USLaw.com: A Call to Arms

One of the “victims” of the USLaw.com fiasco is none other than copyright and trademark lawyer, not to mention lawprof, Marc Randazza.  He’s not pleased about it.  And more importantly, he’s prepared to do something about it, having the knowledge, experience and slew of eager law students at the ready.

Gregory Chase, or whatever name he’s using today, has had an opportunity to address his infringement of copyright and trademark across the blawgosphere since this matter first arose.  It appears that he’s hoping to ride it out, that the anger at his flagrant theft of the efforts of others for his own benefit will subside, and he can go on using content as if this unpleasantness never happened. 

Even with the things I’ve said to him, he continues to keep Simple Justice on his website, as if this never happened.  For many others who had no idea that this anonymous thief had included your blawg and was stealing your content, your outrage was palpable.  This doesn’t appear to be going away on its own.  Indeed, Chase put up a post (not that anyone would look for it on a website like his, but he did nonetheless) in which he promised an explanation for his conduct.  As of this writing, nothing further has appeared.

I’ve heard from many blawgers, both in comments and emails, who are outraged by what USLaw.com has done.  Many have sent Chase emails demanding that their blawg be removed from his website and that he stop stealing their content.  But mine remains, and continues to include his screen shot of Simple Justice with his USLaw.com logo superimposed on it.  Even those he’s taken down upon demand should consider that he has fed off their efforts, that the theft will live forever in cyberspace and that he’s likely to put them back up when we turn our attention away from this situation.

It’s time to take a stand, both for this mutt and any other who decides that he’s entitled to start a business based on our efforts. 

Randazza has offered to take this matter pro bono, but as we are all aware, the initial outrage that this has sparked across the blawgosphere needs to translate to a desire to follow through and deal with this once and for all.  It will not merely apply to USLaw.com, the current instance of some geek who thinks his version of life trumps your rights to your content, but consider its impact on future generations of online entrepreneurs who think that they too can take whatever they want.  Do we want to spend the rest of our blawging lives seeing our content stolen in its entirety and working for someone else’s profit?

Randazza has two conditions before plunging into this matter.  First, that it reflect the will and interest of a significant portion of the blawgosphere, meaning that enough blawgers sign aboard to show that the blawgosphere is behind this movement, supports it and is willing to stay with it until completion.  Not every blawger need sign up, but it really must reflect our commitment to protecting our copyright and trademark from infringement at will.  There will be no cost associates with his representation, but there must be a commitment to the concept.

Second, this will be a unified effort, meaning that Randazza isn’t going to waste his time herding the feral cats of the blawgosphere.  We all realize that our opinions, both legal and moral, differ.  Often vehemently.  But this litigation cannot be maintained if it requires accommodation of the thousand differing opinions we often bring to the table.  While each of us may have our own thoughts on what aspect is most disturbing, critical, immoral or illegal, the decision-making must rest with Randazza, who will be doing all the heavy lifting on our behalf.  We will need to leave our personal pet peeves behind and allow Randazza to serve the good of the blawgosphere as he sees fit.

The overarching point is that what happened with USLaw.com should not be allowed to fade into the background as we move on to other issues and concerns.  It was very wrong and remains very wrong, and as long as it continues, it presents a threat to each of us.

So the question posed is, who wants in to an action to put a stop to USLaw.com’s infringement of copyright and trademark?  This is the time to stand up and be heard, or never complain about someone stealing your content again.  Let’s hope that we, lawyers all, show the fortitude to do the right thing about this wrongdoing, and show others that we are prepared to come forward and put a stop to illegal conduct. 

Are you with us?

P.S. Spread the word so that anyone who wants a piece of this knows about it, and that every blawger whose content has been stolen has a chance to do something about it.

22 thoughts on “USLaw.com: A Call to Arms

  1. Jdog

    Sheesh. First-rate representation, without charge, and with the bonus of the condition that the passengers let the world-class driver (sorry, Mr. R; I calls ’em as I sees ’em, even when it might be a little flattering), well, drive without constant elbow-joggling or find their own mode of transportation instead?

    I’m almost saddened that the boob didn’t leap out of the bushes wearing his mask and carrying the bag marked “SWAG” and, err, syndicate me. But only almost.

  2. Doug Cornelius

    I ran into this a few weeks and sent a message to US law. They changed from hosting the full blog post to a snippet of the blog post. That probably passes the sniff test for fair use for me.

    At this point they only seem to have my old blogs and have not picked up Compliance Building, yet.

  3. Charon QC

    Although mr Chase did not have the good taste or percipience to take my content wholesale (we Brits are, obviously, below the radar!) I support your stance.

    People who ask often get – people who take without permission and then behave badly should not be permitted to ride roughshod over writers or any creative producer.

    Your podcast with me on Sunday is getting good downloads in the Uk – so, with your implied blessing (Implied since you were kind enough to do the podcast – and on a Sunday, too) I give the URL should readers wish to listen

    http://www.insitelawmagazine.com/charonpodcast133.htm

    (If it not appropriate because of the other chat etc – please take URL and blurb down, Scott)

    Good luck!

  4. SHG

    Two issues remain for consideration, past use and future use.  I would not leave it to this fellow’s sound discretion to not alter his MO in a couple of months from now.  He has yet to recognize the wrongfulness of his conduct.

  5. Dan Schwartz

    I have asked USLaw to take down my full feeds of the Connecticut Employment Law Blog. I’ll await a response (or a non-response) before making a decision on how to proceed further but please keep me informed. Fair use is one thing; outright copying is another.

  6. Windypundit

    Marc, I warned him. I told him that your interest was the clap of doom. He should have listened.

    I’d love to join you for this “let’s put on a lawsuit” moment, but I’m already on record saying this guy just didn’t bother me very much.

    But I could change my mind. Is there a chance for a big payday?

  7. Shaula

    > …he’s likely to put them back up when we turn our attention away from this situation.

    Scott, a good (free) application for monitoring someone else’s web page is Urly Warning. It is easy to use, and you may find it helpful to keep an eye on the website.

    . . .

    I suspect Marc Randazza and his slew of eager law students are already familiar with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. If not, you may want to point them in the direction of the EFF, which may be a good resource for them on the intersection of things legal and things bloggy.

  8. Ken

    My site isn’t up on USLaw. But I’m behind you all. And if Marc wants backup, I can put some of my drones — sorry, associates — to work on it.

    Also, you should coordinate more search-engine-optimized critical posts on various blogs about USLaw.

  9. Nearly Legal

    I asked USlaw to take my content down within two days, three days ago. I haven’t heard anything in response and the content is still there. I was going to file a DCMA takedown with the ISP, but co-ordinated action is much, much better in my view.

    Assuming that a UK based blawger can be part of this action (I’m not an international lawyer and don’t know), I’m in in principle – I’ll need to consult with my co-authors before definitely signing up, as their copyright content is involved too.

  10. SHG

    I agree that more critical posts about the USLaw theft of content would go a long way toward putting an end to this sort of conduct, but it’s the sort of thing that should happen organically rather than by coordination.  I would suspect, given how many lawyers have expressed their anger about this, that this would have been a viral subject of discussion, but then many are also reluctant to post about it since it interferes, or at least doesn’t help, with their “carefully crafted marketing image” on their blawgs.  It’s a shame that more haven’t chosen to do the right thing even if it won’t further their business interests.

  11. Nearly Legal

    Bad form replying to myself, I know, but, by ‘co-incidence’ after posting that comment, I received the following from G.Chase

    “Thank you for your inquiry. It would helpful if you can reply to this email
    from the supplied email address in order to confirm and verify your request.
    In the meantime, Nearly Legal has been removed from the USLaw.com Blog
    Directory.

    Continued luck with your blog. Feel free to be in touch in the future.”

    NL has been removed from uslaw.com. Doesn’t remedy past breach, of course, or change the principle at stake, so, if non-us blawgers can participate, don’t strike me off the list just yet.

  12. Marc J. Randazza

    Depends. There could be statutory damages in the hundreds of thousands. Of course, I’m sure that this guy is in some backwater wiping his ass with his hand. So, collecting the cash is another story.

  13. Ken

    Any updates? Did we ever get the explanation of the conduct that was promised by “Greg Chase?” Are people still finding that their take-down demands are ignored?

  14. SHG

    Randazza is busily at work doing that voodoo that he does so well.  As for our good friend Chase, nothing further that I’m aware of, and I know that SJ is still up there, despite all that’s transpired.  For anyone wondering, it strikes me that he thinks this will pass and he can go back to doing what will make him money with impunity.  And then, of course, the next one will come alone, as there is always another scoundrel lurking in the background.

  15. Phil

    This article references the problem of theft of blog content, and mentions something called FairShare as a way of monitoring “sploggers”.

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