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RIAA Drops Suit Against Santangelo

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the christmas-presents dept.

The Courts 190

VE3OGG writes "The RIAA, in an expected motion, has recently dismissed the case against Patti Santangelo, one of the most famous targets of the RIAA lawsuits. The mother of five was described by the judge presiding as an 'internet-illiterate parent, who does not know Kazaa from kazoo.' While this is good news, the RIAA is still pursuing its case against two of Mrs. Santangelo's children. To make matters worse, the RIAA has also dismissed the case 'without prejudice', meaning that they could, in theory, take action against her again later on. The RIAA alleges that Santangelo's children downloaded and subsequently distributed more than 1,000 songs. The damages they seek are presently unknown"

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SLASHDOT USERS; (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17330772)

You are all a bunch of faggots. Do you hear me you REPULSIVE FAGGOTS? NO DIGG.

Now that she's off, the kids are a cinch (5, Funny)

Vengeance_au (318990) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330792)

Now that she's off, the kida are a cinch - she just has to sit them down and have a stern talking-to [slashdot.org] .

I mean, thats the new industry standard, isn't it?

Re:Now that she's off, the kids are a cinch (5, Insightful)

CthulhuDreamer (844223) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331332)

And Bronfman would be the first person I would call in to give testimony in a jury trial. He had evidence that his kids were pirating music, yet he failed to have the RIAA take them trial. I'm sure the jury would love to hear why his kids went free over something he's suing other kids for.

Re:Now that she's off, the kids are a cinch (1)

Vengeance_au (318990) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331670)

Indeed. Its a shame the moderation on my initial comment is "funny" rather than "insightful"..... but based on this reality (rather than an alternate, nicer reality), I was going for funny.

I'll ask it... (5, Funny)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330796)

Won't somebody think about the children?!?!?

Seriously, who will think of them? If they are the parent's responsibility, and the charges against the parent are dismissed, what will protect them against the blood-thirsty lawyers?

Re:I'll ask it... (2, Interesting)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332146)

Ripping off children has been the recording industry's MO from day one. That is why teen pop is such noise. They will stop listening to such junk when they grow up, so rob them now!

Re:I'll ask it... (1)

cmanuh (731680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332282)

how is the RIAA gonna prove that these kids downloaded and subsequently distributed more than 1,000 songs? if the RIAA can't provide the list of songs that they distributed, they children can simply deny any knowledge of whatever the RIAA is saying.

Dismissed vs. Dropped (3, Interesting)

Akardam (186995) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330798)

IANAL, and therefore I may be showing my naievity, but I was under the impression that only a judge could dismiss a case, but that the plaintiff could drop the case. Makes it sound like the RIAA was playing judge and jury... though of course that might not be far from the truth...

Re:Dismissed vs. Dropped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331066)

RIAA would offer a motion to "voluntarily dismiss" their claim against the mother and the judge would grant the motion to dismiss. The judge makes the decision whether or not to grant, but in general cases would only be dismissed if a party so moves the court. A voluntary dismissal is one form of this kind of motion. Forgive me if I've been too simplistic, but this is a very basic explanation of the procedure.

Re:Dismissed vs. Dropped (1, Informative)

denebian devil (944045) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331108)

"Dropping" a case is not a legal term. Plaintiffs can agree to dismiss a defendant, dismiss or discontinue an entire case, etc. It's their case, they instituted it, and they can end it.

Re:Dismissed vs. Dropped (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332040)

> It's their case, they instituted it, and they can end it.

Only the judge can end it. It's easier to get into court than to get out.

Re:Dismissed vs. Dropped (0)

denebian devil (944045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332194)

If a plaintiff sends a voluntary dismissal order to the court, likelihood is a judge is not going to get in the plaintiff's way. I suppose you could say that only a judge can end it in that the court has to approve it, but often it's just a rubber stamping, in which case the plaintiff is the de facto dismissing party.

Re:Dismissed vs. Dropped (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331238)

You are exactly right. The author and Slashdot are incorrect. Only the court can dismiss.

What actually happened is the RIAA has made a motion to dismiss without prejudice.

No doubt Ms. Santangelo's lawyer will be responding to the motion by pointing out to the judge that -- after over a year and a half of complex grueling litigation -- the dismissal should be "with prejudice", not "without prejudice". Assuming the judge agrees with Ms. Santangelo, which is highly likely, then Ms. Santangelo will be a "prevailing party" and eligible for an attorneys fees award. See Capitol v. Foster [riaalawsuits.us] , July 13th Order and Decision.

Re:Dismissed vs. Dropped (0)

denebian devil (944045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332236)

Not to try to disagree with a Real Lawyer, but I work in a law office, and while the Court may technically have to approve the dismissal of a case, I see cases every day where the plaintiff submits a voluntary dismissal order. Sometimes it's signed by a Judge, sometimes it just gets docketed as is. I suppose you could say that the Court had to approve the dismissal, but so often those things get rubber stamped, you may as well say that Plaintiff (not the Judge) was the one doing the dismissing.

Re:Dismissed vs. Dropped (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332306)

No doubt Ms. Santangelo's lawyer will be responding to the motion by pointing out to the judge that -- after over a year and a half of complex grueling litigation -- the dismissal should be "with prejudice", not "without prejudice". Assuming the judge agrees with Ms. Santangelo, which is highly likely, then Ms. Santangelo will be a "prevailing party" and eligible for an attorneys fees award. See Capitol v. Foster, July 13th Order and Decision.

Which is exactly why they want it dismissed without prejudice. Not only do they get to keep the money for Santangelo's legal defense, but they also have the option of hauling her ass thru the system one more time if they need Yet Another Example...

Will she get it dismissed with prejudice? Not likely...

A question... (1)

tktk (540564) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330814)

IANAL, so is it possible for the RIAA to continue the suit against the kids, get some sort of settlement, and then re-sue the mom for the same thing? Or what about jumping back and forth between suing the mom, dismissing the case without prejudice, suing the kids, dismissing that case without prejudice and starting the sequence all over again?

Re:A question... (1)

VE3OGG (1034632) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330910)

According to TFA -- yes, because the case was dropped/dismissed 'without prejudice', they could indeed do that. Though I have a feeling even the counrts would start to catch on if they did it too often.

Re:A question... (2, Informative)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330944)

IANAL, so is it possible for the RIAA to continue the suit against the kids, get some sort of settlement, and then re-sue the mom for the same thing? Or what about jumping back and forth between suing the mom, dismissing the case without prejudice, suing the kids, dismissing that case without prejudice and starting the sequence all over again?
While I'm not certain (law student, limited experience) I believe your answer is: Yes they could do that - and the court would eventually get pissed, dismiss with prejudice, and it would be dead.


What I think it is more likely that they will pursue the claim against her children, and then try to collect from her. Unless she is far more wealthy than she appears, bankruptcy probably follows from that.

-GiH

Re:A question... (1)

arniebuteft (1032530) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331048)

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 41(a), Plaintiffs generally only get one chance to voluntarily dismiss their case "without prejudice". If the Plaintiffs re-file, and voluntarily dismiss again, it's treated as a decision on the merits of the case (i.e., the Plaintiffs lose). Many state courts have similar rules on multiple voluntary dismissals, to prevent lawsuit abuse and harassment by Plaintiffs.

/IAAL

Has the motion been granted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17330836)

Is it not the case that they have moved to dismiss without prejudice, but that the motion has not been granted? Big difference, as you can expect Santangelo's lawyers to try to have it dismissed with prejudice or even to have it not dismissed at all so that the case can go to trial and the RIAA can lose.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! (-1, Offtopic)

NickCatal (865805) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330866)

and a happy new year...
filled with more of this shit

Need to give a late gift? Give an EFF Membership! Eff.org is the place for you.

FightGoliath (5, Informative)

VE3OGG (1034632) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330876)

As the submitter, I would also like to point out that FightGoliath [p2pnet.net] is the legal defense fund for Patti Santangelo, and appears to still be taking donations.

kazoo? (4, Funny)

bananaendian (928499) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330878)

well I did't know what kazoo [wikipedia.org] was either.

Re:kazoo? (1)

mojodamm (1021501) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331070)

It's all good, just don't use your kazoo to play copyrighted works...

Re:kazoo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331158)

Oh, I thought those were hash pipes.

Re:kazoo? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331550)

Apparently it's not possible to hear a difference in quality between the two, so you have to give her some credit.

Re:kazoo? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332326)

Damn those 128kbit mp3s!!!!

Article Text (4, Informative)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330902)

Music industry backs off in piracy suit against NY mom
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 20, 2006 | 8:36 AM ET
The Associated Press
 
The recording industry is giving up its lawsuit against Patti Santangelo, a New York mother of five who became the best-known defendant in the industry's battle against online music piracy.
 
However, two of her children are still being sued.
 
Patti Santangelo was an 'internet-illiterate parent, who does not know Kazaa from kazoo.'-Judge Colleen McMahon
 
The five companies suing Santangelo, of Wappingers Falls, filed a motion Tuesday in U.S. federal court in White Plains asking Judge Colleen McMahon to dismiss the case. Their lead counsel, Richard Gabriel, wrote in court papers that the record companies still believe they could win damages against Santangelo but their preference was to "pursue [the] defendant's children."
 
Santangelo's lawyer, Jordan Glass, said the dismissal bid "shows defendants can stand up to powerful plaintiffs." He noted, however, that the companies were seeking a dismissal "without prejudice," meaning they could bring the action again, "so I'm not sure what that's worth."
 
The companies, co-ordinated by the Recording Industry Association of America, have sued more than 18,000 people, including many minors, accusing them of pirating music through file-sharing computer networks, most of which have been forced out of business. Typically, the industry tracked downloads to a computer address and learned the name of the computer owner from the internet service provider.
 
When Santangelo, 42, was sued last year, she said she had never downloaded music and was unaware of her children doing it. If children download, she said, file-sharing programs like Kazaa should be blamed, not the parents. The judge called her an "internet-illiterate parent, who does not know Kazaa from kazoo."
 
Santangelo refused to settle with the record companies, pleaded her case in newspapers and on national TV and became a heroine to defenders of internet freedom, who helped raise money for her defence.
 
Last month, the record companies filed lawsuits against Santangelo's 20-year-old daughter, Michelle, and 16-year-old son, Robert, saying they had downloaded and distributed more than 1,000 recordings.
 
The companies said that the daughter had acknowledged downloading songs on the family computer -- which Glass denied -- and that the son had been implicated in statements from his best friend.
 
The suit against the children seeks unspecified damages.
The Canadian Press, 2006

Re:Article Text (5, Funny)

arniebuteft (1032530) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331088)

...and that the son had been implicated in statements from his best friend

f*cking snitches... "I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!"

Without forethought (3, Informative)

milo_a_wagner (1002274) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330916)

The RIAA cannot dismiss a case, with or without prejudice. The court does that.

Not that different. (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330950)

The mob also gave reprieves to families to show the public they were not cold hearted killers.

None of the behavior of the RIAA is any different from Organized crime.

Re:Not that different. (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331034)

The mob also gave reprieves to families to show the public they were not cold hearted killers.
I don't think the mob considered/s it a mercy to leave the mom but kill the kids. Quite the opposite really.

-GiH

Re:Not that different. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331404)

WTF is wrong with you people? +5 Interesting? The Mob fucking murders people.

Maybe, just MAYBE, it is a little different?

RIAA is worse than mob, because protected by law (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331784)

The Mob fucking murders people.

Maybe, just MAYBE, it is a little different?

It's not hugely different at all.

The mob first tries to suck you dry if you made the mistake of crossing their business path, and then if that's not enough they kill you to preserve the atmosphere of fright. They have no qualms at all what effect their actions have on people and their families, as long as it preserves that fright.

The RIAA is devoted entirely to sucking people dry, and they have no compunction whatsoever what that does to people's livelihoods or families or reputations. They do so even when you haven't crossed their business path, because they invent a totally fictitious one of their own: the ridiculous and totally non-existent "loss" that they claim to incur when people share music.

The RIAA don't kill, but they might as well do so. After your life and reputation and credit rating is shattered in court and your livelihood is demolished by utterly incredible invented damages and lawyer fees, there's very little left worth living for, you're a total wreck. Yet, what did you do to deserve this? You did a GOOD thing, you shared what you enjoy with others. And for that the RIAA mobsters destroyed your life.

And as for your point about not killing ... the RIAA don't need to kill, because the necessary fright is created by the law that they helped create: if you don't comply, men with guns will turn up at your doorstep. That's actually a lot more frightening than the mob, since the mob isn't protected by the law and you could seek protection. You can't seek protection against the RIAA and their minions.

So, don't come to us with crap about the RIAA being nice people. They're utter scum, like their paymasters. If those lawyers had a shred of professional decency, they'd tell the studios to get stuffed and hire some hitmen to do their dirty work instead.

Re:RIAA is worse than mob, because protected by la (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17331886)

Mod parent up! I wish I had mod points left...

Re:Not that different. (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331596)

None of the behavior of the RIAA is any different from Organized crime.

Except that the RIAA doesn't kill anyone, which is actually kind of a big difference.

Re:Not that different. (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332338)

None of the behavior of the RIAA is any different from Organized crime.

Or the IRS, but I repeat myself...

The poor children, the poor mother (1, Insightful)

ColeonyxOnline (966334) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330962)

When I play some of those MMORPG's on the net, I often wonder why in the heck do I have to treat "children" in game any different then an adult. I have heard several times people that defend and excuse some of the most disgusting behavior only because "they are children." Does being a child mean that you get away with a heck lot just because of your age? Even if you did know that what you were doing was wrong? Does something magically change when they turn 18?

What about the mother? How could she claim ignorance when it was her job to educate and take care of them? Parents already have Free School (more like a prison really), a free ride to school, they get a heck lot of money back in taxes for having those dawn children. Couldn't she take at least care of their Internet behavior? What about having 5 children? Come on, we live in 2006, not 1906, family planning is there, one is a mistake, after that it was her choice.

Downloading those music files with her computer and paid for net access was like going into a store and robbing the place with your parents' car and gun.

Re:The poor children, the poor mother (4, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331096)

Does being a child mean that you get away with a heck lot just because of your age?
Yep

Even if you did know that what you were doing was wrong?
Can't prove they do or don't, so you say they're young and ignorant, which is generally the case.

Does something magically change when they turn 18?
Nope, but that's the age when they can't blame someone else for their ignorance. Mostly, it wises them up pretty quickly. Mostly.

What about the mother? How could she claim ignorance when it was her job to educate and take care of them?
Have kids. It'll enlighten you. Really. Whole different world all of a sudden. Your own entire childhood becomes clear.

Couldn't she take at least care of their Internet behavior? What about having 5 children? Come on, we live in 2006, not 1906, family planning is there, one is a mistake, after that it was her choice.
I assume this one is tongue-in-cheek. But seriously, some people want to take care of children. When your children are growing up and not needing you every day, you go out and have some other child who will make you feel important again.

Re:The poor children, the poor mother (2, Interesting)

t0rkm3 (666910) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331368)

Or, you just like having kids around to instruct and guide some children toward becoming socially responsible people and you have the wherewithal to do so.

My parents had 4 boys, my dad has since adopted two more children (1b/1g).

He also runs volunteer summer camps, coaches soccer teams, and teaches youth groups.

Why? Because he believes people are responsible for molding the future generations.

Don't demean people's decisions because they want or have something you don't. Perspective people.

Re:The poor children, the poor mother (2, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332314)

I suppose what I meant was, like your dad, some people aren't happy without kids around to teach, to love, to help in some way. Didn't mean to sound like I was belittling anyone. There are times, however, when a person can't reasonably handle more children, and it takes away from both participants' experiences.

Re:The poor children, the poor mother (1)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331206)

What about the mother? How could she claim ignorance when it was her job to educate and take care of them?

Because it's like if someone uses a telephone to do something illegal, you go after the person who committed the act, not the person who pays the phone bill.

Re:The poor children, the poor mother (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331270)

18 is a bit arbitrary but there is solid scientific evidence that their brain's are not even finished forming before age 12 to 13.

Speaking as a parent, I'm ignorant of 90% of what my daughter did in her life. We are NOT JOINED AT THE HIP 24/7. She went to school on her own, took baths alone, spent time in her room alone.

Re:The poor children, the poor mother (2, Insightful)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331704)

Downloading those music files with her computer and paid for net access was like going into a store and robbing the place with your parents' car and gun.

Interesting. I liken it more to going to the public library and making a copy of a chapter out of a book with the Xerox machine. You didn't buy the book. Is the library therefore assisting you in stealing the book?

Poor analogy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17332242)

Downloading those music files with her computer and paid for net access was like going into a store and robbing the place with your parents' car and gun.

This is a poor analogy. It is much more analogous with they being a band of thieves, laying siege to the land. To amass such amounts of music so quickly, it is analogous with an unpresedented crime-spree in many different music shops. Not just classical music, but Beatles, and Madonna and Britney Spears. Whole cities and libraries full of music on their harddrive. To do this in the real world, they wouldve needed a dusin tommy-guns and alot of death in proceeding with their crimes.

Death penalty is really to mild to such bad people. They should be forced to life-long slavery, with 7 generations born into slavery cleaning the RIAA moguls` pools and country cabbins. After that, nobody remembers the original crime and they believe this is how life should be. Serves em right. You cannot be too mild on such behaviour, or itll spread like wildfire.

Must be fun to make up crimes..

Wasting judicial resources (4, Interesting)

baffled (1034554) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330980)

There should be a law against entities wasting the time and resources of the courts, such as this persistent RIAA filing suits against people before they even bother to gather the facts. This is a waste of the taxpayers' public institutions and personnel.

Re:Wasting judicial resources (5, Interesting)

mojodamm (1021501) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331208)

I thought there was... From - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Rules_of_Civi l_Procedure [wikipedia.org] "Rule 11 requires all papers to be signed by the attorney. It also provides for sanctions against the attorney or client for harassment, frivolous arguments, or a lack of factual investigation. The purpose of sanctions is deterrent, not punitive. Courts have broad discretion about the exact nature of the sanction which can include: consent to in personam jurisdiction, fines, dismissal of claims, or dismissal of the entire case. The current version of Rule 11 is much more lenient than its 1980s version. Supporters of tort reform in Congress regularly call for legislation to make Rule 11 stricter."

Re:Wasting judicial resources (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332366)

Who do you think Rule 11 is going to help: the high-powered RIAA attorneys paid $600/hr or the podunk attorney (no offense) that the average mom can afford?

Irresponsible parents should be held accountable.. (1)

Browzer (17971) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330986)

"When Santangelo, 42, was sued last year, she said she had never downloaded music and was unaware of her children doing it. If children download, she said, file-sharing programs like Kazaa should be blamed, not the parents. The judge called her an "internet-illiterate parent, who does not know Kazaa from kazoo.""

Re:Irresponsible parents should be held accountabl (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331340)

Well if the RIAA isn't going to hold idiots with computers responsible, why would a technical savvy parent be held responsible? They didn't necessarily teach their children not to use kazaa or whatever.

By saying the parent is not responsible, and most of us can assume many children do not know the law, then its safe to say that the RIAA is responsible for not getting the message how to CHILDREN not to download music. I guess they need to start running ads on cartoon network and so forth.

Re:Irresponsible parents should be held accountabl (1)

Browzer (17971) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331620)

Shame on RIAA for dropping the case against the parent.

It should not be the job of anyone else but the parent to get the point across that "Stealing is not only unethical, but also unlawful" Personally, I don't think that the current crop of juvenile are all delinquents and dumb enough not to understand the concept of theft, ethics, and the law. Rather, I think the CHILDREN understand these concepts perfectly well, but they think they can circumvent the system just because they are legally "minors".

Re:Irresponsible parents should be held accountabl (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331748)

You might be right about that. I felt rather safe from copyright infringement as a teen. I ran websites with bootleg music and things.

Re:Irresponsible parents should be held accountabl (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332360)

It should not be the job of anyone else but the parent to get the point across that "Stealing is not only unethical, but also unlawful" Personally, I don't think that the current crop of juvenile are all delinquents and dumb enough not to understand the concept of theft, ethics, and the law. Rather, I think the CHILDREN understand these concepts perfectly well, but they think they can circumvent the system just because they are legally "minors".

Or alternatively the children didn't realise the legal construct of copyright even existed, given its utter lack of any counterpart in nature.

Re:Irresponsible parents should be held accountabl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17332394)

Shame on you and the riaa for making the ASININE claim that copying is stealing.

It isn't.

Kids aren't out of it yet (4, Interesting)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 6 years ago | (#17330994)

It's interesting that the RIAA made two cases here. The kids appear to be in some serious trouble. Of course, that's only because they have managed to convince some judges that seeding a file (or 1000) via P2P is on the same level as a full-blown for-profit piracy ring. Apparently the original defense was to convince a judge of the mother's illeteracy and blame everything on her inability to know what was going on. The 20-year-old daughter is certainly old enough to be sued on her own (kinda surprised about the 16-year-old son, though).

I really would hate to see something happen to the children. They're just another one of the RIAA's "making an example" cases, and it's really not a good example. This sort of legal bullying simply polarizes people into the submissive "Please don't sue me, I'll do anything you want" group, and those that are willing to escalate their grey-area file sharing into actual criminal activity.

Why can't they make an example of one of the "real problems"? You know, the pirates that are making hundreds of millions of dollars off pirated music and movies. I'd like to see those rich criminals go to jail too, and I'd bet that most people on P2P networks would too.
IMO, winning a high-profile case like that would be a terrific example to casual users as well. It'd be like putting drug dealers in jail instead of drug users. You still send the same message "Drugs are bad", but the person who gets punished actually contributes significantly to the problems caused by drugs.

Oh wait. There are no pirates making hundreds of millions of dollars off pirated music and movies. That must be because there are legitimate people making hundreds of millions of dollars off legitimate music and movies. To me, the "real problem" is clearly stated in the last two sentences. Persecute criminals, not their victims or groupies.

mandelbr0t

Re:Kids aren't out of it yet (2, Informative)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331210)

Uh, in case you didn't know, the RIAA is also going after AllofMP3 and other "piracy" rings, alongside dead people, unconnected grandmothers, illiterate mothers, and little children.

So they happen to be equal opportunity litgants.

Analogy time: Copyright law is like a lawn tank. (2, Insightful)

FLEB (312391) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331380)

So it's like this. Suppose there are some kids, from your neighborhood. They're always on your damn lawn. No one of them is doing anything significantly malicious, but taken as a whole, they're starting to wear a path and beat it down. Unfortunately, the only thing you own is a tank. No, you don't have a house, you just live in the tank, parked on the lawn. Now, as it stands, you've got two choices: Let the kids trample the lawn to a muddy mess, or shoot them, with the tank. Unfortunately, every time you explode one of the offensive little twerps into a misty pink cloud, invariably mothers' groups and angry citizens will harrumph and criticize, saying you went too far, and that the young child-who-is-now-a-crater didn't deserve such treatment. But, if you hold off on your right to evaporate the malicious darlings, you'll find that your well-cultivated lawn starts looking like more of a post-Woodstock mud-pit.

What the law needs to do is give this fictional property owner a beatin' stick, so they can give the kids a wailin' they'll never forget, but not obliterate them into bite-size morsels. I think casual infringement is a problem, for artists' rights if not for profits, but the common response is so heavy-handed that more sympathy gets shown to the infringers. Copyright law needs to have some manner of punishment for casual infringement that is well above the market value of the work (as it should be a discouragement, not just a payoff), but not so high that families are bankrupted just thinking about it. Unfortunately, it seems the homeowner (tankowner?) may have started to enjoy exploding small children.

Re:Analogy time: Copyright law is like a lawn tank (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331634)

You also need to allow the RIAA and others to combat "crimes" of a lessor magnitude before they are faced with an adult that belives nothing can touch them so it is OK to hack into web sites and deface them. Or to redistribute movies and music in bulk.

What has instead happened is the RIAA cannot contact the mother and say "Your kid is getting out of control with this file sharing stuff." without bringing a lawsuit. The threshold for filing the lawsuit is high enough that they need lots and lots of evidence of infringement because the costs of filing are high. So, everyone sits and waits until the problem is of a large enough magnitude that it justifies the time and expense of the lawsuit. When it could have been "nipped in the bud" a long time ago.

Re:Analogy time: Copyright law is like a lawn tank (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331760)

True. It is prohibitively expensive to bring proof, and that cost has to be passed on to the sued, while people who aren't worth it are having no problems at all. It's too bad nobody came to a "piano roll" decision and made some manner of compulsory licensing scheme. It would take freedom away from creators, but it would probably "sane down" the system to some extent.

1997 NET Act (2, Informative)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331652)

that's only because they have managed to convince some judges that seeding a file (or 1000) via P2P is on the same level as a full-blown for-profit piracy ring.

No, actually that was the 1997 NET Act [cybercrime.gov] which made sharing files with no profit motive a felony criminal offense. The RIAA didn't need to convince a judge, just pay off legislators.

I'm so sick of these stories (-1, Redundant)

Stop Or I'll Noop (670846) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331052)

Not because I'm sick of RIAA going after people, but because people somehow think breaking the law is OK. I'm not crazy about the current state of copyright laws, but they're still laws. I don't have the right to download copyrighted music for free whenever I feel like it. Deal with the consequences of your actions people. And in this case, the consequences of your children's actions. You're the parent, you should be able to control your kids and know what they're doing. If you don't know 'Kazaa from kazoo' you should learn. At a minimum don't let your children do things you don't understand. You're the parent and you're supposed to be protecting them, start acting like it. How can you protect them if you don't even know what they're doing? I hope RIAA wins against the children.

Re:I'm so sick of these stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331204)

Well when majority thinks that a law is ridiculous and start breaking, I guess only then the law is changed. Isn't that what happened in the past?

Re:I'm so sick of these stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331234)

I'm saw sick of hearing "but it's The Law". The Law is just an abstract idea, tell me why I should obey something just because I'm told it's The Law?

Re:I'm so sick of these stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331306)

Yeah yeah yeah it's all the parents fault. Let's see what YOU have to say when one of your kids gets into trouble. I bet you won't be blaming yourself when that happens. You probably don't even have kids. And if you do I bet they do(or will) all kinds of things that they shouldn't and it's all going to be your fault.

Re:I'm so sick of these stories (1)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331398)

"At a minimum don't let your children do things you don't understand."

If everyone followed your wise advice how would anyone learn anything? Or make discoveries? You need parents who allow their kids to surpass their own abilities.

"How can you protect them if you don't even know what they're doing?"

Now this is very true, parents need to get more involved with their children, but certainly not by restricting what they can learn about.
How does allowing the RIAA to punish kids (maybe young adults in this case) by putting them into bankruptcy with overly high fines help anybody, or prevent more file sharing?

Re:I'm so sick of these stories (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332482)


Not because I'm sick of RIAA going after people, but because people somehow think breaking the law is OK. I'm not crazy about the current state of copyright laws, but they're still laws.


There really is no reason to change a law that the majority of people are obeying so if you really aren't crazy about the current state of copyright laws you should be encouraging people to ignore them.


Deal with the consequences of your actions people. And in this case, the consequences of your children's actions. You're the parent, you should be able to control your kids and know what they're doing.


Here I'm going to agree with you to a certain extent. More people being punished for sharing means more people screaming to their Congresscritters to change these bad laws.


And in this case, the consequences of your children's actions. You're the parent, you should be able to control your kids and know what they're doing. If you don't know 'Kazaa from kazoo' you should learn. At a minimum don't let your children do things you don't understand. You're the parent and you're supposed to be protecting them, start acting like it. How can you protect them if you don't even know what they're doing? I hope RIAA wins against the children.


Either you really aren't that upset with the laws as they are or you are stuck in some adolescent "rules are rules" stage of life. There are many children who grow up learning things that their parents didn't even know exist.

From (1)

Jainith (153344) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331056)

The Mother of five was described by the judge presiding as an 'internet-illiterate parent, who does not know...

Kazaa [reference.com] from Kazoo [reference.com]
From Kudzu [reference.com]
From Kudu [reference.com]
From Kodo [reference.com] ...

Generation Blues (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331098)

This whole thing is stupid six ways from Sunday. Of course the mother is responsible for her children's lawbreaking behavior, even if she doesn't know how they do it, or how the law works. If she didn't know "glock from Spock", would she not be responsible if her kids smuggled plastic guns onto a transatlantic flight?

But they didn't smuggle guns. Maybe they did redistribute some files. In which case they might be liable for negligible damages. And the stupid copyright law should be changed, even if just for the survival of a music biz that obviously can't figure out how to make money from the "remix culture" that is where all the cool kids are. All the RIAA knows how to do is rip off musicians and resell the same crapola in new crapola-wrap, protected by politicians they bribe.

Will the legacy of the RIAA finally be to not only kill Rock & Roll, but to put actual chains on kids by making their parents totally irresponsible?

Re:Generation Blues (1)

belgar (254293) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331326)

Sorry Doc, but I submit that you're incorrect (IANAL, btw). Parents are not automatically liable for the actions of their children -- the reasonable test applies under tort or contract law. If the parent made a reasonable effort to supervise their activities or actions. In this case, I'd suggest that, given her inexperience with computers, it could be easily explained as her reasonably assuming that their actions were not a breach of copyright. And, the case of plastic guns on a transatlantic flight is completely different, as it's criminal -- and, under criminal law except in certain circumstances, parents are not responsible for criminal acts committed by minor children.

*Again, IANAL -- but I did just finish a law course. :-)

Re:Generation Blues (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331574)

I would offer that the Internet account holder is responsible for the traffic on that account, period.

If the IP address assigned at a particular date and time is to a particular account holder, then whatever happens during that session is the responsibility of the account holder. How else would you have it? Would it seem reasonable to just say "Oh, I didn't do it, must have been one of the kids." and that is the end of the matter?

Of course, the Internet has been known as a consequences-free zone for a long time. This just goes to prove it.

Re:Generation Blues (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331658)

IAAL and you've pretty much hit the nail on the head. You're not automatically responsible for the actions of your children in most jurisdictions, though you may be liable under general negligence theories if a reasonable person in your situation would have exercised control over their children. Like if you knew your child has a tendency to stab people with a fork at the dinner table, and you bring the little darling to a dinner party.

Re:Generation Blues (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331718)

I'm not talking about law. IANAL, and I'm not even a parent. It's clear to me that parents are responsible for their kids actions, until those kids are responsible for them themselves. That's mainly about 16-18, depending on the kind of action and the individual kid. The law might have to err on the side of caution in making a single age standard for everyone, or switch to some kind of analytical test (though testing for copyright responsibility seems totally impractical).

Someone is responsible for every act. If the kid's not responsible, then their parent is. Even if someone else "made them do it", their parent is responsible for making sure the kid isn't made to do it. Or is responsible for remedying some rare cases of kids forced by someone responsible. Or by that person's parents, if the forcer is another kid.

If a parent can't understand what their kid is doing in real effects, like breaking copyright laws, then that parent is irresponsible to let the kid have the power do do wrong that way, outside their control.

I don't have to be a lawyer, or a parent, to understand the basics of personal responsibility. Maybe because my own parents raised me right. Not to be a lawyer ;).

Parents should... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331146)

...be responsible for what their kids are doing. If you don't know what they are doing, you should do everything in your power to learn and understand.

The "I didn't know what they were doing" defense is pure and utter bullshit. I hope the RIAA wins it's suits against her kids, and the judge makes her pay. It's her fault for not paying attention to what her kids do on computers, not the RIAAs for defending copyrights against those who don't wish to pay for music.

Re:Parents should... (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331342)

I hope the RIAA wins . . .

Am I taking some serious hallucinogens today, or did I really read that on slashdot?

Re:Parents should... (2, Informative)

egypt_jimbob (889197) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331378)

Parents should be responsible for what their minor children do. FTFA, her daughter is 20 years old.

If your twenty-year-old duaghter borrowed your car and used it as a get away car in a bank heist without your knowledge, should you be held responsible for the robbery? Perhaps my opinions differ from yours but I think the answer is an emphatic 'No'.

Despicable Tactic (4, Insightful)

Tavor (845700) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331212)

Essentially, what the RIAA has done, is to drain the target of resources before going in for the kill. With how they have drained Patty's coffers fighting her, she is now broke while they go after her kids. This is similar to how some viruses attack the human body.

Anyone have a truckload of coal to spare? I know someone who needs it wrapped, individually, and dumped on their front door.

Re:Despicable Tactic, not just RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17331938)

Next thing you know* you'll get a spam email asking for you to send money to the mother [Patty] through the website so that she can afford to buy gifts for her children for the Christmas season because she is so broke...

* No insult intended to the mother, but this kind of spam stuff happens (just like that Nigerian Prince that was put in jail and needs money to get out, btw, did he ever manage to get out? :).

Regarding "with prejudice" (1)

Harin_Teb (1005123) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331232)

Any time a plaintiff drops a suit (for the first time) it is dropped without prejudice. The RIAA could not have dropped the suit with prejudice. If the judge had dismissed it (an entirely different action altogether) then it could have been with prejudice up to the judge's discretion.

Essentially the RIAA said oh, oops never mind we don't want to sue this person. The court says ok thats fine we'll let you drop it. If they sue her again, and then try and drop it again it WILL be with prejudice. This rule is generally supported by public policy to prevent the courts from being flooded and to prevent tactics (like the RIAA's that are harrasing).

Its just the way American courts work...

IANAL, but I am in law school.

Re:Regarding "with prejudice" (3, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331292)

Harin_Teb wrote: "Any time a plaintiff drops a suit (for the first time) it is dropped without prejudice."

Sorry, Harin, you're wrong about that. If they had sought to drop the case prior to the defendant's service of an answer, that would be correct. After service of an answer, it can only be "without prejudice" if the judge allows them to dismiss "without prejudice". It would be highly unusual and irregular for that to happen in a case which has already been so heavily litigated as this one.

The plaintiffs knew even before they'd brought the case that the defendant was not liable. There's no way the judge is just going to let them get away with what they did here.

Re:Regarding "with prejudice" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331406)

That's not quite right. The plaintiff can always dismiss with prejudice, but generally they won't unless the judge makes them or the defendant has a strong enough hand during settlement to force a dismissal with prejudice. Generally that means that the defendant has counter claims that are also being settled. In this case probably neither happened.

Depending on the age of the children, the kids could ignore a judgment. Kids in elementary school have no real reason not to. Generally speaking, parents are not liable for their parents torts, and almost certainly an internet illiterate parent can get off without liability.

So a question- if a judgement found against kids (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331310)

Are they essentially judgement proof anyway?

Does it somehow flow up to the parent anyway (even tho she had no control or knowledge?

Say Riaa wins $50,000 from each of the boys. What's the likely outcome?

I ask because I was hit by a broke hispanic guy from behind- got a $25,000 judgement and never saw a dime of it. He had so few assets that there was nothing to collect the judgement on (tho he probably earned 30 to 40k per year.

Re:So a question- if a judgement found against kid (1)

illiterate_light (907706) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331578)

I was hit by a broke hispanic guy

Did the fact that he was hispanic figure into the judgment?

Re:So a question- if a judgement found against kid (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332442)

Did the fact that he was hispanic figure into the judgment?

It implies that he had no insurance.

1000 songs.. (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331474)

I wonder how many songs the RIAA members sell annually ? Billions ?? Pressing 100'000 copies of a 15 track CD equals 1,5 million songs. 1000 songs equal about 68 15 track CDs, which I guess is easily covered in less than thousandth of a second of all the album sales.. notwithstanding the publishing catalogues put into compilations around the world all year long..

Re:1000 songs.. (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331558)

1000/15 is 66,67 = 67 pieces...

Well, in court... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331520)

The RIAA alleges that Santangelo's children downloaded and subsequently distributed more than 1,000 songs. The damages they seek are presently unknown"

...the minimum they'd get is $750*1000+ = $750,000+. Bankrupcy court next up.

Re:Well, in court... (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331752)

Nah, the kids are presumably judgment proof at this point. I mean, can they really be pulling in that much income?

ok... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331522)

Not that I agree with the RIAA and not that im not happy they droped this but..

last I checked ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse for not following it. I hope she at least learned that she should know what HER children are doing on the computer.

Parents have to take some responsibility for there children when there on line and to teach them right from wrong.

Re:ok... (1)

Roman Coder (413112) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332390)

I always wondered about the "ignorance of a law is not an excuse to follow the law" rule.

I realize that the rule is there for those who would try and lie their way out of the breaking of a law, but what would happen to someone who literally didn't know the law existed?

I know that the way things are now, they are still subject to the law they broke, but doesn't the human brain need to know about a law to be able to follow it in the first place?

And yeah, its the responsibility of the person to learn the laws of the land they walk through, but there are ALLOT of laws out there, and some of them written for political reasons, but the courts have not gotten to them yet to strike them down, etc.

If it can be determined that someone didn't know of a law they broke, do you punish them with the same force as someone who did know the law existed and broke it anyways?

Just thinking out loud.

Appearance before Judge McMahon (3, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331544)

The article contains a link to an old Slashdot article which has an incorrect link to the transcript of Ms. Santangelo's appearance before Judge McMahon. Here's the correct link to the transcript: http://info.riaalawsuits.us/elektra_santangelo/tra nscript050506.txt [riaalawsuits.us]

Re:Appearance before Judge McMahon (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17331980)

This part makes me giggle:
THE COURT:...So let's set another conference date for July 8th at,
  say, 10 a.m. And hopefully you will have an attorney by then.
  And if you get an attorney, you need to put the attorney in
  touch with Mr. Maschio, and maybe you will get this thing
  resolved.
  MS. SANTANGELO: Mr. Maschio's --
  THE COURT: He will give you his business card.
  MS. SANTANGELO: There is more than one group here.
  MR. MASCHIO: I'll give her my card, but our
  instructions are for these people to deal with the conference
  settlement center. They had discussions.
  THE COURT: I'm sorry. Your instructions from me, the
  Judge --
  MR. MASCHIO: Okay.
  THE COURT: -- are that, if she appears with a lawyer,
  her lawyer will deal with you.
  MR. MASCHIO: Oh, absolutely, your Honor.
  THE COURT: Otherwise, you take your action and you
  file it in front of an arbitrator.
  MR. MASCHIO: No, all I was suggesting, your Honor, is
  that, if she doesn't come with an attorney, that the more
  direct way of doing this -- and this is just to facilitate
  things -- is to deal directly with the conference center.
  THE COURT: Not once you've filed an action in my
  court.
  MR. MASCHIO: Okay.
  THE COURT: You file an action in my court, your
  conference center is out of it. They have nothing to do with
  anything.
  MR. MASCHIO: Okay. I'll give her my card.
  THE COURT: If you are here, you are here as an
  officer of the court. You're taking up my time and cluttering
  up my calendar, so you will do it in the context of the Court.
  Maybe it will be with a magistrate judge, but you will be
  representing your client, not some conference center. And if
  your people want things to be done through the conference
  center, tell them not to bring lawsuits.


I am the very model of a modern lameness filter. I block out information that I deem too far off kilter. I know of all the memes and I block the posts historical. From trolls to all that perl code I just find abhorical...

Hmmph on the RIAA (2, Interesting)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331598)

If the RIAA actually represented ARTISTS instead of their own 600 pound gorilla bureaucracy, I'd side with the RIAA over a lot of this music stealing. Unfortunately, the RIAA is a Trade Association (translation: lobbiest group) with "record labels" as supporting members and the "record labels" use ARTISTS as slave labor. Being enslaved is only profitable for relatively few artists because most of them get a monthly statement from the "record label" showing they owe money. Not a single ounce (dollar) of of whatever the RIAA extorts in court goes back to the ARTISTS who were supposedly harmed.

Wouldn't it be great of all the ARTISTS banded together to form their own group to develop, distribute and protect the music they create. Something which would cut all the middle men out of the loop permanently and directly benefit the ARTISTS. I'll bet most people would respect copyright law a little more. Only THEN would I consider paying a blanket tax on products (iPods, recording media etc) instead of putting up with DRM to support ARTISTS.

(plus one In0form4tive) (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331608)

coomon knowledge things the right Which gathers balance is struck, from one folder on and personal I type this. architecture. My

RIAA isn't dropping the case (3, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 6 years ago | (#17331668)

The article's incorrect. The RIAA isn't dropping the case. They can't, the defendant's already answered their complaint and once defendant's incurred costs plaintiff can't just wash their hands of the case. What they're doing is asking the judge to dismiss their case without prejudice (ie. they can refile the same case in the future). Given the judge's comments to this point I suspect he's going to be disinclined to do that, he'll give them a choice of having it dismissed with prejudice (can't refile) or not dismissing it at all.

this is 6oa7sex (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17331794)

GET HOW PEOPLe CAN out how to make the

The RIAA cannot dismiss anything (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332018)

> ...the RIAA has also dismissed the case 'without prejudice...

They have done no such thing. They have submitted a motion _requesting_ that the _judge_ dismiss their claims without prejudice. The defense will reply, undoubtedly asking that the claims be dismissed _with_ prejudice (meaning that they can never be filed again) and probably also that the RIAA be ordered to pay the legal expenses of the defense.

You wouldn't... (1)

dasunst3r (947970) | more than 7 years ago | (#17332298)

Someone needs to make a parody of the RIAA/MPAA commercials that are like "You wouldn't steal a CD..." It should go something like...
You wouldn't steal a kid's lunch money
You wouldn't rip people off
You wouldn't ruin others' livelihoods
Suing innocent people is extortion
Extortion is a crime

Someone take this idea and run with it.

Re:You wouldn't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17332422)

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