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USCG Sues Copyright Defense Lawyer

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the nip-it-in-the-bud dept.

The Courts 360

ESRB writes "The US Copyright Group has sued Graham Syfert, an attorney who created a packet of self-representation paperwork for individuals sued for P2P sharing of certain movies and moved to have sanctions placed against the defense attorney. Syfert sells these packets for $20, and the USCG claims the 19 individuals who have used it have cost them over $5000."

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Wait... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364940)

So... they think defending yourself is against the law now, or something? Or informing other people on how to defend themselves?

Re:Wait... (5, Insightful)

Elledan (582730) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364974)

Yes, because it threatens their business model of threatening to sue people even if they have no intention to ever do so. All the USCG wants is for the people it sends a threatening letter to pay up $2,500. Negotiating a settlement or heavens forbid an actual court case would drive up their lawyer costs and make their business model unprofitable. Hence them trying to take out this 'threat'. Of course, they're trying to take on a real attorney, not some Joe Shmuck without a clue about legal proceedings.

*settles back with some popcorn*

Re:Wait... (5, Insightful)

onepoint (301486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365302)

You point out the truthfulness of the situation. Let's look at the business model.
A) we have a LAWYER that has some courage and wants to defend people at a reasonable rate with a self help package provided in a PDF which is down-loadable.
a1) it targets a very specific business model ( USCG bulk lawsuits )
a2) the amount of USCG lawsuits is X
a3) he should be able to convert 3% to 8% of the lawsuits after some reasonable testing.
a4) so the amount of work he put into it might have been 60 hours ( 60 * $125 ) = nill, he was having a beer every time and relaxing doing it.

the best thing that ever happened is that he got sued by these people, now everyone knows about him.

Re:Wait... (3, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365470)

The free advertising is great. That good old web.

Sadly, the litigation from USCG is going to cost him, so that $20/copy will hopefully cover his own costs, but I doubt it. USCG has every reason to press him as hard as they can, although I would hope that a decent judge would throw out the suit with prejudice. Sadly, that's unlikely to happen.

The free advertising exacerbates the problem as each of the other USCG litigants now has a $20 defense package available to them. Would USCG find an insane jury (possible, if it gets to trial) and some theory of law that multiplies the damages, then our courageous lawyer gets a multiplier to the damages for each $20 defense package sold.

The whole thing is fucking insane.

Re:Wait... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364976)

When the law is outlawed, only the criminals will know the law.

Wait, what?

Re:Wait... (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365054)

I wish I had mod points for this one.

Re:Wait... (2, Insightful)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365116)

Stupid new mod system. I tried to mod insightful, but missed and hit redundant. Post to undo.

Re:Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365526)

lol at interesting modifier.

Re:Wait... (1)

boarder8925 (714555) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365406)

So, basically how things have worked in the U.S. for at least the last fifty years?

Re:Wait... (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364992)

So... they think defending yourself is against the law now, or something? Or informing other people on how to defend themselves?

That's right. This is a religious battle. Therefore, it's not a matter of conflicting interests or disagreement or dispute. Nope, it transcends all of that. Clearly anything that interferes with their sacred agenda is EVIL! It is their holy crusade, and probably the only purpose in their sad little lives.

Just a drop in a big, heavy, overflowing bucket of reasons why I refuse to purchase RIAA/MPAA entertainment. I'd consider it, if it didn't go to fund pathological bullshit like this. And if all current management were rendered jobless and penniless and all draconian copyright laws repealed, with the addition of penalties for the lobbies and politicians who pushed for them. Since that's not likely to happen due to this aversion towards justice that's currently all the rage, my purchasing decisions are rendered easier.

Re:Wait... (4, Insightful)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365338)

Nah, I don't think they're anywhere near that emotionally invested. Remember, we're talking about the lawyers here, not the RIAA/MPAA themselves. For the lawyers, all they're probably interested in is the money. They're not pissed off because it gets in the way of their "holy crusade" because, the truth is, they'll probably still win most of these cases in the end. What they're so pissed off about is that he threw a wrench in their get rich quick scheme. Instead of being able to bully people into paying $2500 a pop with very little bill-able lawyer time, now they'll have to file their claims in a huge number of different courts across the country and will, likely, have to actually fight some of the cases. With all that interference, they might not be able to make the huge profit they were drooling over initially.

Re:Wait... (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365500)

Okay. I read the fucking article, but I still don't understand what this guy got sued for. Like, what are the claims against him? (Why wouldn't the article say?) Does anyone know?

Re:Wait... (2, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365598)

Tortuous interference of fishing blackmail expeditions? That's vigilantism!

Re:Wait... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365524)

Sounds like two sharks fighting over every little minnow.

They're advertising that guy's service, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364952)

They're either thick as a plank or they actually want more defendants to self-represent.

Re:They're advertising that guy's service, right? (4, Funny)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365020)

They're either thick as a plank or they actually want more defendants to self-represent.

Considering that they're a pro-copyright group and therefore think we don't yet have enough copyright laws on the books, I'd go with "thick as a plank".

Mind blowing (4, Funny)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364956)

A US corporation sues a US lawyer for not charging enough!

Under English law, a lawyer merely provides advice which the client is free to make use of or to ignore, and there are plenty of legal self-help books. There is an excellent one for company secretaries which, back in the 90s, saved me thousands in legal bills. Is this not so in the US?

Re:Mind blowing (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365282)

Is this not so in the US?

Yes [nolo.com] .

Re:Mind blowing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365396)

Its clearly a case of unfair competition! Sue the bastard to hell..Oh, wait..

Frivolous (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364960)

Any reasonable judge would throw this out. Lets hope he/she does.

Re:Frivolous (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365200)

Are there any left? I guess we will see.

Re:Frivolous (3, Funny)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365514)

do you even know what the claims of the suit are? I read the article but it didn't say, and I can't imagine what legally plausible claims could be made in this kind of situation. But, I can certainly imagine that there are plausible claims that I can't imagine.

Erm...what? (5, Insightful)

Mouldy (1322581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364962)

So, according to these USCG clowns, providing a working defence to the opposition is illegal?

Re:Erm...what? (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364964)

It is a mere application of the FUD principle.

Re:Erm...what? (5, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365052)

That's the problem - one of the defenses did work. The "lack of personal standing."

You can't sue for lost revenue if you're not the copyright holder. Further, you can't sue for lost revenue if you can't prove that, you know, you actually lost revenue.

Which, come to think of it, is a problem with their current suit - they can't prove they lost revenue because of a successful defense against their tactics, because a successful defense means they weren't entitled to the MOH-NEE!.

Then again, too many lawyers have this sense of personal entitlement. Just look at your politi-critters.

Easy prediction - within the next decade, someone will successfully sue for the right of non-lawyers to represent people in court, on the following basis:

  1. Religious freedom guarantees. Several religious sects take the "no doctor of the law shall enter into the kingdom" literally, and as an injunction against being represented by lawyers. To allow ONLY them a religious exemption is unconstitutional, as it discriminates against non-believers (reverse discrimination);
  2. Full and complete defense: Money, money, money. An interested, motivated party who is not a lawyer may be better able, in some cases, to provide a full and complete defense, than ANY paid lawyer, no matter what the price; but on top of that, most people simply can't AFFORD the cost of "professional" services;
  3. Freedom of association: Some countries have a constitutional guarantee of freedom of association. The requirement to "associate" your legal case with a lawyer to represent you is contrary to such guarantees;
  4. Freedom of political expression: Insisting on a non-lawyer is certainly an act of political speech; more so than currently-protected political expressions such as flag-burning;

As in this case, you don't need all 4 to be valid - any one succeeding will do.

-- Barbie

Re:Erm...what? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365238)

So, if they're politi-critters, does that mean that we have to be very careful not to have any committee meetings going after midnight? I'd hate to think that something bad would happen were they to have a snack.

the people v. the bar (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365374)

I agree that the lock the bar has on legal representation aught to be illegal, but I think this is wishful thinking. I think your arguments are interesting, but your prediction will come to naught.

As one example: there are specific sects permitted "conscientious objector" status. They are excused from military service for religious reasons. If your point held, then the draft would be entirely invalid. Any judge would be loath to make a ruling with such far-reaching and unpredictable consequences.

Reverse discrimination suits rarely hold water, and never* on the scale that you propose.

(IANAL, thus I do not hear about all legally interesting cases.)

Re:Erm...what? (2, Informative)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365516)

I recall reading at one point that Arizona allows non-lawyers to represent other people in their state.

It's more of a "you get what you pay for", or "buyer beware" state than anywhere else...

Re:Erm...what? (3, Interesting)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365590)

Now, I am not a lawyer, but it seems that all of your points are flawed due to one fact: You are allowed to represent yourself.

  • No religious exemption needed. If you don't want a lawyer, do it yourself.
  • You can hire anyone you want to testify or be your administrative assistant. They can't act in the courtroom as a lawyer or associate, but they can hand you notes on what to do/say if needed.
  • No association required if you represent yourself.
  • Assuming you aren't a lawyer, you have a non-lawyer representing you.

Also, as a side note, don't try turning a courtroom into a political statement. If you annoy the judge, they can fine you or imprison you for contempt of court.

Re:Erm...what? (4, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365140)

No, that would be ludicrous. The USCG is suing Syfert for costing them money which is not criminal but a civil matter. Unfortunately, you can sue for anything. The USCG has shown that they are a litigious group. Really this doesn't surprise me at all.

Re:Erm...what? (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365248)

Yes, but suing for something that's known to be frivolous can get you slapped for vexatious litigation in some jurisdictions. And ultimately when they lose the suit, which they will, they'll almost certainly have to pay his fees and probably a bit more.

Re:Erm...what? (2, Funny)

Zibri (1063838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365358)

And then they can sue him again for the money they lost in this litigation. Profit loop!

Re:Erm...what? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365616)

Vexatious litigation is not normally applied for a single action. If they repeatedly sue Syfert after losing or the case being dismissed then the court could apply that action.

Re:Erm...what? (3, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365262)

No, that would be ludicrous. The USCG is suing Syfert for costing them money which is not criminal but a civil matter. Unfortunately, you can sue for anything. The USCG has shown that they are a litigious group. Really this doesn't surprise me at all.

Their problem is that by costing them money, Syfert hasn't actually done anything wrong. It is perfectly legal for Syfert to sell these self-help booklets; even if it is not legal, they have no standing to sue. Only a buyer who let's say paid $20 and got rubbish advice would have standing to sue for that. The cost to them is not caused by Syfert, it is caused by the defendants defending themselves, and that is just what you have to expect when you sue someone; they will try to defend themselves. Perfectly legal and expected.

Re:Erm...what? (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365346)

No, that would be ludicrous. The USCG is suing Syfert for costing them money which is not criminal but a civil matter. Unfortunately, you can sue for anything. The USCG has shown that they are a litigious group. Really this doesn't surprise me at all.

Their problem is that by costing them money, Syfert hasn't actually done anything wrong. It is perfectly legal for Syfert to sell these self-help booklets; even if it is not legal, they have no standing to sue. Only a buyer who let's say paid $20 and got rubbish advice would have standing to sue for that. The cost to them is not caused by Syfert, it is caused by the defendants defending themselves, and that is just what you have to expect when you sue someone; they will try to defend themselves. Perfectly legal and expected.

Maybe they're hoping he'll just fold, not want to spend the time and money to defend himself (you know, like all the other victims.) Can it be that they believe they are that scary? To an attorney?

Re:Erm...what? (2, Insightful)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365564)

Maybe they're hoping he'll just fold, not want to spend the time and money to defend himself (you know, like all the other victims.) Can it be that they believe they are that scary? To an attorney?

Not just an attorney. An attorney who's own modus operandi is to persuade people to defend themselves against frivolous litigation by selling them affordable self-help packs.

I really struggle to believe that any collection of even moderately intelligent people could be that stupid.

Re:Erm...what? (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365320)

he wasn't representing them, therefore he lacks attorney client privilege and can be sued for aiding and abetting

Re:Erm... bad reporting (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365332)

So, according to these USCG clowns, providing a working defence to the opposition is illegal?

I wouldn't know. The article doesn't specify if any actual legal proceeding has actually been initiated or if this is just a bluff in an email exchange. Nor does it say what specific body this would be filed with, or what the legal basis for the filing would be. Is it really to much to ask for an article with some actual information in it?

Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364978)

The pack sold is not illegal in any way. it does not teach the owner how to break the law? it simply educates them about it.

The pack simply helps teach them how to best represent themselves, legally stand up for themselves?

But because it helps them (legally) prove they aren't liable, the USCG is suing the pack producer because it's causing them to lose their cases?

Hasn't this got to be the clearest case of racketeering, or proof it's all about extortion that the copyright-over-enforcement types have given yet?

Re:Let me get this straight... (2, Interesting)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365028)

The pack sold is not illegal in any way. it does not teach the owner how to break the law? it simply educates them about it.

I quite agree. Syfert himself puts it very well:

"If 19 cases costs them $5000 in attorney time, I wonder how many cases it'd take before their business model crumbles. That is unless they are going to actually work for a living."

It's funny cos it's true. The whole thing reminds me of record companies trying to hold THEIR outdated business model with ligitation, which is also funny; they are on borrowed time.

Except, this time it's not Joe Public. I hope this guys socks it to them. Huzzah

About those downloads... (4, Funny)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364986)

From the article:

(..) users who had downloaded films like The Hurt Locker, Far Cry and Call of the Wild

I liked the game Far Cry, so how about that movie? Is it any good? Is it worth the download?

Re:About those downloads... (4, Funny)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365058)

From the article:

(..) users who had downloaded films like The Hurt Locker, Far Cry and Call of the Wild

I liked the game Far Cry, so how about that movie? Is it any good? Is it worth the download?

Well worth the $20 I paid for it

Re:About those downloads... (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365144)

It's directed by this guy named Uwe Boll who's apparently made like a ton of these adaptations so he must be really good at it.

Re:About those downloads... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365256)

I'd seriously recommend watching Postal, from what I gather it's the only decent film he's made. And yes, I do hear that whooshing sound.

Re:About those downloads... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365226)

From the article:

(..) users who had downloaded films like The Hurt Locker, Far Cry and Call of the Wild

I liked the game Far Cry, so how about that movie? Is it any good? Is it worth the download?

Two words: Uwe Boll

(Incidently, the capcha is "suffers")

Re:About those downloads... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365348)

I don't know if this post is sarcastic or not.

The Lawyers Who Brought This Suit (4, Interesting)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365002)

The lawyers who brought this suit should be disbarred, and they should be fined to fully compensate the court and the defendant for their time, AND for his emotional distress. This is a fucking outrage.

Re:The Lawyers Who Brought This Suit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365056)

Judge: Sure, we'll disbar them, just let me stop laughing first...

USCG branches out (4, Insightful)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365004)

USCG Sues Copyright Defense Lawyer

Am I the only one who read that headline and wondered why the United States Coast Guard was getting involved in copyright lawsuits?

Re:USCG branches out (1)

javakah (932230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365088)

No, you weren't. Beyond just reading USCG as the United States Coast Guard, given that context, I initially interpreted "Copyright Defense Lawyer" as a lawyer for the Department of Defense who specialized in copyright law.

Re:USCG branches out (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365266)

Shut up, you'll give them ideas.

Re:USCG branches out (5, Funny)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365114)

Because of pirates, now you need not wonder anymore.

Re:USCG branches out (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365276)

Congratulations, you win the "most appropriate username ever" award.

Re:USCG branches out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365168)

Yes, you were.

But only because the rest of us have finally gotten over that from the last half-dozen USCG stories on /., and are now being astonished every time CNN tells us the United States Copyright Group interdicted a boatload of cocaine or Cubans.

Reverse the Sanctions (5, Insightful)

Nailer235 (1822054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365006)

Filing a suit against an attorney who is informing citizens of their Constitutional rights? Absolutely ridiculous. The attorney who filed this suit should be disbarred.

yes. should be. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365062)

but, he wont be. he will even earn more money. and be hired for doing more of this shit.

just like how a footman violating feudal laws for the benefit of his lord gets promoted.

Re:Reverse the Sanctions (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365368)

I suspect the idea isn't to win - it's to personally inconvenience him as much as possible until he willingly gets out of the copyright defence business to avoid the harassment.

Re:Reverse the Sanctions (1)

Nailer235 (1822054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365384)

That is the definition of malicious prosecution.

Re:Reverse the Sanctions (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365624)

At this point, maintaining his business model requires far less work than theirs. He just sells the packets. I really hope that if they do pester him enough to quit, he uploads the info to The Pirate Bay to share with world.

Re:Reverse the Sanctions (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365462)

Filing a suit against an attorney who is informing citizens of their Constitutional rights? Absolutely ridiculous.

The attorney who filed this suit should be disbarred.

An assessment of this without reading the facts is kind of a prejudice. There are some people who are providing FALSE information to citizens about their rights, and as a result these people go on to file frivolous lawsuits/arguments.

The US courts have consistently held that such behavior is wrong and the person should be fined and disbarred (although they're usually never at bar in the first place.)

Good . . . (5, Insightful)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365016)

he should be sued. Instead of this thorn-in-my-side bloke being known to a handful of people, he now has the publicity to level up to a bloody damn nuisance. 14000 more xp and he'll level up to a rebel.

But seriously, you'd think that as much as the Streisand effect has come up recently (like once a month), certain organizations would take heed and just roll with the punches. But that would involve, you know, using common sense.

Re:Good . . . (3, Interesting)

m509272 (1286764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365236)

Agree totally. Since most people didn't know of the availability of this $20 package it's great that more know of it now. I think it should go a step further. I would love to see the guy (with the help of donations if need be) run a full page ad in USA Today so it spreads all over. They'll of course be follow ups on TV and other newspapers, etc.

Re:Good . . . (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365394)

Agree totally. Since most people didn't know of the availability of this $20 package it's great that more know of it now. I think it should go a step further. I would love to see the guy (with the help of donations if need be) run a full page ad in USA Today so it spreads all over. They'll of course be follow ups on TV and other newspapers, etc.

Gee, maybe he could start his own blog, like this guy [blogspot.com]

Re:Good . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365582)

$20? I'll just wait for the package to hit eDonkey.

Re:Good . . . (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365314)

Perhaps we can speed the Streisand effect along a bit: http://store.payloadz.com/details/842325-Other-Files-Documents-and-Forms-Pro-Se-Basic-Motion-to-Quash-Package-On-Sale-Discount-.html [payloadz.com]

I'd pretty much consider the $20 a donation to a worthy legal cause [jacksonvil...efense.org] and the legal documents as just icing on the cake.

Re:Good . . . (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365494)

The media industries are stuck in the age of selling their stuff on physical media, and I bet if it were up to them they would never had sold magnetic tapes to begin with. They said tapes would kill them. They said VHS would kill them. Etc, etc.

They're scared of the internet for the right reasons, because it makes distributing media extremely efficient and easy, but instead of using that to their advantage they're reacting in the worst possible manner. They're trying to close up the open internet and turn it into a private, access-controlled media distribution channel. Too bad it wasn't designed that way.

My local brick-and-mortar video store has DVDs for rent, 3$ for new releases, 1$ for older movies. But on iTunes, new releases are 6$ (HD) and 5$ (SD) to rent, older movies (I'll use Terminator 2 for my example) are... 5$ (HD) and 4$ (SD). Wow, thirteen years later and it's a whole dollar less to rent it. They really don't get it.

Ok im waiting. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365030)

Any copyright/trademark/patent zealot, please explain us, whether we have hit the rock bottom yet, or not.

If not being sued for legally defending yourself against a private interest is not rock bottom, then explain us 'rock bottom'.

Re:Ok im waiting. (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365082)

I'm pretty sure it involves a form of serfdom...

Re:Ok im waiting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365160)

Any copyright/trademark/patent zealot, please explain us, whether we have hit the rock bottom yet, or not.

If not being sued for legally defending yourself against a private interest is not rock bottom, then explain us 'rock bottom'.

Rock bottom is the death penalty for a single act of copyright infringement.

Re:Ok im waiting. (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365182)

They hit rock bottom long ago, at which point they invested in heavy duty drilling equipment.
They are like lemmings, they'll keep drilling until they hit the magma layers, and luckily they aren't made of asbestos.

Re:Ok im waiting. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365378)

Let's hope they won't hit the magma layers, otherwise it will open up a gateway to another dimension, causing an attack by giant alien creatures.

Ok, someone who understands this stuff... (5, Insightful)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365034)

...please explain. There is absolutely no way that this is actually what it looks like on the surface, its just way to ridiculous.

Re:Ok, someone who understands this stuff... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365300)

There is absolutely no way that this is actually what it looks like on the surface, its just way to ridiculous.

Speaking of, can someone show me the way to ridiculous?

Re:Ok, someone who understands this stuff... (3, Insightful)

esme (17526) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365340)

I doubt very much they are trying to argue that he's doing too good a job of defending people. My guess is that they are going after him for providing legal advice to people where he's lot licensed, providing legal advice to people he's never talked to, or some similar rule that's setup to prevent lawyers from ripping off clients. The amount of money they are asking for is probably justified as recouping their expenses that came from his "malpractice".

I don't know the details of the case, or have any idea if he's technically in violation of some rule or not. I do know that retail-packaged legal advice (like make-your-own-will computer software) sometimes runs into problems in some jurisdictions, so it's not that big of a stretch to think this might stick.

Re:Ok, someone who understands this stuff... (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365484)

providing legal advice to people where he's [n]ot licensed

Eh... copyright law is I believe federal, so he can provide advice to anyone within the US...

providing legal advice to people he's never talked to

A possibility, but they have no standing to sue for damages in this case. Although, apparently they are only suing for sanctions against him. ... we would really need to look at the actual suit that they're filing to be on the same page as the guy being sued, but it couldn't possibly be for lack of license... (unless they want to get laughed out of court.)

Re:Ok, someone who understands this stuff... (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365596)

You'd think they have no standing though. If they are suing on the grounds you describe, the injured party would be the client who bought the $20 book.

Re:Ok, someone who understands this stuff... (2, Insightful)

Trekologer (86619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365632)

It sees that the USCG is now complaining that the motions that the defendants filed in response (using Syfert's document pack) should not be accepted. The rule (that USCG quotes) says that the defendant's council must discuss with plaintiff's council before filing such motion and then serve defendant council with copies of the motion. However, the defendants are not being represented by any council (and certainly not Syfert, as indicated by his reply to USCG's request for sanctions) so those rules would not apply. USCG's assertion that the defendants need to first confer with them would be completely contrary to the purpose of the filings--to prevent the court from releasing the identity to the USCG.

The defendants using the forms sold by Syfert is no different than someone using Legal Zoom or buying a package of legal forms from Staples. The problem (for USCG) is that the filings now require USCG to spend real money defending their assertion that the Doe defendants are liable, whether to simply answer the motions or possibly take the case to the court with correct jurisdiction over the defendants. What the USCG is attempting to do is discourage other Doe defendants from trying to defend themselves against the allegations.

Re:Ok, someone who understands this stuff... (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365432)

...please explain. There is absolutely no way that this is actually what it looks like on the surface, its just way to ridiculous.

It sounds like you have a handle on the situation.

In more civilized times, an angry mob would tar-and-feather asshats like this.

Just kidding...honest (2, Funny)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365044)

Anyone know where one could download the self-representation paperwork packs?
Im kidding.....

Re:Just kidding...honest (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365322)

Just remember that it's okay if you promise to send him the money by mail!

Re:Just kidding...honest (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365458)

This [teachingcopyright.org] is a good place to start.

SB

Can we say Streisand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365046)

Are you being sued for file sharing? Can't afford a lawyer to defend you?

Represent yourself [payloadz.com] and save.

Not that I think file sharing copyrighted content is right but I'm willing to bet many of those being sued really are innocent but this day and age they're guilty until they prove otherwise.

Advertising (1)

Lando (9348) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365100)

The first thing I think about when I see this if free advertising for the accused lawyer. I mean if only 19 people have used the documents and 10x the number have paid for said documents at 20 bucks a pop. That's only around 4k of revenue. The article published on slashdot will likely generate far more income now. So the question is, are these documents real and effective or is this just an advertising campaign?

Re:Advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365188)

DING DING DING !!

That's the CORRECT question.

The answer is that yes, this is an advertising (aka phishing) campaign.

Poor lawyered up industry is having a hard time showing that they have standing because "Corporation vs Jane Doe" is EXPENSIVE. But when it's "Corporation vs Person who bought self-defence books from our phoney storefront AND also appears to be Jane Doe, Copyright Infringer" things become quite a bit simpler.

Captcha: unclear

Huh (1)

webheaded (997188) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365112)

Normally you can at least see SOME sort of legal justification but I don't really see anything beyond "we're really mad he's making our jobs harder" and I'm not sure HOW they have legal grounds to sue him or have sanctions placed...he hasn't done anything illegal or even...WRONG in this case. WTF?

Can the USCG attorneys be disbarred over this? I d (2, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365118)

Can the USCG attorneys be disbarred over this? I don't think you can shut down a attorney like this. Prisons have tried to limit inmate access to court / filing lawsuits and the courts have said they can't do that.

Re:Can the USCG attorneys be disbarred over this? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365212)

I would think that an attorney suing another attorney is fairly common. Remember one party can sue anyone for any reason, especially in a civil matter. The chances of winning is another. The courts don't normally intervene unless one party is notorious for filing frivolous lawsuits. The USCG can be barred for certain actions like suborning perjury but not for act of suing.

Re:Can the USCG attorneys be disbarred over this? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365328)

Ah but don't you see, ACTUAL criminals have rights. We mere citizens do not.

Re:Can the USCG attorneys be disbarred over this? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365492)

Can the USCG attorneys be disbarred over this? I don't think you can shut down a attorney like this. Prisons have tried to limit inmate access to court / filing lawsuits and the courts have said they can't do that.

It depends upon if the attorney is providing valid advice. People have already been fined, sanctioned, and even jailed for providing false legal advice to the public, (who then go on to file frivolous lawsuits/defenses).

The prison thing is a bit different, it's kind of hard to sue someone for fines and sanctions for providing legal advice to other inmates...

Let me see the logic here (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365218)

Their legal team and/or cases sucked so much that they got their asses handed to them by untrained defendants using boilerplate this guy wrote.

So now they want to sue him directly, after he already owned them by proxy, with a case that seems even more hilariously unjustified. What are they going to pin on him? Selling standard legal advice?

Yeah, good luck.

U.S. Coast Guard Sues Grahm Syfert (1)

harrytuttle777 (1720146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365224)

This strikes me as an outrageous abuse of power by the federal government. Let me read this article. Ohh wait, it is not the US Coast Guard. It is the US Copyright Group. In case can we get the Coast Guard to sue the Copyright group for trademark infringement.

USCG vs USCG. The epic battle.

my take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365288)

they should sue the united states coast guard for taking their acronym before they came into existence. or maybe the coasties should shut them down.

Tsk, tsk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365296)

Dunlap, et al. (legal counsel for USCG) need to have their collective head examined.

Any court of competent jurisdiction can see this is a farce (did this so-called lawsuit survive the initial motion to dismiss?), especially since one of the defenses Mr. Syfert propounds (that of the "motion to dismiss based upon lack of personal jurisdiction") is actually working. I would also look harshly upon Dunlap's threats to potential defendants (doubling of settlement requests for those using Mr. Syfert's prepared forms), perhaps to the point of allowing such conduct to weigh in favor of Mr. Syfert in his sanctions claim.

In short, USCG is abusing the legal process. You want to go after someone for copyright infringement, fine. More power to you. But this sort of chicanery makes judges very upset. The fact that Mr. Syfert is clever enough to include documentation in his prepared forms that is (surprise, surprise) raising an effective defense is cause for kudos to him, and Dunlap's whining is unbecoming a law firm. If you can't stand the heat (that is, someone effectively using the law against you), get out of the kitchen.

His forms are still for sale (1)

omnibit (1737004) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365306)

From TFA, you can still buy his defense package from here [payloadz.com]

How come the numbers are so different? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365310)

If a lawyer sells paperwork to 19 people for 20$ that amounts to losses of 5000$, how come other individuals are sued for million dollars amounts? How exactly did it go from 1~250 million to 263.16$ per person sued?

The guy should let the lawsuit go through and set a precedent of 263.16$ as the amount the RIAA/MPAA/USCG/etc can sue a person for. No more, no less.

Re:How come the numbers are so different? (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365510)

All of the lawsuits against individuals have been net losses for the copyright holders, and this might be about the lost revenue for USCG, particularly the money lost from not settling. Basically, what I'm saying is that there is no logic to these suits, so don't try and apply logic to them.

where do i get this kit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34365336)

I am being harassed for a download. Where can i get this kit that i have never heard of before this post?

Coast Guard (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365402)

so not only is the BSA is now the Business Software Alliance rather than Boy Scouts of America, but the USCG is now the US Copyright Group rather than the United States Coast Guard.

can't wait to find what they change USA to.

I'm sure it will all be for our own good.

Wow! (2, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365496)

The lawyer trolls are going to lose. That's for sure. The only question is whether Mr. Syfert will get sanctions against them, and if so, how much those sanctions will be. Assuming that there is nothing defamatory in Mr. Syfert's materials, all Syfert did is sell information to third parties. There's no law against that (and the First Amendment supports it).

The whole thing is now a free targeted promotional event on Mr. Syfert's behalf.

Just a little bit of careful thought would have dissuaded the lawyer trolls from filing an action against Mr. Syfert. It will be fun to watch this circus as it unfolds its tents.

On what grounds? (1)

devent (1627873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34365504)

Anyone known on what grounds is USCG suing? As far as I know you need to break a law before anyone can put you before a judge.

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