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Lawyer Banned for Threatening File-Sharers 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-uppance-has-come dept.
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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Lawyer Banned for Threatening File-Sharers

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    RIAA and their lawyers do the same (scare tactics), and do it more and more blatantly.
    • by b4upoo (166390)
      And you can bet that the very day that a judge strikes out and causes the RIAA to loose its financial life it will stop.
    • by Dan541 (1032000)
      But in America no one cares about the people
      only the corporations that run the country.

      ~Dan
  • balless bars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If they had any real ballz they would have permanently dis-barred her, especially given her past abuses.... oh wait the law really doesn't apply to those who are supposed to enforce it...

    Also I wonder if anyone who received the letter could sue?

    • Re:balless bars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mboverload (657893) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @12:55PM (#22981092) Journal
      > If they had any real ballz they would have permanently dis-barred her, especially given her past abuses.... oh wait the law really doesn't apply to those who are supposed to enforce it...

      Lawyers are not charged with enforcing the law. They are charged with bending it to their own purposes, should that be getting an innocent man out of jail or extorting money from large amounts of people.
      • Not true. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by an.echte.trilingue (1063180) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @03:16PM (#22982088) Homepage

        Lawyers are not charged with enforcing the law. They are charged with bending it to their own purposes, should that be getting an innocent man out of jail or extorting money from large amounts of people.
        Bullshit. Lawyers are officers of the court. While they are not charged with enforcement per se, they are charged with presenting the law and interpreting it in good faith. There are sanctions for "bending" the law, up to and including prison.
        • by neomunk (913773) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @04:10PM (#22982414)
          This thread ladies and gentlemen has been brought to you by the Association of Dissonance Between Theory and Practice.
        • by number11 (129686)
          Lawyers are officers of the court. While they are not charged with enforcement per se, they are charged with presenting the law and interpreting it in good faith.

          And you know this to be true in Switzerland (where the lawyer in question works)?
      • by Tsar (536185) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @03:35PM (#22982194) Homepage Journal

        Lawyers are not charged with enforcing the law. They are charged with bending it to their own purposes, should that be getting an innocent man out of jail or extorting money from large amounts of people.
        That's just plain WRONG!!!!

        It should be, um, large numbers of people.
      • Yes, but they are still required to follow certain rules, and operate within the law. Stepping outside of certain boundaries can result in being disbarred, or charged, or both.
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)
      No she should have been ARRESTED for EXTORTION. Plain and Simple.
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      If they had any real ballz they would have permanently dis-barred her, especially given her past abuses.... oh wait the law really doesn't apply to those who are supposed to enforce it...
      Enforce or Abuse?
  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @12:33PM (#22980946) Journal
    Should not such an act as this hold a penalty of disbarment?

    This is only another situation that shows there is no position a human can hold that prevents him from committing some deception against others.

    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.

       
    • by mboverload (657893) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @12:49PM (#22981038) Journal
      ONLY A 6 MONTH BAN - WHAT???

      I agree that this SHOULD be grounds for disbarment or worse. Of course, I am not a lawyer but if I used my knowledge of computers to scare payments out of people I would probably go to jail or have a huge fine. Then the company I work for would find out and I would be fired ASAP.

      How is this different? Isn't this some kind of extortion? Someone please clue me in.
      • by zmollusc (763634)
        Duh! The legal profession looks after its own.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kingrames (858416)
        You're not a lawyer.

        she has the means and the power to make that incredibly difficult for everyone involved.

        It would be like a police officer trying to arrest another police officer. It would take a heck of a lot more than just one officer's statement to allow something like that to go through.
      • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @03:54PM (#22982334)
        a lawyer threatening a lawsuit should you not pay up? Sounds just as fishy as this..........

        FROM THE DESK OF
        MR,CHARLES BOSAH
        MUTUAL TRUST LAWYERS & COMPANY
        HEAD QUATERS BRANCH
        VICTORIA ISLAND,
        LAGOS-NIGERIA.
        DEAR FRIEND,

        My name is DR CHARLES OBOSAH, INTERNAL AUDITOR MUTUAL TRUST LAWYERS & COMPANY. I am writing in respect of a fee which you are owing to a customer of our bank Mr.JONATHAN GHUNIAM.

        Since the fee has been outstanding fdor some time now, we must regretfully commence action upon you according to the laws of our country which would see you personally liable for a sum of up to US$9..5m (Nine Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) or a jail sentence of up to 424 years (Four Hundred Twenty Four years)

        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

      • I agree, we can only hope that her current and prospective future employers take a dim view of a 6th month ban.
    • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva&gmail,com> on Sunday April 06, 2008 @01:06PM (#22981166) Journal
      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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        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.
        • by mpe (36238)
          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.

          Or she could be a "high criminal" who should face a much greater sentence than a "common criminal".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dan541 (1032000)
        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.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2008 @01:23PM (#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.
      • by ultranova (717540)

        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.

    • by Teun (17872)

      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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 (559740)

      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 se

      • "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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by penix1 (722987)

        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.

        There is no way for those punishing her to know if any money was stolen. She isn't cooperating. From TFS above:

        In

  • 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.
  • by p0tat03 (985078) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @01:07PM (#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.

    • by p0tat03 (985078) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @02:50PM (#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.

  • ... 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.
  • 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!
  • 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? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Godji (957148) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @02:28PM (#22981778) Homepage
    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?
    • by wes33 (698200)

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


      Apart from this, how are you enjoying your first trip to Earth?
  • I thought Europe had stronger privacy laws than the USA. So how did she get all these names and addresses of alleged filesharers in the first place?

    What ISP's could handle the requests for tens of thousands of subscribers information based in what? IP number and timestamp?

    Why wouldn't such an immense data dump have been known about before now?

    And who identified all these filesharers in the first place?

    Somewhere this just isn't adding up.

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