ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

“I can’t imagine they would enjoy such a conversation.” —

I had a call waiting for me on my voicemail, from a Jennifer Pew (her phone number was 206-903-3915) of a law firm called Dorsey and Whitney LLP, who specialize in IP law. She asked me to call her back, in association with an MGM vs. Grokster case.

Now, there’s always that interesting swimming feeling when a law firm calls you. I’ve been through the legal colon enough times to know you give up nothing, discuss not much, bother less. Doesn’t hurt to call back.

Talking with Jennifer for a while, she asked me about a file available on Kazaa, with my name on it and BBS and so on. The track, which she couldn’t pronounce, didn’t sound like something I’d written, but there are a lot of songs on the BBS Documentary soundtrack, and as we all know, most peer-to-peer programs keep the titles and artist names with near-talmudic precision. So with names like Sleepy Rabbit, Manolo Camp, and Treewave, who knows what they could be called now.

I asked, “Wasn’t the Grokster vs. MGM case settled?” She said this was a new one. What the hellafuck. I was wondering if she was from the good guys, the EFF or whatnot. I mean, if I get to testify WITH those guys, hey, free trip to California and maybe I get to give Larry Lessig a hug.

So we’re dancing around simply because I’m wondering who she represents. At some point in my sleepy mind, the “plantiff” vs. “defendant” thing clears up, I remember she said Plaintiff, and I ask who she’s a part of. She explained it was a consortium of firms, including media companies.

At this point, my tone turned what would best be described as “vaguely hostile”.

I hate this shit. I really do. I was kind of curious to figure out what song it was they were associating with me, and how they decided it was me, and how they got the phone number, and all that. But after a while, I realize I’m talking to a paralegal. Paralegals do not consider themselves evil. Paralegals are, in my experience, torturers who have not been allowed to use the forge yet to make the hot coals, but they’re waiting and hoping. I consider them part and parcel of the law profession, very little of which I personally like. (I do like a little of it.)

She offered to put me in touch with an uberlawyer to hear the song that supposedly Jason Scott made or otherwise has his name on, but I said, ultimately, “I can’t imagine they would enjoy such a conversation.” Who needs it, it’s Friday.

I explained that all the music in my documentary was licensed under Creative Commons. Later she verified it by saying “so you provide it under a public license.” I said no, CREATIVE COMMONS.

The salient phrases from me, which basically ended the transaction, were:

“I do not want to be associated with whatever you are doing in any way, and if my name shows up in any legal document from your firm I will be very angry. If people are distributing music with my name associated with it, I hope they are giving it to schoolchildren. For free. Forever.

Anyway, so if you make or otherwise involve yourself in musical production, maybe you too will be “called on down ” by Jennifer or her other zombie paralegal compatriots to ask if you authorized your music to be made available on Kazaa. Be sure to top my reaction, if you so choose.

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  1. Bathee says:

    What that paralegal has done is a violation of the model rules of professional ethics. You are not allowed to solicit clients in this manner. If you want to do something about it, I recommend you contact your local bar association.

  2. BluKnight says:

    In response to Bathee: I see no items from Jason that denote she was soliciting business from him at this time. Maybe trying to understand how his content got on Kazaa, but not soliciting business. Am I missing something, Jason?

  3. Jason Scott says:

    I find messing with lawyers is like punching tar, so that wouldn’t be my approach regardless of ethical issues. The purpose of the call was to verify whether I had given permission for the distribution of “my” music on Kazaa. I have no idea where the conversation would have gone from there, and if I had been put in touch with the ‘real’ lawyer, I start to find myself in some sort of confidence or some such shit.

    I suppose they could have asked me if I was willing to join the suit, but that’s unlikely. And they certainly weren’t going to give me the name/ip of whoever was sharing, so I don’t know.

    It definitely falls under the general folder of “stirring up shit”. I don’t know the legal term for that.

  4. Johnny Uber says:

    That was a great read, I found it most disturbing that the Paralegal did not know what the Creative Commons was. I mean come she is a professional researcher… It kind of reinforces my theroy that most lawyers and law professionals do not really care what is really going on with the issues they represent (not all, I know some great ones) … they just follow dollars short term and leave us all with the mess for the long haul.

    Thank goodness for the EFF 🙂

  5. > It definitely falls under the general folder of “stirring up shit”. I don’t know the legal term for that.

    The word you’re looking for is “barratry”.