Judge Benchslaps Richard Liebowitz Again Over His Request To Not Have To Tell Everyone About Previous Sanctions

from the not-gonna-happen dept

Judge Jesse Furman clearly is not interested in copyright troll Richard Liebowitz's games any more. As you may recall, Furman put together that massive benchslap of Liebowitz last month, detailing the many, many, many times Liebowitz failed to follow court orders, and plenty of examples of where he appeared to lie to the court. Furman also included an appendix with an astounding list of 40 examples in other cases where Liebowitz had been found to similarly fail to follow court orders and/or lie to the court. The ruling concluded with Liebowitz being sanctioned a bit over $100k, but also with requirements that he send the order to all of his clients and every other judge handling a Liebowitz case.

Earlier this week, we wrote about Liebowitz (finally represented by other lawyers) trying to get those other sanctions removed (he paid the money, but doesn't want to have to tell others about this ruling). His lawyers took the bold strategy of saying that it would be unfair to Liebowitz's clients to have to inform them of what a terrible lawyer he is -- and tried to excuse all the sanctions and failed order following as a result of (1) inexperience and (2) a "unique" business model of filing way too many cases.

Judge Furman is, shall we say, not impressed. He took all of two days to issue a 14 page order that is basically an encore presentation to the original benchslap. The first paragraph sets the tone:

On June 26, 2020, the Court issued a fifty-four page Opinion and Order — familiarity with which is assumed — imposing a range of monetary and non-monetary sanctions on the oft-sanctioned Plaintiff’s counsel Richard Liebowitz and his firm, the Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC.... The sanctions were based on three sets of detailed findings: first, that Mr. Liebowitz had violated “at least six of the Court’s Orders”; second, that he repeatedly lied to the Court, including under oath at a hearing, about whether he had been granted permission by a mediator (the “Mediator”) for his client to participate in a mediation session by telephone; and third, that he had failed to reasonably investigate whether the photograph at issue (the “Photograph”) had been registered with the Copyright Office (it hadn’t), both prior to filing suit and when put on notice about the issue during the litigation.... The Court found that the sanctions, several of which involve notifying other clients and courts about the Court’s Opinion and Order, were reasonably necessary to deter repetition of the misconduct given Mr. Liebowitz’s “long and ignominious history.” ... Mr. Liebowitz and his firm had thirty days to comply with several of the sanctions.... Two evenings ago — that is, twenty-four days after the Court’s decision and only four business days before the deadline — they filed a motion (styled as an order to show cause) asking the Court to stay those sanctions pending appeal.

You may sense that Furman is not happy about all this. He notes that there are four factors in determining whether or not a court should issue a stay regarding such sanctions pending an appeal: "(1) whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely tosucceed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absenta stay; (3) whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other partiesinterested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public interest lies." He then notes: "the Court finds that the Movants do not come close to carrying their heavy burden."

But Judge Furman is just getting warmed up:

The Court is tempted to leave things there and let its Opinion and Order, with its exhaustive findings and analysis, speak for itself. (Mr. Liebowitz’s shenanigans have surely consumed enough of this Court’s time and resources as it is.) But a few observations are in order, if only to aid the Circuit in the event that the Movants decide to now burden that court with having to decide on short notice whether a stay pending appeal is warranted.

Let's just say that if a judge says that about you in an order, the rest of the document is not going to go well for you. Judge Furman highlights, as we did, that any "harm" done to Liebowitz from having to share the sanctions order is not from the sanctions order, but from Liebowitz's own actions that resulted in the order:

For starters, the Movants’ claims of irreparable harm ring hollow for several reasons. First, the Movants’ principal claim is that the sanctions — which require service of the Court’s Opinion and Order on current and future clients and in current and future actions — will result in “severe and irreparable reputational and economic harm to their law practice.”... But any harm to Movants’ reputations resulting from the mere act of sharing the Court’s Opinion and Order is caused not by the sanctions themselves, but by growing awareness of Mr. Liebowitz’s own conduct and record, which are accurately recounted in the Court’s Opinion and Order. Notably, the Movants attack none of the history recounted in the Court’s Opinion and Order and few of the Court’s factual findings, and, as discussed below, their attacks on those findings are entirely unpersuasive.

And then he points out that the sanctions could have been worse, and that the court was actually somewhat restrained in how it chose to issue sanctions:

Significantly, the Court did not bar or even inhibit the Movants from filing any new action — though such sanctions have long been approved with respect to vexatious litigants.... Instead, its order merely requires the Movants to share information — that is, the Opinion and Order — with their clients and any courts in which they appear for a time, on the theory that they may be deterred from further misconduct by the knowledge that their clients and courts are likely to be more vigilant. Requiring a party to share truthful information — here, that this Court made certain findings and, on the basis of those findings, imposed sanctions on the Movants — does not constitute irreparable harm.

There's also a footnote crammed in there noting that Liebowitz was free to inform his clients that he disagreed with the court's findings and sanctions, or that he was planning to challenge them.

Second, to the extent that awareness of the Court’s Opinion and Order will cause the Movants’ reputational and economic harm, much of that harm has already occurred. As the old saying goes, the cat is out of the bag. The Court’s Opinion and Order is a public document and, due in no small part to Mr. Liebowitz’s well-deserved notoriety, it has already received fairly extensive publicity in the press and social media, particularly in the copyright world. Granting a stay would not undo any of that damage (which, needless to say, is ultimately attributable to Mr. Liebowitz’s own deplorable conduct rather than to the Court’s Opinion and Order itself). Put another way, the potential harm here is not irreparable; it is only marginal.

And here, there's a footnote citing much of the coverage about the original order (including our own post about it).

Judge Furman also notes Liebowitz waiting until the clock was about to run out before filing this request:

Finally, a court “must consider a plaintiff’s delay in seeking relief when analyzing whether the plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of relief.”... That is because “inexcusable delay in filing” a motion to stay “severely undermines the . . . argument that absent a stay irreparable harm would result.” Hirschfeld v. Bd. of Elections, 984 F.2d 35, 39 (2d Cir. 1993) (rebuking the Board of Elections for seeking a stay twenty-eight days after judgment was entered and only six days before election day). As noted, the Court gave the Movants thirty days in which to comply with the relevant sanctions or seek appropriate relief. Nevertheless, they waited until day twenty-four to seek a stay (at which point, no less, they proposed giving their adversary only three days in which to respond). Put simply, the Movants’ “delay, in itself, belies [their] conclusory assertions of irreparable harm” and “is enough to defeat [their] claim.”

By this point, it appears that Furman is still only getting warmed up. Because then he digs in on whether or not Liebowitz showed a likelihood of success on the merits, and the Judge would give that question a big, giant, humongous: "Nah." Let's just say, again, that this is not the kind of language you want to see in any order regarding an issue you're a party to:

Their first attack is on the Court’s factual findings about Mr. Liebowitz’s lies with respect to the Mediator and his knowledge that the Photograph in question was not registered prior to filing the Complaint. But reading their motion papers, one wonders if they even read the Court’s Opinion and Order. With respect to Mr. Liebowitz’s lies regarding the Mediator, the Movants do little more than cherry pick a single email that they argue (unpersuasively) is more “equivocal” than the Court acknowledged.... In doing so, however, they all but ignore the fact that the Court’s findings were based in large part on its credibility assessments, following a full-blown evidentiary hearing, of the Mediator’s and Mr. Liebowitz’s testimony.

Just a general suggestion should you ever be facing an angry judge: don't try to cherry pick statements out of context. It won't work. And a judge may come back with this:

Meanwhile, the Movants attack a straw man when they contend that the Court erred by finding that Mr. Liebowitz “initiated this action knowing the Photograph was unregistered.”... Put simply, that portion of the Court’s sanctions decision was not based on a finding that Mr. Liebowitz knew when the complaint was filed that the Photograph had not yet been registered; indeed, the Court acknowledged that Mr. Liebowitz may not have personally known about the lack of registration at the time of filing.... Instead, the Court faulted Mr. Liebowitz and his firm for their “inexcusable failure to conduct a reasonable investigation before and during the case.”... Moreover, the Movants conspicuously focus solely on Mr. Liebowitz’s knowledge when the Complaint was filed and say next to nothing about the Court’s findings and analysis with respect to his or the firm’s knowledge and conduct “during” the case. As the Court emphasized, however, whatever knowledge the Movants may have had before filing suit, they certainly knew or should have known about the untimely registration by November 2019, when defense counsel explicitly put them “on notice of what turns out to have been a fatal defect in the Complaint.”... At that point, if not before, the Movants had an “obligation to investigate,” yet they conducted “no investigation” whatsoever until ordered to do so months later by the Court.... To the contrary, Mr. Liebowitz affirmatively represented to the Court that the registration alleged in the Complaint was “the correct” one and resisted discovery on the issue.... Mr. Liebowitz did not admit, as the Movants do now, that he lacked independent knowledge of the registration, let alone acknowledge, as the Movants do now, that the allegation in the Complaint was false; had he done so, the Court and Defendant would have learned sooner that the case was fatally flawed from its inception.

How about the claims that the sanctions are "disproportionate." Again, that's not going to fly, especially when the cases they cited in support... say the opposite.

The Court is confident, however, that the record set forth in the Opinion and Order, taken as a whole, justifies the scope and severity of the chosen sanctions. Ironically, the cases that the Movants themselves cite make plain that the Court acted well within its authority in imposing the sanctions on a nationwide basis. See, e.g., Gallop v. Cheney, 667 F.3d 226, 230 (2d Cir. 2012) (requiring counsel to “provide notice of sanctions imposed upon him in this case . . . to any federal court” in the Circuit “before which he appears or seeks to appear” for “a period of one year from the entry of [the] order”); Enmon v. Prospect Capital Corp., 675 F.3d 138, 148 (2d Cir. 2012) (affirming the district court’s sanctions order requiring a firm’s lawyers to submit the order “with any pro hac vice applications in the Southern District of New York”).

There's also a fun footnote here:

In a footnote, the Movants suggest that the Court may have separately erred “in sanctioning Mr. Liebowitz and [his firm] for their conduct before other courts.” .... Putting aside the fact that a party may not raise an argument in a footnote, that argument is frivolous. The Court did not rely on the Movants’ “[v]iolations of orders in other litigation” as “the basis” of its decision to impose sanctions..... Instead, it took stock of Mr. Liebowitz’s “long and ignominious history” in evaluating what sanctions were necessary to deter further misconduct... The Court is not aware of, and the Movants do not cite, any authority for the extreme proposition that a court should blind itself to an attorney’s history of misconduct in crafting appropriate sanctions.

And then there's the kicker. Judge Furman basically says, "dude, I let you off pretty easy, all things considered, and you come back with this?!?"

Indeed, if anything, the Movants’ own cases suggest that the Court did not go as far as it could have, given that the sanctions are limited in time and do not limit their ability to file new cases, but merely require disclosure.... The Movants are undoubtedly correct in asserting that “nationwide sanctions” are rare... but that is only because they are rarely warranted. Here, they were, as the record makes clear that the Movants’ practice — and misconduct — has begun to spread to other districts. Given that record, limiting sanctions to this District (or this Circuit) would not have been adequate to deter repetition of the misconduct; the Movants could simply file suits elsewhere. That is, the Court’s sanctions ensure that, for at least a year, any courts in which the Movants are litigating are “alert” to Mr. Liebowitz’s “past activities so that they may take judicial notice of matters relevant to new litigation brought by him.”... Anything less would be insufficient to deter repetition of Mr. Liebowitz’s misconduct.

There's also a further note in a footnote questioning why Liebowitz is so insistent on filing cases in other districts... where his reputation has already been noted. And then adds in a dig about Liebowitz already admitting that he doesn't quite have a handle on how to manage all these lawsuits he keeps filing:

The Movants may have expanded the geographic scope of their practice in order to file more cases and make more money. Or they may have done so in an effort to escape Mr. Liebowitz’s well-earned reputation as a problem in this District. (Not surprisingly, Mr. Liebowitz’s reputation seems to have either preceded him or to be catching up with him. See, e.g., In re Richard P. Liebowitz, No. 19-MC-80228 (JD), ECF No. 17, at 1-2 (N.D. Cal. June 12, 2020) (noting that Mr. Liebowitz’s “unprofessional and blameworthy conduct” is “consistent with the extensive public record of discipline he has amassed in courts across the United States”); Mondragon v. Nosrak LLC, No. 19-CV-1437 (CMA) (NRN), 2020 WL 2395641, at *1, *14 (D. Colo. May 11, 2020) (“Mr. Liebowitz’s continued practice of law represents a clear and present danger to the fair and efficient administration of justice . . . .”).) Either way, the decision to expand the firm’s practice is a strange one given Mr. Liebowitz’s own acknowledgment that his business management practices are “not [the] best” and that “things need to change.”

Then there's the claim that Liebowitz made that requiring him to file a deposit copy of the copyright registration was somehow unduly burdensome. Remember, part of the problem in this case was that Liebowitz had claimed this photograph was registered, but it was not, and he had provided the registration number of a different work. So this sanction was to make sure that Liebowitz was actually doing the bare minimum required under the law -- which Liebowitz argued is somehow unfair and takes away the rights of his clients. But, as Judge Furman notes, that's not how any of this works:

Finally, the Movants assert in passing that, by requiring the Movants to file a deposit copy of a copyright registration upon the initiation of an action, the Court impermissibly “alter[ed] the statutory presumption of validity in copyright cases.” ... Not so. The statute at issue provides only that “[p]ossession of a registration certificate creates a rebuttable presumption that the work in question” — that is, the work covered by the certificate — “is copyrightable”.... That presumption, however, is not even remotely implicated by the Court’s sanction requiring the Movants to verify and confirm that any work at issue in a new lawsuit is actually registered — which, after all, is a statutory condition precedent to even filing a copyright claim.... Moreover, the Movants’ argument falls flat for another reason: The sanction was imposed on them, based on their history of failing to investigate the evidentiary basis of their own pleadings, not on their current or future clients. That is, although violation of the sanction would subject the Movants to contempt in this Court, it would not in any way (at least absent independent action by the court presiding over the new action) affect the substantive rights of the Movants’ clients themselves.

Also, the claim that it would be too costly for Liebowitz to obtain the deposit copies from the Copyright Office? That's so silly that Furman responds to it in a footnote:

On a related note, the Movants complain that the costs and delays involved in obtaining deposit copies of copyrighted works from the Copyright Office will reduce their clients’ recoveries and may result in statute-of-limitations problems.... The Court’s sanction may reduce some recoveries (although one would think that Mr. Liebowitz would absorb the difference rather than passing the costs on to his clients), but there are reasons to think the Movants overstate the potential impact. By Mr. Liebowitz’s own admission, he settles cases “in the low thousands or tens of thousands of dollars,”... a far cry from the $200 to $1,200 cost of obtaining a deposit copy.... Moreover, the sanction could serve to reduce the Movants’ overall expenses, given the substantial monetary sanctions that Mr. Liebowitz routinely incurs. Indeed, this is at least the third time that he and his clients have been made to pay approximately $100,000 due to his misconduct.... In any event, the costs are the price of the Movants’ misconduct and, for reasons already stated, they are necessary to deter and prevent future misconduct.

He also (in the same footnote) rejects the claim that having to get the deposit copy will create unnecessary delay, since you have three years to file a copyright infringement lawsuit, but does agree to modify the agreement just to clarify that point:

That said, to ensure that the Court’s sanction does not unintentionally harm a client through no fault of his or her own, the Court modifies the sanction (Sanction 6) to include the following proviso: In any case in which the Movants have a good-faith belief that waiting for deposit copies might cause their client’s claim to be barred by the statute of limitations, they may file, in lieu of the deposit copies, an affidavit (1) informing the court of such good-faith belief; (2) confirming that they have applied for, and are awaiting, deposit copies of the work(s) at issue; and (3) representing that they will promptly file such copies promptly upon their receipt.

Then there's the public interest question regarding the sanctions. Liebowitz claims they're not in the public interest. Take a wild, wild guess where the court came down on that. You may be a psychic, because I'm pretty sure you got this one right:

In the Court’s view, there is a strong public interest in shining a bright light on Mr. Liebowitz’s extraordinary record of misconduct and in ensuring that both courts and his clients, current and future, are aware of that history so that they can be vigilant in scrutinizing Mr. Liebowitz’s conduct....

Against that strong public interest, the Movants cite the “interest in the continuation of [their] law practice” because they have carved out “a successful law practice that provides a realistic prospect of recovery to copyright plaintiffs in relatively low-dollar infringement cases that otherwise could go unfiled.”... But the sanctions do not bar the Movants from “continu[ing their] law practice,” and Movants’ conclusory assertion that such cases would not be filed without them is unsubstantiated. (Moreover, to the extent that the Movants’ success is built on unsavory business practices or conduct unbecoming an officer of the court, it is, of course, not at all in the public interest for it to be perpetuated.) Nor do the Court’s sanctions deprive photographers of the opportunity to hire Mr. Leibowitz or his firm to bring suit. The sanctions merely ensure that such photographers do so with their eyes wide open, cognizant of the fact that they could be left holding the bag on a hefty attorney’s fee or sanctions award, see, e.g., Rock, 2020 WL 468904, at *2 (ordering Mr. Liebowitz’s client to pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees over $100,000), and of Mr. Liebowitz’s tendency to cut and run, perhaps sacrificing their interests in the process, when he feels that the heat is on him personally, see Usherson, 2020 WL 3483661, at *1. In short, insofar as the sanctions provide Mr. Liebowitz’s clients and courts with more information about his past, it is in the public interest for them to go into effect now, while the Grievance Committee ponders Mr. Liebowitz’s fate longer term.

In short: don't try to play games with a federal judge.

Bringing it all around:

In sum, the Movants’ eleventh-hour request for a stay of the Court’s sanctions pending appeal is denied and the Court’s sanctions remain in full force and effect....

Nor will the Court grant the Movants’ alternative request for an “administrative” stay pending the Circuit’s decision on whether to grant a stay pending appeal.... Granting an administrative stay would obviously ease the burden on the Circuit in the event that it is called upon to decide if a longer stay is warranted. In the Court’s view, however, that virtue is outweighed by the vice of rewarding an appellant for dilatory conduct. Deadlines matter. And having given Mr. Liebowitz and his firm sufficient time to either comply or seek a stay, the Court should not be forced to alter its deadline merely because they waited until the last minute to do the latter. Instead, in the event of an appeal from this Order, the Court will leave it to Mr. Liebowitz and his firm to explain to the Circuit why they put that court in the position of deciding whether to grant a stay with only a few days remaining on the clock.

It's pretty crazy that Liebowitz always seems to know when to cut and run when he's put his own clients into an untenable position, but when his own ass is on the line, he has a history of digging deeper. I assume this one is not over yet.

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Filed Under: copyright, copyright troll, jesse furman, richard liebowitz, sanctions


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2020 @ 3:36pm

    This is just neverending fun. Someone could write a sitcom based on these hilariously absurd shennanigans.

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

    • identicon
      Not THAT Ac, 24 Jul 2020 @ 4:18am

      Re:

      This could be the first comment on nearly every TD story these days, and still make sense.

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

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Jul 2020 @ 4:24am

        Re: Re:

        "This could be the first comment on nearly every TD story these days, and still make sense."

        Not sure about that. The Trump presidency and political stories surrounding it might make for a good old greek farce but it's a bit dark to make a decent sitcom out of.

        Liebowitz and Prenda would do for a decent pair of mini-series though.

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

        • identicon
          Not THAT AC, 24 Jul 2020 @ 9:40am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Perhaps - More League of Gentlemen or Inside number 9 territory then - I do like my humour dark.

          I now have a hankering to see if "The President's brain is missing" can still be viewed, and whether it's worn well.

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

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 27 Jul 2020 @ 4:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Well, if golden oldies to fit these modern time is what we're looking at then I'd advocate for;

            "The Emperor's New Clothes".
            "I, Claudius".
            "Yes, Prime Minister".
            ...and just about anything written by Terry Pratchett.

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

    • identicon
      Coffee U, 24 Jul 2020 @ 6:51am

      Re: TV shows about villians

      My only fear about a TV show of a lawyer like this, is they might spin it as an anti-hero sort of tale, rather than purely about someone who quite clearly is merely a bottom feeding inept parasite of society. Granted, I think few people really think of themselves as "villians," but perhaps that's where a few shows could go?

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 3:45pm

    Richard Liebowitz, to his lawyers: I told you assholes to dig up! Up!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2020 @ 4:07pm

    I hope he keeps trying, gets further sanctioned and eventually disbarred. He should end up under a restraining order preventing him from having anything whatsoever to do with law practice including having lawyer friends. Though he probably already has enough money to retire comfortably anywhere in the world, if he does have to work I hope he winds up at a minimum wage job because he's not qualified for anything else.

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

    • identicon
      MathFox, 24 Jul 2020 @ 10:03am

      I understood that his case was already referred to the bar disciplinary board. This order will be another source of citation for the board.
      Problem is that the board can be 100% certain that Liebowitz will appeal a disbarment order. So they can't just say "disbar the guy", their order has to be appeal-proof. That takes some time to achieve.

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 4:12pm

    such sanctions have long been approved with respect to vexatious litigants

    Ouch

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

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 4:25pm

    In Liebowitz;s filing he says they brought someone in and had new case tracking an alerts put on their cases to improve their litigation management of the cases they have ongoing?

    So does this mean that Richard will be looking for a refund on this case management , or do the alerts get the snooze alarm treatment at his firm? Because for Richard's so called improvements by the expert or guru he brought in, there sure doesnt seem to be any improvement of what a train wreck his litigation strategy is becoming.

    And using the Prenda Law "Double down and I am the victim here strategy" never worked well for them either... just an FYI Richard

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2020 @ 4:34pm

    Well, dang.

    Cashed in my Popcorn Options at the height of the Prenda saga. I wasn't paying attention when the first of the Liebowitz stories began to surface, and some of the other Techdirt commenters bought up the whole popcorn market for the next several years. I coulda opened a cinema chain, if I'd stayed in the market!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2020 @ 4:35pm

    This is one of the funnest story-lines on Techdirt since Prenda. I'll be a bit sad when it's over.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2020 @ 2:08am

      Re:

      Liebowitz seems to be different from the Prenda and Malibu Media stories - those were more plentiful because Prenda and Malibu Media had a bunch of lawyers under their wings and performing their operations, and all of them pretty much happened to be incompetent, assholes, or both. Liebowitz is a different story in that he seems to want to do everything himself, even if that "do everything" has a "poorly" appended to the back of it.

      That said, if you're looking for your Prenda fix, that horse (with no name) is amazingly still not quite dead, though I imagine Techdirt is kinda sick of covering it. Never mind failing his appeals for release, the latter of which involved a "let me out of jail because COVID-19 exists" excuse, Paul Hansmeier's most recent big brain play involved asking the courts to let him official restart his honeypot, due to "recently securing the rights to a porn movie"... while behind bars.

      Like, there's being a glutton for punishment, and then there's being a fucking bulimic for masochism.

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

      • icon
        bhull242 (profile), 24 Jul 2020 @ 10:53am

        Re: Re:

        Wait, didn’t he declare bankruptcy? How did he get the funds to acquire the rights to anything while behind bars? I think that he might just be digging himself a deeper hole.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 24 Jul 2020 @ 12:31pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If memory serves at one point one of the prenda gang declared that they couldn't pay one of the numerous fines levied against them because they were broke while at the same time buying a new pool or hot-tub at one of their houses, so they're quite used to claiming to be broke while throwing money around with abandon.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2020 @ 8:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Suffice to say, Hansmeier has been very active in fighting his 14-year jail term. While Techdirt hasn't been covering it, Torrentfreak reported that Hansmeier first appealed his jail term in June 2019, which was formally rejected by the court in February 2020.

          Naturally, Hansmeier pulled every possible avenue and approach in his appeal, relying on daddy's resources and his family's testimony, plus having his lawyer argue the old "you're not allowed to punish me this much because this should have been put through criminal courts" angle - i.e. the same angle Prenda defender Voelker tried to argue to Judge Harry Pregerson.

          How Hansmeier convinced anyone to give him the rights to anything is anyone's guess, but given Prenda's traditional model of convincing porn companies to work with them, and how copyright plaintiffs are always dumb enough to believe in quick settlement money, I'd say that Hansmeier has no shortage of idiots to fleece.

          What's interesting (or dumb, depending on how you look at it) is that Hansmeier claims to have secured an investigator outside prison to assist him with this plan, having already "posted a torrent file to a notorious digital piracy website" - and submitted all of this via a handwritten letter to the court. Also included is a proposal that this will be an "open" honeypot with no alter egos or LLCs to hide behind... because apparently that was the problem with the original Prenda scheme.

          Torrentfreak has the full story here, if you want a real life replication of Monty Python's Ron Obvious sketch and demonstration of how inconceivably, irreparably dumbfucked a person can become.

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 25 Jul 2020 @ 1:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I swear it's like watching a crack addict doing everything they can to get their fix, with the only difference being that I would feel sorry for the crack addict whereas I only feel contempt and disgust for Hansmeier who apparently just cannot let go of his copyright extortion fixation, showing that contrary to what I'd noted before about how copyright extortionists need to be locked up to stop them for at least one of that despicable lot even that isn't enough to get the job done.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 25 Jul 2020 @ 6:31pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I prefer to look at Hansmeier's actions from a more encouraging perspective - in the same way that Nigeria and India have become synonymous with 419 emails and tech support scam calls, Prenda Law's deeds have painted a whopping big target on anyone else trying to pull off similarly scandalous shenanigans.

              It's no coincidence that Malibu Media and Strike 3's respective appeals to judges was to plead their "differences" from Prenda Law, despite all appearances to contrary. Every action taken by Prenda and Hansmeier is an indication that there is no low that copyright enforcers won't stoop to, just so they can rip off the next army veteran or half-blind grandparent. Eventually there will come a point where judges finally get tired of copyright plaintiffs claiming "good faith" to avoid paying attorney fees for the defense or have their evidence impartially analyzed, and give them the boot as well.

              The more scrutiny Hansmeier invites on the rest of his fellow scammers, the better.

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

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 27 Jul 2020 @ 5:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "...if you want a real life replication of Monty Python's Ron Obvious sketch and demonstration of how inconceivably, irreparably dumbfucked a person can become."

            The only way it could get even better would be for good old Baghdad Bob to swing by and wax lyrical about Hansmeier's genius.

            Poor old Bobmail hasn't been at his best lately, though, and it might be he can't even muster his customary response to the signs his boyhood idol still lives...

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2020 @ 7:12pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Part of the reason I haven't been reading Torrentfreak as avidly as I used to is the Disqus comment engine. It keeps out the trolls, but also deletes comments completely if they're considered spammy or downvoted enough, which means you can no longer quote bobmail on his original idiocy. On the other hand, even as early as 2013 Prenda was already becoming extremely indefensible, despite bobmail's - and later fitta's - attempts to put copyright enforcement in a positive light.

              Even here, bobmail's anonymized persona of Jhon Smith hasn't been able to show up since late 2019. It's possible he's contracted a severe case of advanced embarrassment, based on his displayed symptoms of being a third-degree fucknugget. Personally I'd like to think he tried to claim the copyright to COVID-19's mailing list.

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

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 4:42am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "...the Disqus comment engine. It keeps out the trolls, but also deletes comments completely if they're considered spammy or downvoted enough, which means you can no longer quote bobmail on his original idiocy."

                Which is unfortunate. One of the more notable things about him is how he always reveals the same tells he's been dropping since about 2010.

                "...despite bobmail's - and later fitta's - attempts to put copyright enforcement in a positive light."

                Yeah, haven't seen Nejtillpirater/fitta around much. I think that might be because swedish astroturfers ceased getting paid so that worthy "defender" of copyright decided the cause wasn't worth his time pro bono.

                "It's possible he's contracted a severe case of advanced embarrassment, based on his displayed symptoms of being a third-degree fucknugget."

                I somehow doubt that. There have been several comments lately I'm pretty sure are by him. It's just that phase in his regular cycle, I believe. You know, the one which starts with one-line ad homs, goes through wordwalls where he actually makes a little effort selling his fundamentally flawed logic, and finally ends up as the online equivalent of hysterical screaming, with MANY CAPS.
                And if it goes on long enough, always followed by a "long-time-reader-first-time-poster" attemps at guilt-tripping people by having yet another sock puppet lament the "deplorable conditions here" and promising NEVER to return.

                Then he goes off to sulk for one to three months and returns with the one-line ad homs.

                "Personally I'd like to think he tried to claim the copyright to COVID-19's mailing list."

                ...or tried to patent a bleach/chloroquine cocktail. Self-destructive idiocy by way of dunning-kruger is kinda like his thing.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2020 @ 11:29pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Which is unfortunate. One of the more notable things about him is how he always reveals the same tells he's been dropping since about 2010.

                  The ability to track which idiot trolls said which thing is something I've always appreciated precisely because they're really not shy about their desires to anally rape their victims through costly copyright litigation. You also have the one-offs like the guy who wrote a book on card-counting and went on an anti-SciHub rant until Andrew Norton calmly called him out for it. It's a huge shame because troll diatribes are a huge help when it come to introducing laymen to the truth about copyright law, but at least Techdirt has a wealth of copyright enforcers and fans behaving very badly.

                  Yeah, haven't seen Nejtillpirater/fitta around much.

                  I remember Nejtillpirater, but then he was already using a login before TF switched to Disqus and became much more heavy-handed on anonymous comments. But then you and I seem to regularly disagree on the identity of these idiots where you believe all of them are the same copyright fanatic with the life+70 IV drip. It's not practical to fake multiple personae of stupidity. I've tried - mimicking unfiltered dumbassery is not nearly as easy as you might think it is.

                  Then he goes off to sulk for one to three months and returns with the one-line ad homs.

                  This much, though, I can believe. There were a few instances where Jhon revisited old threads just to drop comments such as "Newspapers died because Craigslist" and PaulT caught him out on it.

                  Self-destructive idiocy by way of dunning-kruger is kinda like his thing.

                  A shame it didn't happen sooner.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2020 @ 3:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Getting a porn video could be easy, since there's plenty of back catalogue that hasn't been hoovered up by MindGeek yet but isn't making any money by traditional distribution.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 4:47pm

    Now go away or I shall bench-slap you another time.

    Now that is something you never want to be on the receiving end of, a judge completely out of patience and benefit of the doubt, who is absolutely done with being polite and is willing to call you a liar to your face.

    I'd say LIebowitz should just take accept the ruling and try to move on, but given telling all his potential clients and any judges he might find himself in front of what a rampant liar he is stands to utterly tank his little copyright extortion racket I imagine he's going to be fighting this as long as possible, doing everything he can to wiggle out of this one as it seems this judge finally found a punishment that Liebowitz will actually care about.

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

    • identicon
      David, 24 Jul 2020 @ 2:40am

      Re: Now go away or I shall bench-slap you another time.

      Now that is something you never want to be on the receiving end of, a judge completely out of patience and benefit of the doubt, who is absolutely done with being polite and is willing to call you a liar to your face.

      Actually, that tends to be a good starting point for having a verdict overturned because of partiality.

      In this particular case, the judge does not appear to overlook crossing his "T"s when being fed up with the plaintiff. So making any part of the appeal stick will be a rather tricky feat.

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 4:51pm

    Yikes!

    That is quite the beatdown. And the judge wasn't even holding a club.

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

    • icon
      Norahc (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 5:45pm

      Re: Yikes!

      If this is the type of benchslap this judge gives out with just his gavel, I can't wait to see what happens when he puts the "bench" into benchslap.

      Hopefully they bring in Michael Buffer to act as the MC during Liebowitz's next sanctions hearing.

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

  • identicon
    Jamie, 23 Jul 2020 @ 5:13pm

    I feel there's a fascinating psychological story to be told here. I hope someone with a far higher tolerance for nonsense that I have writes it some day.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Jul 2020 @ 2:31am

      Re:

      "I feel there's a fascinating psychological story to be told here."

      Possibly. Under normal circumstances the village idiot combining broken logic with obsessive-compulsive lying doesn't get to make a whole career out of it other than being the "charming local color" in the little rural burgh of Podunk, Iowa.

      I'm inclined the fascinating story would have more to do with the society which provides such fertile career opportunities for the type of grifters who'd make New Clothes for Emperors and still manage to provide the nonexistant fabric with uncomfortable seams...

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

      • identicon
        David, 24 Jul 2020 @ 2:48am

        Re: Re:

        While I applaud the sentiment in your comment, I want to point out that the Republican primaries to the last presidential election were won by none other than Donald Trump.

        And frankly, that's the point where I'd so much wanted to rest my case.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Jul 2020 @ 4:34am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I want to point out that the Republican primaries to the last presidential election were won by none other than Donald Trump."

          I don't think that undercuts my assertion that it's the society people like Liebowitz manages to make a career in which is fascinating.

          I mean, to continue my analogue above, there's no real wonder that there's ample work for clothiers specializing in "invisible" - yet extremely expensive - cloth if the society keeps producing Emperor's in need of a new wardrobe.

          At that point the analogue breaks down of course. In the real world it's painfully obvious the boy who shouts that the emperor is parading his dingleberries in full view gets called a traitor and a liberal leftie rather than listened to.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Jul 2020 @ 4:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "And frankly, that's the point where I'd so much wanted to rest my case."

          Sane people everywhere agree with you.

          And then there's the cult of Trump who for some reason still manages to run things.

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

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 5:49pm

    Judge Furman is, shall we say, not impressed. He took all of two days to issue a 14 page order

    Two days? Obviously, Liebowitz is becoming the focus of this judge's complete and undivided attention...which is never a good thing.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2020 @ 6:08pm

      Re:

      Extra day for editing to tone it down once the judge stopped hitting the desk with his head to put out the stupid-fire set his crown by Liebowitz & co.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 23 Jul 2020 @ 6:42pm

    "Moreover, to the extent that the Movants’ success is built on unsavory business practices or conduct unbecoming an officer of the court, it is, of course, not at all in the public interest for it to be perpetuated."

    Au contraire mon frere Judge, we need the entertainment!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2020 @ 4:02pm

      Re: more entertainment

      As enjoyable as a contemptible troll getting his comeuppance is, I do tend to prefer my entertainment cruelty-free.

      Letting a serial abuser of the legal system continue in the dark is cruel to the unfortunate souls who’d get sued, and to the “clients” who end up holding the bag from his sanctions.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 24 Jul 2020 @ 8:19pm

        Re: Re: more entertainment

        While I feel sorry for any of Liebowitz's victims at this point I have zero sympathy for any clients of his, as his history is so rotten someone would have to hire him without doing any research on him to not to know what kind of lawyer he is and the tactics he employs, and when hiring someone to send legal threats on your behalf that level of indifference/malice is simply inexcusable.

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

        • icon
          Norahc (profile), 25 Jul 2020 @ 5:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: more entertainment

          Exactly. It's 2020...the only excuse for not doing a Google search on a professional you're considering using is willful blindness.

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

  • identicon
    Crafty Coyote, 23 Jul 2020 @ 6:50pm

    It would be a fallacious argument to conflate all copyright lawyers with Leibowitz but in an ideal world, they would be so corrupt and incompetent judges would have to let anyone accused of copyright infringement off.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2020 @ 2:44am

      Re:

      It would be a fallacious argument to conflate all copyright lawyers with Leibowitz

      No more fallacious than the arguments put forth by copyright lawyers that claim an IP address is equivalent to a pirate, or deletion of files is evidence of guilt.

      in an ideal world, they would be so corrupt and incompetent judges would have to let anyone accused of copyright infringement off

      I'd like to say that we're sort of getting there. The problem is that copyright lawyers still have their "claim good faith, get out of unfavorable judgments for free" card. With a spot of luck judges are working towards making that approach much less accessible or lucrative.

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 8:43pm

    This would be pathetic if it wasn't so funny

    The ONLY thing this guy is lucky at is that he hasn't been disbarred yet, despite how hard he keeps trying.

    I keep finding myself wondering why it hasn't happened yet as I read this, but then I quickly realize it's quite entertaining and that may be why the judge just keeps teasing him along by giving him more ways to hang himself.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 8:57pm

      Re: This would be pathetic if it wasn't so funny

      Because much like police section of the legal field the one that includes lawyers really doesn't care for holding it's own accountable, such that those within the group have got to go above and beyond in reprehensible actions to even get the ball started on a potential boot(to the head).

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

  • icon
    afn29129 David (profile), 24 Jul 2020 @ 7:23am

    Childhood

    I wonder about what sort of person he was as a child. Clearly a broken moral compass and I don't think it broke the day be turned 18 or became a lawyer.

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

  • icon
    Scott S. (profile), 24 Jul 2020 @ 12:16pm

    Lawyer privilege

    This is mostly about the failure and bias of the legal system than Liebowitz. A pro se litigant would be swiftly and severely sanctioned if they acted a fraction as badly as Liebowitz. Judges generally go out of their way to avoid sanctioning bad lawyers, especially white bad lawyers. But if courts/judges weren't so forgiving of bad lawyers, the Liebowitzs of the legal system would be greatly reduced. Judges like to complain about case backlog etc, but then simultaneously do very little to stop bad lawyers from wasting everyone's limited time and resources. It would be a lot different if bad lawyers were "judged" by regular citizens, instead of bar associations, and judges who are of course higher ranking lawyers that are often way too patient and sympathetic towards lawyers, while way too impatient and hostile towards pro se litigants.

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

    • identicon
      Phillip, 30 Jul 2020 @ 5:23am

      Re: Lawyer privilege

      You sound like a real racist pos.
      Bad lawyers are usually viewed as bad by the side that looses. That includes ALL lawyers. Same with the judges.
      Most pro per litigants don't know what they are doing. Not all but most. And the court usually looses patience with people who waste their time.

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

  • icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 27 Jul 2020 @ 5:49am

    "It would be a lot different if bad lawyers were "judged" by regular citizens, instead of bar associations..."

    Ah, but the general citizen, the lawyer would argue, doesn't have the knowledge of law to judge whether a lawyer is bad or not.

    Client: *"I had a rock solid case against X...and I still had to spend thousands of hours, over five years, through one court after the next, with my lawyer filing one motion after the other over irrelevant garbage and "discovery claims". At the end of it I had to spend nine out of the ten million I was awarded just to pay my lawyer.

    Bar association: "OK...that IS bad. Now a good lawyer would have made away with all ten million. Tell you what, we'll give him a warning, m'kay?"

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

  • icon
    Scott S. (profile), 27 Jul 2020 @ 12:39pm

    But general citizens are otherwise known as jurists, and they are responsible for determining the outcomes of very serious and complicated cases, including medical malpractice, class actions, and serial murder cases. So I think they could handle cases involving bad attorneys. :)

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 4:49am

      Re:

      "So I think they could handle cases involving bad attorneys. :)"

      Well yes, but I'm afraid what you, I, or the general citizenry thinks is reasonable cuts very little ice with the bar association.

      Especially when it concerns the criteria of a "bad" lawyer. Can you imagine the hilarity if the jury was also asked to rate their opinion of the lawyer representing either side?

      Juror: "Not sure about the accused, but both of the lawyers definitely need The Chair"

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


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