Richard Liebowitz

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Richard Liebowitz in 2019

Richard Liebowitz is an American lawyer and photographer[1] specializing in copyright law. He is known for filing a high number of lawsuits against media organizations on behalf of photographers who assert that their images have been used without permission. This practice has polarized the U.S. media industry.[2]

A Long Island native, Liebowitz worked as an intern for veteran New York press photographer Bruce Cotler. His experience with Cotler, about which he wrote a book,[3] and as a member of the New York Press Photographers Association motivated Liebowitz to pursue a career in copyright law.[2] After graduating from Hofstra University Law School, he was admitted to the New York bar in 2015,[4] established his practice in New York and filed his first lawsuit in January 2016. He works on a contingency basis and has filed, on average, about five lawsuits per week.[2] Contrary to other copyright lawyers, his practice is to immediately file suit rather than pursue a settlement, and to claim statutory damages far in excess of the images' ordinary licensing prices.[2]

His approach to copyright litigation earned him a reputation as "the scourge of the media industry (...) and the salvation of the underpaid photographer", according to Slate.[2] Media organizations and their lawyers have asserted that Liebowitz is abusing the legal system by overloading the courts with dubious cases in which he attempts to leverage mistakes by overworked editorial staff into financial windfalls.[2] On occasion, courts have agreed: in one case, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ordered Liebowitz's client to pay the defendant's legal fees for what the judge considered "frivolous litigation",[2] and in another, Judge Denise Cote determined that Liebowitz was a "copyright troll", fined him and imposed ethics classes on him.[2][5] In 2019 a judge observed that "there is a growing body of law in this District" – the Southern District of New York – "devoted to the question of whether and when to impose sanctions on Mr. Liebowitz".[6] In September 2019, Liebowitz was held in contempt of court by Judge Cathy Seibel (S.D.N.Y.)[7] for failure to attend court.[8][9]

For his part, Liebowitz has argued that copyright law is the only tool that photographers have to protect their rights and livelihood in a digital media environment in which images are often reused without regard to proper licensing.[2]

Judge Christine M. Arguello wrote the following about Richard Liebowitz: "Mr. Liebowtiz was recently held in contempt of court by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. See Berger v. Imagina Consulting, Inc., Case No. 7:18-cv-08956-CS, (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 13, 2019) (Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Cathy Seibel where the court declined to vacate the findings of contempt based on failure to produce death certificate and failure to pay contempt sanctions, finding that Mr. Liebowitz willfully lied to the court and willfully failed to comply with lawful court orders). Other courts have sanctioned Mr. Liebowitz for his failure to follow basic courtroom procedures and rules, including for suing in locations where there was obviously no personal jurisdiction over the defendant.And another judge in the Southern District of New York, the Honorable Denise Cote, has publicly branded Mr. Leibowitz a “copyright troll” for his firm’s practice of filing hundreds of cases asserting claims of copyright infringement allegedly “focused on obtaining quick settlements priced just low enough that it is less expensive for the defendant to pay the troll than defend the claim.” McDermott v. Monday Monday, LLC, No. 17-cv-9230-DLC, 2018 WL 5312903 at (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2018) (citing numerous cases where lawsuits filed by Mr. Liebowitz have been dismissed, settled, or otherwise disposed of before any merits-based litigation)." [10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cullins, Ashley (6 April 2018). "Has This Man Sued You? A "Copyright Troll" Takes on Hollywood". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Peters, Justin (24 May 2018). "Why Every Media Company Fears This Guy". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  3. ^ Liebowitz, Richard P. (2006). Apprentice!: a teen learns lessons on the frontlines of life. New York, NY: New Voices Press. ISBN 978-0974810348.
  4. ^ http://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/attorney/AttorneyDetails?attorneyId=6EwaR28qozr_PLUS_6DzLvV4kTQ%3D%3D
  5. ^ Masnick, Mike (July 26, 2019). "Copyright Troll Richard Liebowitz May Have Cost His Client A Ton Of Money, And Set An Expensive Precedent For Copyright Trolls". Techdirt. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
  6. ^ Cushing, Tim (October 2, 2019). "Copyright Troll Attorney Again Hit With Sanctions For Being A Shitty Lawyer". Techdirt. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
  7. ^ Cushing, Tim (2019-11-12). "Copyright Troll Lawyer Serves Up BS 'Dead Grandfather' Excuse For Missing Court; Now Facing Sanctions And Arrest". Techdirt. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  8. ^ Jason Berger v. Imagina consulting, Case 7:18-cv-08956-CS Document 60 (United States District Court for the Southern District of New York 2019-11-01). Text
  9. ^ Bastone, William (2019-11-11). "The Lawyer, The Judge & The Dead Grandfather". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
  10. ^ "Docket for Mondragon v. Nosrak LLC, 1:19-cv-01437-CMA-NRN - CourtListener.com". CourtListener. Retrieved 2020-05-17.