Another heart warming story here folks http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/09/sanctioned-p2p-lawyer-fined-10000-for-staggering-chutzpah.ars
A federal judge has fined Texas lawyer Evan Stone $10,000 for sending out subpoenas and then settlement letters to people accused of sharing a German porn film,all without the judge's permission.
In 2010, Stone brought suit against 670 accused file-swappers, and he asked permission to take early discovery. Judge David Godbey said no; instead, Godbey brought in the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Citizen to represent the interests of the Does, since none of them had yet been named and therefore had no counsel to speak for them. EFF and Public Citizen lawyers soon began hearing from people who said that Verizon had turned over their information to Stone, information generally obtainable only by subpoena.
Judge Godbey ruled yesterday that Stone "grossly abused his subpoena power," obtained subscriber names he was not entitled to learn, and then, "almost unbelievably, Stone used the information he received to contact an unknown number of potential Does, presumably in the form of demand letters and settlement offers." Godbey fined Stone $10,000, which he hopes will be enough to "deter similar misconduct and adequately reflects the gravity of the circumstances."
In addition, Stone has to pay the attorney fees for EFF and Public Citizen, and must tell the court if he has settled with anyone in the Mick Haig case, and if so, for how much. Finally, Stone has to send a copy of Judge Godbey's order to each judge overseeing any federal or state case in which Stone currently has a hand—whether or not it has to do with file-sharing.
Like most folks reading this I am concerned the fine is somewhat on the low side for what amounts to a professional misconduct designed to extort money from members of the public, however this makes a great test case and we can all hope other anti-p2p vultures are hit hard in the future for their underhand abuses of the law.