferred to leave it up.
Next up today, Giulia Segreti, Manuela D’Alessandro and Eric Auchard at Reuters report that Facebook has shuttered its location-sharing function in Italy over an ongoing copyright dispute with a local company that claims Facebook violated their copyright on an app with a similar function.
The lawsuit comes from the Italian software company Business Competence, which filed a lwasuit in 2013 alleging that the company copied their application Faround, which let users see which of their Facebook friends were close by. According to the lawsuit, sometime after Faround was placed in the Facebook app store, Facebook launched a new feature named Nearby Places, which had the same features as their app.
A court recently sided with Business Competence and has ordered Facebook to shutter Nearby Places. Though the ruling is preliminary, with a hearing scheduled on April 4, Facebook has complied though it had hoped to stay the order while it appealed the ruling. Despite this setback, Facebook still says the lawsuit is without merit and that they disagree with the decision.
Finally today, Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that, after a six-year battle, Prenda Law attorney John Steele has admitted that he and his co-defendant Paul Hansmeier operated a “honey pot” scheme to entrap and sue pirates unlawfully.
Prenda Law became well known as a copyright troll, using massive “John Doe” lawsuits to obtain the identities of suspected pirates from their ISPs, they were then targeted with demand letters that sought small but quick settlements. However, as some of the would-be defendants fought back, it was revealed that Steele and Hansmeier were not just the attorneys, but also the owners of the films, using a series of shell companies to hide the relationship. Things went from bad to worse when it was also revealed that they had uploaded the films to pirate websites, essentially starting the very infringement they were suing over.
Since the fraud was discovered, both Steele and Hansmeier have been facing criminal prosecution. Steele has now pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering and will be sentenced at a later date. Hansmeier’s case is ongoing.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.