Biglaw, Copyright, Cyberlaw, Entertainment Law, Federal Government, Google / Search Engines, Intellectual Property, Legal Ethics, Litigators, Technology, William Burck, YouTube

Quinn Emanuel Calls B.S. on Government Conflict-of-Interest Objection in Megaupload Case

Following the federal government’s raid in January 2012 on Megaupload, the company that owned and operated the notorious file-sharing site, the criminal case has already started making its way through the court system. The government froze the company’s assets, and the CEO is under house arrest, but Megaupload still managed to hire some high-powered, Biglaw representation. Good for them, right?

Well, maybe not. The government has objected to Quinn Emanuel entering the case to represent Megaupload. The government cites conflicts of interest.

What are the alleged conflicts? And what does Quinn have to say about the situation?

The firm just filed a saucy brief responding to the objection. Let’s just say that Quinn isn’t taking it lying down…

As reported earlier today by TorrentFreak, Andrew Schapiro of Quinn Emanuel has signed on to represent Megaupload and its eccentric leader, Kim Dotcom. Some people might recognize Andy Schapiro as the attorney who helped YouTube win summary judgment in the copyright suit brought by Viacom awhile back.

In any case, the feds aren’t keen on Quinn representing Megaupload when QE has previously represented a host of entertainment and tech industry clients. From TorrentFreak:

[T]he US government has filed papers objecting to Schapiro’s law firm working on Megaupload’s defense, citing conflicts of interest involving Google, YouTube, Disney, Fox and other movie, TV show and software companies.

The government’s first concern is with Schapiro’s big victory in the YouTube litigation, which recently entered the news again after the Second Circuit resurrected the suit:

The government says the first conflict concerns YouTube. Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan reversed a lower court’s decision to issue summary judgment in the Viacom v YouTube case, so now that battle is back on. YouTube is also listed as a victim and potential witness in the criminal indictment against Megaupload. Quinn Emanuel can’t have interest in both cases, the government says.

Of course, Google (which now owns YouTube) is not to be left out. The government also intends to have Google testify:

The second claimed conflict concerns Google, a company represented by Quinn Emanuel on a number of occasions including some involving the company’s AdSense advertising service. According to the Megaupload indictment, Google withdrew its Adsense service from the now-defunct file-hosting service in part due to copyright infringement concerns. The government intends to call Google as a witness in the Megaupload case.

And we can’t leave out Hollywood, either:

The list includes a who’s-who of Hollywood and TV companies including Disney, Fox, Time Warner, Warner Bros. and HBO, in cases dating between 2006 and 2009. Another, a trademark dispute involving the company Danjaq LLC (holder of copyrights and trademarks relating to James Bond) and Sony dates back to 1998.

What greets current visitors to (click to enlarge).

The government also reaches all the way back to the 1980s to some software companies Quinn used to represent, including Brøderbund Software, Intuit (the company behind Quicken), and Bulletproof Software. Apparently all these companies could be called on to testify as well.

At some level I can understand the conflict of interest claim. On the other hand, if prosecutors are going to play this card, it creates quite a conundrum for any potential Megaupload attorneys. Megaupload allegedly offended and/or victimized anyone and everyone who has ever had anything to do with the entertainment or technology industries, but any firm attempting to represent Megaupload should probably have prior experience in the technology and entertainment worlds.

I literally just got my hands on Quinn’s reply. The firm is saying the same thing. Without further ado, we’ve got some highlights from the brief on the next page…

(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments