Okay, let's start this one with a full and fair disclosure: We've written about Charles Carreon plenty of times. However, in the past few months, his wife, Tara Carreon, has posted numerous graphical and textual attacks about this site on her own sites (multiple sites, multiple attacks!). We will not link to her various attacks, though we will note Ars Technica's report from last year, concerning her calling us "nazi scumbags" and just note that only provides a slight inkling of the nature of some of the attacks on us to date. Furthermore, it appears that Charles and/or Tara have also set up an entire site -- again, we will not link to it -- in which they are profanely and viciously attacking myself personally, along with nearly every lawyer or reporter who has ever mentioned their ridiculous crusade against Matthew Inman. So, feel free to take whatever I say about the following with however many grains of salt you prefer, knowing that Charles and Tara have decided (ridiculously) that I am among a group of folks out to get them.
Okay, with that settled... a couple of years ago, before any of the Carreon/Oatmeal/Inman mess happened, we wrote about an internet jurisdiction case, called Penguin Group v. American Buddha, in which we were dismayed by a ruling
in New York State, which said that the company American Buddha, from Oregon, but run out of Arizona, could be dragged to a New York court under its "long arm" statute, for a claim of copyright infringement by Penguin Group. We, along with many others, feared that this ruling might allow lots of copyright holders to drag individuals from around the country to New York to deal with copyright infringement claims. In a later ruling in that same case, the case went around again on the question of whether or not there was "substantial" revenue earned -- which also was required to bring the case to New York. Thankfully, on that round, the court recognized that someone earning basically nothing was not substantial, and thus, the jurisdiction in NY was inappropriate.
What we did not realize back then, was that "American Buddha" is an operation set up by Tara Carreon and defended by Charles Carreon. I believe (irony alert) Charles is now seeking attorneys fees in NY over that case. However, Penguin Group did what you might expect, and filed the lawsuit again, but this time in Oregon, where American Buddha is registered. You can see the docket here
. Tara Carreon argues that "American Buddha" is a library, which grants library cards (to a few dozen patrons) and this gives her an exception to copyright law to post full digital copies of books to her website. Now, there are
some important legal questions concerning copyright, fair use and libraries that come out of this case. But would you trust Charles and Tara Carreon to make the best, most reasonable arguments on those issues? Personally, seeing how Carreon acted throughout the Inman/Oatmeal situation, followed by his actions against Public Citizen's Paul Levy after Carreon's incredible threat to sue Levy's client resulted in Levy filing for declaratory judgment and eventually successfully getting sanctions awarded against Carreon, it leads me to feel less than comfortable that Team Carreon would be making these arguments.
You can laugh off whatever strategies they might take, but as with the NY case we wrote about, what I really fear is the possibility (perhaps likelihood) of a really bad precedent being set here, that might impact other cases where there are legitimate fair use issues or issues involving libraries, at play.
Not surprisingly, but unfortunately for any ultimate result, the case is not off to a good start. Penguin's lawyer raised certain issues
about Charles' effort to represent American Buddha in Oregon, since his license to practice law in Oregon had lapsed years ago. Even worse, it noted that Carreon had told the NY court (where he's still trying to get legal fees) that he was
licensed in Oregon. As they point out, misrepresenting his status to the court in NY might cause trouble in renewing his status in Oregon. They also mention the attorneys fees he has to pay to Paul Levy over the disastrous case in California, noting that he was sanctioned for "malicious conduct during the course of this case." There are also a number of procedural issues concerning liability insurance (in which it's suggested that Carreon totally misread the rules), and with regards to his attempt to claim that he is "registered in-house counsel" to American Buddha, despite not qualifying as such under the rules of Arizona's state bar.
Since then, it's just been a continued struggle, with the Carreons seeking to move the case to Arizona, claiming that they can't afford to go to Oregon, and that they want to call pretty much everyone
Tara Carreon has given a library card to as a witness -- but those people are all in Arizona. The lawyers for Penguin, not surprisingly, appear to be running rings around Carreon, and you can almost feel their exasperated sighs in their filings.
While Carreon had found some local counsel in Oregon, that lawyer withdrew over unidentified "conflicts." Also, Carreon has tried to explain away his discipline record
and expired license. This includes his attempt to explain why the court in California ordered him to pay attorneys fees and sanctioned his conduct. I'd suggest reading the whole thing, but I'll just highlight the following sentence:
The District Court in Recouvreur awarded fees to a declaratory relief plaintiff, Christopher Recouvreur, who registered "Charles-Carreon.com" using domain-privacy, published my face on the front, displayed the phrase "Censorious Douchebag" above my head, and starting [sic] posting nonsense under my name, misrepresenting me as a trigger-happy nutcase type of lawyer, which I most certainly am not.
Well, we'll let the record speak for itself on that one. I will also note the following.
I have filed an appeal of the Court's decision, and when questioned by the press, responded in a respectful manner that expressed no criticism of the ruling.
Finally, with respect to any concerns this Court may have concerning my legal acumen and ethical disposition, I stand ready to respond to any inquiries the Court may have, and commit to uphold the best traditions of the Bar as an officer of the Court.
I am curious how setting up an entire site dedicated to attacking those who commented on the case, including Paul Levy, the opposing lawyer in the case, fits with his claims of handling this "in a respectful manner" -- or in upholding the "best traditions of the Bar as an officer of the Court." Is it really in the "best traditions" to post a picture on his website representing the lawyers who won the case against him, Paul Levy and Cathy Gellis, along with their client, Chris Recouvreur and Ken "Popehat" White as KKK members burning a cross? Because that's what Carreon has done. On that same website are ridiculous allegations of conspiracy theories by various folks who have written about Carreon and (believe it or not) an entire spreadsheet in which Carreon lists everyone who he claims has lied about him, checking off what "lies" they've told. For example, I am listed on there for telling the "lie" that "it's outrageous and immoral to sue charities." Of course, I don't believe I've ever said that. I do think I've argued that it was ridiculous for Carreon
to sue two particular charities because Matthew Inman was planning to donate some money to them. But that's fairly different.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the court is still somewhat concerned
Mr. Carreon shall file a renewed declaration in support of his Resubmitted Application for Special Admission
Pro Hac Vice  which addresses the specific issues and concerns identified by the court regarding the scope
of practice permitted to him in both California and Arizona, and which identifies new local counsel in light
of Mr. Johnson’s intent to move to withdraw from the case.
I fear that this is only going to get worse and worse -- and by the end, Penguin is going to have an easy win... and a dreadful precedent.