CNET has a thought-provoking story -- you can tell because it's got one of those question-mark headlines -- about the head scratching and hand wringing prompted by this sentence in a recent decision by New York federal Judge Kimba Wood:
"[LimeWire founder Mark] Gorton states that another attorney, [von Lohmann], gave [LimeWire], including [former company CTO Greg] Bildson, confidential legal advice regarding the need to establish a document retention program to purge incriminating information about LimeWire users' activities," Wood wrote in her decision.
CNET says this all went down in the granting of summary judgment to the Recording Industry Association of America, in its long-running copyright fight against file-sharing service LimeWire. According to CNET, the ruling was 59 pages and ...
"Wood doesn't offer any further explanation or mention von Lohmann elsewhere in her decision. It's hard to say what she meant exactly. But to critics of EFF and von Lohmann, who come mostly from the pro-copyright camp, Wood's description of his advice confirms what they've suspected for years. They say von Lohmann has long provided tutorials to file-sharing services on how to break the law and get away with it."
But Fred von Lohmann denied any wrongdoing, CNET reports. And EFF wants the decision tweaked to get off his back, already.
"Providing advice to clients about document retention is something lawyers do all the time," von Lohmann said. "In discovery, there are a lot of documents, and clients need to understand what obligations they have about keeping documents and not keeping them based on what the law requires. That's a conversation lawyers have with clients who fear litigation is a possibility. I don't see anything particularly nefarious about this kind of a conversation with a potential client."
On Tuesday, Cindy Cohn, EFF's legal director, sent a request to Judge Wood asking her to modify her written decision in regards to von Lohmann. "We believe the materials in the record do not support the inclusion of the phrase 'to purge incriminating information,'" Cohn wrote. "As you may imagine, Mr. von Lohmann and EFF are concerned that his professional reputation has been put at risk."
We'll see what Judge Wood is willing to do when you ask nicely.