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RICO Class Action Against RIAA In Missouri

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the take-'em-down-dano dept.

The Courts 213

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Atlantic Recording v. Raleigh, an RIAA case pending in St. Louis, Missouri, the defendant has asserted detailed counterclaims against the RIAA for federal RICO violations, fraud, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, prima facie tort, trespass, and conspiracy. The claims focus on the RIAA's 'driftnet' tactic of suing innocent people, and of demanding extortionate settlements. The RICO 'predicate acts' alleged in the 42-page pleading (PDF) are extortion, mail fraud, and wire fraud. The proposed class includes all people residing in the US 'who were falsely accused ... of downloading copyrighted sound recordings owned by the counterclaim Defendants and making them available for distribution or mass distribution over a P2P network and who incurred costs and damages including legal fees in defense of such false claims' or 'whose computers used in interstate commerce and/or communication were accessed ... without permission or authority.' This is the second class action of which we are aware against the RIAA and the Big 4 recording companies, the first being the Oregon class action brought by Tanya Andersen, which is presently in the discovery phase."

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213 comments

I'm a huge pirate... (5, Funny)

jornak (1377831) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847995)

Here RIAA RIAA RIAA. Come and get me and my 200+ gigabytes of stolen music.

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25848189)

you need to click the little box to post anonymously...

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (3, Funny)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848281)

Why would he need to be anonymous? Haven't you heard? IPs don't identify people.

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25848639)

Unless you change your name to your IP address like I did.. say hello to Mr FA.CE.FE.ED Jones.

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (5, Funny)

jebrew (1101907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850161)

Yeah, I've been getting a lot of flack since I changed mine to DE.AD.C0.ED

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (5, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848283)

Do you live in St. Louis? I'm not with the RIAA*, I am a fellow youngster living in St. Louis who would like to recieve some illegal stolen music from today's popular artists, then maybe go and drink an alchoholic beverage with you. I have videogames that we can play as well. We can "hang out." I want to emphasize that I am not with the RIAA*.

(* RIAA here does not refer to Recording Industry Association of America)

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (5, Funny)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848973)

Do you live in St. Louis? I'm not with the RIAA*, I am a fellow youngster living in St. Louis who would like to recieve some illegal stolen music from today's popular artists, then maybe go and drink an alchoholic beverage with you. I have videogames that we can play as well. We can "hang out." I want to emphasize that I am not with the RIAA*.

(* RIAA here does not refer to Recording Industry Association of America)

I'm in St. Louis, and would love to meet. There's a nice dark alley on Pine between N 11th and N 12th, we could meet there. I assure you that I do not have a gun*.

(* the word 'gun' does not refer to any type of firearm)

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849399)

(* the word 'gun' does not refer to any type of firearm)

Better would have been, "the word 'gun' refers to a crew-fired weapon."

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (2, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849935)

I assure you that I do not have a gun*.

(* the word 'gun' does not refer to any type of firearm)

I'd be more worried if you wanted to meet me in a dark alley, and you were assuring me that you did have a gun, with the same caveat.

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848593)

Wow, I hope that's in FLAC! I have 59 gigs in 192kbps vorbises and I don't even like most of the stuff I've picked up. I end up deleting stuff all the time because I'm like, "Why do I have this music I don't like?"

Though I must admit my lack of scruples is not as lacking as some peoples', a large portion of stuff I have is free music I got off MP3.com forever ago, OCRemix collections I torrented, and other places that offered it legally.

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (5, Funny)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848811)

Now the RIAA can feel how it's like to be hunted by an ambiguous four-letter abbreviation which can't be reasoned with.

GET A ROPE! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25848997)

I can only hope they get maybe some fraction of the inconvenience, fear, or needless pain that they have caused to THOUSANDS AND MILLIONS OF OTHERWISE INNOCENT PEOPLE WHOM THEY UNLAWFULLY HARASSED.

Hang these RIAA bastiges high! Law and fucking order. Gotta say, karma feels good.

Re:I'm a huge pirate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25849979)

I don't see what you're sexual preferences have to do with the article...

"falsely accused"? (4, Interesting)

Otter Popinski (1166533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847997)

How do you demonstrate that you've been falsely accused? Does that mean you've defended yourself in court against the RIAA and been successful? If so, isn't that a very small class?

Re:"falsely accused"? (4, Funny)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848071)

In the USA, we are supposedly innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Thus, you can claim you are falsely accused up to the point where a judge banks the gavel and declares you guilty.

At least, that is what my elementary school teacher taught me back in the 70's.

Re:"falsely accused"? (5, Insightful)

matazar (1104563) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848083)

Exactly, these people were targeted by the RIAA who has no proof of infringment and abuses the system.
Whether or not they are actually guilty, the RIAA should be providing proof, which they are incapable of.

Re:"falsely accused"? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25848261)

Here's the thing, though. The RIAA does have some information. They're not suing people at random--they're suing people that they believe have done something wrong. Their methods are almost certainly unsound, and their theory of what constitutes infringement is questionable. Their evidence for infringement is generally weak. And their attempts to strong-arm people into settlements is also unsettling.

However, whether this constitutes criminal behavior is also questionable. The RIAA can claim that they have a reasonable belief that they've sued are the right people. They can argue a reasonable belief that they will prevail in court. And they can claim their settlement offers are reasonable within the standards the law currently provides. The RIAA may be wrong about all these things (and probably are), but that doesn't necessarily mean what they're doing is illegal.

Not everyone who brings a lawsuit and loses is a criminal.

Re:"falsely accused"? (5, Insightful)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848301)

With enough money at my disposal, I can reasonably believe I'll win any lawsuit I care to file, regardless of merit.

Re:"falsely accused"? (2, Funny)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848681)

I used FDR of raping me years after he died, and won. Thank you, Powerball Lottery!

Re:"falsely accused"? (4, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848919)

I used FDR of raping me years after he died, and won.

FDR raped you years after he'd died...?!

OMG ZOMBIESECKS!!!!!1111111

Re:"falsely accused"? (3, Informative)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848951)

That's what "Twilight" is about, isn't it?

To whoever marked me "Offtopic", perhaps I should have cited something real: Pearson v. Chung, the case of a Washington, D.C. judge, Roy Pearson, who sued a dry cleaning business for $67 million (later lowered to $54 million), has been cited[12] as an example of frivolous litigation. According to Pearson, the dry cleaners allegedly lost his pants (which he brought in for a $10.50 alteration) and refused his demands for a large refund. Pearson believed that a 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' sign in the window of the shop legally entitled him to a refund for the cost of the pants, estimated at $1,000. The $54 million total also included $2 million in "mental distress" and $15,000 which he estimated to be the cost of renting a car every weekend to go to another dry cleaners.

Re:"falsely accused"? (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848687)

Thats true unless your opponent has similar kinds of finances... which most victims of RIAA lawsuits dont have.

I'm not so sure about that (3, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848633)

The RIAA can claim that they have a reasonable belief that they've sued are the right people.

Most of their legal paperwork is of the John Doe variety. By its very nature they are saying "we know something bad happened, but we're not sure who did it." I don't think that argument would hold much water.

They can argue a reasonable belief that they will prevail in court.

The vast majority of their legal actions are dropped in their extortion racket. "Pay us $3k and we'll go away."

If they really believed they could win in court, why offer these settlement notices up front? Especially when they claim damages far in excess of $3k? Who throws money away like that?

RICO was made for just such a circumstance (IMHO, IANAL, and so on).

Re:I'm not so sure about that (2, Funny)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849669)

I'd just laugh if they tried to sue me for 100,000$ !!! I'd just go shucks, and go on welfare or whatever they call it. Or work for a non-profit. And, so would most people. However, many many people will pay 3000-5000$ to make a problem go away.

I'd ask them for a unlimited license for 5000$ and immunity from all future prosecution and civil judgments capped at 1$ per TB. I'd laugh just as hard if/when they laugh.

Re:I'm not so sure about that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25849943)

You can laugh even harder after you ask one of the RIAA guys if he gives his blessing for you to continue sleeping with his daughter.

Re:I'm not so sure about that (2, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850167)

If they really believed they could win in court, why offer these settlement notices up front? Especially when they claim damages far in excess of $3k? Who throws money away like that?

Because one of their goals is to try to scare people. Another is to not go bankrupt suing everyone.

Most people don't have the money to pay fines in the amounts that they're looking at with copyright infringement. What is it now, a $750 minimum statutory award? Doesn't take many songs for that to be well outside of a person's ability to pay. And that's the low end. If the RIAA spends thousands upon thousands of dollars fighting these cases and the person is forced to file for bankruptcy, they're truly just throwing their money away.

Compare to the $3k settlements. That's sustainable. They can keep doing that as long as they want, because the settlements pay for the settlement center operation, and most people can work out a payment plan for that kind of money. The expected gain from a settlement is probably far higher than the expected gain if the lawsuit actually goes to court.

Re:"falsely accused"? (5, Insightful)

Marful (861873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849057)

Here's the thing, though. The RIAA does have some information. They're not suing people at random--they're suing people that they believe have done something wrong. Their methods are almost certainly unsound, and their theory of what constitutes infringement is questionable. Their evidence for infringement is generally weak. And their attempts to strong-arm people into settlements is also unsettling.

However, whether this constitutes criminal behavior is also questionable. The RIAA can claim that they have a reasonable belief that they've sued are the right people. They can argue a reasonable belief that they will prevail in court. And they can claim their settlement offers are reasonable within the standards the law currently provides. The RIAA may be wrong about all these things (and probably are), but that doesn't necessarily mean what they're doing is illegal.

Not everyone who brings a lawsuit and loses is a criminal.

The problem is that when you use illegal means to gain information to then use to coerce an individual into an unfavorable settlement, else they face great financial damages executed by your behalf against them, and you do this to a great many people, that is called racketeering or extortion. Which is illegal.

What the RIAA is doing is in effect the same as a Mob boss shaking down businesses in an area for "Protection" money.

Re:"falsely accused"? (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849165)

What the RIAA is doing is in effect the same as a Mob boss shaking down businesses in an area for "Protection" money.

Indeed, and she [blogspot.com] agrees with that sentiment.

Re:"falsely accused"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25849967)

What the RIAA is doing is in effect the same as a Mob boss shaking down businesses in an area for "Protection" money.

Mob : Threat of violence :: RIAA : Pre-litigation Letters

Re:"falsely accused"? (4, Informative)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848755)

In the USA, we are supposedly innocent until proven guilty in a court of law

That platitude only applies to criminal law. In civil cases, they just say that the plaintiff bears the burden of proving his case by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not). So to win a suit against the RIAA, you need to prove that it's more likely than not that you didn't pirate any music (e.g., "I don't even own a computer," or "I'm Ted Stevens") along with whatever else the particular law requires.

Re:"falsely accused"? (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848941)

Yes, but the point was that the RIAA is accusing you of criminal copyright infringement. If you accuse me of being a thief, you'ld damned well better have a court record saying I was found guilty of stealing or I'll slap a slander suit on your ass so fast it'll make your head spin.

And unlike stealing or copyright infringement, slander IS a civil suit.

Re:"falsely accused"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25849665)

Mod parent up, because this points out one of the major flaws in the RIAA cases, which is that they're trying to bring civil suits concerning a criminal offense.

Re:"falsely accused"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25849033)

You are not even a lawyer to begin with. But that said, simply by the definition of a "preponderance" of evidence (51%) the plaintiff MUST prove your guilt to that level. Even in civil matters, you are in fact presumed to be innocent.

Re:"falsely accused"? (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849821)

That platitude only applies to criminal law. In civil cases, they just say that the plaintiff bears the burden of proving his case

So, what you are saying is that I am innocent until the plaintiff proves that I am guilty?

Re:"falsely accused"? (4, Informative)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850133)

No, because "innocent" and "guilty" don't mean anything in civil cases. Also, you have to treat "prove" as a term of art. "Prove" means something entirely different in a criminal context than in a civil context. "Innocent until proven guilty" actually means, "you are presumed to be 'not guilty' until the state has cleared all the numerous constitutional hurdles we have intentionally placed in its way to make it very hard to 'prove' that an innocent person is guilty, and then proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the charged crime." It means, "Jury, if you're not sure, if you still have some lingering doubts, if you think, 'He probably did it, but I can see how he could reasonably be innocent,' you must acquit the defendant." It means you are entitled to Sixth Amendment guaranteed trial by jury instead of Seventh Amendment trial by jury guaranteed if you happen to be in federal court and the judge feels like it. It means (in most cases) that a jury of twelve of your peers must vote against you unanimously. It means you are protected against self incrimination and you get the Confrontation Clause. It means your adversary is the Sovereign State, so we're going to stack the cards heavily in your favor. It means you get the benefit of the Exclusionary Rule if the state unlawfully searched you or seized things. It means you're starting out WAY ahead of your adversary, and your adversary must make up all that ground and blow way past you to win.

"Proof by a preponderance of the evidence" means everybody starts out on equal footing and the plaintiff wins if he inches a little ahead of the defendant.

So no, they're not remotely the same thing.

Re:"falsely accused"? (1)

cawpin (875453) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848953)

That would be true if they were pursuing criminal charges. These are civil cases where it really doesn't matter if you're innocent or not.

Re:"falsely accused"? (1)

E++99 (880734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849169)

In the USA, we are supposedly innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Thus, you can claim you are falsely accused up to the point where a judge banks the gavel and declares you guilty.

At least, that is what my elementary school teacher taught me back in the 70's.

This is incorrect. The state cannot presume you to be guilty until you are found to be so in court, and if found to be not guilty in court, it must presume you to be not guilty. (5th and 6th amendments) However, you can claim you have been falsely accused just as long as you like, regardless of what the court finds. (1st amendment)

Re:"falsely accused"? (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848147)

I'd say that NYCL has enough information there (see my sig) to show that everyone who has been accused was accused under false pretense, without evidence, or accused for what someone else had actually done. While there certainly has been file sharing, and accordingly some loss of revenue to the recording industry. Neither the amount of the loss nor the act of copyright infringement via distribution has been proven. Both are exaggerated by the RIAA legal team. The only thing they have to show is that their assignees accessed other people's computers and downloaded copyrighted works. If you ask me, that's not cricket!

The RIAA continues to show the style and grace of a skydiver with a ripped chute and no backup plan.

Re:"falsely accused"? (1, Funny)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848557)

I look forward to your replacement of Slashdot car analogies with skydiving analogies ;)

Re:"falsely accused"? (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849177)

While there certainly has been file sharing, and accordingly some loss of revenue to the recording industry.

That's not a proven fact. As Lawrence Lessig says in his book (I just read it last week) Free Culture [nowis.com] (link is to HTML version of the book, which is published under a CC license),

File sharers share different kinds of content. We can divide these different kinds into four types.

A. There are some who use sharing networks as substitutes for purchasing content. Thus, when a new Madonna CD is released, rather than buying the CD, these users simply take it. We might quibble about whether everyone who takes it would actually have bought it if sharing didn't make it available for free. Most probably wouldn't have, but clearly there are some who would. The latter are the target of category A: users who download instead of purchasing.

B. There are some who use sharing networks to sample music before purchasing it. Thus, a friend sends another friend an MP3 of an artist he's not heard of. The other friend then buys CDs by that artist. This is a kind of targeted advertising, quite likely to succeed. If the friend recommending the album gains nothing from a bad recommendation, then one could expect that the recommendations will actually be quite good. The net effect of this sharing could increase the quantity of music purchased.

C. There are many who use sharing networks to get access to copyrighted content that is no longer sold or that they would not have purchased because the transaction costs off the Net are too high. This use of sharing networks is among the most rewarding for many. Songs that were part of your childhood but have long vanished from the marketplace magically appear again on the network. (One friend told me that when she discovered Napster, she spent a solid weekend "recalling" old songs. She was astonished at the range and mix of content that was available.) For content not sold, this is still technically a violation of copyright, though because the copyright owner is not selling the content anymore, the economic harm is zero--the same harm that occurs when I sell my collection of 1960s 45-rpm records to a local collector.

D. Finally, there are many who use sharing networks to get access to content that is not copyrighted or that the copyright owner wants to give away.

How do these different types of sharing balance out? Let's start with some simple but important points. From the perspective of the law, only type D sharing is clearly legal. From the perspective of economics, only type A sharing is clearly harmful.9 Type B sharing is illegal but plainly beneficial. Type C sharing is illegal, yet good for society (since more exposure to music is good) and harmless to the artist (since the work is not otherwise available). So how sharing matters on balance is a hard question to answer--and certainly much more difficult than the current rhetoric around the issue suggests.

Whether on balance sharing is harmful depends importantly on how harmful type A sharing is. Just as Edison complained about Hollywood, composers complained about piano rolls, recording artists complained about radio, and broadcasters complained about cable TV, the music industry complains that type A sharing is a kind of "theft" that is "devastating" the industry.

While the numbers do suggest that sharing is harmful, how harmful is harder to reckon. It has long been the recording industry's practice to blame technology for any drop in sales. The history of cassette recording is a good example. As a study by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young put it, "Rather than exploiting this new, popular technology, the labels fought it."10 The labels claimed that every album taped was an album unsold, and when record sales fell by 11.4 percent in 1981, the industry claimed that its point was proved. Technology was the problem, and banning or regulating technology was the answer.

Yet soon thereafter, and before Congress was given an opportunity to enact regulation, MTV was launched, and the industry had a record turnaround. "In the end," Cap Gemini concludes, "the 'crisis' . . . was not the fault of the tapers--who did not [stop after MTV came into being]--but had to a large extent resulted from stagnation in musical innovation at the major labels."11

Cory Doctorow has something to say about the matter in the preface to his novel Little Brother [craphound.com] (that link is also to the entire text of his book, which is also published under a CC license)

I recently saw Neil Gaiman give a talk at which someone asked him how he felt about piracy of his books. He said, "Hands up in the audience if you discovered your favorite writer for free -- because someone loaned you a copy, or because someone gave it to you? Now, hands up if you found your favorite writer by walking into a store and plunking down cash." Overwhelmingly, the audience said that they'd discovered their favorite writers for free, on a loan or as a gift. When it comes to my favorite writers, there's no boundaries: I'll buy every book they publish, just to own it (sometimes I buy two or three, to give away to friends who must read those books). I pay to see them live. I buy t-shirts with their book-covers on them. I'm a customer for life.

Neil went on to say that he was part of the tribe of readers, the tiny minority of people in the world who read for pleasure, buying books because they love them. One thing he knows about everyone who downloads his books on the Internet without permission is that they're readers, they're people who love books.

People who study the habits of music-buyers have discovered something curious: the biggest pirates are also the biggest spenders. If you pirate music all night long, chances are you're one of the few people left who also goes to the record store (remember those?) during the day. You probably go to concerts on the weekend, and you probably check music out of the library too. If you're a member of the red-hot music-fan tribe, you do lots of everything that has to do with music, from singing in the shower to paying for black-market vinyl bootlegs of rare Eastern European covers of your favorite death-metal band.

Nobody ever starved because of piracy, but many have starved from obscurity.

Re:"falsely accused"? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849563)


While there certainly has been file sharing, and accordingly some loss of revenue to the recording industry.

That's not a proven fact. As Lawrence Lessig says in his book (I just read it last week) Free Culture [nowis.com] (link is to HTML version of the book, which is published under a CC license),

The meaning of 'some loss of revenue' in this case is not meant to indicate that the loss is sufficient or large enough to give cause for the RIAA's legal crusade against grandparents and kids. 'Some loss' could mean as little as a few dollars or any amount you want to guess at. The point is that it is unknown. Even Mr Lessig points out that some people will download instead of buying. This is the part where some loss of revenue occurs. It would be easier to estimate the grans of sand on a beach than to estimate the true loss of revenue to the RIAA through file sharing.

I bet most of the RIAA members are wishing they had kept their lawyer on a leash for a while so they could be standing in line behind wallstreet bankers. ooops!

Re:"falsely accused"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850155)

You are ignoring group B. If you include them then it is possible there is no net loss, or even a net gain.

Re:"falsely accused"? (5, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848245)

There already many cases where this has occurred. Lindor, Anderson, Foster to name a few. However these people that actually persevered in court had to spend years and tens of thousands in legal fees to clear their name. Add to that the documented cases where the RIAA sued people who didn't have computers, dead people, etc. Most people I suspected just paid the fine instead going through the whole ordeal. While it may not be successful, the discovery process may unearth what we have long suspected: The RIAA does not adequately investigates someone before suing them, does not dismiss lawsuits when it appears that they may have erred, and will continue to abuse the legal system in this way.

Re:"falsely accused"? (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849133)

There already many cases where this has occurred. Lindor, Anderson, Foster to name a few. However these people that actually persevered in court had to spend years and tens of thousands in legal fees to clear their name. Add to that the documented cases where the RIAA sued people who didn't have computers, dead people, etc. Most people I suspected just paid the fine instead going through the whole ordeal. While it may not be successful, the discovery process may unearth what we have long suspected: The RIAA does not adequately investigates someone before suing them, does not dismiss lawsuits when it appears that they may have erred, and will continue to abuse the legal system in this way.

Well according to this guy [blogspot.com] their investigative methods are untested, have never been accepted in the scientific community, have never been published, were not subjected to peer review, are completely secret, and ... he invented them himself, out of his own head. And according to this guy [beckermanlegal.com] the "instructions and parameters" for the investigations were given to the investigators by the lawyers.

So why wouldn't you think the RIAA's investigation is reliable, UnknowingFool?

Re:"falsely accused"? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849581)

I was merely pointing out that the RIAA doesn't adequately investigate anyone before suing them. Given the limited information we have so far, it appears that the RIAA knows that their methods cannot accurately identify an individual but proceeds anyway. Again, even if this suit isn't successful in the end, the discovery part will shed light on this.

Re:"falsely accused"? (2, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849789)

I was merely pointing out that the RIAA doesn't adequately investigate anyone before suing them. Given the limited information we have so far, it appears that the RIAA knows that their methods cannot accurately identify an individual but proceeds anyway. Again, even if this suit isn't successful in the end, the discovery part will shed light on this.

And I was agreeing with you. I guess I should have included the ":)".

Re:"falsely accused"? (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849585)

Mr Beckerman, I mean this in the most sincere way I can..

According to Civil law (what I understand, IANAL) one can be in err if one is 51% wrong, and can be judged as such. If the RIAA was suing a family for illegal uploading, could it not be seen that regardless who did it that the owner of the connection is at fault for either condoning it, or allowing it to happen via not setting basic security? Isn't one who buys the connection responsible for their endpoint?

Would the court entertain this idea?

Re:"falsely accused"? (3, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849765)

Isn't one who buys the connection responsible for their endpoint?

Not according to these guys [blogspot.com] (MGM v. Grokster).

Re:"falsely accused"? (1)

pentalive (449155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848385)

Perhaps those who paid the "make it go away fee" to the RIAA and thus were never in court?

Re:"falsely accused"? (4, Insightful)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848765)

Copying music isn't something that really leaves fingerprints and you certainly can't get caught with the blood on the knife.

In many cases an IP can identify a household (assuming they don't have someone exploiting their WiFi), but it can NEVER identify the individual, it's impossible to get proof for that without 'breaking' into someone's computer and finding relevant material, and even that's difficult to prove hasn't been forged because it'll always be the same 1s and 0s.

This is also a civil case, unblemished authorities aren't here to collect blood samples and take pictures of the murder scene, there's no trustworthy neutral party like there normally is (or is expected to be) in a murder/theft/whatever investigation. It's Citizen VS Citizen, and the RIAA has yet to prove that it has any legal right to conduct the investigations it has.

What's worse is they're targeting colleges and dial up users, and even some DSL and cable users' IPs change often. You have to get another entity involved in these situations, so it becomes Citizen VS Innocent Mediator when the RIAA tries to get service providers involved, something that hasn't really happened much historically in anything.

It is absolutely vital people distinguish the RIAA separately from qualified agencies. The RIAA is another you and me, not an organization we voted for or was appointed into existence by those we voted for.

Stating the Obvious (4, Interesting)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848089)

Stating the obvious here but it is my very, very strong hope that the judge that presides over this (and the other) case see things through to completion and agree that the RIAA's tactics _do_ amount to RICO violations. It's about time that they get served the counter-justice that they deserve.

Re:Stating the Obvious (2, Insightful)

rk (6314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848227)

I don't know. RICO was originally designed to go after organized crime rackets which could otherwise... oh, wait, my mistake. Carry on.

Re:Stating the Obvious (3, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848643)

It was designed to protect people from the Music And Film Industry of America (MAFIA).

Litigating. (0, Offtopic)

hagardtroll (562208) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848105)

We all desire to have the multimedia data streams flow through our entertainment devices. From tither and yon, we coalesce the elements to build complete edited fabrications of the initial entertainment distribution. We consume voraciously the images and waveforms and hunger for even more largess, compiling and building large storage complexes. Until one spills the Tranya onto the devices rendering them non-functional. We cry and feel saddened by our loss, but the Tranya is still there to comfort us in our hour of need.

Re:Litigating. (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849083)

This is the readability police. Step AWAY from the thesaurus.

Real life imitating slashdot.org (4, Interesting)

rzei (622725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848131)

I wonder how many times has this been pointed out that someone should roll up a RICO class action suit against RIAA?

Great that it is finally coming to life :) Real life imitating slashdot :)

Re:Real life imitating slashdot.org (4, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848447)

I wonder how many times has this been pointed out that someone should roll up a RICO class action suit against RIAA?

The RIAA getting RICO-rolled... there's a youtube viral in there somewhere, I can sense it.

Re:Real life imitating slashdot.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25848481)

hopefully the RIAA won't claim prior art...

Re:Real life imitating slashdot.org (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848713)

Yeah... the first thing I thought on reading the headline was "about fucking time". What took them so long?

While yer RICO'ing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25848141)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_the_Electric_Car [wikipedia.org]

There a class action lawsuit for us all. Course... the guvermint can't be prosecuted under RICO, can it...

Re:While yer RICO'ing... (5, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848267)

Could I suggest a RICO against the Federal Reserve?

Bloomberg [bloomberg.com] tried suing the FED under the FOIA to disclose who it gave $2 trillion to. They claim they don't have to disclose under the FOIA because they technically aren't part of the government.

Re:While yer RICO'ing... (2, Insightful)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849005)

you're bang on there. The Federal Reserve's first mandate is to control the US currency. Said currency is backed against itself (ie worthless) and guaranteed by treaty to the European banks.

IOW, National Westminster, Barclays, HBOS, Lloyd's TSB, Credit Suisse, etc, etc, etc, owns all your Yank arses and every cubic inch of American soil, which they could call in any time they want but won't because they know that as long as they don't call in that loan made in the Teens they own you. The Federal Reserve answer to /them/, NOT the US Government.

Request for Discovery.... (-1, Offtopic)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848229)

DID YOU GET that thing.... i sent you? *fart*

Re:Request for Discovery.... (0, Offtopic)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848311)

DID YOU GET that thing.... i sent you? *fart*

No! No I didn't! I never get that thing you sent me! I never gotten that thing you sent me and I'm beginning to wonder if you ever sent me anything! While I'm at it, if I HAD gotten that thing you sent me, EVER, I doubt I'd be interested in what it said.

Should just get some large scales to solve it. (2, Funny)

Spice Consumer (1367497) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848241)

Obviously File Sharer is interchangeable with witch here... VILLAGER #1: We have found a witch. May we burn her? CROWD: Burn her! Burn! Burn her! Burn her! BEDEVERE: How do you know she is a witch? VILLAGER #2: She looks like one. CROWD: Right! Yeah! Yeah! BEDEVERE: Bring her forward. WITCH: I'm not a witch. I'm not a witch. BEDEVERE: Uh, but you are dressed as one. WITCH: They dressed me up like this. CROWD: Augh, we didn't! We didn't... WITCH: And this isn't my nose. It's a false one. BEDEVERE: Well? VILLAGER #1: Well, we did do the nose. BEDEVERE: The nose? VILLAGER #1: And the hat, but she is a witch! VILLAGER #2: Yeah! CROWD: We burn her! Right! Yeaaah! Yeaah! BEDEVERE: Did you dress her up like this? VILLAGER #1: No! VILLAGER #2 and 3: No. No. VILLAGER #2: No. VILLAGER #1: No. VILLAGERS #2 and #3: No. VILLAGER #1: Yes. VILLAGER #2: Yes. VILLAGER #1: Yes. Yeah, a bit. VILLAGER #3: A bit. VILLAGERS #1 and #2: A bit. VILLAGER #3: A bit. VILLAGER #1: She has got a wart. BEDEVERE: What makes you think she is a witch? VILLAGER #3: Well, she turned me into a newt. BEDEVERE: A newt? VILLAGER #3: I got better. VILLAGER #2: Burn her anyway! VILLAGER #1: Burn! CROWD: Burn her! Burn! Burn her!... BEDEVERE: Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch. VILLAGER #1: Are there? VILLAGER #2: Ah? VILLAGER #1: What are they? CROWD: Tell us! Tell us!... BEDEVERE: Tell me. What do you do with witches? VILLAGER #2: Burn! VILLAGER #1: Burn! CROWD: Burn! Burn them up! Burn!... BEDEVERE: And what do you burn apart from witches? VILLAGER #1: More witches! VILLAGER #3: Shh! VILLAGER #2: Wood! BEDEVERE: So, why do witches burn? [pause] VILLAGER #3: B--... 'cause they're made of... wood? BEDEVERE: Good! Heh heh. CROWD: Oh, yeah. Oh. BEDEVERE: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood? VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her. BEDEVERE: Ah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone? VILLAGER #1: Oh, yeah. RANDOM: Oh, yeah. True. Uhh... BEDEVERE: Does wood sink in water? VILLAGER #1: No. No. VILLAGER #2: No, it floats! It floats! VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond! CROWD: The pond! Throw her into the pond! BEDEVERE: What also floats in water? VILLAGER #1: Bread! VILLAGER #2: Apples! VILLAGER #3: Uh, very small rocks! VILLAGER #1: Cider! VILLAGER #2: Uh, gra-- gravy! VILLAGER #1: Cherries! VILLAGER #2: Mud! VILLAGER #3: Uh, churches! Churches! VILLAGER #2: Lead! Lead! ARTHUR: A duck! CROWD: Oooh. BEDEVERE: Exactly. So, logically... VILLAGER #1: If... she... weighs... the same as a duck,... she's made of wood. BEDEVERE: And therefore? VILLAGER #2: A witch! VILLAGER #1: A witch! CROWD: A witch! A witch!... VILLAGER #4: Here is a duck. Use this duck. [quack quack quack] BEDEVERE: Very good. We shall use my largest scales.

Dear Lord.... Use a Line Return or 84.... (3, Insightful)

autocracy (192714) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848369)

:% s/\([A-Z]\{3,}\)/\r\1/g

I mean, how hard is that... really? :)

Re:Dear Lord.... Use a Line Return or 84.... (1)

dextromulous (627459) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848521)

The line returns are all there... you can see by viewing the source of the comment. However, a \r only gets you so far when you're dealing with HTML...

Re:Dear Lord.... Use a Line Return or 84.... (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848561)

Which brings up the question I have always had. Why isn't the default for comments "Plain Old Text"?

Re:Dear Lord.... Use a Line Return or 84.... (4, Funny)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848801)

:% s/\([A-Z]\{3,}\)/\r\1/g

Dear Lord . . . I actually understand that. I need to get out more. :)

Re:Dear Lord.... Use a Line Return or 84.... (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849575)

Dear Lord.... Use a Line Return or 84...

You know regular expressions, but conflate 'carriage return' and 'line feed'?

RICO Seizures (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848345)

I'd love to see the feds swoop in and seize all the RIAA's 'base'. If they can do it to you and me without a conviction, why can't they swoop on the RIAA right now?

Re:RICO Seizures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25848483)

the game is called money and who has it...

Re:RICO Seizures (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848585)

How much do you pay your congressman? How many meetings have you had with the local law-enforcement boys?

Re:RICO Seizures (3, Funny)

CompMD (522020) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848711)

Would the FBI then say "All your base are belong to U.S.?"

Someone discovered justice in legal system?! (3, Insightful)

jsse (254124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848371)

I must have woken up in the wrong parallel universe.

Hi there. I'm new here.

RICO? SUAVE! (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848399)

Now let's see if they can actually make this stick.

If they do, I'll be clapping till my hands fall off.

about freaking time! been urging RICO forever. (3, Informative)

swschrad (312009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848465)

these RIAA guys have been acting like burglars on crack for a long time, and now they have to defend themselves.

Birds of a... (1)

zude (1249292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848539)

In a related story, Mitch Bainwol has been called as Lori Drew's first character witness.

Re:Birds of a... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849417)

You should have offered a link to explain to everyone who Mitch Bainwol [wikia.com] is.

Mitch Bainwol (or, as he is known is his native tounge, Bitch Mainwol, son of Mog'var the Destroyer) is a demon from hell and the current overlord of the Recording Industry Assholes of America, or RIAA. He is well known for his ability to breathe fire and is the arch-nemesis of freedom. It is said that if you stand in front of a mirror in pitch black with only a lit candle as a source of light, and sing any song three times, that Bitch Mainwol will come out of the mirror and sue you for every penny you're worth.

Yes, that link was to the uncyclopedia.

Little known fact: Lori Drew is Nancy Drew's [wikipedia.org] illigitimate daughter, born under a bridge in Liverpool.

The Only RICO RIAA Fears is Sauve (4, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848555)

The issue of RIAA RICO has been discussed at least twice before here [slashdot.org] and here [slashdot.org] on Slashdot and Ars wrote an article [arstechnica.com] last year explaining why a RICO suit was unlikely to succeed against the RIAA, scumbags though they may be.

Discovery burden (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848565)

So for discovery I would like a complete inventory of all material the RIAA claims domain. This inventory is to include the original recording information, who, where, and contracts. All assignments and associations since the original recording that have resulted in the present rights claims. Also this list is to be updated quarterly during the proceedings of the trial.

In addition a complete copy of the material is also requested. They can make it available directly to my iPod id.

Re:Discovery burden (4, Funny)

rabidkumquat (897955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849257)

1) Introduce entire copyrighted catalog of RIAA as material evidence
2) Request public records of proceedings
3) ????
4) Profit!

sheer elegance in its simplicity!

a RICO lawsuit against the RIAA! (2, Funny)

racecarj (703239) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848567)

there's gotta be a rat somewhere feeding information to the feds. i grew up in the old school, where made RIAA guys would never flip.

RIAA (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848609)

RIAA is gonna start to mean Really Inept Attorney Actions as they become bankrupt by the different RICO actions against them and probably with more to come.

RIAA : Real Ignorant Abusive Agency (1)

triceice (1046486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848697)

It's time the law stops working for the RIAA's abusive tactics and start working to protect the people that do not have money from being unduly burdened with legal cost for nothing.

Fun with IP addresses (4, Interesting)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848771)

Years ago, I had a cable modem. In the beginning, all customers had static IPs. I had several lengthy outages that ultimately led to ditching cable in favor of slower but more reliable DSL. One of the more interesting problems occurred when someone else decided (or was mistakenly assigned) to use my static IP address. Obviously, I had service trouble (as I suspect the other person did as well). The ISP's solution was to assign a NEW address to ME.

The interesting part is this: On some networks, it is possible to assume a static address that you did NOT receive via DHCP and it just might work. It may or may not be subject to somebody else's DHCP lease. Even if it is, the other person's computer may be off. In my case, it all happened by accident. Maybe it's not always an accident.

Between the static address, DHCP leases, ISP bumbling on the management of either one, combined with both intentional and unintentional user mistakes about configuration, there is more than a reasonable doubt about the identity of ANYONE based on simply an IP address. And of course a MAC address can be easily faked.

A friend of mine received an RIAA nastygram sent by his cable ISP. Fortunately, this guy kept logs of his DHCP address assignments and quickly proved the ISPs records to be false. It seems the address used for the downloading was assigned to my friend AFTER the alleged downloads took place. The cable clowns never bothered to compare the date/time of the alleged activity with their logs; they just launched a nastygram to whoever had the current address. Morons.

Re:Fun with IP addresses (2, Interesting)

Reziac (43301) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849029)

People in low places claim that there are ways to find and make use of other folks' IP addresses, and IIRC part of it was much as you say -- "wrong lease" and "live but not presently in use". That was some years ago but I doubt it's changed much.

Re:Fun with IP addresses (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25849621)

I worked for a while as a programmer on an ISP billing and provisioning application. What I found out is this:

Every address you get from an ISP is DHCP'ed. Static IP's aren't static. They're just reserved DHCP addresses. That's why "static" IP's from the cable company require you to tell the ISP your MAC address. They're just setting up a DHCP reservation that gives your MAC address the same IP each time it renews.

With DSL, they can just use caller ID to verify the line, so they don't need your MAC address. But it works basically the same way. A static IP is a reserved address from their DHCP pool. They just verify it against the incoming line ID rather than the customer's premise equipment (CPE) ID.

To get a real static IP, you pretty much have to buy a T1 or better.

Re:Fun with IP addresses (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850107)

Static IP's aren't static. They're just reserved DHCP addresses.

As a network admin and a former ISP tech, I'm entirely unclear on the distinction you're trying to make. A DHCP server configured to allocate a given IP to the a certain customer 100% of the time is as static as you'd ever need it to be. Sure, you could change the DHCP server. You could also reconfigure the ISP's end of a T1. Functionally, there's no difference.

And then.... (2, Interesting)

Kleen13 (1006327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25848853)

So what happens if the RICO action succeeds? Do all those who settled/lost get their money back?

Re:And then.... (1)

danzona (779560) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849693)

So what happens if the RICO action succeeds?

From Wikipedia:
Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes--27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes--within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of "racketeering activity." RICO also permits a private individual harmed by the actions of such an enterprise to file a civil suit; if successful, the individual can collect treble damages.

also:
There is also a provision for private parties to sue. A "person damaged in his business or property" can sue one or more "racketeers." The plaintiff must prove the existence of a "criminal enterprise." The defendant(s) are not the enterprise; in other words, the defendant(s) and the enterprise are not one and the same. There must be one of four specified relationships between the defendant(s) and the enterprise. A civil RICO action, like many lawsuits based on federal law, can be filed in state or federal court.

Re:And then.... (1)

Kleen13 (1006327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850099)

Thanks. Sounds to me like a RICO verdict truly fits the crime, if they can make it stick.

whats really great about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25848903)

the RIAA who has no proof that aledged actions were committed by the plaintiffs in this case. Basically has to prove that their product was stolen to claim that they didn't falsely accuse these people. Because they don't "ACTUALLY" have any "evidence" that it occurred and they aren't likely to come up with anything moving forward on the past infractions "havening already occurred". Wont that also make them party to some sort of obstruction as well... I'm no legal expert but ... it doesn't look good for anybody on that leagal team.

Re:whats really great about this (5, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849201)

I'm no legal expert but ...

Don't worry. Neither are the RIAA's lawyers.

What about those who settled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25848975)

If someone has paid their $1000 to avoid the threat of being sued into oblivion, can they take part in this class action? I would imagine there's a clause in the settlement agreement indicating the agreement is void if the accused participates in any future legal action regarding the claim.

I would be shocked if the RIAA legal team didn't do their damnedest to prevent this case.

[R][MP]IAAA are terrorists (3, Interesting)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849363)

I sort of got a bit of a bad rap for a post I made yesterday calling for extreme disrespect and outright harassment against lawyers and executives involved in these law suits. Let me restate my position with a little more of my thinking so my point is a little more clear.

These organizations are performing acts of terror. They aren't using bombs, they are using the courts.

They bribe (oops, "lobby") politicians to pass outrageous laws that defy common sense.

They use the immense power and legal shielding of multi-billion dollar multi-national corporations to bully innocent people who have no hope of defending themselves. Destroying lives with no conscience what so ever.

Because of the legal liability shield of the corporation, they get to do this to people with complete impunity.

Why do we let F*&^*ckers like this do that? If a bully picks a fight with you, do you fight him on his home turf? No, you move the fight where you can better defend yourself. In our case, that's the street.

Ruin their lives, make them pay for what they do. Do you think the courts will? Do you think the politicians will?

These people are worse than any mugger. They are worse than any street thug. They walk around in expensive suits and ruin the lives of helpless people they accuse without credible evidence merely to create fear.

It isn't until it is clear that unethical behavior will not be tolerated by society and that there is a price to pay for it, will we ever regain the freedoms we have lost to corporations like this. They can buy the politicians, but they can't buy the good will of society that human beings need to survive. Reject them everywhere. Shun them. It is the *only* way we will ever rid ourselves of these parasites.

Vigilante action is not the answer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25849999)

Modern societies are founded on laws. You can't go around getting vigilante revenge on these scumbags, that's immoral and not how a civilized society should function.

If you don't like what they're doing (or the laws they've lobbied for), you should either find some way to use their own system against them (like this RICO class action), or else get involved in politics and try to have the system changed.

It's a start (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849485)

Now let's go after the oil companies, banks, auto makers and congress.

the liars vs the technically guilty (2, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849635)

I imagine many of the accused are indeed guilty. Jammie Thomas, for instance.

But the RIAA has been so convinced of their objective guilt that they've failed to see why they should have to prove it. Everyone knows everyone is guilty of filesharing, right? Why do we need to prove anything? And consequently some genuine innocents have been snared in the dragnet.

The RIAA has really made a mess of what case they had in the court of public opinion, which ultimately counts for the most. "Of the people, by the people, for the people." How about them apples if they manage to get the public so riled up that a constitutional amendment like the 21st (revocation of Prohibition), or the 13th (abolition of slavery), gets rammed through? We're nowhere near a revocation of intellectual property, yet, and I think that's primarily because it isn't possible to enforce their vision. And they still have some brainwashed masses on their side. For the most part the people on the RIAA's side are the ones with dreams of becoming authors or musicians, those who have not yet experienced the realities. And those who have been convinced that copying is stealing.

This RICO lawsuit can only make the RIAA look even worse. Just the mere fact it has been filed is big, never mind the outcome.

They need another rico (2, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849707)

As in price fixing and collusion, then it could be open to all legal music purchasers. Where are the *cheap* legal downloads, and the much cheaper music on disks, that modern technology indicates is quite possible? And no, 99 cents for a few megs download is not cheap. They could have sidestepped most of this piracy nonsense if they would have radically dropped prices "per song unit" as technology changed and made it dramatically cheaper to "manufacture" and distribute digital copies.

    A nickle or dime *tops* is a way more reasonable cost, and they could have been making their profit on much larger volume sales all along. And not annoy their customers. What's the sense of society developing our first real widespread sort of star trek level replicator technology if the consumer side of society doesn't get to benefit from it to the exact same degree as the producer side? Where is it carved in stone that old per unit last century pricing based on expensive tangible copies has to be maintained in the face of orders of magnitude cheaper new digital tech advances? The absence of much cheaper prices that reflect that from any of the majors smacks of collusion and wink wink nod nod price fixing.

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