Court Smacks Down Copyright Lawyer For Bad Faith Pursuit Of Copyright Infringement
from the keep-that-in-mind dept
With tens of thousands of new (questionable) copyright infringement lawsuits hitting the courts, it’s worth pointing to a recent appeals court decision in the 9th Circuit, upholding a district court ruling thatsmacked down a copyright lawyer for repeatedly pushing forward in a case, where he apparently misrepresented who actually held the copyright (i.e., not his client) as well as different aspects of the law. The case involved lawyer Anthony Kornarens, who was representing an Indian musician, who had composed some music for an Indian film. Under Indian copyright law, this was a clear work-for-hire situation, where the musician did not retain the copyrights. But during the course of a long, and convoluted, legal campaign, that’s not how Kornarens represented things to the court. Kornarens suggested he made mistakes, since he wasn’t familiar with Indian copyright law, but the court doesn’t buy it:
The law of India is straightforward and the IPRS decision is in English. Indeed, there is nothing legally remarkable or unique about applicable Indian law that would reasonably require expert advice. Generally, a composer who creates a film score for hire forfeits a copyright interest in his work.
From there, things seem to just get worse. Kornarens apparently misrepresented Indian copyright law, citing an “immaterial concurring opinion” and misquoting other rulings by inserting parenthetical notations into those rulings, that changed the meaning. The court doesn’t take that sort of stuff kindly:
The district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding Kornarens’ misrepresentations of Indian law evidenced his bad faith and recklessness in pursuing Lahiri’s copyright claim.
Kornarens now concedes his written submissions to the district court contained “mistakes.” However, viewed in the context of the history of this litigation, the court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Kornarens acted recklessly and in bad faith in pursuing a frivolous copyright claim for five years.
Now, this situation is clearly a pretty extreme one, given the details of the case, but with so many copyright lawsuits being filed these days on such flimsy evidence, some of the lawyers involved might want to pay attention to what can happen when you aggressively pursue a bogus copyright claim.