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Author Topic: Recent articke- Investigating the Higbee & Associates Copyright Trolling Operati  (Read 1948 times)

kingkendall

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The below article documents the shoddy work done by Higbee & Associates.  The biggest takeaway is that these lawyers ARE NOT intellectual property lawyers.  They don't know copyright law and they don't care.  Their in the copyright troll game to secure payments from "low hanging fruit", people that get so scared they pay up quickly.  The way to combat this is to get educated and push back with knowledge.  It isn't a great feet to become more knowledgeable than Higbee. 


 Yesterday, we wrote about web developer Daniel Quinn's harrowing experience receiving a $20,000 payment demand from copyright troll Higbee & Associaties. That post ended with Quinn explaining how he found lawyer Carolyn Homer to represent him. Today, we have a companion post by Homer to talk about her experience investigating and dealing with Higbee, and calling out some of his questionable legal practices.

The moment I saw Higbee’s demand letter to Daniel Quinn I knew I was dealing with a troll. Although I’ve recently joined the #resistance, I spent the first five years of my career defending Silicon Valley companies against mass copyright trolls. Higbee is new to me, but I know this game.

I immediately scanned his demand letter for problems. There were many — Michael Grecco’s power of attorney authorization isn’t even signed! — but I’ll focus on three major ones.

Major Defect # 1: Pricing Unmoored From Market Reality

As Daniel quoted yesterday, Higbee’s November letter threatens litigation, statutory damages up to $150,000 and attorney fees. Supposedly to avoid this terror of litigation, Higbee demands payment of $20,000 within seven days, accompanied by a non-disclosure agreement.

Daniel Quinn did not pay the $20K. So Higbee sent a December follow-up letter which escalates the demand: “[P]lease do not make the mistake of ignoring this. If this matter is litigated, the demand amount will likely quadruple or more, and then you will also likely have to pay attorneys fees.”

Higbee’s message is clear: pay $20,000 now or risk litigation and $80,000—maybe even $150,000—later.

None of those numbers make sense. The market rate for a license to publish most individual photos on the internet ranges between $0-$1000. Similarly in my experience, typical litigation damages for adjudged infringement of individual photos on the internet range between $200-$2000. At this exact moment in time, a photograph from Michael Grecco’s same X-Files photoset is available to license for $1800. And that is itself insanely high—there’s a multitude of other professional X-Files stills available from stock photo agencies Alamy and Getty for $49-$499.
 

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190220/13283641640/investigating-higbee-associates-copyright-trolling-operation.shtml


Ethan Seven

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The article has a few good takeaways.

1.  It helps to get a lawyer.   Anyone who has assets should hire an attorney.
2.  There are often strong legal arguments to be made to dispute liability or damages. 
3.   It can help to engage, ask questions and challenge assumptions or their “facts”

What I would not takeaway is that Higbee and company are not copyright lawyers.   I have no idea about  the validity of what this author is saying or the story behind it.  I do know that Higbee files hundreds of copyright lawsuits.  I have seen several references to the referring claims to other law firms.   There is an undenaiable risk of getting sued.  I have read about 25 or more of Higbee’s pleadings and they are very well written.  The other thing that struck me when reviewing their cases is that they rarely lose on their motions. 

If you are suggesting that they only pursue low hanging fruit and inferring it is safe to ignore these claims, I would strongly disagree.

There are several threads on this forum that demonstrate why these claims are not safe to ignore, unless a person has no assets and does not expect to have any in the future.  Below are two recent ones.

https://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/higbee-letter-lawsuits-forum/higbee-attacking-counseling-agency/

https://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/higbee-letter-lawsuits-forum/judge-awarded-higbee-associates-$48-000-for-use-of-1-photo!!!


« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 03:20:08 PM by Ethan Seven »
Even if I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer.  Copyright matters can have serious consequences.  If you have assets worth protecting, consult a lawyer who is familiar with copyright law and who can review the facts of your case. If you cannot afford one, call your state or county bar association.

kingkendall

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What I wrote speaks for itself and the article I posted loudy echos my research on Higbee.  They do sloppy work top notch law firms don't do.  It doesn't mean they need to be ignored.  One has to learn the copyright law cold.  And yes, HAA is about the low hanging fruit.  That's where they make the bulk of their money.  It is what it is.   

Ethan Seven

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That could be.  It would not surprise me in light of their volume.    They might be playing a little loose in their prelitigation work, but they appear to be very buttoned-up once they head to court.  I do see them prevailing on their motion practice against some big firms.   
Even if I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer.  Copyright matters can have serious consequences.  If you have assets worth protecting, consult a lawyer who is familiar with copyright law and who can review the facts of your case. If you cannot afford one, call your state or county bar association.

Matthew Chan

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More information has come out (independent of ELI's efforts) that "playing it loose" could be an understatement. Not sure what is going on lately but there does seem to be a LOT of reporting about Higbee operations happening lately.

DC lawyer Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen with his detailed, well-written piece calling them a copyright troll.  And of course, our friends at Techdirt who has published no less than 3 recent articles themselves relating to the Higbee operation.

So, it appears Higbee operations has grown enough or triggered enough people to get on some people's radar.  It ain't just ELI watching or following them anymore.  There are influencers and observers much larger and effective than ELI now watching the Higbee operation.

That could be.  It would not surprise me in light of their volume.    They might be playing a little loose in their prelitigation work, but they appear to be very buttoned-up once they head to court.  I do see them prevailing on their motion practice against some big firms.   
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

 

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