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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  • icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:34am

    Glaring misspelling...

    .

    ...but it appears we have a new contender for the thrown.


    Was this a wrestling match?


    .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    memphislimsan, 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:36am

    *"throne"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sneeje (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:46am

    Spice Girls

    Anyone that can work "zigazig ha" into a legal response is a demi-god in my book.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:53pm

      Re: Spice Girls

      Exactly my thought! Having obscure references to nineties boybands or girlbands will always be a gem to us of certain ages.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:47am

    Epic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:56am

    Wow! Some smart ass lawyer puts a couple of funny footnotes in a letter and Pirate Mike wets his pants. Typical Masnick. Keep pandering to the young boys, Mikey. It's pretty much all your good at.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 2:35pm

      Re:

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Edward Teach, 30 Aug 2013 @ 3:26pm

      A mind is a terrible thing to waste

      It's pretty much all your good at.


      I think your bachelor's and expensive law degree went totally to waste.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 4:54pm

      Re:

      Sounds like someone's still furious about the epic Star Trek smackdown Judge Otis Wright delivered to the most famous individuals in copyright enforcement.

      average_joe just hates it when due process is enforced.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      G Thompson (profile), 31 Aug 2013 @ 12:18am

      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

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      BernardoVerda (profile), 31 Aug 2013 @ 9:20pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Baldaur Regis (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:56am

    This is the epistolary equivalent of appearing in court and saying "Your Honor, our opponent's case is so laughably weak we won't even address it, and instead show you some cool card tricks we learned at a poker game last night."

    Well done!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:57am

    Wow! Some smart ass lawyer puts a couple of funny footnotes in a letter and Pirate Mike wets his pants. Typical Masnick. Keep pandering to the young boys, Mikey. It's pretty much all your good at.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:13pm

      Re:

      You are a sad, sad, little man.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:14pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 2:03pm

        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.


        Interesting, though I see nothing to support that. Knowing a few lawyers who have written similar letters, they've found it to be quite good for business, as clients know that they'll get a strong backer not willing to dabble in legal bullshit.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 4:58pm

        Re: Re:

        It doesn't seem like that would be much of a battle.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        G Thompson (profile), 31 Aug 2013 @ 12:25am

        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?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:14pm

      Re:

      mad trolls are mad. Are your cheeks shaking with rage as you angrily type? Do you guys gnash your teeth while typing, do you pound on the keyboard?

      Gah Facts the Trolls natural enemy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:18pm

        Re: Re:

        He's not really a troll though, don't you know. Real trolls tend to actually get to their victims, rile them up. It seems this randy dan hasn't really accomplished that since most replies would just tend to laugh at him (her perhaps?).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2013 @ 8:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Its the equivalent of pulling a girl's ponytail and running away in school.

          AC/OOTB/Horse/AJ etc (all likely to be the same sexually-desperate loner with a frustrated yearning for Mike).

          I hope this doesn't end up like Fatal Attraction.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      jeh, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:15pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      slinkySlim, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:17pm

      Re:

      er, ah, I think you meant "a smarter than an ass lawyer". Were you not entertained!?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Arthur Moore (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:57am

    My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    No, really.

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

    It's still an awesome letter though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ruben, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:36pm

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

      That's why they're teaching. The real world was too much for them, so now they get off on passing judgement on adolescents.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 1:02pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 1:16pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          AzureSky (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 2:23pm

          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)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2013 @ 8:30am

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

            Any professor that can't manage something like email shouldn't be a professor in ANY discipline.

            If they can't manage change, then there is no way in Hell they would be keeping up with the latest scientific developments....

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Wofl, 30 Aug 2013 @ 3:55pm

          re: print encyclopedia

          "I don't know any instructor past junior high that would let you get away with using a print encyclopedia for a source..."

          Huh?!? It wasn't that long ago, print encyclopedias were the fucking gold standard, till wikipedia showed up.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Andrew, 30 Aug 2013 @ 2:12pm

      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

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 3:13pm

      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."

      Except this wasn't a letter written to a professor, and it was obviously included for comedic effect.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rich, 30 Aug 2013 @ 9:04pm

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

      Many comparisons between the two have shown Wikipedia to be more actual than the Encyclopedia Britannica.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Poor little Mikey,

    Too scared to actually discuss anything that matters with a critic, and too dishonest to admit that he routes known critics' posts to the spam filter.

    What a fucking joke. What a fucking pussy.

    Anytime, Mikey. Anytime. But you and I both know that you'll never be man enough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      slinkySlim, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:24pm

      Re:

      I've read everything you've put out. Including your little wet noodle skirmishes. You. Got. Nothing.

      You're, like, a douche, and stuff.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:30pm

      Re:

      Normally, when someone I respect is being accused of doing "Bad Thing XYZ", I ask/demand to see the evidence to support the accusation.
      Not here. I don't care the slightest bit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 1:34pm

      Re:

      Why would Mike waste his time?

      You are too dishonest to admit that you are not a critic.

      Your spam, ignorance, inaccuracies, personal attacks and sometimes just outright lies are rightly filtered.

      An honest critic would have something constructive to express in an adult fashion.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 1:36pm

      Re:

      Do most men obsessively compile Pastebin manifestos? Who knew?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ruben, 30 Aug 2013 @ 1:57pm

      Re:

      Do you offer your harassment services for hire? I'd love to see what kind of shit you can stir up over at trichordist.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2013 @ 8:32am

      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)....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2013 @ 7:42pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Akari Mizunashi (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:40pm

    I smell a new Techdirt t-shirt in the works.

    A lollipop design with a copyright "c" marked out like a no-smoking sign.

    When should we expect them? Can we pre-order?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:49pm

      Re:

      I'll take 10! *Finds cannon, steals it, robs bank, stuffs money down cannon, aims cannon only half-assed where Techdirt HQ is, then let's er rip*

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        AB, 30 Aug 2013 @ 1:08pm

        Re: Re:

        Uh oh, now you've done it! You said you would rob a bank and fire a cannon at someone. Hear those sirens? They're coming for you...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 1:09pm

    That.

    Was. Amazing.

    The footnotes are the funniest part.

    Whenever I need a copyright lawyer, Andrew Delaney and Jorge Pivar-Federici are the first people I'm going to call - just so I can pay them to read their letters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 1:10pm

    (Anytime, Mikey. Anytime. But you and I both know that you'll never be man enough.)


    watch it guys captain badass found our lair of lulz.


    (What a fucking joke. What a fucking pussy)

    *plays worlds smallest violin* do you feel sad sir?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 2:29pm

      Re:

      watch it guys captain badass found our lair of lulz.

      Nah, that's not Captain Badass.

      It's just AJ starting early on his holiday weekend drinking binge.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AB, 30 Aug 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Agreed. It's as if Terry Pratchett became a lawyer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Johnson, 30 Aug 2013 @ 1:15pm

    سمَـَّوُوُحخ ̷̴̐خ ̷̴̐خ ̷̴̐خ امارتيخ ̷̴̐خ

    That reply letter is awesome.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 2:20pm

    Meh. That letter is full of meh. Way over the top. Sounds like they read the one from the lawyer in New Jersey and thought "Man I wish I had written that!" So they did. Personally, I prefer a drier wit.

    I doubt they did as good a job for their reputation than they think.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Andrew, 30 Aug 2013 @ 3:04pm

      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."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 2:59pm

    considering the total fuck ups the banks have made and how we bailed them out so practically own them all, i would have said that they need to ask us if they can do anything, not the other way around!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 7:33pm

    DAMN DAMN DAMN!

    48 years of hating lawyers shot down the john! This guy actually makes me LIKE A LAWYER! A perfect record shot to hell! I hope he's happy! Damn lawyer

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 8:28pm

    That letter is epic! Well done!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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