Intellectual property lawyer Graham Syfert was hearing from a lot of defendants in cases about illegal downloading. For many of these people, the amount plaintiffs were seeking from them was substantial, but less than what he would charge them just to begin working on their case. In a savvy business move that also benefits consumers, Syfert began selling forms that would help these people represent themselves. The forms, along with instructions, were priced at $9.99, which is far less than any lawyer would charge.
Nineteen people facing lawsuits from the US Copyright Group (a private company) used the forms to defend themselves. USCG's lawyers responded by asking a court to impose $5000 in sanctions against Syfert for the time it took them to respond to the defendants who used the forms. It should be well known by now that selling legal forms is protected speech under the First Amendment. It's also a good way of leveling the playing field between those who can afford lawyers and those who cannot. USCG is clearly trying to discourage self-represented litigants and those who assist them. Syfert has asked the court to impose sanctions on USCG for its intimidation attempt. While the court has not yet ruled on that issue, there is already some good news for the self-represented litigants: The forms that they filed convinced the court to dismiss USCG's case against them.
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