When a plaintiff brings a copyright claim or any other type of lawsuit, there has to be some basis for the legal action. Unfortunately, some lawyers choose to use the threat of a civil suit as leverage to force a cash settlement, even when the case has little or no merit. Courts do not look kindly on this questionable tactic, and they can punish both the plaintiff and their attorney in these cases. Serial copyright litigant Richard Liebowitz recently found this out the hard way when a federal court awarded attorney’s fees against him for his practice of refiling and dismissing copyright claims without prejudice. This case was a good example of why it’s so important to be represented by a skilled attorney who can provide an aggressive defense against copyright claims.
To learn more about the best way to respond to an illegitimate copyright claim, keep reading this blog.
Attorney Richard Liebowitz Accused of Being a Copyright Troll
Richard Liebowitz has been called a “copyright troll” by federal judges based on the volume of lawsuits he has filed. These lawsuits often involve flimsy copyright claims alleging that the defendant has infringed on the plaintiff’s IP rights by publishing a photo or video. In a lot of these cases, the plaintiff may have no intention of actually going to trial. Instead, they simply want to pressure the defendant with the threat of costly litigation in state or federal court so that the defendant will pay a cash settlement. This is not how the law is supposed to work.
Richard Liebowitz Loses PopMatters Copyright Claim
In Glen Craig v. PopMatters Media, Inc. (N.D. Ill.), the defendants raised objections to personal jurisdiction and venue in the Southern District of Illinois. Richard Liebowitz, the attorney representing the plaintiff, then voluntarily dismissed the action and refiled in the Northern District of Illinois. The defendants then filed a motion for attorney’s fees in the first action, as was their right under the law.
The following day, Liebowitz filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in the second action, presumably so that he would not be ordered to pay attorney’s fees in the first action. The defendants again moved for attorney’s fees, and Liebowitz opposed by arguing that no attorney’s fees should be awarded because the dismissal was “without prejudice.” The court did not find Liebowitz’s argument persuasive: in an order dated March 23, 2020, the court granted the defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees against Liebowitz and his client. The court reasoned that “[t]he privilege of dismissing a federal suit without prejudice to refiling may be used only once,” and Liebowitz “used that privilege when he dismissed the Southern District case, so his dismissal of this case operated as a with-prejudice dismissal, an adjudication on the merits.”
Tauler Smith LLP Has History of Defeating Copyright Trolls
The PopMatters order marks yet another legal setback for Richard Liebowitz, who now faces the increased specter of having to pay attorney’s fee awards to the defendants. Tauler Smith LLP is a California law firm that focuses on intellectual property claims, and we have a history of winning Liebowitz’ copyright claims. In fact, our experienced Los Angeles copyright lawyers have previously argued to the Southern District of New York that an award of attorney’s fees in cases brought by Liebowitz would serve dual objectives: (1) protecting our clients’ rights in defense of a dishonest copyright claim, and (2) deterring copyright trolls like Richard Liebowitz from their unrepentant abuse of judicial resources.
The truth is that the U.S. Copyright Act was not created to protect the rights of mercenaries like Richard Liebowitz who threaten law-abiding website operators with DMCA takedown notices and copyright demand letters. The idea behind the federal law was to provide legitimate copyright holders with the ability to file a lawsuit when their intellectual property rights have, in fact, been infringed.
Contact the Los Angeles Copyright Defense Attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP
If you have been sued by Richard Liebowitz or any other copyright trolls, the Los Angeles copyright defense attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP can help you defend your claims. Call 310-590-3927 or email us to schedule a free consultation.