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RIAA Case Against Mother Dismissed

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the injecting-sanity dept.

236

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Capitol Records v. Foster, in federal court in Oklahoma, a case against a mother -- whose only connection to the alleged filesharing was that she was the person who paid for the internet access -- has been dismissed with prejudice. Faced with the mother's motion for leave to file a summary judgment motion dismissing the case against her, and awarding her attorneys fees, the RIAA made its own motion for permission to withdraw its case. The Court granted the motion and let the RIAA drop its case. The Court went on to hold that the defendant, Ms. Foster, is the 'prevailing party' under the Copyright Act and is therefore eligible for an award of attorneys fees. The Court then indicated that it would decide the attorneys fees award question upon receipt of a motion for attorneys fees."

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Attorney fees (0, Redundant)

JedaFlain (899703) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716132)

I don't see how it's going to hurt the RIAA much to pay the fees of the small time lawyer the mother likely hired to defend her from a whole law firm of RIAA goons.

Re:Attorney fees (-1, Redundant)

JedaFlain (899703) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716146)

Ignore me, I'm blind and can't even read the summary right apparently.

Re:Attorney fees (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716160)

The important thing here is that there is now precident against RIAA, atleast as far as suing based simply upon who owns connection. Spineless lawyers will now be more willing to take these cases without advanced payment.

Re:Attorney fees (5, Informative)

Agelmar (205181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716208)

Actually, there's very little precedent set here, and it's not as warm and fuzzy as you might think. If you actually read the findings of the court, you get the other side of the story.

It's not like the RIAA was worried that this woman was going to get fees awarded and then decided to withdraw - they basically got a judgement against the woman's daughter (daughter failed to enter a response, and a default judgement was awarded). Having already 'won' their case against the daughter, they withdrew the case against the mother. There was some squabble as to exactly how that should be done, and the court found that because the action was brought under copyright acts, and the mother was the prevailing party, the mother is *eligible* for an award of fees. The court also notes, however, that "under the statute, attorney fees are not to be awarded routinely or as a matter of course." I would be very suprised if she actually gets fees paid...

Re:Attorney fees (3, Interesting)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716739)

Okay, but the judge ruled for the mother with prejudice. Doesn't that mean at least there's a precedent to protect internet subscribers from the use of their service by others to access copyrighted material? And if so, would this let, say, unencrypted WiFi hotspots be a "loophole" for obtaining copyrighted material with no practical way for the RIAA to prosecute anyone?

Just wondering.

Re:Attorney fees (2, Interesting)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716277)

Accually there was not a precident set down by this case. There would have to be a ruling for that to happen which is exactly why the RIAA withdrew so there would not be a precident set down.

Re:Attorney fees (2, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716554)

There is a precedent. If the RIAA sues an innocent person, and doesn't immediately withdraw the lawsuit, they may be liable for attorneys fees even if they withdraw the case later on. I can assure you they are (a) quite surprised and (b) quite worried.

Re:Attorney fees (2, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716642)

It may not be a binding legal precedent but it is an important practical precedent.

Re:Attorney fees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716161)

Perhaps the lawyer can come up with some creative billing. Let them at least use their evil mojo for good this time.

Re:Attorney fees (3, Informative)

tmittz (260795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716177)

The issue is the precedent this sets. Now you might see more high profile attorneys that charge higher rates be willing to accept these kinds of cases on a pro bono basis, knowing that they have a good chance of recovering their fees from the other party. It is a ruling that is intended to send a message to the plaintiffs, and I think it might work.

Re:Attorney fees (2, Informative)

pluther (647209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716267)

accept these kinds of cases on a pro bono basis, knowing that they have a good chance of recovering their fees from the other party

You mean a contingency basis. Pro bono means they don't get paid at all.

Re:Attorney fees (1)

tmittz (260795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716319)

Hmmm, I guess I'm thinking of it as pro bono, because before this ruling it would have been for free (assuming they were helping the defendant for public service reasons and not because they were hired). I don't know that allowing the collection of attorney's fees in certain circumstances really changes it.

I guess in the techinical sense of the word the fees are contingent upon winning and being awarded them, but it's pretty different from a typical contingency fee case. If the judge awards the attorney's fees, the entire amount, not a percentage, automatically goes to the lawyer, without ever touching the defendant's wallet.

Re:Attorney fees (2, Funny)

pluther (647209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716772)

If the judge awards the attorney's fees, the entire amount, not a percentage, automatically goes to the lawyer, without ever touching the defendant's wallet.

Hm, come to think of it, I think that's pretty close to how it normally works...

Re:Attorney fees (0, Redundant)

nickheart (557603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716180)

It's no about having to pay a little cash

It's the fact that the RIAA decided to try to "make an example" out of someone and failing miserably. I say Kudos to the judge for this! I can only hope that this could start a snowball effect to just stop this DRM movement.

Re:Attorney fees (1)

toddhunter (659837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716355)

Look a little closer. They did not fail, they got exactly what they wanted

Re:Attorney fees (3, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716564)

Wrong. 1. They did not want to drop the case against the mother. 2. They did not want to be exposed to an attorneys fees award. 3. They thought that by dropping the case against the mother they would eliminate their exposure to an attorneys fee award. They were wrong.

Re:Attorney fees (2, Interesting)

rts008 (812749) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716460)

While I agree with you, my pessimistic side wants to cry out Dream On.

Sorry, just the way things seem to be going lately.

I deplore the trend to advance corporate profits/outmoded business models over individual's freedoms and fair use, it is a trend none the less.

I understand that there is a fine line between consumer's rights (damn, I hate the term consumer) and artist's rights, I also understand that it seems more an issue between the distributors and consumers....How the hell did we get to this point?

It will not be easy, but reform/revolution of the current system is much needed IMHO, but where/how do we go on from here to make it right?

p.s. in Firefox, the "Phoenixbay" (used to be piratebay) is on my bookmarks toolbar (Arrrrgh! Matey's!), I also support and utilize a lot of indie bands and their downloads.
I have no problems with the actual artists getting paid, I just have developed a very bad attitude with both RIAA and MPAA over the past couple of years.

Re:Attorney fees (-1, Offtopic)

tmittz (260795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716358)

The first post got marked redundant?

Re:Attorney fees (1)

DotNM (737979) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716695)

You must be new here. Welcome to Slashdot. ;)

BRAVO (4, Insightful)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716134)

Seriously, bravo. Screw those RIAA guys. I hope she gets as much money as possible for attorney's fees.

More people need to do this. They can't possibly mount lawsuits against all the people they target. If a sufficient percentage resist, they'll have to stop their campaign of terror.

Re:BRAVO (3, Insightful)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716257)

Seriously, bravo. Screw those RIAA guys. I hope she gets as much money as possible for attorney's fees.

"SHE" shouldn't get dime one... except for maybe some time that she met with the attorney's.... THE LAWYERS will get LOTS of $$$$... So, Who really wins? (Except for haveing a precident, as stated below...) The Lawyers... Once again, the lawyers get lots of $$$ and we still are getting the shaft... Just like the Tobacco settlements... States burned most of that money... Lawyers were made multi-millionaires because of their "fees"

Lawyers, lawyers, lawyers... everywhere I think.

Re:BRAVO (1)

Deflatamouse! (132424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716417)

Then become your own lawyer (or find your lawyer buddies to defend you). I know, I know. Not everyone will have a lawyer friend. But those who do... bring it on RIAA!

Re:BRAVO (2, Interesting)

Overloadplanetunreal (603019) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716445)

We still win because it cost the RIAA money. If they know it will cost them their own lawyer fees, plus their defendant's lawyer fees, and not even win the case, they will stop doing this crap.

Re:BRAVO (5, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716541)

If you are being sued, and a lawyer protects you from the lawsuit, and the lawyer gets his or her fees paid for having accomplished something good, why is that a bad thing? I don't get it.

Re:BRAVO (1)

Yehooti (816574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716605)

Baloney. She has had to have been put through a truckload of shit to go this far.

Attorney's Fees (4, Interesting)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716140)

That means the RIAA actually lost money on this one. Hopefully A LOT!

Re:Attorney's Fees (4, Insightful)

Durrok (912509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716158)

Just a drop in the bucket. However if they started having to shell out attorney fees to every case they lost it could act as a great deterrent for their "fire and forget" type lawsuits.

Re:Attorney's Fees (2, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716533)

You are absolutely right. Once the judges start granting the attorneys fee awards, it will act as a deterrent.

Re:Attorney's Fees (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716195)

I imagine the fees are nothing compared to the amount of time/stress caused by the whole ordeal.

Re:Attorney's Fees (1)

nickheart (557603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716197)

They've been making money off of being complete &$#@!%$#'s?

Re:Attorney's Fees (1)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716278)

Yeah, all the Attorney's the RIAA have are on retainer so it dosen't cost anything extra for the RIAA to use them. So everytime someone settles for say... $1,000 thats a good helping of profit for the RIAA.

Re:Attorney's Fees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716708)

Yes, but if they file fewer lawsuits, they will need fewer lawyers on retainer. They'd really have to be idiots to keep 100 lawyers on retainer if they only have need for 20, for example. So it's not as simple as you make it out to be.

Re:Attorney's Fees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716289)

The lawsuits aren't about cutting a profit since their legal fees almost certainly dwarf what they can ever obtain from each defendent, but rather as a form of population control. They believe that by launching these lawsuits they will dissuade people from using P2P programs to distribute copyrighted materials. Compared to the advertising budgets for the recording industry the whole process is probably not that expensive, especially if it's successful.

Re:Attorney's Fees (2, Interesting)

apflwr3 (974301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716307)

That means the RIAA actually lost money on this one. Hopefully A LOT!>

Considering they won a default judgement against the daughter (if you RTFA) I think the RIAA will still come out ahead.

Default judgments (5, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716526)

They have thousands of default judgments they haven't collected a nickel on, and never will collect a nickel on, and the default judgments cost them a lot of money to obtain. So don't think they're making money on the default judgments. They're only making money on the settlements.

yay (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716141)

Suing users won't stop anything... there are simply too many. RIAA and MPAA need to embrace the wave or get knocked over by the torrent (pun intended).

Re:yay (1)

Columcille (88542) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716518)

One should embrace illegal activity?

Re:yay (5, Insightful)

Kickersny.com (913902) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716573)

There are huge differences between morality and legality. What is wrong is not always illegal, and what is illegal is not always wrong.

Re:yay (1)

arminw (717974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716650)

.....What is wrong is not always illegal, and what is illegal is not always wrong......

Legislators and courts decide what is illegal, but WHO decides what is wrong or immoral?

Re:yay (4, Insightful)

BalanceOfJudgement (962905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716762)

Legislators and courts decide what is illegal, but WHO decides what is wrong or immoral?
That you even ask that question is precisely why so much of the world gets away with what it does (I am not blaming you, or accusing you, simply using the question as a jumping off point).

The answer is: you do. The world is what you make of it, with your choices, your actions, your intentions, your dreams, and your vision (no, not your eyeballs, but how you view the world).

Too many people forget that were born with the capacity to think and that unlike the other animals, thinking is a requirement of our survival - not to obtain food and shelter, but to build societies. Ethics and morality aren't the purview of philosophers and hermits, they are the practical application, every day, of what works to build a culture and what doesn't.

Re:yay (0, Offtopic)

Columcille (88542) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716779)

Actually, your response reflects much of what is wrong with the world. Man does not decide what is right and wrong, God decides.

Re:yay (1)

UncleFluffy (164860) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716813)

Man does not decide what is right and wrong, God decides.

Well, that may be true, but until I personally receive a written list that He has signed Himself, I'll have to trust my own judgement (after all, He gave it to me). There are written lists of rules that are claimed to be from Him, but as far as I can tell they were written down by human beings who were just as fallible as I am.

Re:yay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716816)

There is no god.

Re:yay (2, Interesting)

Mark Maughan (763986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716852)

No. A god can no more make it moral to rape and murder a 3 year old girl than it could make 1=0.

Gods cannot define morality. This has been known since ancient Greece.

You are both wrong.

And your responce also reflects things wrong with this world. The 911 terrorists thought as you do now.

Re:yay (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716879)

Exactly.

And who decides what god decides is right and wrong?

The human beings that wrote the texts based on the decisions of their tribal elders and oral tradition.

Re:yay (2, Funny)

dthree (458263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716894)

That don't work to well for athiests.

Re:yay (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716728)

Not entirely... but look at pornography. You never hear of people getting sued for copying gigs and gigs of porn; that industry adopts and capitalizes on new technologies rather than trying to crush them. It's simply not going to stop until the music/movie industries stop hoarding their product. Millions of people are disobeying the law to get what they want how the want it... can't they hear the banging? If the industries tried earnestly to give it at a fair price, people would be dropping cash with the quickness.

Anecdote: Legal issues aside, within the past five years I've spent $20 or so on music CDs (about two)... when I found out about allofmp3, I spent over $100 in less than two weeks. It was convenient, reasonably priced, and let me choose how I wanted my music. I've tried downloading songs from iTunes, and I don't care for it. I make decent money and I don't mind paying reasonable prices for music, but let me have it how I want it please!

Anybody got the bittorrent of the CourtTV coverage (5, Funny)

hawks5999 (588198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716150)

Just askin'...

A better method to punish copyright infringement (4, Funny)

grolschie (610666) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716198)

Downloaders should be forced to keep the files and listen to them! Crappy manufactured, processed, RIAA generated McMusic!

;-)

Man bites dog! (2, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716201)

Wow! A clueful judge (even down to the deciding appropriate attorney's fees). Will wonders never cease?

Booyah motherfuckers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716209)

Glad to hear this. I'm currently being prosecuted for downloading songs that I've never even heard of, probably because I was running an open wifi network. I'm not sure how to proceed, but this precedent looks good. If I settle I can get away with $5k, which is more than I can afford right now. Still though, I think that is what I'll have to do, as getting a lawyer seems too risky in case I lose. =/

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (3, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716259)

Allowing other people who you don't even know to use your internet connection is just plain dumb. Downloading music is the least of the problems you could face: what if they downloaded kiddie porn or used your connection to communicate with "terrorist groups"? You might get out of it after a nice friendly chat with an FBI agent, but you might find yourself fighting criminal charges. For your own good, close that connection. Free open WiFi sounds like a great idea, but doesn't work out so well in real life.

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (1, Interesting)

pluther (647209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716281)

I keep seeing people saying these kinds of things on slashdot, but has there ever been an actual case of somebody facing criminal charges because of something done by someone using their open wireless connection?

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (1)

badmammajamma (171260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716328)

I don't think so. That's like saying, "It's against the law to be ripped off." Not that it really matters since in a criminal case there's that whole "beyond a reasonable doubt" thing which would pretty much put the kabash on it going anywhere.

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716394)

To the contrary, I remember hearing a case (maybe here on /. though I can't find it now) in which a kiddie porn ring was busted because the owner of an internet cafe noticed a man in a stereotypical child mollester van sitting outside his business every day with a laptop, leeching his wifi. He called the cops, and when they questioned him, they found him looking up kiddie porn and trying to seduce some kids in an IRC chat. Or some such, I don't remember the details exactly.

In any case, the man was brought in, and it was discovered that he was part of a larger ring, which were also busted. The owner of the cafe (and therefore the wifi connection through which the illegal porn was being downloaded) was not held liable in any way.

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (2, Informative)

novalogic (697144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716320)

Allowing other people who you don't even know to use your internet connection is just plain dumb.

Uhm, it was her child... And I'm pretty sure she knew her own kid...

But, that dose not mean she knew what her kid was doing on the internet...

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (0, Flamebait)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716403)

And he gets modded Informative. Good job mods. It's no wonder nobody RsTFA around here. They can't even RTF Grandparent.

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716452)

They can't even RTF Grandparent.

      Agreed! They're just so wrinkly.

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716497)

dose? dose? do you live in fucking alabama?

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (-1, Flamebait)

rts008 (812749) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716504)

How you got modded insightful astounds me. You and the clueless moderators could not have RTFA.
It was the woman's daughter, not someone that wasn't known.
Sheesh- f*sking idiots, you and the three that modded you as insightful!

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (1)

mjtaylor24601 (820998) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716623)

Ummm...ok, before you go ripping in to him and the people who modded his post maybe you should take a second to, you know, read the post that he was replying to!

Here let me help you

"I'm currently being prosecuted for downloading songs that I've never even heard of, probably because I was running an open wifi network "

That make it any clearer for you?

"Sheesh- f*sking idiots"

Talk about the pot and the f*sking kettle.

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (5, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716535)

some people take the extreme; and intentionally leave their AP wide open.

plausible denyability then ensues. you can't be held responsible if you, by policy, don't protect your net connection. they can't prove it was you who 'did the bad thing'. the worst they can do is call you a bad sysadmin ;)

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (1)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716588)

Allowing other people who you don't even know to use your internet connection is just plain dumb. Downloading music is the least of the problems you could face: what if they downloaded kiddie porn or used your connection to communicate with "terrorist groups"? You might get out of it after a nice friendly chat with an FBI agent, but you might find yourself fighting criminal charges.
Unless you've actually committed an offense YOU ARE NOT LIABLE. Goes all the way back to Magna Carta.

For your own good, close that connection. Free open WiFi sounds like a great idea, but doesn't work out so well in real life.
Don't give in so easily. Don't worry about what the "authorities" might do. Stand up for what you believe is right. Share your bandwidth, it's not illegal. Allowing yourself to be intimidated by what might happen to live in fear.

Re:Booyah motherfuckers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716741)

Glad to hear this. I'm currently being prosecuted for downloading songs that I've never even heard of, probably because I was running an open wifi network.

Yeah uh huh, right... So you had an unsecure wireless network, and "someone" downloaded a bunch of songs that you "never even heard of."

Sure you weren't already taking "advice" from slashdot? Because this sure sounds like the "do it, and pretend to play dumb" defence that people here have suggested.

Humm... On second thought, do take the advice of the *insightful* *legal experts* here on slashdot, you will be *glad* you did!

Tying in your obligatory quotes and pop culture. (5, Funny)

ThisIsForReal (897233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716218)

Hopefully her lawyer wasn't Rep. Stevens' Lawyer.

How Representative Stevens' lawyer would ask the judge for his fees to be compensated (if he were the defendent's lawyer in this particular case):

Lawyer: You see, Judge, when I go to the local branch of my bank, I can't just drive up with a pile of cash on the bed of my truck. You see, they've got these TUBES, and the money has to fit in them, and , and, it's - well they're TUBES!

Judge: I could give you a direct deposit.

Lawyer: Well, here's the thing, Judge. I got a direct deposit sent by my staff person last Friday, and it didn't show up in my account until this morning. WHY?

Judge: Banks are closed on weekends.


And for you Simpsons fans (which would be everybody here, right?):

Judge: This court fines you 1 million dollars

Burns: Smithers, my wallet is in my back pocket. Oh, and I'll take that statue of justice, too.

Judge (slamming gavel on podium): SOLD!

Re:Tying in your obligatory quotes and pop culture (1)

FuturePastNow (836765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716340)

In the interest of accuracy in joke telling, it's Senator Stevens, not Representative.

Re:Tying in your obligatory quotes and pop culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716887)

That WOULD be even scarier, but... he's from Alaska, which, thanks to the oil industry, is second only to Texas in retarded racist rednecks.

If you don't believe me, talk to anybody from Alaska.

Solid ruling (5, Interesting)

tmittz (260795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716221)

One particularly good thing about this ruling is that is seems to be very solid. The linkage of "prevailing party" under the FRCP and the allowance of attorney fee recovery under the Copyrights Act looks difficult to challenge. While this ruling is not binding on much of anyone (yay Western District of Oklahoma), I have no reason to assume the Cantrell case is a drastic departure from most other circuit's opinions on the FRCP. Not to mention the SCOTUS case they cite, which I haven't read but is probably still good law.

While she has to specifically file for attorney's fees, I'm sure she will. Even though the bar is set fairly high in that the court shall not award fees "routinely or as a matter of course", the standard of review (almost certainly abuse of discretion) means that if the court awards them, it'll be almost impossible to overturn.

Pwn3d! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716250)

Glad to see the RIAA _not_ able to squash the little guy for once!

Of course, I doubt this would've happened without a judge who appears to actually understand the technical issues in the case. Sure wish we had more of them!

http://riaa.justgotowned.com/ [justgotowned.com]

Lawyers are lucky. (2, Insightful)

Stinkythe1 (719563) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716251)

In this time of big business vs. the little people, the only people who win are the lawyers. Big business get bad PR and the little people get bankrupted.

Sharks win (5, Insightful)

ElNonoMasa (820089) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716268)

At the end of the day, the attorney's fees will be paid with the
protection money they received from those who settled.
The only ones winning with all of this are the lawyers, as usual.

Re:Sharks win (2, Interesting)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716803)

Whoo, nevermind the fact that an RIAA case was thrown out and even turned back at them, only the lawyers would ever benefit from that.

Even if you miss my point, atleast the mother won. Far more than her lawyer atleast.

It is not the victory portrayed by the story (5, Informative)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716269)

IANAL, but I have read the judgement.

RIAA initially sued the mother. When the mother said it was not her, but her daughter who had done the downloading, they sued the daughter instead *and won*. (by default - this was not defended.)

This is just about tidying up the suit against the mother. The RIAA asked to be allowed to drop the suit, and was allowed to do so (with prejudice - i.e. they have lost). The court finds that the mother is "eligible" for costs, at the court's discretion, but "such eligibility does not equate to entitlement" and "attorney fees are not to be awarded routinely or as a matter of course." The court has not yet decided on fees, it has just not yet rejected the idea - the mother can apply for an award of fees, and the matter will be decided then.

Re:It is not the victory portrayed by the story (3, Informative)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716280)

Actually, rereading the story, it is accurate. It is the early /. comments which are seeing a victory where it does not exist. I have erred by placing blame for inaccuracy in the wrong place.

It is not the victory portrayed by the "/.". (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716335)

"Actually, rereading the story, it is accurate. It is the early /. comments which are seeing a victory where it does not exist."

Gee, I can't imagine why. Now maybe all those "you can't win. They're too powerful. Clueless judges, spineless lawyers, and bought politicians" will simply shut up, and realize that the court sytem exists for a reason, and this story demonstrates that.

Important legal precedent (2, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716511)

Thank you, Michael, for your careful reading of both the decision itself and my initial post. The important legal precedent in my view is that the judge has dispelled the RIAA's notion that by withdrawing its claim against an innocent party, after she'd incurred the expense of discovery and of preparing for a summary judgment motion, the RIAA had immunized itself from an attorneys fee award. From my experience in these cases, the RIAA won't drop cases even after they know the party they are suing is innocent, because they look upon the pendency of the case as a convenient foundation for their fishing expedition -- the very investigation they ought to have undertaken before, rather than after, commencing suit. Now they'll have to think twice about that vicious practice.

Re:Important legal precedent (2, Informative)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716571)

From the judgement:
'Exceptional circumstances include such situations as where a plantiff makes a practice of repeatedly bringing claims and then dismissing with prejudice "after inflicting substantial litigation costs on the opposing party and the judicial system." In the instant action, there is no evidence that the plaintiffs have engaged in any practice that would constitute exceptional circumstances justifying an award of attorneys' fees under the provisions of Rule 41(a)(2).'

So the court can and will start awarding fees in dropped cases if they get too numerous - but this has not happened yet (or this particular court has not been shown the evidence.) This could change in future.

By my reading (I am still not a lawyer) the quote above is dismissing the possibility of a fees award under general rules, but after that, rules specific to copyright claims kick in, which the court finds do leave the door open for a fees award.

Re:Important legal precedent (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716655)

That is not the portion of the decision dealing with the Copyright Act. The standard for awarding attorneys fees in copyright cases is not as stringent as the above quoted standard.

Re:It is not the victory portrayed by the story (2, Interesting)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716611)

If only the daughter was a lawyer.

Then the mom could have hired the daughter to defend her case, RIAA drops the case, is forced to pay legal fees, which then go to the daughter......... to pay back RIAA in a settlement.

Follow that?

Relentless Injustice Against Americans (RIAA) (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716290)

PONIES!!!

Not the death of the RIAA (1, Interesting)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716317)

This really is a black eye for the RIAA in terms of publicity. If I remember the facts right, the woman didn't own the computer or use it, she paid for the internet access for her weasel jailbird boyfriend. She apparently (again, if I remember correctly) didn't know a computer from a microwave. As the facts have borne out enough for her to win, the judge really had a no-brainer on his hands. All she was guilty of was a poor choice in kanoodling companions. The RIAA is (and has been) guilty of poor judgement as well, mainly of the not knowing when to quit and try another way variety.

In the end though, this will cause some bad press (what's one more bad article anyway) and the loss of say, 25 large. It won't cripple them. That will happen from the ongoing erosion of their outdated business model.

Why is this guy modded up? RTFA (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716658)

You don't remember correctly. Her daughter used the computer, and the RIAA won the case against her daughter. Her defense was "I didn't do it, my daughter did" and the RIAA agreed, the court agreed, that's all folks. This article don't mean jack - yo.

Obligatory (0, Redundant)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716342)

HA-HA!

Open WiFi (4, Insightful)

Mantrid42 (972953) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716351)

This actually sets a good precedent and counters one of the arguments against leaving your wifi connection open. Even if someone uses you're internet connection, you won't be charged with a crime simply because you are the owner of that connection. Which means that we no longer have to live in paranoid fear of the tiny, tiny chance that trying to do something nice for people will end up with being arrested for aiding terrorists or pedophiles.

Re:Open WiFi (2, Informative)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716399)

Which means that we no longer have to live in paranoid fear of the tiny, tiny chance that trying to do something nice for people will end up with being arrested for aiding terrorists or pedophiles.

Unless the AUP expressly forbids wifi sharing. You might want to double check your TOS. MANY, many providers forbid sharing wifi connections.

Re:Open WiFi (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716434)

True, but the worst that'll happen for violating the TOS is that your ISP account would be terminated. That's better than being sued by an organisation funded by multimillion-dollar mafia-like music companies for an offence that you didn't commit!

Re:Open WiFi (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716538)

This actually sets a good precedent and counters one of the arguments against leaving your wifi connection open. Even if someone uses you're internet connection, you won't be charged with a crime simply because you are the owner of that connection. Which means that we no longer have to live in paranoid fear of the tiny, tiny chance that trying to do something nice for people will end up with being arrested for aiding terrorists or pedophiles

Or it could go like this. You are a content provider, providing content that some might see as inappropriate for children.

Someone (the government, a religious group, etc) tries to get you shut down for providing this bad material to children. You counter that it is the parent's responsibility to control what their children do online.

...and that argument is shot down, because this decision is saying that the person who owns the method of access (the parent in this case) is NOT responsible for how their children use it (illegal filesharing in this case).

For maximizing freedom, I think the decision we want is that parents ARE responsible for what their children do on the net, or at least are responsible for taking reasonable steps to monitor and control their children.

(NOTE: I haven't read the decision--just going by what people have said here, so I probably have a totally wrong notion of what it actually said!)

Re:Open WiFi (1)

Run4yourlives (716310) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716598)

Except that "my" constitutional right to free speech as a content provider trumps all the malarkey you're going on about.

At least for the time being.

Re:Open WiFi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716616)

Probably wouldn't work as a defense for a lot of the people on slashdot though. IT professionals are expected to know better than leaving their Wi-Fi APs open.

Re:Open WiFi (1)

JasonTik (872158) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716866)

But think of the children!

You're screwed again.

The RIAA should know better (4, Insightful)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716375)

Sounds similar to the RIAA case against Candy Chan of Michigan, for the actions of her 13 year old daughter, Brittany Chan. The court ruled the mother could not be sued for the actions of her daughter.

See Priority v. Chan [p2pnet.net]

Basically it sounds like you have to sue the person who allegedly committed the offence. The RIAA needs to refile against the right person.

If someone phones in a bomb threat, you prosecute the person who made the call, not the person who pays the phone bill, right?

Re:The RIAA should know better (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716612)

Good catch, this is exactly like Priority Records v. Candy Chan (the case against the mother). When Ms. Chan's lawyer made a motion for summary judgment and attorneys fees, the RIAA finally withdrew its case "with prejudice", hoping to avoid an attorneys fee award. In that case it succeeded in avoiding liability for attorneys fees based on the judge's opinion about the specific procedural things that occurred in that case. In this case, we will have to see what the judge rules when the attorneys fee motion is made. But my guess is that there will indeed be an award of attorneys fees here, and it will be more than a slap on the wrist.

I think I feel a musical coming on....... (2, Funny)

MattS423 (987689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716491)

OOOOOklahoma where we download free....

It's time to FUCK the RIAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15716556)

*in the ass*

Mom walks ... (2, Insightful)

RWarrior(fobw) (448405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716622)

... but the kid has a judgement hanging over her. They can't enforce against her until she turns 18, but after that they can make her life miserable.

I'm amazed that the judge permitted a default judgment against a minor in the first place, but then in civil courts you don't have rights, you merely have privleges that you pay for.

Re:Mom walks ... (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716689)

Are you so sure she was a minor? I doubt it. If she were a minor, I believe the Court would have required the appointment of a guardian ad litem.

Mission Accomplished! (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716634)

As the only other good post states, this is hardly a win.

The Mother's case is more-or-less closed. RIAA members get to send the message (prepare for shouting) "WE'LL SUE YOU IF WE THINK YOU ARE STEALING MUSIC AND YOU ARE A THEIF" is the big stick message that pretty much everyone has gotten either through RIAA lawsuit activities or the dumb trailer in front of some movies.

It is very disappointing to see so many "stick it to the RIAA" messages. The war is over and your freedom to legitimately copy the media you bought is gone.

Mission Not Accomplished (5, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15716676)

1. The case against the mother is closed. 2. The mother's case against the RIAA for attorneys fees is still open. 3. A precedent is established that by withdrawing a case the RIAA does not immunize itself from liability for the harm it caused by prosecuting its meritless lawsuit in the first place. Sounds pretty good to me.
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