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First RIAA Lawsuit to Head to Trial

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the take-a-number dept.

The Courts 616

mamer-retrogamer writes "Out of 14,800 lawsuits the RIAA has filed in the past two years, none have gone to court - until now. Patricia Santangelo, a divorced mother of five living in Wappingers Falls, New York, found herself the target of an RIAA lawsuit and vows to contest it. Santangelo claims that she knows nothing about downloading music online and the likely culprit is not her but a friend's child who used her computer. The RIAA disagrees."

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What's Digg? (-1, Offtopic)

master_meio (834537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14162985)

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See what others are saying...

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I never could stand slashdot. The layout and just overall feel of that site was/is bad.

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I prefer Digg. I used to check /. but I didn't like it as much

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Blame Game. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14162997)

"Santangelo claims that she knows nothing about downloading music online and the likely culprit is not her but a friend's child who used her computer. The RIAA disagrees.""

Let's blame the technology this time.

Re:Blame Game. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163215)

<Insert standard RIAA-IS-EVIL rant here>

I'd like to see this go to a jury. (3, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163003)

No jury in the world would come down on a person for downloading a few songs when the corporation suing is insanely rich and greedy. Even if she were guilty, I would give her a slap on the wrist at most. Go after the people selling the pirated music!

gasmonso http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:I'd like to see this go to a jury. (4, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163012)

Sure they would. Just not on a female mother of five. If she were a male, they definitely would screw him over.

Re:I'd like to see this go to a jury. (1)

woolio (927141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163030)

I thought the jury was only responsible for deciding "guilty/not guilty"...

Isn't sentencing handled separately (at another trial)... I was thinking the judge decided the sentence, but I'm not very sure.

Juries can judge the law (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163141)

Juries have a little used function whereby they can render a not guilty verdict by refusing to acknowledge the validity of the law itself. The concept is called jury nullification and is searchable if you want to read more about it. The high priced monopolisitic BAR lawyers guild and judges hate it, frequently threatening people in juries who even mention it.

Just another one of those things that isn't taught in US public schools.

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

Re:Juries can judge the law (4, Insightful)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163175)

Jury nullification isn't a legal principle--it's pragmatism in action. I certainly think that there are times when it is warranted, but it's kind of common sense that "we don't have to rule against this person if we don't want him or her punished."

Re:Juries can judge the law (3, Funny)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163199)

Juries are meant to be composed of one's peers -- people from the community who know the defendant. They should not be hand picked or completely neutral.

A jury can then judge the crime, the law AND the defendant as they'll know all 3.

Re:I'd like to see this go to a jury. (2, Interesting)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163069)

Not necessarily true. I worry about the courts these days - more and more, they show they are on the side of corporations over people (emminent domain, anyone?) Who really knows what the outcome of this will be, but it's gonna be a stunner, and I would imagine have some relatively broad consequences. No?

Re:I'd like to see this go to a jury. (4, Interesting)

vsavatar (196370) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163091)

This is a civil case, not a criminal one. If the RIAA loses, they will simply appeal. Then it doesn't go to a jury. It goes to a judge. Furthermore, it's highly likely it will go to a judge the first time around. Judges have no problems coming down on mothers of five because they truthfully don't care. I hope she wins on the merits of her case. I would love to see someone stick it to the RIAA. The sad thing is though, she will probably spend upwards for $200,000 litigating this. It's sad when citizens can't afford to defend themselves against large corporations.

Re:I'd like to see this go to a jury. (5, Informative)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163117)

(Obligatory IANAL) They (the RIAA) can appeal the a jury's decision only if they can find an error of law in the case (e.g, the judge has to make a reversable error). Furthermore, the appealant court cannot make a determination of facts in the case (under the 7th ammendment to the constitution, this right is resevered to juries in cases of more than $20 unless both parties wave their trial-by-jury right) - judges can only rule on matters of law.

Re:I'd like to see this go to a jury. (4, Insightful)

vsavatar (196370) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163136)

That's the beauty of law. You can always find SOMETHING to contest. The jury is purely a finder of fact, but if the judge does not allow them to consider something they shouldn't have, or if he does allow them to consider something they shouldn't have, that alone is basis for appeal. There are tons of other reasons to file appearls, but the RIAA has enough time and enough money to litigate that woman into bankruptcy 500 times over.

This is Amerika, fool! (1, Insightful)

Urusai (865560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163165)

They'll probably assess the death penalty. On a positive note, it will probably be reduced on appeal despite the Attorney General insisting "she deserves to fry, the bitch, we are a nation of lawz!!!". Republicans across the nation will protest the activist judge who overturns it as "legislating from the bench", which is a big problem when the judge isn't legislating a reactionary agenda like he should be.

Re:I'd like to see this go to a jury. (5, Interesting)

daigu (111684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163181)

Have you been selected to jury duty? I remember being screened for a jury in a trial where one of the lawyers asked the jury whether they would pass a guilty verdict for battery if a defendent had touched the toe of someone that had asked them not to touch it. Everyone, but me, said they would. Felony conviction for touching someone's toe. I think you grossly overestimate the free thinking capabilities of your fellow citizens.

Re:I'd like to see this go to a jury. (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163209)

The woman is being accused of commiting a crime. If the RIAA can prove she commited the crime a jury will convict her. It's that simple, it doesn't matter how many brats she has or if she has a vagina. If the RIAA can convince the jury they will convict her.

Didn't see many juries go "oh that's just kicking someone in the face, not like them murderers" before personally. Major or minor a crime is a crime. The RIAA need to prove it, the lady needs to disprove it.

I guess you really do... (0, Offtopic)

Fiss (863647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163005)

...

Get what you pay for :-p

Song choices (5, Funny)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163007)

I think, perhaps, the criminal authorities should be pursuing this poor woman, for her choices of music to download:

  • Lit "Happy"
  • Incubus "Nowhere fast"
  • Third Eye Blind "Semi-Charmed Life"
  • UB40 "Can't Help Falling in Love"
  • Godsmack "Whatever"
  • Foo Fighters "Breakout"

What? No Limp Bizkit? No Britney Spears? No Kanye West?

Re:Song choices (2, Insightful)

ardyer (816606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163022)

That song choice also provides strong evidence that it was not her that downloaded the music....

Re:Song choices (0, Flamebait)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163065)

Right, because there are scands of thirteen year old girls out there downloading UB40.

The fact is, this chick doesn't have a leg to stand on. YOU are the parent and YOU are the owner of the house and YOU are responsible for what goes on there. You can prevent your daughter's teenage boyfriend from raping your pre-teen daughter with a little bit of observation and responsible parenting. You can prevent your child from doing lines of coke off the coffee table. You can prevent your childrens' friends from running a meth lab from your basement. You can prevent your children and their friends from watching porn over cable television. You can prevent a bazillion things and you can most certainly prevent (and even if you cant, then at least be responsible for) people doing illegal things on your computer in your house.

If this were anything other than computers and music, we'd be tearing this chick a new asshole for terrible parenting, lack of responsibility and so on.

Re:Song choices (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163130)

Uh...no...

The Home Owner is not responsable for everything that goes on in the home. If Timmy is shooting smack in his bedroom and goes down for it at school because of a drug test or an arrest, Mom and Dad don't do the time.

I think the whole parenting/privacy thing of kids and computers got handled here after Columbine on /.

Re:Song choices (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163134)

You realize that in none of the examples you quoted is the mother guilty of any criminal offense?
Is that a subtle mesage there on your part or what? If she is knowingly aware and does nothing to prevent it there might be some violations of law (accessory or negligence are my only guesses)... but if she's not aware and it happens in her house - she didn't do it and she's not liable, its that simple.

Kevin

My congratulations... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163150)

I congratulate you on being the first person I've ever seen who compared illegally downloading music to rape, doing lines of coke, operating a meth lab, and children watching porn.

Yes, throw the book at this vile negligent mother.

Re:My congratulations... (5, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163185)

I congratulate you on being the first person I've ever seen who compared illegally downloading music to rape

You must be new here.

Of course the RIAA disagrees... (5, Insightful)

Rabbi T. White (826997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163009)

When you're in the buisness of fear-mongering, backing down from things - even when it's completely irrational - just isn't an option. They'll keep repeating their truth until everyone believes it.

Re:Of course the RIAA disagrees... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163047)

No. They'll hire very expensive lawyers to destroy this woman's reputation. What the world thinks of the woman Kobe ass-raped will be nothing compared to what happens to her when they're through. Don't underestimate pure evil.

Re:Of course the RIAA disagrees... (1)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163056)

They'll keep repeating their truth until everyone believes it.

14,800 down, 47,600 to go?

Re:Of course the RIAA disagrees... (2, Funny)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163224)

They'll keep repeating their truth until everyone believes it.

Kind of like the Bush administration juxtaposting Al Qaeda and Saddam.

My question for the legally saavy: (3, Interesting)

merc (115854) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163014)

Would this lawsuit set any type of precedent, or is it unique in any way?

Re:My question for the legally saavy: (3, Interesting)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163063)

I'm not legal savvy, but it'll set a big unoffical precedent. If this woman loses, it's all the more reason for someone to settle with the RIAA if/when they come knocking. If she or anyone else gets off, then there will be more people willing to fight the RIAA suits. As I see it, the RIAA will lose if it has to cover thousands of trials and the associated legal fees. They have lots of lawyers and money, but hopefully we can get pro bono lawyers for the defendants. And even if they win most of the trials, the people are too poor to pay the judgements, and the trials will be a financial loss for the RIAA, since whatever they get off the average person will be less than their total legal fees.

Re:My question for the legally saavy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163073)

IANAL, but i think it would. This is a unique case - like the blurb says, all other cases brought by the RIAA have been settled out of court. Seeing as how this is the first case to go to court, the precedent it sets could be very important. It could set a positive (from my point of view) precedence, showing the RIAA is a bunch of money-hungry corporate whores OR it could go wrong and jeopardize our internet freedom. But that's just what i think. Who knows until it goes to court?

hmmm..... (1, Funny)

ndruw1 (921682) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163020)

1. Monitor P2P network 2. Sue average person 3. ??? 4. Profit!

Re:hmmm..... (3, Interesting)

HTL2001 (836298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163198)

no missing step:
1. Monitor P2P network
2. set up settlement hotline
3. Sent threatening letter (something like hundreds of thousands of dolars if you go to court, a more "resonable" ammount if you settle)
4. Profit!!

Three (2, Insightful)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163201)

3. Be a lawyer.

Not Good for the RIAA (2, Insightful)

Secret Agent Man (915574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163024)

I don't believe that a jury would convict a divorced mother of five on the crime of downloading pirated media. If she wins this trial, it'll be a black eye for the RIAA: They're first trial fails to hold water. What would then happen?

Re:Not Good for the RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163080)


They are first trial to fail holds water? Speak English, boy.

Re:Not Good for the RIAA (4, Interesting)

dsci (658278) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163102)

I don't believe that a jury would convict a divorced mother of five on the crime of downloading pirated media.

Why? Does being a divorced mother of five make you immune from having to obey the law?

I'm not saying that I agree with the RIAA on this issue, but the burden of proof in civil court is "preponderance of the evidence," and has nothing to do with

  1. being a parent
  2. being a parent of a given sex
  3. having kids
  4. having a certain number of kids

Jury nullification notwithstanding, the jury must decide for the plaintiff or defense based on the evidence presented in court, not the ideology, for or against, pertaining to downloading music on the Internet.

My two cents, and IANAL, but I have spend a LOT of time on the witness stand as an expert witness.

Re:Not Good for the RIAA (1)

HTL2001 (836298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163230)

Thats cirtainly the way its supposed to work, but it usually doesn't work out in this ideal way. Luckily, this time the unfair advantage is not on the RIAA's side. I forsee an almost unanimous vote of 'not guilty' influenced some by all the factors you listed.

Re:Not Good for the RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163236)

Oh, I thought you played one on TV!

It's about time (5, Insightful)

johndierks (784521) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163025)

This should be very interesting. Finally the RIAA's methods of targeting and suing their customers is really going to be called into question. If nothing else, finally it will actually start costing the RIAA cold hard cash to prove their cases, and maybe they'll start to understand the costs of willy-nilly litigation.

From TFA:

And as for those who claim they didn't download any music, the RIAA says that if defendants got a letter in the mail saying they or someone in their house illegally downloaded music, chances are it is true.

"The chances of it not being the right person or someone in that household are slim," said Stanley Pierre-Louis, senior vice president for legal affairs at the RIAA. "Let's face it, what we're doing is on the right side here. What these users are doing is violating the copyright laws."

I call bullshit.

This is exactly why I have a second unsecured access point in my apartment piped to the internet. Plausible denyabilty. Who know who's using it? My modem's IP address could be connected to any one of the 50 apartments in my building.

Re:It's about time (1)

daigu (111684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163114)

Presumably, they have MAC addresses - which you may be able to use to plausibly deny goats.cx and all the other unsavory traffic that is likely being piped through that unsecured port. Good luck in court with that defense.

Re:It's about time (1)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163164)

And those MAC addresses end up in his ISP's logs, how?

Re:It's about time (1)

daigu (111684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163233)

They don't. The ISP will simply have the traffic logs. He will need to provide the MAC addresses - assuming he had a log. Without a log, they would just assume it is him, and he would be screwed. You think you could get a judge to even understand what this means or a prosecuter that wouldn't argue that it was his traffic regardless - with the open port just being a convenient excuse? People get sent to jail for much less.

Re:It's about time (1)

periol (767926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163171)

i suppose if it's an access point you could be right, but 90% of these are routers, so wouldn't dhcp be masking the MAC address of the user behind the firewall?

Re:It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163186)

Except MAC addresses are easily spoofed. That, and how do you trace a particular MAC address/piece of network hardware to an individual?

I fail to see how the RIAA can convince any court that the targets of their lawsuits broke the law without the shadow of a doubt.

Now, right or wrong, the RIAA, MPAA, et al. can drown a person in legal fees...until the person cries uncle and coughs up some money to the RIAA. But in such cases, it's basically the bully throwing around his weight and crushing people just because he feels like it. It's unfair, but then again, nothing in this world is fair. At least the little guy has recourse: tell your legislators to get out of bed with the RIAA, MPAA, etc.

MAC addresses aren't routed (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163205)

As long as it's not a direct line to the RIAA, then the MAC address is only known by the next link up the chain.

My simple linksys (cheap, $70) router can fake MAC addresses while providing DHCP to the inside of the network - all accesses appear to be one computer, precisely to get around ISP's limiting the MAC addresses they'll serve to.

So, I reckon his defence is pretty damn good.

Simon.

Re:It's about time (5, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163143)

Gotta love the logic on that one.

"You infringed on our copyright!"

"It wasn't me, just somebody who used my computer."

"It was probably you because, let's face it, copyright infringement is illegal!"

Re:It's about time (2, Insightful)

IronTeardrop (913955) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163158)

While agree with your stance against the RIAA, I think that you are part of the problem, rather than the solution, viz:
This is exactly why I have a second unsecured access point in my apartment piped to the internet. Plausible denyabilty. Who know who's using it? My modem's IP address could be connected to any one of the 50 apartments in my building.
It seems that you are trying to hide your own "illegal" activities. Perhaps this is why some states in the U.S. are considering making having an unsecured Wi-Fi access point illegal. I think that the RIAA and equivalent a-holes will go the way of the dinosaur. Until then, we are at risk of being crushed by their flailing tails as the corporate-sponsored U.S. Administration continues to suckle at their teats. /O.K. how many large disosaurs were mammals?

Re:It's about time (2, Insightful)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163163)

You lose the plausible deniability if you admit that you intentionally did something for plausible deniability. Next time, post AC.

Re:It's about time (1)

Macadamizer (194404) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163166)

The problem with your defense is, the RIAA will need to show -- by a preponderance of the evidence, more likely than not -- that the infringement occured at your IP address. At that point, when you say, "it wasn't me, it was somebody stealing my bandwidth," the burden then shifts to YOU to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that it was somebody else and not you that did the infringing. You'll have to come up with some way to prove that somebody else was doing the infringing to prevail on your defense. Who knows, it might work, but it's more complicated than trying to obfuscate the real infringer -- you need to have some proof that it wasn't you for the court to buy it.

Re:It's about time (2, Informative)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163183)

This is exactly why I have a second unsecured access point in my apartment piped to the internet. Plausible denyabilty

You DO realize that, when you have to explain why you have this "plausible deniability", twelve random people grabbed out of a pool screened for experts in computer science*, you'll only look like a theif, right?

*: Yes, having expert knowledge of a case can get you excluded from a jury. Experts should be on the witness stand and on the record, not in the jury box and the back door.

Re:It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163211)

The chances of it not being the right person or someone in that household are slim," said Stanley Pierre-Louis, senior vice president for legal affairs at the RIAA. "Let's face it, what we're doing is on the right side here. What these users are doing is violating the copyright laws."

Hmmm, but would the RIAA consider the demographics of the household? Would the RIAA still believe if the household resident was a 93 year old deaf Christian widow? Would the RIAA still believe their definition of "truth"? Or does race, religion, age, or household income make a difference to the RIAA?

Why? (4, Insightful)

sirgallihad (846850) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163026)

Why do they always seem to pick on the "little guy"? A divorced mother of 5? How can they possibly make themselves look good by doing this? They would probably be more liked if they were to sue the 20-year-olds with gigs of music instead of the divorced parents trying to make ends meet, or the old granny. It looks as if they are trying to play the "Big mean bad guy", though I can only see this hurting them, am I wrong?

Re:Why? (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163090)

Why? Because bullies always pick on the little guy. Sure, they'll take on a divorced mom of 5! It beats admitting that their whole system is based on flawed logic, bad technology, and an outmoded system of copyrighting. Of course, now they'll be forced to admit most of this in open court, on the record. It should be interesting to see how their paid legal hacks try and discredit her.

Re:Why? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163161)

They'll have the court records sealed. Thats how the rich and corporate keep thier failures out of the media. It'll be settled out of court and the court documents will be sealed.

Heck, they might lose and declare a victory like Sidney Blumenthal did in the Drudge case, while paying all of the court costs themselves.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163119)

I'm giving up modding this article just to reply to this.

Firstly. In the UK "single mother with five kids" generally means "Some slut wanting more money for nothing, screwed several guys and "forgot" condoms". Maybe it's not the same in the US but don't judge a person on the amount of kids their vagina have spewed out. She maybe a very nice lady with a marriage that fell apart, but we don't know that.

Secondly. They'll sue anyone they can get their hands on, if anything they perfer to sue single mothers with no hope of paying. After all way bother sueing someone like Bill Gates who can shrug and go "meh, sue me". When you can sue some poor woman who can't aford the lawsuit so just pays up? It's the same reason in prison no one tries to rape Bubba, he'll fight back and might just win.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163173)

Or maybe the father of the children didn't have any sense of responsiblity and took off. Don't be an ass.

Re:Why? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163238)

On your first point, it basically means the same thing (this is why we need to change "single mom" to mean "never married' and use divorced mom/widowed mom to refer to other possibilities, it is clearer).

But on your second point, I agree completely. The RIAA didn't decide to sue this lady. They sued EVERYONE they thought they could extort (and with 2400 settled lawsuits, I think extortion fits). It just happens to be this lady that is standing up for and not some white 40 year old single guy with no kids (or whatever). Now it may be that because of her situation her lawyer advised her she'd have a better chance at sympathy than the aforementioned white guy.

The RIAA didn't have a choice of who they were taking to court (short of only suing a certain category of person).

Whatever you think of her (guilty, innocent, random extortion target, etc) I think it will be nice to finally get this into a court to see just what kind of "case" the RIAA has (my guess? "The IP address was xxx.yy.zzz.qqq and we have found that pointed to her computer at one point") and maybe even get some kind of precedent (or at least a warning from the Judge along the lines of "Don't try this again with evidence like...").

Re:Why? (1)

Catnapster (531547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163170)

It's more likely that among the multitude of suits that they've filed, journalists have picked out and played up the most ridiculous ones, as "divorced mother of five sued for downloading six songs" makes for a more interesting story than "college kid [likely to be perceived as out of control anyway] sued for downloading gigabytes of music [which to many people is as arbitrary a measurement as "kajillion"]". I doubt the RIAA knows anything more about the defendants than what they downloaded and whatever else is necessary to file the lawsuit - can you imagine researching enough on 14,800 defendants to know their family status?

Alternatively, my paranoid side is suggesting to me that they're picking on "little guys" to create an impression that nobody is safe from their elite strike force of lawyers.

And while I doubt they're trying to make themselves look like villains, perhaps they figure that since they already do look like villains, it won't hurt their reputation to go after grandmothers, single mothers, 12-year-old girls and the like.

Who to blame more than the RIAA? (3, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163032)

You, the voter.

The voters elected a Congress with no concern for their enumerated and severely powers. Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Independents are equally evil.

The voters continue to vote, robbing everyone of their basic rights. The crazy majority has given their power away to a government more concerned with growing its power.

Don't confuse the RIAA with evil. You, the voter, are evil. They just followed the letter of the laws you wanted.

Evil (4, Insightful)

Tony (765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163084)

Don't confuse the RIAA with evil. You, the voter, are evil. They just followed the letter of the laws you wanted.

Uhm, no. They are following the letter of the laws they purchased through a Free Market Government.

"Evil" is not in elections, or anything else. Evil is the willingness to fuck over someone for your own gain. Pure evil is when that gain is just for your own enjoyment.

The folks at the RIAA are willing to fuck over as many people as they can to ensure their own position in the distribution of music, a very profitable position. File sharing is dangerous, not just because people can download the latest lame Metallica song, but because it will allow people to distribute their own music. Yes, there's a lot of really, really bad stuff out there for free (some of it worse than Metallica's recent stuff), but as review sites progress, and the truly independent music scene evolves, people will be able to find the music they like, and the RIAA is cut out completely.

Independent music is doing to the RIAA what free software is doing to Microsoft-- making them stay up at night, even if it doesn't appear to be a real threat at the moment. P2P is essential for a solid independent music scene. The RIAA is trying not just to eliminate file sharing of copyrighted works (which is wrong, no matter how heavy-handed the bad guys are), but to paint all file sharing as evil.

If they can do that, they can destroy the truly independed music scene before it even gets started.

Re:Evil (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163126)

Uhm, no. They are following the letter of the laws they purchased through a Free Market Government.

Nice try. Free markets abhor the use of force. Government laws are legal uses of force, and not free markets.

Evil is the willingness to fuck over someone for your own gain. Pure evil is when that gain is just for your own enjoyment.

I agree. The teachers unions force me to pay their salaries. The army forces me to pay for wars. The RIAA doesn't force me to buy jack. Voters support teachers and soldiers.

Independent music is doing to the RIAA what free software is doing to Microsoft-- making them stay up at night, even if it doesn't appear to be a real threat at the moment.

I've been in the indie scene for 10 years. I just financed two indie albums. I go to 100+ concerts per year. Most indie music is crap. The RIAA sees no threat there. They see a threat from people breaking the laws that VOTERS SUPPORTED.

If they can do that, they can destroy the truly independed music scene before it even gets started.

And anyone who voted is to blame for creating laws that created the RIAA.

Re:Who to blame more than the RIAA? (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163093)

What, are you nuts? Ever watched The Daily Show? Or wonder why "politician" is almost synonymous with "corruption?"

Unless this is meant as some sort of satire, which I hope to GOD it is and I sincerely apologize for missing the sarcasm you probably meant to inflect, this is hardly the fault of the masses. If the actions of the masses defined ANY law at all, 65+ MILLION people trading songs would set a precedent saying trading was just fine.

Slashdot spends almost half of its time posting stories regarding corruption in the seemingly back-door deals between government and big business, as laws like the DMCA get passed again and again, as corporations write laws, as copyright is allowed to continue to crush innovation - and you tell me this isn't the fault of those whom gladly trade their virtue in for power and money?

PLEASE.

Re:Who to blame more than the RIAA? (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163168)

If the actions of the masses defined ANY law at all, 65+ MILLION people trading songs would set a precedent saying trading was just fine.

No, the law takes precedent. I'm anti-copyright and have said for 15 years that copyright is wrong.

and you tell me this isn't the fault of those whom gladly trade their virtue in for power and money?

It isn't.

Our Constitution is firm. It is designed so the federal government has very tiny, restricted powers. They are to be so restricted that even billion dollar bribe couldn't get laws passed.

With a Constitutionally restricted Congress, Senate and Executive branch, campaign finance laws could be reversed. Money would have zero effect.

The voters made this mess.

Re:Who to blame more than the RIAA? (1)

LihTox (754597) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163192)

The voters elected a Congress with no concern for their enumerated and severely powers. Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Independents are equally evil....
Don't confuse the RIAA with evil. You, the voter, are evil. They just followed the letter of the laws you wanted.

What are you proposing people do here, exactly? If both parties are evil, AND the independents are evil, how are people supposed to vote in a non-evil way? Or are you proposing that the only morally acceptable course of action is to not participate? Or maybe foment revolution?

Re:Who to blame more than the RIAA? (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163235)

My "utopia" is no voting and No laws covering more than maybe a 30 mile radius.

It likely will never happen, so until then, vote for yourself for every position. It'll skew the percentages. Imagine George Bush 5.1%, John Kerry 4.9% Other 89%. That's a mandate.

Vote no for every referendum.

Vote no for judge retention.

Vote no at school board meetings.

Refuse to send your child to public school, refuse to show your ID for any public official.

You don't need to continue enabling these drunken soldiers.

Re:Who to blame more than the RIAA? (3, Informative)

KarmaOverDogma (681451) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163207)

Not all voters are evil or ignorant, as you claim they are. Some of us actually monitor what our politicians do, where they get their funding from and vote accordingly.

Your attempts to put every voter, party and politician in the "stupid" basket is an insult to those who fight this kind of nonsense.

Instead of blaming others (a very immature tactic) consider the things you might actually do to fight this:

* Join the EFF
* Write your congressperson/senators when they do something you really like or don't like
* Tell other people how you feel outside of slashdot
* dont buy RIAA/MPAA labels, borrow them from the library if you must have them
* Join the ACLU

Dont confuse us, the intelligent and active, with lame and lazy who complain and do little, or nothing, else.

What have *you* done lately?

Where do I sign up? (2, Funny)

moehoward (668736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163041)

I'd like to sue her for downloading that music as well.

My god. It is like going to a Rolls Royce dealer to steal a car and taking the Geo Metro from the Used lot.

Seriously, I'd take RIAA a bit more seriously if they placed value on the song based on market value like the judge did in the My Sweet Lord case [vwh.net] .

First Slashdot Lawsuit to Head to Trial (-1, Offtopic)

nemik (909434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163042)

"Out of 14,800 X 10^9243587458943758943 lawsuits the users of Slashdot have filed in the past two years regarding duped articles, none have gone to court - until now. mamer-retrogamer, a single, sad, duper of five hundred articles living in Repeats, New jersey, found himself the target of a Slashdot lawsuit and vows to contest it. mamer-retrogamer claims that he knows nothing about posting actual news online and the culprit is not his sources but rather ignorance. The Slashdot and OTSG disagree."

I sort of side with the RIAA, maybe. (2, Insightful)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163049)

In litigating with spammers [barbieslapp.com] the first response is, "it is not us." I had one spammer try blame it on competitors and anti-spammers, but there was no offer of proof. Though this is different since liability for spam is not only on the person who presses "send" but also on the advertised site.

The "somebody else did it" defense is common. But, what proof has been presented to support it?

Here, we have not seen what evidence has been presented (in a summary judgment motion or motion to dismiss).

Re:I sort of side with the RIAA, maybe. (1)

general_re (8883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163082)

Aren't you the same www.sorehands.guy who was suing Mattel too? Seems you do a lot of suing.

Not that I'm implying that's bad or anything - please don't sue me.

Re:I sort of side with the RIAA, maybe. (1)

dsci (658278) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163172)

The "somebody else did it" defense is common. But, what proof has been presented to support it?

Bzzt. Try again. The defense has no burden of proof. The plaintiff (or prosecution, in criminal cases) does.

Again, IANAL.

Re:I sort of side with the RIAA, maybe. (1)

Macadamizer (194404) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163218)

Bzzt. Try again. The defense has no burden of proof. The plaintiff (or prosecution, in criminal cases) does.

That's not correct. The plaintiff in this case has the burden of proof to prove that the person (or their IP address) did download the offending materials. If they can't prove that beyond a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), then the defense wins. But if the RIAA CAN prove that the defendant's IP address was used to download infringing materials -- and that should be easy, because they needed that info to figure out who to sue in the first place anyway -- then it's up to the defendant to PROVE that it was someone else, and not her.

Yes, the plaintiff has to prove up their side of the case, but the defendant also has to prove up any defenses they want to throw up as well. The court just doesn't take the defense's word for it -- think about it, if the defense didn't have to prove anything, your legal fees would be quite low because you would need a lawyer. The plaintiff would prove up their case, you'd say "sorry, wasn't me" and that would be it. But that's not the way it works -- the defendant does have to prove their defenses.

Danger of this lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163052)

Doesn't this lawsuit aim to stiffle the free market?

Support her (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163053)

Where's the paypal button to her defense fund?

Re:Support her (2, Insightful)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163083)

That's what I was wondering. Maybe the tech-savvy-mother-of-5-who-downloads-music doesn't know how to make a website or Paypal account yet.

The right side? Yeah.... (5, Insightful)

Potato Battery (872080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163057)

I love the RIAA lawyer's quote, "Let's face it, what we're doing is on the right side here."

We're back in that universe where shaking down divorced moms with five kids for $3,000 - $4,000 or the threat of tens of thousands in court fees and damages, all as punishment for the heinous crime of the download of six songs, is "the right side." It's even more fun when you consider the possibility it wasn't even her who did it. I don't know, how popular is Godsmack among that demographic?

The RIAA interoffice memos on these cases must read like tobacco company internal communications.

Re:The right side? Yeah.... (2, Interesting)

dsci (658278) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163202)

I don't know, how popular is Godsmack among that demographic?

I am not a divorced mother of five, but I am a 40 yo married father of two. And I happen to like Godsmack. OT, I know, but it is possible for her to have been interested in those songs.

Re:The right side? Yeah.... (0, Troll)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163227)

I don't support the RIAA but they are following the letter of the law in their lawsuits. Courts encourage out of court settlements to save time. The RIAA are abusing this yes, but it's legal. Where as this woman's computer has commited a crime, no matter how small it is a crime.

Now can we stop this "divorced mother with five kids" shit please? For all we know she's a slut who married some asshole and is leeching off the government hand outs so baddly she decided to spawn more brats to get more money. It's like going "think of the children!", the children might just be little bastards.

I agree with her. (5, Insightful)

imstanny (722685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163067)

The burden of proof is on the RIAA. They are the ones that are accusing her of downloading music illegally. Now, just because it's her computer doesn't matter; It's like accusing someone getting killed by a gun. Simply showing ownership of who the gun belongs to is not enough to show who done it.

Those are my 2 cents, and they're free.

Re:I agree with her. (1)

toddhunter (659837) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163195)

This would be true in a criminal case. As far as I am aware the burden of proof is on the defendant because it is a civil matter.
The RIAA only has to show that it is *likely* that she was downloading and they will win.
Or yeah, I could be wrong. I would be in a sane world...

Re:I agree with her. (1)

parlyboy (603457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163200)

Wrong. It's a civil trial. There is no such thing as "reasonable doubt" in civil cases; the standard is instead a preponderance of the evidence [law.com] .

9 digit codes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163081)

Article error: "9 digit computer codes"?

Do they mean 12 digit ip addresses? (xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx)

Of course the RIAA disagrees... (1)

KennyP (724304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163086)

They can't make money if they agree that she has no liability...

Visualize Whirled P.'s

14,800 lawsuits (5, Insightful)

sckeener (137243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163100)

1 out of 14,800 lawsuits.

Gosh that sounds like organized crime....RIAA shaking down 14,800 people for money...extortion is what it sounds like to me...sounds like the RIAA should be concerned about The RICO ACT [wikipedia.org]

The way around it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163101)

1. Place an auction for a current release music CD on eBay
2. Have the auction be for 1/100 ownership
3. At the end of the auction, the 1st 100 bidders all own the CD, each having paid less than 25 cents for the entire thing.
4. They can then legally make 100 copies of the CD, since they all own it.

How would the RIAA get around that?

Re:The way around it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163178)

The problem would be that it isn't legal to make copies of CD's you own. Such is the insanity of the concept of "owning" ideas.

Whatever the outcome, the RIAA loses (4, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163135)

If the record industry loses the case then they will have no legitimacy, if they win parents will pressure their representatives to change the laws that give them legitimacy. Copyright protection is a legislated right, not an inalienable one.

She should be more aggressive (5, Interesting)

KarmaOverDogma (681451) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163137)

In addition to saying "It wasn't me," she should challenge the constitutionality of the law which allows the RIAA to obtain her identity and examine her (allged) bandwith use habits WITHOUT A COURT WARRANT; illegal search and seizure is inadmissable in a court of law and the constitution is supposed to protect us against this sort of thing.

She could ask the ACLU to defend her on that basis and they might very well jump at the idea.

I've always hated that provision of the law (DMCA), which allows them to just bypass the courts and hire the cheapest lawyer/firm on the block to use their very deep lawyer funds chest to threaten the average joe with massive suits and see them capitulate, regardless of whether or not they are guilty.

You can't use a badly formulated law to punish the unjust and expect complete compliance from the masses.

Further, when copyright (copywrong?) can be extended to insane lengths of time far beyond what was intended (e.g. steamboat willie) and fair use takes a back seat to corporate profits, can we be very surprised at the disrespect/disobediance thses laws are receiving?

Court Costs for the RIAA (2, Insightful)

therage96 (912259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163144)

Ya know, if all of those 14,000 people had only decided to take the issue to court, it sure would have cost the RIAA a good deal of money in court costs. Too bad most people are too afraid to fight the corporate giant.

Re:Court Costs for the RIAA (3, Insightful)

Trip Ericson (864747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163184)

Or, rather, can't afford it. Not everyone's willing to go into massive debt to fight 'the man.'

Money and technology (2, Interesting)

slashes (930844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163156)

I dont see the difference between keeping a recorded song from the radio and from keeping a song on my computer. In the end it's the same - music. I'm perfectly aware of quality but lets not get into that.) Now i'm not sure if the record industries lose money because we record songs out of our radio's albeit with worser quality, but I think it's the same idea as downloading off your favorite P2P client, bittorent, or newsgroups. It's the same thing as when VHS and betamax came out. The industry was worried about this new technology and how they'll lose tremendous amount of money because of it. I think record industries should expect that their music sales will decline because of techonlogy particulary the ability to compress music to realistic sizes with decent quality, and the ability to transfer this media with realitive ease. Giving people subpoenas for dowloading songs won't help, and I think it's just pointless. You're not going to make up technology's bite out the music market by doing this.

Sharing not downloading!!! (1)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163162)

Why does everyone get this wrong? RIAA is going after people SHARING music online, not the downloaders directly. How could slashdot get this wrong? How come everyone here has gotten it wrong? RIAA can only track those people sharing music, or downloading directly from them. They are going after the people sharing music.

I wish her the best of luck.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163188)

..but in her honor, I'm downloading a copy of "I fought the law (and the law won)" as we speak.

RIAA, meet Sony's DRM trojan-net! (3, Insightful)

gwait (179005) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163194)

Dear Mr. RIAA,
I have an excellent idea for you: Borrow Sony's DRM trojanware, (the trojan-net is already up and running) have it illegally download songs on selected people's computers, then fly in with a juicy lawsuit!
I'm sure a few scripts could even mail out the summons automatically, with a quick link to a Paypal account in case they would prefer to settle out of court!

Pete Ashdown (2, Informative)

Weezul (52464) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163196)

See, this is why we need more people like Pete Ashdown [wikipedia.org] running for office. He has a policy & strategy page with some comments about raising a stink over the RIAA's lawsuits.

I pray she wins (1)

dacarr (562277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163219)

And frankly, she'll need divine help, in my opinion. This is, after all, one single mother versus a multi-million dollar corporation.

SLAPP Laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14163221)

When this trial fails, as only demons and hell hounds would wish to harm a single mom with five kids,
can she return the favor and counter sue RIAA for harrassment, SLAPPing her or something like that?

It would be nice to see the dog that bites, get bitten back!

Possiblity of Innocence (5, Interesting)

EMIce (30092) | more than 8 years ago | (#14163237)

There could very well be people getting into trouble who did nothing wrong. I service lots of residential machines and their loaded not just with spyware, but trojans and viruses that make their way into these machines through remote and browser exploits. Some these machines need complete re-installation even though I clean up all local machine and user specific startup entries.

These I suspect have been root-kitted to act as zombies or proxies. These people have no idea what kinds of traffic is running through their machines and connection. It sounds as if such people are getting sued in some instances, but probably don't the know well enough to realize what is happening.

It doesn't seem to me that a list of bittorrent peers associated with a copyrighted file proves guilt. The environment is too insecure to guarantee who the actual source is. It seems to me the RIAA should have to prove a couple things:

1) That they downloaded the file with the copyrighted name and verified that the content is actually the copyrighted material.

2) That the activity from the IP address of the peer being charged actually represents the activity of a particular machine's owner. They would probably need to confiscate the machine for this - is this feesible? Just charging the owner of a connection seems unreliable, many machines can sit on a home or business network. Can one be held responsible for hijacked traffic running through their pipe?

Where this is headed it seems is a battle over regulating net communication. The RIAA will begin to push technical mandates through congress to make the internet more "secure," which will be difficult at best without implementing lots of centralized control and monitoring. How long till we have sign our packets with keys? Then how long till "sponsored" packets become free, while others cost?

A recent slashdot story featuring Doc Searl's opinion piece, Saving the Net from the pipeholders" [weblogs.com] sum's up this position very well. It's kind of long, but but offers an insightful view of what's ahead, and is worth reading for anyone with interest in the future net as a decentralized, unprejudiced peer to peer medium.
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