The attorney representing political commentator Carl Benjamin in his legal battle with YouTuber Akilah Hughes has written to the judge to “apprise the Court of new developments” that support Benjamin’s motion to reclaim his legal fees.
Benjamin is asking to be awarded $39,000 to cover the cost of his legal fees resulting from a copyright infringement lawsuit that was brought by Hughes and that he won.
His motion accuses Hughes of weaponizing copyright law in an “attempt to muzzle an ideological opponent” and of using the lawsuit to “generate valuable attention and celebrity” and promote her book.
However, Hughes has opposed this motion and argues that her litigation had been “reasonable, and her motivations in good faith.”
In this letter to the judge, Benjamin’s attorney, Wesley M. Mullen, argues that several of Hughes’ recent June 3 tweets provide evidence of her “misuse of this lawsuit for publicity and as part of her effort to deplatform Mr. Benjamin” and that she “continues to brandish this lawsuit as a weapon in her attack on an ideological opponent that she sued for ideological reasons.”
In one of the tweets referenced in the letter, Hughes accuses Benjamin of making threats against British Member of Parliament (MP) Jess Phillips – an allegation that Mullen says is false.
In the same tweet, Hughes also includes portions of what she describes as an email to YouTube arguing that Benjamin should be banned from the platform because he has opinions that are offensive.
In another tweet referenced in the letter, Hughes includes a portion of what she describes as her response to YouTube where she states that she “had to sue” Benjamin but lost the case and had to stop making videos on YouTube because “the platform won’t take a stand.”
The letter concludes that for the reasons stated in the letter, the court should grant the motion and award Benjamin “a reasonable fee.”
The lawsuit that kickstarted this years-long legal battle between Benjamin and Hughes centered around Benjamin’s “SJW Levels of Awareness” video which took clips from Hughes’ video documenting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election night defeat to Donald Trump and used those clips to make fun of her political opinions.
In February, Judge Richard J. Sullivan ruled that Benjamin’s “SJW Levels of Awareness” video easily met all the standards for fair use – a provision that allows the use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder if the use meets certain standards.
This letter to the judge comes more than three months after Hughes opposed Benjamin’s to reclaim his legal fees and the judge will now consider these developments and decide whether to grant Benjamin an award to cover his legal fees.