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ACLU, EFF, & Others Fight RIAA for Debbie Foster

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the rally-the-troops dept.

298

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a landmark legal document, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Citizen, the ACLU of Oklahoma Foundation, and the American Association of Law Libraries have submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of the motion for attorneys fees that has been made by Deborah Foster in Capitol Records v. Debbie Foster, in federal court in Oklahoma. This brief is mandatory reading for every person who is interested in the RIAA litigation campaign against consumers."

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fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15887679)

fp

You a Fucking Little TROLL !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15888321)

damn trolls

first prost? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15887682)

first prost

ACLU and attorney's fees (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15887687)

I'm a little skeptical since the ACLU was included in that list. The ACLU is one of the few organizations that works pro bono, and then expects to get legal fees from the state if they win. To me, that is very shady business. It makes me wonder what their true intention is for this case.

But that is only a minor issue. The larger issue is valid: an ordinary citizen does not have the legal capacity (as in money and knowledge) to be able to fight a behemoth like the RIAA. There have been a couple of laws passed in some states that help, but a federal court ruling would be more definitive.

Yes! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15887691)

Curse that dastardly ACLU for victimizing the poor RIAA! Shame on them.

Re:ACLU and attorney's fees (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887760)

The ACLU is one of the few organizations that works pro bono, and then expects to get legal fees from the state if they win. To me, that is very shady business.

It may seem shady business to you, but that is the way the rules are written for cases involving . . .
(C)ivil (L)iberties.

And the ACLU did not make those rules, the state did. And I'm glad they made them that way.

KFG

Re:ACLU and attorney's fees (4, Informative)

packeteer (566398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887818)

You forgot to mention that your not a lawyer. Doing pro bono work does not mean your doing it for free. It means your doing the work for free if you lose and for money if you win your client money. Of course they will try and sue for lawyers fees, its the right thing to do. Lets say the ACLU wins a lawsuit of a case they did pro bono. This means the winning party now has to penny up the money but thankfully the ACLU goes after the wrongful party for money and does not panalize someone they defended just becuase they won.

Basically what im saying is that by sueing for lawyer fees after winning pro bono work to protect people's civil liberties they are also protecting your pocket book.

Your not a lawyer either (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15887832)

"You're" is short for "you are". Your is is possessive.

Re:Your not a lawyer either (1)

packeteer (566398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887888)

its past 6am and im tired...

Re:ACLU and attorney's fees (2, Informative)

Alfred, Lord Tennyso (975342) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887866)

I'm not a lawyer either, but are you sure? I think what you're describing is "contingency", where you work for free if you lose and take a cut of the winnings if you win.

  As far as I can tell "pro bono" really is "for free". At least in the US it's not common for the judge to award legal fees; it has a chilling effect on poor people suing rich people. It's SOP in Great Britian, IIRC, but IANAL.

Re:ACLU and attorney's fees (4, Informative)

Secrity (742221) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887914)

From what I understand contingency fees are for when the layer is represnting a plaintiff who is suing somebody else for money -- and the lawyer gets a portion of the award (if any). The lawyer getting paid is contingent upon winning.

Pro bono (pro bono publico) means that the lawyer is not charging the client. Pro bono does not mean that the laywers can't get attorney's fees awarded to them by the judge.

Re:ACLU and attorney's fees (-1, Troll)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888279)

packeteer sez: "You forgot to mention that your not a lawyer. Doing pro bono work does not mean your doing it for free."

I am not a doctor, but I know the need for an anal craniotomy when I see it.

I am not a lawyer, and I don't need to say so if I feel like talking about facts regarding the legal system.

Pro bono DOES mean "for free". Perhaps it's the "facts" part that escapes you.

Re:ACLU and attorney's fees (1)

ereshiere (945922) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888149)

The ACLU gets money from donations to the ACLU Foundation [charitynavigator.org] . At any rate, the government should have to pay legal fees if the ACLU does win against them, since they have thus proved in court that the government abridged everyone's freedom. Doesn't sound shady to me; sounds more like justice.

Re:ACLU and attorney's fees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15888489)

At any rate, the government should have to pay legal fees if the ACLU does win against them, since they have thus proved in court that the government abridged everyone's freedom. Doesn't sound shady to me; sounds more like justice.


No, it's not justice.

Suing the government is not like suing you. The government doesn't have a job, it doesn't make money. Every penny that they pay out comes out of all of the taxpayers pockets. There is absolutely nothing just about it.

The situation is a lot more of adding insult to injury. First some stupid ass politician/DOJ flunky/civil servant fucks me, then the American Civil Liberties (but not the second ammendment!) Union comes along and reams me out with a dry corn cob.

Re:AMICUS and attorney's fees (5, Informative)

frankie (91710) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888323)

You (and all the moderators, and most of the repliers) either missed the line saying "amicus curiae brief" [wikipedia.org] or more likely didn't understand what it means. The ACLU, EFF, et al, are *not* Ms Foster's lawyers. They are outside parties with no direct financial stake in the outcome.

However, they do want a particular outcome: sticking it hard to the RIAA. Therefore they have filed their own legal statement trying to aid Ms Foster (and her lawyers, whoever they are). Whether they succeed or not, they don't get any money from anyone in the case.

Re:AMICUS and attorney's fees (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888547)

Thank you, Frankie, for straightening those early commenters out.

Brief Summary (5, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887710)

  • RIAA sues lots of people for copyright infringement, often for allegedly using P2P to share copyrighted music.
  • Sometimes their evidence is dubious, e.g. only an IP address, which might be dynamic, or used by multiple people, such as your kid or the neighbor piggybacking on your wireless.
  • Defending yourself against them is really expensive, so some people settle.
  • ... PROFIT!! (For RIAA.)
  • Debbie Foster claims to be innocent, defends herself in court (I can't tell if she paid for her attorney herself, or got pro bono help), RIAA keeps up lawsuits.
  • Eventually her kid owns up to file sharing, but RIAA doesn't drop their suit against her, keeps it going for another year, cranking up Debbie's legal costs, before dropping it.
  • If somebody sues you and loses, in the US, sometimes you can get awarded your attorney's costs, especially if their suit was bogus, but you can't always win that. (It's easier to get awarded costs if you're the plaintiff and win.)
  • EFF, ACLU, other good guys filed amicus brief encouraging the court to side with Debbie Foster and pay her legal costs, asserting bogusness and nastiness of RIAA's suit.

Re:Brief Summary (0)

dc29A (636871) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887901)

# Defending yourself against them is really expensive, so some people settle.
# ... PROFIT!! (For RIAA.)


I seriously doubt RIAA makes any profit from 3,000$ dollar settlements. I would bet their lawyers cost more.

Re:Brief Summary (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887992)

"I seriously doubt RIAA makes any profit from 3,000$ dollar settlements. I would bet their lawyers cost more."

From what I understand, and I could be wrong, a lawyer isn't even initially involved except to do the initial filing if you contest. Otherwise, the *AAs have a "settlement negotiation hotline" that handles a vast majority of the settlements; I am sure it is not staffed by lawyers.

Re:Brief Summary (3, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888381)

Having lawyers on staff like the RIAA does is probably much cheaper than hiring one ad-hoc like most people have to do.

Alternate Brief Summary... (5, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887943)

1. The **AA has filed suit against more than 18,000 individuals for copyright violation.
2. The amicus curae is only for award of legal fees to one of the defendants, who was declared not guilty.
3. A lot of lawyers are going to get rich, since a big proportion of the 18,000+ will win.
4. The legal system allows a single rich entiry, the **AA to go after thousands of individuals... many of whom often settle despite being not guilty, because of the costs involved.
5. It is illegal for a large group of individuals to join together and engage in disruptive activities.
6. This brief does nothing to set right points 4 and 5.
7. And so, while lots of lawyers might probably get rich, nothing else significant is likely to happen.

Re:Alternate Brief Summary... (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888362)

7. And so, while lots of lawyers might probably get rich, nothing else significant is likely to happen.
Right, nothing significant will happen... huh?

Who's paying these legal fees? Right, the members of the RIAA. When they have to pay defendants' legal fees more often, they will find it is no longer close to profitable to chase individuals.

At that point, these frivolous lawsuits disappear.

Now, the problem is that no court has ruled that the primary lawsuits they've been using as threats for people to settle are frivolous. This is based upon the second lawsuit involving the defendant. What is needed is a watershed case where a judge legally tosses the RIAA out of court for its frivolous suit, and for that case to hold up on appeal. Then there is precedent, and the RIAA will have to screw itself, because even they can;t afford to pay legal fees for thousands of defendants they are wrongfully suing.

Even Tivo gets it's props. (1)

Knightlymuse (626563) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887956)

FTFA - 1 In fact, even store-bought devices such as the TiVo Digital Video Recorder can use a home internet network to log into www.tivo.com and download TV schedules for home recording. When the TiVo device does this, it would appear to an outside observer as if one of the family members is logging onto the internet because it would use the same IP address as the family members use when they log in.

I don't know about you but I feel like Tivo and MythTV are a part of my family. I love those guys.

Re:Brief Summary (1)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888475)

ok, i admit i haven't RTF'd,
but since
"Eventually her kid owns up to file sharing"
when did the parent become not responsible for what their kids do?
What is the basis for the eventual dismissal? Seems like we now have an admission of guilt and a responsible party?

Re:Brief Summary (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888560)

Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the parent has ever been legally responsible for what their kid does, providing they didn't encourage or facilitate anything.

If the RIAA wanted to go after the kid, and the kid had fessed up they probably would have won. But as it is they basically said, "we know you didn't do it, but we're still going to sue you anyway," which seems like a hallmark of frivolity to me. "Oh, and by the way we're going to tack on a charge of 'secondary liability' to boot." If a lawyer is reading slashdot, and can explain "secondary liability" to me I'd love to hear it.

Now, I don't recall the specific details of this case, but keep in mind kid doesn't neccessarily mean minor-child.

Of Course (5, Insightful)

abscissa (136568) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887717)

Of course she should be awarded legal costs. Why? Because, no matter what side of the debate you are on, you must agree that the RIAA is using the lawsuits to harass people. That is an abuse of process.

Re:Of Course (4, Insightful)

grimJester (890090) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887736)

Because, no matter what side of the debate you are on, you must agree that the RIAA is using the lawsuits to harass people. That is an abuse of process.

I don't think a court would call the lawsuits harassment. The real problem here is that even those who are innocent pay up rather than defend themselves due to the cost and risk of doing the latter. In a fair legal system, an innocent man should not feel the need to pay a fee for something he didn't do.

Re:Of Course (5, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887807)

In a fair legal system, an innocent man should not feel the need to pay a fee for something he didn't do.

In England they bill people falsely imprisoned for their room and board. Commit a crime, get free room and board. Have the state commit a crime against you, get a bill for 100K pounds.

Things actually could be worse here; and I'm sure they will be -- soon.

KFG

Re:Of Course (2, Informative)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887850)

In England, don't they also pay you your expected salary if it turns out you were falsely imprisoned. Room and board sounds at least somewhat reasonable.

Re:Of Course (3, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887966)

Room and board sounds at least somewhat reasonable.

And this is how it starts.

KFG

Re:Of Course (3, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888058)

You didn't order the room or the board. It was handed down to you with force. So why should you pay?

Re:Of Course (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888537)

And what if the room and board fee is higher than what you would have othewise paid? What if you were unemployed, or had a McJob and were living with your parents or something?

What if you owned a house? Is it reasonable for it to be foreclosed because you couldn't afford your mortgage and the prison room and board at the same time?

Re:Of Course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15887858)

In England they bill people falsely imprisoned for their room and board.
Source, please.

Re:Of Course (4, Informative)

trewornan (608722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888152)

It's true but bear in mind that this room and board is deducted from compensation payments and is part of the logic of how these awards are calculated, they don't get sent a bill. Not that I think it's right even so, but perhaps it's not quite as unreasonable as you make it sound.

Further, in the UK it's normal practice for costs to be awarded against the losing party in a lawsuit. That's not all positive since even if you're careful about your costs an opponent with plentiful resources may spend hundreds of thousands on legal costs and if you lose (and you can never be sure in a lawsuit) you can end up liable. So this also acts as a deterrent to "the small guy", but perhaps less so than in the US?

I suspect that the differences between the UK and US systems are the reason we haven't seem similar activity from the Recording Rights Association. Plus the UK legal system can turn quite nasty if they think you're playing games with them like the RIAA do in America. Try the same sort of thing here and a UK judge is quite likely to stamp on you.

Re:Of Course (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888341)

it's not the states fault these wankers hired shoddy representation; the penal system is for criminals not the innocent! After these clowns finally get off the government dole what do they do, they sue for false imprisonment and lost wages that's what. If they're getting paid their normal wages having reasonable amounts of room and board deducted doesn't seem so bad now does it?

Hell you want to know where people really get screwed it the US, get thrown in a US prison you're paid $0.28 an hour to work, medical care has a $3.00 co-pay, child support can take all but $7.00 a month, and they can charge you room and board even if your guilty, not to mention restitution and "victim's rights fund" hell we even have to pay for the parole officer's time!!

Re:Of Course (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888421)

Yeah, but prisoners in the U.S. don't get salary compensation while they're falsely imprisoned, either. They don't charge you for room and board, but they DO kick your ass back out on the street again afterwards with an "Oops, sorry about that" and no money/no job.

-Eric

Re:Of Course (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887950)

I don't think a court would call the lawsuits harassment.

To someone who regularly deals with things legal - such as a lawyer or judge - a single lawsuit which is without merit is little more than a minor annoyance.

To a single parent whose biggest "crime" to date has been to allow their child to use the Internet without understanding what their child was doing, being threatened with fines of $thousands is scary, and if it's done purely to generate publicity with little or no concern as to whether or not the parent is actually guilty, I'd say it is harrassment.

And I bet you anything you like every single lawyer on the RIAA's payroll is well aware that facing a court of law is a terrifying idea for a layperson.

Terrifying (4, Interesting)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888335)

I've always wondered what would happen if you saved yourself the money for attorneys' fees etc. by just showing up in court and telling your side of the story in 100% not-fancy language.

Say you're the JMRI guy, being sued for patent infringement [chillingeffects.org] . If you were allowed to speak in plain English, the case would last 5 minutes and cost nothing:

"Your honor, you can see that my software was released before their patent was even filed..."
"Hmm, that seems about right. KAM is pretty-much owned and should pay $100,000 in punitive damages.

I know; the team of lawyers buries you under a mountain of papers, discovery motions, etc. Why can't you say:

"Your honor, they're burying me in discovery motions, etc. to intimidate me into settling. Please make them

stop."

And so on. Just wondering.

Re:Of Course (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888410)

Parents are responsible for their kids, sucks but true. We had a kid that was a stuborn, rebelious, durnkard who like to destroy property while he trying to drink himself to death. Everything we tried failed so finaly we had him legaly emancipated at 15 years old; which made him responsible for his own actions. He's 35 now, still pissed about the emancipation, missing a kidney but otherwise starting to do pretty well. His son is starting to do a lot of the things his dad did at his age, funny how that works.

Re:Of Course (1)

xenobyte (446878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888303)

I don't think a court would call the lawsuits harassment.

Well, it is harassment in laymans terms. Not only has it never been proven that there is a single cent of loss from file sharing, but RIAA sue completely indiscriminately, including long dead people, 80-year old grandmothers that never owned a computer and so on. It's not a dispute of settlement, it's purely business: Protecting their outdated business models and laying a foundation for later suits. Each time someone pays up, they can state admission of guilt and assign a value to the otherwise nonexistant loss.

Re:Of Course (2, Interesting)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887777)

Too bad, the US federal law doesn't have any provisions against SLAPPs [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Of Course - NOT (-1, Flamebait)

deanj (519759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888133)

"you must agree that the RIAA is using the lawsuits to harass people. That is an abuse of process."

And the ACLU does the same thing when it comes to cities putting up Nativity scenes at Christmas.

Re:Of Course - NOT (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888236)

There are two major problems with this...

a) Cities are GOVERNMENTS that are quite capable of
dealing with the "burden" of a lawsuit.

b) An American GOVERNMENT has 0.0 business showing
any sort of public favoritism to any particular
religion, PERIOD.

Sensible Xian fundies are actually the FIRST people
to object to the sort of shenanigan you are defending.

No Easy Way Out (5, Interesting)

AllParadox (979193) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887730)

If they had just looked at the case, and dismissed it when they realized it had no merit, they would have been fine. Dismiss much, much later, and the harassing nature shows through. No one but themselves to blame.

Re:No Easy Way Out (1)

aug24 (38229) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888023)

The reason they didn't is because all their suits are based on the same evidence: an IP address (which really has file-shared) and the name of the person who pays the account bill.

This case means anyone who shares out their internet access has a defence. Hell, anyone with an insecure wireless net can presumably plead the fifth and walk away.

Justin.

Effect on other cases? (3, Interesting)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887740)

What effect will this have, if any, on the other RIAA cases currently going on?

NOt living in the US, I'm not sure how the legal system entirely works in the States, but could this, assuming she wins her suit, have an enjoining effect on the RIAA in other cases that have brought with similar (lack of) evidence?

Would be fantastic to see them crushed down.....!

Re:Effect on other cases? (1)

antaresv (973774) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888361)

I have lived in the United States all my life and have payed close attention recently to our legal system. And I still am not entirely sure how our legal system works (besides getting paid). "Would be fantastic to see them crushed down.....!" Yes it would.

Corporate Bullying (5, Interesting)

lennart78 (515598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887767)

The RIAA lawsuits indicate an underlying problem with this legal system. A lot of cases, not only regarding copyright infringement, are being settled out of court, because a defendent hasn't got the capabilities to fight back. Any company with sufficiently deep pockets could launch any bogus case, and leave any defendant powerless to react.

For instance: How many people are presently incarcerated without having had a fair trial (not counting any Guantanamo Bay style prisoners of course, that's a different story).

How many people have ponied up cash to SCO because of their outrageous claims about Linux IP? This sounds a lot like the bullyboy who takes your lunch money.

Yhe RIAA can't honestly think they will stop filesharing because they will have to sue millions for this message to effectively be driven home to Joe User. And the few thousand quid they win on each case will barely cover the administrative and investigative costs they make, so there's a /very/ slim chance any artists will see a penny from that money. It's corporate bullying. Why won't US senators and pressure groups worry about that instead of a computer game (http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/08/11 /000227 [slashdot.org] )?

The flip side of that injustice (2, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887919)

For instance: How many people are presently incarcerated without having had a fair trial (not counting any Guantanamo Bay style prisoners of course, that's a different story).

It's funny, I was actually thinking about the other side of the injustice that court settlements encourage: failure to fully prosecute people for crimes. With a settlment, especially a plea bargain, never get the satisfaction or the social benefit of the guilty being fully punished for their crimes.

Worse yet, we lose the notion of a person being specifically innocent or guilty. As the parent alluded to, plea bargains / settlments encourage a justice in which people are rarely treated as exactly guilty or innocent, but rather innocent-ish or guilty-ish. Punishment ceases to be a binary thing, but ends up being applied with a sliding scale depending on how strong the prosecution's/plaintiff's case appears (which translates into bargaining power during settlement/plea negotiations).

Equally bad, perhaps, is that it masks the problems of a system in which the current legal processes / rules lead to such expensive lawsuits / criminal proceedings that only rich individuals or corporations can typically experience a fully fair day in court. And as the RIAA has shown, in civil cases a rich plaintiff gets something far beyond a fair day in court.

Has anyone figured out a way, either a simple tweak or radical change, to provide civil/criminal justice without these attendant problems?

Re:The flip side of that injustice (5, Interesting)

crosbie (446285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888047)

Yup: don't permit corporation to sue citizen, but permit corp vs corp and citizen vs citizen.

If citizen wants to sue a corporation, they simply form their own corporattion and capitalise it with sufficient funds to litigate.

NB This doesn't mean citizens get to break the windows of the corporate HQ with impunity (the corp reports them to the police), just that corporations can't force citizens to submit to the gross inequity of their litigation budget.

The other thing to do, of course, is to abolish copyright.

Re:The flip side of that injustice (1)

Ig0r (154739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888053)

Nobody's ever been declared "innocent" in a court trial.

Re:The flip side of that injustice (1)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888077)

The problem with that argument is that civil cases, such as the one Ms. Foster is involved with, have nothing to do with guilt or innocence. Civil cases only determine liability. However, I think you have a point with criminal cases and plea bargains.

Re:The flip side of that injustice (1)

lennart78 (515598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888521)

Wether it is a criminal case investigating guilt, or a civil case investigating liability, the fact remains that it is easily possible to exploit a difference in resources between Corp. XYZ and Joe Schmoe.

What's happening is that the RIAA's claims about piracy etc. haven't yet been tested in court. Everybody who settles in favor of the RIAA, never mind the money involved, is a little step for the RIAA towards the public view that filesharing is unacceptable. They are using these lawsuits to redefine the public opinion on this issue, not to determine liability.

Until now, the RIAA has put forward the notion that filesharing is illegal, and it has not yet been confronted because everybody settled. Once this case comes before a court of law, this notion will be seriously questioned. Any ruling in favor of the RIAA might set a precedent, but it would render half the internet population a criminal. It will be impossible to consistently enforce regulations on this scale.

Too bad the notion of Civil Disobediance is so unknown to Americans. We claim to live in a 'Free' 'Democracy', which is Greek for 'The ruling of the people'. If everyone thinks that filesharing is a good idea, the RIAA will have to adapt or die. And believe me, it will not kill music and other arts if the big corporate sponsorship of the RIAA would vanish.

Re:Corporate Bullying (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887936)

How many people have ponied up cash to SCO because of their outrageous claims about Linux IP?

AFAICT from a spot of searching, about four. And one of them regrets it [thewhir.com] .

Corporate Bullying-Slashdot Lawyering. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15888032)

"The RIAA lawsuits indicate an underlying problem with this legal system. A lot of cases, not only regarding copyright infringement, are being settled out of court, because a defendent hasn't got the capabilities to fight back."

Here let me translate what you really wanted to say. "All the copyright infringement cases are without merit, and the organizations pressing these cases are just being big meanies. So says the court of public opinion".

"Any company with sufficiently deep pockets could launch any bogus case, and leave any defendant powerless to react."

Oh,gee. Read summaries much?

Re:Corporate Bullying-Slashdot Lawyering. (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888256)

...I'll do one better.

The social cost of suing or prosecuting individuals for non-commercial copyright infringement of music far outweighs the social value of having copyrights on music to begin with.

Metallica is not worth the ruination of lives involved, or the interference with other industries (namely mine) that the RIAA dreams of implementing.

Why don't our coin-operated Senators worry? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15888199)

To answer your question, "they don't dare." If they do anything at all to interfere with corporate power they get their "campaign contributions" cut off and can't get elected.

The technical term for this relationship is "Fascism."

Get used to it.

BillyDoc

Re:Corporate Bullying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15888484)

"..so there's a /very/ slim chance any artists will see a penny from that money."

Artists? What have artists got to do with anything?

Why didn't this happen before? (4, Interesting)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887778)

Didn't anyone else realise that to prevent an organisation bullying the defenceless, one must group together. Just like a Workers Union (in their original form), the only way to defend yourself is safety in numbers. Lets not forget that the RIAA is essentially a union for the already powerful music companies, they become more powerful by uniting.
By uniting the elements opposed to them the RIAA loses some of its advantage, even more so by breaking the back of one of it's most pointy sticks, the dodgy litigation techniques, so far no one has had the knowledge or money to attack this but lets hope this is the beginning of an effective counter-attack.

Re:Why didn't this happen before? (2, Insightful)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888070)

one must group together. Just like a Workers Union (in their original form), the only way to defend yourself is safety in numbers. Lets not forget that the RIAA is essentially a union for the already powerful music companies

Bingo! We need to form the MCAA - Media Consumer's Association of America, get Congress to insist on a levy on blank tapes and CDs and DVDs etc in order to to allow the members to participate in [rampant piracy] exercising their rights and be indemnified for all their legal costs!

Why is maffia even legal? (3, Interesting)

Wiseman1024 (993899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887790)

If our "modern democracies" were modern and democratic, maffia organizations like RIAA, MPAA, and every country's respective digital terrorists should be illegal. Only those profiting from these pests want them to exist, but who cares for what's good for citizens, let alone what citizens want.

Re:Why is maffia even legal? (1)

packeteer (566398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887825)

Remeber that people who run corporations get to vote too. Hell even the actual corporations get to vote by proxy with the propaganda they put out washing people's minds.

Re:Why is maffia even legal? (0, Flamebait)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887910)

Only those profiting from these pests want them to exist

Not to mention those who actually enjoy their music.

Re:Why is maffia even legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15888399)

Because they pay taxes^H^H^H^H^Hlobbyists.

Oh, RIAA, what won't you do... (4, Insightful)

TheNoxx (412624) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887849)

If you take a step back from the whole shebang, one can't help but be astounded at how badly the RIAA has screwed itself over in this particular situation. How do you take a situation where any other party would be completely and absolutely in the right if they said they didn't want you stealing their labor/product and turn nearly every sensible person aquainted with the matters at hand against you?
It's like a rape victim taking the rapist to court and proving to be so vile and vicious as to turn the public in favor of the rapist (real mass pirates, not individuals, in terms of metaphor), and get pro bono law groups to back up the sonofabitch too! Astounding, I say. Well, that's what happens when you screw over everyone you come into contact with and try to crucify the innocent instead of behaving civilly about the matter and going after real pirating rings. Silly suits, instant gratification in greed and money will mean your doom... particularly when you have nothing to do with music itself, aside from litigating and controlling it for profit.

I tell you what, if I were in charge of any company with a product line that could be easily pirated, I'd be suing the RIAA for making piracy more publicly acceptable through their corporate grotesqueries of lawsuits and such. I'm sure you could find a lawyer with a sharp enough tongue and wit to word it quite well.

Re:Oh, RIAA, what won't you do... (2, Interesting)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887892)

But you have to admit, the RIAA's position on the issue paints them into a corner that practically forces them to act in this manner (not that I'm in any way sympathetic!). Think about it; if your legal argument is essentially that a 'culture of piracy' is making devaluing your work product through unlicenced non-fair use copying culturally acceptable to the point where Joe and Jane Citizen don't think much of it, and piracy itself is almost trivially easy despite attempts at copy protection, what option do they have except to sue everyone?

Put another way, say they did find Jane Citizen downloaded two songs and say they decide not to sue, based on the 'let's be good corporate citizens' principle, or the alternative 'let's not be total dicks so that the PR dept. don't all kill themselves' principle. Then, they sue the aforementioned (and mostly fictitious) 'Pirate Kingpin'. If pirate kingpin's lawyer is not a moron, they will show cause to subpoena tons and tons of records of other 'pirates' that the RIAA have identified, and then ask pointedly why Jane Citizen wasn't sued. And ten seconds later, case dismissed w/ prejudice, and RIAA probably smacked around for selective defense of their copyright.

Re:Oh, RIAA, what won't you do... (4, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887917)

RIAA probably smacked around for selective defense of their copyright.

One does not lose copyright by failing to defend it (unlike trademarks); or "selectively" defending it. They might have a problem establishing damages if they were inconsistent, but again there are statutory damages for sopyright infringement.

Re:Oh, RIAA, what won't you do... (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888009)

"...and RIAA probably smacked around for selective defense of their copyright."

IANAL, but I think that only applies to trademarks, not copyrights. Any lawyers in the house that could enlighten me?

Re:Oh, RIAA, what won't you do... (1)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888017)

It does only apply to trademarks, not copyrights, insofar as the ability to maintain its existence (i.e. if you fail substantially to defend a trademark, it ceases to exist as a legal protection.) But, if you fail to defend copyright, or selectively defend it, you have a serious problem when it comes time to identify damages; e.g. "if Jane Citizen is undertaking the same actions as me, then she is doing the same sort of damage as me; if you don't care about her damages, why do you care about mine?"

Re:Oh, RIAA, what won't you do... (1)

kramer (19951) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888337)

Then, they sue the aforementioned (and mostly fictitious) 'Pirate Kingpin'. If pirate kingpin's lawyer is not a moron, they will show cause to subpoena tons and tons of records of other 'pirates' that the RIAA have identified, and then ask pointedly why Jane Citizen wasn't sued.

The RIAA would then say "because we didn't feel like it".

And ten seconds later, case dismissed w/ prejudice, and RIAA probably smacked around for selective defense of their copyright.

Are you making this up as you go along? Copyrights and Patents both allow for selective enforcement. You can sue anyone, everyone, or no-one and still keep your rights. A trademark is the only piece of intellectual property where failure to enforce your rights can result in a loss of them. There is no requirement to sue everyone you identify, or even anyone you identify as infringing your copyright.

Re:Oh, RIAA, what won't you do... (1)

RazorJ_2000 (164431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888355)

"...culture of piracy"? That is highly debatable!!
 
I completely disagree with this line of thought. What I think is that in a monopolistic situation, the consumer masses have no control and no ability to enforce market change... other than to simply change the dynamics of the market and hence, of the relationship with the monopolist. And economic history has proven that this happens, in different ways, over and over again. When a monopolist has such total control over their product distribution and there is no viable competition that can allow the "hands" of Adam Smith to take effect, it makes sense that the consumer masses will simply ignore the monopolist and seek to acquire their product in any capacity available to them. Hence, P2P, CD/DVD copying via sneakernet, and what is called "mass piracy". That label is disconcerting in its use, as piracy in its historical sense is about the plunder and pillaging of humans against humans, and not consumers against monopolistic companies whose exorbitant prices have outpaced the discretionary spending abilities of the majority of their consumer (age) target audiences.
 
  Perhaps if the media cartels would simply adjust to the new dynamics of the digital age, they would not be encountering a fierce and growing opposition in the market for their goods and services. Regardless, economic history shows that what is inevitable is that the media cartels will continue to try to enforce their so-called "rights" (many of which are questionable in nature) and continue to try to restrict open trade and whatnot. And the mass consumer will continue to resist to the point that one of two things will happen. A new company or business model comes along that meets the consumers needs and wants and the old business model and old companies that didn't adapt, die. Or, the consumer simply moves on and transfers their wants and needs to other sources. Ahh, satori!!

Re:Oh, RIAA, what won't you do... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15887904)

Isn't the case more like a very rich rape victim suing every male in town, since they COULD have been the one to rape her? Any anyone that can't defend himself with an expensive lawyer automaticaly becomes guilty.

Re:Oh, RIAA, what won't you do... (1)

FrankDrebin (238464) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888087)

like a rape victim taking the rapist to court

I find the comparison of someone accused of unauthorized file copying to a rapist to be rather disgusting. And to compare the RIAA to a rape victim is laughable. These aren't even criminal proceedings! It is a private dispute between a big bully and some poor ISP customer.

The good old days (3, Funny)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887873)

Things were so much easier when we just used ducking stools and pointy sticks to decide innocence or guilt.
One wonders if the law exists to keep lawyers rather than the other way around.

Re:The good old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15887937)

Rights online? Soon we will all have to buy insurance for being online. How about it? Just like Online Insurance Quote [onlineauto...uote.co.uk] and you can get protected.

Re:The good old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15888014)

I have said this before but this seems an appropriate place.
Lawmakers who happen to be Lawyers will naturally make LAWS to benefit other Lawyers. This is called presevation of the species. Most Lawyers are bottom feeding catfish. Some do have honour and decency but in the vast majority of cases, the only winner is the Legal procession. Just look at how much dosh has been shelled out by SCO in SCO vs IBM. The lawyers get millions while the company they are supposed to represent goes down the pan. If only one of the lawyers had the nerve to tell SCO, "Sorry Guys, this case is a non starter". But naturally, all they think about are the fat paycheck they get for continuing the farce.

Come the revolution, all (corrupt?) politicians will be executed. At the head of that queue will be the lawyers who are politicians.

Re:The good old days (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888026)

>Come the revolution, all (corrupt?) politicians will be executed.
>At the head of that queue will be the lawyers who are politicians.
Can I vote for you?

ferist psot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15887905)

bad for *BSD. As I type this. you shoulD bring the most vibrant

It's ALL Micro$oft fault (-1, Troll)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 8 years ago | (#15887931)

This is bloody Gate's fault and greedy MS!

Secondary liability (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15888007)

When the RIAA learned that the person they sued was probably innocent, they switched their claim. They now claimed that she was liable because she owned the internet connection over which the infringement occured.

So, I have a wife and two adult university students living at home. The RIAA asserts that I am responsible for their online activities. That means that I have to read all their posts and emails. I don't think so.

The RIAA has already lost their case. What we are arguing about here is that they should pay the defendant's legal fees. What we need is for the court to decide that the RIAA's theory about secondary liability never had a basis in law and that their case is essentially frivolous.

On Groklaw there has been some discussion of frivolous cases. There are punishments for lawyers who bring frivolous cases. If the RIAA's lawyers were sanctioned for cases like this, that would really make them think twice before going after the obviously innocent.

Re:Secondary liability (2, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888442)

So, I have a wife and two adult university students living at home. The RIAA asserts that I am responsible for their online activities. That means that I have to read all their posts and emails. I don't think so.

Not only that, but you also have to make sure your wireless router is locked down with top-notch security, so your neighbors and wardrivers can't steal, either.

-Eric

A lot like the McLibel case (5, Insightful)

MHDK (894720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888029)

This is a lot like the McLibel case in the UK. McDonalds were using the UK Libel laws to shut up various media outlets including the BBC and some newspapers by threatening to sue if they published information that painted McDonalds in a bad light. All these organisations decided to not publish or broadcast the information. Then a volunteer organisation wrote a pamphlet about the things that McDonalds do wrong, and got sued. Two of the members of that organisation refused to settle out of court, and decided to defend themselves against the million dollar lawyers that McDonalds hired to take them to court.

What proceeded was the longest ever court case in British legal history and in the end the court agreed that indeed, McDonalds do, quote: "exploit children with their advertising, falsely advertise their food as nutritious, risk the health of their long-term regular customers, are "culpably responsible" for cruelty to animals reared for their products, are "strongly antipathetic" to unions and pay their workers low wages."

From http://www.mcspotlight.org/case/trial/verdict/inde x.html [mcspotlight.org]

So not only can uninformed consumers not make a good choice, but when people try to inform consumers of FACTS, money-laden corporations can shut them up most of the time. So on the whole, markets don't work properly in these cases because no consumer can be adequately informed about absolutely every product that some corrupt corporation is selling.

Likewise with the RIAA Mafia, most people cannot afford to defend against them or have the money to inform the public of the other side of the story - i.e. how the damage that RIAA claims P2P causes is largely exagerrated.

It's only the free market fundamentalists that think markets are sacrosanct, and "informed" consumers can defeat corrupt organisations through consumer power, despite the wealth and power of some of the players involved. Unfortunately, there appears to be rather a lot of those in America. No wonder the Middle East thinks America's corrupt.

Re:A lot like the McLibel case (2, Interesting)

kthejoker (931838) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888325)

I've said it once, I'll say it again:

Americans spend $30 billion a year on lotto tickets.

We could buy a record label every year with that kind of money.

Why do we have to be "informed"? Someone start a website buysony.com and start soliciting donations. Turn donations into stocks held by all donors equally. Make it fun, have polls, but always encourage the continual donating of money to buy stocks, which you hold in a trust. Then you can all act as a single interest in Sony's stake.

Eventually you can probably actually influence Sony. Tell people to stop buying lotto tickets and start buying Sony. Then THEY can pick out the movies they want to make, the artists they want to support, and get FREE CDs, MOVIES, PLAYSTATIONS, DIGITAL CAMERAS, COMPUTERS, PLASMA TELEVISIONS

Buy a company - win fabulous prizes!

Consumer power doesn't need to be informed, it just needs to be manipulated for the power of good, not evil.

RIAA - corrupt organization (1)

COredneck (598733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888048)

If this case is found in favor of Ms. Foster, Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organization (RICO) charges and lawsuit should be filed against the RIAA.

An interesting item, since I am into Japanese Anime, there is an interesting movie called Interstella 5555 [wikipedia.org] where a record executive kidnaps a rock group from another planet and then brings them to Earth and makes a lot of money off of them.

If the ACLU is involved (-1)

dbmasters (796248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888059)

I immediately discount the crediblity of the case. WHile fromt he reading the case has merit and most anyone that fights the RIAA has my support, but the ACLU is a group I dispise almost as much as the RIAA...so it's sorta like watching my two worst enemies in a fist fight, I am torn as to which one I hope wins.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15888171)

Because they don't fight for your right to carry a gun?

Cravath, Swaine and Moore (2, Interesting)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888090)

Can they get Cravath, Swaine and Moore [cravath.com] to provide some input into the brief also? They've provided several wonderful briefs in the SCO vs IBM case. If anybody can present a watertight legal argument, CS&M can. I'm just a bit worried that the brief as it stands contains too much emotive language and spends too much time appealing to the judge's sense of "the greater good".

IANAL, but IMHO judges don't care about "the greater good" unless it's a claim before them; I expect this judge will ignore all the emotive arguments and get right down to the question of whether it's legal to award attorneys' fees to the defendant, including whether the appropriate standard for awarding has been met.

I also expect the judge to try very hard to make the narrowest possible ruling. Judges don't like setting precedents; the bigger the precedent, the less the judge likes it. This brief strikes right to the heart of the Adversary legal system, namely that poor defendants have little access to the courts and can be easily abused by rich plaintiffs. The judge will want to stay way clear of upsetting that status quo.

RIAA Profits (4, Informative)

Digital_Quartz (75366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888100)

Wow. 18,000 people sued, settlements between $3K and $11K. That's over $100 million!

Re:RIAA Profits (1)

z0idberg (888892) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888161)

Subtract lawyer fees and whatever the costs of investigations to find the individual IP addresses in the first place and I doubt there is much profit in there (if any).

$100 million sounds like a lot of cash, but if each case generates $3,000 to $11,000 then I can see the lawyers costs alone being more than that.

Re:RIAA Profits (1)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888213)

See? Bullying pays. Most settled, so the lawyer fees were far less than going to court. Out of $100 million, figure at least half of that was pure profit.

Good work if you can get it. (And if you can live with yourself.)

two points (2, Interesting)

beaverfever (584714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888203)

First, why do people in the US have to fight for legal fees when they win a lawsuit? When will it become an automatic part of american civil law? Responsibility for all legal fees when a case is lost will certainly put the brakes on the litigious culture of the US and all its frivolous lawsuits.

Second: "Though the RIAA has the right to enforce its copyrights through lawsuits and settlements, it does not have the right to do so against people it knows or reasonably should know are innocent."

The RIAA may be stupid, but that doesn't mean it is entirely wrong, and not all of its lawsuits are misdirected. Copyrights put paycheques in peoples' pockets, including software designers, game designers, graphic designers, and countless others.

In a sense, the RIAA is going to bat for all these people, and that is a double-edged sword. Their idiotic approach to defending copyright has caused at least as much damage as it has prevented. They need feedback from people/industries with a vested interest, feedback other than "RIAA sucks!" or "Music should be free!", and they need to listen to that feedback.

Re:two points (3, Interesting)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888342)

''First, why do people in the US have to fight for legal fees when they win a lawsuit? When will it become an automatic part of american civil law? Responsibility for all legal fees when a case is lost will certainly put the brakes on the litigious culture of the US and all its frivolous lawsuits.''

It works quite similar to that in German courts. First of all, the court decides how much money is argued about (if I say I want you to pay $1 mil, then we argue about $1 mil). Then he takes a chart, which says: For a one million dollar case, plaintiffs lawyers can charge $20000, defendant lawyers can charge $20000, court charges $20000 (actual numbers could be different). You can't stretch out a case infinitely because the judge won't let you create three years work for $20000. In the end, the court decides who was guilty and what has to be paid. Now say you wanted $1000000, and the judge says that you win, but the million dollar was nonsense, you get only 10000. Since I have to pay one percent of what you demanded, I also pay one percent of the court cost, one percent of your lawyer, one percent of my lawyer, and you pay the rest. Obviously people know that, so they don't try to get unreasonable amounts. If you win the case as a defendant, you pay nothing, but you might end up paying little even if you lose. And the lawyer cost is limited.

They aren't "going to bat" for the producers... (2, Informative)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888479)

They're suing for the Rights Holders, which is a different beast- and they're suing people indescriminately
left and right over this BS. No, I don't think that illicit file sharing (and there's a distinction there)
is right and that "Music should be free!) but in the same breath, suing the customer is rarely a good thing
especially when the person in question obviously didn't do what they're claiming. They're setting the
financial bar high enough that people just "settle" out of court instead of defend themselves.

Who do you think gets to pocket the money from these settlements and lawsuits? The people making the music?

If you think that, you'd be mistaken- it's the lawyers and the RIAA member organizations that see this
money. That's not going to the bat for anyone save themselves- and it's not about the violations, it's
about control.

Wreaking havoc in people's lives (5, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888249)

Recently, when I appeared in court in Warner v. Does 1-149 [blogspot.com] in Manhattan, Judge Owen said, in words or substance, "so they want to find out this person's name and address so they can take his deposition, what's wrong that?" I responded, in words or substance, "No, judge, that's not what they're going to do. They don't want to take this person's deposition. They are going to sue these people, bring lawsuits that wreck people's lives." The judge then said to me "what are you talking about, wreck people's lives?" I proceeded to tell him how these lawsuits affect the poor people that are targeted, and he cut me off, did not allow me to finish, and said that because I used the term "wreck people's lives" he wouldn't believe anything further I could say.

It was therefore quite gratifying to me personally to read the following passage in the amicus brief:

This is an important case. While it may appear to many as just one woman defending herself against several large corporate copyright plaintiffs, as the court is undoubtedly aware, this lawsuit is but one battle in the broader war the RIAA is waging against unauthorized internet copying. As a result of this war, the RIAA has wrought havoc on the lives of many innocent Americans who, like Deborah Foster, have been wrongfully prosecuted for illegal acts they did not commit for over a year despite their clear innocence and persistent denials. Using questionable methods and suspect evidence, the RIAA has targeted thousands of ordinary people around the country, including grandmothers, grandfathers, single mothers, and teenagers. In its broad dragnet of litigation, the RIAA has knowingly entangled the innocent along with the guilty, dragging them through an expensive and emotionally draining process of trying to clear their names.

Re:Wreaking havoc in people's lives (1)

singingjim (957822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888356)

Obviously we can't believe anything further those lawyers have to say. Thanks for clearing this all up for us.

It's not about the actual case... (0)

singingjim (957822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888262)

...it's all about making sure the lawyers GET PAID. These vampires could care less about any defendents, they just want to guarantee their fees are paid. It's pathetic. Just lawyers helping lawyers is what this is all about. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either or lawyer or is blind, just like our justice system has become, and not in the way originally intended.

And they continue to wonder... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15888298)

I used to buy $200 or more of CD's a month. I have over 1500 CD's in my collection. I used to make dubs to tape and then to other CD's when I upgraded my tape player to a CD player in my car. I did it for 10 years or more.

I used to listen to music all the time, a diehard avid fan. Then, in say 2000, 2001 when music content started taking a nose dive into the trash and the possibility of getting arrested for listening to music that I copied from my own collection of CDs, I gave up music. Do you think I want to spend $200 a month or more to eventually get aressted for it?

If you could get arrested for watching TV, would you continue to watch TV? With Tivo that may be possible one day and then I will give up TV also.

Who are these RIAA, MPAA rocket scientists b@st@5ds, that can't understand that?

Nathan

mandantory reading??? (1)

darth_linux (778182) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888306)

The author isn't familiar with this crowd.

I smell class action (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15888311)

From the motion:

In deciding whether or not to grant defendant Deborah Foster's Motion For Attorneys Fees, the court should consider the broader context of the RIAA lawsuit campaign--especially the positive effect that a fee award would have on encouraging the RIAA to be more diligent in conducting its pre-suit investigations, more prompt in dismissing suits when a defendant asserts substantial claims of innocence or mistaken identity, and more responsible in asserting its legal theories. Moreover, a fee award would encourage innocent accused infringers to stand up and fight back against bogus RIAA claims, deter the RIAA from continuing to prosecute meritless suits that harass defendants it knows or reasonably should know are innocent, and further the purposes of the Copyright Act by reaffirming the appropriate limits of a copyright owner's exclusive rights.

And inevitably, that would be the fatsest way to deal the **AA a blow -- if everyone sued wrongfuly joind together in a class action civil suit and sued them for an outrageous amount of money. They wouldn't get the outrageous amount of money, but the trouble with this whole process has been that there's really no mainstream publicity of the matter. A class action suit might change that. Of course if you really wanted to stick it to the **AA, sic NY Atty General Spitzer on them.

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