(TJV news) Rogue New York “Copyright Troll” attorney Richard Liebowitz has now been suspended from the practice of law in his district. The disgraced photographer turned lawyer who had racked up a staggering amount of disciplinary actions for his insouciant attitude was taken to task by the Southern District of New York.
On Monday, the court cited a “repeated disregard” on Liebowitz’s part of the legal requirements expected of attorneys practicing in New York and throughout the country.
The order to suspend Liebowitz was issued by the court’s grievance committee, according to a report on the Law360 web site on Monday. The report indicates that the suspension “is the latest and harshest in a long string of penalties for Liebowitz, whose firm has filed thousands of copyright infringement lawsuits over photographs over the past few years.”
This charge was corroborated in a June 20th report that appeared on the bloomberglaw.com web site. The report indicated that since 2017, Liebowitz has filed 1,280 lawsuits in the Southern District of New York, more than any other lawyer, the court said.
“In that same period, he has earned another dubious distinction,” the court said. “He has become one of the most frequently sanctioned lawyers, if not the most frequently sanctioned lawyer, in the District.”
Bloomberglaw.com also said that Liebowitz made a name for himself by filing copyright infringement suits on behalf of photographers who say their work has been reposted by media outlets without permission. In actuality, Liebowitz has made a career out of trolling the internet for the use of uncopyrighted photos and promising photographers lucrative financial settlements. Liebowitz then leverages unintentional oversights by overworked editorial staff at media outlets in order to line his own pockets and ultimately bankrupt small media outlets.
His repeated and brazenly unethical, illegal and immoral behavior towards the court was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back for the grievance committee at Southern District. Law360 reported that judges have “frequently criticized Liebowitz for procedural missteps and aggressive tactics.”
Bloomberg Law reported that SDNY judges have said that “Liebowitz wants to force settlements out of defendants instead of protecting his clients’ intellectual property.” Wikipedia has reported that “this practice has polarized the U.S. media industry.”
“The record in this case — which includes respondent’s repeated disregard for orders from this court and his unwillingness to change despite 19 formal sanctions and scores of other admonishments and warnings from judges across the country — leads the committee to the view that recurrence is highly likely,” the group said.
Liebowitz, however, only received a temporary suspension of his practice rights as an attorney. This decision is pending “the final outcome of the disciplinary case against Liebowitz, akin to a temporary restraining order, “ according to the Law360 report. The report also said that the committee’s nine judges were “unanimously of the view that the charges are strongly supported by the record.”
From this moment forward, Liebowitz is barred from “appearing in court, giving advice or practicing law in the Southern District “in any form,” according to the Law360 report.
According to biographical information on Liebowitz that appeared on his Wikipedia page, the rogue attorney is a Long Island native who was previously employed as an intern for veteran New York press photographer Bruce Cotler. According to Wikipedia, Liebowitz’s experience with Cotler (about which he wrote a book), and as a member of the New York Press Photographers Association, served as motivation for him to pursue a career in copyright law.
Wikipedia reports that subsequent to graduating from Hofstra University Law School, Liebowitz was admitted to the New York bar in 2015. He 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. 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.
The admonishments that Liebowitz has received from various judges have been nothing short of shocking and astounding.
Wikipedia reported that 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” and in another, Judge Denise Cote determined that Liebowitz was a “copyright troll”, fined him and imposed ethics classes on him.
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,” as was reported by Wikipedia. In September 2019, Liebowitz was held in contempt of court by Judge Cathy Seibel for lying about the date of his grandfather’s death in an attempt to excuse his failure to attend court, according to the Wikipedia website.
Wikipedia also provided pivotal information that pointed to a June 2020 decision by US District Judge Jesse Furman. The judge concluded in a 61-page opinion and order that Liebowitz “lied about his compliance with a court Order” – “repeated that lie, over and over” – “violated at least six of the Court’s Orders” and wrote that “there may be no sanction short of disbarment that would stop Mr. Liebowitz from further misconduct. ” The judge ordered that Liebowitz pay $103,517.49 in sanctions, that Liebowitz give a copy the opinion to all of his clients, and that Liebowitz file a copy of the opinion in all of his open cases. The judge also sent the opinion to the Grievance Committee for potential disbarment.
The report on Law360 said that Liebowitz was “filing hundreds of such lawsuits a year, in federal courthouses across the country. In one remarkable two-week stretch in mid-March, Liebowitz filed a whopping 51 cases, representing 39 percent of all copyright lawsuits filed in that period in the entire federal court system.”
Editorial Note: The Jewish Voice has been a victim of repeated extortion by Richard Liebowitz. Under the guise of representing a client based in Arizona, Liebowitz sued the Jewish Voice for photo