Evan Stone Appeals Judicial Slapdown And Sanctions For Ethics Violations

from the this-won't-end-well dept

Last month, a court smacked down copyright troll lawyer Evan Stone, who had been caught sending out subpoenas to identify those he was suing, even after the judge had ordered him to wait until he could rule on the matter. This was a big, big deal, because it was a clear abuse of Stone’s subpoena power as a lawyer — especially since the judge recognized that the entire purpose of the lawsuit was to identify individuals in order to send “pay up” threat letters. The judge ordered Stone to pay a $10,000 sanction, alert other courts where he had cases pending, and to pay the legal fees of Public Citizen and the EFF, who represented the defendants in the case.

You might think that Stone would learn when it’s appropriate to stop digging. But he hasn’t. Instead, as That Anonymous Coward alerts us, Stone has appealed the ruling (pdf, and embedded below). There aren’t many details, just notice of the appeal:

Notice is hereby given that Evan Stone, a subject of a sanctions motion filed by attorneys ad litem after termination of their ad litem appointment, appeals now to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from the sanctions order entered September 9, 2011 (Dkt. 17), which finally disposes of the only remaining issue in this case.

While brief, it suggests he’s arguing that because the motion for sanctions was filed after he tried to weasel his way out of the case, they were improper. Remember, Stone filed (petulantly) to drop the case just days after he was alerted by Public Citizen lawyers that they’d discovered he was sending out subpoenas despite the judge’s order. Pretending that dismissing the case lets him off the hook isn’t likely to play well in court.

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Comments on “Evan Stone Appeals Judicial Slapdown And Sanctions For Ethics Violations”

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22 Comments
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I wonder if he regrets the pictures of him choking a pirate or with the devil horns.

This should lead to interesting drama, this motion could be his attempt to keep from having to follow the courts original order of turning over his shakedown letter and how much money he managed to get with his faked subpoenas, file the notice in all of the other cases he has open on all levels, and pay the tiny fine. The fine is tiny because it represented about 4 settlement payments, where he had a chance to get much more.

Stone isn’t very good at all of this, he had been more focused on getting press for how good he was doing, then he insulted Hustler for realizing they would kill their market if he kept representing them.

Can’t wait for more details to surface.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

which was more disgusting to you?

– Faking the Copyright Application?
– Fake Subpoenas?
– The bad suit?
– Advising clients to acquire IP rights based on how popular it was on torrent sites?

On a side note, I know so few IP Lawyers I don’t have voodoo dolls for, what is your take on the point of the mass suit?
Do you see it as content producers trying to make up losses for not keeping up with market demands or are they just believing the hype that they have lost billions because someone downloaded their content?

btrussell (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Because more and more people are realizing that class action lawsuits give the lions share of the settlement to the lawyers, not the clients. Therefore, fewer people are willing to join them.

Sony root-kit. I believe people received $7.50.
Not much compensation for the week-end it took me to get my computer back(I was not part of the suit).

How much did the lawyers get?

dwg says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I was kinda thinking more about the deterrent effect than about how much I could get for each plaintiff. Threaten lawyers with the same outsized awards they’re extorting from innocent defendants in these cases, they’ll probably stop signing onto these spurious pieces of malicious prosecution.

And I’ll take costs and nothing more. How does that sound?

dwg says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Not illegal in the least…although I have a sneaking suspicion you were making an analogy. Dude, check it out, tho: defendants are already doing a version of this by using a “kit” defense filing available by torrent. has at least one troll-lawyer up in arms about how “expensive” his extortion is going to become now…and he’s even complained to the court about it.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I do appreciate that, very few of the IP lawyers doing this work will talk to me directly. In their defense I am usually tearing their “business model” apart to keep their targets from just paying up to make it go away.

I’ve tried reaching out to the content producers, in a limited fashion, as well. While people would like to paint me with an eye patch and a peg leg, I do understand the whole getting paid for ones work portion of the system. Finding a middle ground that benefits producers and consumers and pushing both sides there is my goal.

There is a solution to be had if people look for it.

Al Chambers says:

Re: Re: Re:

which was more disgusting to you?

– Faking the Copyright Application?
– Fake Subpoenas?
– The bad suit?
– Advising clients to acquire IP rights based on how popular it was on torrent sites?

On a side note, I know so few IP Lawyers I don’t have voodoo dolls for, what is your take on the point of the mass suit?
Do you see it as content producers trying to make up losses for not keeping up with market demands or are they just believing the hype that they have lost billions because someone downloaded their content?

——————–

Honestly, the whole thing disgusts me. But the thing that just made me think “wow, this guy really *is* an asshole” was sending the unauthorized subpoenas. At least with the initial complaint, one could argue (with barely a straight face) that it was colorable enough to avoid Rule 11 sanctions. However, he screwed himself by acting like the judge, jury and executioner. Guess what Stone? Judges (including the judges that will hear his appeal) do not like that, and they are going to make sure they set an example with him. Judges have WIDE latitude when dealing with the actions that Stone is accused of doing.

Like almost everything these days, the point of these mass suits is money. Quick and easy money from low hanging fruit. One underlying problem with these suits filed by Stone, Steele, Siegel, Ford and others is that (in my opinion) the plaintiffs do not really care about justice or stopping “piracy.” In fact, it is in their best interest (assuming that their business model works) for the piracy to continue, so they can blackmail more people. The result is that they could care less whether a person is innocent or not, as long as they can hold an accusation of downloading pornography over their heads to extract a settlement. They know that, for many people, even the public *accusation* of downloading porn can do irreparable damage. As a practical matter, the best thing that people can do is show these trolls that they aren’t low hanging fruit, and that they will fight back. It’s kind of like standing up to a playground bully. You usually only have to do it once, because after that, you aren’t worth their time.

As Mike has pointed out time and time again, suing potential customers (or actual customers, in some cases) is never, ever going to work out in a company’s favor. Ever. In fact, I will never buy a Sony product again after what they have pulled with the rootkit, Geohot and their new and “improved” TOS. I haven’t shopped in Best Buy for almost 5 years now, and this is after spending $3,000 -$5,000 there annually for several years.

As for the content producers, I do believe that they believe they are experiencing “lost sales” from “piracy.” They don’t understand that people WANT to pay them for easy, convenient content. If they made a *reasonably priced* (i.e., not $20 per studio per month) adult streaming service like Hulu or Netflix that would run on my xbox, I’d be one of the first to sign up.

I am a patent attorney by trade, with a degree in Computer Science. However, I have always maintained (as a minority view) that despite how broken the patent system is (or was, depending on how the new legislation is viewed), the copyright system is far more harmful to common, ordinary people. Copyright law yields too big of a virtual stick for non-commercial, personal uses.

I have personally dealt with several patent trolls in the E.D. Texas. It is disgusting how these guys operate. Some of them have the balls to flat out tell my clients that they will settle for a percentage of what it would cost for them to litigate the case, even if my client is clearly not infringing. Hell, even a Markman hearing (a hearing to determine claim scope) can be VERY expensive and this is at the beginning of a trial. This doesn’t include all the depositions, trial prep, etc that will follow.

Lastly, I will also say that the law firm I recently left is located in the midwest and has about 40 patent attorneys. This law firm would NEVER take a patent troll as a client. In fact, I have seen them cut their prices for clients when they are getting hammered by multiple trolls. My point is, good IP attorneys do exist.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well thank you for your view, it is not that often lawyers will call the scam what it is.

While a Hulu type business model would be interesting, I always end up promoting a “PornTunes” style model. It really makes me sad that Porn, one of the historical driving forces of tech, refuses to move forward.

The biggest stumbling block is many of the adult studios seem to be stuck in the RIAA mindset. VHS used to be king and was costly, but with digital the costs are lower but they keep the VHS pricing model. The content some of them offer is worse than some of the “classier” amateurs out there making money on tubesites. They are not the only kids on the block anymore and they are facing competition from anyone willing to go on camera and show off.

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop on Stone, it warms my cold dark heart. I see so many of these players assuming there are not people like myself, Sophisticated Jane Doe, and so many others willing to point out the flaws in these cases.

My current favorite was a firm who was using the $150k damages threat, for a movie without a filed US copyright, that came out in 2007.
When you can show a target the law, the lack of any US copyrights on any of the studios films, and explain they are just trying to scare them they take a breath. If I can get them to take a breath, I can get them to stand strong. Given the lawsuit against the blind gentlemen, the 70 yr old Steele now claims his error proof system identified in error, the 70 yr old in MN USCG sued then dropped (she didn’t actually own a computer) the “shame” of being named in one of these cases is slowly moving towards being the recipient of an email from a Nigerian Prince who needs help moving money. It happens to everyone and is usually fake.

Oh and I really thought Stones bad suit would have offended you most, he dresses so poorly. 😀

I look forward to to other insights you might add around here, reasonable minds are always good things.

Anonymous Coward says:

I applaud your digging, TAC, but the ‘faking the copyright application’ comment probably needs some explanation. I don’t know all the facts, but I do know that Stone is in Texas, and that Texas is in the 5th circuit. The 5th circuit, like a handful of other circuits, doesn’t require copyright litigants to receive a copyright registration before bringing suit. As long as they have filed for copyright registration, the right to sue on that copyright is an inevitability, whether the registration is accepted or rejected. So the 5th Cir. allows plaintiffs to sue as soon as they have filed, instead of forcing them to wait 6 months for the registrar to respond. It is a point of confusion in many cases. Was that what you were referring to?

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