by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 25th 2013 1:51pm
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Sep 20th 2013 10:44am
Charles Carreon Finally Drops Appeal, Admits Whole Thing Was Dumb... But Still Blaming Pretty Much Everyone Else
from the just-a-week-after-he-suggested-I-be-brutally-beaten dept
Charles Carreon seems like a fun guy. Just a week ago, in a bizarre and nearly incoherent ramble on his website (which I won't link to here) he said that I deserve to be savagely physically tortured (while at the same time comparing himself to Rodney King). Specifically, he stated that it would be "appropriate" if someone (from which it is implied himself) were to do "what that gangster at the end of Pulp Fiction has in mind -- gettin' Medieval on his ass." Why do I deserve this fate? Because I happened to coin the term "The Streisand Effect" and, in doing so, I "stole" her name, and he doesn't like that, because (it turns out) Carreon is a fan of Streisand's "stirring love songs" which he sang along to "with great enjoyment" as "an adolescent." And yet, he still insists that somehow it's unfair that everyone else is "attacking" him and trying to destroy his reputation. There's a level of self-awareness that appears to be nearly entirely missing from Carreon (and his wife, who has referred to Techdirt as "Nazi scumbags" in one of her more lucid attacks).
So I find it amusing that about a week later, Carreon is now talking up how he is a Buddhist who agrees that he made some poor decisions in his legal strategy. It would appear, however, that he does not seem to believe that his calls to have me tortured "medievally" are a part of those regrets.
Of course, Carreon has been involved in a lawsuit involving his astounding threats against a satirical blogger, Christopher Recouvreur, who was mocking Carreon for his somewhat incredible overreaction to Matthew Inman's response to a different questionable legal threat from Carreon. If you haven't been following the story, feel free to go back through the archives. While Carreon eventually dropped his lawsuit against Inman (which had no chance in the first place), the nature of his threat against Recouvreur really called for a declaratory judgment (in part because Carreon specifically threatened to wait until pro bono legal help wasn't interested in the case any more before he'd sue). Carreon eventually settled, but made a strategic error in believing the settlement precluded him having to pay legal fees. It did not. Eventually (through a long and convoluted process made much worse by Carreon's own actions), Recouvreur's lawyers Paul Alan Levy and Cathy Gellis were awarded $46k in legal fees that Carreon needed to pay. The court noted that Carreon's own activities in making the process more difficult played a role in deciding to award the legal fees.
Carreon had appealed, but this week dropped the appeal -- meaning that he has to pay the $46,000. Paul Levy has made it clear that he intends to collect, telling Ars Technica:
“Given the amount, it’s hard to walk away from it,” he said. “We’re not willing to let the money just sit there. I really don’t know at this point what assets [Carreon] has. He has a law practice. Presumably he’s getting paid at his law practice—but you hate to think about that.”However, what is even more interesting is Carreon trying to rationalize what happened. While he admits he was "dumb" and waded into something he didn't understand, everything he does still frames it as if he was the victim, rather than the aggressor. This fits with his usual style -- setting up an entire site with vicious non-sensical attacks on his critics (see above) while complaining when journalists basically point out that what he's doing on the legal front doesn't make much sense. There's a combination of ignorance, lack of self-awareness, and a bizarre belief that because lots of people loudly criticized him (with strong reasons) that makes it fair game to lash out at everyone such as wishing them to be tortured.
In his interview with Ars, he again suggests the whole thing is the fault of online "mobs" and suggests that the real problem is that the law is not set up to handle such "mobs."
“So when you take a situation in which the legal rules don’t impose any effective sanctions on people for that kind of behavior, mob behavior on the Internet, then a legal analyst like myself should look at that situation and say: ‘You can’t fix everything that’s broken,’” he said. “There is not a proper legal remedy for it. I attempted to do something and I made it worse.”The more you read Carreon, the more you realize he puts himself at the center of every story. In the torture story above, he compares himself to Rodney King. In his blog post-"conceding" this situation, he again makes the story about him first, comparing the experience to a Ramones concert (he is frequently pictured wearing Ramones t-shirts). He claims that the lesson he learned is "never get involved in a game in which you do not know the rules" and then goes on to complain about those awful "online mobs." While I imagine that's a fairly valuable lesson, I'm not sure that's the actual lesson here, nor do I think he's actually learned very much.
“It’s an insoluble problem,” he continued. “It’s is not remediable. As long as you keep punching ‘Charles Carreon’ into Google, there’s just more stories about this nonsense. How can anyone get their message through? I’ve written hundreds of works. You can’t find them. Is that helpful? No. Now it’s difficult for prospective clients to see that I’m a relatively erudite person. Since then, some Amazon reviews of my books have, in bad faith, been given one star—I don’t sell many books anymore. Now it’s highly unlikely that anyone would say that Charles Carreon is a pretty bright guy.”
He doesn't seem to recognize that his initial legal threat letter was way over the top -- accusing Matthew Inman of "defamation" for pointing out that Carreon's client Funnyjunk (who quickly faded into the background in all of this) had been reposting Inman's comics. He doesn't seem to recognize that he falsely thrust himself into the middle of this by incorrectly interpreting Inman's silly cartoon to be about Carreon's mother (it wasn't, at all). He doesn't seem to recognize that suing charities like the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Foundation based on a ridiculous legal theory because Inman was helping raise money for them might be viewed as a massive legal overreach. He doesn't seem to recognize that threatening not a mob, but an individual who was having some fun by satirically mocking Carreon (and then trying to get that blogger fired from his job) might be seen as an overreach. He doesn't seem to recognize that setting up an entire site in which he attacks reporters, lawyers and basically anyone who has tried to publicly discuss his various overreaches as "rapeutationists" might also be seen as incredibly over the top.
No, instead, he sees this as a story where he's the victim of a legal system that apparently doesn't provide him the tools to stop people from publicly discussing why they think his repeated overreactions are overreactions. The posts that we and others have done about Carreon are not attacks of a mob, contrary to his beliefs, but rather discussions about someone who has consistently sought to use the legal system to stifle the speech of others. He is, of course, free to disagree and discuss his position, but the near total lack of self-awareness about his own actions in all of this is really rather impressive. I may not know much about Buddhism, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean putting yourself at the center of every story and blaming everyone else for nearly all of your actions. I'm also curious about the Buddhist position on torturing people with ancient torture tools, because they coined a phrase that you feel unfairly maligns a singer you like, because she (like you) overreacted via the legal system.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Sep 16th 2013 7:30am
from the maybe-acting-all-commando-wasn't-a-good-idea dept
While that lawsuit has been underway, the documents were only just revealed, showing that he, along with his Megaupload partners and Dotcom's wife, are asking for about $6 million NZ (about $5 million US) in damages for the raid and the spying. Either way, this particular case is scheduled to be heard just slightly before the resumption of Dotcom's case fighting extradition to the US, though I imagine that the results of this case could come into play in that legal fight as well.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 17th 2013 10:32am
from the how-not-to-go-legal dept
Reading through that complaint first, before digging deeply into a variety of other sources, there were some immediate oddities. Many of the "defamatory" statements didn't seem to have anything that could possibly be defamatory in them. Some of them possibly reached the level of defamation, but at worst they read like typical silly hyperbole among internet commenters. Hardly worth worrying about. But other stuff seemed even odder. A copyright claim not in federal court? And for what sounded like adding context/imagery to a news article? Hmmm. That doesn't sound right. State copyright claims are pre-empted by federal copyright law (and, no, this isn't one of those possible exceptions involving pre-1972 recordings). Commercial disparagement? Over some blog comments? There were a lot of alarm bells, signalling something that required a lot deeper look.
Then, I came across the actual news reports of his arrest -- both the Boston Globe one linked above and the Wicked Local story. Both seem to be pretty clear that they're reporting based directly off of a police report -- and state things from that police report that Monsarrat is now claiming are entirely untrue and defamatory. But... for those who repeated them on the blog, even if they did turn out to be untrue, they'd have an incredibly strong fair report privilege claim. For example, the lawsuit suggests that Monsarrat was just a guest at the house and knew little of the party before it happened. From his filing:
The party leading to Plaintiff's arrest was hosted by another third party, "Trano", and not by Plaintiff.The non-use of Trano's full name is also an interesting choice. Anyway, according to the Boston Globe coverage of the incident:
This other third party, Trano, provided music entertainment, bouncers and beer at this party, which Plaintiff knew nothing about until the immediate time leading up to the commencement of the party.
Upon arriving at the scene, police found broken beer bottles near the door of the first floor of the apartment and 25-30 teenagers inside. Many were attempting to conceal bottles of beer and other alcoholic beverages, the police report states. Open bottles of alcohol were found in the kitchen area as well as a small amount of marijuana.Then the story gets even odder. In researching it, up popped a press release from Monsarrat himself about the lawsuit, in which he refers to himself as a "dotcom era icon and Internet expert." Also, there's this:
Monsarrat identified himself as the host of the party, but denied that any alcohol was being served, the report states. When asked by an officer to inform his guests that the party was ending, Monsarrat became “argumentative” and refused to follow instructions, police said. Officers asked for identification from several partygoers who responded, “We're in high school, we don't have ID."
Jon Monsarrat announced this week that as part of an Internet defamation case, he will expose the real identities and addresses of 100 cyber bullies as part of his new cyber investigation service.Oh, wait a second...
Earlier in 2013 he created a cyber-investigation service, which cracks the real identities of cyber bullies who post defamatory material online. The release of names and identities is part of this new service, for one of Monsarrat's client with an ongoing legal case against cyber bullies. His company is working in partnership with Defend My Name, perhaps the most technically advanced of the top anti-defamation services, and Ishman Law Firm, which has expertise in defending victims from cyber-attack.This might present a possible reason that it took about three years after the original blog posts to file a lawsuit (by the way, statute of limitations on defamation in Massachusetts: three years).
Jon Monsarrat said, "Cyber bullies harass and spread lies about their victims using the power of the Internet, which leads to thousands of suicides a year. The police and courts are not always up to the challenge of fighting back. Now I'm bringing two patented technologies to bear to help people in need." Monsarrat was referring to his two patents in collecting and analyzing data from public websites.
And then, a bunch of LiveJournal users -- including some who claimed they never commented on the original blog post -- began receiving letters saying that they're being added to the lawsuit. Apparently, those letters have some bogus boilerplate in them claiming copyright on the letter and stating "I prohibit anyone from publishing or disclosing it in whole or in part, on the internet or any other venue or any other means, without first obtaining my written consent." That, of course, is bullshit. It is not how copyright works, especially on a legal threat letter. At least one blogger has written that Monsarrat threatened to include him in the lawsuit for merely writing about the lawsuit and for the comments others had left on that blog. Of course, there is no legitimate claim against writing about the lawsuit, and the blogger is protected from liability from the comments under Section 230 of the CDA.
Then, and only then, did I finally get to reading the epic response letter from the lawyer representing Ron Newman, one of the two named defendants in the lawsuit. The lawyer is Dan Booth of Booth Sweet LLC, a law firm you may recognize from its awesome job fighting back against numerous Prenda Law cases. I cannot do justice to the entire 18 page letter, so I suggest you read it in its entirety, but I will give you a few highlights. I will note that this is not a legal document filed with the court in response to the lawsuit, but rather a letter to Monsarrat's lawyer, Mark Ishman, of the Ishman Law Firm, which Monsarrat's press release names as a "partner" in this new "expose-the-cyber-bully" business.
The letter picks apart the case piece by piece in devastating fashion, noting repeatedly that the claims made in the lawsuit are so far removed from reasonable that if Ishman and Monsarrat do not drop the lawsuit, Booth and Newman will seek sanctions for bringing bad faith claims. He then goes on to lay out, in excruciating detail, what their arguments would be in court, repeatedly asking Ishman if he's ever actually read the statutes he's relying on. He notes the articles based on police reports as just a starting point. He then points specifically to the few quotes that were actually Newman's, showing how the complaint appears to take them entirely out of context and misrepresent what they were saying, and there is simply no way they were even remotely defamatory. Some of them are ridiculous when put back into context -- including using a comment about how Newman and some other admins had agreed to close the original thread to more comments, and saying that was defamatory. It also, of course, references CDA 230 to point out that Newman clearly is not liable for anyone else's comments.
Those are the basics. Then it goes even deeper. I'll let Dan Booth handle this part:
The second claim for relief is supposed to be under Chapter 93A of the Massachusetts General Laws. Have you ever actually read that statute? I'm not sure you made it all the way through to Section 9(3), which requires that a demand letter complying with certain statutory requirements must be mailed to a defendant at least 30 days before filing suit under Chapter 93A. "[T]he thirty-day requirement, as part of the requirement of a written demand for relief, is a prerequisite to suit, to be alleged and proved." York v. Sullivan, 369 Mass. 157, 163 (1975). Perhaps you jumped the gun a bit here? You filed suit on February 4, so you would have needed to send a demand letter before January 5, 2013 to satisfy the statute. Mr. Newman received no such letter. As far as I can tell, you didn't even comply with the spirit of the 30-day requirement -- you made no attempt to settle the dispute amicably before filing suit, or before filing the amended complaint, or before having it (and its telephone-book sized pile of exhibits) served on Mr. Newman.How about the commercial disparagement stuff? Yeah, under the law, such statements need to be made by a competitor, which Newman clearly isn't. Oh, and Booth notes he didn't actually disparage any products or services, as required by the law. And then we move on to the copyright claim. We already noted the oddity of trying to shove a copyright claim into a state (okay Massachusettians: commonwealth) court, and Booth highlights some more problems:
Attorney Ishman, I see on your website that you hold yourself forth publicly as a copyright lawyer. I am too. I commend you for that, and for any work you do to legitimately support and protect creators. I like copyright law a lot; I just hate to see it abused. So I wonder whether you may have gotten a bit ahead of yourself with this cause of action.Booth even goes through a "sake of argument" explanation for how, even if common-law copyright could apply to a photograph (which, as noted, it cannot), via Monsarrat's own actions, that photograph would be in the public domain under the specifics of the prevailing copyright law.
Claims of common-law copyright are preempted by the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. Have you read that statute? Since the 1976 Copyright Act became effective, Section 301 has explained that copyright claims are "governed exclusively" by the Act, and that "no person is entitled to any such [copyright] or equivalent right in any such work [within the subject matter of copyright] under the common law or statutes of any State." 17 U.S.C. § 301(a).
In other words, common-law copyright claims are a relic. "Under the Copyright Act of 1976 ... common law copyright is abolished." Burke v. NBC, Inc., 598 F.2d 688, 691 n.2 (1st Cir. 1979). There have been no reported cases in Massachusetts state courts since the 1976 Act in which a common-law copyright was found valid. But there have been several that say things like, "These common law claims ... have clearly been preempted by the 1976 Copyright Act." Sicari v. Raccula, 2 Mass. L. Rep. 109 (Mass. Super. Ct. May 8, 1994). To the extent such claims exist, they're generally limited to media where, due to quirks of the Act's history, no statutory right ever existed, such as extemporaneous speeches or pre-1972 sound recordings. But the copyright claim in this case concerns a photograph, and those have been covered by the Copyright Act since Oscar Wilde was a young man. Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony, 111 U.S. 53 (1884). Your assertion that Mr. Monsarrat's images are "subject to common-law copyright protection under the laws of the state of Massachusetts" (Complaint ¶ 102) is wrong as a matter of black-letter law.
Booth then goes on to point out when you look at Newman's actual comments, he actually was quite even handed when the story broke, noting things like, "To my knowledge he hasn't been found guilty of any crime in a court of law." And he invited Monsarrat to present his side of the story. And yet, Monsarrat tries to paint Newman's activity as "extreme and outrageous" for the sake of "intentional infliction of emotional distress."
And then, Booth goes on to point out that the record suggests the version of the story that Monsarrat presents in his filing is less than accurate:
Those assertions are directly contradicted by the record. Set aside the fact that Mr. Monsarrat was at the party and that he was arrested at the party. Set aside the fact that both the police report and the Somerville Journal article stated plainly that Mr. Monsarrat had "identified himself as the host of the party." Set aside the fact that the police report indicates that Mr. Monsarrat denied, to the arresting officer, that there was any alcohol at the party, despite the officer's firsthand observations. Mr. Monsarrat publicly announced his role in the party online, before his arrest. As Mr. Newman pointed out at the time, Mr. Monsarrat had posted an open invitation on his Wheel Questions blog, announcing that he was holding the party, two days before it happened. Complaint Exhibit 4 p. 69 ("I'm holding a party Friday in the Boston area. RSVP to email@example.com and say a little about yourself for the location.") (quoting Mr. Monsarrat). If Mr. Monsarrat wants to clear his name by suggesting that he was a mere innocent bystander at the party, he cannot hope to succeed in rewriting the public record. His own words will be admissible as non-hearsay, to prove the truth of his statements identifying himself as the host, and to disprove statements to the contrary in the complaint. See Commonwealth v. DiMonte, 427 Mass. 233, 243 (1998) ("A party's admission is excluded by definition from the hearsay rule.") (citing Proposed Mass. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)); see also Flood v. Southland Corp,. 33 Mass. App. Ct. 287, 294-95 (1992).And we're not done yet. He points out that many of the comments included in the claim are way outside the statute of limitations, and Massachusetts has a well established single publication rule, meaning that the date when the content is published is when the clock starts ticking on the statute of limitations. The fact that the content remains online is meaningless. Booth also points out the ridiculousness of the $5 million dollar demand.
The complaint seeks punitive damages in an amount to exceed $5,000,000. That is outrageous on its face, and wholly unsustainable under controlling law. Massachusetts has not allowed such damages since 1974. "In a case of defamation the plaintiff's recovery is limited to actual damages, which are compensatory for the wrong done by the defendant. ... Punitive damages are never allowed ... even after proof of actual malice." Stone v. Essex County Newspapers, Inc., 365 Mass. 246 (1974) (citations omitted). The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts reaffirmed that position the following year: "We reject the allowance of punitive damages in this Commonwealth in any defamation action, on any state of proof, whether based in negligence, or reckless or wilful conduct. We so hold in recognition that the possibility of excessive and unbridled jury verdicts, grounded on punitive assessments, may impermissibly chill the exercise of First Amendment rights by promoting apprehensive self-censorship." Stone v. Essex County Newspapers, Inc., 367 Mass. 849, 860 (1975).As for the letters that various LiveJournal users are receiving:
It is my understanding that Mr. Monsarrat has busied himself, since the filing of the amended complaint, by reaching out to people he believes responsible for these three-year old discussions, sending them wildly improper threatening letters and/or directly confronting in person. In at least one of those letters, he states, "The purpose of this correspondence to is [sic] notify you that I am suing LiveJournal forum moderator Ron Newman for $5,500,000 for defamation, and that you are named as a Doe Defendant in this lawsuit..." These actions are deeply dismaying. Mr. Monsarrat is tarnishing Mr. Newman's name in scattershot fashion, to many people who may have had no relation to the postings at issue. He may not harass people in the Somerville community by seeking to intimidate them into removing their legitimate free speech comments.Booth also points out that in intimidating various LiveJournal users into possibly removing their comments, there may be further issues with regard to encouraging the destruction of key pieces of evidence:
When Mr. Monsarrat succeeds in this intimidation, he helps to destroy the record that would be at issue if the litigation were to proceed. If this pattern of behavior continues, he may be subjecting himself to sanctions for suborning spoliation. Thanks to poor formatting, many of the Complaint's Exhibits reproduce discussion threads in piecemeal fashion, omitting much or all of the text of longer comments. See, for just one example, Complaint Exhibit 4 pp. 31-42. These fragmentary Exhibits leave the original online discussions as the only reliable source of material evidence. Any deletion of those comments, as Mr. Monsarrat demands, makes them invisible to subsequent viewers, depriving defendants of the context-specific defenses that a defamation claim requires. "'The destruction of relevant evidence ... has a pernicious effect on the truthfinding function of our courts.' ... The doctrine of spoliation permits the imposition of sanctions or remedies where a litigant or its expert negligently or intentionally loses or destroys evidence that the litigant (or expert) knows or reasonably should know might be relevant to a possible action, even when the spoliation occurs before an action has been commenced." Scott v. Garfield, 454 Mass. 790, 797 (2009) (quoting Fletcher v. Dorchester Mut. Ins. Co., 437 Mass. 544, 553 (2002)).Booth also notes the same press release I saw, and raises some questions about it:
It appears this action has been filed with an ulterior purpose: not as a good faith means to redress any legitimate grievances, but as a case study to be used in marketing one of Mr. Monsarrat's business ventures. That would be more than improper enough, but worse, the entire purpose of "cyber investigation service" seems to be to empower litigants to make endruns around the discovery process, as Mr. Monsarrat has done.And, also, the oddity of the fact that Ishman appears to be both a lawyer for Monsarrat and a business partner:
This partnership, in the place of a putative client and attorney relationship, is more than irregular. It may subject Attorney Ishman and his law firm to the same liability as Mr. Monsarrat, based on their involvement in a larger scheme. See Kurker v. Hill, 44 Mass. App. Ct. 184, 192 & n. 8 (1998). "[A] civil action is wrongful if its initiator does not have probable cause to believe the suit will succeed, and is acting primarily for a purpose other than that of properly adjudicating his claims." G.S. Enterprises, Inc. v. Falmouth Marine, Inc., 410 Mass. 262, 273 (1991). It appears that Mr. Monsarrat has dragged Mr. Newman into court, and badgered an untold number of others, to make a name for his "cyber investigation service." This ulterior purpose, combined with the paucity of the complaint's factual allegations and legal claims, strongly suggest that the action has been undertaken without good faith. These improprieties would support counterclaims of abuse of process, see generally Millennium Equity Holdings, LLC v. Mahlowitz, 456 Mass. 627, 636 (2010), and under Chapter 93A, see Northeast Data Sys., Inc. v. McDonnell Douglas Computer Sys. Co., 986 F.2d 607, 611 (1st Cir. 1993) (filing legal claim "which proves baseless" is an unfair trade practice if claim brought with "ulterior motive"); Nova Assignments, Inc. v. Kunian, 77 Mass. App. Ct. 34, 44 n. 7 (2010); Refuse & Envtl. Sys., Inc. v. Indus. Servs. of Am., Inc., 932 F.2d 37, 43 (1st Cir. 1991) ("bringing [a] lawsuit in spite of the evidence" can violate Chapte 93A). These improprieties would further support sanctions under M.G.L. c. 231, § 6F, see Fronk v. Fowler, 456 Mass. 317, 334 -35 (2010) ("Claims that are so unmoored from law or fact are the very definition of 'frivolous': 'Lacking a legal basis or legal merit; not serious; not reasonably purposeful.'") (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 739 (9th ed. 2009)), and under Mass. R. Civ. P. 11, see Van Christo Adver. v. M/A-COM/LCS, 426 Mass. 410, 416-17 (1998).Believe it or not, those aren't even all of the highlights of the letter. I imagine that this one could get interesting if Ishman and Monsarrat choose not to take Booth's stern suggestion that they immediately dismiss the claims against Newman with prejudice.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, May 7th 2013 7:37am
from the clutching-at-straws dept
Back in November 2011, we wrote about the Belgian music royalty collection agency SABAM's demand for 3.4% of Internet subscriber fees as "compensation" for online piracy in Belgium. As Tim Cushing explained back then, this was ridiculous on just about every level. But SABAM doesn't let little things like that get in the way of its desperate attempt to avoid moving with the times and coming up with new business models. So after failing dismally to convince Europe's highest court that it could force ISPs to spy on their customers, SABAM has now moved on to suing ISPs instead, as TorrentFreak reports:
This week SABAM sued the Belgian ISPs Belgacom, Telenet and Voo, claiming a 3.4 percent cut of Internet subscriber fees as compensation for the rampant piracy they enable through their networks.
One of the ISPs being sued, Belgacom, has a better analogy for what's going on here:
SABAM argues that authors should be paid for any "public broadcast" of a song. Pirated downloads and streams on the Internet are such public broadcasts according to the group, and they are therefore entitled to proper compensation.
"A postman doesn't open letters he delivers. We are also just transporting data, and we are not responsible for the contents," Belgacom says.
That's the "mere conduit" principle, and as TorrentFreak points out, if that defense is overturned here, and the "piracy license" is imposed, the cost will inevitably be passed on to users, which means that people who buy music legally will be paying twice for the privilege. And of course, it wouldn't just be SABAM: the other copyright industries -- films, books, photos, software, games -- will doubtless all line up for their free handout, making online access prohibitively expensive in Belgium.
But along with all the other problems mentioned by Tim back in his 2011 post, there's another major flaw in SABAM's logic. According to recent work carried out by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, it's not even clear that the recorded music industry is being hurt by unauthorized downloads:
Perhaps surprisingly, our results present no evidence of digital music sales displacement. While we find important cross country differences in the effects of downloading on music purchases, our findings suggest a rather small complementarity between these two music consumption channels. It seems that the majority of the music that is consumed illegally by the individuals in our sample would not have been purchased if illegal downloading websites were not available to them. The complementarity effect of online streaming is found to be somewhat larger, suggesting a stimulating effect of this activity on the sales of digital music.
That is, streaming sites might even promote digital music sales; so maybe SABAM should be giving money to the ISPs, not asking for it....
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 26th 2013 8:11pm
Now That Paul Ceglia's Been Arrested For Fraud, Court Says It Can Probably Drop His Lawsuit Against Facebook
from the yeah,-probably-a-good-idea dept
Thu, Mar 14th 2013 7:50am
from the affleck-off dept
Side note: I consider the Iranians not protesting Gigli an act of war
Image source: CC BY 2.0
Of course, if you'd like any real details on what Tehran is planning on doing about any of this, good luck.
Iran is planning to sue Hollywood over the Oscar-winning "Argo" because of the movie's allegedly "unrealistic portrayal" of the country, Iranian media reported Tuesday. Several news outlets, including the pro-reform Shargh daily, said French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre is in Iran for talks with officials over how and where to file the lawsuit. She is also the lawyer for notorious Venezuelan-born terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal.Ah, lovely. The problem is that, while Iran is dismissing Argo and its awards as CIA propaganda, because everyone knows how pro-military Hollywood is, they aren't really disputing any specific points in the movie. They just say it shows Iranians as being too violent during the hostage-taking (er...), that Affleck failed to show why Iranians were so angry at the United States (they must have missed the movie's opener), and called Argo's awards an "attack against humanity." Other than that, no details were provided on what charges they were going to bring in what court and at what time. Why?
Well, probably because there is roughly f#@$-all they can actually do about it, outside of their own borders, where their own population has been gobbling the movie up via bootleg DVDs (are copyright pirates also pro-CIA?). Regardless, a quick message for my Iranian friends: it's a movie, get over it.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 18th 2013 11:02am
The Pirate Bay's 'Lawsuit' Against Anti-Piracy Group More About Exposing Double Standards In Enforcement
from the looks-like-it dept
TPB has now said that it has reported the parody CIAPC site to the Economic Crime Unit. Why? Well, it appears the whole thing is really about exposing the double standard by Finnish law enforcement. You see, recently, Finnish prosecutors went after a parody site by Finnish "software developer, researcher and internet activist" Matti Nikki. So, TPB, is noting that it just wants to see the law applied equally (by which it means, showing how farcical the law is, knowing that law enforcement will never prosecute this):
“In a similar case, the prosecution and the Helsinki Court of Appeals have found that a parody site can violate the moral rights of the original author. Changing the logo or making slight edits to the text are not enough to remove this liability,” they informed the police.The Finnish EFF supported this claim, explaining to TorrentFreak (in the link above) that seeing how prosecutors reacted would be quite telling:
“It’s interesting to see, how the police reacts to Pirate Bay’s demands. On facts the case is indeed very similar to Matti Nikki’s case, in which the prosecutor decided to bring the charges on behalf of Save the Children.So, while others were mocking, it appears there was a much more serious thought process going on here. One of the following possibilities are likely to occur:
“The law should be the same for everyone so now the objectivity of the Finnish police is going to be tested. Anyway as others have already pointed out, even if Pirate Bay loses the case, it’s a victory for their cause.”
- Finnish prosecutors do absolutely nothing, thus exposing their complete double standard in enforcing the law.
- A lawsuit happens, and TPB "loses" the case, as it's an obvious parody situation which should be allowed -- and thus, TPB reinforces the protections for parody.
- A lawsuit happens TPB actually wins the case, which most people would equally recognize as preposterous after seeing the initial press coverage of the story.
Thu, Feb 7th 2013 7:05pm
Some Dell Shareholders Don't Know Much About This Leveraged Buyout, But They Know They Don't Like It
from the no-need-for-details,-just-be-angry dept
But for most of the fun stuff we’ll have to look forward to the proxy. And that isn't good enough for some people. Reuters reports that the first shareholder lawsuit over the deal has already been filed, one day after announcement, which I assume means it was in the works before the deal was announced. This sort of amazed me:
Some shareholders said they were angered by the lack of specifics about the deal, making it hard for them to determine if the price was fair. The company, which declined to comment on the lawsuit, had said the board had conducted an extensive review of its strategic options before agreeing to the buyout.
I would characterize myself as mildly saddened by the lack of specifics, but that's why I will wait until the proxy is out and then read the specifics. You know there's a whole section of the proxy explaining why the bankers thought the deal was fair, right?2
There’s nothing new here – as Reuters notes, "Almost every merger worth more $100 million prompts a shareholder lawsuit" -- but the speed continues to amaze. And it's becoming ever more a fact of life:
That’s from this depressing report, which also has a sad-comical list of 16 deals each with 15 or more lawsuits filed. (The tech industry averages 4.9 suits, so, y'know, look out for 3.9 more.)
You can sympathize a little. Management buyouts are of course all about bottom-ticking the stock price; management would be pretty dumb if they took the company private at its all-time high. Dell's various stakeholder communications -- all to the tune of "this will is the start of a whole new chapter for Dell, in which everything will remain exactly the same" -- make that pretty clear: the deal has little to do with operational changes and much to do with the fact that Michael Dell thinks that (1) Dell and (2) debt are both cheap right now.
But that's kind of the market, and the fact of life is that if shareholders think that $13.65 is too cheap for their shares, they can always vote the deal down. By all accounts this deal was pretty fully negotiated, so it seems unlikely that the lawsuit will reveal that Dell and Silver Lake would have coughed up an extra $1 a share if the board had just asked more aggressively. And it's no secret that Michael Dell thinks that his company is worth more than $13.65. Even if that hasn't been specifically disclosed yet.
Dell 8-K, Merger Agreement, Voting Agreement [EDGAR]
Dell Buyout Broken Down: Silver Lake Puts in $1.4 Billion [Deal Journal]
Dell Aims for Double-B Rating, Leverage Less Than 4x Ebitda [Deal Journal]
Dell investor sues to block founder’s leveraged buyout [Reuters]
Reasons to Be Suspicious of Buyouts Led by Management [DealBook]
Dell’s Talks Said to Break Up a Few Times Over Pricing [Bloomberg]
1. From the 8-K:
Each of Bank of America, N.A., Barclays Bank PLC, Credit Suisse AG and Royal Bank of Canada and, in some cases, certain of their affiliates (collectively, the “Lenders”) have committed to provide debt financing for the transaction, consisting of a $4 billion senior secured term loan B facility, a $1.5 billion senior secured term loan C facility, a $2 billion ABL facility, senior secured interim loan facilities consisting of a $2 billion first lien bridge loan facility and a $1.25 billion second lien bridge loan facility (or, alternatively, senior secured first lien and second lien fixed rate notes that would be issued in a high-yield offering pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933), a $1.9 billion term commercial receivables financing facility and a $1.1 billion revolving consumer receivables financing facility, each on the terms and subject to the conditions set forth in a commitment letter dated as of February 5, 2013 (the "Debt Commitment Letter").
2. The answer is always along the lines of "because you paid us to think that," but still.Other posts from Dealbreaker:
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 25th 2013 7:39pm
from the prosecutorial-discretion dept
Tragedy intervened when Ortiz’s office took over the case to send “a message.”In case you were wondering what "continued without a finding" means, Harvey Silvergate (author of Three Felonies a Day) explained to Declan McCullagh:
"Continuance without a finding" was the anticipated disposition of the case were the charge to remain in state court, with the Middlesex County District Attorney to prosecute it. Under such a disposition, the charge is held in abeyance ("continued") without any verdict ("without a finding"). The defendant is on probation for a period of a few months up to maybe a couple of years at the most; if the defendant does not get into further legal trouble, the charge is dismissed, and the defendant has no criminal record. This is what the lawyers expected to happen when Swartz was arrested for "trespassing at MIT." But then the feds took over the case, and the rest is tragic history.The report above also notes that Ortiz is in some additional hot water, as another one of her overreach cases, involving an attempt to seize a family-owned motel in Massachusetts by claiming that it was "facilitating drug crimes" has failed miserably, tossed out by the magistrate judge. Not only was it noted that there were only 15 drug-related incidents over a 15 year period (during which 196,000 rooms were rented out), but also, the motel owners worked closely with local police to deal with drug issues and that other local businesses that had drug incidents were not targeted by Ortiz.