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Court Finds Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege in Copyright Case

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Posted on January 6th, 2016

In Liang v. AWG Remarketing, Inc. et. al., Case No. 14-0099 (S.D. Ohio, Dec. 16, 2015), a copyright dispute case involving web pages and HTML code, Plaintiff was formerly a member of a dissolved corporation.  She previously (and unsuccessfully) tried to sue another company as a successor in interest to the dissolved corporation; the court there had not found her credible and did not permit her to act as successor in interest. She then filed multiple copyrights and sued again as successor in interest.

Eventually, Plaintiff filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss the case, acknowledging she had no interest in the copyrights after sending letters to the copyright office asking that they be canceled. She then withdrew that motion. The court ultimately granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff’s claim, but all counterclaims remained pending, including claims for abuse of process. Defendants alleged that Plaintiff fired all her lawyers and hired new ones in an effort to blame her prior counsel for her conduct. Defendant filed a Motion to Compel waiver of attorney-client privilege and sought communications between Plaintiff and her original attorneys.

Plaintiff argued that the Motion was moot after summary judgment because it sought information related to standing. Defendant argued that the information was relevant to its abuse of process claim. The court found that the information was relevant and that Defendant had met the meet and confer requirement.

The parties disagreed regarding whether Plaintiff had waived privilege as to communications about cancellation of the copyrights. The court found she waived this privilege by testifying about the cancellation at her deposition but found that she did not waive the privilege with regard to the motion to dismiss the lawsuit, as her counsel at the deposition instructed her not to talk about their discussions.  Due to the privilege waiver, the court ordered Plaintiff to produce certain documents.

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