Monday, January 24, 2011

Ask Plaintiffs' Attorney Michael Boni (610-822-0201; about the Mystery of the Missing $Millions

That's Michael Boni


The Mystery of the Missing $Millions in Claims, Part 2

More from guest blogger and co-objector Anita Bartholomew on the "Freelance" settlement parties' deceptive representations to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on claims data.

To recap Part 1, in 2006, Michael Boni, the class action attorney purportedly representing freelance writers in the Freelance Class Action, had to rescind his statement to the court that freelance claims totaled just $10.76 million. He admitted the actual total could be much higher. The reason: the administrator had valued at least hundreds, and possibly thousands, of registered articles as if they were unregistered. Registered claims are worth, on average, from about 8.4 to 91 times the value of unregistered ones.

Then, in 2010, without any explanation, Boni told the appeals court that the claims total was $8.9 million -- $1.86 million lower, not higher, than the admittedly too-low $10.76 million figure he’d given in 2006. $Millions in claims simply vanished?

So much for the recap. On to Part 2.

In January 2011, Michael Boni wrote a new letter to the court saying that the administrator made yet another calculation error.

The settlement was amended in 2005 to bump up some former category B claims (registered but not timely), if infringed by two new Defendants in the class action, Amazon and Highbeam, into the higher paying A category. For details, see:

But, as Boni told the court earlier this month, the administrator had failed to value those original B claims as A claims. Boni now says that, as a result of correcting the error, the claims total has gone from $8.9 million to $11.56 million.

But wait: he never explained how it got DOWN to $8.9 million in 2010, when it should have gone UP by some unknown amount above the $10.76 million figure he gave the court in 2006.

If we were to add this new $2.66 million to the (too low) 2006 total of $10.76 million, the lowest possible total we get is $13.42 million. But we know that the total MUST be greater than $13.42 million, because (Boni told us) that the correct total would be greater than $10.76 million.

How much greater? He wouldn’t tell us. Neither would the defendants.

So, let’s look at the numbers we do have.

2011 reported error: The administrator wrongly classified about 2,300 category A claims (average value of A claims=$1,316.00) as if they were category B claims (average value of B claims=$156.00), which added $2.66 million to the claims total. The actual value of the affected claims was roughly 8.4 times greater than the administrator originally calculated.

2006 reported error: The administrator wrongly classified at least hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of category A and B claims (average value of A claims=$1,316.00; average value of B claims=$156.00) as if they were category C claims (average value of C claims=$14.50), which added $XX to the claims total. The actual value of the affected claims was roughly from 8.4 to 91 times greater than the administrator originally calculated.

What is the value of XX?

My best guess is north of a million dollars. Looking at the above, what’s yours?

And when you’re done best-guessing, please contact the purported attorney for Plaintiffs (this means he’s purportedly your attorney), Michael Boni. Ask him how a correction that INCREASED the value of hundreds or thousands of claims by as much as 91 times their originally calculated value REDUCED the claims value total by $1.86 million!

While you’re at it, ask him another obvious question: whose claims aren’t going to be paid? And why won’t they be paid?

I can’t help recalling how, from the beginning, attorneys for Plaintiffs and Defendants insisted in court that the claims totals could not possibly exceed $11.8 million. (Because anything above that would mean that unregistered claims wouldn’t be paid in full).

The only conclusion I can come to is that somebody did something to ensure that this false statement came true. What did that somebody do? I don’t know. Does it affect YOUR claims? I wish I could tell you, but again, I don’t know.

Michael Boni knows: 610-822-0201;

Maybe he’ll explain… or maybe, you’ll get the same bogus “explanation” that “someone” tried to peddle to us.

If you do ask Mr. Boni for an explanation, please be sure to come back here and post his response in the comments, so we can let you know whether it’s plausible. We need answers. Accurate answers. And we’ll only get them by holding to the fire the feet of those who have them (and are supposed to be on our side).

- Anita Bartholomew

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Mystery of the Missing $Millions in Claims, Part 1

In this first of two parts, objector Anita Bartholomew reviews the history of the "Freelance" settlement parties' deceptive representations to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on claims data.

In 2006, the plaintiffs' attorney in the Freelance Class Action, Michael Boni, erroneously told the court that the total claims in the case equaled $10.76 million.

This number, if it weren’t in error, would have been good news. If total claims amounts exceeded $11.8 million, all those who hadn’t registered their works (C claims) would get reduced payments for the infringement of their writings. (For background, see:

Boni apparently wanted to prove to the court that C claims’ payments wouldn’t be reduced. Most writers have only C, unregistered, claims. Any reduction would mean that most writers would get screwed. How screwed would depend on the actual totals.

But Boni had to rescind the claims total almost immediately, and admit that people who had unregistered articles – almost everyone in the class – might see their claims reduced.

What happened? The claims administrator was calculating registered articles as if they were unregistered. The $10.76 million figure was based on a preliminary calculation by the administrator that calculated at least hundreds, and perhaps more, registered (A and B category) articles at a fraction of their actual value. (According to figures given to the court, the average A claim is valued at about
$1,316.00; the average C claim is valued at about $14.50.)

Why the flawed calculations? Due to a mix-up: Boni had told at least one associational plaintiff's representative (and the representative told writers) that writers didn’t need to send in documents with their claims. So, writers didn’t.

Meanwhile, the claims administrator sent letters to all the writers who followed the flawed instructions, that it had ONLY counted as registered those claims sent WITH registration documents, even if writers included their registration numbers on their claims.

On one private online forum alone, numerous people mentioned getting such letters, concerning as many as 100 of a single writer’s registered works.

The $10.76 million figure was way low.

We were never told what the claims total was after writers with registered articles sent in their registration documentation, and the administrator re-calculated the totals, but knew the totals would be higher. Maybe $millions higher.

Fast-forward to June/July of last year. Defendants hadn't yet conducted an audit; challenges, when they're done, can theoretically bring down the total value of the claims. And remember that the total HAD to be FAR HIGHER than the artificially low $10.76 million. Perhaps high enough to require a significant reduction in the pay-outs to all those with unregistered articles.

Yet, the NEW claims amount total that Boni presented to the appeals court this summer, with no explanation, was $8.9 million.

That’s right: the claims total, which should have risen by some large but unknown number had, instead, mysteriously dropped by $1.86 million!

Where did all the claims go? Nobody is saying. Well, actually, one person did give what appears to be a bogus explanation for the disappearing $millions. We believe it’s bogus for two reasons: 1) the settlement doesn’t provide for the kind of action this person claims occurred; 2) the defense group’s key spokesperson claims no knowledge of the explanation given.

I’ll let you ponder what the above might mean, before I tell you about the latest strangeness with the claims totals, in Part 2 of THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING $MILLIONS IN CLAIMS. Yes, there’s more. Much more. And it involves $millions more.

If you’re a writer with a claim in this case, this should concern you.

- Anita Bartholomew

Friday, January 14, 2011

Another Claims Data 'Correction' -- And a Motion by the Objectors to Investigate

There has been a startling new development in the Freelance case at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals: yet another "correction" by the appellees of claims data numbers previously submitted in court records. The objectors' attorney, Charles Chalmers, has asked the court for leave to submit a brief on an issue he describes as "a frontal attack on the integrity of the appellate judicial process" and a record "of amazing negligence."

Our new court papers, viewable at, show the centrality of this issue to one of our core objections: the injustice of the settlement's "C Reduction" provision and the inadequacy of representation of the class because holders of registered and unregistered copyrights have conflicting interests.

Follow this blog for additional commentary.