Lawyer Asks Racists To Use Sketchy Millions They Got From UNC To Fund Scholarships For Black Students To Avoid Lawsuit For Bogus Takedown
from the unleash-the-kraken-who-says-fuck-a-lot dept
Last week we wrote about the sketchy, sketchy deal in which UNC gave some racists $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit that was filed after the agreement was made, and settled moments later. More and more details keep coming out, making the whole situation look even sketchier (and even less legal). However, for our purposes, we’re focused on the copyright angle of this story. As you’ll recall, the lawyer who tracked down many of the details, T. Greg Doucette, also got his hands on a letter from the racist group, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, explaining the whole deal, including them admitting flat out that they didn’t have standing to sue, and any lawsuit would be thrown out almost immediately. That is, unless you’ve set it up so that the University has already agreed to give you millions of dollars. Doucette posted the letter to his Dropbox account, where he had posted other documents regarding this mess.
Then, the Sons of Confederate Veterans sent a DMCA takedown notice over the letter, and Doucette’s Dropbox is (as I type this) still limited. However, late last week, Doucette hired lawyers Marc Randazza and Jay Wolman to send quite a letter to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, arguing that the DMCA takedown was a violation of 512(f) of the DMCA. The initial letter (linked here and embedded below) was sent to lawyer Boyd Sturges, who represented the Sons of Confederate Veterans in their “negotiations” with UNC. However, I’ve been told that Sturges refused to accept the letter, claiming he had nothing to do with this aspect, and so a second (though, nearly identical) letter has been sent directly to R. Kevin Stone, the “Commander” of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
We’ll jump straight to the punchline. After spending a few pages in typical Randazza-style flowery language explaining just how bullshit the takedown was (and just how sketchy the UNC deal was), Doucette (via Randazza) say that they will go to court to argue that the takedown violates Section 512(f) unless the following happens:
Should your client wish to avoid litigation, Mr. Doucette proposes the following: the $2.5 million your client did or will receive from UNC will be, instead, diverted to a scholarship fund for African American students at UNC, or other similar use, subject to our client?s approval. And of course, the DMCA notice must be immediately withdrawn. If you accept this offer, our client shall commit to oblivion the feelings your client?s actions engendered.
That’s a bit attention grabbing — as is the rest of the letter. The argument for why a suit could work is included here:
Mr. Doucette used the letter to expose and criticize the fraud you perpetrated on the Court, including suborning Mr. Stone?s perjury. After all, it was a verified complaint, notarized by you. While this might make more shams less likely, again, this is not a ?market? for the original letter.
The misleading takedown notice was issued in bad faith, because it failed to consider Mr. Doucette?s fair use rights. See Lenz v. Universal Music Grp., 572 F. Supp. 2d 1150, 1154-55 (N.D. Cal. 2008) (?An allegation that a copyright owner acted in bad faith by issuing a takedown notice without proper consideration of the fair use doctrine ? is sufficient to state a misrepresentation claim pursuant to ? 512(f) of the DMCA.”) Your client clearly made such a material misrepresentation, and my client will not allow it to go unpunished.
The NCSCV is liable to Mr. Doucette for his damages and attorneys? fees under Section 512(f) of the DMCA. Mr. Doucette is prepared to file suit for this, as well as for a declaration of non-infringement and any other causes of action he may have, which are still being evaluated. Mr. Doucette is considering a lawsuit not out of bitterness or vindictive feelings, but because it seems that the NCSCV has tried to wrest from him his dearest rights. This will not stand, man.
Unlike your client?s other most recent litigation, this suit will be real. Important principles are at stake, and Mr. Doucette is a man of principle.
While all of the above is accurate, what also remains unfortunately true is that DMCA 512(f) remains mostly toothless. The one useful 512(f) case, the Lenz case cited in the above section, still ended badly for the person targeted with the bad DMCA notice. While the court says you have to consider fair use, it more or less set up the rule that as long as the issuer of the DMCA briefly considers fair use before issuing the DMCA notice anyway, it’s not going to matter.
So even if this did go to court, I’m not at all confident that Doucette/Randazza would win. This is why, if anything, 512(f) should be strengthened, to stop the bogus use of these kinds of censorial takedowns. So, while the letter is amusing, and a fun read, I’d be surprised if it actually results in anything significant.