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November 2019
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Richard Liebowitz Is Wrong On So Many Levels, And Is In Trouble Yet Again

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Copyright troll Richard Liebowitz (who once got so offended that he was called a copyright troll that he asked a judge to "redact" the phrase, only to have the judge double down on calling him a troll)... He's been sanctioned for lying to the court, he's been sanctioned for failing to comply with court orders, and is currently facing some serious penalties for lying about the death of his grandfather to a judge (which resulted in the most ridiculous letter he had a family friend send to the court, chalking such mistakes up to inexperience). But Liebowitz has a ton of experience in getting the law wrong. Hell, it was over two years ago that we wrote about him getting a judicial smackdown so bad that the judge began it by stating:

No reasonable lawyer with any familiarity with the law of copyright could have thought...
And yet, Liebowitz is still out there doing his thing. And it's causing real problems. Earlier this year, he sued a small business called Analytical Grammar because the company's owner, Erin Karl, shared a viral meme on Facebook. She wrote all about the case in a GoFundMe page:
In Dec 2017 we shared a picture of a visual pun that was going viral around the internet. It also went viral from our page.Fast forward to August 2019. Analytical Grammar was served a lawsuit on behalf of Matthew Bradley of Windsor, California, who says he created the meme. There had previously been no communication between Bradley and AG.Representing Bradley is New York attorney Richard Liebowitz.
If you're curious, the Facebook post appears to still be up. You can also see the original image as it's Exhibit A in the complaint. It's a silly joke showing a bunch of levels (you know, the tools you use to see if something is level), all with painter's tape on each one with "WRONG" written in a Sharpie on each one, and the image is captioned: "This is wrong on so many levels." Get it? It made me chuckle, at least. You can find this image in some other places online, including, (bizarrely) a version that also shows Ajit Pai's face on each level for reasons I don't fully understand.Either way, Liebowitz sued on behalf of Matthew Bradley, who apparently wants to cash in on the viral nature of this image. Erin Karl brought in Booth Sweet, the Boston-based law firm that has quite a bit of experience dealing with copyright trolls, including Liebowitz. Their Answer and Counterclaims is worth reading as well, as they note that Bradley originally posted his image to Facebook, which has a convenient "share" feature, and even commented how excited he was that his image was being shared widely, stating: Wow! I am stunned! Over 10K shares. Time for a shameless plug for my blog..." They also point out that Bradley's image itself is believed to be "an unlicensed derivative work based on an earlier photograph by a third party," meaning that if there is much of a copyright at all in the image, it might not be Bradley's, while also pointing out some other issues regarding Bradley's delayed registration of the image.Also, how can you not love a filing in this case with the following paragraph:
Bradley's lawsuit is wrong on so many levels. He levels claims against Analytical for sharing his joke. He does his level best to take Analytical down a level. But his claims are not on the level. Analytical raises these counterclaims to level the field.
The case appears to be proceeding in standard Liebowitz fashion. In October, Judge Louise Flanagan, followed in the footsteps of so many other judges and started to benchslap Liebowitz over his many mistakes:
It appears Mr. Leibowitz's standing has been called into question in the United StatesDistrict Court for the Southern District of New York. Referred to as a copyright troll, in a caseinvolving one of the plaintiffs named above, a district judge recently observed Mr. Liebowitz hasbeen sanctioned, reprimanded, and advised to 'clean up [his] act' by other judges of this Court.Sands v. Bauer Media Grp. USA, LLC, No. 17-CV-9215 (LAK), 2019 WL 4464672, at *1(S.D.N.Y. Sept. 18, 2019). Serious sanctions were imposed by the judge in that case on accountof plaintiff's discovery deficiencies, including requirement that Mr. Leibowitz personally paydefendant's fees associated with advancing its motion to dismiss as a sanction for allegeddiscovery misconduct.This judge joins the chorus of those telling this attorney to clean up his act. The docketsof each of the cases assigned to me, wherein this attorney represents a plaintiff, are littered withdeficiency notices. This is a harbinger for troubled litigation ahead.
The judge highlights the many mistakes Liebowitz has made, including not filing a "notice of appearance" (one of the first steps you do as a lawyer in a lawsuit) for over two months. The judge points to similar failures in other dockets where Liebowitz is the lawyer in question. The judge is not happy about Liebowitz wasting the court's time.
The problems described above appear rooted in a failure to read or understand the court'sCM/ECF Policies and Procedures Manual and the Court's Local Civil Rules, and disrespect forthe work of the clerk. There appears a failure to profit from the clerk's work to bring issues to theattorney's attention prompt attention. Many of the issues repeat themselves from case to case.
And then tells him to shape up, or see all the cases dismissed:
This attorney is noticed that he has until October 10, 2019, to cure any and every noticeddeficiency in the three cases now assigned to me. If no address is made in accordance with thisorder, the cases at issue will be dismissed.
On October 10th, Liebowitz had to tell the court that he believed that all of the various deficiencies had been resolved and "there are not any noticed deficiencies on the docket for the above-referenced matter." The case is continuing, but it appears that, still, all is not well. Since Liebowitz is not based in North Carolina where the case is filed, he had a local co-counsel on the case, Seth Hudson. However, for whatever reason (we won't speculate), Hudson apparently decided that maybe he was better off not being a part of this case, and so Liebowitz is trying to swap him out with another local lawyer.Last week, Liebowitz filed a motion for Hudson to withdraw as an attorney, and wouldn't you know it? He did that wrong as well. From the docket:
NOTICE OF DEFICIENCY regarding 23 Motion to Withdraw. The signature block on this document does not comply with the local rules for local counsel. In addition, whenever an attorney of record in a case will be replaced by another attorney who is an active member of the bar of this court, a notice of substitution of counsel must be filed. The notice must (i) be signed by and contain a signature block for both attorneys in compliance with Local Civil Rule 10.1; (ii) identify the parties represented; (iii) verify that the attorney entering the case is aware of and will comply with all pending deadlines in the case, including proceeding with any scheduled trial or hearings; and (iv) be served on all parties. The moving attorney should file the notice of substitution through CM/ECF. The withdrawing attorney will remain attorney of record until this deficiency is corrected. See Local Rule 5.2(c). (Collins, S.)
I'm not even a lawyer and I know that the first thing you should be doing when filing documents is understanding the (often detailed and arcane) local rules before filing any documents. The court is already not happy with Liebowitz in this case, and that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.At this point, you kind of have to wonder who the hell still thinks it's worth hiring Richard Liebowitz? There are plenty of good copyright lawyers out there. Ones who have not been frequently sanctioned by courts for doing things "no reasonable lawyer" would do.

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Amazon: Cops Can Get Recordings From Ring, Keep Them Forever, And Share Them With Whoever They Want

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Even more alarming news has surfaced about Amazon's Ring doorbell/camera and the company's ultra-cozy relationship with police departments.Since its introduction, Ring has been steadily increasing its market share -- both with homeowners and their public servants. At the beginning of August, this partnership included 200 law enforcement agencies. Three months later, that number has increased to 630.What do police departments get in exchange for agreeing to be Ring lapdogs? Well, they get a portal that allows them to seek footage from Ring owners, hopefully without a warrant. They also get a built-in PR network that promotes law enforcement wins aided by Ring footage, provided the agencies are willing to let Ring write their press releases for them.They also get instructions on how to bypass warrant requirements to obtain camera footage from private citizens. Some of this is just a nudge -- an unstated quid pro quo attached to the free cameras cops hand out to homeowners. Some of this is actual instructions on how to word requests so recipients are less likely to wonder about their Fourth Amendment rights. And some of this is Ring itself, which stores footage uploaded by users for law enforcement perusal.If it seems like a warrant might slow things down -- or law enforcement lacks probable cause to demand footage -- Ring is more than happy to help out. Footage remains a subpoena away at Ring HQ. And, more disturbingly, anything turned over to police departments comes with no strings attached.Statements given to Sen. Edward Markey by Amazon indicate footage turned over to cops is a gift that keeps on giving.

Police officers who download videos captured by homeowners’ Ring doorbell cameras can keep them forever and share them with whomever they’d like without providing evidence of a crime, the Amazon-owned firm told a lawmaker this month.
Brian Huseman, Amazon's VP of Public Policy, indicates the public is kind of an afterthought when it comes to Ring and its super-lax policies.
Police in those communities can use Ring software to request up to 12 hours of video from anyone within half a square mile of a suspected crime scene, covering a 45-day time span, Huseman wrote. Police are required to include a case number for the crime they are investigating, but not any other details or evidence related to the crime or their request.
Ring itself maintains that it's still very much into protecting users and their safety. Maybe not so much their privacy, though. The company says it takes the "responsibility" of "protecting homes and communities" very seriously. But when it comes to footage, well… that footage apparently belongs to whoever it ends up with.
Ring… "does not own or otherwise control users’ videos, and we intentionally designed the Neighbors Portal to ensure that users get to decide whether to voluntarily provide their videos to the police.”
It's obvious Ring does not "control" recordings. Otherwise, it would place a few more restrictions on the zero-guardrail "partnerships" with law enforcement agencies. But pretending Ring owners are OK with cops sharing their recordings with whoever just because they agreed to share the recording with one agency is disingenuous.Ring's answers to Markey's pointed questions are simply inadequate. As the Washington Post article notes, Ring claims it makes users agree to install cameras so they won't record public areas like roads or sidewalks, but does nothing to police uploaded footage to ensure this rule is followed. It also claims its does not collect "personal information online from children under the age of 13," but still proudly let everyone know how many trick-or-treaters came to Ring users' doors on Halloween. And, again, it does not vet users' footage to ensure they're not harvesting recordings of children under the age of 13.The company also hinted it's still looking at adding facial recognition capabilities to its cameras. Amazon's response pointed to competitors' products utilizing this tech and said it would "innovate" based on "customer demand."While Ring's speedy expansion would have caused some concern, most of that would have been limited to its competitors. That it chose to use law enforcement agencies to boost its signal is vastly more concerning. It's no longer just a home security product. It's a surveillance tool law enforcement agencies can tap into seemingly at will.Many users would be more than happy to welcome the services of law enforcement if their doorbell cameras captured footage of criminal act that affected them, but Ring's network of law enforcement partners makes camera owners almost extraneous. If cops want footage, Ring will give it to them. And then the cops can do whatever they want with it, even if it doesn't contribute to ongoing investigations.These answers didn't make Sen. Markey happy. Hopefully, other legislators will find these responses unsatisfactory and start demanding more -- both from law enforcement agencies and Ring itself.

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