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Lendink Receives First Post Lynch Mob DMCA Notice From Inept Attorney

Here’s a story I didn’t expect to have to write.

Lendink, on of the many sites set up to arrange for Nook and Kindle owners to lend ebooks to each other, got another DMCA notice yesterday. It’s the first such notice since the site restarted last week, and it’s a doozy.

I’m sure you know that Lendink is a legitimate website which a few weeks was taken down by a lynch mob of uninformed authors. The authors never really understood what the site was doing and they all sent threatening emails (ranging from mild to scary) to Lendink demanding the impossible: that their ebooks be removed.

I had been hoping that the enormous public spectacle of the authors being wrong would be enough to educate everyone about sites like Lendink as well as Lendink in particular. Nope. As we can see from this latest DMCA notice, my hopes were in vain.

Tim Cushing of Techdirt tipped me to the notice, which was posted yesterday on Lendink’s Facebook page. Dale Porter, Lendink’s owner, is planning to post all such notices in order to shame the senders. This particular notice was sent not by an author but by an unlicensed attorney, and that’s where this story gets deliciously entertaining.

Hank St James describes himself as an attorney (even though he has not passed the PA bar exam) and for the past few years he has been running an anti-piracy service for self-published authors. I’ve never heard of him before, but I found a reference to him in a 2010 blog post on the e-reads blog. He was then calling himself the "pirate sinker", a monicker which he still uses today.

Update: Someone on Slashdot has turned up the detail that  this lawyer might be operating under a pseudonym. There’s a lawyer by the name of Hank James Clarke who lives a few miles (52 miles) away from Wilkes-Barre, PA. If that is the same guy then he is likely also committing an ethics violation. But given the distance it seems unlikely.

He seems to be running this operation out of his house Wilkes-Barre, PA, which should tell you a lot about his lack of success. He doesn’t even have a website that I could find, but he does appear to have conned a number of authors into signing up for his service.

And I do feel that he is conning authors because this guy doesn’t seem terribly competent. He sent a DMCA notice for some 80 to a hundred titles (I lost count) to a site which patently was not hosting or pirating the ebooks. Furthermore, this fool didn’t bother to read the FAQ for Lendink before perjuring himself with this bogus notice.

But the most damning detail in this story is that the guy clearly missed all the coverage of Lendink in the past few weeks.  If his anti-piracy work is his job then you would expect him to keep up on the news, right? I have difficulty figuring out how he could have missed Lendink. I’ll grant you that an author could miss the stories (and I would not blame them), but a businessman has an obligation to his customers.

Speaking of his customers, I’m not going to call out the authors who hired this bozo; they probably thought he was competent when they hired him and at least some will be appalled at the bogus notice. Please do not hold this against them or drag their names through the mud.

But you can say whatever you want about Hank St James. The service he offers is clearly defective and deficient. His work is about as sturdy as a deck of cards, and we really should share that detail with his potential customers.

Unfortunately, that’s about all we can do. PA can’t exactly take his license away from him if he doesn’t have one, and there’s not much we can do about the perjury. No one has ever been prosecuted for a bogus DMCA notice.

Update: It turns out I was wrong. There’s at least one case of a bogus DMCA notice costing the sender money. Jane Litte of Dear Author reminded me of Lenz vs Universal, the bouncing toddler case. In that situation the parent of said toddler had recorded a short clip of the kid dancing to background music and then posted it to Youtube. Universal had the clip taken down under a DMCA notice. Lenz responded by hiring a lawyer and suing Universal. She won.

Second Update: A reader pointed be at OPG vs Diebold, another example where a bogus DMCA notice ended up costing Diebold money. This one is much more complicated, though.

Would someone please do us all a favor and sue this attorney. He needs to be shut down.

P.S. If you ever meet me at a conference, ask me what I know about Attributor’s anti-piracy service. I can’t post it here, but I do have some interesting details.

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Syn August 28, 2012 um 9:35 am

Wow, just unbelievable. I thought this was finally dead.

Puzzled August 28, 2012 um 10:05 am

Did this guy skinny dip in the stupidity pond?

Tony Hursh August 28, 2012 um 4:54 pm

There’s also this case:

Diebold wound up having to pay over $100K in costs and attorney’s fees for the bogus claim.

Google cites this one on their own DMCA takedown page.

Nate Hoffelder August 28, 2012 um 5:20 pm


Lisag August 29, 2012 um 9:40 am

If he is a non-licensed attorney he should be reported to the PA Bar Association. If what he is doing is considered "practicing" law or holding himself out as a lawyer, it is unauthorized practice of law. If he is a licensed attorney and what he is doing is contrary to law, he could be reported for ethics violations.

Pete August 29, 2012 um 11:37 am

In PA, practicing law without a license is a 3rd degree misdemeanor (1st offense), 1st degree misdemeanor for second and subsequent.

Each DMCA notice (if he represents himself as an attorney) is a separate offense.

Screw ethics (the bar cannot punish a non-member), this is arrestable.

Pete August 29, 2012 um 11:38 am

(apologies, Lisag – I misread your comment)

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