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‘Copyright Troll’ Liebowitz Suspended From Manhattan Court

Dec. 1, 2020, 4:14 PM

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York’s Grievance Committee has suspended notorious copyright attorney Richard Liebowitz from practicing before the court, according to a court order.

The committee cited Liebowitz’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” in its amended Monday order to suspend him. The suspension is temporary until the committee issues its final decision on the “strongly supported” disciplinary charges against him.

Liebowitz is known for filing more than 1,000 lawsuits on behalf of photographers who claim their work was reposted by media outlets and others without permission. He’s been accused of filing frivolous suits to force settlements, and federal courts have called Liebowitz a “copyright troll,” among other things.

In the case where Liebowitz was referred to the committee, Judge Jesse S. Furman also wrote Monday that Liebowitz was required to serve a copy of a June opinion and order sanctioning him on “every one of the firm’s current clients,” and file a copy in pending and future cases brought by him or his firm.

Liebowitz attested that he had complied. But later, Liebowitz identified 113 cases in which he failed to make the filing.

“Had Mr. Liebowitz failed to file the Opinion and Order in a handful of cases, the failure to comply might have been understandable and excusable,” the court said. “But the failure to file it in 113 cases is astonishing and suggests contumaciousness, an egregiously disorganized case management system, or both.”

The court said there was a strong argument for more sanctions, but didn’t sanction Liebowitz further.

“The ultimate purpose of sanctions is deterrence,” it said, and “as Mr. Liebowitz’s extraordinary record of both sanctions and noncompliance with court orders demonstrates, it is far from clear that there is any additional sanction that would serve to deter him.”

The court also noted that in light of the Grievance Committee’s decision, “for the time being, there will be nothing to deter when it comes to Mr. Liebowitz.”

It ordered Liebowitz to file a copy of this opinion in future actions involving him or his firm, and forwarded it to the Grievance Committee.

Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello PC represents Liebowitz.

The case is Usherson v. Bandshell Artist Mgmt., S.D.N.Y., No. 1:19-cv-06368, 11/30/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Brittain in Washington at bbrittain@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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