Best Response To A Copyright Threat Ever? Lawyers Explain Why ABA Is Full Of S**t In Claiming Copyright On Routing Numbers

from the enjoy dept

In our time we’ve seen some pretty epic responses to bogus legal threats, but it appears we have a new contender for the throne. As a whole bunch of lawyers suddenly emailed me this morning, it appears there’s been a followup to our earlier story on the American Bankers Association claiming that bank routing numbers are covered by copyright, and threatening a website that had created a useful way to look up those routing numbers. The website, run by Greg Thatcher, was doing a public service, getting such info from the Federal Reserve’s website, and making it much easier for people to find the numbers.

Thatcher is now being represented, pro bono, by Andrew Delaney of Martin & Associates, and his response letter to Nigel Howard, the lawyer from Covington & Burling LLP (the ABA’s lawyer who sent the threat letter) is one of the most beautiful responses to a bogus threat letter you’ll ever see. It gets bonus points for its usage of footnotes (which is to say, do not skip the footnotes). You really need to read the whole thing. I’d quote parts of the legal analysis, but you have to see the whole thing in context with the footnotes (linked above or embedded below). I will, however, quote the closing paragraph, to give you a sense of the tone of the letter:

If you do feel it’s necessary to sue our client, we are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. and we have lollipops for people who serve process. So if you do file a complaint and send someone over with a summons, please have them wear something with a bit of purple… we all like purple.

Oh, and then there’s this:

© Andrew B. Delaney and Jorge V. Pivar-Federici. All rights reserved. But wait . . . fair use allowed and encouraged. Actually, go ‘head and publish the whole thing as is. We don’t care.

Nicely done. Nicely done. I may have to send them a bag of lollipops.

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Companies: aba, american bankers association

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Comments on “Best Response To A Copyright Threat Ever? Lawyers Explain Why ABA Is Full Of S**t In Claiming Copyright On Routing Numbers”

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70 Comments
G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I would like to draw your attention to a new and free course on Coursera that has just started (1st week nearly finished) called “Think Again: How to Reason and Argue” from Duke University (found at https://www.coursera.org/course/thinkagain )

This would be so beneficial to you… It will not only show you why your a complete git (the 2nd lecture week one is a pythonesque classic) but will explain how you can also improve yourself and basically stop contradictions and ad hominem attacks to actually contribute to society.. either that or just STFU&D

BernardoVerda says:

Re: Re:

Whoosh!

You evidently missed the snark-dripping sarcasm and thinly-disguised (thinly-disguised only as a technique to pseudo-politely highlight) pitying condescension, embodied in both the main text and the footnotes — and that use of those footnotes was an additional technique of “talking down” to the recipient…

It wasn’t just saying “You’re kidding, right?” And it was more than a “declaration of war.” It was a declaration of outright, clearly merited contempt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually, letters such as this may achieve their intended results, but they virtually ensure that should counsel ever again cross paths their then clients will almost certainly be hurt by an “ego battle”.

There are many ways to make the very valid points raised in the letter without poisoning the well. Feel good letters more often than not are later regretted by the writer.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The solicitors acting for Pressdram in Arkell v. Pressdram (1971) would state otherwise.

They made history and a whole heap of clients due to it.. and the adoration of new solicitors and lawyers worldwide ever since.

In fact “I refer you to the reply given in Arkell and Pressdram” has become a well know legal phrase everywhere.

Your not an “Attorney for the Butthurt” are you by any chance?

jeh says:

Re: Re:

So you take issue with Mike… you dedicate your time to following his post around so you can make disparaging remarks? I can’t imagine Mike gives you much attention and most commenters around here don’t give your comments weight. What have you accomplished, I’m curious, besides wasting your own time? Do thoughts of Mike keep you up at night? Do you keep locks of his hair on your night stand? Do you have a voodoo doll of him in your closet?

I can just see the painted portrait of mike on your wall, the moody lighting. The screaming out. “WHHHHHY???? WHHHHHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME?!” As you collapse to the ground with tears streaming down your face.

Right, back to work.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

They cited Wikipedia. That was considered an auto fail by many of my professors.

I find that kind of funny myself. I actually trust Wikipedia more than I do an encyclopedia these days.

At the very least, the fact that Wikipedia doesn’t fall under the complete control of one corporate entity makes it more trustworthy in my book. Add in the fact that Wikipedia links to most of it’s sources so you actually can verify the information with a click makes it even more so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

I would smack the student for not following the links on to the original source. Wikipedia’s “malleability” is a major problem for academic work. On the other hand, I happily tell students to go use it to get ideas for papers if they have no familiarity with the topic. Go read the Wikipedia article. Find some aspect of the topic you think is interesting. Then follow the source links to start your research for the actual writing.

I don’t know any instructor past junior high that would let you get away with using a print encyclopedia for a source, so I am not going to let a college kid do it for an electronic one.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

many older instructors/prof still allow print encyclopedias in my exp, but dont allow any electronic sources as they either dont trust them OR in even more cases, dont understand computers well enough to check up on the sources.(sadly I am not even joking, my buddy had one recently who cant even use email they have a TA who prints it for them, then types up replies from hand written letters…)

I have had instructors who allows wikipedia as a source but not as the primary source, BUT you could comb threw the sources on the wikipedia artical and link them, and it was fine.

made me laugh..

did have one that would fail if you even mentioned wikipedia in class, but gave me an a+ on a paper I did about wikipedia and the fact that time and time again its been found to be just as if not more reliable then dead tree encyclopedias(both are known to contain errors, dif being wikipedia can be fixed quickly and easily…..paper book cant)

Andrew (user link) says:

Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

Thanks. The point (I am one of the writers) of citing to Wikipedia is to illustrate the inherent silliness of the ABA’s claim. As a college professor myself, I also happen to know that Wikipedia is as accurate as Encyclopedia Brittanica. http://news.cnet.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

First comes discussion, then the offer of coffee with Mike then back to OOTB/AJ/Horse’s place for ‘coffee’…….

Before we know it this sites been renamed TechDirty and its just a serious of pictures of Mike + OOTB in bed together.

(Obvious Mike by this point is heavily sedated and foot-cuffed to the bed)….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m guessing your actually OOTB, but whoever you are I wish the techdirt team could just ban you so you would go the fuck away. Seriously have you noting better to do than troll. Go start your own site about tech news if you dislike this site so much.

The fact that day after day you and your type troll, bringing nothing to the argument other than that you hate Mike and everything he says, has become tiresome.

Ihsan (profile) says:

Re: سمَـَّوُوُحخ ̷̴̐خ ̷̴̐خ ̷̴̐خ امارتيخ ̷̴̐خ

The string of arabic characters you included will apparently crash browsers and apps running the current version of iOS and OS X. Your charming follow-up sentence helps it to blend it, but I thought I recgonised it from somewhere.

source: http://arstechnica.com/apple/2013/08/rendering-bug-crashes-os-x-and-ios-apps-with-string-of-arabic-characters/

Andrew (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Sorry you feel that way. I greatly admire Mr. Kaplitt’s work, and yes, his letter served as partial inspiration. But I’ve been writing stuff like this for years and it’s all over the interwebs. I’m an over-the-top guy. Just so you know — you saw the toned-down version. My secretary wouldn’t let us send the first draft. In the immortal words of Joan Jett: “I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation.”

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