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Fighting RIAA Without an Attorney

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the go-down-swinging dept.

The Courts 407

2think writes "Yahoo News is reporting that Patricia Santangelo of New York will be taking on the RIAA in court without an attorney. It seems that Ms. Santangelo has committed over $24,000 due to her case and simply cannot afford to continue with the services of an attorney." From the article: "Her former lawyer, Ray Beckerman, says Santangelo doesn't really need him. 'I'm sure she's going to win,' he said. 'I don't see how they could win. They have no case. They have no evidence she ever did anything. They don't know how the files appeared on her computer or who put them there.'"

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407 comments

fp (0, Offtopic)

markw365 (185614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338815)

first post! Hope she wins.

Imagine if a trend started... (5, Interesting)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338816)

Ok - maybe not. I guess this lawyer is the exception to the rule, stating that his client doesn't really need him.

In a serious vein, if she wins it will set precedent and give hope to others that can't afford a lawyer.

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (-1, Troll)

manojar (875389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338835)

In India, only lawyers can practice in a court of law, and lawyers are those who are admitted to a bar are laywers; non-lawyers cannot cannot legally engage in the practice of law!

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (1)

aelfwyne (262209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338851)

It is actually not much different in the U.S.A. However, you do retain the right to represent *yourself* in a court of law. Only a lawyer can represent someone else - but every person has the right to represent themselves.

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (3, Informative)

lumber_13 (937323) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339078)

I know, thats the case in india too. OP does not know anything

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (2, Informative)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339132)

here in brasil you _can not_ defend yourself. in any case involving more than 20x the national minimun wage, the law mandates a lawyer.

less than 20x the minimum wage you can settle in the small claims court, but in such case neither party is entitled to a lawyer.

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (5, Insightful)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338836)

Well, it's probably in his best interests to say that.

At this point, even if he told her that she could never make it without him, he'd sound like a greedy bastard. This way, he shows that he's nice and really cares about his clients, even after they've stopped paying him.

If she wins, he gets to imply (or let people imply) that it was because of suggestions that he gave her. If she loses, well... he gets to sit there quietly and let people shake their heads and say "She never should've fired that lawyer".

Realistically, though, he's probably just a nice person. The lawyers that I know are no different from anyone else, and they really are more interested in doing the right thing than making a few extra bucks.

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (2, Funny)

xquark (649804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338993)

he will imply, others will infer.

Except RIAA funded lawyers.... (0, Offtopic)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339038)

I doubt the RIAA lawyers are just nice people doing the right thing, they are just $$$ whores.

Oh and those prosecuting lawyers that have put 100% innocent people on death row, well I doubt
they are nice people too since hiding evidence, or faking evidence is part of their game, to win a few
more cases, even if it kills a few innocents. Yes DNA is real to those lawyers. At least engineers
create stuff for humanity and not deliver people to a slaughter house.

Re:Except RIAA funded lawyers.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339057)

What about engineers who develop weapons?

Yes, that's it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339140)

"What about engineers who develop weapons?"

The RIAA has no proof they downloaded any songs either.

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339039)

Yer dancing around it, but if this guy really believed what he was saying, he'd continue working on the case with deferred payment. In most jurisdictions if the defendant wins, his legal bills are paid by the claimant. This is to avoid big guys from bullying little guys... effectively.

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339043)

Realistically, though, he's probably just a nice person

Having taken $24000 off her and leaving her broke.

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (1)

tktk (540564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338848)

Seems to me that her lawyer really doesn't want to take the case. If it were that easy, he could do it pro bono and then make a name for himself defending against the RIAA.

IANAL, but I think you always need a laywer if the other side has a lawyer. Actually, I subscribe to the Have-More-Lawyers-than-the-Other-Side train of thought. So far, I've only needed 3 at any one time.

She should really look hard for someone else to take the case. You really don't send beginners against professionals.

What's that old law saying? Any laywer who represents themselves has a fool for a client. Your called even worse if you aren't even a lawyer.

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338935)

I've only needed 3 at any one time

haha... should we ask what you needed them for?

Re:Imagine if a trend started... (1, Informative)

gnarlin (696263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339167)

What price is justice?
Simple, Just ask the lawyers! They will tell you that you can't afford it.
Why shouln't everyone get an equal change to prove their case (both the guilty and the innocent)?
I know that without a lawyer, even when you have a bulletproof case as this woman supposedly has,
there is a heck of a lot more change for the other side to slip something past you
that you might not even know is significant until it is too late!

FIRST POST! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338818)

FIRST POST!

Well... (5, Insightful)

Mr. Vandemar (797798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338819)

I'm guessing the RIAA will drop the case anyway and try to find someone with a bit more cash on hand next time. She's flat broke, what use is she to them now? Wait, this is supposed to be about justice? My bad...

Re:Well... (1)

node357 (889400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338825)

Justice would be having the RIAA foot the bill for all her legal fees. Wait, no... Justice would actually be the RIAA putting money back into its rightful hands altogether. I feel bad for her.

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338981)

This is exactly what they want. A parent who is now $24000 in debt due to having children download music and going to court with the RIAA. If I'm being sued, I settle out of court for fearing of losing more money. Even if she wins the case, she's lost more money than the settlement. If I'm a parent, I don't let my kids anywhere near P2P.

Civil cases suck.

Re:Well... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339075)

If she wins, doesn't RIAA have to pay his legal expenses?

Re:Well... (5, Interesting)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339031)

I'm guessing the RIAA will drop the case anyway and try to find someone with a bit more cash on hand next time.

The RIAA does not sue individuals for the money. The RIAA sues individuals to garner press through which they intend to frighten entire populations of individuals into not downloading.

This whole story is tailor-made to their efforts. The moral of it is, even when it is impossible to prove the illicit origin of music files on your computer, you still might be unlucky enough to be involved in litigation that can cost you big bucks. The message is, "parents: monitor the content of your kids' hardrives carefully, lest it end up costing you. Digital music just ain't worth the potential hassle."

Intelligent strategy. But getting the story on slashdot during Christmas break is absolutely brilliant.

Re:Well... (1)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339170)

"Intelligent strategy. "

My my, I thought RIAA are the only one to believe this will go anywhere. FYI this leads to the "will never happen to me" syndome, which is occuring of something terrible happens to a random few in a huge population.

Other such events are car crashes (almost anyone who crashes and survived will tell you he thought "it'll never happen to him").

What would be more effective, would be suing a large majority for small sums (like, dunno, few hundred to one thousand bucks) with a quick streamlined procedure. They can't though, so they ruin the lives of few selected folks and hope it "works".

Well it won't work.

Stupid? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338821)

If they have no case hopefully she will be able to get back the money she has spent on lawyer fees. My concern is that she may lose and her case may create some sort of precedent. The only way she could lose a case like this is representing herself.

Well... (4, Interesting)

dirtsurfer (595452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338824)

'I'm sure she's going to win,' he said. 'I don't see how they could win.

Well, I don't know. Maybe her lawyer could stop defending her. Then they might win.

Re:Well... (1)

sgant (178166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338885)

Really.

RIAA Lawyers: "Wow, we were really losing there, there was no chance of us to win and we were actually about to drop the case...then her lawyer quit and said that she could defend herself. So we tripled the damages and we totally destroyed her life with our complete and utter victory over her case! WE CAN'T BE STOPPED! Oh, and by the way, don't forget to take 100,000 out of petty cash and give it to her ex lawyer per our agreement. Do the usual laundering of it so it can't come back to us...you know, our standard-operating-procedure. Just take it out of the payola fund [wikipedia.org] ."

She's going to lose... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338826)

"Gee, judge, I have no idea how the cocaine got in my suitcase or who put it there. Can I leave now?"

That's her defense. Good luck, Patricia. Yer gonna needit.

Re:She's going to lose... (1)

freralqqvba (854326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338873)

Sure, save that cocaine is illegal. Thankfully having music on ones' computer is not yet a crime in the United States.

More than reasonable doubt (4, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338877)

Except that, on the net, this really does happen. People take over other's computers all the time, to host porn sites, warez sites, to use them as hops/storage on the way to another computer, and for all sorts of other crap. There's really no reason to assume that someone is guilty for having files on their computer with the net as it is today, and security as it is today.

Re:More than reasonable doubt (4, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339104)

more than reasonable doubt

How many times is it necessary to say this? "Proof beyond a reasonable doubt" applies to criminal cases only. There is no finding of guilt or innocence in a civil case, only a determination of legal responsibility, a judgment for the plaintiff or defendant based on the simplest and most plausible interpretation of the evidence.

Re:More than reasonable doubt (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339118)

Well, I wasn't talking about reasonable doubt in a letter of the law, "this will get them off" sense -- more like the spirit of the law sense, in which it's not right to accuse someone unless you can be reasonably sure it was them. Regardless, I don't care whether you refer to guilt as guilt or "legal responsibility". Either way, someone's life would be ruined for sharing.

Re:She's going to lose... (1)

jonbrewer (11894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338901)

"Gee, judge, I have no idea how the cocaine got in my suitcase or who put it there. Can I leave now?"

This happens. Look at Australia [google.com] .

There's a good reason I always lock my baggage. Of course last time I visisted the USA, the fuckers cut the locks off my suitcase.

Re:She's going to lose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338916)

If you want your baggage locked, there are specific "types" that are permitted. If you're too lazy to do that (it's clearly indicated in every airport I've been to, American or otherwise), of course they're going to cut em off. I personally like twist ties or zipties for that reason.

Re:She's going to lose... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338958)

You do realise that the entire Corby family are notorious drug dealers on the Gold Coast don't you? I can't get over the spin the media are putting on some of these SE Asian drug cases:

Corby is an ex-model and was found with 3 kg of pot in her boogie board. In Indonesia - she's in jail for a long time in Bali now. But all we hear about on the news is how she's a victim. About time some of her family got caught - they sell drugs to kids.

That young idiot was found in Singapore with a pound of heroin strapped to his chest. He was hanged the other week. People are screaming about the "in-humanity" of his execution - he had A POUND of hammer on him. Did we hear anything on the news about the kids prostituting themselves down the 'Cross, or the poor bastards getting HIV from sharing fits?

"No Officer, I have no idea how that 480g of 98% heroin got strapped to my chest - but I know it's not mine"

Re:She's going to lose... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339048)

Yes... drugs are the soul cause of HIV and while your at it why don't you ban ice cream becuase all the kids are dieing of diabetes. And your tax dollars go to fund the dairy cartel pushing their smack. Why do you hate america?

Re:She's going to lose... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339179)

Wow!

Someone posts a link to Google on the Chappelle Corby Drug case, where an AUSTRALIAN gets arrested in BALI. I post the truth about Corby and mention the AUSTRALIAN who was executed in SINGAPORE 2 weeks ago.

You think it's OK, for someone to import a pound of smack? He was carrying it to AUSTRALIA by the way. And we're not talking about someone scoring half a gram for a mate to smoke on the weekend here, we're talking about a purely commercial quantity of very high grade hammer. The kind of deal that Professional Organised Crime dilutes 1000%, cuts with whatever the hell they feel like, and then sells in the streets of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast (the last one is where 13 and 14 year old kids can get Heroin cheaper and easier than ganja, for your information. If you think kids are better off scoring smack than pot then you need some serious help).

And you post that I hate America? I can't see the connection between what I posted and what you're saying.

While I'm at it:

I think you meant "sole" not "soul",
"you're" not "your",
"because" not "becuase", and
"America" not "america"

Note that the last one is where YOU were disrespecting the USA.

Possession is not a tort, moron. (5, Insightful)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338947)

Unlike drugs, or kiddy porn where the mere possession is a crime, copyright infringement is only a tort if it can be proven that you transferred the files to someone else. In any event, it's very possible that her box could have been a zombie, rooted by some bored teenager looking to file share without risk.

Re:Possession is not a tort, moron. (1)

tlk nnr (449342) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339042)


In any event, it's very possible that her box could have been a zombie, rooted by some bored teenager looking to file share without risk.

This is not a criminal case, it's a civil case. It doesn't matter that it's possible that her computer was rooted by someone else, 51% probability that her kids put the files on the computer is enough to loose.

--
Click me, it won't hurt much [monstersgame.net]

Re:Possession is not a tort, moron. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339142)

You are the moron. She's not charged for possession but because her computer was used to transfer files to someone else. And the RIAA can show that. Her defense is "I'm too dumb to know how to do this myself, so it must be someone else who used my computer". Why should the judge believe her ? And even if he did, he may find that she's responsible for her computer so she's guilty anyway. She has very little chance of winning this case (and that's probably why her attorney decided to drop the case - that and the fact she has no money, of course).

Re:Possession is not a tort, moron. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339153)

Unlike drugs, or kiddy porn where the mere possession is a crime, copyright infringement is only a tort if it can be proven that you transferred the files to someone else

"In the common law, a tort is a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, for which the law provides a remedy." Tort [wikipedia.org]

Re:She's going to lose... (1)

alicenextdoor (910558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338948)

They seem to be tacitly admitting that if it wasn't her who downloaded the music, it was one of her kids. Given that downloading is illegal, the question then becomes whether she is responsible for their behaviour online. I guess she could hand over the 19-year-old to the tender mercies of the law...

Re:She's going to lose... (1)

l33tlamer (916010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338969)

"Gee, Judge, I bought this car that came with locks on its doors. Since someone car-jacked me and used it to rob a bank, it must be my fault".

Replace lock with user password and car-jack with hack, and its pretty much a valid comparison, no?

One should not have to know everything about a PC to own one. Just enough to use it as a tool, which is what a computer is. That's a perfectly good defense. Unless, of course, people are assumed guilty and must prove their innocence. Last time I checked, the states seem to be using the other system, then again, you never know these days ^___^

Re:She's going to lose... (0, Troll)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339051)

Ironic since its the US airforce that imports 10000's tonnes of cocaine yearly to fund black ops, after all
how else did it get in so easily. Ever wonder why G Bush bought oil companies with off shore platforms that are used
to deliver the cocaine thats placed into 'oil barrels' and then quietly imported with not a single inspection
by any customs.

Lawyers (1, Interesting)

networkzombie (921324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338827)

Her former lawyer said this? Ham sandwich comes to mind. Remember O.J.? They have her IP Address. She did it. They have experts and they cannot afford the bad PR. She needs a lawyer.

Re:Lawyers (3, Insightful)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339037)

Agreed that she should have a lawyer. Gotta call bullshit on "They have her IP Address. She did it." We know the former, but only speculate about the latter. Sounds like, "The police wouldn't have arrested 'em if they hadn't done it."

Re:Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339122)

Well, they have her IP address, but who are they? Certainly not law enforcement. Last time I checked, if I walk into court and say "I saw something illegal at 123 Main street" it isn't enough to get someone convicted.

Her Case Raises Interesting Issues (5, Insightful)

tealover (187148) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338831)

While the RIAA may have the law on its side to pursue these cases, is it truly just to file blind lawsuits in this manner. If they believe that everyone who buys a PC must know how to adequately secure it from external and internal users, doesn't it then stand to reason that it should be suing the OS and hardware companies who sell their products in a completely unsecured state? Or shouldn't the RIAA work with these companies to make their products secure out of the box ?

Why is it the responsibility of this woman to become a security expert in order to benefit the RIAA ?

Re:Her Case Raises Interesting Issues (4, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338944)

Well it basically boils down to you can pay whatever they ask you and they'll go away, or you can go bankrupt trying to defend yourself in court. Nevermind that their evidence is entirely circumstantial -- all they really have is an IP address and the name of the person who had that IP address at the time of the download. There are any number of ways that the computer could have been sharing the files without any participation at all of anyone in the house.

No one has to become a security expert to connect a computer to the Internet, but not doing so potentially opens yourself to this sort of lawsuit, even if you've never done anything wrong. And even if you can prove you're innocent of any wrongdoing, you'll still end up spending your life's savings and then-some just to argue the case in court. So perhaps the question should not be, "Is it anyone's responsibility to become a security expert if they want to use the Internet," but rather, "Can they afford not to?" And no it's not extortion, because we don't call it that.

Out of Curious Interest (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338838)

How and why is downloading something illegal? Wouldn't distribution be illegal because it's copyright infringement? But how or why is downloading be illegal?

Isn't that just an extension of freedom of speech? The freedom to listen/watch?

Is listening to someone, who didn't pay the RIAA, sing the copyrighted song Happy Birthday illegal? Or is flipping through a stack of unpublished/unlicensed photos illegal?

Is it because there's a copy of something on the computer? Would streaming be more legal?

I want to know what law is being broken. I looked this up in the internet and still have no definite answer. I simply need to know.

Re:Out of Curious Interest (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338874)

I don't know, I would like to get this question answered too.

But imagine if she loses. Imagine the chill this would set on the rest of the (american served or owned part) internet.

What if you could then get sued for the images in your browser cache? There are many fanwebsites that make gray-area use of those........ could you get in trouble for that?

Excellent Observation (5, Insightful)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338956)

This is something most people don't get, and it's a misconception the RIAA/MPAA push as much as possible when they go on about "illegal downloads". They've gone way past the limits on *distribution* that copyright imposes, and they'd like to attack your right to watch and listen to the speech of others at its very core. Their business model can't easily coexist with basic human freedom in the digital age, just as many moguls and kings in the agricultural age couldn't get by without slavery; after all, didn't their incomes depend on it?

To understand the blatantly false statements the RIAA and their shills love to make, you have to see through their numerous incorrect premises:

1. Copying and sharing, the basis of all human culture and advancement, are somehow heinous crimes in the digital age.
2. Seeing something is the same as doing something.
3. The US's laws apply to everyone in the world, and are superior to every other law.
4. Legality is more important than morality.
5. Your property belongs to some corporation instead of to you.
6. Creativity cannot exist without cartels and monopolies.
7. Guaranteed profits are better than freedom.

Every person who advocates for the RIAA and punishing downloaders falls for one or more of these errors. Reject these, and you see the RIAA's legal tactics for what they are: criminal extortion and racketeering. Now that the RIAA gets to teach these awful anti-values to elementary students, however, the future of freedom is in serious jeopardy.

Re:Excellent Observation (1)

icecow (764255) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338999)

underated

Re:Excellent Observation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339120)

But the real Irony of all this is that it is YOU THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT HAVE THE POWER TO STOP ! all of this if you really wanted / wished to which begs the question DO you REEALLY want to STOP it or are you quite happy trying to FORCE your Dubious standards/ideas on the rest of the world .

I hope she wins and forces you ALL to rethink your ideals/government mentality cus it sure aint good for the rest of the world , The RIAA/MPAA need to look no further than themselfs and the music/motion picture industry if they want to get rich quick Sony BMG need cleaning out for starters pirated software illeagle use of software to gain control of computers they do not ownor have anything to do with deliberate use of a rootkit to creat/propogate a back door into/onto infected machine and that is just for starters i am sure a bit of digging would reveal many many more offences by most of the affore mentioned industries .

NOT anon coward just get pissed off with all these darn accounts and passwords all the time

Pete .. (pgn).

Don't push your own misconceptions ... (2, Informative)

lasindi (770329) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339180)

To understand the blatantly false statements the RIAA and their shills love to make, you have to see through their numerous incorrect premises:

Actually, several of premises are actually false, or are putting words in the RIAA's mouth.

1. Copying and sharing, the basis of all human culture and advancement, are somehow heinous crimes in the digital age.

No one ever said copying and sharing are heinous crimes. Unauthorized copying and sharing of copyright materials is against the law (copyright infringement isn't a criminal act, but it can get you sued).

2. Seeing something is the same as doing something.

I'm not sure what you meant, so I can't refute it. Please elaborate.

3. The US's laws apply to everyone in the world, and are superior to every other law.

Within the United States, copyright infringement is most certainly against the law; in fact, Congress is explicitly given authority in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8) to make copyright laws. While the US Constitution obviously has no authority outside the US, copyright is virtually universal through international treaties and most (all?) countries have their own copyright laws.

4. Legality is more important than morality.

I agree with you :) (that ethics are more important than legal technicalities.) But if you're suggesting that copyright is unethical, I disagree.

5. Your property belongs to some corporation instead of to you.

Actually, in the world of copyright, this is often true. If you buy a copyrighted CD, you do not fully own the material. The copyright owner still owns the copyright to the CD; you own a license to it. When you buy the CD you don't "own" the music; you are, in a sense, leasing it from the copyright owner. Even Richard Stallman, who appears to deeply dislike the *intention* of copyright (I know, the GPL is enforced through copyright; I mean copyright's intention of restricting redistribution) has said this (though in the context of software, not music).

6. Creativity cannot exist without cartels and monopolies.

I don't know of anyone who is saying this. It's just as easy for you to copyright your own work as it is for a large company. But given the context here, I'm not sure what's so "creative" about copyright infringement.

7. Guaranteed profits are better than freedom.

Profits are rarely, if ever, guaranteed, but your wording is rather misleading. You're trying to appeal to the hatred of the faceless CEO and his corporation by contrasting it with the word "freedom." By "freedom," you really mean "the right to freely redistribute copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder." By "guaranteed profits," you certainly mean the RIAA making money through selling music (even though most Slashdotters argue that consumers wouldn't buy many of the CDs they pirate, so that means these profits are hardly "guaranteed"), but the profits could just as well be a small software company selling its copyrighted program and making enough money to stay in business, or a fledgling artist scraping together a living.

In any case, when an individual buys copyrighted material, he is fully aware that he does not have the right to redistribute it; if he doesn't want to be under such restrictions, he is perfectly free to decline to buy it. If I sign a contract with you to clean your toilet every Saturday in exchange for some "guaranteed profits," I am fully aware of the fact that I'm giving up the freedom to do something I'd much rather do on Saturday. But perhaps I can't find any other job, and having the "guaranteed profits" minus my "freedom" on Saturday sounds more appealing than starving.

If you do not oppose the existence of copyright, I apologize for putting words in your mouth (I did so because several of your statements seem to imply that you do oppose it). I most certainly don't defend everything the RIAA does, and I agree there are misconceptions floating about. But I do contend that there are also many misconceptions pushed by the RIAA's opponents about copyright infringement, and I saw several of them in your post.

The fact is, under copyright law, copyright holders are responsible for enforcing the copyrights, not the government. That means that if you see someone infringing on your copyright, you have the legal and moral authority to stop them. Obviously you don't have the right to go spy on people to make sure no one pirates your work, but if copyright holders sue people who are infringing on their copyright, is that not what is supposed to happen under the law? And if not, please tell me how *you* think copyright should be enforced.

Re:Out of Curious Interest (1)

the_ridd1er (941410) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338959)

This is Interesting... If someone were to steal information or sensitive Documents from an agency or the Government and then broadcast them over some medium.. Say Radio, TV or the Internet.. Who would be arrested/Fined? The person who listened, watched, and/or Downloaded it? Or the Person who put it there? I think its all to convenient for the RIAA to attack the end user? Especially when a large number of them probably think that P2P progs out there that traffic this music are probably as Legal as say iTunes. IMHO it seems to me that the RIAA is making example of these people, in an act of desperation to scare off savvy users. The result however is to make the more savvy users/hackers more devious and figure out other ways arround the security methods.. and to saturate the internet with other P2P programs, and other hacks that are all to easy for everyday users to come across when searching the interenet.. So this is more than self defeating.. and pretty destructive to those peoples lives who are unlucky enough to get caught/tapped by the RIAA... -Riddler

Re:Out of Curious Interest (2, Interesting)

Pofy (471469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338972)

>How and why is downloading something illegal?

Because it is a copying of a file. it may in many cases (but not always) be a copyright infringement since copying is a right that belongs to the copyright holder. There are, depending on country), many cases when you CAN create a copy without it being infringement though.

>Wouldn't distribution be illegal because it's copyright infringement?

Distribution is one of the other rights of a copyright holder. Again, it can in some cases not be an infringement though. The making it available for others (on for example typical p2p networks would typically not fal under that though).

>But how or why is downloading be illegal?
>Isn't that just an extension of freedom of speech? The freedom to listen/watch?

It is creating a copy, see above.

>Is listening to someone, who didn't pay the RIAA, sing the copyrighted song Happy Birthday illegal?

No, but then you are not creating a copy.

>is it because there's a copy of something on the computer?

On your computer, yes. Note that "copies" such as those in a cache or other temporary ones that are only created as a mean of using it is typicaly not infringement, it is when such a copy becomes sort of permanent or usable as a new copy (sorry for not knowing the correct english terminology) that you get an infringement).

> Would streaming be more legal?

Yes, as long as the streaming (that is, making it available or publish it) is also legal. Again, that vary some between coutries.

Re:Out of Curious Interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338988)

Just how far can they take this though? What if I stumble across a website with a copyrighted image or audio. That's not only copied it's cached locally on my computer. Legally how is this different?

Re:Out of Curious Interest (2, Interesting)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339002)

Can't be bothered dismantling all of your "but..but.. it's COPYING!" arguments but couldn't help myself with this one.


>Is listening to someone, who didn't pay the RIAA, sing the copyrighted song Happy Birthday illegal?

No, but then you are not creating a copy.


So, going by that logic recording that person singing happy birthday and then listening to it later WOULD be copyright infringement? bu.. I thought time-shifting was legal in the US?

Equating downloading a file to "it's creating a copy and that's illegal" is bad voodoo, I could argue that I am simply on the receiving end of those bytes and recording them for later use, is that not the same as time-shifting a radio or television program?

Re:Out of Curious Interest (2, Interesting)

Pofy (471469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339029)

>So, going by that logic recording that person singing happy birthday and then listening to it later
>WOULD be copyright infringement? bu.. I thought time-shifting was legal in the US?

That is why should have read and quooted and understood ALL of my answer. For example the few qords just following after the ones you quoted:

" it may in many cases (but not always) be a copyright infringement"

or perhaps the next sentence after that:

" There are, depending on country), many cases when you CAN create a copy without it being infringement though."

>Equating downloading a file to "it's creating a copy and that's illegal" is bad voodoo

Were did I do that? See above.

> I could argue that I am simply on the receiving end of those bytes and recording them for later use,

Since you are the one initiating the transfer you are not just "recieveing", you are the one creating the copy.

>is that not the same as time-shifting a radio or television program?

In part, yes. But so what? What did that have to do with what I said? Now, go back and read the WHOLE post of mine, it is not that long you know....

Re:Out of Curious Interest (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339014)

The thing that nobody seems to talk about is who is actually making the copy. I believe that the copy is made by the person who is uploading the file. The downloader recieves a copy(i.e. does not make one).
This is the same as a guy selling illegal books on the street. He made the copies and is the one who infringed on copyrights no the people who bought from him.

Re:Out of Curious Interest (1)

Pofy (471469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339047)

>The thing that nobody seems to talk about is who is actually making the copy. I believe that the copy
>is made by the person who is uploading the file.

No, he is making it available to the public, which in itself can be copyright infringement.

> The downloader recieves a copy(i.e. does not make one).

The downloader is the active part in the copying, and the one initiating it and the one creating it (on his computer), so I can't see how anyone else can be the one "copying". Although I can't give you a link out of my head, this type of reasoning has been done several times in swedish courts that has dealt with copyright infringement cases.

>This is the same as a guy selling illegal books on the street.

No it is not at all the same. There is no copying going on there, it is a sale and purchase of allready done copies.

> He made the copies and is the one who infringed on copyrights no the people who bought from him.

Exactly, he has allraedy made a bunch of copies that he is now distributing both actions of which can be infringement.

On the net, the uploader has not made a copy (well, he can of course) but is only making a single copy available for others to create copies of. Although still different and not so good, think of your guy on the street with only his own copy but bypassers instead use that to create new copies themselves.

Re:Out of Curious Interest (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339137)

Ok, it seems you got me on the fact the downloader makes a copy but not for the same reasons.
What happens when I downlaod a file is that the uploader sends a copy of the file over the net and then I save a copy of the data I recieve from the net. This means that both people are in fact making copies of the file.

The reason that the uploader makes a copy is because I do not have access to his filesystem. I can only _ask_ him to send me a _copy_. He sends me a copy simply because he does not loose the original.

Re:Out of Curious Interest (4, Insightful)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339003)

IANAL, and the exact text of copyright law varies between countries, so it does depend upon your country, but the general argument goes something like this.

Copyright is the right to make copies. Only the copyright holder can make and distribute copies. Fair use allows a defence against infringement in certain circumstances, but we'll assume for the sake of argument using a P2P app to grab a complete copy of a copyrighted work isn't one of them.

Now, the person uploading a non-licenced copyrighted work is definitely breaking the law, as they are distributing. The question is, is the person downloading also making a copy? After all, the copy is actually assembled on the downloaders machine. In jurisdictions where you're allowed to make personal copies, it's possible you could argue you're just getting a rip of something you already own, or that you assumed the uploader had permission to distribute.

Instead, they could try to get you with contributory infringement, i.e. you had knowledge of the infringement (making a copy) and materially contributed (i.e. your computer downloading the copy at your request)

Uploaders are definitely at risk, legally, but downloaders are in a much greyer area, depending on wording and interpretation of the law. If you get caught in the act of downloading, or have a large collection of material which is obviously infringing copies, you may well face a lawsuit.

Imagine the police turned up to arrest a street vendor selling what turns out to be dodgy music CDs while you're buying one. It'd be hard to get you for anything. Now imagine they catch you giving the guy a blank CD so he can copy something for you on the spot - it'd be much easier to get you for contributory infringement, especially if you already have a CD wallet full of things you don't have orginial copies of. Downloading is somewhat similar. As far as I've been able to check, all the P2P users lawsuits have been about uploading, though the media tend to use uploaded and downloaded interchangably, incorrectly.

Either way, you're a lot safer being a leech, though you're definitely still taking somewhat of a risk.

Well, how will they really prove it anyways? (1)

Darkn3ss (812009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338842)

They can prove that you download a file how? By supplying it to you? By finding you in a swarm of BT users? If they supply the file to you, then I would think that would constitute some sort of unethical treatment by the company. Here are drugs, you can have them, but not use them. But we'll sue you in 3 weeks because you have them and steal all of your money. Some people are collectors, meaning that they download things just because they can, and they never use it. The law is broken at the time of download. In reality, no money is ever deprived until the end-user uses the downloaded file without paying for it. The people who should REALLY be mad about downloading movies is Blockbuster and Netflix, as they will never get any money from the downloaders, not the MPAA. Same with rental places for CDs, not the RIAA. Rent and rip, like you always used to. Now people are just cutting out the middleman, and not renting.

Re:Well, how will they really prove it anyways? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338868)

[quote]They can prove that you download a file how? By supplying it to you?[/quote]

If they supplied you with the file, would that still be copyright infringement? They are the legal distributors, afterall.....

Re:Well, how will they really prove it anyways? (1)

Darkn3ss (812009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338976)

If I were a juror and found that they made $0 through legitimate means by supplying their files via a P2P, then I would not be inclined to give them any sort of compensation when it can only be proved that someone downloaded a file, not that they actually used it. It would not be copyright infringement. On ethical grounds, it is worse than shooting someone and then handing someone else the smoking gun and then screaming for your life. Why? Because they don't just ruin one life. They ruin thousands.

Re:Well, how will they really prove it anyways? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339147)

that analogy blows

Re:Well, how will they really prove it anyways? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338982)

If they provide the file for download can that be considered entraptment? They would be providing the means for her to commit the crime.

I really don't know much about law but all the RIAA law suits sound fishy to me .

Is this a civil or criminal case? (2, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338843)

I guess civil, otherwise she could just get a lawyer assigned to her.

And will there be a jury?

I don't think any jury would be willing to convict her. Which would set a nice precedent.

Shooting themselves in the foot once again (4, Insightful)

DreamingReal (216288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338854)

The music industry is shooting themselves in the foot, once again, with these lawsuits. Conceivably, many of the people being targeted in these lawsuits are using versions of Kazaa/Limewire/iMesh for which they have paid. The more computer-illiterate among them don't know the difference between paying for an ad-free program and paying for music.

As an on-site computer technician, I've talked with many parents who didn't understand they were still taking a risk by letting their children download from Limewire Pro. They think since they paid for the program, they have paid for the music. They don't under the difference between peer-to-peer programs and legitimate music download services.

I often think that the RIAA is going to turn many novice computer users off from online purchasing altogether because they are going after the unsophisticated user who doesn't understand copyright and what constitutes a legitimate channel and what does not. If they really want to stop online piracy, they need to go after the makers of the software, not the poor people they duped into believing that they had "purchased" music.

Re:Shooting themselves in the foot once again (4, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338912)

"I often think that the RIAA is going to turn many novice computer users off from online purchasing altogether"

They would be ok with that. They aren't really the music industry, after all - they are the "distributing plastic discs" industry. With online purchasing dead they would hope people might buy plastic discs again.

Their business is distribution - yet they want to continue to exist even when distribution is no longer necessary, or at least what minor amount is necessary is now handled by the customer. It's as if a trolley company wanted to stay in business after everyone started buying cars - the company sold off all its trolleys, sold off the rights-of-way, fired all the trolley conductors, but still wants you to pay them the fare every time you drive yourself in to work.

Re:Shooting themselves in the foot once again (5, Insightful)

monomania (595068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339072)

They aren't really the music industry, after all - they are the "distributing plastic discs" industry. With online purchasing dead they would hope people might buy plastic discs again.

And that bears repeating. Since when did we start calling them "The Music Industry" anyway? Used to be, we referred to them as "The Recording Industry". Music isn't an industry per se, it is (or was) an art form. Surely it's indicative of the way the argument has been framed in the favor of the RIAA that we mispeak so easily -- to the denigration of the true artists involved (the real producers of the 'product') and the false elevation of the RIAA to a privileged status of ownership.

But I realize that to frame the "IP" argument in real terms (who really owns the work that's produced?) would laid bare more of the recording industries darkside than just the spurious lawsuits against consumer "pirates". And again it comes back to Copyright -- imagine for a moment, in a sane Copyright regime; that I, as the musical artist, possessed only the original exclusivity originally envisioned by the Framers -- then only that limited term could be contracted to a distributor/licensee of the work. After all, you can't legally sell what you don't own.

Imagine then, a marketplace where musicians couldn't sell their souls for a recording contract (or be required to) because (if by 'souls' we mean the absurd "lifetime plus x years" of rights) they don't possess such rights in the first place. One could sell the extent of one's (reasonable) rights (say, 5 years?) which is close enough to the existing shelf life of the product in the industries marketing cycle anyway. After that, anyone could record and market the music (or a version of it) but, then, so could the artist themselves (John Fogerty, anyone?) or the fans themselves (ala Phish, the Dead, etc. or in fact the situation that is slowly being obtained sub rosa...). Of course Lessig's been saying somewhat the same all this time as well, in terms of how a reasonable regime would act in furtherance of the arts and of culture. Imagine the ramifications of it. Information may or may not want to be free, but culture certainly does, and will work to free itself of restraint by nature.

Their business is distribution - yet they want to continue to exist even when distribution is no longer necessary, or at least what minor amount is necessary is now handled by the customer.

What the recording industry is contending with now is the tendency of society to organize itself along such a more reasonable and natural (and much more efficient) mode of operation. That is real enterprise at work. The RIAA (and the MPAA et al.) are attempting through monopolism (a kind of state-assisted terrorism in this case) to maintain an artificial marketplace that technology and culture are conspiring to transcend. Personally, my money is on the latter agents of economic evolution. And the fact that it's all devolved into the hands of attorneys and accountants shows how close the end is near for this so-called "industry".

Re:Shooting themselves in the foot once again (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339001)

If they really want to stop online piracy, they need to go after the makers of the software, not the poor people they duped into believing that they had "purchased" music.

Personally, I think going after online piracy is the wrong direction all together. The time and money spent going after online piracy would probably be better spent fighting the people who pirate CDs and DVDs and sell them for 1/4th the price of legit merchandise. Not a big problem in the U.S., but I've heard it's widespread in some countries.

But targetting online piracy is easier, and it makes it look to shareholders like they're trying to protect their interests. Hell, they're still making hundreds of millions of dollars a year, right? So just ignore the real pirates, it's easier that way.

This case is important (4, Insightful)

CokeBear (16811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338856)

And we all have an interest in her winning.

Where can I make a donation to her legal defense fund?

And why has the EFF not taken up the case?

Re:This case is important (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338892)

There were 16,000 people charge, with 3,700 settled. Perhaps the remaining could get in contact with each other and band together for a class-action lawsuit, or simply a fund because if 1 person wins a case, precedent is set.

Re:This case is important (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338962)

Damn right! I know it means nothing posting AC, but I'd pledge 50 just get the satisfaction of kicking the RIAA in the nuts. Hell, it would make up for all I've saved on boycotting their rubbish for the last few years. But think beyond money here people. She is up against 'experts' in a civil lawsuit. What will be decided fundamentally affects us all and it will be decided on who can provide the most convincing case. And what are many of us here if not experts in technology and technology law? All this woman seems to have is spunky confidence and a will to stand up for herself. As a practicing computer scientist with 15 years experience I feel confident I could destroy their case on any *technical* point. Just off the top of my head without any knowledge of the case...

Where did the hard disk come from?
Was it AND/OR the OS cleanly installed and by whom?
Who else had access to the machine, physical and remote?
If the RIAA were able to access it
  i) did they trespass to do so?
  ii) does this not mean anybody else also had remote access to the machine?
What evidence is there that the machine was not infected or part of a botnet?
How did the RIAA get hold of any ISP logs?
Do the logs conclusively prove a download was requested AND received?
Do the logs conclusively prove she personally was the instigator, bound to that IP address/timeframe?
If she had this data on her machine did she also have the means to decode it thus the means and intent to listen to it?
Lets see a full audit of every piece of code on that machine!

I'm sure y'all can do a lot better too. She shouldn't need to *hire experts*, she should have dozens of them gagging to jump into the fray and give the RIAA a bloody nose. I wonder why not. Is there something about this case that's not being aired?

Re:This case is important (2)

sodul (833177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339109)

I'm wondering how much sales the Majors have lost due to Boycott. I believe I've purchased maybe 2 CDs since 2001, the last one being in 2002.

So when the sales are going down is it only because the file trading, or is there a lot coming from boycott ? My wife likes music more than I do ... watches American Idol, and has an iPod. If she wants to buy a song she goes to iTunes and buy the tracks she wants not the whole album. And I don't think she get new releases anymore, most of if being crap.

I don't d/l music that I don't own the copyright either ... but I've lost a bunch of CDs during my various moves of the years, so I did pay for the songs I d/l, I just don't have the original CD anymore.

French law makers voted a new law a couple of days ago and it legalize the fact that you can download, but not to upload. It creates a lot of conflict but one of the points was that "illegal" d/l is a push from the US Majors. Also at least 8 million people are doing it, so should we consider over 10% of the population as criminals? Don't forget that most of the downloader will be able to vote in the next few years and even if the parents don't understand that the majors are purely greedy. The teenagers do see them as greedy bastards and will kick the butts of the bad politicians out of office.

Reminds me a couple of years ago the city put signs "Jay Walking $200" ... to prevent us from crossing the street ... well California laws states that the curb does not end at the corner of the street but continues across the street even if there is no marks on the floor. We putted copies of the state law on the signs and the sign got removed a couple of days later. So never forget that even if official will threaten you with fines and others ... it does not mean they are right and we have to step up. I just wish I could vote instead of blindly paying taxes.

Re:This case is important (2, Interesting)

henni16 (586412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339135)

One other point about the logs:
How did they make sure that their clock was in sync with the ISP's?
Might matter in case of a dynamic IP address.

Re:This case is important (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339143)

IANAL but I've done two stints of Jury service. To my knowledge, in the UK, guilt has to be proven, not innocence [which is assumed] - and that the plaintiff did knowingly commit the crime.

Surely all she has to do is fold her arms and deny all knowledge?

The lawyer who had 24k off her then said "you're going to win" simply took 24k off her and left her in the shit. It's not the RIAA who've stiffed her, it's the lawyer by my reckoning...unless it's a smoke-screen to transfer her life savings into trusted care so the RIAA can't get their dirty mits on the cash.

Yes, how can we help? (Re:This case is important (1)

quentin_quayle (868719) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339124)

This case has the potential to set a valuable precedent, either in law or at least in the public image of the RIAA and their jihad against file-sharers.

Even if a lawyer volunteered his/her services, the party must also pay costs. Yes, where is the EFF?

I will contribute what I can afford if I find a way. There certainly is a large enough population who read about these issues, and would like to see her win, that if each gave, say, $25 it would amount to thousands.

There is talk of a defense fund at p2pnet [p2pnet.net] . The article says they're waiting on a script (?!) but I'd settle for a p.o. box.

Hmm..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338879)

The investigator allegedly found hundreds on her computer on April 11, 2004. Months later, there was a phone call from the industry's "settlement center," demanding about $7,500 "to keep me from being named in a lawsuit," Santangelo said.

Know what? Irrespective of whether I download music from net or not,Iam thinking
Is it better I dont have any mp3 on harddisk & instead play from a dvd full of mp3's?
These guys seems to be mad after people!Eeks!

How do they know? (3, Interesting)

maxcray (541911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338895)

How do they know what is on her computer? Did they raid her house for a civil suit, or do they have some sort of remote monitoring software?

Re:How do they know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338979)

Many P2P apps let you see who the user is that you're downloading from and then browse around to see what else they are sharing. I'm sure the argument will be that running the app will be seen as tacit agreement for people to do just that.

Re:How do they know? (3, Informative)

Motherfucking Shit (636021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339022)

How do they know what is on her computer? Did they raid her house for a civil suit, or do they have some sort of remote monitoring software?
They performed a search of some P2P network, looking for people sharing a given file. They then recorded the IP address, timestamp, and filename of each result. Most likely, this was done via an automated process. Finally, they subpoenaed the ISP for the customer information corresponding to the IP address and timestamp they'd recorded.

The RIAA's Achilles heel is that they do not actually download the file and verify its contents. This is why they've taken action against innocent people in the past; for example, they went after a professor named Usher for allegedly sharing songs by the rap artist Usher, because the word "Usher" appeared in the shared file names. The MPAA went after some GPL'd TCL code, claiming that it was X-Files episodes [sc.com] , even though the file was barely 100KB. These organizations employ others to spider P2P networks looking for violations, then they shoot first and ask questions later.

This is the exact case that defense lawyers - or defendants with no other choice but to act as their own lawyers - should be making. The RIAA sued this woman because an IP address that was (maybe) associated with her ISP account was (maybe) sharing a file with a title that (maybe) was related to someone else's copyrighted material, but (may or may not have) actually contained anyone else's copyrighted material. That's a lot of maybes, and we're still operating under the assumption that the RIAA and the ISP both had impeccably accurate data.

If I were her lawyer, I'd make a video showing me creating a ~3MB file comprised of random data, naming it to reflect a popular song, sharing it on several P2P networks, searching for it and finding my own file in the results, then watching, perhaps over several days, as people downloaded my bogus file. Exhibit A: video evidence proving that a filename does not a copyright infringement make.

If I were the RIAA, I'd start actually downloading the files that are supposedly being shared, playing them to verify that the contents are as advertised, and recording _that_ on video. Unfortunately for them, it's a bit difficult to automate that.

Re:How do they know? (1)

jmartinp (655763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339049)

You mean like the Sony rootkit?

Re:How do they know? (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339081)

Did they raid her house for a civil suit, or do they have some sort of remote monitoring software?

The RIAA used a modified version of Kazaa Lite to access the Kazaa network and track down people who shared copyrighted music. Kazaa Lite is an unauthorised version of the Kazaa client, which is why Sharman Networks is suing the RIAA for copyright infringement in a separate suit.

Ray, pay back her money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338903)

so if "Santangelo doesn't really need him. 'I'm sure she's going to win,' he said. 'I don't see how they could win. They have no case. They have no evidence she ever did anything. They don't know how the files appeared on her computer or who put them there.'"" ... then you (Ray Beckerman) stole her money?

Can I Donate (1)

Bombah (572185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338904)

Is there a way I can donate money for this womans defence?

Does RIAA hack private PCs? (2, Interesting)

catman (1412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338921)

I just want to know - how does the RIAA know that those files were on her computer?
They may have a civil case against her - but I wonder if she has a criminal case against whoever searched her computer?

Counter suit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14338949)

If she wins, can she then file a countersuit against the RIAA for the cost of her defense?

No Lawyer equals no rights (1, Interesting)

hansreiser (6963) | more than 8 years ago | (#14338980)

You fail to understand the reality of our legal system if you think you have any legal rights when you lack an attorney. We live in a caste system. Judges simply do not read briefs unless they are written by lawyers. As soon as someone goes pro per, the lawyer on the other side always starts writing its briefs so that the judge does not need to read the other side's briefs, you can see the shift in language. Then, when you read the decisions, it is clear that the judge did not read the brief of the pro per party. Judges are former attorneys. They defend the interests of the legal caste. It is completely irrelevant what the merits of a case are when you lack an attorney. People who think otherwise think that the law is more than the ritual of language by which the herd enforces social position.

Being in court without a lawyer is no different from being black in court in the South in the 1920's. They will find some way of explaining that it is your fault that you lost, some way to justify their legal decision, but there is no chance you will not lose.

Re:No Lawyer equals no rights (5, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339027)

Nonsense, Judges read briefs from normal folks when they represent themselves in the US and the UK. Remeber that in September 1990, McDonald's sued Dave Morris and Helen Steel, activists with London Greenpeace, for producing and distributing a leaflet titled "What's Wrong With McDonald's." McDonalds went after them, they represented themselves and it went around and around but they won.

http://www.organicconsumers.org/politics/mclibel21 705.cfm [organicconsumers.org]

Furthermore, in the United States, you have a Right to self representation, any Judge who would refuse to read a brief from someone self representing would be overturned on appeal, something no Judge wants.

More recently, the Supreme Court has expounded the right to represent oneself, holding first in Faretta v. California 422 U.S. 806 (1975) that the power to choose or waive council lies with the accused, and the state can not intrude, even as it later held Gidinez v. Moran, 509 U.S. 389 (1993) if the state believed the accused less than fully competant to adequately proceed without council.
The circuit courts have narrowed the right to exclude appeal procedures as in Martinez v. California Court of Appeals 528 U.S. 152, 163 (2000), and again by reference in US v. Moussaoui (4th Cir. 2003) (No. 03-4162); however, this restriction is new, inconsistent with precedent, and has yet to be tested in the Supreme Court.

Hence... lawyers suck! (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339068)

Just sell all your assets, buy gold coins/bars, hide it at your grandmas house.
Hire a lawyer with $1000 down payment, then never pay them back, tell em bad luck, i have no assets, sue me
for nothing. Fake a personal loan debt to your 'brother' and pay him to pay you.

Or, outsource to india, get a lawyer for $5/hr. That'll teach em for helping coorporates.

Re:No Lawyer equals no rights (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339093)

I think this depends on the particular judge more so than the system, but I do have concerns. Such as that the Bar association which licences lawyers is not a part of the goverment, and dosn't have public accountibility and oversight, yet it's members are considered 'officers of the court'. The strict forms and styles required, along with specific language which is beyond most laypersons. (at least many courts have abolished 'legal' (8.5 x 14) paper)

But then, I live in the Northwest US (Seattle), if I were anywhere east of the Mississippi River, or in any Gulf Coast state, I'd want a local lawyer. I also read law books, court rules, and cases for fun, and am a tall white male, so YMMV.

I think the average person representing themselves in court is about as smart as the average person fixing their own car, editing their Windows registry, installing their own toilet, and prescribing themselves medication. Both of the lawyers I know have someone else do those things for them. They know that it costs less in the long run to have a job done right the first time, by someone with experiance, than to fumble around on your own, and make a bigger mess.

It's her computer. It's her responsibility. (2, Insightful)

mcboozerilla (941414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339009)

They're her kids too, and she's responsible for what they do as well. Have you people ever heard of "rationalization"? I'm as crooked as many of you, but at least I admit it....

Re:It's her computer. It's her responsibility. (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339064)

"If the downloading was done on her computer, Santangelo thinks it may have been the work of a young friend of her children." I know that at my university the internet contract stipulaes that letting anyone else use my computer while it is connected to the internet is cause to have my connection severed (and I eat the semester's prepayment.) Not sure about liability if I go to the bathroom and come back to find someone was busted at my machine.

Re:It's her computer. It's her responsibility. (1)

mcboozerilla (941414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339089)

The only legal basis she would have, I believe, is to accuse the RIAA of trespassing. It's a weak argument though.

Defense line (for free) (4, Interesting)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339035)

If I were Mrs. Santangelo I'd simply say:
"I use this OS named Windows. Files and programs appears every while without any intervention of mine.
For example some days ago I was playing that nice disk by Sony BMG and some new programs and file appeared on my PC disk. I have asked about this to Microsoft and Sony and both say it's normal. So I don't mind when new files appear on my disk!"
Moreover, if Mrs. Santangelo stopped her firewall/antivirus/low-caffeine program, if any, she could also prove that strange things happen to her computer thanks to a number of "special features" (someone dares to call them "bugs") of her pre-bundled PC.

RIAA charged with breaking in?? (1)

Chaitanya Gupta (905592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14339040)

How did they know there were those files on her computer? Was it like, they gained a backdoor entry into her PC? Wouldn't that mean the RIAA broke the law...??

Time to address artists conscious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14339187)

Until now, we heard very little from the artists involved in the media files which caused of the lawsuit. Maybe some large scale bad publicity would help.
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