Copyright troll lawyer moves to class-action coupon-site cases

  • Article by: Dan Browning , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 22, 2013 - 11:09 PM

Porn copyright lawyer’s clients in coupon lawsuit include his wife and his associates.

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snickelodeonMar. 23, 13 7:03 AM

This attorney's activities in harassing people who've visited porn sites, as documented in previous StarTribune articles, do seem reprehensible. But that doesn't mean he's not performing a public service in the type of cases described here. Groupon, for example, appears to have violated a number of federal and state consumer protection laws, and last year agreed to an $8.5 million settlement to compensate consumers. Call Mr. Hansmeier sleazy if you want to, but the marketing activities of those companies he's going after seem equally sleazy, and somebody should be holding them accountable. Booking agencies and hotels are a major source consumer complaints, justifiably. The last coupon I thought about using sent me in the fine print to a web site that listed products that were excluded, which happened to be virtually every product the store sells. So now he's going after PepsiCo -- good for him. But he might want to switch to Coke, which is about to introduce a product it calls "Fruitwater." Sounds healthy, right? But the thing is, Coke's Fruitwater contains no fruit. Corporate marketing is rife with deception, and if Hansmeier can make a buck keeping them honest, I have no problem with that.

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jplamp9Mar. 23, 13 7:58 AM

Copyright trolling is detrimental to the copyright system. The business model relies primarily on reaching settlements with a minimal investment (for example, cut and paste). The purpose of the copyright system is to provide an equilibrium where minor cases are not litigated and yet creativity is rewarded and protected for egregious breaches. The purpose of the courts is to provide an expensive forum for the fair and timely resolution of valid disputes. Although legal, trolls are a huge waste of court resource, encouraging settlements from Defendants concerned with the potential costs of litigation and liability.

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MorgMar. 23, 13 8:54 AM

Why is it the retailer's fault if I am too stupid to read and use the coupon by the expiration date?

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thedanmanMar. 23, 13 9:55 AM

Your honor, we find the defendents not guilty.

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turgidMar. 23, 1310:47 AM

Justice needs to be done on the pornography case, if it's true that he was suing on behalf of fake plaintiffs who did not own the copyrights. But as far as trolling goes, there is some value in it for the rest of us. Company officers are under pressure to "push the envelope" all the time in terms of squeezing money out of consumers, leading to lots of fine print and misleading tactics. The best backstop the average citizen has for these practices is the courts, and the fact that trolls are out there definitely figures into the calculations of business executives who are considering sliding by yet another shady trick on the average citizen.

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herby2013Mar. 23, 1312:42 PM

"The judges, citing concerns of a “possible fraud on the court,” are considering sanctions." That sentence (along with the other article about this "lawyer" a week or two ago) tell the whole story about his character, who he is as a person, and his motivations. "The coupons expired before she could use them." His wife signed up for Groupon coupons and probably intentionally did not use them before expiration and now he's suing? This is absurd. You sign up for a deal and agree to the terms of the deal, you fail of your own accord to use the coupons before expiration and that entitles you to file a lawsuit? Everybody knows that the majority of lawsuits against businesses are frivolous, with businesses settling because it is far less expensive to settle a frivolous extortionary lawsuit than than it is to fight it out in court. Some lawyers capitalize on that, and get rich in the process. If the legal profession wasn't considered slimy enough, this guy is dragging it down to a whole new level. "Lawyers" like this must be stopped. Hopefully involving a stint in prison.

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subotai1Mar. 23, 1312:45 PM

This kid and his type of lawsuits are what gives lawyers their bad reputations. He is not doing any of this to help anything but his own pocketbook.

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bikiesterMar. 23, 1312:56 PM

turgid offers a limp argument at best. If a person cannot read the expiration date they should learn how to read, not engage a despicable troll whose interest isn't fundamentally in doing anything for a consumer, but rather, lining his own pockets. If the cash strapped, newly minted lawyer had gone to Rainbow foods to get a 2 for 1 on Kemps instead of the tasty, but expensive $9/quart pumphouse ice creams she wouldn't have gotten into such a pickle. Sheesh!

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rambler89Mar. 23, 13 1:55 PM

Non-lawyers who do this sort of thing--without cutting a lawyer in--go to jail. A few exceptionally outrageous lawyers who do it are also sanctioned, usually with a slap on the wrist, to avoid public backlash and preserve the appearance that the courts aren't regular venues for licensed extortion. These guys are gambling that the range of action counted as "exceptionally outrageous" has narrowed further. (It has continuously grown narrower in the past.) They have yet to be proved wrong.

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sflormanMar. 27, 13 8:16 AM

Check out the Prenda Law columns at www.popehat.com for a good picture of the character of this attorney and his associates. http://www.popehat.com/2013/03/26/prenda-law-a-brief-interlude-about-being-a-judge

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