Public Citizen & EFF File For Sanctions Against Anti-P2P Lawyer Evan Stone
from the due-process dept
Remember Evan Stone? The anti-P2P lawyer (not the porn actor), who has been filing a ton of mass infringement lawsuits on behalf of porn companies. Like all of these lawsuits, the real intent is to frighten people into paying up prior to any trial. It’s using the judicial system as a business model. In one of the lawsuits Stone filed for Mick Haig Productions, the judge wisely asked Public Citizen and EFF to act as counsel for the John Does who had been sued, to represent their interests before allowing Stone to move forward with the discovery process (which would allow him to subpoena ISPs to get the names associated with various IP addresses). Public Citizen and EFF filed motions concerning some of the problems with the overall case and the judge refused to allow discovery while considering those motions. However, Paul Levy at Public Citizen discovered that Stone had gone ahead and sent out subpoenas anyway, and some ISPs had already started turning over the info.
As Levy noted in a letter to Stone, this appeared to be a gross violation of legal ethics. A couple days after receiving this letter, Stone dropped the case with a petulant letter to the judge, blaming the judge for appointing lawyers who actually stood up for their clients’ rights, rather than rolling over and allowing discovery. However, in the initial letter, Levy also asked Stone to provide details on all of the subpoenas that he issued, along with the cover letters to ISPs and details of any other communication with those ISPs. Finally, he wanted to know if anyone whose identity had been revealed through these questionable means had paid up and how much they had paid.
It turns out that Stone has refused to respond to these requests (including multiple phone calls to try to reach him), obviously hoping that Public Citizen and EFF would go away. Knowing Paul Levy, he’s not the sort of person who gives up easily. Public Citizen and EFF have now filed a motion with the court asking the court to order Stone to provide this info, and then, once the info is provided, to determine whether the fault is Stone’s or his clients, and to then either order attorneys’ fees, sanctions or both. I’ve included the motion below, but here’s the key part:
Mr. Stone surreptitiously issued unauthorized subpoenas to an unknown number of internet service providers (“ISPs”), demanding the disclosure of the identities of anonymous Defendants so that he could pressure the alleged downloaders of pornography into settlement. Incredibly, months later Mr. Stone participated in the briefing of the very question of whether he should be allowed to issue discovery… all the while allowing ISPs to process the improperly issued subpoenas. Plaintiff’s counsel’s behavior demonstrates blatant contempt for the rule of law and the authority of this Court.
Moreover, the full extent of Mr. Stone’s actions is not yet known because he refuses to meet and confer. Accordingly, rather than requesting a specific form of relief, Defendants instead ask this Court to order Mr. Stone to fully account for his actions so that the Court and Defendants can be made aware of the harm inflicted and so that they may respond accordingly. Once the Court has ascertained the full extent of Mr. Stone’s actions, and the extent to which his client should properly bear responsibility for his actions ostensibly performed on his client’s behalf, the Court can then decide whether an award of attorney’s fees under 17 U.S.C. § 505, discovery sanctions under the Federal Rules, or some other relief is appropriate. Defendants ask this Court to impose some sanction for Mr. Stone’s conduct to send a message that should hardly be necessary: abusing the Court’s authority to improperly investigate and push settlements onto litigation opponents will not be tolerated.