- “‘Ding Dong Ditch’ Left Shorewood Insurance Agent an Emotional Wreck: Lawsuit” [Joliet, Ill., Patch]
- “Why Lawyers Should Be on Twitter – And Who You Should Be Following” [Kyle White, Abnormal Use]
- “New GMO law makes kosher foods harder to find” [Burlington Free Press, Vermont]
- “The Justice Is Too Damn High! Gawker, The High Cost of Litigation, and The Weapon Shops of Isher” [Jeb Kinnison]
- Wisconsin judge uses guardian ad litem to break up uncontested surrogacy, dissolves both old and new parental rights, now wants Gov. Scott Walker’s nod for state supreme court vacancy [Jay Timmons, Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; legal orphanization of kid averted when new judge revoked orders in question]
- Ninth Circuit affirms sanctions against copyright troll crew Prenda Law [Popehat, our coverage]
Counsel’s Ninth Circuit arguments on behalf of copyright troll Prenda Law did not go well, to put it mildly. Trouble was evident even before Judge Pregerson commented, regarding the clients, “They should have asserted the Fifth Amendment because they were engaged in extortion.” [Ken at Popehat; Joe Mullin, Ars Technica] More on the Prenda Law saga here.
Fifteen years ago, I wrote the following, to considerable skepticism from some ADA advocates, about the idea that online publishers should be legally obliged to make their websites “accessible” to blind, deaf, and other disabled users:
If it’s easy for entrepreneurial litigators to stroll down the main street of a town and find stores vulnerable to an ADA suit because their water fountain or pay phone is at the wrong height, it’s even easier for them to surf the Web and find sites that flunk the most widely accepted disability guidelines. Assuming a court can be found with proper jurisdiction over them, the next logical step is the filing of accessibility complaints by the cartload.
Federal courts were cool toward the idea of obligatory web accessibility, but more recently it has been stirring back to life, in part owing to an Obama administration move to revitalize the idea. And while it’s taken me a while to catch up with the story, it appears that at least one practicing lawyer has indeed spotted a niche for the mass filing of ADA suits against small businesses over their online presence.
That lawyer is Minneapolis-based attorney Paul Hansmeier, who fittingly or otherwise was previously associated with the now-disgraced Prenda Law Group, which engaged in mass copyright complaint filing against computer users recorded as downloading certain X-rated materials. Mike Masnick at TechDirt followed the adventures of Hansmeier and his Class Justice in multiple web-accessibility filing in this 2013 post with sequel and even more entertaining followup (channeling Dan Nienaber, Mankato, Minn., Free Press). Now Tim Cushing at TechDirt reports that Hansmeier is running into a bit of resistance in the form of a counterclaim by one of his targets, Kahler Hotels.
- Lawprofs vs. speech: new book by Prof. Danielle Citron (U. of Maryland) urges stepped-up legal penalties for online expression as “harassment” [“Hate Crimes in Cyberspace,” Harvard University Press]
- European high court’s Google-unindexing folly: “The truth is, you’ve never had the ‘right to be forgotten'” [Jack Shafer; example, WSJ]
- Feds’ National Science Foundation spending nearly $1 million to create online database monitoring “suspicious memes”, “false and misleading ideas” on Twitter [Free Beacon]
- Flap over fantasy-art DMCA takedown demand seems to be over, but we can still enjoy Ken’s take [Popehat] More Popehat highlights: 7th Circuit affirms sanctions vs. Team Prenda of copyright troll fame; multi-level marketer threatens blogger; controversial doctor resorts “to threats and legal analysis that are at least as innovative as his cancer theories“; “In 2014, minimal legal competence requires an attorney to anticipate and understand the Streisand Effect“;
- When occupational licensure laws stifle speech [Dana Berliner (IJ), NYT Room for Debate]
- Inside a deposition in the Shirley Sherrod defamation lawsuit [J. Christian Adams, earlier here, etc.] Write if you dare about Michael Mann, just hope he doesn’t sue you over it [Trevor Burrus, earlier here, etc.]
- U.S. Civil Rights Commission member Michael Yaki argues for campus speech codes [Hans Bader, Eugene Volokh] Per EEOC: “Illegal ‘hostile work environment’ harassment for co-workers to wear Confederate flag T-shirts” [Volokh; also]
- Supreme Court tackling patent law in several cases this term [Sartori and Aga, WLF; Richard Epstein; Kristen Osenga/Prawfs] New fee-shifting regime announced in Octane Fitness already bringing relief to litigants [Ars Technica on Lumen View/FindTheBest case]
- Copyright claims on intrinsically newsworthy material: curious claim concerning suicide note [Eugene Volokh] “Is it copyright infringement to post a lawyer’s cease-and-desist letter?” Australian university seems to think so [same]
- Fate of Prenda Law model spirals downward [Ars Technica, Volokh, EFF]
- Comedian Adam Carolla has “decided to make himself the focus of the Personal Audio suit against podcasters.” [Steven Malanga]
- Why, as a textbook author, Alex Tabarrok has concluded copyright law is out of control [Marginal Revolution]
- Remembering when patent examiners were celebrities (in the 19th Century) [Slate]
- Someone sends Jim Harper a dubious DMCA takedown notice, and this is his response [Cato]
- Trademark infringement claims as way to silence critics: Jenzabar gets comeuppance in form of court award of more than $500,000 in attorney costs [Paul Alan Levy, earlier and more]
- Court holds Google Books project to be fair use [Matthew Sag]
- Questioning the ITC’s patent jurisdiction: “Why should we have a trade agency litigating patent disputes?” [K. William Watson, Cato, more, yet more, related]
- Courts come down hard on copyright troll Prenda Law [Popehat]
- Annals of patent trollery: New York Times et al rout Helferich [EFF, Liquid Litigation BLLawg] Monolithic Power Systems v. 02 Micros [IP for the Little Guy] Resistance by Newegg, RackSpace, Hyundai, etc. [WLF]
- Re: copyright terms, US government shouldn’t endorse view that longer always means better [Simon Lester, Cato]
- Legal tiff over use of hotel carpet patterns in costumes [Io9]
- “Make patent trolls pay in court” [Judge Randall Rader, Colleen Chien, and David Hricik, NYT]
- “Let’s play”: Nintendo claims “monetization rights” to fans’ videos on YouTube [Doctorow, BoingBoing]
- I only read it for the cease and desist notices: University of Kansas lawyers go after Twitter feed featuring suggestive display of university licensed apparel [Gawker]
- Alleged misdeeds of Prenda Law just got even stranger [Mike Masnick, TechDirt, earlier; Nate Anderson ArsTechnica] Piling up statutory damages, experimental suit-filing, cost infliction? Copyright mills like Prenda didn’t invent any of that [Mitch Stoltz, EFF]
- “Here’s the Chipotle Ramen Concept Lawsuit, in Full” [Eater]
- “Help the EFF save podcasting from a patent troll” [Mark Frauenfelder]
- Semi-defense of Craigslist suits against competitors [Jerry Brito]
- “Robo-litigation”: ethical issues of the mass-foreclosure mess [Dustin Zachs, SSRN, via Legal Ethics Forum]
- Roger Parloff on Chevron counterclaims against Patton Boggs [Fortune] “Judge Grudgingly Lets Donziger’s Lawyers Out Of Chevron Case” [Daniel Fisher; Reuters]
- Should Australia dilute or abolish the “cab rank” rule? [John Flood via LEF]
- “Ethical Limits on Civil Litigation Advocacy: A Historical Perspective” [Carol Andrews (Alabama), SSRN; Legal Ethics Forum]
- “When Is a Demand Letter (Arguably) Extortion?” [John Steele, more, ABA Journal (Martin Singer demand letter threatening to expose target’s sexual indiscretions]
- Fifth Circuit denies Dickie Scruggs’s latest appeal [YallPolitics]
- When crowdfunding meets litigation finance, watch out world [Richard Painter]
- “Judge Orders Prenda Law Group Beamed Out Into Space” [Lowering the Bar, TechDirt]
Cathy Gellis, guesting at Popehat, has a long post on the latest in the Prenda Law saga. A relevant paragraph:
The default rule in American litigation is that everyone pays for their own lawyers. But some laws, the Copyright Act being one of them, have provisions so that the loser pays for both sides’ lawyers. … But just because a judge may grant an award of attorney fees doesn’t mean the money will ever be recovered; enforcing a judgment often presents its own expensive challenges, meaning a wronged defendant can still be saddled with the costs of his own defense. However the California Code of Civil Procedure has a provision, § 1030, to help mitigate that financial risk by allowing defendants in similar positions as Mr. Navasca [a man seeking fee recovery from Prenda Law over a questionable copyright action] to require plaintiffs to make an “undertaking;” that is, to post a bond that would guarantee, when the defendant inevitably wins his fees, that he would actually get the money.
Both provisions could prove important in bringing the rogue legal enterprise to heel. If only other areas of law besides copyright had loser-pays, and other states besides California emulated the “undertaking” idea. Earlier on Prenda Law here and here.
Ken at Popehat and Mike Masnick at TechDirt are on the case of Prenda Law, which is in the business of monetizing low-value copyrights to adult entertainment properties. The story, which recently resulted in the filing of defamation suits against Prenda critics, is highly convoluted, so I recommend scrolling down to earlier posts in the series (such as this one by Ken).