The ongoing legal efforts by record companies to collect more than $1 billion from LimeWire for copyright violations has taken another strange twist.
Now the labels are seeking to disqualify the law firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher, that represents LimeWire from continuing to do so.
According to a memorandum filed last week by the record companies, one of the lawyers in the case switched sides in the middle of the dispute. The labels say that Jeffrey Korn was a "core member of the team representing plaintiffs" at Cravath, Swaine & Moore before heading over to Willkie in 2007, where he now works with partners actively litigating against his former clients in the same case.
The memorandum is heavily redacted so it's unclear whether LimeWire presents evidence that Korn has been using his knowledge of the situation to provide counsel to LimeWire. But regardless, the plaintiffs are now asking a judge to disqualify the firm as a whole due to ethical conflicts and to ensure that confidential information is not passed along.
The move is unusual but shouldn't be too much of a surprise given the amount of rancor in this case. For example, LimeWire has insisted that record companies show their actual losses from file-sharing on its network, convincing a judge to order the labels open up some of their financial records such as royalty payments made to artists. LimeWire also wants access to communications between record companies and third-party licensees like Amazon and Vevo. And finally, the company has been throwing up other motions left and right, for example, including one pertaining to the difference between albums and singles and whether the labels can assert damages on the sharing of individual tracks within a album. (The judge said yes.)
For the moment, a trial is still scheduled for April. But depending on what the judge says about whether Willkie can continue to represent LimeWire, that could change.