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Patti Santangelo v. RIAA May Be Over 138

Posted by Zonk
from the keep-the-faith-kids dept.
newtley writes "Odds are that Patti Santangelo, the RIAA case defendant and New York mother who has made a determined stand against the Big 4, may have won her battle to clear her name. She and her lawyer, Jordan Glass, have signed and submitted a stipulation to dismiss with prejudice the case lodged against her by the RIAA. US federal district court judge Colleen McMahon's language had earlier seemed to indicate it was time to end the farce, and the court had the power to entertain a motion for legal fees. Unfortunately, her two children are still 'in the line of fire' in the court room."
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Patti Santangelo v. RIAA May Be Over

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2007 @04:13PM (#18657403)
    She began singing "Ding dong, the witch is dead" which lead to the RIAA suing her again for a public performance of the song.
    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday April 08, 2007 @04:54PM (#18657671) Homepage
      BMI et al. would prosecute public performances, not the RIAA.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2007 @05:07PM (#18657753)
        Dude, this is Slashdot - stop being knowledgeable.
      • by joe_adk (589355) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:58PM (#18658789) Homepage
        BMI et al. is behind the first case. These cases wont go away until we start identifying them with the parent company, and not the RIAA. They already laughed off being named "Worst Company In America 2007." Being hated and feared is heir plan. This way the record companies can hide behind their little monster and not get the bad publicity. I wish slashdot and other sites would stop posting about the RIAA and start posting about the parent companies. This article should be "Patti Santangelo v. Elektra Entertainment Group, Virgin Records America, UMG Recordings, BMG Music and Sony BMG Music Entertainment May Be Over."

        I guess we could shorten the company names for readability.
        • by shark72 (702619) on Monday April 09, 2007 @12:45AM (#18660155)

          "BMI et al. is behind the first case. These cases wont go away until we start identifying them with the parent company, and not the RIAA."

          BMI is a performance rights society. Like ASCAP, they are run by and for songwriters, composers, and publishers. They are not a record company, and were not "behind" the RIAA suit by any stretch. Thus, the GP's joke about BMI going after her for singing "Ding, Dong...": if you want to perform a songwriter's work, you pay the songwriter by licensing it through BMI/ASCAP; you don't pay the record company.

          BMI/ASCAP and the RIAA look after different people. BMI/ASCAP represent the artists; the RIAA represents the record companies.

          Nota bene that BMI/ASCAP are normally the "good guys" while the record labels are the "bad guys." But, this changes whenever people get wind of BMI/ASCAP shaking down a bar or restaurant owner who neglects to buy a performance license. It seems that we're okay with artists having rights; we just don't want artists to exercise those rights.

        • Lets see

          Elektra Entertainment Group
          Virgin Records America
          UMG Recordings
          BMG Music
          Sony BMG Music Entertainment

          Thats "E", "V", "U", "B" and "S"

          ummm how about V.U.B.E.S ?

          Short and sweet <VBG>

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by ericdano (113424)
      Upon which she was slapped another lawsuit for not giving the copyright hold royalities for a public performance of the song.
  • With hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobertM1968 (951074) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @04:18PM (#18657445) Homepage Journal
    With hope, this will be the beginning of a trend, especially if this case can be used as precedent against the RIAA on other cases. The RIAA will hopefully realize that it is time to stop bringing frivilous lawsuits with shoddy evidence against the public. One can hope anyway...
  • Woohoo! (Score:4, Funny)

    by priestx (822223) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @04:30PM (#18657525) Homepage
    i had a dream that the RIAA busted into the shower cause i was singing too loud
  • Hey. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @04:33PM (#18657537)
    Where's the NewYorkCountryLawyer when you need him.
  • by bhuga (1061382) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @04:33PM (#18657539)
    While this case is important, it has little to do with a standard RIAA case. She's probably going to get attorney's fees not because of the merits of her case in particular, but because the RIAA did not drop the lawsuit against her after it was made rather clear that her children were the more likely culprits, which the judge considered harassment (my words; read the motions/rulings). The motions for attorney's fees are quite clear on this.

    That being said, there are some significantly more important cases going on for the likes of the everyday file sharer. In particular, Ray Beckerman finally managed to depose the RIAA's expert witness in UMG vs Lindor, and, while not absolutely crushing him, showed him to be a very poor witness on which to build an airtight case. The outcome of that case could have a huge impact on how these cases are done in the future. A disastrous result for UMG might well discourage further lawsuits. Before you get excited, though, that case is months from being solved.

    In addition, there are some other cases going in which the defendants might get fees on their own merits, but they need some time to resolve. It's amazing, but these cases are the first ones that might actually go to a trial.

    Beckerman's blog, which is great reading for those interested in this stuff, is http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

    Bhuga
    • by RyanFenton (230700) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @05:22PM (#18657821)
      Well, the danger for the RIAA is that this sets precedents not that stop them from pursuing their current path, but that it makes that path more statistically more expensive to follow. If they can expect to be successfully counter sued a given (even small)percentage of the time based on blind accusations, not only does that make their strategy more expensive in all likelyhood, it also spreads less fear.

      It's like a despot who makes money by demanding it of his neighbors, otherwise he sends his slaves off to explode in their town centers. If his neighbors learn that it is possible to identify and send these slaves back home before they explode in some cases (but not always), then this despot's income and power mechanisms are potentially at risk. His neighbors may in fact be able to join together at this point and find more ways of stopping him. That, and the rich nobles (Sir Sony, Sir BMG, et al) who finance this horrible dictator may finally realize the problems of spending so much money on propping up such a horrible dictator just to maintain the value of their positions, as their own bombs start to blow up in their own faces.

      Ryan Fenton
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Volante3192 (953645)
      While it might not help set legal precident, it might make the RIAA more cautious in the future on who it goes after and continues to go after, which is still a plus.

      Why they continued pursuing this case after finding out her children were the more likely culprits I can only imagine; they should have realized this case would not go their way after that but instead they kept trying. Maybe they thought they could still win? Or maybe they felt pulling out would be even worse? I can only speculate.

      Regardless
    • I disagree with the part about "not absolutely crushing him".

      His testimony is now inadmissible in court.

      How much more "crushed" can you get?

      I don't take credit for the crushing; his own carelessness and lack of integrity is what crushed him.

      He's a fake.

      • by theckhd (953212)

        His testimony is now inadmissible in court.

        Wow, I read most of the testimony when it was posted on /., but I must have missed that part. How did that come about? Did the judge decide that based on his testimony he wasn't an expert at all, or that his methods were so shoddy that his testimony was irrelevant?

        I would imagine that discrediting expert witnesses is a common tactic in the courtroom, but how common is it for that tactic to succeed, at least to the level that testimony becomes inadmissible?

        Also, d

        • It hasn't been decided by the judge, yet. But there are certain well-defined standards for admissibility, and Dr. J's testimony flunked them all.
  • by mutube (981006) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @04:37PM (#18657577) Homepage
    Patti Santangelo v. RIAA May Be Over ...in Space [slashdot.org].

    My work here is done.
  • by zymano (581466) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @04:55PM (#18657677)
    The Riaa makes the rules so they set the standards.

    How would you like it if you weren't allowed to take photographs or pay HUGE fines?

    How about going to the library and copying a magazine artice with the xerox?

    The Riaa still has the original copies.

    I know I will lose this one with all the software people on slash.

    But it's NOT theft in any conventional meaning and saying so is lying. Pure spin by the Riaa and software copyright holders.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Todd Knarr (15451)

      It's close enough to theft for practical purposes. The essence of theft is depriving the legal owner of the benefits of possessing the item. The primary benefit of copyright ownership is the ability to control the distribution of copies and thus get paid for those copies. Copyright infringement, to one degree or another depending on the scale, deprives the copyright owner of the primary benefit of their ownership. In short, the work hasn't been stolen but the money that would be paid for copies of that work

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It's close enough to theft for practical purposes.

        Well, aren't you just the lawyerly one -- "close enough for practical purposes", shit. Listen up, asshole, this is law, not woodshop.

        Theft and copyright infringement are two distinct offenses. Only one is written in the charges. Which one do you think that would be?

        If I slap you in the face (get your ass over here!!!), no one is going to go into court charging me wth attempted murder -- the charge will read "battery", no matter how loud you bleat to the con

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rohan972 (880586)
        In short, the work hasn't been stolen but the money that would be paid for copies of that work has, and that is theft.

        No, the money hasn't been stolen. You can't show a change to your account as a result of copyright infringement. If you can't show a reduction of inventory or a change in account balances, how can there have been theft?

        If something has been stolen from you, you can tell by looking at your stuff, counting it, and itemising the things missing. With copyright infringement you can't do thi
        • Okay. You know there has been copyright infringement of work you own the copyright to. Your bank account has not changed because of this infringement. But your biz is to sell copies of that copyrighted material; therefore, if there had been no infringement, there probably would have been a change to that bank account--namely, more money rolling in from the copies that would've been bought and not, um, copied.
          The big problem, if you are someone who believes in fighting copyright infringement, is that yo
          • by rohan972 (880586)
            The big problem, if you are someone who believes in fighting copyright infringement, is that you can't prove the bank account should have changed.

            No, that's the big problem for people who want to convince everyone that copyright infringement is theft. For people who want to "fight" copyright infringement (perhaps you mean "enforce copyright law") the problem is to prove that there have been copies made illegally. You do not have to prove financial damage to prove copyright infringement. The real challeng
      • by asuffield (111848)

        It's close enough to theft for practical purposes. The essence of theft is depriving the legal owner of the benefits of possessing the item.

        Which is why "property is theft" - any private property is depriving all other people of the benefits of the item in question. This is particularly true for items with a near-zero cost of reproduction. "Intellectual property" is stealing from the public.

        The essential thing about this concept is not its objective validity, but that it is equally as valid as the RIAA's po

        • by Todd Knarr (15451)

          I'd say "Wrong.". Your position assumes that J. Random Individual has a right to ownership of that item in the first place. That isn't the case. They have rights to specific items, but not to any arbitrary item in general. I don't happen to agree that, just because I worked to obtain or discover something, every other person in the world who didn't suddenly gets an ownership right to it.

          • by asuffield (111848)

            I don't happen to agree that, just because I worked to obtain or discover something, every other person in the world who didn't suddenly gets an ownership right to it.

            So you deny both positions - that the RIAA is entitled to some 'ownership' rights over things obtained or discovered by other people, and that other random individuals are entitled to them. That is consistent with what I said.

            Either both the RIAA and their targets are morally reprehensible, or neither is. That's the whole point. It doesn't mat

        • Any property at all may be theft?
          Just out of curiosity, who owns your computer?
    • The Riaa still has the original copies...

      But it's NOT theft
      Some day in the hopefully-non-fictional future, people that start the annoying "it isn't theft if the other person still has their copy" debate will remember that they're wrong [wikipedia.org].
      • I don't get your point. Services are finite. When one uses services illegally, the supplier loses the cost of supplying said service, as well as the opportunity to sell the same service to another.

        I don't see what this has to do with copying cds.
  • She and her lawyer, Jordan Glass, have signed and submitted a stipulation to dismiss with prejudice the case lodged against her by the RIAA

    This means that her lawyer filed a motion to dismiss, which is a common practice. Federal judges often issue threats of sorts at parties which are dragging at the process, often ones for dismissal or default, which they are legally allowed to apply at their discretion in situations like this. So at minimum, the judge now has to decide whether to dismiss, the timetab
  • Are absolutely ridiculous.

    Fine them the cost of the product if the individual keeps the item.

    How could you sue someone that exaggerated amount? The legal system has been blinded by the Riaa.
    • by hxnwix (652290)
      I dunno, maybe for the deterrent effect?
      • by EzInKy (115248)

        I dunno, maybe for the deterrent effect?


        That worked well with Prohibition, didn't it? When enough people want to do something no law is going to stop them.
         
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Boogaroo (604901)
        The deterrent effect is only part of the reason.

        The other reason is that you'd have to reliably find and sue all infringers if you ever wanted to be paid.(Not that there's a whole lot of reliability with the RIAA's current methods)

        Downloaders would never have a reason to purchase something outright if they only had to pay $.99 for every song downloaded IF they got caught AND successfully sued.
    • Re:The fines (Score:5, Insightful)

      by McFadden (809368) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:33PM (#18658627)

      How could you sue someone that exaggerated amount? The legal system has been blinded by the Riaa.
      Unless I'm very much mistaken, you can sue someone for whatever amount you want. It's then up to you to *prove* that you deserve what you're asking for. This has nothing to do with any blindness on the part of the legal system. In many cases, the litigant may ask for a disproportionate level of restitution in order to scare the defendant into settling early and minimize the risk of severe financial damage. I'd say it's a fairly common tactic.
      • statutory damages

        copyright infringement is one of the few civil cases where they the law as written means they do not have to show actual damages, rather can sue for an obscene amount PER SONG!

        it's crazy, and deterrent effects are minmimal....
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Sunday April 08, 2007 @05:48PM (#18657945) Homepage

    New York mother who has made a determined stand against the Big 4, may have won her battle to clear her name.

    I'd like to point attention to the words I emphasized above... Clear hear name of what? Is it, after all, a shameful act to infringe on somebody else's copyrights and to treat their creation in a way, they did not want it to be treated?

    This woman, apparently, has not done it, so her name is clear. But the /. continues to pretend, there would've been nothing wrong in her actions, even if she has...

    Her children, very likely, have done it, yet the same author, who slipped into admitting, there is something to clear one's name of here, is describing their fate ("in the line of fire") with puzzling sympathy...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd like to point attention to the words I emphasized above... Clear hear name of what? Is it, after all, a shameful act to infringe on somebody else's copyrights and to treat their creation in a way, they did not want it to be treated?

      Huh? What has "shamefulness" got to do with it? She was being sued. The court looks set to clear her of having committed a tort. That's a big deal to most people.

      Her children, very likely, have done it

      Wow. I'll be judge, I'll be jury said cunning old Mi. Where the hell did y

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nevali (942731)
      It was very obvious from very early on that she hadn't infringed any of the copyrights they were talking about, and their 'expert' witness was the final nail in the coffin that was their case.

      So, to answer your question, 'clear her name of being wrongfully accused of mass copyright infringement', which is a perfectly reasonable and proper thing for her to do.

      The sympathy for the kids is largely based on the fact that the RIAA don't and haven't ever cared whether somebody is guilty of what they've been accus
    • The issue is less the infringement and more the strongarm tactics used by the RIAA lawyers in trying to force her into a settlement and admission of guilt. The "proof" offered is marginal, there appears to be an assumption of guilt vs. the presumption of innocence, and at the first whiff that the case wasn't going their way, they attempt to drop it (without prejudice, so they could re-open once the PR has died down?) so as not to have any failed cases show up as a possible precedent against the other activ
      • by cdrguru (88047)
        As far as I know, the RIAA does not sue or do anything with "downloaders". If you are downloading and not sharing there is virtually nothing they can do about it. There isn't a good way to identify these people and no clear trail that they downloaded anything at all.

        However, uploading means that your IP address and computer can be identified by a simple search. They can then find out the entire catalog of what you are sharing with the world at large. If there is a large enough quantity being shared you
  • This is just an overall observation of the RIAA's/members strategy:

    Sue and scare the filesharers *without* draining the RIAA finances with attorneys salaries. Basically beef up the legal department and keep it profitable.

    With these marching orders, RIAA's chief counsel laid out the, now well known plan, to extort $3k-$4K with little effort, and use this revenue to fund the operation.

    This plan has worked very well until now, but with a little resistance from the defendants it will fail, and it looks like tha
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:13PM (#18658073) Journal
    The RIAA (and the MPAA and the BSA and others too numerous to mention) are all equating copyright infringement not only with theft, but murder and mayhem by calling copyright infringers "pirates". The RIAA makes copyright infringement sound worse than eating babies. Real pirates kill people [nationmedia.com].

    To this layman it sounds like slander.

    Can she sue for slander? If so, can she win?
    • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Monday April 09, 2007 @12:44AM (#18660149) Homepage
      No, not really. If you actually look at the etymology of the word 'pirate,' you'll find that authors have been using it in this context for at least a century before copyright law even existed, which was back in the golden age of the 'arr matey' sort of pirates. If they had had to coin an equivalent word today, with the same emotional impact, it would probably be 'terrorists.'

      Since they've been doing it for about 400 years, there's little chance of getting anywhere with complaints now.

    • by shark72 (702619)

      "Can she sue for slander? If so, can she win?"

      You could've saved yourself the trouble by typing "dict pirate" or "dict piracy" into your Firefox toolbar.

      Odds are that your great, great, great grandparents were familiar with the multiple definitions of this homonym.

    • Pirates was a self chosen word by the infringers going wayyyyy back.

      First usage was in the 1600's but it was very popular in cracker/hacker culture in the 80's when I was a young pup "pirating" games for our network gaming group. (Usually one or two legit copies but we were so poor we could not afford it. Then the game companies got wise and started making network copies where you could get 2-4 playable copies as long as they could find a legit copy on the network- then we bought the games since we could
      • The term "copyright piracy" has a well known meaning in copyright law. It means large scale, wholesale copying of entire works for commercial resale.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:25PM (#18658163)
    The american music industry has terrorized and pirated artist's creativity/music for long enough. Cut off their funding :

    http://www.riaaradar.com/zeitgeist_topamazonsafe.a sp [riaaradar.com]
    • by zoftie (195518)
      mod parent up, and distribute the url to your non-internet wielding friends, make a few printouts :)

      bandwidth is near free and bands don't need the riaa cartel anymore. just telecom cartel. hopefully obama is going to be elected and jolt them good.
    • by illumin8 (148082)

      The american music industry has terrorized and pirated artist's creativity/music for long enough. Cut off their funding :
      Dear Sir,

      Thank you for this list of artists. I will now proceed to buy all of their albums on allofmp3.com...
  • One of the worst ways to do things is this "scatter gun prosecution" mode that the RIAA runs in. And the RIAA should check its facts before it goes after people without knowing with a reasonable certainty that they have the right party.

    However, in this instance, there is something I don't understand. The basic argument seems to be that it was her children, and not her, that were sharing the songs, thus she shouldn't be the one that is sued.

    But at the same time, in the US one is responsible for the actions
    • by candude43 (998769)

      ...
      Further, when she signed up for internet access from her provider, I'm sure she also agreed to the standard "what happens on your account is your responsibility, even if its someone else in your household" blurbs.
      ...
      That's a contract between her and her ISP. The RIAA isn't a party to that contract, and couldn't use it to make her responsible for someone else's use of the account. The ISP could, but not anyone else.
      • by davmoo (63521)
        Good point, I hadn't thought of that. I can sleep better now knowing I'm not defending the RIAA :-)
    • by cdrguru (88047)
      I've not seen any ISP agreement that has a clause in it that says the account holder is responsible for activity on the account.

      You would think, especially in the case of minor children. that someone needs to be responsible. Apparently not.

      This pretty much leaves the RIAA and folks in the position of suing an IP address that may or may not belong to any real individual. Apparently, they then try to gain access to a computer to "depose" it through forensic examination. And if they find nothing then obviou
    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      The catch is that the RIAA is suing under copyright law. They sued her for direct infringement, and tried to keep her in the suit on direct infringement, and copyright law says that you cannot be held liable for direct infringement unless you personally infringed. It doesn't make an exception for children. So in this particular case the specific details of copyright law trump the general principles that apply elsewhere.

      Note that if the RIAA had dropped her from the suit when it filed suit against her kids,

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