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Lawyer Banned for Threatening File-Sharers

Soulskill posted about 6 years ago | from the your-uppance-has-come dept.

123

S. Hare brings us a report from TorrentFreak about a lawyer working for a Swiss anti-piracy group who was recently given a 6-month ban for her attempts to intimidate file-sharers though letters threatening fines and court fees. Elizabeth Martin demanded 400 Euros each from "hundreds of thousands of file-sharers," and suggested that they would have to face large settlements if they did not comply. The Paris Bar Council took exception to this and instituted the ban. Martin worked for Logistep, a company who has had trouble following laws in the past. "The disciplinary board decided that 'By choosing to reproduce aggressive foreign methods, intended to force payments, the interested party also violated [the code] which specifies that the lawyer cannot unfairly represent a situation or seriousness of threat.' In addition, the lawyer also violated the code by cashing payments into a private account, not the usual dedicated litigation account, known as a 'Carpa'. Martin also refused to reveal how many payments had been received from file-sharers."

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Value (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22980882)

It's truely amazing that people continue to support copyright theft here. It's an indection that most Slashdotter's don't actually produce anything of value.

Re:Value (5, Insightful)

y86 (111726) | about 6 years ago | (#22980900)

It's truely amazing that people continue to support copyright theft here. It's an indection that most Slashdotter's don't actually produce anything of value.
I beg to differ.

Ever heard of Linux? Jackass. Go back under your bridge.

Re:Value (5, Insightful)

Yeah, and some of us can keep producing value, not like other people who _apparently_ can only produce value once in their lifetime and so require copyright terms of > 100 years to support them (or long patent terms).

To the latter bunch I say, go find something you are better at and stop wasting time and resources.

If the speed of communications has got faster, and people want a faster pace of progress, then the length of all these monopolies should be getting shorter and shorter, not longer and longer. In the old days it takes a long time for a book (or other work) to get from an author to people (takes time for people to get to know about the book, and for payment to reach the author etc). Now I believe it should be much faster if you are doing things right.

Re:Value (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 years ago | (#22981054)

In the old days it takes a long time for a book (or other work) to get from an author to people (takes time for people to get to know about the book, and for payment to reach the author etc). Now I believe it should be much faster if you are doing things right.

In much writing things are still going to take a while. Peer review takes time, because peer reviewers have busy lives. Doing fine typesetting is still a laborious task (yes, computers help, but you still have to painstakingly tweak their output).

Still, for some forms of entertainment, things do move fast, and once things are out they can be quickly duplicated. But in fact, they have always moved fast and copyright was an unnatural innovation forced into the the market only a few hundred years ago. In Ancient Rome, for instance, people would transcribe poetry recitals, have copies mass-produced by a team of amanuenses, and then sell it in the marketplace. No one seems to have had a problem with this lightning-speed duplication and sale of material. In his Epigrams [amazon.com] , the poet Martial complains only that someone else was putting his own name on his poems, but he had no problem with people profiting from the poetry itself, even if he didn't see a dime. The arts flourished even without copyright.

The digital era has brought nothing new in many respects. Art just fine existed before copyright, and we should dismantle it now because it will exist after copyright.

Typesetting isn't hard anymore (1, Informative)

uuxququex (1175981) | about 6 years ago | (#22981198)

Doing fine typesetting is still a laborious task (yes, computers help, but you still have to painstakingly tweak their output).

Don't use Microsoft Word for serious work then. Computer typesetting is a solved problem. Has been since the eighties [wikipedia.org].

Re:Typesetting isn't hard anymore (5, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 years ago | (#22981232)

I've done professional typesetting with LaTeX. Yes, the TeX world is a wonderful, but you still have to laborious tweak the output. LaTeX will, for example, put a single word on a line at the end of a paragraph, a taboo. You also have to remove overfull \hboxes, ensure that hyphenation of proper names is correct, and work out any issues with non-Latin characters (UTF-8 is only partially supported in the TeX world, even with xetex).

Re:Typesetting isn't hard anymore (1)

uuxququex (1175981) | about 6 years ago | (#22981604)

I've been fairly involved in the TeX world. I started with LaTeX, but after a year I found it to be limiting enough to switch to TeX with a set of custom macro's.

Yes, you have to proofread your document after typesetting. Ofcourse you have to do that. But the problem isn't hard. An overfull hbox? Rephrase that paragraph slightly. Hyphenation control is excellent.

The lack of real Unicode support irks me too, I've needed it on a project. In the end I used a severely kludges Omega setup. I would not care to do that ever again.

Re:Typesetting isn't hard anymore (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 years ago | (#22981640)

This is going quite off-topic, but it's always night to talk with other TeX afficionados.

An overfull hbox? Rephrase that paragraph slightly.

Sometimes you can't. For example, I recently typeset a manuscript where a paragraph consisted of little more than phonetic transcriptions in IPA, which don't hyphenate. It took me a long while to figure out a way around the overfull \hbox.

Hyphenation control is excellent.

The hyphenation files for any language don't handle more obscure proper names.

The lack of real Unicode support irks me too, I've needed it on a project. In the end I used a severely kludges Omega setup. I would not care to do that ever again.

Omega is in fact abandoned now.

Re:Typesetting isn't hard anymore (1)

Sique (173459) | about 6 years ago | (#22981792)

My mother is an actual typograph and did typesetting with scissors and paste when I was a child. When I was sick, she stayed at home and did her typesetting there. So I have an idea what manual typesetting looks like (even thought the actual text was already done by a linotype typesetting machine).

I estimate Desktop Publishing has increased the output of a normal typesetter at least twentyfold (not to mention the ease of error correction you get with a computer!).

Re:Value (4, Insightful)

"In much writing things are still going to take a while"

AFAIK the copyright term stuff is _after_ publication. So if you're not done yet, don't publish.

On this note, I decided that the late payment of said fee is a small matter to you, and should you wish to enter into communications with me for payment of said sum, we can arrange to close this matter if you will deposit $400 into the account via Western Union to the account described within the next 7 days. I will not fail to bring to your notice that this business is hitch free safe and legal. we have to hire an attorney who will protect you legally,and for benefit of doubt position you as the next of kin and beneficiary.that you should not entertain any fear as all modalities for fund transfer can be finalized as soon as possible. When you receive this letter, kindly send me an e-mail on this mail box including your most confidential telephone/fax numbers and your address for quick communication. Your Friend DR CHARLES OBOSAH This was her first offense (4, Informative) Nicolas MONNET (4727) | about 6 years ago | (#22981166) And besides, this is a suspended sentence, ie she will not be banned for 6 months this time, but would in the future if she commits more ethics violations. Re:This was her first offense (2, Insightful) iminplaya (723125) | about 6 years ago | (#22984190) People in authority shouldn't get a second chance. I know I wouldn't if I committed extortion. She's a common criminal who should suffer the same fate as any other common criminal. Too bad they let her off. But then, file sharers aren't exactly politically connected. Re:This was her first offense (2, Insightful) Dan541 (1032000) | about 6 years ago | (#22984304) Who cares about first offense!! What if it's my first offense filesharing copyrighted content? Somehow I doubt I'll be given a such lenient sentence for the lesser crime. Re:6 month ban seems rather lite.... (4, Insightful) Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22981280) It seems more in keeping with a blackmail fraud. File sharers who have been fed a constant tide of propaganda and disinformation about the legality of their actions are in a vulnerable position. Young people who have commited no crime are easily intimidated and made to feel guilty if a letter from an apparently reputable law firm tells them they've broken the law and pressures them to settle. The fact that the money was deposited in a private account shows this was nothing more than a mafia style shakedown. Yes, the legal profession should look after its own, by throwing the book at these crooks. It's in the interests of every honest lawyer in the world that these scammers do hard jail time, and lots of it. Permenant disbarment would seem only the first step. They should never work as lawyers again. Re:6 month ban seems rather lite.... (1) ultranova (717540) | about 6 years ago | (#22981748) It's in the interests of every honest lawyer in the world that these scammers do hard jail time, and lots of it. But it's not in the interests of the vast majority of lawyers, so it won't happen. Re:6 month ban seems rather lite.... (1) Teun (17872) | about 6 years ago | (#22981698) It is because of such evidence that some positions of power should be eliminated or have built-in checks that would at least require wide scope and unlikely collusion to perform. Especially those positions of initiating war. Several countries I know of have such a system, it's called "Parliamentary Democracy", I can commend it! Re:6 month ban seems rather lite.... (1, Insightful) Dhalka226 (559740) | about 6 years ago | (#22981972) Should not such an act as this hold a penalty of disbarment? No. Look, I hate the RIAA's tactics as much as anybody and this issue seems like it was taken from their playbook, but we need to very carefully consider what we're doing before we tell somebody they wasted tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars going to law school and take their livelihoods from them. At the very least, I don't think a second chance is out of line. Further, what they seem to be citing her for is overstating the seriousness of the matter. It's unethical, but I certainly don't think it falls into the "you can't practice law" category. The money-into-a-private-account thing is a serious issue, but there doesn't seem to be an accusation of theft. If that's the case, the firm she's working for should sue her into the dirt and file a complaint -- and then she should be disbarred. If they don't feel any money is missing, well, then let's give that second chance again. If she does anything like this in the future, send her packing. Now, on the other hand if what another poster said is true and the six month ban isn't even really in effect--then that's too light. The lapses certainly deserve a punishment, not a notification that a punishment might come next time. Re:6 month ban seems rather lite.... (1) slashtivus (1162793) | about 6 years ago | (#22983596) "tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars going to law school" One would think that spending that amount of money to learn and understand the law and be an officer of the court would mean they are held to a higher standard. Maybe not disbarment for 1 minor infraction, as human beings make mistakes, but this looks like a fairly egregious violation of ethics. As you said, this should not have been suspended. Re:6 month ban seems rather lite.... (0) Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22982480) Maybe it was rather light because they're shifting part of the blame to 'foreigners'? The disciplinary board decided that 'By choosing to reproduce aggressive foreign methods, intended to force payments, the interested party also violated [the code] which specifies that the lawyer cannot unfairly represent a situation or seriousness of threat.' Was that really what was said in French/Swiss/etc? Is this the official English version, if there was one? Shouldn't a judgement be on points of law? I find it rather incredible that there should be any reference to "foreign methods" one way or another. This is like yet more of that Swiss black sheep election poster. Meanwhile can some IANA(EU)L explain what the purpose and limits of the Paris Bar Council is? 6 months may be a heavy censure from them, and they may also be just a trade organization, with voluntary membership and/or compliance. BBB and all that; essentially toothless. Cheese-Eating Surrender-Monkeys (0, Troll) turgid (580780) | about 6 years ago | (#22981108) Makes you wish you lived in Freedom, doesn't it? Re:Cheese-Eating Surrender-Monkeys (1) Teun (17872) | about 6 years ago | (#22981758) "The disciplinary board decided that 'By choosing to reproduce aggressive foreign methods, intended to force payments, etc" Regarding your wish for freedom a very insightful comment from the disciplinary board... I don't think we have to wonder who is meant by "foreign" I would prefer this for all lawyers who (1) zoomshorts (137587) | about 6 years ago | (#22981140) Try to circumvent the law. BANNED FOR LIFE from practising law anywhere on the planet, PLUS banned from running for public office. Time to get medieval on these types. They had it coming (1) Eradicator2k3 (670371) | about 6 years ago | (#22981150) FTA: Lawyer Elizabeth Martin had been demanding 400 Euros from hundreds of thousands of file-sharers who Logistep say had been infringing the rights of software company Techland, on their game 'Call of Juarez'. Frickin noobs. It should be 'Call of Warez'. Goes Beyond Copyrights... (5, Interesting) p0tat03 (985078) | about 6 years ago | (#22981170) A friend of mine had a kid sister who got in with some bad friends, and was involved in some apparent shop lifting shenanigans at the local mall. She never stole anything, but her friends did, and this was made pretty clear with store management, so nothing ever came of it. A few months later they get a letter from a law firm in Tennessee (they live in Canada), threatening to sue unless they turned over$500. My friend's family was quite intimidated, and was even ready to fork over the cash until I wrote them a letter for them in response. I basically told them to fuck off, and that if they wanted to pursue charges we would see them in court.

The knew full well that there isn't a lick of evidence that my friend's sister ever stole anything, they also know that there's no fricking way they're going to go through all the trouble of getting a local (Canadian) law firm to sue. It was all one big scare tactic.

And people wonder why lawyers are so hated.

p0tat03 (985078) | about 6 years ago | (#22981932)

Oh, and just as a note... My friend's family did hear back from them after another month. This time they reduced their demand to \$100. What a load of crock, this is basically them saying "we know we have no case, but can we pleeeeeeease have some money now?". Once again, I told them to fuck off. We have not heard from them since (it's been almost 2 years now).

I really wish I could file a complaint somewhere against these people. They are nothing but the lowest form of scum on Earth, as bad as any racketeering mafioso out there. IMHO sending letters like these should be grounds for a very quick disbar.

Oh, and FYI, they threatened to pursue CRIMINAL charges (since nothing of value was actually stolen). This would've been laughable, since there's no evidence she stole anything, and even if convicted her record would've been expunged in only a couple of years. Nice threat, jackasses.

Interesting bit of law ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 6 years ago | (#22981176)

... the interested party also violated [the code] which specifies that the lawyer cannot unfairly represent a situation or seriousness of threat.

I would think that there'd be similar Federal or State law here in the U.S. Not that it would matter: copyright law is so screwed up here that when the RIAA says you might go down for hundreds of thousands of dollars they actually aren't lying. Not about that, anyway.

pay me now! (2, Funny)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | about 6 years ago | (#22981242)

All ye Slashdotters listen up: Each of you must PAY ME ONE THOUSAND POUNDS STERLING immediately, or else I will tell your mommy on you!

Re:pay me now! (4, Funny)

Fine!

Whats your account number, social security, and birth date? I'll transfer it into your account.

deserves it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22981246)

HAH! serves her right!
should be punished by being beaten to death with a hammer.

Burn her!

Myka (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | about 6 years ago | (#22981384)

Actually, what I found most interesting was the add for Myka, a BitTorrent based set-top box. Could have potential.

The home page looks a bit suspect though. Anyone have any real information on it?

Why just banned? (2, Interesting)

Godji (957148) | about 6 years ago | (#22981778)

Why is she getting just banned, as opposed to sued? IANAL, and if I were to go around sending settlement requests to thousands of people, there must be some law that could be used to stop me.

Is she being treated more lightly just because she's a lawyer?

Re:Why just banned? (1)

wes33 (698200) | about 6 years ago | (#22983348)

Is she being treated more lightly just because she's a lawyer?

Apart from this, how are you enjoying your first trip to Earth?

Re:Why just banned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22983440)

It's an interesting planet, even if a little too dirty. I can't believe you guys managed to achieve so much given how closed-minded, stupid, and ignorant the average human being is. But yeah, other than that, I'm enjoying it!

Bitch!

Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22984320)

Honesty should be worth the extra points.

many laywers are simply prostituting the law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22982476)

IMHO, many lawyers, esp. North American ones, care far more about profits than their profession or their ethical standards. The law has essentially become a servant and slave to monied interests and no longer serves the people.

It's such a shame that corruption and greed are destroying this once great land.

Throw her in jail! (0, Flamebait)

billcopc (196330) | about 6 years ago | (#22984368)

From what I understand, this is plain old extortion. Toss the bitch in jail with a very aggressive butch, so we'll have a precedent to use against the RIAA/MPAA's thugs.

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