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Papers Sealed In Class Action Against RIAA

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the for-their-eyes-only dept.

The Courts 215

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Andersen v. Atlantic Recording, the Oregon class action brought by Tanya Anderson against the RIAA, MediaSentry, and others, the plaintiff's motion for class action certification has been sealed by the Court. Also, the Court conducted an 'in camera' conference with the defendants' attorneys — meaning the Judge met with the defendants' attorneys alone — in connection with a discovery motion, and the record of that conference has been sealed as well. The RIAA has made a motion to dismiss the class action; that has not been sealed. In case you're wondering what's going on here, so am I."

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Link to Sealed Documents (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27737415)

Ray Beckerman (NYCL) has graciously hosted a fully illustrated PDF of the plaintiff's brief for class action certification (the documents in question) on his site [beckermanlegal.com]. Now, I'm not a lawyer but that's got a whole lot of lengthy legalese that no human could understand.

Re:Link to Sealed Documents (2, Insightful)

Chabo (880571) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738145)

Mods; this is not a troll.

Parent post is the best example I've ever seen of a post that should be modded Informative.

mod grand parent down (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27738367)

PDF file is infected. Site is fake. Do NOT open it in adobe reader.

Re:Link to Sealed Documents (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27738147)

Why is this a troll? I found the linked document most useful.

Gay niggers. [twofo.co.uk] Now there's a troll.

Re:Link to Sealed Documents (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27738589)

Well, the mods must all be gay niggers this evening then. Flaming faggot-assed fairies.

In other news, you suck cock, you fucking faggot.

Re:Link to Sealed Documents (4, Funny)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738391)

Now, I'm not a lawyer but that's got a whole lot of lengthy legalese that no human could understand.

So what are you trying to say about lawyers? ;)

Sealed = for sale (5, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737435)

The documents are sealed in a plastic box, but you can buy them for only $15.95 at your local record store.

If you copy them, we'll sue you. And there's no refunds if you don't like the documents.

Re:Sealed = for sale (5, Funny)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737501)

Obviously fake. If this was real, it would have been mentioned that you have *leased* the contents to that box.

By terms of the license, you may enjoy the documents, but only for your personal and exclusive use.

The RIAA would never actually let you use the word "own" withing 50 feet of the IP that they have worked so hard to wring out of musicians.

Re:Sealed = for sale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27738257)

And if you call RIGHT NOW in the next 10 minutes, you also get this fabulous gavel, $99.99 value, ABSOLUTELY FREE!!

Re:Sealed = for sale (2, Insightful)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738673)

To me it's clear that the RIAA is trying to get people to pay a premium, not for creativity but for the opportunity of making money off other people's creativity. Too much is at stake so they'll take out the big guns.

I think AllofMp3 had the perfect business model and they obviously had the price right.

Crossing fingers.

Re:Sealed = for sale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27738867)

FYI: you can already download them for free, using bittorent.

Try before you buy.

illicitinfluence (1)

fpophoto (1382097) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737497)

The taggers have it right. Regular schlub, all kinds of dicsovery. RIAA, "we'll let you know what's going on when we feel like it."

Explanation needed ... (4, Funny)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737557)

otherwise one probably has to assume that the proceedings touch 'national security'.

CC.

Re:Explanation needed ... (4, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737833)

one probably has to assume that the proceedings touch 'national security'.

But this is exactly the point the RIAA has been driving at all the time. You've just now grasped their entire motivation!

Now, can a judge seal anything he/she wants? Or does something have to meet certain conditions? What sort of allegations in the plaintiff's motion might possibly result in this? Did the RIAA ask for it to be sealed?

Re:Explanation needed ... (5, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738443)

Transparency inspires confidence. Secrecy inspires revolutions.

Re:Explanation needed ... (2, Funny)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739069)

otherwise one probably has to assume that the proceedings touch 'national security'.

Actually it is because of all the subliminal messages the Government (read: our alien overlords that run the world) place in the music. Which is why I only listen to white noise from my old analogue radio! Cthulhu fhtagn!

Uh-oh! (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737569)

Ray Beckerman:

In case you're wondering what's going on here, so am I."

Oh fuck. It was bad enough when we had rank-and-file nerds asking for legal advice on slashdot.

Now we have a 'house lawyer', so to speak, and he's asking for legal information on slashdot.

The apocalypse is upon us! Run for the hills!*

IANAL. Even if I were a lawyer, I'd not be YOUR lawyer. This is not legal advice. By reading this footnote, you are agreeing to not hold Red Flayer liable for any damages sustained while running for the hills. For that matter, please walk, don't run -- and make sure to look both ways before crossing the street.

Re:Uh-oh! (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737897)

Ray Beckerman:

In case you're wondering what's going on here, so am I."

Oh fuck. It was bad enough when we had rank-and-file nerds asking for legal advice on slashdot.
Now we have a 'house lawyer', so to speak, and he's asking for legal information on slashdot.
The apocalypse is upon us! Run for the hills!*
IANAL. Even if I were a lawyer, I'd not be YOUR lawyer. This is not legal advice. By reading this footnote, you are agreeing to not hold Red Flayer liable for any damages sustained while running for the hills. For that matter, please walk, don't run -- and make sure to look both ways before crossing the street.

Good post, Red_Flayer. But I thought you guys could help me out and explain to me what's going on; I've only been working in the litigation field for 35 years, so I'm kind of new at this.

In Soviet Russia....... oh wait, maybe we are in Soviet Russia.

Re:Uh-oh! (4, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738073)

In Soviet Russia....... oh wait, maybe we are in Soviet Russia.

That would explain things. Soviet revolutionary tribunals [wikipedia.org] were explicitly defined as "following the interests of the revolution" and therefore "not bound by and forms of legal proceedings". Also, when determining guilt, they were also meant to look first not at any evidence at hand, but at the social class to which the accused belongs.

Re:Uh-oh! (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738099)

I'm assuming you checked pacer and there was nothing up there.

If I still lived in Vancouver I'd drive across the bridge for you and ask what new documents are available.

Re:Uh-oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27738109)

Law drive you! Banks own You!

Re:Uh-oh! (1)

networkconsultant (1224452) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738215)

LOL, the forensic techniques used for the investigation were flawed and the registered IP of the offender was "borrowed" since this was probably found out during "Discovery" then the RIAA requested the seal to prevent all other cases from being thrown out "IMHO", "IANAL", "IANAD" and "YMMV".

Re:Uh-oh! (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738235)

Good post, Red_Flayer. But I thought you guys could help me out and explain to me what's going on; I've only been working in the litigation field for 35 years, so I'm kind of new at this.

Well, Ray, I wasn't really looking for any kind of response or anything, I was just making a joke.

But since you insist on getting my advice... let me help you out.

1. Google is your friend. It probably won't help you move, definitely won't help you move bodies, but if you use an anonymizing proxy, it may be a good place to research how to get rid of bodies.

2. Never tell a judge his robe makes him look fat. Relatedly, never tell him that his gavel is compensating for something.
3. The best response to "Order in the Court!" is "Ham and cheese on rye, yer Honor!"

That's about all the free legal advice I can give at this time, if you're looking for more where that came from, my billable rate is $375.

Re:Uh-oh! (5, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738281)

That's about all the free legal advice I can give at this time, if you're looking for more where that came from, my billable rate is $375.

No problem; just send the bills to CowboyNeal.

Re:Uh-oh! (3, Funny)

k10quaint (1344115) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738471)

I can tell you, with absolute certainty, precisely what has occurred to make the judge meet with the defendants without the plaintiffs present. The check from the plaintiffs bounced. The check from the defendants did not. IANAL, I am something even more relevant to our judicial system. I am an accountant.

Checks?!? (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739249)

I was once given $1000 is cash in an unmarked white envelope by a head-hunter to entice me to quit the job I had just started and go to work for another firm so that he could make his commission. Not a check. I suspect the methods used by the RIAA to influence judges also don't show up so obviously on bank statements. In fact, since the RIAA members routinely hire independent song promoters who give away hookers and blow DJs to get songs placed in rotation on top-40 stations, I'm pretty sure they consider "hookers and blow" as a legitimate business expense, and probably get a tax deduction by claiming it as "entertainment".

My guess is the Noerr-Pennington doctrine (5, Interesting)

tlambert (566799) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738379)

IANAL, but I do read a heck of a lot.

My guess is the Noerr-Pennington doctrine. I expect that Anderson tried to define "all recipients of demand letters" as a class, and RIAA argued that that can not constitute a class because it has immunity under Noerr-Pennington, per Sosa v. DIRECTV, Inc. 1684 (2006):

http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2006/02/14/0455036.pdf [uscourts.gov]

Probably, the specific interpretation of BE&K Construction Co. v. NLRB, 536 U.S. 516, 525 (2002). The argument would be that if the lawsuit was able to impose RICO liability on RIAA for sending the demand letter, then it would burden RIAA's ability to settle legal claims short of filing a lawsuit. RICO specifically provides for private enforcement and treble damages.

This is all predicated on the demand letters being specifically for no more than treble actual damages, so it may not apply if RIAA was asking for statutory damages (which they were). There is also some question as to whether the demand letters were objectively baseless and thus fall within the doctrine's sham exception. So I see at least two ways to fight a dismissal on direct.

-- Terry

Re:My guess is the Noerr-Pennington doctrine (4, Interesting)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738991)

All of that is fine, and you're probably at least partially right, but none of it explains why the records need to be sealed. "This is not a proper class" isn't something that needs to be held secret, nor is it something that should be discussed with only one party of the lawsuit involved.

You may be right that that's one of their defenses; it certainly sounds as though it should be. But it is, at best, a small part of what's going on. They're saying SOMETHING that a judge has apparently decided is so important to keep secret that not even opposing counsel can know about it. Whatever that is, it's not Noerr-Pennington. Not even a lawyer who has worked on these cases can hazard a guess as to what it might be. That's awfully irregular.

Re:My guess is the Noerr-Pennington doctrine (3, Funny)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739075)

They're saying SOMETHING that a judge has apparently decided is so important to keep secret that not even opposing counsel can know about it.

My guess is that it involves blackjack and hookers. Well, maybe they forgot about the blackjack.

IANAL, etc. (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737573)

But are there any plausible and non-nefarious explanations for this turn of events? I mean, is meeting with the defendant's attorneys privately, sealing the record of what went on there, and then sealing the plaintiff's motion a relatively normal thing? Or is it as weird and skeezy as it sounds?

Re:IANAL, etc. (4, Insightful)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737597)

When dealing with any *AA, you really can't go wrong assuming the worst.

Re: Worst (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737807)

Sorry.

By assuming the worst you go wrong when your imagination fails you. It's WORSE than the "worst", because apparently they can break the law for fun and profit.

Re:IANAL, etc. (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737769)

But are there any plausible and non-nefarious explanations for this turn of events? I mean, is meeting with the defendant's attorneys privately, sealing the record of what went on there, and then sealing the plaintiff's motion a relatively normal thing? Or is it as weird and skeezy as it sounds?

Allow me to explain. It's like a child who has a new toy. The child must take the toy everywhere and show it to everyone and make the toy do everything it can to impress everyone. Similarly the RIAA has a new toy (the court) that they recently acquired ... and to show it off they have made it censor just about everything. Even briefs of motions for class action when you can find the full complaint in its entirety online [ilrweb.com].

Why? Because they can. Remember, they lost to her last year [slashdot.org] so they've got some face to save in this class action. Or at the least just keep it out of the eye of the public--don't want those sheep getting all uppity.

Re:IANAL, etc. (4, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737951)

But are there any plausible and non-nefarious explanations for this turn of events? I mean, is meeting with the defendant's attorneys privately, sealing the record of what went on there, and then sealing the plaintiff's motion a relatively normal thing? Or is it as weird and skeezy as it sounds?

To me it sounds "weird and skeezy".

But what do I know?

Re:IANAL, etc. (4, Interesting)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738525)

What seems to be lacking here is more information on the circumstances that led to the in camera meeting, which is probably the crux of the matter. "Eldavojohn" presents a plausible sounding circumstance above where this might happen, so the questions I have are:
  1. Are there any other instances of one side (either one) being in camera with the judge alone?
  2. If so, how often does it happen? (Not very, if at all, judging by NYCL's reaction)
  3. Were the lawyers for Tanya Anderson present when this meeting was initiated?
  4. If so, presumably they either agreed to the meeting or objected and were overruled - which was it?

If Tanya Anderson's lawyers agreed to the meeting, then one can only hope they know what they are doing, but if it's the latter then I can't imagine how that might play out bearing in mind the the RIAA et al are the *defendants* here. If it were the other way around, I'd go for "instant mis-trial", but does that still hold in any way should the RIAA escape censure in the case?

Re:IANAL, etc. (3, Funny)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738629)

About the only good thing I can think of is that the judge wanted to give the **AA lawyers just one chance to fix something in private before he hauled out the contempt charges and sanctions. And that's a real long shot.

Every other reason I can think of would seem to be bad news for the human race, and good news for the **AA.

When will it appear on Wikileaks? (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737613)

Okay, the judge and the defense have met in private...? I get the impression that this is highly irregular. Is it improper enough to have this judge thrown off the case and reprimanded?

Re:When will it appear on Wikileaks? (1)

redcaboodle (622288) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738365)

If this were irregular, there wouldn't be a Latin phrase for it.

in camera: in the room.

and WHY can they do this? (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737623)

Why are they allowed to get all aspects of a court hearing "sealed"? This makes no sense, I realize they don't want the records made public, but why is the court going along with it?

Re:and WHY can they do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27737671)

If RIAA discloses their super-secret methods, the terrorists win!

Terrorists, Star Chambers, and immunity (5, Insightful)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739151)

If RIAA discloses their super-secret methods, the terrorists win!

In what way are the RIAA, MPAA not terrorists? All this stuff is supposedly about scaring people into giving them what they want: $$$$$$$$$$$$$

Seriously, this Star Chamber stuff seems like a cause for great concern.(1) What's next the RIAA, MPAA, and BSA get to waterboard defendants? After all, it's supposedly not torture, and it seems like the natural progression of the corporate welfare state, that is a state dedicated solely to welfare of large corporations regardless of the effect on its citizens--at least on the "proles"

(1) Ironically, the original Star Chamber was set up "to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against prominent people, those so powerful that ordinary courts could never convict them of their crimes." Star Chamber [wikipedia.org]. We may expect that the new Star Chambers will be set up for the opposite purpose: to insure the immunity of the powerful and oppress the rest of us. To paraphrase John W. Campbell, power does not corrupt, if it did, God would be the ultimate in corruption; immunity corrupts, and absolute immunity corrupts absolutely. Politicians and corporations are already virtually immune to meaningful sanctions, woe unto us if they are allowed to become absolutely immune.

Court proceedings should be open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27738217)

Court proceedings should be fully open, including all minutes, documents, video of the proceedings and other media. How else can there be any accountability of the courts? People have the right to know exactly what's going on, and for that matter this shouldn't mean travel around all courts in the country to be present, because we all know that isn't possible.

Re:Court proceedings should be open (2, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739045)

I don't know that they should be completely open. I think in certain cases such as violent crimes or cases of abuse where the victim is a child and even perhaps certain fraud cases there may be good reasons to seal documents and proceedings.

In criminal cases victims may not come forward unless their privacy can be assured. I think voluntary parties should have a much higher bar to meet when requesting things be sealed then involuntary ones, especially when involuntary parties are found to be not liable or not guilty.

Excerpt from the sealed documents: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27737639)

Defense attorney: Let the record show that I prefer dongs.

Plaintiff attorney: Schlongs it is, then!

Defense: With all due respect, counselor, I said dongs, not schlongs.

Plaintiff: What's the difference?

Defense: Oh, there's a huge difference. (Begins to sing a show tune about dongs vs. schlongs)

Judge: You guys mind if I use my penis pump?

Judge winks at audience.

SFX: Penis pump gurgling.

Sealed? (3, Interesting)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737641)

I'm not a legal expert. Does sealed mean that during the course of the proceedings they won't be disclosed? Or does sealed mean that they will never be revealed, even after this is out of the courts?

Re:Sealed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27737747)

I am pretty sure it is only sealed while the case is active all trials should become public record after the fact with the exclusions of ones where a childs identity is to be protected.. i could be wrong though

Re:Sealed? (1)

orkybash (1013349) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737801)

All trials should or all trials do?

Re:Sealed? (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739579)

It is within a Judge's power to assent to sealing some documents related to a case before them; this is completely within their discretion.

There is no guarantee that all documents will be released when the case is over.

A judge can decide to seal some items that were brought before the court permanently.

Some documents may be highly personal; there might be privacy (or other) concerns in allowing certain materials to become public record.

Some of the reasons courts seal certain documents, proceedings, or evidence from the public view lead to them having the right to take that action on a permanent basis.

Re:Sealed? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27737811)

In IP cases, often times, one of the parties may wish to explain something to the judge which is a trade secret, and which they don't want disclosed to the other side. Normally, you'd get a confidentiality order from the judge to make the other side keep it secret, but sometimes, the party wants to explain the nature of things so the judge can issue a meaningful order. Sort of, in order to understand why we want to keep A confidential, you need to know B, which we *really* want to keep confidential, and is not the subject of this suit.

An example might be where you are litigating on some IP identified by a code name, and in discovery, the other party turns up some other code names. You need to explain (in camera) to the judge why you don't need to produce the other stuff. The judge makes the call that it really isn't relevant, and you go on your merry way.

Trade Secret (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738095)

RIAA Lawyer: Your Honor, we need to disclose our trade secrets to you, in private.
Judge: Okay, step into my chambers. Now, what's this big secret of yours?
RIAA Lawyer: (points)
Judge: Well that looks like a briefcase full of hundreds, a kilo of Peruvian Marching Powder, and a coupon book for 'Escorts R Us.'
RIAA Lawyer: Sssshhh! That's a trade secret!

Re:Trade Secret (2)

ancient_kings (1000970) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739427)

Hey, it worked for a bunch of judges in pennsylvania and their custom, little kiddie sex/work prison, so why wouldn't it work here?

Re:Sealed? (4, Interesting)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738107)

Having one party to a litigation in a meeting without the other to discuss any aspect of the case is a BIG BIG no no. This meeting having happened is grounds for a mistrial later and I doubt there is an appeals court that wouldn't immediately grant the mistrial simply because the meeting was held, even if they were discussing their favorite baseball teams. You can't have fair litigation if the judge is only listening to one side.

As far as your analogy about explaining technical items to the judge, that occurs in COURT, if it's a secrete it happens in a closed court with a sealed transcript but again, BOTH sides are present and both have the opportunity to argue the details and value of the information presented along with the legal right to rebut any information given. What's happened here is the defense is whispering in the ear of the judge and the plaintiff has no idea what was said, how it till affect the case or even if they need to rebut any of it.

The Judge should be removed from the bench or at the very least publicly reprimanded and removed from the case.

Re:Sealed? (2, Interesting)

taustin (171655) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738613)

Actually, ex parte (or 'in camera') stuff happens all the time, and is routine. Not necessarily common, but not at all unusual, and not necessarily a no no of any kind.

Re:Sealed? (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739131)

That's true, but in this case only *one* party (the RIAA's lawyers) was represented in the Judge's chambers whereas I gather that normally representatives are both sides are present in the interests of a fair and balanced trial. What matters here is whether having only one party in camera is acceptable, and if so under what circumstances did it occur here.

IANAL and only have TV and books to go from but, somewhat apropos, the only times I can recall instances of only one lawyer being present with the judge is when that happens to be the lawyer representing the Mafia and they are trying to "make an offer that the judge can't refuse"...

Re:Sealed? (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739661)

this is a case about whether she downloaded some songs. Then it was a case about whether her lawyer fees should be paid. What is there to keep secret except damning evidence the RIAA isn't following the law?

Re:Sealed? (5, Informative)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737905)

The first google search result for "sealed court case duration". [url]http://www.leg.state.nv.us/CourtRules/SCR_RGSRCR.html[/url] - " (c) Sealing of entire court file prohibited. Under no circumstances shall the court seal an entire court file. An order entered under these rules must, at a minimum, require that the following information is available for public viewing on court indices: (i) the case number(s) or docket code(s) or number(s); (ii) the date that the action was commenced; (iii) the names of the parties, counsel of record, and the assigned judge; (iv) the notation âoecase sealedâ; (v) the case type and cause(s) of action, which may be obtained from the Civil Cover Sheet; (vi) the order to seal and written findings supporting the order; and (vii) the identity of the party or other person who filed the motion to seal. 6. Scope and duration of order. If the court enters an order sealing or redacting a court record, the court shall use the least restrictive means and duration."

An explanation (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738445)

Here is one answer (source: State of Connecticut Judicial Branch [ct.gov]):

Q: What becomes unavailable to the public when a file is sealed by the court?
A: Only those portions of the file that the judge has ordered sealed. In the event of a partial sealing, certain information in the court file will continue to be available for public inspection.

Grounds for appeal? (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737767)

Obviously not a lawyer ... but aren't irregularities like this good fodder for an appeal if the verdict ends up in favor of RIAA?

Re:Grounds for appeal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27738515)

If they can AFFORD an appeal.

Just normal procedure (2, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737779)

It's just the normal procedure when the US court system is faced to the fact that some big croporation appears to have acted illegally.

I Figured It Out... (2, Interesting)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737869)

The **AA stumbled upon some sort of blackmail content (pictures or whatever) involving the judge and wanted to meet with him privately to give him the chance to toss the case before revealing said material. Hence the judge's willingness to seal everything going on. I would laugh at myself for the idea but am not sure its much of a joke these days....

Re:I Figured It Out... (3, Funny)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738171)

The **AA stumbled upon some sort of blackmail content (pictures or whatever) involving the judge and wanted to meet with him privately to give him the chance to toss the case before revealing said material. Hence the judge's willingness to seal everything going on. I would laugh at myself for the idea but am not sure its much of a joke these days....

Figured it out? With a name like BJ_Covert_Action, I wouldn't be surprised if you were part of it!

Noerr Pennington doctrine ? (4, Insightful)

ApproachingLinux (756909) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737885)

maybe there's a clue in that the defendants want the case dismissed based on the Noerr Pennington doctrine [wikipedia.org].

Re:Noerr Pennington doctrine ? (2, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738177)

From Wikipedia: "The Ninth Circuit recently held that Noerr-Pennington also protects against RICO Act claims when a defendant has sent thousands of demand letters threatening suit. Sosa v. DirectTV, Inc., 437 F.3d 923, 935 (9th Cir. 2006)" Yep, that sounds like the RIAA alright! It also makes sense that the plaintiff would invoke RICO against the RIAA. But I still don't see how this justifies sealing the file. The whole point of a class-action is to give everyone who has been harmed the option of joining in. That's just a little difficult to do when the file is sealed! Ray, is it true that the RIAA mass-litigation model isn't even original, but rather harkens back to DirectTV?

Re:Noerr Pennington doctrine ? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738485)

Every person who lives and operates within the governmental system of rules and laws are arguably harmed by the RIAA's abuse of the legal system.

Re:Noerr Pennington doctrine ? (2, Interesting)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738427)

IANAL. In fact, this is the first I've heard of Noerr-Pennington, and what little I've learned in the last 15 minutes is from reading a pretty nifty Federal Trade Commission staff report [ftc.gov] (PDF warning).

Anyways, one of the branches of descent of this doctrine (California Motor Transport Co. v. Trucking Unlimited) protects court action (lawsuits) from antitrust enforcement (on the basis that petitioning the government is a 1st Amendment protected activity, even if anticompetitive, and a lawsuit is a petition to the judicial branch.)

So... the angle seems to be that somehow, the RIAA's original lawsuit was protected speech, and immune to countersuit from an antitrust angle. Is antitrust or pro-competition an element of Anderson's countersuit? That might be the in.

(Also, the doctrine has a "sham exception", where petition which is intended primarily to delay, vex, or interfere with a competitor, rather than as sincere petition to government, is not protected. Very interesting....)

But again, I AM NOT A LAWYER. Not much of this makes sense to me.

Re:Noerr Pennington doctrine ? (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739119)

There is a good example [hackhu.com] of how they are using the Noerr Pennington doctrine along with lots of other interesting related case material on Hackhu.com [hackhu.com]

IANAL, Can this be appealed? (1)

MasseKid (1294554) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737947)

Can the ruling of sealing the documents, both sealings, be appealed?

Re:IANAL, Can this be appealed? (2, Interesting)

rezalas (1227518) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737997)

That assumes the RIAA would allow such a thing. Considering they own the President and his cabinet I highly doubt you can expect for this to happen.

Re:IANAL, Can this be appealed? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739155)

That assumes the RIAA would allow such a thing. Considering they own the President and his cabinet I highly doubt you can expect for this to happen.

Your statement might be relevant if the appeal process involved the president or his cabinet. And no, the fact that the executive appoints federal judges doesn't count as involved.

Sing Along Boys and Girls (2, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#27737981)

Here at RIAA, we're the sleaze!
Much worse than venereal disease!
We'll take you to the courts,
And stick your head in dirty shorts.

We'll defecate through our noses,
Whilst beating you with rubber hoses.
Here at RIAA we're so vile,
But we're vile with endless style.

Some folks think they can win,
But we've got endless yards of spin.
Oh! Here at RIAA, we're the sleaze!
We'll probably give you a venereal disease!

Re:Sing Along Boys and Girls (5, Funny)

ffoiii (226358) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738243)

Are you by chance a Vogon?

Re:Sing Along Boys and Girls (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27739161)

If you have to ask, then the likely answer is no. If only for the fact that you haven't taken your own life to escape.

Re:Sing Along Boys and Girls (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27739647)

i read this sitting in a university lecture hall listening to a lecture on environmental law... and all of a sudden environmental law seemed much more interesting when compared with reading that poetry

Re:Sing Along Boys and Girls (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738363)

Thanks for the inspiration on a slow day:

{To the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic}

The RIAA has an oddball view of what should be our rights
and they think they're superheroes all with capes and nifty tights.
The Fair Act wasn't fair they say, in fact they think it bites.
Their scam is plodding on....

The RIAA will send a subpoena,
In court, they act like total weiners.
I'd like to kick 'em all
in their tiny, shrunken balls,
so hard it hurts their dog...

What Is The Judges' Name? (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738103)

Who is this judge? What is his/her name? I'm thinking that if there are shenanigans going on here, some digging with the judges' name should bring up some possible links to the reason(s) why the judge would bend over for the RIAA, if that's what is happening here. Did one of the RIAA labels offer the Judges' niece a record deal or something? Or did the RIAAs' private investigators obtain some nasty blackmail material on the judge?

This *does* seem rather bizarre. What next? "Judge announces summary judgment for the Plaintiff, but Plaintiff ordered to pay Defendant double the amount requested by Defendant in original infringement case against Plaintiff plus lawyer fees of Defendant for both cases, details of judgment sealed, gag ordered for Plaintiff against discussing any details of case in perpetuity."??

This is just so ominous and strange that nothing would surprise me at this point.

Strat

Noerr-Pennington doctrine (5, Informative)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738113)

From the linked pdf on NYCL's blog, it appears that the reasons cited for dismissing the case amount to a twisted interpretation of the Noerr Pennington doctrine [wikipedia.org] roughly translated to:

1. IP addresses are fair game for probable cause because a previous case involving DirecTV successfully used the Noerr Pennington directive to challenge class action against people supposedly infringing on their signals by buying smart card readers.

2. Media Sentry not holding state investigative licenses is irrelevant because the information they gathered was publicly available.

3. That allegations of the impropriety of accessing publicly shared folders has no basis in law.

4. That any objection to the numerous 'Doe suites filed is countered by the successfulness of such proceedings. Also that such proceedings are not against the law.

5. That the case against Ms Andersen herself was not "objectively baseless" despite failure to link Ms Andersen to the accused infringing Kazaa user name due to flaws in the investigative process.

- IANAL

Still, pretty weak arguments imho. Certainly shouldn't be enough to dismiss the case.

As to the whole sealed shenanigans.. I guess we have to wait and see.

Re:Noerr-Pennington doctrine (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738489)

As to the whole sealed shenanigans.. I guess we have to wait and see.

I suppose all this depends if it has an expiry date. IANAL, so if someone knows if a sealed court order has no expiry, what does it take to get it unsealed?

Re:Noerr-Pennington doctrine (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739051)

The only seemingly possible reason for sealing the documents I can find would be some form of expungement [wikipedia.org] but I fail to see how the case would qualify before it is even over.

Re:Noerr-Pennington doctrine (3, Informative)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738491)

2. Media Sentry not holding state investigative licenses is irrelevant because the information they gathered was publicly available.

In Texas, at least, it doesn't matter if it's public info or not. You have to have a license for your company if it:

:(2) engages in the business of securing, or accepts employment to secure, evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or investigating committee;

Check Texas Penal code 1702.104 here [state.tx.us] if you don't believe me.

Similar(?) History (5, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738469)

I similar set of events occurred during the big tobacco lawsuits. Some testimony was sealed and later opened, some remains sealed. Some of the former was from the tobacco comany researcher Dr. Jeffery Wigand. His story is the basis for the movie "The Insider". NYT has an archive of articles from throughout the course of the suits at: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/jeffrey_wigand/index.html [nytimes.com]

Some of the latter was from another tobacco company researcher named Pele, who worked out the biochemical mechanism of nicotine addiction. After his employer quashed news of the results, he leaked the details to a news magazine (either Time or Newsweek, I forget which), Subsequently all his testimony and work was sealed, he was fired and prevented from working in that field any more.

After these and similar testimonies that were greatly damaging to the companies' claims, the lawsuits suddenly sped up and concluded with the companies paying out US$280Bn. It was speculated that had the testimony been public and the suits based on the claims therein (ie. they themselves had the proof of nicotine addiction, something they'd denied existed), the companies would have been fined a great deal more, or possibly forced to sell out.

We can only hope that what's been sealed and discussed is so damaging to the RIAA that the judge is telling them to defend against it would require perjury, and he's giving them a chance to back off, settle before it gets a lot worse for them, and go lick their wounds.

One thing you can be sure of, and happened in the tobacco suits, if the companies lose and are fined, the amount they pay out will be made up by price increases. All buyers will end up paying the fine. And once they've covered the cost of the fines, they'll leave the price where it was moved up to, and rake in even more.

Re:Similar(?) History (1)

againjj (1132651) | more than 4 years ago | (#27738977)

One thing you can be sure of, and happened in the tobacco suits, if the companies lose and are fined, the amount they pay out will be made up by price increases. All buyers will end up paying the fine. And once they've covered the cost of the fines, they'll leave the price where it was moved up to, and rake in even more.

Supply and demand? Prices up, units sold down?

Re:Similar(?) History (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739063)

...prices increases... and rake in even more.

Are you unfamiliar with the concept of elasticity of demand [wikipedia.org]? If they raise the price high enough, then it becomes feasible for me to start a private club wherein 20 people contribute to the purchase of a CD and we all get a backup copy. The RIAA litigation model can do nothing against this form of sharing, and if everyone did it, then net profits would go down, not up. Do you seriously expect that if the RIAA raised the minimum price of a CD to $100, that they would make MORE money? I believe they are already well past the optimum price point for their product, and that _lowering_ the price to under $10 would in fact improve their net income. How many songs has Apple sold at this (lower) price point?

Very odd (4, Insightful)

debrain (29228) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739073)

There are two possibilities, that I can think of to posit:

1. The Judge has serious concerns with the RIAA's behaviour, has advised them in chambers that such behaviour won't work with her (i.e. privately, so as to not embarrass them or make them defensive, or lock them into a particular position), and she has given them some lee-way to govern themselves accordingly;

2. The Judge is not mindful of the RIAA's pattern of behaviour, and is having the wool pulled over her eyes.

I'm doubtful of #2. It is typically the tendency of the bench to assign higher calibre Judges to class actions. As well, the risk of some form of judicial review or appeal on the basis of bias or impropriety given ex parte in camera discussions (not to mention the appearance of impropriety among the Judge's peers), strikes me as something the Judge would be mindful of.

Only two types of experiences come to mind where Judges take counsel ex parte into chambers. One is getting statements without influence (i.e. getting statements of a child where potentially dominating or threatening people are otherwise present), which isn't the case here (is the RIAA showing up in Court to watch their lawyers?). The other is the Judge is talking at counsel.

Knowing the grounds for the RIAA's motion to dismiss the action would lend assistance to any analysis. I'd imagine they're claiming that the proposed representative plaintiffs are unsuitable, there's a lack of jurisdiction, there is a preferable procedure for resolving the dispute, there's no cause of action, the class can't be identified, or the issues aren't common to all members of the proposed class. None of these give rise to the need for ex parte discussions.

I'm sure plaintiff's counsel has their heart in their throat, but based on virtually no information whatsoever, I'm hopeful for a positive outcome.

Quit whining (1, Troll)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#27739243)

Maybe the judge doesn't want Slashdot, Facebook Twitter, Myspace, ...

to have an effect on the outcome of the case?

Which sounds reasonable to me. I'm no fan of the RIAA, but this place is an absolute zoo. Just look at the Pirate Bay trial. They make all bittorrent junkies look like a bunch of immature half-wits.

Oh wait...

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