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RIAA Says Accused Students Are Settling 345

As we've been reporting, the RIAA has been offering settlements to college students suspected of sharing music online. Reader Weather Storm notes that more than a quarter of the alleged music pirates have accepted the RIAA's offer. Quoting: " attorney Ohio University arranged to meet with its students... said $3,000 is the standard settlement offer, though cases have settled for as much as $5,000."
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RIAA Says Accused Students Are Settling

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:36PM (#18482965)
    Because it has been about 3 weeks since that campus wallet inspector took mine.
  • hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mowie_X ( 600765 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:36PM (#18482969) Homepage
    What choice do they have but to settle really? Unfortunately the RIAA can throw mountains of money into any legal proceeding, what's Joe Pirate to do :) ?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:44PM (#18483035)
      Even the innocent will settle. The only people who stand a chance are those who are so obviously innocent that the RIAA case against them is ridiculous. If you're a 95 year old illiterate, non-computer-owner there is still a chance that the RIAA will come after you because somebody with the same name lives within twenty miles of you. The RIAA will continue to push the charges even after they should know they have no basis because most people won't/can't afford to fight back.

      If there is ANY chance that you could be guilty, you don't stand a chance no matter how innocent you are.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by E8086 ( 698978 )
        agreed, it seems very difficult to cheaply prove that you are innocent, everyone's guilty in the eyes of the MAFIAA
        RIAA: points and yells "WITCH" multiple times at the top of their lungs
        not yet accused of anything defendant: no I'm not
        RIAA: yes you are, media sentry(or whoever their bounty hunters are these days) said you are
        not yet accused of anything defendant: well, they're wrong
        followed by lot of "yes you are" "no I'm not"

        While at college I heard that lots of file was sharing going on, but never saw it
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by jez9999 ( 618189 )
          they can't even produce a mac address

          Hello, I'm a Mac.
          And I'm a PC.

          PC, did you know the RIAA are filing lawsuits against a lot of people these days?
          Yes, and quite rightly so! Good job getting rid of those evil pirates!

          Um, but people using me don't get caught.
          Gadzooks! Why not?

          Because the RIAA can't produce mac addresses.
    • Re:hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:07PM (#18483237)
      Yeah, I don't see why the RIAA is bragging about this. It seems more like a great example of their rampant abuse of the legal system and young people. If you have a team of lawyers that you spend tens of millions of dollars on each year sending me a threat that you will take me to court for millions of dollars unless I pay you $5,000 -- I'm going to pay you the $5,000. No matter how justified I may feel I am and no matter how completely innocent of any accusation I may be, the $5,000 is probably a tenth the cost I will end up spending on a lawyer and there is little chance that lawyer will be able to appropriately defend me against a team of lawyers who spend $5,000 on their combined lunches.

      As I've said before, guilt and innocent have nothing to do with the law. It's all about who can afford the best lawyer. And, unfortunately, in most cases it's a matter of who can afford a lawyer *period*. That is the same reason that only famous and rich people can afford to go to court when someone slanders or libels them or violates their copyrights. Who wants to spend the thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars to take someone to court who has a big, fat, malicious mouth but no money with which to compensate even when you win?

      So, when it comes down to it, monetary status dictates that the RIAA is correct and the accused are - indeed - guilty.
      • Re:hrmm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Gazzonyx ( 982402 ) <scott,lovenberg&gmail,com> on Monday March 26, 2007 @12:14AM (#18484181)

        If you have a team of lawyers that you spend tens of millions of dollars on each year sending me a threat that you will take me to court for millions of dollars unless I pay you $5,000 -- I'm going to pay you the $5,000. No matter how justified I may feel I am and no matter how completely innocent of any accusation I may be, the $5,000 is probably a tenth the cost I will end up spending on a lawyer and there is little chance that lawyer will be able to appropriately defend me against a team of lawyers who spend $5,000 on their combined lunches.

        I understand this, and I think that's how most people view it. I was, however, thinking about this the other night, and I think that if they sent me a letter, I'd fight it. I don't steal anything anymore (within the spirit of the law, sometimes not within the letter (I have multiple backups of CDs I've bought, stuff like that)) - I'm a Christian. Although I did, admittingly, have a shady past. However, stealing was the least of my crimes.

        I would have to get the money from somewhere, or I would represent myself. I know, anyone representing themselves has a fool for their council... But, I would fight it for a few reasons. I don't like being called a criminal; especially by cowards. I don't think you should take the credit or the blame for something you didn't do unless it is for the good of the greater. Furthermore, I think that I could, strictly on technical grounds, defend myself quite well. I'm confident in my skills (Software development major), and I could probably rip apart any 'expert' who would allow themselves to be hired by the RIAA. They would probably beat me into the ground on the political front, although, I think that I could use my technical ability and the hacker (not cracker!)community as a great platform. I could easily show that I have no motive; I use Ruckus [] and have all the free music I'd like. Lastly, I have a rack of all the original CD's I've bought, (except one which I lost years ago, although I have the album in MP3 - spirit of the law, not letter) as well as my email reciepts for the music I've bought on iTunes.

        I just don't think they could really establish me as a pirate. It would take a lot to try to make up that pattern of behavior. That, and, if I got a letter, it would be a wrongful accusation since I don't pirate to begin with.

        But mostly, I just couldn't live with myself if I backed down to a bully. Granted, I'd most likely lose, but I'd still know that I showed more spine than a good percentage of the populace. I guess it boils down to it being a personal issue. I guess it would be worth it for me to lose everything I have (broke college student: all I really own is old hardware that I keep fixing to get by) simply to send the RIAA the message that not everyone is spineless, and not everyone is a criminal. What do you do when confronted by bullies? Drop the biggest one as fast as possible and hope the rest leave. As the quote goes, "nothing asserts authority so much as silence".

        I understand those who buckle simply because they really do have something to lose; sometimes what you stand for has to take a back seat to providing for your family. The idealist would say no, but we can all be extorted when the right pressure point is found. I happen to be in a position where I can't afford $3K, I don't really have any possessions; for me giving in would be a 'loss', whereas fighting and losing in court would be more akin to a 'tie'.

        I guess it's a matter of heart in a head-on collision with the reality of the world we live in. I'm sure I'd fold if they could find the right button to push; but it's very unlikely at this point in time.

    • Re:hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by Cheapy ( 809643 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:14PM (#18483289)
      what's Joe Pirate to do :) ?

      Live a life on the seas and shoot cannonballs into the RIAA's headquarters?
      • Re:hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dreadknought ( 324674 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:19PM (#18483755)
        Live a life on the seas and shoot cannonballs into the RIAA's, Sony's, BMG's, et al headquarters?

        There, fixed that for you. We have to remember to target more of our hatred at the record companies themselves, rather than the RIAA, otherwise the record companies get off scot free.
        • by Cheapy ( 809643 )
          No one fixes a pirate and lives.

          Prepare to be boarded.
        • The RIAA isn't even the one doing the suing, either - and indeed, the record companies love this, because the perception is that the RIAA are the bad guys.

          But let's look closely. The 7 year old girl being sued.

          Question? Is it:

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

          It's actually B. So why is the RIAA getting all the hatred, but not Atlantic Records? The RIAA is merely a smokescreen in this.
      • Hooray for the Crimson Permanent Assurance []!
    • Screaming Failure! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by twitter ( 104583 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:24PM (#18483803) Homepage Journal

      What choice do they have but to settle really?

      75% decided not to settle. I'd say fighting is the overwhelming popular choice.

      • Fighting? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by remmelt ( 837671 )
        Are they fighting the accusation in a court of law or are they just ignoring it for the bs that it is? I'd like to see the former, but the latter seems more appropriate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      For a contrary view, let me remind you of the following facts:
      1. The RIAA doesn't know who they are.
      2. The RIAA may never find out who they are.
      3. The RIAA's "settlements" are one-sided harmful documents that are nonnegotiable.

      If I were a student receiving a letter, I would do the following:
      -bring to the attention of the college's administration and legal counsel's office my Open Letter to Universities Targeted by the RIAA [];
      -band together with other students who've also received letters, pool our fina

  • Why...Why would a prominent university like Ohio St. bow down to the RIAA?
  • by Scoria ( 264473 ) <> on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:38PM (#18482981) Homepage
    Many college students live off of credit cards and have no time for anything else. Consequently, without neither the time nor the financial resources to defend themselves, they are a vulnerable group. As former college students, the RIAA attorneys almost certainly know that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake ( 615356 )
      Many college students live off of credit cards and have no time for anything else. Consequently, without neither the time nor the financial resources to defend themselves, they are a vulnerable group

      and the solution to the problem of having too much time and not enough money is increasing your exposure on the P2P nets?

      as opposed, to say, subscribing to an on-campus music service?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fordiman ( 689627 )
        Depends on your aversion to risk. Chances are, you won't get caught.
    • Got to say they seem to have lots of time to listen to and upload music. The one case they mentioned involved 787 individual files uploaded. That's a lot of music the person was uploading onto the web. To put things into perspective they aren't offering $3,000 to $5,000 settlements to people that uploaded or downloaded a couple of songs they seem to be going after cronic abusers. It's impossible to tell for sure without more numbers given but that seems to be the case. Uploading 787 songs borders on a side
    • by fyoder ( 857358 )
      And a lot of students are assisted or have their way paid by parents. These same parents would probably be the ones footing legal bills if things went to court, so in a lot of instances I suspect it should read 'student's parents choose to settle'. Still, would hate to be making that phone call... "Uh, dad? Guess what?... Hey, I don't only call when I want money... So what do I want? Well, it's like this..."
      • IANAL, but if the students are over 18, I don't think the RIAA can garnish the parents' wages or go after their assets. They would have to go after the assets of the student which in most cases is likely to be a big fat zero. Since many full time students don't actually work or have assets I think it might be difficult for them to collect say, a million dollars or even $10,000 plus their legal costs. Even if there were wages to garnish, there are practical (and legal?) limits to what (unbribed) judges are w
    • credit cards that couldn't be used to.. you know.. BUY music?
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:39PM (#18482993) Journal
    Mr Orwell, you were right.... sadly

    "Reasonable data retention policies are essential," he said. "Lawsuits for music theft are just one example, but there are a host of other crimes regularly perpetrated on computer networks.

    "As services providers, one would think universities would understand the need to retain these records."

    This only goes to highlight what I believe is the governments complicity in the **AA litigation activities.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by QuantumG ( 50515 )
      man, what the fuck does that have to do with the warning against the "ideal society" promise of communism and its incompatibility with human nature that was the center point of the work entitled 1984 and a number of other works by Orwell?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zappepcs ( 820751 )
        Well, the antithesis to the litigation phalanx of the **AA is for all of us to simply pony up $4000 USD and then begin copying and sharing as desired. The point of my comment was that they are urging people to keep records of ALL activity, not just file sharing.

        That little bit of 'keep records on all users activity' information belies the fact that file sharing is not all that the people behind this farce are after. Welcome to 1984. When they begin mandating by law that all user activity is logged, you, me,
    • Re:Sig (Score:2, Funny)

      by RealGrouchy ( 943109 )

      Lets have a -1, humornotappreciated moderation!

      If you appreciate us Humornauts, then why would you want to mark us -1?

      - RG>
  • by bluemonq ( 812827 ) * on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:39PM (#18482995)
    ...what now? Options:

    1) Find a lawyer to defend you; worry about the final verdict; worry about legal fees; worry about what your friends think; worry about possible ramifications from your school administration/student nauseum...

    2) Pony up the money, which, upon consideration, is probably less than the credit card debt you've managed to rack up.

    Honestly, I'm not sure I can blame them for their choice.
    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      1) Take photograph of your balls

      2)Mail photograph to RIAA
  • I have a question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:50PM (#18483089) Homepage
    If "More than a quarter of the alleged music pirates have accepted the RIAA's offer", what are the other 74.9% doing?
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 )
      wild guess: having a good laugh and throwing the notice in the nearest wastepaper bin.
    • what are the other 74.9% doing?

      What's right. Extortionists should be jailed, not paid.

  • Protection Money (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FiniteElementalist ( 1073824 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:53PM (#18483113)
    People paid protection money to organized crime outfits too, it really shouldn't be that surprising. Not always worth protecting your money and pride in the face of such potential troubles.

    Unfortunately, the RIAA is operating under the guise of lawfulness, and has its hands in the lawmaking process. Hopefully the efforts they are going through to kill their market will cause change for the better.
  • Let's do this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:55PM (#18483127) Homepage Journal
    Let's just start a big campaign to email RIAA members songs to the execs of the RIAA. After a few million from domains/users that don't even exist, that should exaust a lot of their time/money. They'll never see it coming.
  • by GFree ( 853379 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:55PM (#18483129)

    $3,000 is the standard settlement offer, though cases have settled for as much as $5,000

    Maybe the RIAA should advertise their pricing scheme to the students, give them some flexibility in their settlements.

    "Now see, you can settle for the average $3,000, but if you wish to upgrade to our premium settlement plan of $5,000, we'll also throw in a one-month litigation immunity from our friends at the MPAA. Think of the savings!"
  • iTunes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:00PM (#18483177) Journal
    Today I was in a bar and a middle aged couple I know were asking me about their computer. She works for a local public school and needed to access her school email account. She thought since they were Apple and she had Dell she needed some sort of specialized Apple software to check ger mail (hang in there, this really is on topic). She uses Yahoo's web based mail at home. I explained that email was email and computer brand had nothing to do with it and she just needed an email client and suggested Thunderbird.

    Then she asked about Kazaa. I suggested Morpheus because you can download your music into a folder other than her shared folder, and explained the RIAA lawsuits and how the music industry had the world's sleaziest people.

    They had been bar owners and had had dealings with ASCAP, who wanted money from both them AND the kareoke people. They wanted money even after they got rid of the bar!

    Amyway, it turns out that they were using iTunes at her school; she thought iTunes and Kazaa were the same! Most normal people (not you or me, obviously) have no clue about any of this shit.

    They know all about how our government is for sale to the RIAA, though, having been bar owners before.

    Don't these damned college kids vote? Look, if you don't vote, get off my lawn you damned kids!
    • by msimm ( 580077 )
      I think I like the general tone. But I'll have to have a few drink before I'll be sure I can decipher that properly. (:
    • Re:iTunes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:48PM (#18483505) Homepage

      Don't these damned college kids vote? Look, if you don't vote, get off my lawn you damned kids!

      Sure. But who are we supposed to vote for?
      • by Sj0 ( 472011 )
        I guess the NDP would be the best bet for copyright reform, though it's something I wouldn't think the Bloc would be against doing. I doubt the Liberals or Conservatives could do much more than they have, and most of that is bowing early to the demands of the RIAA, giving an excuse to tell them to fuck themselves now that they're going around suing people.

        Oh, you mean the banana republic. No clue.
    • Kazzaa? Morpheus? What is this, some kind of time-warp?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by quokkapox ( 847798 )

      Today I was in a bar and a middle aged couple I know were asking me about their computer.

      1977 pickup line: So, what's your sign?
      2007 pickup line: So, you have an Apple or Dell?

      1977 closing time: So, you wanna come back to my place?
      2007 closing time: So, you wanna come back to my place and reconfigure my email?

      Creepy, if you ask me.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:03PM (#18483209) Homepage
    We need a group of lawyers of our own who will take up as many of these defense cases as possible and to prevent people from settling with the RIAA. These people are successfully making a lot of money through this activity. We need the Anti-RIAA to shut these thugs down by whatever means possible. Getting the members disbarred would be best I think since, in my opinion/guessing, they are breaking all kinds of lawyer-rules in doing what they are doing.
  • Rachet? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by at_slashdot ( 674436 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:04PM (#18483215)
    "If you don't pay our well paid lawyers will destroy you" -- this sounds like a racket to me.

    And actually the bad part is not (only) the organization who tries to extort the money this way I think the real problem is the judicial system that doesn't give poor people a fighting chance.
  • So ya see, Jimmy.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nemus ( 639101 ) <> on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:05PM (#18483225) Journal
    Fires do happen. It's a sad thing, when a man's business burns down: can't feed his wife, can;t feed his kids, hell, what if he's caught inside? A man could die, couldn't he? But maybe, if you work with us, we can make sure you don't have any fires, eh Jimmy?

    You are breaking the law, Jimmy. It's a sad thing, when a man breaks the law: can't get a job, gets kicked out of school, hell, what if he has to go to jail? A man could go away for a long, long time, couldn't he? But maybe, if you work with us, we can make sure that you don't get convicted of breaking any law, eh Jimmy?

    Create a situation in which the illegal alternative is preferable to the legal alternative. Sue those that break the law. Convince them to settle, using the rest as "examples," to get other people to fear you.

    Why hasn't anyone used RICO and extortion laws against the RIAA? Am I the only one that sees this? Yeah, these guys are breaking a law: but the RIAA is running a racket here, and is exhtorting and blackmailing these kids. So send em to court, get the law changed to something sane, and sue the pants off the RIAA under RICO, or something similar.

    • by Valar ( 167606 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:54PM (#18483555)
      The difference, despite your cleverly constructed textual parallelism, is that the mafia threatens you with violence or arson which are illegal and no fault of your own as the victim. The RIAA is "threatening" to enforce their rights under our laws. It is your fault if you are illegally infringing on their copyrights. You don't like it, protest it, but calling it "extortion" is muddying the waters in the same way that equating theft and copyright infrigement do.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The problem with your reasoning, though, is that many people don't believe the RIAA would win in court (most of the time), and I don't think the RIAA is too confident either. They are basing entire lawsuits on a single IP address with little more to go on, and some of their methods are very questionable. And indeed, in the cases where people have refused to settle and gone on to try to put up a fight in court, the RIAA has often backed down.

        However, most people fear going to court against the RIAA because o
      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @12:18AM (#18484199)
        Suppose I'm innocent. Suppose I never did what they claim I did. There's all kinds of reasons why they could improperly target me. Maybe the P2P program identified the wrong person as the source (Kazza was known to do that), maybe the ISP gave them the wrong IP to person information, maybe my computer was hacked, and so on. So let's say one of these is the case. What am I to do? Defending myself is hard because this is civil court, not criminal court. This means that I don't get a free lawyer, and that the burden for proof is much lower. It isn't beyond a reasonable doubt, only to a preponderance of the evidence.

        So the problem is that I am stuck having to prove my innocence, and that I have to pay a lawyer far more than $5,000 to do it.

        THAT is what is wrong with this. We don't know that these people ever broke the law. All we know is that a company who gets paid when they find someone, like BayTSP produced a screenshot from a program that claims ot be a list of files that are allegedly from some IP. I can poke a bunch of holes in the chain of evidence right there:

        --How do we know the company isn't lying? They get paid to find these people, it'd be in their interest to make it up if they can't find someone.
        --How do we know the information from the P2P program is accurate? These are not vetted, approved forensic tools and some of them are known to make mistakes.
        --How do we know the songs in the list are what they claim to be? P2P networks are full of fake material, how do we know these are real?
        --How do we know that this is the correct IP address? What if the P2P program or something else reported the wrong one?
        --How do we know the ISP gave us the correct person behind it? What if a hacker hand altered the records to cover their tracks? What if an employee at the ISP did?
        --How do we know that it was a computer owned by the owner of the connection that did it? What if someone hopped on their wireless network?
        --How do we know that the computer that did it wasn't hacked? There are over a million botted computers out there, how do we know this wasn't one of them?

        This kind of thing would likely not even make it past pretrial in a criminal case, but in a civil case, you have to pay to defend yourself.

        Then, of course, there's also the issue of the whole 8th amendment thing, you know "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Specifically the "excessive fines" part. They ask for statutory amounts vastly exceeding any real harm caused. You can't tell me that downloading a single tracks causes tens of thousands of dollars of harm and yet that is the kind of amount they ask for, and they are allowed to because of a statute they pushed for. Seems damn unconstitutional to me.

        So yes, it IS extortion. They don't care if you are innocent or guilty, they force you to pay because it is too costly to defend yourself, and you risk losing too much. It may be wrapped up in some legislation, it is still extortion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Americano ( 920576 )

      Create a situation in which the illegal alternative is preferable to the legal alternative. Sue those that break the law.

      While I agree these lawsuits are a problem, I also have a problem with this line of reasoning. It implies that the only way these poor, beleaguered consumers can get their hands on any music is by downloading off the internet for free, when in fact, several other quite reasonable avenues exist:

      • Don't like DRM? Buy a CD / Casette tape at a store, or through an online reseller (i.e., A
  • If, by the time I settle with the bastards for $3000, I have downloaded > $3000 worth of music, then I win!

    It just means I bought music in bulk at a discounted price.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Technician ( 215283 )
      I have downloaded > $3000 worth of music, then I win!

      You haven't seen the settlement agreement.. You don't get to keep the music. You also don't get to say anything truthfully in your opinion regarding the RIAA. I saw a link to a settlement agreement.

      I do wonder if it caries any weight. There is some thing about contracts signed under duress.. Anybody have any information on this? From what I have seen and the size of the pendiing litigation, this is a contract that fully qualifies as signed under
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by r_jensen11 ( 598210 )

        If one of the parties can prove that the contract was signed under duress, that is the party's signature was extracted by physical or mental coercion, then the contract is null and void.

        Huh, here's what my Business Law by Mann & Roberts book says:

        A person should not be held to an agreement he has not entered voluntarily. Accordingly, the law will not enforce any contract induced by duress, which in general is any wrongful or unlawful act or threat that overcomes the free will of the party.

        Physical compulsion
        Duress is of two basic types. The first type, physical duress, occurs when one party compels another to manifest assent to a contract through actual physical force, such as pointing a gun at a person or taking a person's hand and compelling him to sign a written contract. This type of duress, while extremely rare, renders the agreement void.

        Improper Threats
        The second and more common type of duress involves the use of improper threats or acts, including economic and social coercion, to compel a person into a contract. Though the threat may be explicit or may be inferred from words r conduct, in either case it must leave the victim with no reasonable alternative. This type of duress makes the contract voidable at the option of the coerced party....
        The fact that the act or threat would not affect a person of average strength and intelligence is not important if it places fear in the person actually affected and induces her to act against her will. The test is subjective, and the question is this: Did the threat actually induce assent on the party of the person claiming to be the victim of duress?
        Ordinarily, the acts or threats constituting duress are themselves crimes or torts. But this is not true in all cases. The acts need to be criminal or tortious in order to be wrongful; they merely need to be contrary to public policy or morally reprehensible. For example, if the threat involves a breach of contractual duty of good faith and fair dealing, it is improper.
        Moreover, it generally has been held that contracts induced by threats of criminal prosecution are voidable, regardless of whether the coerced party had committed an unlawful act. Similarly, threatening the criminal prosecution of a close relative is also duress. To be distinguished from such threats of prosecution are threats that resort to ordinary civil remedies to recover a debt due from another. It is not wrong to threaten a civil suit against an individual to recover a debt. What is prohibited is threatening to bring a civil suit when bringing such a suit would be abuse of process.

        Basically, because what the RIAA is not physical duress, it is considered voidable, not null and void. It is at the discretion of the party that was coerced to decide whether the contract exists or not. Also note that many of the stories brought up regarding the RIAA (Going after a person's surviving family, going after grandma & grandpa, etc) are clearly against any morally reprehensible.

  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:19PM (#18483317)
    Unless you're well-funded and well-represented in court, that is.

    What a choice - give us all yer money now, or we'll grind you into poverty for the next x years of your life.

    Yeah - I'm sure I'd be ready to sell out quick for a few grand - beats the hell out of working for the RIAA for the next twenty years of my life!

    • Unless you're well-funded and well-represented in court, that is.

      Or you can take my approach to speeding tickets...I'll cost "them" more time and effort than it is worth to extract ~$75 to $200 from me, and have fun doing it!, more often than not. If every lonely soul the RIAA or MPAA decides to chase down and prosecute for alleged info piracy would just have some spine and fight back, using the local law library and the incredibly convoluted legal system to their advantage, the RIAA/MPAA couldn't affor
  • Some students (Score:2, Insightful)

    by billcopc ( 196330 )
    Maybe I'm from a parallel universe where money doesn't grow on trees, but where the hell do these students get the cash to pay the settlement ? I remember when I was in college, I was a broke ass long-haired book bum. If someone had come at me back then with a lawsuit, I would have laughed my head off. So sue me, I got nothing to lose! What's the worst that can happen to a student ? Get sued, get a public defender (since you have nothing to "win" anyway), let the RIAA piss money away and if/when they w
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      IANAL, yet. However, considering this is a civil case, I would like to remind everyone that there are no questions about criminals, guilt, or public defenders. The correct terms would be defendants, liability, and expensive private lawyers. Yes, $3,000 appears to be a lot of money, and 25% of students appear to harbor some amount of guilt. However, I suspect the true story is far different. Reevaluating the numbers, 25% of students have realized that it is cheaper to pay $3,000 than to fight the **AA with a
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:42PM (#18483461) Journal
    how much of that money? Probably zero.
  • by neophytepwner ( 992971 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:14PM (#18483707)
    One day a RIAA employee asks his manager,
              "Who is the most vulnerable and liable for pirating software, music, etc?"
              The manager replies, " students of course."
              And they both have a good laugh.

    Truth be told it's not funny, it's real. Here is where the RIAA have separated themselves from the norm
    of all those who are strongly opposed to the idea of Internet freedoms, most prevalently piracy. However this
    is the worst mistake the RIAA has made, the reason is that college students are their number one customer. The
    greed and capitalist values have consumed the RIAA past any rational thought process. Essentially the RIAA has
    cut off the hand that feeds them. The sad part is that college students are at the mercy of it all. They can't
    afford a lawyer let alone pay their rent. I think we fail to recognize who really are the pirates.

  • and get sued, then pay the settlement,...

    Does that mean you then legally have rights to the music you pirated?
  • I dislike the RIAA as much as anyone, and think they are abusing the legal system and need to be reined in.

    But ultimately, these people who are settling would not be having this problem if they weren't abusing copyright to start with. Even though this isn't a "crime" as such, the point of it still works...if you can't do the time (or pay the fine), don't do the crime.

    The RIAA sucks and all that, but in the end, those on the receiving end of the threat letters have no one to blame but themselves. Maybe nex
    • by BanjoBob ( 686644 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:39PM (#18483919) Homepage Journal
      The problem is that nobody knows how many innocent people the RIAA has extorted money from. What about those who don't own computers? What about the 10 year old girl they just attacked? What about the dead woman? ...

      The only reason the college kids are paying up is because they can't afford to defend themselves. It is a lot like the protection racket used by organized crime and gangs today. Pay us or we'll really hurt you.

      There was a deposition on Groklaw [] that pretty much sums up the fact that the RIAA identification techniques probably wouldn't stand a chance in court. There is a LOT of Doubt about the accuracy of the RIAA tactics. More than reasonable too.

  • Think of the likelyhood of being sued multiply by the number of college students downloading,
    maybe there is a market for insurance...say pay $10 a year , if you get one of those letters , the insurance would
    pay the $3000 settlement cost. hmm...

    It would be technically liability insurance to protect you from the expense of "accidentally" sharing copyrighted material.
  • Class Action jackpot (Score:3, Informative)

    by ymenager ( 171142 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @12:39AM (#18484345)
    By the reports from the court proceedings of some of the few cases that have progressed this far, it certainly looks like RIAA has been proceeding without any kind of proof that will stand in court (for example see 73736822 [] another good site is [] ).

    Give them time to sue a few thousands more, and sooner or later some lawyers will realize the bloody fortune they will make by suing RIAA for what they've been doing. And when they start doing so... Well, not only those lawsuits will stop, but those execs will be the ones doing some paying up... and it's not going to be thousands but millions.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian