U.S. Copyright Group Sues Attorney Who Published Self-Help Guide For Laypersons Defending Themselves in Copyright Cases

The U.S. Copyright Group has long been criticized for its tactics in pursuing people for copyright infringement of movies or music. Critics charge that USCG coerces people to settle for thousands of dollars to avoid high litigation costs and penalties. USCG sues thousands of people in a given year to force such settlements in what is legitimately described as a factory operation by Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver. One attorney, Graham Syfert, says he tried to even the playing field by publishing a “self-help” guide on how laypersons can fight USCG. The attorneys at USCG reportedly responded by suing Syfert.

EFF states “Once the user’s identity is known, USCG’s strategy appears to be to threaten a judgment of up to $150,000 per downloaded movie — the maximum penalty allowable by law in copyright suits and a very unlikely judgment in cases arising from a single, noncommercial infringement — in order to pressure the alleged infringers to settle quickly for $1,500 to $2,500 per person.” The tactics of USCG have been described as little more than “shakedowns.”

Only 19 people are known to have used the self-help material. What is particularly outrageous is that USCG is threatening that it will demand twice as much in settlement for anyone using the self-help material.

Attorney Jeff Weaver also reportedly asked for sanctions against Syfert — claiming that the 19 cases filed using the self-help package have cost his firm $5000.

Not surprisingly, Syfert filed his own claim for sanctions against Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver. His packet sells for $19.95.

The firm heralds on its site a victory over EFF and the ACLU challenging its practices.

In the meantime, he is not the only one fighting the practices of USCG and Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver. This complaint was filed to seek damages for the USCG’s practices.

The question is whether the bar will review the tactics and practices of USCG. There is little published to confirm these allegations, particularly the claim that USCG is demanding more from people who use this self-help guide. If that is true, it raises obvious question of vexatious practices. The firm may claim, however, that it is merely demanding more if the parties force it to litigate issues of jurisdiction and other defenses.

I have long been critical of both these factory operations as well as the ridiculous demands made today for copyright infringements. Factory firms are making millions by muscling ordinary citizens accused of illegal downloads or other cookie-cutter claims.

14 thoughts on “U.S. Copyright Group Sues Attorney Who Published Self-Help Guide For Laypersons Defending Themselves in Copyright Cases”

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  2. I believe that there is an informal agreement between various law firms and insurance companies selling malicious prosecution insurance to keep PRO SES out of court. It makes sense that the fewer lawsuits that are filed the fewer that they will have to pay damages on and the more information they can stop from going public.

  3. When you want exclusivity you create class….you create your own bar and you create your own classes….anyone for am LLM?

  4. The cloning program may actually work this time too. Previously (as I recall the program) the blawgs secret scientists in their secret laboratory were actually trying to clone people, which is time consuming, expensive and fraught with possibilities too ugly for description (think about the clone lab in Alien Resurrection) but, no more! I have it from a reputable authority, a candidate for the Congress no less, that mice can be cloned with fully functioning human brains.

    Think of it, a magnificent herd of mice with fully functioning human brains that need do no more than be taught to press a few keys to register their votes. It’s mind-boggling! You’ve got this one in the bag Professor.

    They’ll have to be watched carefully though otherwise they’ll spend all their time surfing the net for hamster porn, not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  5. As we have seen more corporate money in our government, we see more abuses on individuals and it will continue under the Obama administration since the change that we can believe in is still far from being a reality. Keeping us informed is the most important product we have at a time when we don’t seem to have elected representation. Thanks for all of your articles on subjects that we wouldn’t know about on our own.

  6. Prof.,

    We’ve maintained a fairly consistent 10 point spread over the course of the voting. I’m not opposed to cloning, but I think it’s a testament to both your fine work and that of our other regular contributors. Final count aside, the strong lead to this point tells me this if nothing else.

  7. Here’s to many “sunny” days…

    The “muscling” of “ordinary citizens” is on the rise, in various quarters (to borrow a few of our host’s words)… May it all come to light.

    1. BIL:

      Frankly I am astonished we are even in the lead after two days. VC is the most popular conservative legal blog and ranks in the top three most visited sites. One of my colleagues is one of the six contributors on the site. We may have to resume our long dormant cloning program.

  8. Sunshine – now there’s something to copyright or have the intellectual rights on…or water – owning water would be good.

    I’ve never understood the concept of owning an idea. How could Einstein have worked in a patent office and never thought to patent E=mc2? How about the person that had the original thought to rub those two sticks together…what did that idea get him or her?

  9. Totally ineffective. By the time lawsuits are filed, the hackers has long since moved on to better technologies, and none of them will be bothered an iota by lawsuits. This is fingers in the dike for those still addicted to such quaint notions as “secrets” and “intellectual property,” and those who are bothered by wilileaks.

    Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

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