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Why the RIAA Doesn't Want Defendants Exonerated 199

Posted by Zonk
from the so-many-reasons-just-pick-one dept.
RageAgainsttheBears writes "The RIAA is beginning to find itself in an awkward position. A few of its many, many lawsuits don't manage to end in success for the organization. Typically, when they decide a case isn't worth pursuing (due to targeting the wrong person or not having sufficient evidence), they simply move to drop the case. Counterclaims are usually dropped in turn, and everyone goes separate ways. But recently, judges have been deciding to allow the RIAA to drop the case, but still allowing the defendant's counterclaim through. According to the Ars Technica article: 'If Judge Miles-LaGrange issues a ruling exonerating Tallie Stubbs of infringement, it would be a worrisome trend for the RIAA. The music industry has become accustomed to having its way with those it accuses of file-sharing, quietly dropping cases it believes it can't win. It looks as though the courts may be ready to stop the record labels from just walking away from litigation when it doesn't like the direction it is taking and give defendants justice by fully exonerating them of any wrongdoing.'"
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Why the RIAA Doesn't Want Defendants Exonerated

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:14PM (#18536007)
    fucking extortionists
    • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday March 30, 2007 @05:45AM (#18540987) Journal
      The RIAA aren't issuing any lawsuits.

      Question - the lawsuit against the 7 year old girl, is it:

      A. RIAA -v- Andersen
      or
      B. Atlantic Records -v- Andersen

      I think you'll find the latter. The record companies themselves are doing the suing. If you want to hate someone for spamming the courts with lawsuits, hate the record companies themselves. They love it that the RIAA is catching all the shit (because the RIAA doesn't sell to the public so it doesn't matter if the RIAA has a horrible reputation amongst the public). However, if people understand that the record companies are the ones spamming the courts, maybe the right people will be the object of vilification.
  • About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GiovanniZero (1006365) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:14PM (#18536013) Homepage Journal
    Our court system should punish frivolous lawsuits for how much it is costing the government.
    • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AusIV (950840) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:20PM (#18536117)

      Our court system should punish frivolous lawsuits for how much it is costing the government.
      Not just for how much it's costing the government, but for how much it's costing innocent defendants. I think any time the RIAA loses a case or drops a case they should have to pay legal fees for the defendants. I think you'd see a sharp drop in frivolous suits. They may still take a few cases to court, but they'll spend more time making sure the accused are actually guilty.
      • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:38PM (#18536411) Homepage Journal
        "... making sure the accused are actually guilty."

        I hope you mean:
        making sure the accused can't defend their innocence against the charges."

        Nobody is actually guilt of anything until the courts say so. A fine, yet critical line.
        • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

          by honkycat (249849) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:11PM (#18536837) Homepage Journal
          Ideally, the accuser would make sure the accused was actually guilty before accusing. Nobody is legally guilty until the courts say so, but actual guilt has nothing to do with legal guilt (except, perhaps, that it's easier to find someone legally guilty if they're actually guilty).
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by DustyShadow (691635)
            First of all, the word "guilty" doesn't really exist in the civil arena. Liable is a better word. As for making sure the defendant is liable, there are many times when the plaintiff doesn't really know for sure and the only true way is through discovery. Most defendants won't hand over their private evidence until they are demanded to do so by a court. Yea, sometimes this forces an "innocent" defendant to be brought into court but in the end justice is served when the truth comes out. Unfortunately a lot o
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by honkycat (249849)
              Well, I wasn't really talking about this specific situation so much as responding to the parent's reference to actual guilt. Even in the civil arena, though, guilt exists as a concept, but the language is different. If you've broken the law (you filthy tortfeasor), you're actually guilty (of the tort) and may be found legally liable.

              Still, I stand by the modified statement: Ideally, the accuser wouldn't accuse unless the accused were actually liable. Obviously, we can't achieve the ideal because, as you
        • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

          by monkey_dongle (1002300) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:31PM (#18537073)
          Actually, this has nothing to do with guilt or innocence. These are civil lawsuits, not criminal, and as such the only thing to be determined is liability.

        • Re:About time (Score:5, Informative)

          by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @08:27PM (#18537641)
          You do not understand the words. If I kill someone, I am guilty of homicide. If I am linked to the act, I am charged or indicted. The outcome of the trial is that I am found guilty or not guilty. Being found guilty does not mean I killed someone. It means that I have been found guilty of the crime by a jury of my peers. If I am found not guilty, that does not mean I did not commit the crime. I could be guilty and be found not guilty because of the inability to produce credible evidence. And "innocent" has no legal meaning, though it is often used in place of "not guilty." Innocent means one did not do what they are accused of. That is a state of being that is irrelevant to the finding of the court.

          There are common usages of the words and legal definitions of the words. If you are going to complain about someone's usage, you should at least differentiate between them.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by csplinter (734017)
            I don't know about in other States but, in Texas and Florida in a criminal case, you can be judged guilty (they decided you did it) not guilty (they decided they don't know if you did it) or innocent (they decided you didn't do it). You are judged innocent if everyone unanimously agrees that you did not commit the crime you were accused of.
      • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jovetoo (629494) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:44PM (#18536509) Journal
        Exactly. I believe one of the other cases mentioned a number on the attorney fees, something around US$6800. That would require two out of three accused to settle (at US$3750) just to cover the cost of loosing one. This does not cover their own costs.
        I wonder how many of the accused would still choose to settle... even if they are guilty.
    • Re:About time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:21PM (#18536123)
      It's not costing the government anything. The government gets all of its funding from the taxpayers. They're (we're) the ones paying.

      So they (we) should obviously boycott industry associations that resort to this sort of legal chicanery. I hear there are some great bands playing live down at the local pub...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:02PM (#18536755)
        It's not costing us anything. We get all of our funding from our employers. They're (they're) the ones paying.

        Some of us (us) work for the RIAA and affiliated companies. We (them)(us) are being paid (our funding) by those (the RIAA) who are costing us money (our funding). It follows that the RIAA is the ultimate victim of the RIAA. Thus, we (they)(the RIAA) should boycott the real criminals (us)(the RIAA).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:23PM (#18536173)
      If a frivolous lawsuit is filed, the filing attorney and any other attorneys who willfully worked on the case, get disbarred. Some permanently others for a few weeks (as a 6 month suspension is functionally equivalent to disbarment as it make s you unemployable and kills your practice).
      There needs to be a sliding scale, as I don't want the 1st year associate who's boss told him "do this work" to have his career ruined. The 1st year (and mostly no one below partner) has no power in the firm, and has the only option of doing the work or quiting.

      Whether or not this is a frivolous lawsuit is a question of fact; therefore the jury decides. Not the judge (unless they are acting as the trier of fact in that instance.)

      You start threatening attorneys livelihood, especially when that livelihood is such a huge investment, you will see these cases go away.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:47PM (#18536559)
        First of all, a great number of politicians are lawyers. It's doubtful that they will willingly compromise their own profession's ability to make easy money. Keep in mind that after their term in office is up, or if they fail to get reelected, many get back into practicing law.

        Second of all, such a system may make it quite difficult for smaller parties to participate in lawsuits. In the case of lawsuits that may not necessarily be frivolous, but that are near enough to that border line, lawyers may demand that the client cover any expenses if those lawyers are suspended or disbarred. This is something that a client without vast financial resources would likely not be able to afford. So soon enough the only people who will have the resources to sue are corporations or industry associations. We end up with the problem we have now, but without normal people having the ability to fight back.

        • You can circumvent your second problem by preventing those kinds of contractual agreements using a 'no profiting from illegal activity' style law.

          You can then up the hurt on the lawyers clients by incorporating a sliding scale of fines, so a fine which would banrupt an individual also banrupts a company. In the end no one is able to sue frivilously, or nearly frivilously, which is preferable to what we have now. At present we have a legal system which is little better than an arm of our corporate government
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        Not merely disbarred. I want to see perjury charges filed. If we're going to imprison spammers, then these guys should get the chair, and their assets donated to the victims of their crimes.
        • by psxndc (105904) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:32PM (#18537085) Journal
          Wow. So you should die for filing a lawsuit. That sounds fair. Or you should be charged with perjury. riiiiiight.

          OK, /.'ers, since 99% of you AREN'T lawyers and don't know the first thing about law suits - while you have to do some due diligence before filing a lawsuit, you usually don't know the real facts until you are already partway into the case in a phase called "discovery," which is usually the most expensive part of the suit.

          Under your torch-weilding system, I would have to root through your firewall logs BEFORE I filed a lawsuit, even though I may actually have a legitimate claim against you.

          Yeah, that makes sense. /sarcasm. -p-

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by iminplaya (723125)
            I believe you know what I'm getting at :-) And these people are worse than spammers by a long shot They know exactly what they're doing. It's purely a roll of the dice to them with very little cost when they lose. And there is no part of "discovery" that should involve me unless charges are filed. That would be my right to live free from harassment. Even though it's now a sad joke, there is a law [findlaw.com] to protect me from that. And failure by those in authority to enforce it should also be an imprisonable* offense
            • by zCyl (14362) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @08:54PM (#18537837)

              Even though it's now a sad joke, there is a law to protect me from that. And failure by those in authority to enforce it should also be an imprisonable* offense. I don't care if it's a civil suit. If it's handled and authorized by a judge in a public courtroom then the government is involved and the law of the land should apply.

              The fourth amendment has clearly not been applied in this way, historically speaking, but as of five minutes ago I think I'm a fan of this proposal. I am not a lawyer, but you seem quite right to me that a literal reading of this amendment should apply to civil cases. This would profoundly change the level of evidence required for lawsuits to be filed, which is sensible since the financial burden for legal expenses is similar, and the huge financial penalties can often exceed the fines from criminal cases.

              I wonder what it would take to actually get this applied to civil cases. Could a single Supreme Court ruling do it?
            • by psxndc (105904)
              Hate to break it to you, but the 4th Amendment only applies to the government itself trying to search/seize you. Of course that usually happens only in the criminal sense, which is why you don't see it used for civil suits, but i digress.

              Double problem: the 4th amendment doesn't really protect you like you think it does. It only prevents evidence impermissibly found on you from being used against you in court. It's not like if the cop is checking out your prostate you can say "this is a violation of the 4

              • by arodland (127775)
                Actually the wording on this one is a bit fuzzy, I could see some interesting interpretations. It's not a "Congress shall make no law", or any specific "X may not do Y"; it says "The right of the people do be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated". Sure, the identity of who "shall not" is good and implicit in the document, but I find it odd anyway.
          • by Foochee (896249) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @11:29PM (#18539051)

            OK, /.'ers, since 99% of you AREN'T lawyers and don't know the first thing about law suits
            Wow, 99%? Obviously you AREN'T a pollster or statistician and don't know first thing about statistics. I suggest to stick to the lucrative field of phrenology.
          • by innerweb (721995)

            Wait, are you saying that I need to have some knowledge to post on a subject? I missed that one in the fine print. Must be another one of those lawyer tricks.

            -InnerWeb
          • by arkhan_jg (618674)
            But how do you know you have a legitimate claim if you have no reliable evidence of liability to start with? Is it fair that the RIAA (on behalf of say, Sony BMG) can basically point their finger at someone and go -
            "You. We think you're guilty of something, though we have no reliable evidence. Give us your hard-drives so we can find out what. And even if we don't find anything, you're going to be on the hook for $6000 for fees. Or just pay us $3000 now, admit liability, and we'll go away."

            Any system which d
      • by 2short (466733)

        What you describe is largely the case. Lawyers are liable if they bring cases they know (or should know) will be unsuccessful, and can be disbarred and/or be required to pay monetary damages. Go read the letter from the defense attorney in the recent RIAA-related story; amongst other things, he states his intention to sue the lawyers, not just the plantiffs, if they don't settle.

        "Whether or not this is a frivolous lawsuit is a question of fact; therefore the jury decides. Not the judge (unless they are a
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by HostAdmin (1073042)

        How about this - you file suit and lose, you pay the other parties cost to defend plus compensate them for their aggravation. Automatically.

        • by Petrushka (815171)

          ... and that would mean only very very very rich people would ever dare to sue anyone.

          Just as well that only rich people ever have legitimate civil complaints, isn't it? Oh wait that's not true.

          • ... and that would mean only very very very rich people would ever dare to sue anyone.

            That's baloney. I don't know why this is mentioned every time someone suggests America changing to "loser pays".

            The system works well in other places. It doesn't stop people from dragging their neighbors to court over garden gnomes, branches that grow across the fence, or the number of allowed barbecues during the summer.

            It also prevents the party with more money from bleeding the party with less money dry by slapping the

      • by NIckGorton (974753) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @08:29PM (#18537657)
        While I have a natural aversion to lawyers as a physician... this kind of suggestion is about as useful as the idea of revoking the license of physicians who lose a malpractice lawsuit. It might seem like a way to prevent errors, but its not going to work out the way you think.

        Doing so in either case will have a lot of consequences that we would all not like:

        1) Other clients/patients of the guy who loses his licensure will suffer the loss of the relationship and professional services they get. You might think that no one would want to see a lawyer or doctor who had lost a malpractice case, but if that was the case the majority of physicians in the US would not be practicing today.

        2) Every professional by virtue of being a human being will make honest mistakes. Punishing single mistakes by completely destroying that professional's ability to practice will lead to a shortage of people willing to enter that field as well as a shortage of people willing to take the difficult cases in that field. (I can tell you I would never have entered Emergency Medicine where I cannot choose who I will and won't see had this been the case.)

        3) If you are defending your own ability to practice (and perhaps your children's livelihood) you are going to go to extremes in order to protect it. If I was under this kind of pressure the amount of defensive medicine I (and every other physician) practice would go through the roof meaning increased costs, unnecessary tests, unnecessary antibiotics, etc. I suspect the same would be the case for lawyers if you pressed them to that extreme.

        So while it may seem like it would help to levy draconian punishments for medical or legal malpractice, if you have that sort of system, you won't be happy with the results.

        That doesn't mean that you should not use those kind of extreme punishments against professionals who are habitual douchebags. It also doesn't mean you should not levy punishments for errors. But it does mean that you shouldn't punish people innocent of any wrongdoing (the lawyer's other clients) and you should not extract unreasonable punishments for common mistakes.

        Nick
        • by ArsonSmith (13997)
          Except that this is more akin to a physician pushing unneeded surgery because they get more money for it. It happens all the time and should stop as well.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by NIckGorton (974753)
            The big issue is a slippery slope of indications. Its not totally unneeded surgery that is the issue, but 'not quite so needed' surgery. And that's something you can't really regulate (or even detect) easily. The decision to get a procedure is a risk/benefit calculation and its dependent on where the balance of the scale is. Some guy who is really doing flat out non-indicated procedures is an easy mark, but those are pretty rare compared with the ones who shift the balance just slightly.

            But then part of
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Waoh, Woah Woah

          You are confusing "malpractice" with "frivolous lawsuits" Not the same thing at all!

          I repeat ... You are confusing "malpractice" with "frivolous lawsuits" Not the same thing at all!

          An attorney can get sued for malpractice (i.e. negligence). However, a frivolous lawsuit is not negligence, it is willful. We already have laws against this type of things when dealing with SLAPP suits (frivolous suits by corp's against people who protest the corp).

          You miss a bar date, file the wrong form, etc.
    • RIAA makes claim. Defendent makes counter claim. Out of court settlement results in both dropping their claims.

      However, there is no reason why this should be the outcome of an out of court settlement. The RIAA can choose to withdraw a claim without any obligation on the defendent, in which case the counter claim stands.

    • Re:About time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:46PM (#18536551) Homepage Journal
      Assuming you can tell the difference between 'frivolous' and just 'wrong'.

      Lets say I believe you have done me harm, and sue you.
      It turns out that, in fact, it wasn't you.
      Then I wouldn't call that frivolous.

      • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by svvampy (576225) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:52PM (#18537271)
        I would call it frivolous if the reasons I had for believing you have done me harm are obviously flimsy and constitute a gross lack of due diligence.
        • by jimicus (737525)
          I would call it frivolous if the reasons I had for believing you have done me harm are obviously flimsy and constitute a gross lack of due diligence.

          OK, let's break this down.

          I say you've done me harm. Sort it out or I'll sue you.

          You say "No you haven't. Prove it. I'll see you in court."

          So I take you to court. Note that at this stage, while I've got a good idea you've done me harm, I have very little in the way of hard evidence.

          I get a number of pieces of evidence under subpoena, and the conclusion from
          • >"A blanket rule like "person who drops the case pays all costs" is going to
            > put off anyone who can't afford to take that risk - mainly individuals who
            > really need the protection of the courts."

            Individuals, sure, but when you're a big corporation who's filing lawsuit after lawsuit somebody eventually has to say "wait a minute..."

  • Cross your fingers. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AlphaLop (930759) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:18PM (#18536071)
    Lets hope that the trend continues. I think the RIAA publicized their lawsuits so much (in an effort to scare "Pirates") that even the judges are aware of their shady tactics, and resent the RIAA for attempting to turn the court system into their own private extortionists.
    • by solevita (967690) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:32PM (#18536315)

      even the judges
      Even the judges? Are you suggesting that the good people of Slashdot know the inner workings of court better than the judges that preside over them? Seems unlikely to me.

      I'd be more inclined to believe that judges have long known that the RIAA are a bunch of bastards and are now acting in a manner that respects the general population's regard of the RIAA as a bunch of bastards.
      • All judges do not share knowledge from a common pool. They are not the Borg. Grandparent was trying to say that this might be a sign that the negative publicity is such that even judges who might not have otherwise known about the tactics of the RIAA, are aware of them now and are responding accordingly in their courtrooms.
        • by jimicus (737525)
          All judges do not share knowledge from a common pool. They are not the Borg.

          While this is true, I'm sure they talk to each other. And once over, the cases become part of public record.

          Sooner or later, even the most out of touch judge is going to notice a pattern in the number of cases being brought up by a single organisation.
      • Agreed, though why it has taken so long is subject to inquiry.

        I think the Conservatives under Bush have made a brutal attack on the court system and Judges have found themselves serving two masters (The public interest and the White House).

        An interesting thing to consider about the legal system is that almost all court cases are trying to define "fair" or "equal" as benefits their client, piracy can't claim that it is directly fair.

        The arguement for piracy is that information can be shared without los
  • Class Action (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmkaza (173878) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:18PM (#18536089)
    IANAL, but it seems that if the court rules in favor of any one of the defendants, it would set a precedent that would pave the route for all previous defendants to come together and file a class action lawsuit for wrongful accusations.
    • Re:Class Action (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:34PM (#18536355)
      In this case, the defendant is innocent. There's no "precedent" here that's going to help 99.99% of the rest of the defendants, which is why they're mostly pursuing novel legal strategies like "You can't sue me, I'm a single mother!"
    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      I am not a lawyer either, but I do not think you are correct.

      if the court rules in favor of any one of the defendants, it would set a precedent

      It really wouldn't set much of anything. Technically speaking it would set a precedent for that exact federal district that it was decided in, but the precedent is only binding where circumstances are essentially identical, as determined by the judge. Since circumstances in these cases are quite likely to change, the precedent wouldn't really matter.

      all prev

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Here, "I got sued by the RIAA" is almost certainly not enough to constitute a class. Circumstances are going to vary.
        The RIAA & MPAA are both using cookie cutter legal letters & 'research' to propogate their claims.

        Circumstances are almost exactly the same for everyone they've sued.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kastababy (940709)
      I think a class action lawsuit is exactly the remedy that needs to happen. Being in law school currently, I see case after case after case of Big Business trampling over the rights of someone who, whether through unintentional ignorance or deliberate flaunting of the laws, either download music or share files or whatever. Think of what would have happened if the RIAA had sued everyone and forced everyone to pay fines for copying cassette tapes and recording songs off the radio (a practice I still do from
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:20PM (#18536107) Journal
    After a while it will become sufficiently clear that the record industry is not willing to take anyone to court, that eventually enough people will end up challenging as to make this a prohibitively costly excercise. If they drop enough cases, there will probabyl be a few lawyers who will take virtually any case on, on the assumption that they will be able to claim their fees. Either the RIAA will stop doing this, or they will actually start to see a case through. At the moment though, getting a lawyer and challenging the evidence (which is pretty weak, consisting of an IP address, and a list of files that may or may not be what they claim) seems to be a pretty safe option.
  • Missing The Point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by asphaltjesus (978804) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:20PM (#18536109)
    The RIAA doesn't care if a few individuals keep them in court for whatever liability they open themselves up to.

    Individuals won't have enough money to diminish the environment of fear the RIAA is trying to establish.

    The goal is to establish an environment of fear, such that most users are afraid to anything other than what the media conglomerates say is okay. Better still, what's okay today can be wrong tomorrow.

    The RIAA end game is good. Stories like this just help it along.
    • by AusIV (950840) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:26PM (#18536217)

      The RIAA end game is good. Stories like this just help it along.

      Not really. The RIAA would certainly like to create an environment of fear, however if they lose cases and have to pay the defendants legal fees, more people will be willing to go to court. They can only maintain their environment of fear if they're winning their cases or getting settlements.

      • by garcia (6573)
        They can only maintain their environment of fear if they're winning their cases or getting settlements.

        That's where you're wrong. They can only maintain the environment of fear if the media conglomerates they pay publish the information they want rather than the "little guy hero" stories that have been showing up here lately.
        • by AusIV (950840)

          They can only maintain the environment of fear if the media conglomerates they pay publish the information they want rather than the "little guy hero" stories that have been showing up here lately.

          Not really. It may generate enough fear to prevent people from file sharing, but I'd hope someone would spend a couple hundred on a lawyer consultation before settling for several thousand. A lawyer (at least a half decent one) is going to research actual case records, rather than listening to the media conglome

      • Re:Missing The Point (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MathFox (686808) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:02PM (#18536759)

        Not really. The RIAA would certainly like to create an environment of fear, however if they lose cases and have to pay the defendants legal fees, more people will be willing to go to court. They can only maintain their environment of fear if they're winning their cases or getting settlements.
        Don't forget that a lawsuit costs the RIAA money (in lawyers fees). They can only recoup the costs when they win their cases. Every dropped lawsuit is a loss for the RIAA; double the loss if they have to pay the defendent's lawyer too.

        Slashdot and Groklaw analyses of RIAA "evidence" showed significant holes. It is unclear how much relevance the MediaSentry logs have, there are issues with time-stamping and dynamic IP addresses, shared (WiFi) networking, decoy mp3 files and last but not least no proof that the subscriber to the IP package was the one operating the sharing computer. The RIAA seems to ignore the possibility of remote control of a system. With so many holes in the evidence even the guilty can get out.

    • by geekoid (135745)
      "An individual doesn't, Individuals do."
    • by abb3w (696381)

      The RIAA doesn't care if a few individuals keep them in court for whatever liability they open themselves up to.

      Can you say "precedent," childen? Any first year law student can....

    • by gillbates (106458) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:46PM (#18537229) Homepage Journal

      The goal is to establish an environment of fear, such that most users are afraid to anything other than what the media conglomerates say is okay.

      And that, I believe, is the problem. I can no longer buy RIAA-parent-company DVDs and CDs in good conscience, because I know a portion of the proceeds will be used for suing women and children. And I think the impressions being formed are overwhelmingly negative. Where are the college students protesting, "Save the RIAA!"? Teenagers and college students are starting to believe that buying CDs will only fund lawsuits against the defenseless and poor.

      I understand their position regarding copyright infringement. But it is infringement, not theft, and certainly not murder on the high seas. Their strong-arm tactics make the entire industry look bad, and call into question the legitimacy of their cause. When such an entity chooses to pursue lawsuits on such frivolous evidence, one can only conclude that the real goal is not justice but merely the acquisition of additional wealth. First, they steal from the artist through oppressive and one-sided contracts, and now they are trying to extort money from those whom they believe will not have the resources to resist. When was the last time the RIAA filed a lawsuit against a millionaire?

      It just makes me sick. And the artists, of all people, stand to lose the most. Instead of buying from big labels, I've begun looking at the smaller, independent artists precisely because of the RIAA tactics.

      I wonder if they even considered the fact that dropping CD sales might be related to people unhappy with the fact that they are suing their customers. Unhappy customers tend not to be repeat buyers.

      • Ditto. I haven't purchased a non-indy CD or DVD in three years now as a result of the *AA's inane stunts. I suggest that others do the same.

        Or if you can't get rid of your addiction entirely, at least send a buck or two per disc purchased to the EFF or similar.

        Tell a friend.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by muuh-gnu (894733)
        > because I know a portion of the proceeds will be used for suing women and children

        And if it were only your fellow males, who get inanely sued for sharing, you wouldn't consider stopping buying CDs, even for a second?

        Hows that always only women and children are considered some "war crimes", even if the number of slaughtered males vastly outnumbers them? Why the fuck does having a penis more or less make you a free game in any type of conflict, so random idiots like the GP dont consider you a victim any
        • by bentcd (690786)
          Hows that always only women and children are considered some "war crimes", even if the number of slaughtered males vastly outnumbers them?
          It's probably biological. Children are important because we're hard-wired to want to protect children - it's probably a genetic imperative as much as anything. Women are important because they can give birth and so the ability of a population to recover from some great disaster is directly dependent upon the quantity of fertile women available. Men aren't that important b
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MoreDruid (584251)

      The goal is to establish an environment of fear, such that most users are afraid to anything other than what the media conglomerates say is okay. Better still, what's okay today can be wrong tomorrow. (emphasis mine)
      hmmm sounds awfully like what terrorists want to achieve. Only in this case Corporate America is behind it. So why exactly is this tolerated by the courts while some poor guy who just looks "wrong" will be harassed by various agencies?
  • by Steve B (42864) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:21PM (#18536133)
    This is an example of how corporate legal personhood is selectively interpreted to grant the positive benefits of being a person under the law while evading the negative consequences.

    For example, if an actual person filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit, eventually a judge would tell them that they have to quit wasting the court system's time with any more nonsense. If the RIAA were a real person, rather than a legal "person", this would have happened to it long ago.
    • by monopole (44023)
      Just as well the RIAA isn't a real person, in that if it were, it would probably resemble a combination of Satan, Freddie Kruger, Pinhead, Jason Voorhees and Jack Thompson, and when it wasn't suing dead people, children, and the paralyzed, it would be eating live kittens while mating with it's twin sibling the MPAA, in public.
    • by khallow (566160)
      No it's not. It's an example of how deep pockets can get a better outcome in court. IMHO a rich person with professional lawyers could get similar results. I don't know what the source of the "corporations stole the rights of people" movement is, but it is misguided in that it proposes to throw away a century or more of business law based on some feeble interpretation of that law which is shown to work quite well. I find it absurd.
  • by RidiculousPie (774439) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:22PM (#18536137)
    Surely in these cases the RIAA has admitted that they do not believe that they can secure a verdict against the defendant, so why should they be allowed to cease litigation while leaving the matter unsettled and the defendant out of pocket for legal and other expenses?

    I hope this ensures that the RIAA ensures that in future cases they have valid and sufficient evidence to proceed rather than filing such frivolous suits that waste time and money for all concerned.
  • Eternal Justice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:55PM (#18536669) Homepage Journal
    It's probably safe to presume that these new cases finding counterclaims allowed are of the same merit (or lack) as the ones that just totally dropped, and even found the defendants liable.

    What has changed? The laws are the same. The actions are the same.

    Maybe the judges are a little smarter now. Maybe the lawyers are a little smarter. But if I didn't get the same results as a defendant in the same circumstances a year or more ago, I'd want a new trial. It's not supposed to be my problem if the administrators of justice are too stupid to leave me alone with laws they don't understand.

    That's the new development I want to see: a retrial on the basis that maybe the courts aren't as stupid as they were when they decided against me.
    • Re:Eternal Justice (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:12PM (#18536847) Homepage

      It isn't a matter of a difference in court rulings. In most of the previous cases the defendants settled with the RIAA to avoid a court fight. The difference with these recent cases is that in them the defendants refused to settle and actually filed counterclaims and presented evidence and basically went forward with the actual court part of things. And as it turns out, the RIAA had as little case as we believed they had, and the defendants started to win. The people who decided to avoid the risk and settle have no legal grounds for complaint when people who were willing to take the risk are now winning. "But we could've won too!" is answered by "Yes, if you'd fought. But you didn't, did you?".

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        They might not have legal grounds to reopen the case. But how many of these random people, many teenagers or their parents, decided against their lawyers' advice to drop it rather than pursue the counterclaim? Very few, if any. Therefore what has changed is that their lawyers have gotten smarter. That such change isn't legal grounds for getting justice is injustice.
        • by asninn (1071320)
          We're talking about adults, though (for the most part), and while justice is important, I also think it's fair to expect adults to show some common sense when it comes to settlements. If you're entering a settlement, well, then keep in mind that it's a SETTLEMENT; the whole idea is that the issue is, well, settled that way. If you don't want to settle, don't enter a settlement.

          Of course, the legal system has certainly reached a point where it's impossible for a layperson to really make sense of everything w
          • by Ihlosi (895663)
            (On a side note, I never understood why people who're actually innocent settle, anyway. Yes, I know, a legal victory can be expensive, but if you're not guilty, then shouldn't you be able to recover your expenses when it becomes obvious that there was no actual evidence?)

            In the US, I'm afraid the answer to that question is a definite "maybe". If the cost of the settlement is significantly below (chance of recovering your legal expenses) * (expected legal expenses), the settlement might unfortunately be the

      • by Stormie (708)

        The people who decided to avoid the risk and settle have no legal grounds for complaint when people who were willing to take the risk are now winning. "But we could've won too!" is answered by "Yes, if you'd fought. But you didn't, did you?".
        Well, except that the overwhelming majority of the people who settled rather than fight were guilty.
  • Put Up, or Else (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:59PM (#18536731)
    To be told to Put-Up, or Shut-Up and Pay-Up, should have been said long ago. The idea that a well-funded adversary can bankrupt their opponent for daring to oppose them while the case never even makes it to trial is the worst part of the American system of justice.

    And while the defendants are at it, how long until someone calls the RIAA on their illegal joinder of John Doe defendants in the beginnings of these suits. Two years ago a judge told the RIAA to stop that, they they can't simply join unrelated defendants to save on their litigation costs, and the RIAA has blithely ignored that ruling and continued on their merry ways.

    And did anyone see The Bay City Rollers (60's/70's band) lawsuit against Sony for not paying royalties today? Sony's excuse: We lost your contract and didn't know how much to pay you, so we've given you nothing! Puts to lie the claim that filesharers are ripping off the artists. The record companies appear to be doing that just fine on their own.

    • by thewils (463314)
      Surely a better argument against the Bay City Rollers would be "What!!! you called that music!!!!"

      To those people who are too young to know of the Bay City Rollers I say - you lucky, lucky bastards.
      • by hondo77 (324058)
        Sorry but "Saturday Night" and their version of "I Only Want to Be With You" are great pop songs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kcbrown (7426)

      The idea that a well-funded adversary can bankrupt their opponent for daring to oppose them while the case never even makes it to trial is the worst part of the American system of justice.

      It's not a "justice system", it's a "legal system". That should make it clear who the system really serves.

  • It would seem as though the RIAA is getting quite a number of cases like this, IE: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/07/23 25204 [slashdot.org]
    On the surface, it seems like they're going down, and we may see an end to thier lawsuits

    Or, it might be a set-up for a massive media parade.
    They might continue the trend, but hold back evidence on purpose in a few cases. Then, BAM! hit back-to-back victories with careful planning, along with some careful media orchestration (particularly if you throw in words like
    • by rossz (67331)
      Holding back evidence, especially when used for tricky maneuvering in the court, is highly frowned upon by our legal system. There's something called full disclosure. Judges often exclude the held back evidence from being used.
    • by Dun Malg (230075)

      They might continue the trend, but hold back evidence on purpose in a few cases.
      Holding back evidence is a big no-no.
  • by ZoOnI (947423) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:43PM (#18537187)
    As a business that represents other companies it's in their best interest to create a profit and stop Internet piracy. They are trying a few greasy tricks to make money.
    1. Try and get standard settlements that more than recoup court costs, like the ridiculous $750 per song fines.
    2. Attack those who don't have the time and money to defend them selves like students.
    3. Yet another tactic is to try and blanket charge a whole lot of folks hoping some will cough up the money with no court date.
    4. Attack folks with little or no evidence hoping for an out of court settlement then back out if the defendant gets a lawyer.

    This is business at its worst. Someone should go after these guys with a class action suit or set up a fake file sharing site to lure them into a case they will lose.

    • The RIAA is a front (Score:4, Informative)

      by KwKSilver (857599) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:52AM (#18539683)
      RIAA is just a fictional front for the recording industry. It is acting as the legal agent of the recording companies. If the RIAA gets caught with its pants down in some of these cases, it makes sense that the victims should be able not only countersue the RIAA, but also Columbia, SONY--or whoever, as well. The person who hires an agent may be responsible for the agent's actions: if I hire you as a bodyguard, and then tell you to kill my ex-wife, I can and will be held just as responsible as you. The RIAA's pockets may not be that deep but SONY's et al. are. If the RIAA's puppet-masters get burned badly enough and frequently enough, they will drop this phony bullcrap. The recording indistry sales aren't falling because of piracy, they are falling because they dish up nothing but worthless shit. I haven't bought a CD in years, BUT I have never downloaded a single song--because I wouldn't pollute my hard-drive with that crap. The sooner the recording industry dies, the sooner real music will have a chance.
  • by kckman (885561)
    By promising not to pursue further litigation, does this mean that the defendants would be free to music share and download without fear?
    • Was a movie about this. Premise was, someone was convicted of killing her husband, went to prison, served a sentence, got out, and found he was alive -- but she'd already been convicted of killing him, so she was free to do that.

      I don't think that applies here for a couple of reasons. First, defendants were not found guilty, so no double jeopardy -- and also not found 'not guilty', yet. But more importantly, I imagine they count as different crimes -- not guilty for downloading it in 2005, but maybe guilty
      • by Builder (103701)
        And the main reason Double Jeopardy doesn't apply? Because it's a civil case not a criminal case!
    • by jimicus (737525)
      If a case of assault against you is dropped, does that mean you can now go and assualt whoever you like without fear?
  • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray AT beckermanlegal DOT com> on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:28AM (#18539475) Homepage Journal
    The RIAA lawyers seem to be confused. Last week they were adamantly fighting for their withdrawal of the case to be "without prejudice" -- i.e. so that they could pursue it again. This week they're willing to "covenant not to sue". It seems to me that they are just flaking out.
  • Somebody should figure out how much paper is used for each of the RIAAs cases, multiply that by the kajillion cases they've filed and call them out for destroying the rainforest!
  • by sunspot42 (455706) on Friday March 30, 2007 @03:48AM (#18540467)
    The RIAA is doomed. Why are they wasting any money on these idiotic lawsuits? Kids are now trading 60, 120, 160 and even 500GB drives full of mp3 or aac files, or even FLAC or Apple Lossless files. They don't even trade the files online anymore. They just pass whole drives around their circle of friends. They buy CDs used, rip 'em and then sell 'em back.

    Within a year or so 500GB drives will be selling for around $100. Even at 256kbps, that'll hold an immense music library. The RIAA's biggest customers - high school and college kids - will have easy access to terabytes of free music.

    It's over. Stick a fork in the record companies. They're done.

    The MPAA is next.

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