October 23, 2017 – Several big media companies just won a judgment of $140,000 against a copyright plaintiff, Kali Kanongataa, and the law firm that represented him, The Liebowitz Law Firm.
Attorney Richard Liebowitz and Yekaterina Tsyvkin of Liebowitz Law Firm PLLC were the attorneys of record on the case.
The case stems from several networks broadcasting a few seconds of a 45 minute live stream of the bird of Kanogataa’s child on Facebook. The defendants, ABC, NBC and others claimed the use was clearly protected under Fair Use.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan agreed and tossed the case out of court in May. The defendants brought a claim for attorneys fees. Judge Kaplan called the claim for fees “objectively unreasonable” and needed to punish such copyright abuses.
The verdict could not make Liebowitz and Tsyvkin look worse.
“No reasonable lawyer with any familiarity with the law of copyright could have thought that the fleeting and minimal uses, in the context of news reporting and social commentary, that these defendants made of tiny portions of the 45-minute video was anything but fair,” the judge wrote.
The Defendants in the case made offers to settle the case early on, but the offers rejected by the Plaintiff.
The defendant argued in their motion for fees that Kanongataa’s lawyer should be liable for any judgment — in part because he allegedly “pursued claims that clearly lacked merit.
“Defendants recognize that plaintiff may not have sufficient personal resources to pay in full a judgment for fees,” the companies write. “However, defendants believe the record is clear that these cases were meritless from the outset, and then were pursued in bad faith. As a result, defendants request that plaintiff’s counsel be held liable for the payment of defendants’ attorneys’ fees and costs.”
The court agreed.
It will be interesting to see if this public rebuke slows down Liebowitz’s rapid fire litigation machine or changes his heavy-handed file first, negotiate later approach.
Read more about it at https://www.law360.com/articles/937176/judge-rips-attys-over-facebook-birth-copyright-case