Graham Syfert, the lawyer who offered self-help to alleged BitTorrent downloaders of films such as Far Cry and The Hurt Locker, has been sued by the makers of the latter movie. On behalf of Voltage Pictures, the US Copyright Group (USCG) is seeking sanctions against Syfert and demand $5000 for the ‘work’ the self-help forms have caused them. in reponse, Syfert has requested sanctions against the plaintiffs because their filing is “completely insane.”
In August, we reported on the self-help documents lawyer Graham Syfert was selling which enabled individuals sued by USCG to defend themselves. The documents were sold for $9.99 (now $19.95) which is a bargain compared to hiring paid legal advisors.
“One of the major problems that people encounter when trying to hire me on these cases, is that a settlement is approximately what an attorney would need to even begin a defense,” Syfert told TorrentFreak at the time.
The forms for pro se (self help) representation Syfert prepared include a Motion to Quash, Motion to Dismiss, Affidavit in Support and a Motion for Protective Support. All forms are fillable and are accompanied by detailed instructions of how they should be used.
“My dream would be to have 10,000-20,000 people file all three documents to the lawyers and severely cripple the entire process and show them that you shouldn’t be allowed to join so many defendants,” Syfert informed TorrentFreak.
Quite a few people have used the forms in recent months and in total 19 were submitted to the court. However, the defendants weren’t the only ones who took notice of the offer. The law firm behind the USCG lawsuits, Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver, was one of the first clients who bought a copy of the documents.
And it didn’t stop there, as Syfert informed us that the law firm was not happy with the service he offered to the defendants.
“After I put the forms up for sale, Jeff Weaver from Dunlap Grubb and Weaver gave me a call and threatened me with sanctions. This was back in September. He also purchased the form for $9.99 when it was on sale for a discount,” Syfert told TorrentFreak.
“He threatened me, and everyone who is using my forms.” According to Syfert, the anti-piracy lawyer (Weaver) threatened to double the settlement requests for those who were using his forms.
“Then he e-mails me a while later, advising me on the status of what he called my ‘clients’. They are not my clients, they are people who purchased forms. I do not provide assistance in filling any of these forms out,” Syfert explained.
Syfert then flipped out and sent a ‘tongue in cheek’ email to Weaver asking them to offer him a $200,000 per year job, or contact someone who actually gives a fuck. “Hire me or eat shit,” he ended his email. Not the gentlest way to make a point, but the calls and emails did stop.
That is, until two days ago.
This Monday, Weaver emailed Syfert a motion he had just submitted to the court (on behalf of the makers of The Hurt Locker), requesting sanctions against him under federal law. “He says that the 19 cases of forms that have been currently filed cost them $5000 and he’s seeking those sanctions against me personally,” Syfert explained to TorrentFreak.
“So I requested sanctions against them because this is completely insane,” Syfert added. “If 19 cases costs them $5000 in attorney time, I wonder how many cases it’d take before their business model crumbles. That is unless they are going to actually work for a living.”
The two documents (embedded below) filed by both parties are currently awaiting a response from the court. Although the turn of events is certainly an entertaining one, it seems to be mostly a clash of lawyer’s egos, not something that will contribute anything substantial to the thousands of sued individuals.
USCG (and thus Voltage Pictures) feels that Syfert is obstructing their money-making scheme, and ironically accuses Syfert of running his own money-making scheme with his self-help documents.
The one positive note from all of this is that USCG are upset for a reason. Although all the motions to quash and motions for protective order, whether filed by an attorney or filed by a pro se defendant, have been denied repeatedly by the judges, the motions to dismiss have not.
Defendants who filed a motion to dismiss for a lack of personal jurisdiction have been successful. This is not something USCG and their clients wanted to see because it means they potentially have to refile thousands of cases in other states. Needless to say, this is going to be an expensive endeavor, and thus a huge blow to their pay-up-or-else scheme.
Motion filed by USCG representing Voltage Pictures
And the reply…