Extortion and Unauthorized Practice of Law — IsAnybodyDown.com

I like Marc Randazza’s rules about porn:

Rule #1: The subjects must be adults
Rule #2: The subjects must be consenting adults

Sounds fair enough.

Here’s why he brings up the subject:

It looks like the proprietors of IsAnybodyDown.com (NSFW) have come up with a great scheme. Post compromising photos and videos of people, without their permission, with their names and locations attached. Then, offer to take them down for $250. Only it sounds like extortion if you do it that way. So instead of offering that “service” on IsAnyBodyDown.com, the proprietors apparently set up another website where someone posing as a lawyer will “force” IsAnybodyDown.com to take down those photos.

That is what IsAnybodyDown.com is doing, according to Randazza’s sleuthing. Both IsAnybodyDown.com and TakedownLawyer.com were registered by the same person, and there doesn’t seem to be a “David Blade, III” — the “lawyer” in question — licensed to practice law in New York, where he claims to be from. Randazza had an email exchange with “Blade” (pdf) in which Blade (1) doesn’t sound very lawyerly, and (2) claims he is using a pseudonym to protect himself from retribution.

So here’s a question: Assuming Blade really is a New York public defender using a pseudonym, however unlikely that is, could he ethically advertise his services under a false name? That would seem to run afoul of Rule 7.1, which says “A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.” Lying about who you are, and pretending to be able to get information removed when you probably control that information in the first place would seem to be misleading, at a minimum, if not outright false. So no, then.

Of course, what we really have here sounds like a young man engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and a bit of extortion, which probably won’t go over well when the authorities get wind of Randazza’s broadside assault on his “business.”

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  • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

    Yeah, unless NY public defenders work in Colorado, now, it looks like the same guy.