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are cases where this makes sense, but you’re certainly supposed to withdraw as the client’s lawyer first, since you can no longer represent the client.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…