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RIAA Appeals Award of Attorneys' Fees

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the first-up-against-the-wall dept.

The Courts 156

Fishing Expedition writes in with a story in Ars reporting that the RIAA has decided to appeal a judge's decision to award attorneys' fees to defendant Debbie Foster in Capitol Records v. Foster. If the award stands, the RIAA could find itself in trouble in numerous other cases, and they know it. Their real fear, more than the attorneys' fees, is the judge's finding that the RIAA's arguments for contributory and vicarious infringement claims in cases like this one are not viable.

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FP? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111204)

I have poo breath.

On the Internet (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111242)

no one knows you are a dog who's been eating kitty litter. Bad dog, no you can't lick my face, thank you very much.

Why do we have to put up with this crap? (2, Interesting)

filterban (916724) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111220)

I'm glad to see that the RIAA/MPAA's War on Customers is failing, and IANAL, but that article summary is terrible. Can you possibly make it any more confusing?

Yashoor, yoobetcha! (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111302)

I'm glad to see that the RIAA/MPAA's War on Customers is failing, and IANAL, but that article summary is terrible. Can you possibly make it any more confusing?

Feeshing Ixpedeeshun vreetes in veet a stury in Ers repurteeng thet zee RIEA hes deceeded tu eppeel a joodge's deceesiun tu everd etturneys' fees tu deffendunt Debbeee-a Fuster in Cepeetul Recurds f. Fuster. Iff zee everd stunds, zee RIEA cuoold feend itselff in truooble-a in noomeruoos oozeer ceses, und zeey knoo it. Zeeur reel feer, mure-a thun zee etturneys' fees, is zee joodge's feending thet zee RIEE's ergooments fur cuntreebootury und feeceriuoos inffreengement cleeems in ceses leeke-a thees oone-a ere-a nut feeeble-a. Bork Bork Bork!

this should clear it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111400)

The expedition of the fishing writes inside with a history in Ars that it discloses that the RIAA has decided to repeal the decision of a judge to the honoraria of the lawyers of the concession to the demanded Debbie to foster in files of capitol v. to foster. If the concession is stopped, the RIAA could be in numerous hardship in other cases, and he knows it. Its true fear, than the honoraria of the lawyers, is more the judge who finds that the discussions of the RIAA for the contributarias demands and vicarious of the infraction in cases as this one is not viable.

Squigly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18112062)

I am Squigly, King of Fish! All worship before me!

Re:Why do we have to put up with this crap? (2, Informative)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111932)

Yes, instead of all these legal terms that I don't understand, I think he should have written the summary in pseudocode.

All jokes aside, I thought it was standard for the loser of a court case to have to pay the winner's lawyer fees. Let me clarify what I'm saying:

if (judge.decision().winner == defendant)
{
defendant.bankbalance += plaintiff.getmoney(defendant.fees);
}

Re:Why do we have to put up with this crap? (4, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111996)

In the US, the basic standard is both sides pay their own costs and attorney fees. There are exceptions to the general rule in certain circumstances, for example, a statute might allow fee shifting in certain kinds of cases, suits deemed frivolous under the court rules may also result in fee shifting. So anyway, you should rewrite the code so that the default is not fee shifting, with exceptions that provide for fee shifting.

Re:Why do we have to put up with this crap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18112774)

In cases where one side is attempting to extort the other side by using the legal system, and their case has no basis in reality, then yes, they will be liable for attorney's fee's.

Think about that. They've sued like 2000 people. 2000*10,000=20,000,000

Re:Why do we have to put up with this crap? (2, Funny)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112828)

public void RIAA_court_case(Plaintiff pliantiff, Defendant defendant) {

    if (judge.decision().winner == defendant && case.frivolous)
    {
        defendant.bankbalance += plaintiff.getmoney(defendant.fees);
    ) else {
        defendant.bankbalance -= defendant.fees;
        plaintiff.bankbalance -= plaintiff.fees;
    }
}

i love pseudocode
   

Re:Why do we have to put up with this crap? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18112884)

you = douche!

I love plain code!!!

Re:Why do we have to put up with this crap? (1)

vtolturbo (729585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113302)

I recommend that all slashdot comments must be written in pseudocode. We're all geeks anyway.

Or, along the lines I just described:

Rules.recommend( Rules.comments.forceFormat(Format.PSEUDOCODE) );
assert( PersonalityTypes.GEEK.contains( slashdot.getUsers() ) );

Re:Why do we have to put up with this crap? (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113392)

Here, I'll sum it up for you:

RIAA PWNED!

seeing the light (3, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111282)

Their real fear, more than the attorneys' fees, is the judge's finding that the RIAA's arguments for contributory and vicarious infringement claims in cases like this one are not viable.

Well, when you put it like that I really hope the judge sees the light and overturns the previous ruling...

Re:seeing the light (4, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111416)

What I want to know is why the blurb includes that line. Is there documented evidence of that being their "fear"? It seems more like an opinion that has no bases in fact.

What the RIAA *is* worried about is other people winning, for whatever reason, and there being prior judgments against them charging for attorney fees -- which means that people will be happy to go to court against them and possibly win meaning that the RIAA can't play the extortion game as well as they have been.

Re:seeing the light (4, Informative)

H8X55 (650339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111556)

These actions indicate RIAA doesn't want to take part in a fair fight.
Makes me want to keep not buying CDs.

Re:seeing the light (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112494)

Did they ever want to. It has always been a fishing expedition with them. DirectTV did the same thing.

Re:seeing the light (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111828)

"It seems more like an opinion that has no bases in fact."

You must be new here ...

Re:seeing the light (3, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111926)

While it may be opinion, and perhaps pure speculation, the notion that it isn't grounded in fact is highly specious. The nature of the US legal system and how the RIAA is operating makes the conclusion rather obvious actually.

It's less "an opinion that has no bases in fact" and more like a declaration that the sky is blue.

Re:seeing the light (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112138)

Everyone is putting "bases" in quotes, but that is actually the plural form of basis.

http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/bases [m-w.com]

Re:seeing the light (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112192)

Oops, wrong link. Just search for "basis" though and you'll see that "bases" is the plural form (say "basees")

Re:seeing the light (1)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112348)

Oops, wrong link. Just search for "basis" though and you'll see that "bases" is the plural form (say "basees")
even so, using the plural "bases" would be appropriate if the quote were more like "these are just opinions with no bases in fact" rather than the case where this was being used ("an opinion that has no bases in fact"). it seems like it's understood that even multiple components of a root for a single item would be referred to as a singular "basis".

Re:seeing the light (3, Funny)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112784)

However you spell it, all your bases are belong to us.. us.

Go Zig, For Justice!

Re:seeing the light (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112188)

Not only that, but if lawyer fee awards become commonplace, people will be able to hire much BETTER lawyers (who will work on contingency). This will make it very easy for people to fight back with lawyers who can consistently win, which will break the RIAA's little extortion scheme VERY quickly.

-Eric

Re:seeing the light (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18112786)

What I want to know is why the blurb includes that line. Is there documented evidence of that being their "fear"? It seems more like an opinion that has no bases in fact.

Um... you have a four digit UID. Did you log on to slashdot in 1998, think it sucked, and recently found it again?

I mean, ordinarily I'd say "you must be new here"

(Mind Reading Capcha says "tribute")

Re:seeing the light (4, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113488)

The RIAA uses the high cost of defending against one of their lawsuits as a tactic to get people to fold. This is a common approach by plaintiffs with deep pockets: Bring a lawsuit that will cost a fortune to defend, and cause the defendant to either fold or be financially ruined. It's a matter of intimidation by lawsuit.

It seems fair to me that the loser in a nuisance suit is forced to pay the winner's legal costs. A countersuit for damages would be even better.

Wow! (1)

yogurtforthesoul (1032362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111322)

I thought it would be impossible to get a rescue mission to that depth in the ocean for their lawyers. Kudos I guess.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111576)

You're obviously forgetting just how much money the RIAA has...

Re:Wow! (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111680)

You're obviously forgetting just how much money the RIAA has...


Not after they have to pay legal fees for both side in all of their future cases......

Layne

Re:Wow! (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113460)

It's still small potatoes to what they can raise. Don't forget that they have a monopoly on music and have a profit margin on the order of 50%. They can afford to throw billions into legal fees and still turn a profit.

Re:Wow! (1)

woadlined (1054792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112266)

Don't underestimate the Lawyered Gentry's sense of how much money the RIAA has. Once the blood is in the water, the feeding will begin.

Re:Wow! (1)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112422)

Geez, now all I can think of is lawyers with frickin' laser beams on their heads.

Re:Wow! (1)

woadlined (1054792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112684)

Careful not to defame them, or we're both next.

Re:Wow! (1)

menkhaura (103150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111886)

Give my sig back!

Very difficult for RIAA to win (3, Interesting)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111358)

In this case the victim's innocence has been proven beyond guilt.
Hence no upper court will overturn attorneys fees as RIAA has been proven wrong.

Risky, too (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111468)

If they lose this one, it sets a precedent.

won't someone think of the industry? (5, Funny)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111692)

all they want to do is ruin people's lives! is that so wrong?

Re:won't someone think of the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111976)

That depends.

Are you evil????

And here I thought they were driven by greed... (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112214)

Now that you've pointed out they are acting on principle...that changes everything ;)

Re:Very difficult for RIAA to win (1)

icoer (960357) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111636)

IANAL, but I fail to see how this will have any meaningful impact either way. As far as I know you only get awarded attorney fee's if you win your case. How many cases has the MAFIAA actually lost? Hell how many even make it to court for that matter. Unless the RIAA start getting more cases taken to court and starts losing them, this only affects this one case. Good for her for getting her money back, but lets not start celebrating a major victory just yet.

Re:Very difficult for RIAA to win (5, Insightful)

flosofl (626809) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111850)

Well, the way I see it is that most people, regardless of their liability in these cases, would find the cost of defending themselves prohibitive. It is far less expensive for them to settle than to pursue the issue in court. The RIAA counts on this. If all of a sudden the option to recover legal costs becomes viable, I think we may begin to see less settlements and more fighting.

Re:Very difficult for RIAA to win (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111910)

I am not a lawyer either, but my understanding is that it is quite rare to be awarded lawyer's fees (being awarded legal costs, which excludes lawyer's fees is somewhat more common) and is usually an indication of the judge's belief that the loser not only had no case but also knew/should have known that and was abusing the legal system. Such a precedent, if I understand it correctly, would be very detrimental to any future such cases (and may spill over onto their entire legal campaign).

Of course, the original article may be confusing legal costs and lawyer's fees.

Re:Very difficult for RIAA to win (1)

drzhivago (310144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111914)

It establishes a precedent that can be used in future cases, to the benefit of defendants and the detriment of the RIAA. A lawyer knowing this precedent has been set may be more willing to request his client go to court instead of settling out of it. Of course, it could also lead to more capitulation by the RIAA trying to settle out of court (with the assumption they won't win in it).

We won't know if there's any meaningful impact to this (assuming it doesn't get overturned) until we know the results of future accusations/cases.

Re:Very difficult for RIAA to win (5, Insightful)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112658)

Imagine yourself as about to be sued by the RIAA, and it should be clearer

1. The RIAA is suing you. You have a 30,000$ a year income. You don't want to settle, but it will cost a lot by your standards to fight it, and even if you win, you will still be out those costs. Do You Fight It?

                                              vrs.

2. The RIAA is suing you. You have a 30,000$ a year income. You don't want to settle, though it will still cost a lot by your standards to fight it, if you win now, it will all cost you nothing. Now Do You Fight It?

Now Imagine you are the RIAA and it should become even clearer.

1. You sue some chump making only 30,000$ a year. If that suit starts looking troublesome, you can drop it, and the chump can't force the case into court.

                                            vrs.

2. You sue some chump making only 30,000$ a year. If that suit starts looking troublesome, you can drop it, but the chump can probably still force the case into court as part of getting a declaration that makes him eligble to recover his legal costs in a countersuit, and he may well be able to countersue just based on you dropping the case even if he doesn't yet have a not- guilty verdict. In other words, depending on jurisdictional issues, either he can force the case to go on, or dropping it is still legal, but it doesn't help you (the RIAA) avoid costs anymore. You have no control over how quick that chump rushed out and found a lawyer, or how much he agreed to pay that lawyer on contingency. If he hired OJ's entire defense team (those still living) that's what you risk having to pay for. Any precedent he gets applies to all the other suits you have outstanding, so if he can get 450,000$ in legal fees, it's possible the other 1,329 cases you have outstanding can all get them too. Your downside is now over 600 million dollars. All those cases you settled earlier, out of court where no precident was established? They aren't really settled now, unless the duration for appeals has also lapsed. If some Boston Legal sized firm takes one client's case, they will call all the new and old litigants that look promising, put together a whopping big countersuit, and your worst nightmare downside is now, at the very least, several billion dollars.

The RIAA thought that having all those cases where the accused just settled without a trial made them very strong. They are now at risk of finding out that all those cases are worth precisely zero against just one precedent. This is how the American legal system is supposed to work - let's hope it actually does.

You got one part wrong, I think (3, Informative)

silicon not in the v (669585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113496)

Generally good, but part of that is just bogus. You said:

All those cases you settled earlier, out of court where no precident was established? They aren't really settled now, unless the duration for appeals has also lapsed. If some Boston Legal sized firm takes one client's case, they will call all the new and old litigants that look promising, put together a whopping big countersuit, and your worst nightmare downside is now, at the very least, several billion dollars.

First of all, there was no court judgement, so there is nothing to appeal. Second, remember what settlement of a lawsuit generally means. I just about guarantee that the RIAA settlement offers included the stipulation that the defendant could not pursue any legal action against them. So those who have settled have already sold off that right.

Re:Very difficult for RIAA to win (4, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112608)

In this case the victim's innocence has been proven beyond guilt.
Hence no upper court will overturn attorneys fees as RIAA has been proven wrong.

IANAL but being wrong in a lawsuit does not mean attorney's fees. In most cases no fees are awarded. Why the judge is awarding fees in this case is that despite proof that the defendant's daughter and not the defendant was the infringer, the RIAA chose to pursue the case further against the defendant. Nearly a year later on did they dismiss the case. There is a difference between being wrong after filing a suit and knowingly pursuing a suit that you know is wrong. Also the American Association of Law Libraries (AAL), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Oklahoma, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Public Citizen joinly filed an amicus brief supporting the defendant's right to attorney fees. Their point was that attorney's fees are appropriate to remind the plaintiff that they cannot abuse the judicial system by suing people they know to be innocent.

RIAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111390)

IS all this news about the RIAA bugging anyone else? Every time they do *another* shitty thing, it ends up on the front page. All you'll get is a thread full of flame and RIAA hate.

It's just getting on my chimes is all.

re (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111628)

what the fuck does getting on your chimes mean?

Re:re (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112014)

what the fuck does getting on your chimes mean?

It looks like some new obscure meme like "all your base..." some people are pushing which hasn't bubbled up to the collective net consciousness yet. Google's got nothing useful on the phrase.

I wouldn't be surprised to find it as a catch phrase of a character in some upcoming comedy movie or other commercial venture and that it's being sprayed over multiple net forums to build hype (astroturfing).

Re:re (1)

multisync (218450) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112314)

Google's got nothing useful on the phrase.

I wouldn't be surprised to find it as a catch phrase of a character in some upcoming comedy movie or other commercial venture and that it's being sprayed over multiple net forums to build hype (astroturfing).


Thanks. I was going to squirt it on to Google to find out what it meant, but you did it for me.

Poor arguements! (4, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111418)

From TFA: "The RIAA also argues that should the attorneys' fees award stand, it would deter other copyright owners from pursuing infringement claims."

So let's get this straight, if the Judge sticks to his initial decision it will deter other copyright owners from filling more frivolous lawsuits? Heck, that sounds like a good reason to NOT change his mind!

-Rick

Re:Poor arguements! (5, Insightful)

sulfur_lad (964486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111572)

Translated: "Please help us to maintain our litigation business model."

I can feel what I hope is the collective "oh crap" eminating from the RIAA's 'new revenue' dept.

Re:Poor arguements! (4, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111904)

So let's get this straight, if the Judge sticks to his initial decision it will deter other copyright owners from filling more frivolous lawsuits? Heck, that sounds like a good reason to NOT change his mind!

Nope, they're going to claim that their "justified, in-good-faith suits, against people who they have evidence of infringement" (not a real quote) could see some impediment if they have to pay the legal bills of people for whom they have been unable to prove wrong-doing.

They want their cake, and to be able to eat it too. To date, their (and I agree with you) frivolous suits could be brought without proof, and without consequences if they are wrong. If they were wrong, they could just say "ooops, we tried", or, if someone hadn't the resources to even attempt to fight it, I bet they forced more than a few innocent people into settling and accepting blame -- because it would be cheaper than defending yourself.

If anything, this might finally give them some burden for evidentiary responsibility, and they can no longer use their tactics unless they are in posession of real evidence. To date, they can claim anything, put together sketchy evidence ("I have a screen shot"), and bully ISPs into handing over information. I think we all agree they need to be reigned in and given some better ground rules.

Lord only knows how the judge will view this, but let's hope you're right. :-P

Cheers

Re:Poor arguements! (1)

urulokion (597607) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113088)

From TFA: "The RIAA also argues that should the attorneys' fees award stand, it would deter other copyright owners from pursuing infringement claims."
Oh that is so funny. They are arguing against what is written in the copyright statutes. And against established court cases and precidents. The very purpose of attorney fee award in copyright cases is so that people [b]WILL[/b] be encouraged to litigate copright cases.

Afraid of losing (4, Interesting)

Hrodvitnir (101283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111430)

The mere fact that the RIAA is afraid to lose a case is proof in my mind that they are no less than extortionists.

Re:Afraid of losing (2, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111586)

Wait, what? I guarantee you that just about everyone and every company, no matter what, is afraid of losing a lawsuit.

Re:Afraid of losing (4, Insightful)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111812)

If you blast out thousands of anything, you expect to lose a few--epically when you've been as careless as the RIAA has in bringing these cases.

The issue here is that they need to win 100% or the cases will all start to unravel.

The grandparent was implying, correctly, that this means they are living off fear to appeal rather than the law. If the law was absolutely on their side, they might allow for the fact that they are not going to get every sing case right and let things like this drop.

The fact that they are not willing to let go of a single case implies they know their house of cards isn't all that steady.

Courts = state sponsored corporate gambling (5, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111486)

In it, the plaintiffs lay out their disagreement with the judge's reasoning while taking time to point out that the fees awarded far exceed any damages they could have recovered should their suit have been successful.

And that's how it should be. Always. If you lose, you pay, with the theory that you'll learn your lesson and not do it again. Conversely, if they win, they get more money. It's a risk they took from the getgo, and have been getting away with it because there have been few real challenges against them.

Now that their business model is starting to show cracks, they now want the risk removed yet keep the reward.

Hopefully the judge would realize that removing paying attorney's fees would give even more insentive to lawsuits since they wouldn't worry about consequences if they lost.

This is the RIAA pitifully grasping at straws...

Actually they have a pretty strong defense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111570)

Rumour has it that their defense will involve Paul Bremer and a forklift.

Re:Courts = state sponsored corporate gambling (5, Interesting)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111694)

And that's how it should be. Always. If you lose, you pay, with the theory that you'll learn your lesson and not do it again. Conversely, if they win, they get more money. It's a risk they took from the getgo, and have been getting away with it because there have been few real challenges against them.

The problem is that no one would sue a large company paying $5000 an hour for attorneys, for fear of losing being more costly than any possible judgment from winning. The law should limit the loser to paying only as much as his or her own attorney fees to the winner. That way it only depends on how seriously each side takes its case, and realistically it will have the same effect where it matters, namely where individuals need to sue large corporations. If they lose, they're only out twice as much as they would have paid their own lawyer, not $millions. If they win, the corporation almost certainly spent more than they did on lawyers, so they'll pay the whole bill. It makes even more sense when you consider that the corporation can essentially throw as many lawyers on the case as they want just to frighten an opponent with huge attorney fees because the lawyers are employees and they'd be paying them no matter what they were working on.

Re:Courts = state sponsored corporate gambling (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112082)

Actually in the US we do not have a true loser pays rule. Partially for this very reason, no one would dare sue a large corporation if they had to pay their fees. Currently any loser pays fees rules are completely up the the judge, and I've never heard of an individuals forced to pay a corporations fees outside of filing fees.

Re:Courts = state sponsored corporate gambling (2, Insightful)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112252)

And that's why the US legal system is so unfair - those with the money always win. Here in the UK, for example, if I had a genuine case against anyone - no matter how large they were - I could and would be able to afford to take them to court because I would know that if I won then I would not be paying any legal fees. This allows a much better balance of justice IMO.

Bob

Re:Courts = state sponsored corporate gambling (2, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113368)

Yes, but if you lost would you be forced to pay millions in their lawyers cost?

Re:Courts = state sponsored corporate gambling (1)

nasch (598556) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113432)

Here in the UK, for example, if I had a genuine case against anyone - no matter how large they were - I could and would be able to afford to take them to court because I would know that if I won then I would not be paying any legal fees. This allows a much better balance of justice IMO.
Doesn't that also mean that if you sue them and lose, then you have to pay their legal fees? You could argue that actually provides less balance - you pay either no legal fees or double (or more?) rather than each side paying their own fees (ie balance). You want to discourage frivolous lawsuits, but you also want to discourage big companies from intimidating citizens with big gangs of expensive lawyers. Ideally, I mean - not that governments necessarily care about that second goal. If I think I'll be on the hook for Megacorp's million dollars of lawyer fees if I lose, how willing would I be to sue in the first place? Perhaps someone has more detail on the UK's system.

Re:Courts = state sponsored corporate gambling (1)

Ibag (101144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112384)

This sounds like a decent system. However, in some situations (e.g. someone sues a large corporation and loses because the letter of the law is not on their side, even though the spirit of the law is), forcing the loser to pay anything besides their own fees is still somewhat unjust. I have heard that, in some countries, the judges have full power to decide who pays what fees and sometimes have the winners pay the losers fee, depending on specifics of the case and specifics of both sides financial states. Personally, I feel that a combination of this idea with your idea is ideal: there are limits to how much of their opponents legal fees one side can be forced to pay, but it is up to the judges digressions to decide anything in this range.

Of course, for this to work, we have to trust that judges are rational, unbiased, and always looking for the most fair solution they can legally provide. If judges can be bought, perhaps stricter guidelines are required. Then again, if judges can be bought, we're in much deeper trouble than I care to imagine.

Re:Courts = state sponsored corporate gambling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18112450)

I like the lawyers fees based on what you spent too loose plan. So if big corporation puts $50,000 into suing me and loses against the $2500 I put into defending myself, I should get $50,000 in attorney fees :)

That seems fair to me. If they want to use there deep pockets to try and beat me through more expensive lawyers, and my bargain bin guy kicks there ass, I want them to pay us both for wasting our time, and a little reward for us and incentive for them to not try using money to make court decissions again.

Re:Courts = state sponsored corporate gambling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18112124)

incentive

lawsuit deterrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111502)

"The RIAA also argues that should the attorneys' fees award stand, it would deter other copyright owners from pursuing infringement claims"

Don't they mean it will deter other copyright owners from suing every potential infringer (instead of just the ones they have an actual case against), since the defendants are more likely to be able to afford a defense if they know they are going to be awarded attorney fees if they win.

Why fight (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111512)

FTA
"The record labels say that Foster failed to take advantage of the plaintiffs' offers to "end this litigation without paying anything." Instead, she chose to fight the lawsuit vigorously in hopes of clearing her name completely."

Yep, she could have settled for $0.00 and have a tarnished reputation. What a bargain; if you ask me. I think this falls under the category of "Duhhh".

Just my .02 cents worth. Feel free to flame or mod me down.

Re:Why fight (2, Insightful)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111970)

So you're ok with letting someone walk all over you, as long as you don't have to pay any money? The sad fact is, that unless more people stand up against groups like the RIAA in cases like this, they'll continue their legal fishing expeditions forever.

Re:Why fight (1)

tulmad (25666) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112300)

Yet another example of sarcasm not being translated very well over the Internet.

time for business model change? (4, Insightful)

amigabill (146897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111544)

The RIAA also argues that should the attorneys' fees award stand, it would deter other copyright owners from pursuing infringement claims.

Maybe it's time to end the "let's sue innocent people" business model, and find a new one which has less risk of paying out instead of cashing in.

Re:time for business model change? (2, Funny)

Lord_Ultimate (1049752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111896)

What, you mean try to make money by selling CDs? But that would involve having artists put out CDs that don't suck. To do that you need talented artists. And you have to search for them, audition them, etc. That just takes too much time and effort.

Besides, war-dialing for people to sue seems like it would be much more fun.

"Premature End Of The Discovery Process" (5, Insightful)

Steve B (42864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111564)

The RIAA also bemoans what it calls the premature end of the discovery process

Newspeak-to-English Translation: The mean old judge didn't let us drag out the case until the defendant had to cave in because the legal bills ruined her.

Re:"Premature End Of The Discovery Process" (2, Insightful)

jasen666 (88727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111878)

You'd think they'd WANT the discovery to end.
They had no evidence to support their claims, which is one reason they lost.

Re:"Premature End Of The Discovery Process" ACTUAL (2, Informative)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113190)

The RIAA also bemoans what it calls the premature end of the discovery process

More accurately, The the premature end to the fishing expedition attempting to locate the actual person who did the infringement because there's no evidence at all that the already sued Internet account holder ever even touched a computer keyboard themselves, let alone actually committed the infringement, if any!

Remember: Providing files to hired Media Sentry investigators is not copyright infringement under the law!

Considering all the frivolous lawsuits.. (2, Interesting)

Lunarsight (1053230) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111762)

When you consider all the frivolous lawsuits coming from the RIAA, hitting them for the defendant's attorney fees seems more than reasonable, IMHO. Perhaps if they knew paying the attorney fees was a possible outcome, they wouldn't be suing everything with two legs half as much.

The way it should be (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111822)

What REALLY gets me is that if the RIAA had any chance of recovering the exorbitant $$ in "damages" they try to extort they would.
But lets face it what chance does Joe Blow on the street have of paying them....6/10 of FSCH-all. All it does is destory a persons life finantially and emotionally.

Its nice to see someone taking a stand and winning. I personally don't know how the judge could reverse his order.
They initiated litigation and lost, (not)sorry but thats why you don't bring frivolous lawsuits in front of the court. Personally i hope that people DO use this in their own *IAA lawsuits and teach these guys that the destroying the "little man" is not how you stop piracy.

Here in NZ we have even more draconian laws, as previewed in a previous /. article. We have no fair-use, no format shifting, heck even recording a TV show to VHS is illegal (currently, yes it *may change shortly). The *IAA equivelants have only prosecuted (from memory) 2 people, both were mid-sized operations that copied dvd's/music to sell at town/city markets. The average Joe downloader gets a cease and desist letter and thats it; why you may ask, well as in sweden, you can only sue for real damages i.e. 100 illegal mp3 = US$99, this is the way it should be. /end my 2c

Re:The way it should be (2, Informative)

SinisterAngel (464851) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112270)

The judge isn't the one reversing his order. It would be a court of appeals doing that.

So let me get this straight... (4, Insightful)

s31523 (926314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111944)

The record labels say that Foster failed to take advantage of the plaintiffs' offers to "end this litigation without paying anything."

So, basically, the RIAA picks a fight with someone, they lose, the person says you lost, pay my fees, and the RIAA calls "foul!"?!?! I reaaaally hope the judgement sticks, forget about the RIAA for a moment and think of all the other cases that could use an overturned decision to their advantage citing "precedence" from this case. If I ever get sued, fight it, win it, I would most definitely countersue for legal fees. We already saw that legal fees will typically outweigh the payout of a lawsuit [slashdot.org] which is cause for so many companies to settle... If you bring a fight, you had better be prepared to lose and pay up, end of story.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112250)

Yes. ALWAYS countersue from the get-go.

I was hit with a frivolous lawsuit by an insurance company once. I pretty much copied everything they sent me, changed the wording a bit, and sent it back. (Essentially, I let them be my lawyer.)

They quickly dropped the case "with prejudice", which means the issue they tried to sue me for (and that I countersued for) can never see the light of day in court ever again.

ALWAYS countersue. Always.

Re:So let me get this straight...NOPE!!! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113284)

forget about the RIAA for a moment and think of all the other cases that could use an overturned decision to their advantage citing "precedence" from this case.

Sorry. Nice idea, won't work. The fees were awarded under the specific tenets of The Copyright Act itself. The judge refused to award fees under the more general statutes regarding recovery of costs as the prevailing party. This logic only works under suits regarding copyright infringment.

Headlines from the future (2, Funny)

Banzai042 (948220) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111950)

June 1: Judge rules against RIAA in legal fee case June 2: Judge sued for illegal filesharing by RIAA

Deters Lawsuits (5, Insightful)

s31523 (926314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111980)

The RIAA also argues that should the attorneys' fees award stand, it would deter other copyright owners from pursuing infringement claims.

No, it would deter copyright owners from bringing baseless lawsuits against innocent people.

Good, but not good enough (1)

Perp Atuitie (919967) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112008)

If justice is the goal, courts have to assess the RIAA and the rest of the pirates heavy damage awards for harassment, defamation, stalking, and whatever else comes to mind when thinking about their random assault-by-shyster. Followed, of course, by appropriate criminal charges on similar grounds.

A RICO suit should work just fine... (1)

bwcbwc (601780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113426)

If enough judgements go against them in the same fashion, I'd say that opens up the possibility of a class action lawsuit under the RICO act. The basis would be extortion, along with the harrassment, defamation, and stalking mentioned by the parent.

Re:A RICO suit should work just fine... (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113704)

RICO Suit, I don't remember Rico wearing any special suit in Starship Troopers??!?

No Precedent Here (2, Informative)

Anna Merikin (529843) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112118)

As I RTFA it seems to me although IANAL there is little precedent here except if you are a RIAA codefendant and your daughter has (by defaulting) in effect admitted to downloading the files without your knowledge.

The judge said the RIAA can't go after an innocent (the plaintiff) as well as the known guilty, whose name she turned over to the RIAA early on.

I doubt most of us would qualify for this precedent, but I'd like to hear what a real lawyer thinks.

Frivolous? (0)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112408)

The issue here sounds a lot like the child was committing a crime and the parent held the account used to commit the crime. Somehow, the parent got off without being responsible for the use of their account. Obviously, the minor child with no assets was not going to be sued because of both being a minor child and having no assets.

This sounds like an open door policy to me. How far can we go with this? If my Internet connection is used to send death threats to the president, I can always claim it was done by someone else and they have to let me go, right? Especially if a child steps up and says they did it. Wasn't me.

Does this just apply to the Internet? Or can we extend this to any act that involves resources that I would nominally be responsible for? What if I hand a 10-year-old a gun and tell them to go play outside. Would I have any responsibility for the aftermath?

This has always sounded incredibly silly. You have someone "sharing" music over an Internet connection and the bill is being paid by the parent. Aren't they responsible for what happens? Or is the Internet going to continue to be a consequences-free zone where it is next to impossible to bring any action against any offender? It is getting close to that today. This decision would appear to mean that the account holder is not liable in any way for actions committed using the account. You have to identify the person, which is not realistic.

Can we figure out how to commit murder on the Internet? Let's go for some real action here and see the lawyers run around in circles.

Re:Frivolous? (3, Informative)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112804)

RTFAs

"Foster said that she owned the account, but that she was completely ignorant of the existence and use of file-sharing software. Foster did say that her adult daughter and estranged husband had access to the account, and may have been responsible for the infringement."

Most legal scholars (and judges, and juries) would agree that no reasonable person would consider a gun safe to give to minors, but for now it's not so clear that an unsupervised internet account is equally unsafe. Regardless, in this case it was an adult daughter.

Re:Frivolous? (4, Informative)

Arker (91948) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112934)

The daughter in this case was *not* a minor child, and has already lost her case. The problem was the Mafiaa insisted on pursuing the case against her mother, knowing she was innocent, as well. And now they don't want to have to pay the mothers attorneys fees.

That's how it should work anyway (2, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112866)

You bring someone to court, you lose, you paid for the legal fees on both sides.

If such a system were in place, we'd see less "I'm gonna sue his ass" crap, a lot less "if I threaten to sue they'll do as we want" crap, and a whole lot less of "we'll sue them into bankruptcy" crap.

Re:That's how it should work anyway (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113036)

You bring someone to court, you lose, you paid for the legal fees on both sides.

If such a system were in place, we'd see less "I'm gonna sue his ass" crap, a lot less "if I threaten to sue they'll do as we want" crap, and a whole lot less of "we'll sue them into bankruptcy" crap.


You are correct. My best friend is an attorney and I think it would be fair to say that he expressed dread at the idea of this becoming law, even though since he now specializes in bankruptcies this would have no impact on him if it ever became law. I asked him about this idea and he offered up the usual attorney arguments that a loser pays system would discourage honest people who've been wronged from taking cases to court because they might lose and then have to pay all the costs. Actions against big corporations might also go down because most people can't afford to pay the army of expensive lawyers that big corporations hire. I'm not convinced that on the whole society wouldn't benefit and the gain of having less nonsense in the courts wouldn't offset any honest people who lose in court. Attorneys would surely lose in such a system as it would reduce the number of court cases and lessen the need for so many attorneys. I'm finding impossible to believe that the current system is so good that this kind of change is unnecessary.

Re:That's how it should work anyway (1)

bjorniac (836863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113544)

In that case, it would be near financial suicide for an individual to sue a company. Sure, you might win, and get that $10k you think they owe you, or you might lose and have millions of dollars of debt. My health insurance company made noises about not paying my wife's claim a while back, so I kindly explained where it was in the contract, and that I'd sue them if they didn't. Had I gone and lost under your system (and lets face it, it CAN happen, with a few skilled lawyers on the company's side), I would have had to pay their millions of dollars of fees, thus bankrupting me. Or I could have won and got the $5k that they were refusing to pay, and they would have to pay my relatively small legal fees.

This may sound simple, but look at it this way: I had $5k to gain, and millions to lose. They had a risk of (say) $10k if they lost, or $5k if they didn't. So they could probably just intimidate a lot of people out of suing. And hey presto, I'd not get good health coverage as a result (provided by employer, not like I can change it, but that's a whole other problem).

Re:That's how it should work anyway (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113682)

Well I didn't see it that way. Companies do hire more expensive lawyers after all. If not an army of them.

What about if this was only applicable to companies/corporations/etc? "If you sue Joe Street and you lose, you pay Joe Street's legal fees too".

The idea is to protect people against groundless lawsuits from companies, not protect these companies.

Punish them Double (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113022)

I'd like to see the RIAA punished double for this. They don't know when to quit. They extort<<<<<< sue the wrong people who don't have their deep pockets, and then do everything possible to avoid responsibility for their mistakes when clearly proven wrong. Losing a case may not matter to them, however, anything involving the legal system costs the average consumer piles of money. The RIAA is pure Evil in this regard -- and that's without even going into their outright lies that: We're only doing this to protect the artists. I call total Bullshit on that claim!

3 RIAA (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113106)

Well maybe not exactly. In fact, not at all.

IMHO this is one of the few times the legal system HAS lived up to my expectations. If there is a civil lawsuit, the loser should pay court/atty fees. Yes, that puts some risk/reward into your decision to sue. GOOD. FUCKING AMAZING GOOD!

I mean seriously, why do we allow a system to exist where you can sue someone into financial submission? It allows Big Company (tm) to threaten to sue Little Guy (tm) and then offer to settle for $1/4 of expected atty fees. Well lets see. Spend $20k on lawyers and *hopefully* or pay them $5k outright and be done. Tactics like this - regardless of what the suit is - should be illegal. Thank god *ONE* judge managed to step up to the plate on a visible case.

Oh, and their complaints are insane. First off - they lost the case. If you want to appeal THAT - ALONE. Go for it, it's your right. Past that, their argument against the defendant's award... *YOU* sued someone and then *THEY* declined to settle on your terms. Again: *Y O U* initiated the lawsuit. One deemed by a judge to be without merrit. Cry me a river. The problem here is the RIAA has an unreasonable expectation. They expect to settle (or, at worst, win - including atty fees i'm sure) every case. You can't sue someone with the EXPECTATION that they will settle. File a motion of intent, then go for (binding?) arbitration.
Once you stick your nose into a courtroom, there isn't a 'just kidding' button.

So does anyone know or remember if the RIAA also asked for atty fees in their suit? Because if they did someone should get up on a big podium with a mega phone and give them a big HA HAA . Heck, they deserve it regardless.

Really, every civil lawsuit SHOULD automatically include atty fees for the defendant if they're found for. They didn't ask to go to court. They (by the judge's ruling) didn't do anything wrong. They don't deserve to suffer the financial penalty of hiring a lawyer just because they were accused of something. Punative lawsuits are illegal already but you STILL need (to pay) a lawyer to argue that point!

Simple Motive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113506)

I wouldn't be surprised if they are appealing the verdict simply because they have attorneys on contract who have already been paid. I think people are reading into this too much.

The ISSUE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113600)

Note the caps in the title. The RIAA now has a method that works for them. Tell someone you are sueing them, tell them to cop-a-plea and settle for less than the legal fees the case is likely to cost. Another win racked up.
    New rules are possible now. The RIAA tells you they are sueing you, they say you can settle for this amount, you go through with the lawsuit and win, they pay all legal fees.
    The side-effect is that the case does go through the entire process and any questionableness in the entire process is addressed by a court of law, creating new rules for the next time. The threats that the RIAA can make become much more limited as more of these cases go through the system.

"Reasonable attorney fees"... (3, Funny)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113702)

...as determined by whom? Previously, the RIAA did things like sue for $150K per song. Now assuming each song is 10 minutes long (and we know that won't be true, but it works for the math), there would be 6 such songs in one hour; or $150K x 6 = $900K per hour. So, if her defending team worked, say, 100 hours on the suit (not unheard of), then the RIAA would be forced to pay legal fees of $900K x 100 = $90,000,000.00
 
What's reasonable for the goose must be reasonable for the gander, right?
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