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.

Filed Under: 512(f), 512f, censorship, copyright, dmca, greg doucette, marc randazza, scholarship, sons of confederate veterans
Companies: dropbox, unc


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2019 @ 9:25am

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2019 @ 10:46am

      Re:

      I believe that the most respectfully accurate way I can describe him is that he will always go for the broadest possible interpretation of the First Amendment, with the utmost confidence that he is right and his opponents are wrong.

      Given that people of such unwavering, impassioned vindication are generally placed firmly on the other side of Constitutional rights, it's good to have him around to provide a balance.

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

      • identicon
        Adam, 9 Dec 2019 @ 11:37am

        Re: Re:

        Even if what you say about him is true, the constant unethical way he goes about defending his position is something that isn't good to have around. His history reads more to me as that of someone who has an unwavering, impassioned belief that money is more important than either the First Amendment or the ethics he was supposed to learn about in law school.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2019 @ 4:19pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          He takes many pro bono cases, including several very unpopular high-profile ones recently. I really do not think it is about the money.

          But as far as ethics are concerned... when I say that he will always fight on the side of the First Amendment, I mean that he will regularly scratch, punch, bite, gouge, kick, trample, and/or teabag anything or anyone which suggests that perhaps the First Amendment doesn't cover that particular speech.

          Metaphorically, of course. He's still a lawyer, after all.

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

          • icon
            Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 10 Dec 2019 @ 6:03am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The thing is, if the speech of the most epic douchenozzles isn't protected, neither is ours.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2019 @ 11:47am

              Indeed. That's why it's important to have someone who pushes back in equal force as those who push in, even if it means playing the devil's advocate a little too aggressively at times.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2019 @ 3:04pm

      Re:

      Guy's got a bit of a mouth.

      You must be new to the Internet. There's a reason the subtitle is "the kraken who says fuck a lot".

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Dec 2019 @ 3:13pm

      'Look, a distraction!'

      He's got a checkered history, but that doesn't change the fact that he has been on multiple occasions, this certainly being one of them, on the right side of things.

      This is a pretty blatant example of copyright abuse, issuing a bogus DMCA claim not over copyright but to hide evidence showing a seriously slimy abuse of the legal system and/or a corrupt deal, so whether or not he's been in questionable stuff in the past is really irrelevant, he's not now.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2019 @ 1:06pm

    The constitution says the government can not deprive him of the right to say it.

    Ethics and dignity says he is full of it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2019 @ 2:23pm

    Randazza sure is big on bluster lately, but his threats seem pretty empty in this case. There's a real danger in believing your own hype. I'd like to see Doucette actually file the suit to see how it plays out.

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

    • icon
      Norahc (profile), 9 Dec 2019 @ 2:26pm

      Re:

      Me too....I'd love to see some teeth finally put into 512(f).

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Dec 2019 @ 9:14pm

      Re:

      Yes and no. While his odds of getting a good ruling might be low given how utterly gutted the law currently is when it comes to abuse of the DMCA, given how desperate the racist losers were to keep everything hidden the mere fact that the entire thing would be brought to court could very well be enough to cause them to cave, as they made clear that the last thing they wanted was attention brought to how utterly empty their claims were.

      As shown in an excerpt from the letter:

      'As we have mentioned dozens of times, despite consulting every known legal source, including those parties who have had success with SCV suits in Virginia and Tennessee, we could not get past the issue in North Carolina law of legal standing in the Silent Sam case so to bring a suit. Even if we had filed suit, our complaint would have been challenged and dismissed immediately without result. After extensive consultation (with judges, retired judges, etc.), we were 100% certain that this would be the outcome.'

      'Further, we have not allowed the issue of standing to be mentioned in any way in the settlement so as not to hamper any future suits we may have to file regarding other memorials.'

      They know(and admit) they have absolutely no case and would be laughed out of any court they tried to bring what passes for their argument in, so the threat of daylight has good odds of causing them to fold like cheap cards and pay the terms demanded if the alternative is even more attention brought to what happened.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2019 @ 7:50am

        Re: Re:

        You think they'd give up 2.5 MILLION dollars to spare some embarrassment? The cat is out of the bag now, it doesn't matter anymore if it's made public.

        Randazza's got nothing and he knows it, hence the pages and pages of his usual BS before he gets to anything approaching his point.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 10 Dec 2019 @ 9:19am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oh it's not embarrassment(I doubt scum like that are capable of feeling embarrassed), it's the fact that if they actually go to court the matter goes from being called out by one person to having the documents in question entered into the legal record, which would make it just a titch harder to try the same con on anyone else in the future.

          They were very careful to keep things as quiet as possible before and during the scam, and likewise were very quick to issue a bogus DMCA claim in an attempt to hide the evidence of their con, so it's pretty clear they really don't want attention to be brought to what they've done, and while that's already failed to an extent it hasn't yet reached the point of an actual lawsuit where all sorts of unpleasant things could come out and be entered into the record for others to see.

          Randazza's position may not be the strongest given how gutted the law is but it's hardly 'nothing', and pair that with a strong aversion to attention on display by the pack of losers and it's not nearly as weak as you seem to be implying.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2019 @ 1:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Of course scammers don't want their scams coming to light. But there's nothing that can be done to stop or undo it now. It's settled.

            Randazza's position isn't just weak, it's almost entirely without merit. Read his letter, it's full of language that is clearly trying to be intimidating, but there's nothing of meaningful legal substance to his threats. The dude should have spent less time trying to be funny and more time studying what 512(f) of the DMCA actually does.

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

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 10 Dec 2019 @ 7:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Of course scammers don't want their scams coming to light. But there's nothing that can be done to stop or undo it now. It's settled.

              It's really not, as I pointed out in my comment which I'm starting to wonder if you actually read. There's a difference between 'this has been exposed by a guy online' and 'this has been brought up in court and verified'. Between 'if you want evidence of what these losers have done, check my site' and 'if you want evidence of what these losers have done, check the court records' one of those has a wee bit more weight than the other.

              Read his letter, it's full of language that is clearly trying to be intimidating, but there's nothing of meaningful legal substance to his threats.

              Other than the legal substance that he noted, about how filing a bogus DMCA claim opens one up to damages? From both the letter and the article:

              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.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Dec 2019 @ 3:03pm

    'You know, unlike your scam...'

    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.

    I'd say someone needs to hand those people some aloe for that burn, but racist losers like that can suffer the pain for all I care.

    While the lawsuit may be mostly a bluff due to the law being watered down to the point of near if not effective uselessness it does serve to keep attention on a spineless if not corrupt deal involving a bunch of racist scum, so at least on those grounds it's worthwhile I'd say, and if there's at least a chance for some actual penalties being applied for copyright fraud might as well give it a go.

    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, 9 Dec 2019 @ 5:34pm

    I suppose the the shit drinkers (literally they piss and shit in their river water and then drink it) in Hate-a phony the concept of calling people hate bigots signify virtue signaling showing how grate the Ca fuck tarts are. All it signifies to the residents of the Old South is that the shit drinkers are a bunch of fucktarts.

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

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 9 Dec 2019 @ 11:04pm

    Could someone translate this into English?

    I might be able to after a 12 pack.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2019 @ 3:09am

    Hats off to Doucette for the takedown of threatening a white supremecist org to fund non-white education over a bogus takedown of a letter which exposes their shady deals.

    Keep us up to date on this one, Mike. Its gonna be a doozie.

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


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