Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Copyright industry lawyers complain about nasty lawsuits

They can dish it, but can they take it?

No, in the case of Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver. They've been making money as the US Copyright Group, sending stern letters to people they claimed had listened to unlicensed music or watched unlicensed films, and getting them to cough up cash to make the whole thing go away.

They sent one of these letters to Dmitriy Shirokov, claiming he'd seen a film he shouldn't have. Rather than pay up, Shirokov counter-sued. As Ars Techica reported:

[H]e sued the DGW lawyers for racketeering, extortion, and committing fraud on the US Copyright Office (among 25 total claims). Even the settlement letters were said to be misleading, since they referenced other cases like the Joel Tenenbaum $675,000 P2P verdict—but without noting that a judge has already slashed that amount as being unconstitutional. According to Shirokov, DGW's idea is merely to scare the accused into paying up.

The suit demanded that a judge stop the "scheme" and force DGW to reimburse everyone who had settled in the case so far. In addition, Shirokov asked for punitive damages.
The lawyers - who always seem so menancing when they're sending letters out - don't really like getting that sort of letter.
"Although an attorney may be accused of defrauding opposing parties, knowingly committing discovery abuses, lying to the court, or purposely and maliciously defaming another individual, if it takes place during the course of litigation, the conduct simply is not actionable," says DGW's response. Such behavior may result in judicial sanctions, but private citizens can't file lawsuits against opposing lawyers who are "simply doing their job."
They go on like this at length.

But then it gets better - they're also trying to sue Shirokov for having the temerity to sue them:
The lawyers should have known better than to bring such a harassing and frivolous lawsuit, says the motion for sanctions, and they should face financial penalties for doing so.
Blimey. A company that thinks it has the right to demand sanctions against anyone for criticising it is one that has somewhat lost a sense of perspective. Perhaps they should think about moving into the New Jersey waste industry instead?