Enlarge / John L.
Steele, photographed in Chicago in 2010. (credit: Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
John Steele, one of the masterminds behind the Prenda Law “copyright trolling” scheme, has been disbarred.

Court papers indicate that Steele agreed to the disbarment, which was announced by the Illinois Supreme Court on Friday.
Steele pled guilty in March to federal fraud and money laundering charges. Over the course of several years, Steele said he and a co-defendant, Paul Hansmeier, made more than $6 million with “sham entities” that threatened Internet users with copyright lawsuits.
Along with Hansmeier and a now-deceased attorney named Paul Duffy, Steele “conspired to extort settlement funds from thousands of Internet users in a multi-jurisdictional copyright litigation scheme,” Illinois attorney regulators said in a statement of charges. “Specifically, they attempted to exact settlements from users who allegedly infringed on the copyrights of certain pornographic movies, including movies that Mr.
Steele himself produced and distributed.”
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