Richard Liebowitz Goes Against Client's Interests: Presents Evidence That His Client Did Know About Lawsuits; But Not About Settlements

from the still-sketchy dept

So we had an incredible post recently about infamous (as in called out for lying in court multiple times) copyright troll Richard Liebowitz running into more potential trouble when his own client, photographer Glen Craig, sending a letter directly to the judge saying that he had no idea about cases filed in his name.

Liebowitz has now responded with more detail than I expected, given his past infamy, suggesting at the very least that Craig was aware of the original lawsuit against PopMatters. That does not mean it will help Liebowitz. And it may get him in more trouble.

First, let’s discuss the big problem: Liebowitz is still representing Craig in this case. And here he is now acting against his client’s own interests, basically telling the judge “don’t make me pay the attorney’s fees in this case, make my client pay.” That’s the very definition of acting in favor of his own interests and against his clients. And that’s not even getting into the decision to reveal privileged correspondence between himself and his client. There are cases where this makes sense, but you’re certainly supposed to withdraw as the client’s lawyer first, since you can no longer represent the client. That’s not what has happened here.

So, even if it proves that Craig did know about the case, doing this does not necessarily do Liebowitz any favors, and again raises (more) significant questions about how Liebowitz is still a practicing lawyer.

As for the actual filings, Liebowitz submits five exhibits of email communications between himself (or his staff) and Craig which indicate to some extent Craig was aware of all of this. But I stress the “to some extent.” First, there’s an email reply to Liebowitz staffers, who had sent Craig a list of URLs that they claimed showed matches on a Craig photograph. Next to each URL Craig wrote “YES OK” “OK” or “NO NO GO AFTER.” The implication is that “YES OK” or “OK” meant that those were licensed cases, but “NO NO GO AFTER” were unlicensed uses, and Liebowitz should “go after” them, which likely could be seen as an okay to sue (though, normally “NO NO GO AFTER” seems like a weird way to give approval for a lawsuit). But in the “NO NO GO AFTER” category is a link from PopMatters, which is the defendant in this case:

Liebowitz then presents a few emails from Craig — some in ALL CAPS and with poor spelling and grammar — apparently showing Craig repeatedly asking Liebowitz to file suit against PopMatters (and also asking for money from Liebowitz). I will note that Craig’s writing style in these emails is markedly different from his writing style in the letter he sent to the judge.

At the very least, this indicates that Craig really did want Liebowitz to sue PopMatters, which certainly goes against the claims that Craig made in his letter to the judge.

Finally, Liebowitz shares the email that he sent to Craig about the filing of the lawsuit, the day it happened:

This is not quite as damning to Craig’s claims as it might sound (beyond the attorney/client issues mentioned above). While it does, at least, suggest that Craig was incorrect to tell the judge that Liebowitz never informed him or the suit, or asked him if the works were actually infringing, it does not respond to many of the other claims made in the letter. For example, it doesn’t demonstrate any claims about settlement offers, which supposedly Liebowitz was supposed to discuss with Craig. It does not demonstrate that Liebowitz informed Craig about a separate action against PopMatters in the Northern District of Illinois. It does not show that Liebowitz informed Craig about the ruling regarding attorneys’ fees or anything else related to the case, including that Liebowitz had tried to dismiss both cases once Liebowitz realized the cases might be in trouble.

There’s a whole lot it doesn’t explain, frankly. And Liebowitz is going to need to explain himself to the judge, as the court has ordered a hearing for this coming Tuesday…

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Companies: popmatters

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Comments on “Richard Liebowitz Goes Against Client's Interests: Presents Evidence That His Client Did Know About Lawsuits; But Not About Settlements”

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MathFox says:

Re: Prenda?

Not at all. Richard is a crash and burn loose cannon lawyer without any care for his clients.

The Prenda boys were far more creative and sophisticated. They were their own clients, Making their own porn movies and uploading them to The Pirate Bay to lure downloaders in their trap. Creating all kinds of companies to hide they were their own investigators, experts, clients and lawyers at the same time.

Richard does not have such creativity, but won’t land softly.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Prenda?

I dunno, I think Hans might be cracking…
he filed a motion with the court to unseal some information for an interview with a reporter & to use in lawsuits going forward to shine a light on the evil evil bad guys running MN courts.
(I laughed my ass off as the guy who had daddy using his political clout to keep him from being drawn and quartered is throwing shade at other people.)

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

I dunno, given Liebowitz tendency to be cavalier with the facts, how has he established the accuracy of these email messages?

Easy enough to fake up a text file with all the header info to make it look like it came from the client, then claim that the original was deleted.

Context says:

Re: Re:

Not necessarily, people have different writing styles based on context, in a lettre to a court one might be more careful in writing, in "everyday" conversation less so.

But yes, based on Liebowitz behaviour so far, the judge should pay extra attention toward checking the veracity of those mails.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Justice in this situation would see the case dismissed and Liebowitz both disbarred and held personally liable for all court costs. One can dream of justice, anyway.

At any rate, Liebowitz is proving with each successive filing in this case (and his willingness to violate attorney-client privilege) that nobody should ever hire him — or trust him — as a lawyer ever again.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
James Burkhardt (profile) says:

The judge’s order recognizing the letter sent by Craig states Craig also submitted evidence of his claims, but those would be recognized under seal to protect attorney client privilege. So not only has Liebowitiz violated the privilege the court explicitly retained for the client, but there is likely contradictory evidence the public has not seen. And given Liebowitz’s history of lies, and that the final message is the only proof that Craig was aware of a lawsuit, rather than say a cease and desist, I’m loathe to grant this any weight.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

At this point I don't trust either of them...

Scuzzy lawyers have scuzzy clients.

I hate to generalize, but for some reason "professional" photographers seem particularly likely to engage in unethical copyright suits. Many post their work online, where they know very well that innocent idiots will find it, use it, and get their pants sued off.

And the idea that this guy Craig (who seemed oh-so-eloquent in the letter to the judge) needs a $300 check – blood squeezed out of his victims – to pay his bills is the opposite of classy.

If he can’t make a legit living off of his photography by getting clients to pay him, probably he should find another line of work.

I’m all for creatives reaping the rewards of their successful creations. But not by entrapping innocents into a sticky web of lawsuits.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: At this point I don't trust either of them...

"I’m all for creatives reaping the rewards of their successful creations. But not by entrapping innocents into a sticky web of lawsuits."

Well, copyright law, since its inception under Queen Anne, was always intended to gouge the innocent using the blunt hammer of law. When what you has for a tool is an oil drill in the hands of a greedy oil man but what you need is a scalpel in the hands of a surgeon, results fall out accordingly.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Rico R. (profile) says:

If this was any other copyright lawyer with the facts in this case, at the very least I would say there is a dispute between the plaintiff and the representing attorney in the matter. But given Liebowitz’s tendency to lie, and then double, triple, and quadruple down on the lies as the truth starts to come out (Liebowitz’s father’s death, anyone?), this has about as much weight to me as the boy crying wolf yet again. Even if Liebowitz is in the right here (which I doubt), don’t expect my sympathy for him if the wolves devour his sheep this time!

Anonymous Coward says:

So, Craig and LIebo had a conversation before Craig filed the letter. Why didn’t Liebo tell Craig that he had those emails or that he would never do such a thing? The answer is probably that Liebo does at least sometimes file claims without client permission and that he didn’t not have confidence that such emails existed when speaking with Craig.

RL revealing portions of the client communication showing the client’s bad financial situation is not good, but is insightful as it shows how eager some of his clients are for money.

SpammersAreScum (profile) says:

check the email for authenticity

As others have noted, there are email headers in the "envelope" which the average person rarely if ever sees these days. Did Liebowitz include those? Do they look legit to someone who knows how to interpret them? Do the Message-Id’s jibe with what the sending system has? Is the sending system one the client used? There’s no way he could forge all that even semi-convincingly.

IAmNotYourLawyer (profile) says:

Call info

Here’s the call info to listen. July 21, 11 AM (probably Central) Source

ORDER SETTING HEARING ON MOTION: A hearing on the Motion for Attorney Fees (Doc. 10 ) is set for July 21, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. via video conference before Judge Staci M. Yandle. Information regarding the video conference will be sent by email to all parties. Full access to this hearing is available remotely. Instructions for non-participants to join the hearing are as follows: Call toll free 877-873-8017, when prompted enter Access Code 4354777. In light of the public health crisis due to the COVID-19 virus, the Court finds that full access to the press and public cannot be afforded for this hearing. Other alternatives to closure were considered, but at this time the Court only has the technological capability to allow access by teleconference. Plaintiff Glen Craig is ORDERED to appear at the hearing.

Canuck says:


This reminds me of those examples about proper punctuation and the use of commas. "Let’s eat grandma!" vs "Let’s eat, grandma!"

In this case is it a doubling the negative for emphasis, "No no! go after"?
Or is he indicating it’s not licensed but also not to litigate, "No, no go after" (read "No, don’t go after")?

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