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Legal Ethics

Dueling Sanctions Requests Filed Over Self-Help Docs for Illegal Downloaders

Posted Nov 29, 2010 1:00 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A lawyer who is selling a package of self-help documents for accused illegal downloaders is fighting a sanctions request by the law firm that has sued thousands of the defendants.

Lawyer Graham Syfert tells TorrentFreak that the Virginia-based law firm Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver is seeking $5,000 in sanctions against him for the extra work caused by the self-help forms. He charges $19.95 for the forms, which include a motion to quash subpoenas that seek to identify the alleged infringers and a motion to dismiss.

Dunlap Grubb, which operates as the U.S. Copyright Group in its pursuit of illegal downloaders, claims in its request for sanctions that the motions are not justified and the defendants failed to serve them on the plaintiffs.

Syfert tells TorrentFreak the sanctions request is “completely insane” and he’s seeking sanctions against Dunlap Grubb for filing the motion. Under the U.S. Copyright Group’s legal theory, authors of legal forms published by Legal Zoom, Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw would be liable for their misuse, Syfert writes in his motion.

TorrentFreak says the dispute appears to be “a clash of lawyers’ egos.” The U.S. Copyright Group “feels that Syfert is obstructing their money-making scheme, and ironically accuses Syfert of running his own money-making scheme with his self-help documents.” The U.S. Copyright Group’s motion includes a profanity-laced e-mail from Syfert telling the law firm it can hire him for $200,000, or it can “lay off me taking advantage of the poorest chum that attracted you sharks in the first place.”

Syfert told TorrentFreak the e-mail was intended to be “tongue in cheek.”

Hat tip to OS News and The Escapist.

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