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Blogging as 'Vexatious' Litigation Tactic

Can a lawyer's blogging about his own case constitute sanctionable conduct? That is the argument being made by the Recording Industry Association of America in asking a federal court in New York to impose sanctions on lawyer Ray Beckerman, in part due to his postings on his blog, Recording Industry vs The People. Beckerman has achieved national recognition as one of the lead attorneys defending people sued by the RIAA for file sharing. But in a motion filed earlier this month, RIAA lawyers accuse Beckerman of making misleading statements, baseless discovery objections and frivolous motions -- and then adding insult to injury by posting all the documents on his blog.

David Kravetz wrote about the RIAA's request for sanctions at Wired's Threat Level blog, where he also posted a copy of the motion. In it, RIAA lawyers Eve G. Burton of Holme Roberts & Owen in Denver and Victor B. Kao of Robinson & Cole in New York ask that both Beckerman and his client, Marie Lindor, be required to pay sanctions for "obstructionist tactics and misinformation." With regard to Beckerman's blog, the motion says:

[A]s this Court is aware, Defendant's counsel has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass Plaintiffs. Such vexatious conduct demeans the integrity of these judicial proceedings and warrants this imposition of sanctions.

As I read the motion, the legal theory under which the RIAA's lawyers implicate Beckerman's blogging is that a lawyer should be subject to sanctions for filing frivolous pleadings designed to bolster a broader, bad-faith public relations campaign. Beckerman tells Kravetz he considers the motion to be "frivolous and irresponsible." Kravetz also spoke to Lory Lybeck, the Washington state lawyer who is spearheading a proposed class action against RIAA over its litigation tactics. Not surprisingly, Lybeck sees irony in the RIAA's motion -- or as he says, "irony and irony and irony." The RIAA, after all, is an organization that has sued some 30,000 people over the past five years, including children, the elderly and some who were no longer alive. "Irony is too tame of a word to describe the motion against Ray," Lybeck said.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 24, 2008 at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)


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