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RIAA Insists On 3rd Trial In Thomas Case

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.

Music 280

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Not satisfied with the reduced $54,000 verdict which the Judge allowed it in Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset, representing approximately 6500 times the amount of their actual damages, the RIAA has decided to take its chances on a third trial, at which it could only win a verdict that is equal to, or less than, $54,000. Since a 3rd trial in and of itself makes no economic sense, and since the RIAA's lawyers inappropriately added 7 pages of legal argument to their 'notice', it can only be assumed that the reason they are opting for a 3rd trial is to hope that they can somehow bait the Judge into making an error that will help them on an appeal."

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280 comments

Beating a Dead Horse (5, Funny)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098392)

"The code of tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

In law firms, we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following: buying a stronger whip; changing riders; saying things like 'this is the way we have always ridden this horse'; appointing a committee to study the horse; arranging to visit other firms to see how they ride dead horses; increasing the standards to ride dead horses; declaring that the horse is better, faster, and cheaper dead; and finally, harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed."

  -- Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, 16 February 1999, in the courtroom after lunch on the second day of testimony from Microsoft's Brad Chase.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31098508)

Best. First. Post. EVER.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099672)

No. Kidding.

It leaves one just speechless from the humor, and the profound wisdom of the quote posted.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098546)

You forgot: making the defendant crawl underneath the horse and forcing him to carry both it and you.

A legal system in which the powerful can obtain the practical result they desire simply by grinding down the weak has no legitimate moral authority. Its principles are a sham; they have no practical significance. You might as well auction verdicts to the highest bidder.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1, Insightful)

Tempete (964394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098824)

I keep seeing this around and I still have no idea how people believe it. Since when is our legal system a moral authority? It never has been. It never (hopefully) will be. A legal system is around to enforce laws. Not morals. Being a dick isn't illegal, sleeping with your wife's sister isn't illegal, being selfish isn't illegal, etc. Likewise, jaywalking is not immoral, giving people medicines for off-label purposes is not immoral, etc. Law!=Morality

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099160)

Since when is our legal system a moral authority?

You misunderstand the meaning of "moral authority".

It does not mean that the law is based on morality, but rather that at some point we as citizens participate in the social contract because we believe that the law is moral or at least somewhat fair or fairly applied.

If citizens start to view the law as less than fair, or even immorally unfair, you start to see people openly and enthusiastically break the laws, say by downloading torrents of the latest album by Rise Against or Li'l Wayne or the RELOADED release of Bioshock2 or the DVDSCR of Avatar. They basically say, "This system is so fundamentally biased toward the big corporations whose behavior is so antisocial that we might as well try to carve out our own little piece of the corrupt pie while the getting's good". [please note that the preceding was offered for the purposes of providing an example only and is not an endorsement of lawbreaking or torrents or the excellent quality of scene releases]

So, it's not that "our legal system is a moral authority" but rather we are willing to give it moral authority over our behavior and transactions because we believe it is reasonably just.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1)

Tempete (964394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099474)

“This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice.” - Justice Holmes Jr

I completely agree with most of what you said (about perceptions, regardless of how they align with reality), but the parent seems to have a problem with the rules the Court operates within.

"Its principles are a sham; they have no practical significance."

I think my major problem is that everyone is quick to blame the courts for stupid verdicts, when really the fault lies with Congress. They're the people able to change the principles of the Judicial system, it is them all of these people should be griping about. Judges don't write all these stupid laws they enforce, but perhaps the SCOTUS should be a bit more proactive in ruling them unconstitutional. Sadly, they decided long ago to avoid doing so.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099532)

The law shouldn't be based on morality at all; it should be based on protecting the rights of citizens and providing for their common interest. (For instance, I don't know if there's any case history establishing that people have a right not to be irradiated by a nuclear meltdown, but nuclear regulations are a law most people would want on the books anyway.)

I don't want the law telling me that I can't buy a beer on a Sunday before noon. What if I work nights? Sunday before noon is like Saturday night to me.

I don't want the law telling me what I can and can't do with my own body or consensually with another person's body.

All I want the law to do is to protect my rights, protect your rights, and stop trying to be the morality police.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099706)

The law shouldn't be based on morality at all; it should be based on protecting the rights of citizens and providing for their common interest.

That’s what morality is. A system of right and wrong that is supposed to protect the rights of citizens and provide for the common interest.

You just don’t like certain visions of what that means.

But, by definition, whatever rules the law sets forth of what is right and what is wrong define the morality according to the law. People’s personal morals may differ from those expressed in the law, but the law is a system of morality.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (5, Funny)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099376)

Being a dick isn't illegal, sleeping with your wife's sister isn't illegal, being selfish isn't illegal

But mix these three ingredients together and you'll have a wonderful time!

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099644)

Being a dick isn't illegal

<nitpick>Harassment [wikipedia.org] .

sleeping with your wife's sister isn't illegal

Actually, it's still illegal [wikipedia.org] in Wisconsin, Michigan, Maryland, and probably a few other states.

being selfish isn't illegal, etc.

Well, so far you're 1 for 3. I figure if I dig deep enough I could find a law on some state, county, or city lawbooks somewhere that makes selfishness illegal.</nitpick>

Law!=Morality

As an aside,I read that as LAWL=Morality and was rather confused.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (2, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098930)

I wonder if this would open up "harassment" as a defense... Considering that they cannot gain any result that's greater than what already was awarded, this third trial could only be seen as an attempt to get the defendant to settle (And thereby agree not to appeal)... If only civil law had the no double jeopardy clause...

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1)

Entrope (68843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099480)

I think the cause of action that you're looking for is "malicious prosecution" (as in prosecuting a lawsuit, not a crime). Civil law does have several doctrines of estoppel, at least one of which should apply if RIAA wants to re-argue the case. Hopefully the judge asks them to clarify the claims being made here so that the defendant doesn't have to waste her own counsel's time on the issue.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099662)

A legal system in which the powerful can obtain the practical result they desire simply by grinding down the weak has no legitimate moral authority.

Since I'm registering to become a South Carolina Subversive, I can say this: the world needs more Dexter [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (3, Funny)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098640)

Unfortunately, as it turned out, Microsoft's horse was only mostly dead.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (4, Funny)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098826)

There's a big difference between "mostly dead" and "all dead". You see, "mostly dead" is "slightly alive". With "all dead", well, there's usually only one thing you can do - go through his clothes and look for loose change.

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1)

bytethese (1372715) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099296)

But that's not what he said! He distinctly said "to blathe", and as we all know "to blathe" means to bluff! You were probably playing cards and he cheated!

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099382)

Or in this case "yeah, the horse might be dead...but if we pretend it isn't then we, the caretakers, get to keep our job"

Really, does anybody need more than circumstances descibed in TFS to conclude that the RIAA nowadays and this new trial is solely for the finacial benefit of lawyers?

Re:Beating a Dead Horse (1)

WiglyWorm (1139035) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099492)

Mod it insightful or something so the poster gets some Karma. This was too good, and more than just funny.

New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098400)

So their filing says:

After considering the Court’s Order, Plaintiffs regretfully must decline to accept the remittitur since the rationale underlying the remittitur is inconsistent with the Copyright Act and its legislative history, as well as established case law.

I am not a lawyer but how many times can you prolong at trial? I'm aware of the appeal process but is this even an appeal? It sounds more like they're saying "we refuse to accept the court's decision" which is not quite how I recall law in the United States to work.

Then their filing says this:

In light of the foregoing, Plaintiffs respectfully decline to accept the Court’s remittitur and shall work with Defendant’s counsel and the Court to set this matter for a new trial on the issue of damages.

Emphasis mine. So this isn't an appeal or a retrial but instead a new trial? How many times must Thomas-Rasset go to court for copyright violation on twenty four songs?!

Further more, if any lawyers are reading this, does this affect the precedence that this verdict would set? Will Capital v. Thomas be referenced with an asterisk indicating that the first eight trials found her on the hook for any amount between $24 and $2 million causing the judge to finally throw it out on the ninth "new trial"?

Whatever happened to due process and not being able to stand trial for the same crime twice? Is this new trial a civil suit where the first two trials were criminal suits?

I understand some issues are not clearly defined in law but this is turning into a circus.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (4, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098500)

How many times must Thomas-Rasset go to court for copyright violation on twenty four songs?!

Well, the RIAA are the ones insisting on a new trial, so I suspect the answer is until the RIAA gets the verdict they want .

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (2, Funny)

neoform (551705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098946)

Well, the RIAA are the ones insisting on a new trial, so I suspect the answer is until the RIAA gets the verdict they want .

Whew, the system works.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (3, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099488)

Bear in mind that they're up against Kiwi Camara, hotshot pro-bona wunderkind, whose primary interest (at this point in his career) is in making a name for himself by tilting at windmills. You want proof? His other client is Psystar. Neither side (and I mean the RIAA vs Camara, not Thomas-Rasset, who is irrelevant at this point) has anything to lose and potentially something to gain by keeping this going indefinitely.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098614)

Wow, I wonder if everyone can "respectfully decline to accept" the court's agreed-upon settlement in a civil case. "No, we're going to keep coming back until Walmart pays me one trillion dollars to replace this faulty TV."

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (2, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098728)

Oh, I prefer to respectfully decline to accept the court's final decision to put me in prison for 10 years. On basis that I don't like the decision and don't want to go to prison.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098776)

Most people don't have the money to send the lawyers back again and again...

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099066)

At this point, I think the legal system will fail us if it doesn’t ensure that the RIAA doesn’t either.

I’m thinking throw out their case, slap contempt of court fines on them and their lawyers for wasting the court’s time, and make them pay the defendants’ legal costs... all of them... including the legal fees incurred during the trials that the RIAA is supplanting with this one.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (1)

warGod3 (198094) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098670)

Now I am not a lawyer either, so hopefully someone who is can respond with an educated opinion...

So how does being tried three times for the same offense not violate the intent of the Constitution? I know the Fifth Amendment primarily speaks to capitol offenses, but what about the Eighth Amendment?

Were the previous two trials mistrials or somehow screwed up? If I read the articles right, then the last trial had a verdict. Does this mean in civil cases I can sue until I get what I want?

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (1)

shakah (78118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098994)

I've wondered about this myself and have asked a lawyer about it, my understanding is that (as stated on the Wiki page below) the Fifth Amendment only applies to criminal cases (not civil, hence allowing a civil case after criminal case, e.g. O.J. Simpson). Even in criminal cases, again my understanding is that the limitation only applies to a particular sovereign (?), i.e. you could be found not guilty of a crime in state court, but still stand trial for that in federal court. Further, re trying the same civil case over-and-over, my understanding is that anyone can sue anyone, but it does have to pass a few hurdles before actually getting tried (e.g. you probably have to get a lawyer to agree that the case has merit, then have to get a court to accept it along the same lines and agree to run the trial -- my guess is that at some point the court could refuse to accept it, perhaps even penalizing the petitioner with a monetary fine of some sort?).

The wiki page on double jeopardy [wikipedia.org] .

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31099168)

The constitution doesn't count in civil cases. It's not a crime, it's a civil dispute.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (1)

Entrope (68843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099548)

The Constitution most certainly counts in civil cases. The Fifth Amendment doesn't -- it only addresses abuses in criminal cases. (Remember, most of the Bill of Rights were instituted to protect against over-reach by a central government, not protect against fellow citizens.) There are common-law protections against repeated trials in civil court, with penalties that can attach in cases of abuse.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (2, Funny)

sh00z (206503) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098780)

I'm aware of the appeal process but is this even an appeal? It sounds more like they're saying "we refuse to accept the court's decision" which is not quite how I recall law in the United States to work

Well, IANAL, but they can't appeal--because they won the case.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098878)

Whatever happened to due process and not being able to stand trial for the same crime twice?

As this is the RIAA bringing the case, rather than The People (or whatever the US's equivalent of the UK's "Crown vs ..." is), surely it's a civil case and it can be brought as many times as a judge is willing to put up with it before throwing it out of court and telling them not to come back?

(ObDisclaimer: IANAL)

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (5, Interesting)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099056)

There are many legal avenues that a well-paid legal team can travel down to simply outpace the individual in both resources and time.

I'm going to tell a quick story. When I was a minor (though admittedly close to 18), my parent and I filed a lawsuit against [z] for wrongful discipline. It wasn't really wrongful discipline, but that's the easiest way to put it: [x] had broken code/regulations dozens of times during the course of the incident after I had unknowingly done something wrong due to a "disability"; my lawyer discovered all of this, and we filed the lawsuit. During the first settlement meeting, they were in one room, we were in another, our lawyers/mediators were jumping all over and meeting privately at times. (Typical mediation.) They were extremely heavy-handed and wouldn't settle for more than a meager amount at first. Four hours into the meeting, the mediator and my lawyer came in the room and we began talking. I decided to play the best card I had after the mediator had informed me that they will be willing to spend however much money it takes, and go through trial for probably over a year, (that that is their main weapon against litigants that are common folk without much money.) I made it very clear to the mediator: "Listen, I'm going to be honest, I don't care about this settlement, it's not even a dent in my worth. I want them to learn their lesson, and I will not walk out of here without getting at least 20x what they are offering. When I turn 18, I am inheriting over two million dollars and will be more than happy to pay as many lawyers as it takes. [$x] is an insult to me and my family, and unless we see [$20x], we'll be looking very forward to trial and the ability to speak to the press about this whole ordeal."

Long story short, after 5 hours worth of arguing over the size of a three digit settlement, the mediator came back and informed us that over the course of five minutes, they accepted the five-digit number upon finding out about my inheritance and my eagerness to go to trial. For me, it wasn't a risky move: my lawyer already had the media lined up to speak to me and break the story, I really was inheriting a very large amount of money, and I was dying to go to trial (because of the severity of the "awe" factor in my favor). It's important to note, however, that if you have these three things against you, it becomes a much risker move to make. Though it's a risky move, its very effective, because as this article clearly shows, a large corporation/entity's main weapon is the fact that they can afford far more legal action than you can. Also please note that I was blessed to have had a great lawyer: my family and I were literally going days without eating in order to pay the mortgage and one or two bills a month (single parent), but my lawyer offered to take the case and allow me to pay him once I turned 18 or when we won. Because I was a minor, the settlement wasn't given to me until I was 18 anyway. I was very lucky to have such a large upper-hand against an entity that had an enormous advantage to begin with.

Moral of the story: as soon as they found out I was willing to dish out just as much (if not more) money than they were to fight, they backed down and realized even 20x the original settlement amount is worth ending the matter ASAP. Granted, this article is dealing with the RIAA and I have nowhere near the amount of available resources that they do. Because of that, they will continue fighting this battle just because they can and would like to deter file-sharers from doing this in the future. Legal fights are all about money: ever seen the lower-class people on Judge Judy fighting over $100? How long do those cases last? Think about it, it's all about money, and unfortunately when an entity as large as the RIAA sues an individual, it is a very uneven fight.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (4, Informative)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099406)

IAAL. It is really a part of the same trial-- the rules of remittitur say if you don't like how the judge reduced your award, you can try the issue of damages again. Basically means if you think the judge wrongly reduced the jury verdict, you can and should have the jury try again, so we know, on appeal, what a second jury verdict was (a perspective on the reasonableness of how much the judge chopped off the first verdict). If I were an appellate court judge I think I'd want to see that.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099500)

a) It's not a criminal trial but a civil matter. In that case, these cases can keep being tried until all parties run out of money or interest in the case. Even if one party is out of money, the other party can keep it going until THEY run out of money. There is only one decision that can stop re-trials and that brings us to b.

b) The judges have so far ruled that the cases be dismissed WITHOUT PREJUDICE. That means, as long as the courts keep ruling this, the cases can be brought on again. This is off course profitable for the judge as they keep having jobs paid for by taxpayers. This is also good for the wealthier parties as they can just keep going until the other side runs out of money which brings us to c

c) The judges have not ruled against the cases to be unconstitutional. Judges are really afraid of ruling on constitutional matters it seems as their interpretation will be used as a precedent for all sorts of cases in the future in those courts and lower courts. The only court that can actually rule something to be definitively constitutional is the Supreme Court but since they are so 'overworked' to bring cases to that level is expensive and is usually reserved for more important cases like those that involve the first amendment etc.

Re:New Trial? Whatever Happened to Due Process? (1)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099556)

The judge offered the option of a new trial to the plaintiffs when he set aside the jury's verdict. There may be a 7th amendment issue involved.

Attorneys should be sanctioned (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098402)

The attorneys should be personally sanctioned for improperly representing their client and wasting valuable resources.

In addition to court-assigned fines, they should be referred to their bar association for further sanctions and possibly barred from that courthouse.

Re:Attorneys should be sanctioned (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098506)

Agreed. Throw the bums out, throw their lawsuit out, give them no damages, and put contempt of court charges on the lot for wasting the court’s time.

This will multiply to other industries (3, Interesting)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098432)

As more content becomes electronically available, such as ebooks, movies, etc this nonsense will proliferate. Even now, as book publishers try to increase the cost of books from 9.99 to 14,99 and higher, or delay release of electronic versions hoping people will buy the hard-copy first and the ebook 6 months later, there are attacks forming on the publishers (read Amazon reviews for ebooks > $9.99 and see the 1 star reviews), and there will be attacks on the technology as piracy takes hold. Everybody is just greedy, the consumers want it for a low cost that never changes, the publishers, the lawyers, etc. I pity the independent singer songwriter or now author who is blamed as part of the economic ecosystem of this mess. They may have a stigma attached to them they cannot shake and cannot grow beyond.

Re:This will multiply to other industries (5, Insightful)

BhaKi (1316335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098474)

I pity the independent singer songwriter or now author who is blamed as part of the economic ecosystem of this mess. They may have a stigma attached to them they cannot shake and cannot grow beyond.

Why would/should independent artists be blamed? The blame lies totally with those who signed up as members of RIAA.

Wait, you check to see if a singer is in the RIAA? (5, Insightful)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098800)

Who checks to see if an artist is in the RIAA BEFORE they buy a song or CD? It is guilt by association, much like all bankers are "fat cats ripping us off", all singers and authors are just money grubbing self important prima donas because I read where they sue unemployed mothers living in Harlem with insecure wireless access points. See how that works?

Re:Wait, you check to see if a singer is in the RI (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099102)

Who checks to see if an artist is in the RIAA BEFORE they buy a song or CD?

Anybody who cares that much?

much like all bankers are "fat cats ripping us off", all singers and authors are just money grubbing self important prima donas because I read where they sue unemployed mothers living in Harlem with insecure wireless access points

Everyone knows who the bad guys are here. It’s not the artists. It’s the RIAA.

Re:This will multiply to other industries (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098866)

I believe ( hope ) that the parent was referring to the stigma of "downloading music is bad bad bad!" and not that independent song writers can charge what they want for their products (which may be less than RIAA approved pricing structure).

If not, I don't know why anyone wasted their mod points on him.

That is exactly what I meant (1)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098970)

It can be a stigma; my favorite artists are independent, but some may lump them in with others.

Re:This will multiply to other industries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31098890)

Yep. Most independants aren't RIAA members. Almost every indie artist I know (including myself) absolutely hates that stupid organization. They've NEVER been in the best interests of the artist, even on a major label. They care about major record labels, and that alone.

Re:This will multiply to other industries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31098736)

Why would you buy an ebook when you could buy a good old fashioned book?

I personally hate reading ebooks. I can't even concentrate on them with all of the distractions on my computer.

Re:This will multiply to other industries (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099472)

I have no problem if publishers want to play the paperback game with ebooks. Put out the hardcover, then put out the eBook. They may eventually even choose not to put out the paperback.

This is publisher choice. The issue is that with a hardback, one is getting a product that more valuable, in the eyes of many people, than a paperback. Even now I will seek out hardbacks for used books. The question is what is the value of an eBook over a paperback? Why should one sell for $15 and the other sell for $10. I would much rather have ebooks 6 months later for less than $10.

We will see what Apple does with the $15 book. If there is added content, such as DVD, then maybe consumers will go for it. Clips of interviews, even, perish the thought, professional reading of the books could make it work $20 or even $25. Then, later, a stripped down version can be produced

Vindictive much? (3, Interesting)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098438)

...it can only be assumed that the reason they are opting for a 3rd trial is to hope that they can somehow bait the Judge into making an error that will help them on an appeal."

No, I think other assumptions could also be made. Such as, maybe they're just a bunch of vindictive pricks who have the money and just want to screw with someone they lost to (well, it wasn't a loss, but they surely see it that way). Why not piss away another pile of cash?

Re:Vindictive much? (3, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098458)

Actually, I think it's about keeping it in the media. If they can keep up the regular news about such extortionate awards in the media, they're probably hoping it'll continue to act as a deterrent to people.

Re:Vindictive much? (1)

BhaKi (1316335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098690)

That's the most probable explanation. However if RIAA loses, then the media coverage will bring all the more confidence/boldness to people.

Re:Vindictive much? (4, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098956)

If the RIAA loses, media coverage will halt instantly.

What's the point of building the hysteria around file sharing only to have it flounder? The best we'll get is a few /. stories and 'blog coverage. Count on it.

Re:Vindictive much? (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099744)

Why not piss away another pile of cash?

IMHO, businesses should act like businesses and maximize profits. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of emotional money wasting with this kind of thing.

Making an error on appeal? Think simple. (3, Insightful)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098472)

They're going for harassment and want to make an example of this person by tying up life, finances, and emotional health as long and deeply as possible. If they could get an execution somehow they would, but they'll settle for lawsuits for the rest of natural life to prevent things like, oh, personal property and/or basic health from taking hold ever again.

Rip 'is 'art 'apart!

Re:Making an error on appeal? Think simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31098700)

Corporate justice in action: if you have enough money you will win, no matter what.

Or is it corporate vigilantism? If the law doesn't offer the punishment you want, take matters into your own hands and ruin lifes as you see fit.

Re:Making an error on appeal? Think simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31098724)

Just a thought, but you may have too many apostrophes. It could just as well stand for: Rip 'is art apart!

Re:Making an error on appeal? Think simple. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099156)

I think the word everyone is searching for here is SLAPP [wikipedia.org] . They are trying to show that it is impossible to fight them, because their incredible warchest means they can just keep dragging you to court over and over and over until you are broken.

And the sad part? It will work just as they planned it to. They can just keep dragging this out until no lawyer will represent her, and then crush her like a bug. Just another example of how our entire system is completely broken beyond repair.

Re:Making an error on appeal? Think simple. (1)

Entrope (68843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099614)

Not all abusive or punitive lawsuits are SLAPPs. Read the Wikipedia article you linked -- the core of a SLAPP is using the legal system to stop or chill public criticism. What part of Jammie Thomas-Rasset's alleged tort qualifies as public participation or criticism?

Repeating themselves (2)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098476)

So basically, they're going to court and simply repeating themselves?

They're starting to sound like a broken record now.

I'll get my coat

In other news, the Saints appeal their Bowl Win... (5, Funny)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098514)

The Saints submitted notice to appeal their Super Bowl win, on the grounds that the Colts unfairly bunched up at the line near the end of the first half, forcing a turnover on downs, and causing the Saints to settle for a field goal on a subsequent series. Sean Peyton, coach of the Saints explained that while they could only lose the game due to appeal, and could in no way increase their margin of victory, they hoped that by filing they may increase their chances of a higher pick in next year's draft. Drunken fans in the french quarter cheered the announcement, and said they "waited 43 years for this, why not wait a little longer".

Re:In other news, the Saints appeal their Bowl Win (2, Funny)

Whalou (721698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098580)

Can I get this as a car analogy please?

Re:In other news, the Saints appeal their Bowl Win (2, Funny)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098750)

Toyota, having achieved their goal of becoming the world's largest car company, appealed their win to the court of public opinion by recalling millions of vehicles. There was no hope of becoming larger than themselves, so the only downside was possibly becoming smaller. "We need this appeal to keep our name in the public spotlight," unexplained an anonymous spokesman.

I don't condone what the RIAA does (3, Insightful)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098518)

But to say that $54,000 is approximately 6500x (ie $8.30) the actual damages is disingenuous at best.

Re:I don't condone what the RIAA does (1)

judolphin (1158895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098578)

You're right. Actual damages would be more like $0.30 per song, which is about what labels make from a "legal" download.

Re:I don't condone what the RIAA does (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31098694)

$0.30 per song, minus "costs"; things that are deducted on their corporate tax returns, attributable to legal downloads. My guess is they are claiming $0.10, perhaps less, as net profit on a song download. Remember, the labels are all claiming their iTunes deal is unprofitable. This is where all those poverty stories come home to roost.

Re:I don't condone what the RIAA does (2, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098628)

Why so? If that $8.30 represents the number of songs he downloaded instead of paying for then that is, at maximum, a fair representation of their actual loss (of course, their actual loss could be said to be less if he can prove he wouldn't have paid for the song and only downloaded it because it was free).

I think what you mean is it's disingeuous to infer that is their total loss, since there is also the possibility that they lost the potential for sales to other people who downloaded from him (which again, assumes they would have paid actual money if the song wasn't free, and also that they wouldn't have downloaded it elsewhere if they couldn't get it from him). Those aren't actual losses though, just the loss of opportunity, which is much more difficult to account for.

Re:I don't condone what the RIAA does (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099678)

Why so? If that $8.30 represents the number of songs he downloaded instead of paying for then that is, at maximum, a fair representation of their actual loss (of course, their actual loss could be said to be less if he can prove he wouldn't have paid for the song and only downloaded it because it was free).

I think what you mean is it's disingeuous to infer that is their total loss, since there is also the possibility that they lost the potential for sales to other people who downloaded from him (which again, assumes they would have paid actual money if the song wasn't free, and also that they wouldn't have downloaded it elsewhere if they couldn't get it from him). Those aren't actual losses though, just the loss of opportunity, which is much more difficult to account for.

You're only focused on downloading, or, to use the term from the statute, infringement of the right to copy. Arguably, yes, making a single copy is roughly a dollar in damages. But there's another right that was infringed, the right to distribute, for which Thomas-Rasset was independently found liable. And distribution rights are much more expensive - does Apple only have to pay Capitol Records $.99 once, in exchange for the right to unlimited distribution of one of their songs via the iTunes Music Store? No... they probably paid some cash up front, plus royalties, and have extensive contracts. For another example, the late Michael Jackson purchased the distribution rights for a bunch of Beatles songs for millions of dollars.

While I agree that the total damages that were awarded were too high, it's disingenuous to ignore half of the charges that brought and which Thomas-Rasset was found liable for. It's equivalent to someone being on trial for murder and littering, being found guilty of both, and then arguing that a life sentence is much too long for littering. Yeah, it is... but it's disingenuous to argue that since it ignores the other conviction.

Re:I don't condone what the RIAA does (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098698)

Well, it hinges on how many copies of the songs in question were distributed. Assuming two albums for (generously) $40, and a share ratio of 100 (which is high even for a perpetual seeder) the actual damages come out to $4,000. And given that distributed does not equate to a lost sale, I'd say the damages are probably at best $1,000.

But really, we're looking at songs whose value was about $20, and the share ratio probably looked closer to 15, so we get $300.

Disingenous? A bit. But the damages are still grossly out of proportion with the offense.

Re:I don't condone what the RIAA does (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099746)

But to say that $54,000 is approximately 6500x (ie $8.30) the actual damages is disingenuous at best.

Very true. Since this is the case where the RIAA invented the crime of "making available", and (as far as I know) no one has ever proven that she actually distributed a single copy of any song, it's a division-by-zero error to attempt to estimate the multiple by which she's being punished.

My patience would be thin. (2, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098534)

So this is what, the third trial?

At this point, since my life would be financially over, I'd consider some other options. Options that, while not monetarily or legally beneficial, ones that would be immensely emotionally cathartic.

Re:My patience would be thin. (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098648)

She has children. She must think of them, too.

Note to /. regulars: In this context, the phrase "Think of the children!" is not sensationalist rhetoric.

Re:My patience would be thin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31099036)

At this point, since my life would be financially over, I'd consider some other options. Options that, while not monetarily or legally beneficial, ones that would be immensely emotionally cathartic.

That's the point of what Thomas is doing. She has repeatedly been found guilty -- that much is not in dispute. At this point, it's all about the precedent that will be set regarding damages. When you're going to be end up being screwed, and the decision will ultimately affect how badly screwed other people will be, you may as well take a stand and try to help everyone else.

Re:My patience would be thin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31099440)

I have to agree this with.

I have put serious thought into it myself.

Courts are run by lawyers for the benifit of lawyers. The primary function is to create and monitize conflict. That may not be the stated goal, but it is what it does very, very well.

As someone who was a victim of a frivilous lawsuit (5, Insightful)

judolphin (1158895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098566)

Goliaths know that whoever has deeper pockets to pay legal expenses for a longer period of time, generally wins lawsuits. Frivolous lawsuits filed by large companies on individuals and small entities are more often than not seen as a war of attrition that they have no way of losing. As someone was once the victim of this, it makes me incredibly angry. I was frivolously sued by a large company. Even though I won the case (basically by showing up and showing the contract vis a vis their allegations), I had to spend a few thousand dollars defending myself (I'm lucky it wasn't tens or hundreds of thousands). They're trying to ruin this individual, and make an example out of him. It's one of the most evil aspects of corporations and is what's most wrong IMO about our legal system.

Re:As someone who was a victim of a frivilous laws (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31098752)

They're trying to ruin this individual, and make an example out of him.

You're right, except the individual in question is a female, but she's got more balls than most Slashdot users
(and some say she's nuts), so I see why you made that mistake.

I just hope she doesn't find out about your post or she's gonna have your balls cut off and wear them as earrings in the courtroom. Which could be entertaining... Now I'm kind of tempted to email her about your post... Nah, I'll just let you give me $500 not to email her. Thanks a lot, buddy.

Yes, IAAL, I do this kind of thing for a living every day. Don't hate the players, hate the game.

Re:As someone who was a victim of a frivilous laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31099466)

So, what has been stopping the US of A adopting a loser-pays -all legal system?

Re:As someone who was a victim of a frivilous laws (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099630)

It makes it very easy for deep-pocketed individuals to file borderline-frivolous lawsuits, since if they lose, paying for the defendant’s legal costs is no problem, and if they win, their legal representation was free.

It makes it very risky for someone with little money to go up against a large corporation, because they’re going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending themself, and on the outside chance that you get a terrible judge who gives the case to the large corporation, you’re stuck with the bill.

In other words, it does very little to prevent large corporations from bringing frivolous lawsuits against individuals, and it will prevent a lot of individuals from bringing lawsuits against large corporations whose lawsuits actually had merit but weren’t sure wins.

Limited? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098568)

As far as I understand, the judge has found that as a matter of law they can not claim more than 54,000$. I would think that they could either accept this decision or appeal it as a matter of law. What good is the new trial going to do? Will they have to go through another full trial, only for the RIAA to dispute the jury instructions and demand another new trial? Surely that judge isn't the prime authority on the law and this must sooner or later reach the Supreme Court? Or did the RIAA pass up the possibility to appeal the 54,000$ decision? I somehow doubt that.

Re:Limited? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098920)

What good is the new trial going to do?

      Firstly, I doubt that Jammie would ever have had 2.odd million dollars to give to the RIAA. $54k she might be able to manage eventually. However you forget that this was never about the MONEY. It was about deterring "piracy". Therefore they are going to milk this for all the publicity and all the headlines they can get. Jammie Thomas is just an excuse, and the money is irrelevant. So long as they can scare pimply 13 year olds (or the parents of pimply 13 year olds) into thinking they can get caught and have to pay between $54k and $2.5 million, they are "winning".

Re:Limited? (1)

Deuxsonic (828456) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099146)

In that case, they're doing a pretty terrible job, as music copyright infringement is still rampant and I can't see anything of their doing having any effect on this.

Re:Limited? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099016)

RIAA has lawyers on retainer. J. Thomas has to pay for them.

RIAA is attempting to financially destroy Ms. Thomas permanently and irretrievably.

It's stopped being about RIAA trying to extract any money from this case, and switched to them trying to make an example by bludgeoning Thomas with lawyers until she either declares bankruptcy or commits suicide. Faced with the overwhelming legal force that RIAA represents, they are probably hoping that other pirates will just cough up the few thousand dollars they usually ask for rather than face the complete and utter destruction of their personal and financial existence for sharing a couple of songs.

They're getting the money out of Jammie somehow (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098646)

They're probably just trying to cause Jammie to incur as much legal fees, stress and inconvenience as possible.
I really hope the new judge comes down hard on them for subverting the legal system and just being jerks.

Question for NYCL (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098658)

Does the idea of double jeopardy apply in civil law? If not, what prevents a plaintiff with very deep pockets from suing a defendant for something, losing, suing them again, losing, etc until the defendant's funds with which to defend themselves run out? Because this sounds like a pretty open-and-shut case of the RIAA doing exactly that, and the overall effect is that said defendant effectively loses even if they win.

do you have to pay court fees if you get sued? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098992)

do you have to pay court fees if you get sued? and how about after time 2-3+ you just go to court on your own and say to the court this is the 3rd time and I can only be on by own and move to get case voided as you can pay to defend your self.

In modern America... (1)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | more than 4 years ago | (#31098708)

In modern America people are run (through) by corporations? Yay, the future is now...

I just wonder sometimes, how long can someone look at sheer stupidity with straight face? RIAA has money, power, and wicked sense of self-righteousness, plus law-guaranteed right to do anything they want to humiliate and terrorize (and there's nothing more than that) people. Oh, and most "common people" still dream about their children becoming lawyers and getting a good warm place in DOJ after all. Just like in "Brazil" movie, where people peacefully continued their meals right after big explosion, like nothing ever happened. Well... sometimes I fear I've read too many dystopian novels, lost my mind and now live only in the realm my own surreal nightmares. Then I see news like this and calm myself with thought that my imagination is still incapable of constructing such absurd fantasies.

Re:In modern America... (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099598)

Wait, what? It CALMS you that reality tops even your brain, ladden with horror scenarious as it is? That actually makes you feel better?

Man, please tell me what you're taking, because I want some, too!

Third time's a charm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31098888)

Millions the first time, thousands the second time... let's extrapolate. Third time's a charm? ;)

Big corporations and damages (1)

partofthepuzzle (1707364) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099212)

The way I read the story is that this is a new trial only about the damages. The RIAA is not asking for a new trial about whether she uploaded copy written songs. I assume that Jamie would be protected from that under the double jeopardy statutes. I think it's not uncommon in large civil lawsuits with huge damage assessments for the the company that's paying out to bring two or more additional trials about the damages and it can many years to resolve. Of course it's usually large corporations pursuing reductions in high stakes payouts because they can afford prolonged legal battles that very few private citizens could even consider. Didn't Exxon doggedly pursue reducing the very high damages that they were assessed for the Valdez disaster? I think they persisted for several years and ultimately succeeded in getting the damages substantially reduced.

--- The above comments are the property of the RFLF (Real Fake Law Firm). We're really not lawyers and what we don't know, we just make up.

Re:Big corporations and damages (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099378)

I assume that Jamie would be protected from that under the double jeopardy statutes.

You assume wrong. Double jeopardy protection doesn’t apply to civil cases.

I think it's not uncommon in large civil lawsuits with huge damage assessments for the the company that's paying out to bring two or more additional trials about the damages

The company that keeps brining additional trials isn’t paying out. They’re receiving the settlement. They won. They’re just bringing additional trials to harass the defendant and force her to go bankrupt fighting these repeated cases.

What About Harrassment? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31099700)

Since a 3rd trial in and of itself makes no economic sense, and since the RIAA's lawyers inappropriately added 7 pages of legal argument to their 'notice', it can only be assumed that the reason they are opting for a 3rd trial is to hope that they can somehow bait the Judge into making an error that will help them on an appeal.

Isn't another possible reason; to use the legal process as punishment? There are cases between established enterprises and upstart competitors where the presumed motive of the enterprise was to bleed the competitor through legal entanglement, even though they have little chance of winning. Admittedly in this case the RIAA presumably does not hope to forestall some future loss of revenue, but couldn't they just be plain old vindictive?

As the old saying goes: Never ascribe to strategy what can be explained by simple malice. (OK, that's a new spin on an old classic, but still)

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