I initially didn’t want to publicize this idiotism (as you will see in my email to Meier below), but our friends at ExtortionLetterInfo (ELI) have already published a nearly identical missive that Mike Meier sent to their registrar, so I can break my “courtesy promise” and embed this example of a big league lawyering for your enjoyment.
But first, my Saturday’s reply:
Mr. Meier,“The first rule of holes, according to an old saying, is to stop digging,”
Chief Judge Diane Wood (7th Circuit Court of Appeals)
You are not new to abusing the copyright law, I’m rather annoyed than surprised by your frivolous DMCA takedown attempt to suppress criticism (ironically, of your abuse of the copyright law).
On the merits, your request doesn’t hold any water:
- You target a registrar claiming that it “hosts” the pages in question, which is false: internet.bs does not host a single byte of my site. If you don’t know a difference between a host and a registrar, you should ask your teenage neighbor.
- Your libel claim is a de-facto admission of an attempt to abuse the DMCA process, and any defamation claim is moot, because:
- It is irrelevant to a DMCA claim.
- “Libel”: you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means (i.e. a false statement of fact vs. an opinion).
- The articles in question are old and beyond any statutory limits for conceiving any legal action (which would fail even then).
- The screenshot in question is a textbook example of fair use, backed by overwhelming case law.
I’m tempted to publicize your cowardly, unprofessional action, but want to give you a chance to stop and think about the consequences. My blog is pretty popular (~3,000,000 page hits so far), and I’m 100% sure that the tech media will notice and propel your ill-conceived action to the top of the Google search results — an outcome diametrically opposite to what your censorious ass hopes to achieve. I urge you to meditate on the Wikipedia article about the Streisand Effect before making a mistake of proceeding to dig the hole.
Any further action on your part will result in an immediate publicity.
Hope not to hear from you again.
…and now the notice:
As Matthew Chan has noticed, Meier’s “professional” website internationallawgroup.com does not list any attorney profile, yet one can spot the picture of Meier’s longtime colleague Terik Hashmi, a disgraced troll who was caught practicing law in Florida without license (which is a felony in FL) two years ago.
I feel a bit sad about this misguided individual, since his statement that 30% of identified IP addresses don’t lead to the infringer slowed down US trolling operations significantly.
I wash my hands: the ball is now in Barbara Streisand’s court.
Mike Meier is not new to frivolous threats even outside the porn trolling. Three years ago, in Preiss et al v. S & R Production Company et al (NVD 10-cv-01795) he was sanctioned by the court in the amount of $37,415.00 under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 (emphasis is mine):
Because of the baselessness of Plaintiffs opposition to the NIED and Title VII claims and the motion to remand, and because of the subjective bad faith demonstrated by Plaintiffs arguments and method of litigating this case, the Court awards attorneys’ fees to Defendants.
In the footnote the judge corroborated on the “bad faith” part (again, emphasis is mine):
The Court refers to Plaintiffs use of thinly veiled threats (Dkt. #36, Ex. F, email from Mike Meier dated July 30, 2010; Ex. G, email from Mike Meier dated June 4, 2010), use of tabloid media to pressure Defendants (id., Ex. D, National Enquirer article), dishonesty with this Court (compare id., Ex. C, offer to settle for $500,000, with Dkt. #38, Opp. at 8:6-7 (Mr. Meier’s communications do not discuss any dollar amount”), Plaintiffs continued arguments that they managed to deprive this Court of jurisdiction over this case, and other conduct as described in Defendants motion and accompanying exhibits.
Note that the order explicitly specified “Plaintiff’s counsel” rather than “Plaintiff” as the sanctioned party. Mr. Meier appealed this decision but lost.
There is more. As Ken White noticed, in October 2013 Mike Meier was publicly reprimanded by the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board for what I think should be a ground for disbarment and trigger DOJ interest. While pursuing a noble case — suing an immigration scam artist on behalf of one of the victims (Hyundai) — Meier approached the said scammer (Yoon and Empower) with a dubious (to put it mildly) settlement offer:
15. […] Respondent [Mike Meier] made a settlement proposal whereby Yoon and Empower would pay Hyundai the sum of $1,300,000,00.
16. Respondent proposed that Yoon and Empower file a Motion for Summary Judgment with the trial court.
17. Respondent further offered that in consideration of the payment of Hyundai, he would respond to the motion by withholding from the court his expert witness testimony, and would otherwise not mount a defense· to the Summary Judgment Motion.
18. Respondent also stated he would not share the allegedly incriminating documents he used in the deposition with the authorities investigating the criminal matters.
19. Respondent suggested that by not contesting the summary judgment motion the court would enter summary judgment in favor of Yoon and Empower.
20. The effect of the summary judgment would be to discourage other parties from bringing suit and create a chilling effect on the criminal investigations.
The board found that Meier violated the Rule 3.3 (Candor Toward The Tribunal).
- TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy lawyer Wants Domain Registrar to Silence Critics
- TechDirt: Copyright Trolling Lawyer Abusing DMCA To Try To Silence Critics
- BoingBoing: Copyright troll abuses DMCA in bid to censor his previous life as a troll-fighter
I love when Cory Doctorow is pissed at scumbags and doesn’t mince words:
The DMCA allows people who believe their copyrights have been infringed to demand that web-hosts remove the offending material, but imposes no duty on registrars. And copyright law has a broad fair use exemption for criticism, into which the screenshots in question unequivocally fall. What’s more, the DMCA does not offer any special privileges to people who believe that they have been libeled, and another law, the Communications Decency Act, immunizes webhosts and other intermediaries for libelous speech by their users.
All of which Meier should know, if he is practicing Internet law. In my opinion, an Internet lawyer who claims not to know this is like a taxi driver who claims she doesn’t know what a traffic-light means. I believe it’s far more damning than merely being a money-seeking, amoral opportunist who changes sides to chase a buck — I believe it is prima facie evidence of legal incompetence.
- Consumerist: Copyright Troll Lawyer Doesn’t Seem To Understand Copyright Law
- Popehat: Attorney Mike Meier Meets The Streisand Effect, Does Not Enjoy Experience
But Mike Meier’s legal threat was not foolish just because it exposed his behavior to more readers. It was foolish because it exposed him widely as a fool. People hire lawyers they trust. They want to be able to rely upon their lawyer’s advice, and to make difficult decisions based upon that advice. But who would trust the advice of a lawyer who would engage in a legal tactic that is so foreseeably self-destructive? If Meier had sent the DMCA notices on behalf of a client, I would call it rank malpractice and tell his client to consider suing him. In 2014, minimal legal competence requires an attorney to anticipate and understand the Streisand Effect.