“The Angry Activist”, Alexander Hanff
One of the accusations that Alexander Hanff, the prime mover behind NODPI, hurls at Phorm on a regular basis - without any hint of irony - is that the company illegally uses copyright content. For the record, we don’t. However, it appears that Hanff is more familiar with copyright infringement than we are. On 2 December 2005 the US District Court, Northern District of Illinois, fined Hanff $45,000 for copyright infringement, and the fine remains unpaid to this day. But Hanff, as we shall see below, is no stranger to controversy.
Hanff is well-known among privacy pirates for being sued by the Motion Picture Association of America for his involvement in a website (DVDR-Core) that was being used illegally to share copyrighted movies - a site from which he apparently sold blank recordable DVDs. Following an online interview with Hanff, one blogger asked: “Does selling blank DVDs to a community of people that illegally download movies from your site not cause complications in your defense?”
Hanff gave the blogger short thrift, as was a customer who was moved to write: “Never in all my days shopping online have I come across such a vile, filthy-mouthed individual. Not much is known about this company except that it’s owner, Alexander Hanff, has been banned from video forums numerous times due to his unsavory behaviour.” Interestingly, Hanff cites a company called SVP Communications as a source of funding for his legal defence in the MPAA case. It too sells blank DVDs, among other things.
A number of questions were put to Hanff about the sources of money for his legal defence against the MPAA, and the way in which the funds were being managed. For example: “I’m still waiting for the answer to the question, who exactly is the third party handling the fund? Is it your lawyer himself or is it an independent organization? What I mean is if we donate to this fund, and it pulls a Loki Torrent, who exactly should we go after?”
On the subject of copyright, Hanff holds an eccentric personal viewpoint: “Any audio that is played on the radio or on TV should be classed as ‘public domain’ for personal use … Why should she not be permitted to download it? She has already paid her “royalty” fee by paying subscriptions to the cable company.”
Hanff appears to have a history of believing that companies target him to perpetrate acts of illegality upon him, to the exclusion of other individuals. Some might describe his behaviour as that of a vexatious litigator. A forum member of another site has noted that, “Paladine [Hanff] seems to have quite a lot of issues with big corporations at the moment.”
Among the many companies Hanff has run up against is Proctor & Gamble, the makers of Pampers, on the grounds that, “Parents of larger than average children face higher costs for clothes and shoes as it is without being discriminated against.”