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RIAA Has to Disclose Attorneys Fees In Foster Case

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the it-feels-good-to-come-clean dept.

Music 193

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA has been ordered to turn over its attorneys' billing records by March 26, 2007, in Capitol v. Foster in Oklahoma. The 4- page decision and order, issued in connection with the determination of the reasonableness of Ms. Foster's attorneys fees, requires the RIAA to produce the attorneys' time sheets, billing statements, billing records, and costs and expense records. The Court reviewed authorities holding that an opponent's attorneys fees are a relevant factor in determining the reasonableness of attorneys fees, quoting a United States Supreme Court case which held that 'a party cannot litigate tenaciously and then be heard to complain about the time necessarily spent by his opponent in response' (footnote 11 to City of Riverside v. Rivera)."

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193 comments

So? (2, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368463)

Why should I care about some minor maneuver in the legal end-game of a case that's been already decided?

Re:So? (5, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368585)

This is another win for little guys trying to defend themselves. Foster wanted the RIAA to pay her legal fees, they bulked trying to claim that her lawyer inflated his fees. The Judge basically called them to the mat and said that if they are spending [large sums of money] persecuting Foster, then she is entitled to have her expensive lawyer's fees paid. Inversely, if the RIAA was paying a first year law grad to handle the case all on their own, and Foster had hired a $2500/hr dream team, the Judge would likely come down in the opposite way.

-Rick

Re:So? (3, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368629)

This isn't a win, this isn't an anything. Wait until we see what the judge actually awards.

He may decide "aww gee you guys sure spent a lot fighting this, you must have had a strong good faith belief in your claims, therefore Ms Foster isn't entitled to that much".

He may decide "you guys are assholes and I dont like you wasting my time, so bend over, here comes da gavel".

This news by itself means nothing. It's like a sports announcer announcing "and Manning throws the ball... " and then going to commercial. The throw is meaningless, we need to know if it's caught, fumbled, intercepted, or what.

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369195)

The throw is meaningless, we need to know if it's caught, fumbled, intercepted, or what.

Even your analogy misses the point. You can't fumble the throw. The next step can be one of only a few things, an incomplete pass (and we even know where the next play will be from if that happens), a completed pass (with the run or fumble or whatever after), or an interception. It can't be a running play. It can't be a fumble (except after the pass is complete, which is some future step not covered here).

This case has decided that there will be lawyer fees decided for the defendant. The plaintiff claimed the lawyers fees are too high. The judge said "oh, if they are so high, tell me what you spent so I can get an idea of what you think is fair for a side in this case." This presumes several things. First, the intention is to still award fees to the defendant, as originally stated. The claim of the fees being too high is being considered. If the fees the defendant claimed are in line with the actual expenses of the plaintiff, the award will stand. If they are not in line with the plaintiff, the defendant will have to defend the high charges.

As I see it, it is a win. We expect that the plaintiff's fees are high. That means that anything close to the legal fees can be named in the countersuit by all future defendants.

Re:So? (1)

Tastycat (1003898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369677)

The original lawsuit failed, but this is a new action. It's like faking a punt to try to make first down. You've made your decision, you've announced it and now everyone knows and there are people everywhere says "oh no!" and saying "that was perfect!", but all that matters is where the players are on the field. There's no time to react, everyone just needs to be in position.

I'm guessing that the issue about the lawyer's fees was seen as trivial by the RIAA, and they are somewhat unprepared for this action. Regardless of the outcome of this order, I find that most amusing.

Sports Analogies? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18370335)

... and I thought car analogies were bad.

Re:So? (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370521)

They never saw it as trivial. They just never expected to lose on it. They are seeing this as very very major. They brought in their top lawyer to try to stop the bleeding, but from what I can see he's just taken the situation from bad to worse.

Chalk one big one up for the good guys.

If this was trivial you wouldn't have seen ACLU, Public Citizen, Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Association of Law Libraries, and ACLU Foundation of Oklahoma come in with an amicus curiae brief explaining the importance of the attorneys fee award here.

Re:So? (4, Funny)

Viceroy Potatohead (954845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370493)

Even your analogy misses the point. You can't fumble the throw.
This is /. Most people can't fumble a throw, but we can. To paraphrase Sartre: "Sports is other people."

Re:So? (4, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370331)

You are so wrong. The last thing in the world the RIAA wants is for an opponent like Marilyn Barringer-Thomson to know (a) how much they pay their lawyers and (b) what the financial arrangement is with the lawyers. I imagine that they will stipulate to the reasonableness of Ms. Foster's fees now, rather than actually disclose the billing records.

Re:So? (3, Funny)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370341)

Witty. Yet you forget that this is slashdot... you should've used a car analogy instead of a sports analogy. Woulda got more +1 insightfuls that way. :)

Re:So? (5, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368661)

Little guys shouldn't be allowed to defend themselves. If you can't afford to win, you don't deserve to win!

Deal (0)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368679)

The crowd loves it.

Re:So? (2, Funny)

Atraxen (790188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368735)

Still haven't gotten over Thunderdome, eh?

Re:So? (1)

JRubatino (731786) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369097)

Can't we get beyond thunderdome?

Re:So? (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370309)

Well said.

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368623)

Court cases are about details. Most court cases, criminal or civil, do not always end in a Perry Mason moment. Little details can reveal much that becomes important later In this case, the amount of money and work that the RIAA has spent in one case can show much about their modus operandi . If they spend very little money or time on a lawsuit, does that not show that they really don't do their homework when sueing someone? Lawsuits are costly and take forever. If one of their lawyers is suing hundreds of people at once, how can that lawyer really get all the details right. They can't. Mistakes will be made. Other plaintiffs can use this information to show that the RIAA did not do the due diligence before filing (something which we expected but is now proved.) My two cents.

Re:So? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369107)

The data will provide some insight into the Mafiaa's litigation strategy, perhaps even indicating just how much challenged-case straw it will take to break this camel's back.

Fight Law with Law (1)

SRA8 (859587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369451)

Because people must realize now that the Legal system is a rigged game highly favouring those with money for expensive lawyers. The way to fight RIAA's abuse of the legal system is with Law, not by rantings on tech boards (preaching to the choir.)

Re:Fight Law with Law (2, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370479)

I have to disagree with you.

Before the law changes there has to be widespread knowledge and outrage.

so my question (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368469)

The RIAA has been ordered to turn over its attorneys' billing records

So my first question is, do they get a volume discount?

Re:so my question (1)

yellowdragon (795049) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368973)



Also, how do we know they're not keeping dual sets of accounting books for cases like this?

Re:so my question (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18369161)

That would indicate that the RIAA actually thinks ahead when making decisions, evidence seems to point elsewhere...

Re:so my question (2, Insightful)

Binestar (28861) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369467)

We can't. But purjury is a felony, and I presume that the attorney in question would rather not be brought up on those charges. A false set of books presented as evidence would be purjury.

PURjury? (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369609)

A false set of books presented as evidence would be purjury.

Is purjury like when your guilt is decided by a swarm of cats?

Re:so my question (3, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369455)

So my first question is, do they get a volume discount?

yup.

it goes up to eleven.

Re:so my question (1)

HeLLFiRe1151 (743468) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369797)

My question is, do they pay royalties on those records, or does that fall under fair use?

Pro bono (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18368475)

Bloodhounds that they are, they probably work for a couple of bones.

Transparency necessary for Credibility (4, Interesting)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368487)

We're just asking the MAFIAA to prove that these lawsuits aren't a legal scam, designed to put money in lawyer's pockets. How can we trust such an organization's motives if they won't tell us how much money their lawyers are making?

Re:Transparency necessary for Credibility (3, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368621)

Because the person who presents the amounts will (hopefully) be a CPA, who would not only be risking contempt and perjury charges, but also losing their professional license.

-Rick

Re:Transparency necessary for Credibility (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18370271)

Are you for real?

Re:Transparency necessary for Credibility (1)

Ansoni-San (955052) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370421)

Couldn't the RIAA just promise the lawyer financial support in case of a problem?

ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18368687)

If you don't know what Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2 are for, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If you don't know Clarus from Carl Sagan, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real Mac users. Keep your filthy PC fingers to yourself.

[OT] ATTN: INTEL MAC USERS (-1, Flamebait)

SirTalon42 (751509) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368981)

If you don't know that Intel Macs are PCs, STFU.
If you claim your Intel Mac is better than a PC, STFU.
If you claim you're superior to PC users, please contact your local firing squad, then STFU.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real PC users. Keep your filthy "PowerPC" fingers to yourselves.

Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (1)

wish bot (265150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370547)

This is a new tactic developed by paid Microsoft shills. I wonder if it will be as successful as previous attempts. Not.

One can only hope for this outcome.. (1)

purpleraison (1042004) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368507)

Wouldn't it be nice if the Supreme Court actually used RIAA's litigation expenses as the basis to repay their victim in this lawsuit?

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368611)

One suggestion I've seen for making the legal system fairer is that the loser would pay the winner legal fees equal to their own. If you want to spend $2m litigating against someone, and they defend themselves, then if you win you are out of pocket $2m for legal fees. If you lose, then they get $2m. This encourages litigants to not spend more on legal expenses than the other can afford.

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (1)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368749)

One suggestion I've seen for making the legal system fairer is that the loser would pay the winner legal fees equal to their own.

That system wouldn't work very well for lawyers who charge no fee unless they win. Then if they lose, the fee is zero, and the defendant receives zero.

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369691)

Taking the case on contingency is most of the problem. Filing the lawsuit costs essentially nothing if you can find a lawyer willing to take the chance of a big payout. A reasonable reimbursement for defense (let the court decide) would be fair to both sides. That and the lawyer should be sued for legal malpractice if the court finds the case has no merit.

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (4, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368805)

The system I would suggest is quite similar.

X sues Y for Z$

X wins, gets Z$

Y wins, gets Z$ from X + the greater of Attorney Fees(X, Y)

Currently there is no incentive NOT to sue. You sue, you lose, more often than not, you are only out Attorney Fees.

Further, I would remove plaintiffs from collecting "Punitive Damages" as those should go to the State or into a fund to compensate victims of similar crimes/losses, where there is no Plaintiff to be found.

As the current system is empowered, most people view lawsuits like a rigged lottery.

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (3, Insightful)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369065)

-- then only very very very rich people would ever dare to sue anyone. Sometimes people who aren't so well-off have cause to sue big wealthy corporations; under your system they would be absolutely totally screwed for life if they lost. The current system favours the incredibly wealthy; so does the system you propose.

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369177)

Agreed, but I do like his idea with the punitive damages. Why should a doctor's mistake be like winning the lottery? You should be compensated fairly for your suffering, plus enough to cover your legal expenses.

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18369251)

Congratulations. You've just described the system we already have. Your complaint is only that people receive more money than you think necessary.

Oddly enough, even though you think it is such a great deal for the 'winner', it doesn't sound like you've exactly lined up for your share of the pie. Why is that?

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369383)

Some sarcastic anonymous coward needs to do their homework. Punitive damages have nothing to do with being fairly compensated - they are about punishing the defendant. IANAL, but I am married to one (well, an ex-lawyer).

I haven't sued anyone because: a. I haven't been wronged in a significant way that I could not resolve independently, and b. I'm not the type to sue because some ass-hat lawyer calls and tells me that I might have a case. Watch daytime TV sometime and see some of the lawyer ads that come on - they are pretty revolting.

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (1)

vishbar (862440) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369083)

That would help big business. They could sue citizens for, to them, relatively small amounts--$1,000,000, for instance. If they win, they destroy the person they sue...if they lose, that's only a few million lost, no big deal. When the little guy decides to sue the big corp, however, he's better have a rock-solid case. He'd be forced to pay the attorney fees if he loses--so in addition to the $100,000 he was suing for, he'd also have to pay the $15,000,000 for the super-elite attorney force hired by the big corp.

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (1)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369749)

That's why the way I'd do it is this:

You don't sue for a dollar amount. You sue for a percentage of the target's assets, with a cap at some medium-high percentage (say, 70%).

So if A sues B for 50%, then either:

  • A loses, so B collects from A 50% of the value of A's assets, plus attorney's fees, plus (if B is an individual) the amount of income that B would have made for the amount of time that B is required to attend (this last bit prevents someone from losing their shirt just because they have to show up in court), with a maximum grand total of some large percentage (say, 80%) of A's assets.
  • A wins, and collects 50% of B's assets.

And in the case of a corporation, the "assets" are calculated based on the sum of the assets of all corporate owners, directly and indirectly. That way a corporation can't, even indirectly, get away with creating a wholly-owned worthless shell corporation whose purpose is to sue. I suppose similar provisions should be made for individual ownership of said shell corporation. The bottom line is that the entities responsible should not be able to hide behind a shell corporation.

The end result is that if you lose, you may pay big, but you don't wind up bankrupt for the rest of your natural life, either, regardless of whether you started it or not. But you *do* have to pay the defense fees if you started it and lose.

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (1)

denobug (753200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369163)

Suppose the X is the little guy(or all of us suffering from its monopoly), Y is MS.
X(little guy) sues Y(MS) for Z$ (for their misconduct and their damage to general public)

X(little guy) wins, gets Z$ (good for little guy, teach the bad guys a lesson)

Y(MS) wins(b/c their legal team is huge + they have money), gets Z$ from X(general public, government, you and me) + the greater of Attorney Fees(X, Y), in this case, theirs.

Please tell me who lose more in this formula?

Crrrection (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369267)

As the current system is empowered, ignorant people view lawsuits like a rigged lottery.

All Fixed.

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18369321)

Why encourage lawyers to rack up fees? Why not:

Y wins, gets Z$ from X + the lesser of Attorney Fees(X, Y)

This is still better than the current Z$+0, and discourages abuse by some large corp racking up fees just to potentially wipe out some small guy suing them. With Z$+0 the little guy gets screwed, with Z$+greater the little guy gets screwed, so isn't Z$+lesser a reasonable compromise?

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18370203)

Further, I would remove plaintiffs from collecting "Punitive Damages" as those should go to the State or into a fund to compensate victims of similar crimes/losses, where there is no Plaintiff to be found.

Fuck that shit -- the plaintiff was harmed, the plaintiff should get the money. And what the hell do you mean about compensating a victim where there is "no Plaintiff to be found" -- if there's a victim, there is a plaintiff.

And don't even think of putting the loot into that rathole they call "the state's general fund".

Re:One can only hope for this outcome.. (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370437)

Punitive damages are not the same as damages to the plaintiff for harm. Punitive damages are to punish the defendant for breaking the law, and shouldn't really go to the plaintiff anyway- the plaintiff had little to do with them.

Confidentiality Question (3, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368547)

I assume the records themselves would confidential, but is it acceptable to publish a summary of the hours? Are there rules about the level of detail allowed?

Re:Confidentiality Question (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368745)

One would think that legal expenses in any lawsuit in which there is any public interest at all should be in the public domain. The legal system is partly State funded and as such we the people have an interest in how it operates and how it interacts with external private bodies (lawyers.) This is nothing to do with client confidentiality. If we know the RIAA spent 500 hours with Sue, Grabbit & Runne (Attorneys), we may speculate on why so much time was spent on the case, but we do not actually know that the attorneys were instructed to "pop a cap in that ho's ass".

Re:Confidentiality Question (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369129)

IANAL, but I'm pretty sure that there is a confidential aspect to it. Typically communicaitons between an attorney and their client is privileged, so it is not unreasonable to think that the bills would be too. Since the RIAA is basically a private entity (albeit a trade group) and Foster is very much a private entity, then I don't see how the general public can overcome that privilege to see everything that Foster will. A summary, however, might very well be acceptable. It would also, I think, show how much money was spent on "Experts" and, possibly, how much time was spent "editing" the Expert's submissions.

Re:Confidentiality Question (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369211)

Maybe corporations/trade groups/unions/other entities shouldn't be afforded full attorney-client privileges? I don't really have an opinion one way or the other, but it's an interesting thought.

OT: Your sig (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369489)

V .. v .. V - Vera Violet Vinn is very, Very VERY awful on her violin.

Re:OT: Your sig (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369533)

Finally someone else with kids!

Tell the truth, did you write that from memory?

Re:OT: Your sig (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370373)

Yep.

Big Y, Little Y, a Yawning Yellow Yak. Young Yolanda Yorgenson is Yelling on his back.

Re:Confidentiality Question (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369363)

Since legal fees can be awarded it is pretty obvious the bills would not be privledged

Re:Confidentiality Question (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370453)

It is blackletter law that the bills, invoices, statements, and retainer agreements are not privileged.

This is judicial craziness (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18368605)

Look, I'm no fan of RIAA, but this is judicial activism at its best. These records are clearly covered by attorney-client confidentiality and this order is going to get slapped down on appeal faster than you can say denied (IAAL). Just because you want to hate RIAA doesn't mean you can deny them their legal rights and privileges.

Re:This is judicial craziness (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18368689)

You can't make the lawyer fees the topic and then refuse to talk about the lawyer fees.

Re:This is judicial craziness (4, Funny)

vimh42 (981236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369023)

"You can't make the lawyer fees the topic and then refuse to talk about the lawyer fees."

The first rule of lawyer fees is you don't talk about lawyer fees.

Re:This is judicial craziness (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368701)

You forgot the /sarcasm tag at the end.

If attorney/client privilege was required to go that far then your attorney couldn't speak on your behalf in court.

Re:This is judicial craziness (4, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368775)

The RIAA's argument that they shouldn't have to pay attorney's fees is based, in part, that the cost of their legal team would have exceeded the amount Foster would have needed to pay them if the RIAA won. ( http://www.ilrweb.com/viewILRPDF.asp?filename=capi tol_foster_070221MotReconsider [ilrweb.com] , page 4)

The judge is now saying "put up or shut up."

Re:This is judicial craziness (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18369035)

Would be nice if the judge would add in some to cover the attorneys having to take the time to justify their fees and assess an interest cost to the RIAA to allow for net present value of the fees at the time they were originally presented or occurred. Would seem justifiable to penalize a money grubbing set of corporate thieves this way for a propaganda inspired nuisance/harassment lawsuit.

How many such results does it require before a class action suit could be filed against the RIAA? After all the RIAA is going after people in very similar fashion to the communist witch hunt that once occurred in this country. Wonder what might be found in the discovery phase. Question for the lawyers out there: is this possible?

If they are going to use us for propaganda, shouldn't we get paid as well as a lobbyist for our time? Or even better, as well as the lobbyists pays our representatives. /greedy grin

Re:This is judicial craziness (2, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370445)

I believe that actually will happen, because the judge has specifically provided [blogspot.com] that Ms. Foster can supplement her fee application after the RIAA is done with its fake 'discovery' on 'reasonableness', and denied [blogspot.com] the RIAA's application to change that provision [blogspot.com] .

Re:This is judicial craziness (1)

dlim (928138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370279)

In its Order, at 5, the Court suggested that, to sustain a finding of contributory infringement, plaintiffs were required to show that defendant had substantially participated in the underlying infringements and that defendant had actual knowledge of those infringements. See Order, at 4. These assumptions as to the applicable law, on which the Court appears to have relied heavily in making an award of fees, are incorrect.
Is this true? So if I use the wi-fi at the Starbucks to download mp3s, are they guilty of "contributory infringement"? Wouldn't every company that releases a P2P file sharing application be guilty or (given the ubiquity of CD/DVD burners) Blockbuster, Netflix, and every library that loans CDs DVDs? This argument from the RIAA sounds like a pretty desperate claim to me, but then again... IANAL.

Re:This is judicial craziness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18370471)

IANAL, but it sounds like they are trying to say that they don't owe attorney's fees because they attempted to drop the case when the defendant wouldn't settle.

Of course the several of the proposed settlements refused to acknowledge the defendant's innocence. The RIAA claims the assignment of blame is moot since by dropping the case no damages are being sought. The defendant continued to push back and the RIAA is claiming they shouldn't have to pay for the excessive fees this assignment of blame and eventual court battle cost. The net effect of the arguing over the settlement is that it ran up the potential damages due to the defendant without effectively changing the outcome.

---

In my opinion, the RIAA does have a point. It sounds like they attempted to bully someone but backed down before anyone was hurt so any damages after they backed down are self inflicted. Of course, the fact that they bullied the person and even in backing down they wouldn't admit that they were bullies seems to give the defendant just cause to push back.

Re:This is judicial craziness (4, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368833)

Look, I'm no fan of RIAA, but this is judicial activism at its best. These records are clearly covered by attorney-client confidentiality and this order is going to get slapped down on appeal faster than you can say denied (IAAL).
So by that reasoning, how much Ms. Foster paid her attorneys is covered by attorney-client confidentiality, and RIAA should just shut up and pay the bill? RIAA decided to make an issue of Ms. Foster's attorney fees being unreasonable. The judge, in a "one person cuts the cake, the other person picks the piece" stroke of wisdom, decided to use RIAA's attorney fees as a measuring stick for what was reasonable.

Re:This is judicial craziness (2, Interesting)

MaverickUW (177871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368931)

No, not exactly. She's trying to recover the fees so that way she ends this with only a headache and no money lost or gained. They submitted how much her legal fees were, the RIAA complained and said it was too much, so the judge is saying, "And how much did you spend?"

It's very relevant if her fees were $10,000, the RIAA said it was too much, and then we find out they spent $50,000 suing her.

Re:This is judicial craziness (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18369215)

So by that reasoning, how much Ms. Foster paid her attorneys is covered by attorney-client confidentiality, and RIAA should just shut up and pay the bill? RIAA decided to make an issue of Ms. Foster's attorney fees being unreasonable. The judge, in a "one person cuts the cake, the other person picks the piece" stroke of wisdom, decided to use RIAA's attorney fees as a measuring stick for what was reasonable.

What's reasonable is what she paid to defend herself whether it be $1 or $1M. The RIAA brought a lawsuit against her and she is entitled to spend whatever amount necessary to defend herself. If they don't like the cost too bad. The RIAA brought the initial action. Therefore they have to be ready to pay whatever the defended had to spend to defend themselves.

Re:This is judicial craziness (1, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369487)

What's reasonable is what she paid to defend herself whether it be $1 or $1M.

That's not reasonable at all, and can't be the way the system is allowed to work.

If it were, my defense to a lawsuit, ESPECIALLY if I had a lot of cash to pay lawyers, could very well be:

"I'm going to spend $100 million paying my lawyers to win this case, and for $100 million they will win, and then I am sticking you with the bill."

A fair legal process demands that only REASONABLE fees are recoverable.

And, more generally, the less money given to the sharks, the better off our economy is.

Re:This is judicial craziness (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18369545)

What's reasonable is what she paid to defend herself whether it be $1 or $1M.


That's not reasonable at all, and can't be the way the system is allowed to work.

If it were, my defense to a lawsuit, ESPECIALLY if I had a lot of cash to pay lawyers, could very well be:

"I'm going to spend $100 million paying my lawyers to win this case, and for $100 million they will win, and then I am sticking you with the bill."

A fair legal process demands that only REASONABLE fees are recoverable.

And, more generally, the less money given to the sharks, the better off our economy is.


If someone should bring a lawsuit against me then I have the right to defend myself. And if I spend $100M to defend myself then I should be entitled to recover those costs. Period. I shouldn't have to compromise my defense because the person bringing said action may not like how much I spend to defend myself. If they're worried about that then they need to think long and hard about entering into litigation with me.

Re:This is judicial craziness (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18368905)

Spoken like someone truly astroturfing for the RIAA.

Re:This is judicial craziness (5, Informative)

sandberglaw (930188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369221)

The post is only partly correct. Yes, a party normally cannot be compelled to divulge communications with counsel. This is an exception to/variation on that rule. First, no advice is being revealed, although perhaps some trial strategy (ie, an entry like, "research New York law on defenses to malicious prosecution") would be revealed. BUT, the substantive part of the case is over, so the other party gets no tactical advantage from seeing the billing records. Second, when the issue is attorney fees, parties have to produce the records to the court - simple as that. Here, the defendant (prevailing party, entitled to some award of fees) had to produce fee and cost records in order to ask for fee shifting. When plaintiff (losing party, facing the prospect of paying) objected to the reasonableness of defendant's request, the court decided to look at both sides' expenditures to get a sense of scale. No judicial activism (code for "a judge doing something I don't like") here, just a judge following SOP for fee requests.

Disclaimer: I am a lawyer, but I have NO involvement in this case whatsoever.

Re:This is judicial craziness (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370281)

Will the RIAA's costs (or even the size of the defendent's eventual payout) become public?

Re:This is judicial craziness (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370541)

Definitely the size of the payout will be public. The details probably will too, since the judge's decision will probably go into great detail.

Re:This is judicial craziness (3, Informative)

iabervon (1971) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369475)

The fee arrangement isn't covered by attorney-client privilege. An attorney and a client conducting a business transaction (i.e., paying for the legal work) aren't protected, because it is only legal advice and the information the legal advice is based on that is protected.

Re:This is judicial craziness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18369973)

lawyers fees are agreed upon before a lawyer takes a case, i.e. before a plaintiff is a client. at the time that the fees are set, no lawyer/client confidentiality applies.

Re:This is judicial craziness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18370515)

this is judicial activism at its best.
Huh? Show me where the judge countermanded legislative action here on bases other than constitutionality? The judge is acting completely within the established scope of the court in establishing truthfulness of plaintiff's claim that fees claimed by the defendant are too high.

this order is going to get slapped down on appeal faster than you can say denied
O RLY? There is precedent... linked to in TFS, FFS.

(IAAL)
Double O RLY? Because you have a unique understanding of lawyer-client privilege. Did you pass the bar, and if so, what state(s)? And how can I make sure you're part of opposing counsel next time I'm involved in litigation?

Just because you want to hate RIAA doesn't mean you can deny them their legal rights and privileges.
Just because you have an unclear understanding of the law (especially if you are, indeed, a lawyer as you claim!) doesn't mean you can ascribe to the RIAA rights and privileges that don't apply.

Hope (3, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368677)

I hope this hurts them (the RIAA) in a place where they didn't want to be hurt. And that it somehow helps out in other trials as well. It least we might find out just how much effort they're willing to put into a case like this.

Now if you could only get a hold of the procedures Media Sentry is trying so desperately to keep secret.

hmm (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368779)

I bet their attorneys get $500 hour at least.

Re:hmm (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369333)

Actually I think they get paid in Keith Urban merchandise

Re:hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18369669)

I'm sure they already have the mp3s of Keith, what would they need CDs as payment for?

Re:hmm (3, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370359)

I doubt it. My guess is that the lawyers they're using are 'low bidders'.

Could be horrible PR for the RIAA (2, Insightful)

codemachine (245871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368809)

It'll be interesting to see how much the RIAA is willing to spend on a single copyright infringement lawsuit. If they are putting huge resources into suing individual customers, it will look very bad on them.

Well, worse than they already look I guess. The public already sees these as David vs Goliath lawsuits. But now we'll be able to put a number on how big and bad Goliath really is.

Re:Could be horrible PR for the RIAA (4, Insightful)

magicchex (898936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368907)

Or if it's a very small amount per lawsuit, then it will show that they're not really researching enough per lawsuit to actually have a legitimate claim. This seems to be lose-lose for them, unless they've spent some "golden" number in between the two extremes (but what this number is will vary wildly in the eyes of different observers).

Re:Could be horrible PR for the RIAA (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18369979)

If they are putting huge resources into suing individual customers, it will look very bad on them.

It won't help at all -- they'll just contend that $2M is cheap insurance if they save an alleged $10M in prevented "piracy".

Many years back, AAA auto insurance decided to make both sides go through depositions and the whole nine yards, just to prove to everyone they weren't an easy touch who would simply pay off any claim under, say, $5000. It may have cost them well over $5000 each on a few claims just to make their point and let the word get around.

Question for the lawyers... (4, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18368825)

Is the RIAA now obligated to turn over this information (and presumably make it part of the public record), or do they have the option to refuse disclosure and simply pay the opposing legal bills without contesting the amount any further?

Either way it sets a precedent... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369295)

[i]do they have the option to refuse disclosure and simply pay the opposing legal bills without contesting the amount any further?[/i]

Doesn't really matter. It's a win-win announcement for Joe Public.

If they refuse to disclose then future defendants will be more likely to hire expensive defense lawyers knowing that they'll get the fees back.

If they disclose, future defendants have a spending target to aim at, and you just *know* RIAA lawyers are going to be friends/family of the RIAA and therefore really expensive (they have to justify stealing those artists royalty fees somehow!)

Re:Question for the lawyers... (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369365)

Naturally, ianal, but my guess is they can probably avoid disclosure if they scratch a check to Foster's lawyers. From my limited experience in litigation (I offer expert witness testimony in my field of expertise), usually it's fair game to cut and run when things turn against you. At this point, Capitol's best move probably is to just call butterfingers and pay up. No matter how they play this, they come out looking like fools. Their billings are either too large, in which case Foster gets her fees, or too small, and everybody knows they're running lean in these cases. There is no middle ground, by the way. It's either too much or too little. Finally, they still lose if they pay up without disclosure because the perception is that they are hiding one of the two aforementioned cases. The only advantage to them is that there's no telling which it is, which will keep up the guessing game for future defendants.

Re:Question for the lawyers... (2, Insightful)

Myopic (18616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369939)

I don't mean to ask a stupid question, but I will anyway. Why will the amount necessarily seem too large or too small? Why isn't there a good reasonable middle number?

(Also, what is your field?)

Re:Question for the lawyers... (3, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370245)

Actually, there are multiple ranges here: Those in industry, those for lawyers on the various sides, and the general public. Their ranges will all overlap, so that what may be middle ground to the industry group, may be high to the general public.

I suppose there's a small window of "about right" where the fees match the defense within about 10-15%, but that chance is pretty small, imho, without suspecting that they cooked the books. Actually, to most consumers, the fees will always be mind boggling. It's amazing how fast the legal fees on the simplest of cases can just destroy either/both sides. I happen to be a structural engineer, and if there is a dispute less than about $20k, it's usually not even worth filing. I'm not privy to all of the costs, but hours add up quickly, and lawyer hours are darned expensive. I'm usually the cheapest guy in the room, and it still costs a grand, minimum, if I'm going to be deposed, double that if I end up in the courtroom, too, and more than double again even if there's a simple onsite observation. Remember - these folks are usually fighting over $50k-$500k structures, and my fees alone could run 5-10% of the dollars in play on a small job. And, again, I'm the cheap one.

Re:Question for the lawyers... (4, Insightful)

jyoull (512280) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370319)

I didn't write the comment, but it's probably significant that they've already established that $4,000 is "enough" to settle the cases and to recover whatever was "lost" to the music bandits.

So, they are rational actors if they spend up to $4,000, and no more, to bring each complaint. But nobody wins all the time. If they expect to win, say 3 cases out of 4, then they can rationally drop only up to $3,000 per case, but no more.

The problem is, you can't get much lawyerin', research or expert assistance for $4,000... even less for $3,000.

So if they're spending a rational amount, then they aren't proceeding to court with very good data (a single, simple letter from an ordinary neighborhood attorney can cost $200 to $400).

And if they're spending lots more than $4,000, that's bad too. Nobody with clean hands and honest motives spends $40,000 to recover $4,000.

Civil courts can't do much more than award cash to fix boo-boo's. Considering that, the settlement amounts, and the cost of attorney-time, there's a strong suggestion that the RIAA has some unspoken motive and is simply using the court to advance it. That sort of thing doesn't look good at all, and IMO tends to catch the attention and ire of courts.

Re:Question for the lawyers... (2, Insightful)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370231)

Look at how much stuff in the SCO case is 'under seal' and we don't get to see it. I strongly suspect that this information will not become public. (But IANAL.)

Re:Question for the lawyers... (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370463)

You are probably correct that that is what they will do... cut the check and shut up.

Re:Question for the lawyers... (1)

sweaterface (1074076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369505)

The parties to a civil litigation are almost always free to compromise and settle their claims, including disputes about attorney fees. Once a court approves a compromise settlement, its role in the matter is terminated, and orders of production are rescinded as a consequence of the court's loss of jurisdiction.

Re:Question for the lawyers... (2, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370371)

You're 100% on target. If they stipulate to the reasonableness of Ms. Foster's fees, then the issue becomes moot. Which is what I'm betting they will do, rather than let their adversary know the financial details of the relationship with the attack dogs... I mean attorneys.

So how much did it cost (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369347)

to do Vince?

Tax money funds courts (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18369367)

I wonder how many millions a year of litigation the RIAA has passed on to the taxpayer, all for an industry that doesn't do much for most of us (an album is a smash when it sells a million copies, but there's 300 million or so of us).
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