Ken from Popehat has an amusing yet irritating tale of a man being unmercifully hounded for a seemingly appropriate request with a humorous ending. In a nutshell, a fellow named Colin Purrington saw an organization (the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research) using language that he says originated with him. He wrote the Consortium asking them to stop, and added this “humorous coda” (in Ken’s words) to his email:
If you can cover the shipping charges, I would be grateful if you [would] send me the head of the person who did this.
In response, attorney David P. Metzger sent Purrington an email, which said that the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research had had a copyright on this material since 2005! (One minor problem: Purrington’s language was from 2001, as a cursory Internet search would easily reveal). Ken explains the content of the letter:
The upshot of the letter was that the Consortium had copyrighted the language in question in 2005, and that unless Colin took it down from his website, he would be facing a lawsuit, statutory damages of up to $150,000, court costs, and attorney fees — Arnold & Porter-sized attorney fees.
Oh, but it gets better. Attorney Metzger also claimed that the “humorous coda” above was an actual physical threat:
Finally, I wish to express CPBR’s concern with your statement in the Purrington E-mail: “I would be grateful if you to send me (sic) the head of the person who did this.” This language was interpreted by CPBR’s staff as a physical threat against their personal safety. Should you make any further similar threats, CPBR staff will have no choice but to contact authorities to protect themselves.
And you wonder why people hate lawyers.
Ken says he has contacted Mr. Metzger for a response. After all, maybe the Consortium is really in the right. And maybe they actually thought Purrington’s funny ending paragraph was a threat. Maybe Congress and the President really care about our fiscal debacle and will pass a serious plan to fix it this year. (I bypassed the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy for an even more absurd example.)
But it sure looks like another episode of Lawyers Behaving Thuggishly.
What ought to happen, in my constitutionally protected opinion, is that people everywhere should write about this, and make fun of Metzger publicly for what certainly seems to be overbearing and humorless behavior. If the mockery is widespread enough, perhaps the client, upset at the embarrassment Metzger has brought them, will call for Metzger’s head on a platter.
P.S. I am sending Metzger a link to this post. He is welcome to respond. I hope I get a humorless email in response filled with absurd baseless legal threats. If I do, I’ll be certain to publish it here.
P.P.S. My email:
I would be interested in any response to this post.
David P. Metzger: Crusader for Justice, or Humorless Legal Thug?
My readers would likely appreciate it if you could make your response threatening and humorless.