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RIAA Balks At Complying With Document Order

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the show-me-the-money dept.

The Courts 166

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "When the RIAA was ordered to turn over its attorneys' billing records to the defendant's lawyer in Capitol v. Foster, there was speculation that they would never comply with the order. As it turns out they have indeed balked at compliance, saying that they are preparing a motion for a protective order seeking confidentiality (something they could have asked for, but didn't, in their opposition papers to the initial motion). Having none of that, Ms. Foster's lawyer has now made a motion to compel their compliance with the Court's March 15th order."

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166 comments

Constant updates re: an ended court case (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443909)

Is about as exciting as watching Bobby Fischer put away his chess sets at the end of the day.

Re:Constant updates re: an ended court case (5, Funny)

neersign (956437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443951)

I wonder when they'll play the "we don't pay our lawyers because pirates stole all of our money" card.

Re:Constant updates re: an ended court case (5, Insightful)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444221)

Shortly after the "well, after a 25% packaging deduction, minus tax, as a percentage of the wholesale price, after returns, shrinkage and overstock, minus proptional copies and production expenses, hire of session lawyers to overdub documents, and advertising/video expenses etc. ... our lawyers have failed to recoup and don't actually get paid anything" card, if the way they treat artists is anything to go by.

Re:Constant updates re: an ended court case (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444743)

Unfortunately, lawyers aren't musicians, and tend to be a bit better at negotiating contracts. Thus, if a lawyer is anything other than a blithering incompetant (and there are some of those around) they tend to make sure they get paid above all else.

Re:Constant updates re: an ended court case (4, Informative)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445097)

The artists pays for everything, including pens, pencils, paper, toner cartridges, phones, then all the marketing, and on and on. The record companies only loose if the artist make no money and can't pay for those things in which case they sue the artist to recoup those costs. You can eliminate everything except the lawyer costs involved directly in suing their customers.

Re:Constant updates re: an ended court case (5, Insightful)

Experiment 626 (698257) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444353)

Is about as exciting as watching Bobby Fischer put away his chess sets at the end of the day

I disagree... when RIAA litigation starts to show unexpected financial consequences is when it really begins to get interesting. The "seeing who wins" portion of most of these cases are nice and all, but in the end, the RIAA spends whatever their budget says they should spend on litigating, and the defendant goes broke. Maybe they settle and go broke that way, maybe they lose and have to pay the RIAA, maybe they win a Pyhrric victory but spent their life savings on legal bills. When all is said and done, the RIAA manages to send the message that once they come after you, you are in for financial ruin.

Where things get interesting is when they begin not to go according the the RIAA's plan. You get situations like the Santangelo case (the case is no longer furthering their interests, but they don't have the option to fold) and this one. There could be a lot more light shed on the financing of these RIAA witch hunts than they would like to see. They would much rather leave things at "We have enough money to drive you into bankruptcy if you cross us, that is all you need to know". They might not get to do that this time, which makes it more interesting to follow.

Re:Constant updates re: an ended court case (3, Funny)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445247)

In other words, someone called their bluff and the best that they have is a high 6?

Re:Constant updates re: an ended court case (4, Informative)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445795)

Isn't a high 6 good? That means your other 4 cards are 2-3-4-5. Means you have a straight. :-)

(Man. I've got to stop those Saturday nights out with the guys...

With Bobby, there's no schadenfreude (3, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444521)

In a chess game, you don't get that thrilling sensation of witnessing evil bastards getting their just desserts.

Re:With Bobby, there's no schadenfreude (1)

keytohwy (975131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444933)

It's "deserts" as in something they deserve, not "desserts" which is something they eat.

Re:With Bobby, there's no schadenfreude (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445337)

I'm sorry but I think the gp is right... it's desserts. Someone "getting there just deserts" doesn't make any sense. Plese sight a source for your correction.

Re:With Bobby, there's no schadenfreude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18445339)

What if I deserve a hot fudge sundae?

Oh. My. God. I feel stupid (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445419)

I read your post and thought, "well that can't be right! It's desserts, you know, like the dessert that you deserve to get!" So I googled it, and sure enough, you are right although I think very few people know that. Deserts like deserve, got it.

Re:With Bobby, there's no schadenfreude (2, Funny)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444963)

In a chess game, you don't get that thrilling sensation of witnessing evil bastards getting their just desserts.

My queen begs to differ

I don't get it (5, Interesting)

Slightly Askew (638918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443989)

This is something I don't understand about the US judicial system, and maybe NYCL can help explain it. If a judge orders someone to do something, and they refuse, isn't it then the justice department's responsibility to enforce that judge's order? Why do we so often see a judge's orders ignored, challenged, appealed, ad nauseum?

As an example, I heard on NPR yesterday President Bush's counsel inform the reporter that, should the House vote to subpoena Rove et. al., the White House would be refusing that order. He flat out told them, "No, we will not comply with a judge's order." Now, I understand there is a stickler here with Executive Privilege, but this seems to me to be a growing trend. What happened to the good old days when a judge would give an order, a person would refuse, and they would be thrown in jail for contempt until a) they complied, or b) an appeals court overruled the judge? Am I just naive in my belief that the judicial system was supposed to, I don't know, be able to actually enforce their decisions?

Re:I don't get it (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444107)

I don't get it either. I have a friend at Ropes & Gray - I'll ask him how such a situation is normally handled.

Re:I don't get it (5, Informative)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444155)

The Bush issue is different. It is an Executive Branch versus the Congressional Branch issue. The Bush administrations , executive branch, is arguing that allowing the congressional branch to have access to the internal workings of the executive branch would undermine its "separations of powers". In the end, the Judiciary branch will decide if this is the case or not. In short, it will go to the US Supreme Court to decide... Keep in mind that no one branch has final say on anything. Each has their own special rights to balance the other... Read of the Separation of Powers to learn more...

NOTE: This certainly does not mean I am defending the Bush administration... :-)

Re:I don't get it (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444343)

Actually, they are not so much saying that it will undermine 'separation of powers', it is more that it will hamper the president's ability to receive confidential advice & counsel from his aides.

Re:I don't get it (4, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444445)

Of course, this is the same Administration that, when we complain about the PAT RIOT Act, tells us, "If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear."

Re:I don't get it (1)

Zonekeeper (458060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445145)

NOTE: This certainly does not mean I am defending the Bush administration... :-)


You must be new here. Saying anything that goes against the "BUSHITLERCHIMPYMCHALIBURTON" company line by citing little annoying things like facts automatically makes you an enemy here.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444201)

Judges do not have unchecked power. They cant jsut issue orders and have them obeyed. Everything they say SHOULD be challanged.

Re:I don't get it (2, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444283)

I sense someone with an axe to grind.

If everyone challenged EVERYTHING the judges said, as you are suggesting, the judges' rulings would have absolutely no meaning. So when a judge rules someone in contempt of court, they could just say 'I challenge that' and when that judge, or another, says 'denied', they just say 'I challenge that' forever.

No, our system has plenty of checks and balances in place already. You always have the option of challenging a judge's ruling, of course, assuming that the judge in question is not a Supreme Court judge. Having the option does not mean you should use it.

Re:I don't get it (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444419)

Contempt of court means jail without due process and indefinite imprisonment until you comply with the order. Are you sure you want to support that?

Not indefinite (1)

Slightly Askew (638918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444741)

No, as I stated above, it means until you comply with the order OR until you can appeal. My understanding is that, except in extreme cases of contempt (see the NY Times reporter / Plame incident) people who have an arguably valid reason for their contempt can be ordered released by the appellate court pending the results of that appeal.

Of course, the majority of my legal expertise comes from Steve Martini, John Grisham, and the mass media, so I could very well be engaging in anal elocution.

Winner Take All (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445189)

Maybe you don't have an axe to grind, and maybe you do understand how judicial power works in this country, but for those that don't a simple explanation follows:

The Judicial branch interprets the laws and their application to actual human events. Their humans appointed for political reasons, so their is some, but not much consistency in their interpretations.

They don't enforce laws, they don't make laws so their powers are limited. There really is no need to _challenge_ the courts. Change the law the courts enforce and the courts have no choice but to follow.

This process has been abused by a few people trying to circumvent the law-making process because it's more expedient to change the way a rule is enforced than it is to actually change the law. In the same way, the RIAA can hold off the lower-courts almost indefinitely because they will exploit holes in the judicial process or the other party will run out of money.

In both cases the winner-takes-all at the expense of the principals that keep a society relatively transparent and stable.

Re:I don't get it (3, Informative)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444233)

The conflict stems from the fact that the Judicial branch doesn't have the ability to enforce the judgement - they have to rely on the Executive for that... for instance, "just throw them in jail" doesn't necessarily work, since the jail and the jailors are part of the Executive branch. If the Executive branch chooses not to enforce the law, they can be held in contempt - the President can be impeached, etc. But at the end of the day, even though both the Legislative and Judicial branches have the power to impose a sentence (ex. Contempt), they are powerless to enforce.

The reason that this is usually not an issue is that the Executive branch knows that flouting the rulings of the Judicial branch will get them in hot water - the Legislative can impeach, try, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over the impeachment trial. On a smaller scale, the Legislative can hamper the Executive by cutting off funding for his branch, etc.

The checks and balances usually work out in the end. So far, no one branch of the government has been able to completely take over the others - and its worked for over 200 years.

Re:I don't get it (3, Interesting)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445065)

The executive is damn close to taking over.

We have administrative agencies making new laws (CPSC, FCC, US Mint). The congress does whatever the president wants them to do. It's basically absolute authority.

Re:I don't get it (2, Insightful)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445317)

Administrative law is the most fleeting of all... it is ill-written, and often times unenforceable. It can be challenged in numerous ways, although it takes more time and resources, as you have to exhaust your administrative remedies before you can file in a "normal" court.

As for the executive taking over, I think there was an argument to be made when the Legislative and Executive branches were controlled by one party, but that era is done for now.

I think this issue is emblematic not of the Executive taking over, but the fact that the Judicial branch is finally being stood up to. It is about time. I would say they were on the verge of taking over more than the Executive.

Re:I don't get it (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444287)

Apparently there is some kind of silly law that allows parties in a legal case to defend themselves.

Re:I don't get it (1, Insightful)

JrOldPhart (1063610) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444305)

Compliance with a judges orders or even the law is for the sheeple.
It does not apply to our betters.

Re:I don't get it (3, Interesting)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444381)

The Bush aide and District General issue is a special case.

If the committee doing the investigation wants, they can issue a subpoena on their own authority. If the the subpoena is ignored by the Presidential administration, the committee can go back to the entire House of Representatives to vote on whether to hold people in contempt of violating the subpoena.

At that point, they turn it over to the District Attorney of the District of Columbia to arrest the offenders and bring them to trial for disregarding a subpoena. That DA has the privilege of refusing to press the charges.

So, those who would be responsible for bringing the offenders to court, are directly employed by the offenders that should be brought to court. Pressing charges against your own boss is not the kind of thing most politically-appointed officials are wiling to do.

Now, as for the situation at hand. In a civil proceeding like the RIAA has been pushing, any party has the right to appeal or argue against a judge's orders. It's all based on whatever obscure precedents can be dug up to support your position. Whether or not the judge's order is overruled or rescinded is another matter entirely. Remember, this isn't the final outcome of the trial, merely one more movement of a pawn on the chessboard.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444435)

I was thinking something similar along the lines of "if they're ignoring the original order, what the hell makes you think they'll follow a motion to compel them to follow the order?"

On the one hand, I hate the RIAA as much as the /. groupthink dictates that I should, but on the other hand I like to see windbag judges who bash desks with hammers and shout about how people should do what they say because they're saying it get brought down a peg.

Captcha: Evading

Re:I don't get it (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444547)

Why do we so often see a judge's orders ignored, challenged, appealed, ad nauseum?

Kinda reminds me of those lawyer units in civ that can tie up a city in meaningless bureaucratic nonsense or whatever.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444615)

If a judge orders someone to do something, and they refuse, isn't it then the justice department's responsibility to enforce that judge's order?

Actually, that's done by U.S. Marshals [usmarshals.gov] , the enforcement arm of the judicial branch, with about 3,000 deputy U.S. Marshals.

Re:I don't get it (2, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444707)

In a situation like this, it's not necessary to enforce an order that way. In these types of situations, if they don't comply the judge will just penalize them. If they don't comply with the order, the judge will just award Ms. Foster every nickel she asks for.

Umm... (1)

Manchot (847225) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444027)

Contempt of court, anyone?

Re:Umm... (2, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444337)

Because they're filing a motion, which they are legally allowed to do?
I hate the MAFFIAA as much as the next guy, but what they are doing here is perfectly normal.

Slow news day? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444043)

Two links to the original Slashdot article, one link to a link farm for the case and zero links relating to the title or summary of this article. How pointless is this?

Re:Slow news day? (4, Insightful)

iago-vL (760581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444309)

A link to a Slashdot article that was referred to. A link to a list of PDFs for all the motions and whatnot. And a link to the pdf for the specific motion. Are you complaining that they didn't link to a biased news story?

Re:Slow news day? (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445095)

Yes, I think the Parent was trolling. He's complaining because the links were to first-hand information. Glad you pointed it out, iago-vL.

Re:Slow news day? (3, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444905)

-there was 1 link, not 2, to the original article
-why do you refer to the collection of litigation documents as a "link farm"? some people actually have the brains to want to read the documents so they can know first hand what is going on...
-the whole article and all of the links relate to the title
so all i can ask is: who do you work for?

OH MY! Its so big! (2, Insightful)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444053)

I think that they are afraid because its such an embarrassingly big amount of money.

I don't know how much they were trying to get, but if they spent more then they were after, then thats a problem.

Especially because it went so far. But I'm sure that they could sue other people to make the money, or even drop out of litigation and get a paper route. I'm sure that someones Mom might be able to cover the court costs, until they can pay her back.

Sweeeeeeeeeet!

Could someone explain? (2, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444079)

a) Why does the defendent care about the plaintiff's billing hours?

b) Why does the plaintiff care if the defendent finds out?

Re:Could someone explain? (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444119)

The Plaintiff(the riaa), was found to have no case.

The defendant was allowed to get the legal costs.

I think (but not in the us..so) They both need to show the judge their legal costs.

Re:Could someone explain? (5, Informative)

eam (192101) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444413)

> The Plaintiff(the riaa), was found to have no case.
>
> The defendant was allowed to get the legal costs.

The defendant asked to get legal costs, but the plaintiff said the defendent's costs were unreasonable. The judge ordered the plaintiff to reveal *their* legal costs to see what the plaintiff considers reasonable.

Then the plaintiff replied with, "Um,...what?"

Re:Could someone explain? (5, Informative)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444133)

The court has ordered the RIAA to pay the defendant's attourney fees in this case. They want the RIAA's documents so that they can determine what "reasonable attourney fees" are.

Re:Could someone explain? (3, Interesting)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444489)

The court has ordered the RIAA to pay the defendant's attourney fees in this case. They want the RIAA's documents so that they can determine what "reasonable attourney fees" are.

What difference does it make how much RIAA pays its own lawyers? Shouldn't the attourney fees be whatever the defense lawyers charged? Does that mean that as long as I can find a lawyer who works for free (or only gets paid a percentage of the settlement, etc) then I can file all the frivilous lawsuits I want without fear of being forced to pay for the defense attourney fees?

Re:Could someone explain? (2, Insightful)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445143)

yes. But if the RIAA had silently paid what the judge had originally ordered, then the defendant's lawyers would not have asked for RIAA lawyers fees.
However, RIAA refused to pay the bill presented to them stating it was too high. "Too high relative to what?" asked the judge. "Too high according to the fees we normally get" replied RIAA. Next the judge asked 'OK, if so what are your fees?"
RIAA: Doh!"

Re:Could someone explain? (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445185)

It should be what Ms. Foster paid her lawyer.

But the lawyers for the RIAA are complaining that the amount of the fees is unreasonable. If they're going to make such a complaint, then their own fees become relevant.

If the RIAA spent $100k on the case, they can't complain that Ms. Foster's attorneys' $55k in fees -- fighting them off -- was unreasonable.

If they stipulated to the reasonableness of Ms. Foster's fees [which were, in my opinion, eminently reasonable, if not 'dirt cheap'], then this issue would go away.

Re:Could someone explain? (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445191)

What difference does it make how much RIAA pays its own lawyers? Shouldn't the attourney fees be whatever the defense lawyers charged?

Normally, yes. In this case, the RIAA challenged the defense lawyers' fees as unreasonable. So the court is trying to determine what is reasonable by comparing what the RIAA paid its lawyers to see if it is in the same ballpark.

Re:Could someone explain? (2, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445213)

Because the RIAA is disputing whether the defendant's legal fees are reasonable. So the defendant said "OK, let's see what you consider reasonable then.", and the judge said "Yes, let's.". The basic argument behind that is that if the plaintiff spent 500 hours on the case, then the defense claiming 550 hours on the case isn't unreasonable. Similarly, if the plaintiff's lawyers are billing $500/hour, a defense lawyer billing $550/hour isn't unreasonable. After all, if plaintiff really thought times and rates of roughly the magnitudes it itself spent really were unreasonable, why did they spend that?

It's only one rule, though. There's another that looks at the rates the majority of lawyers in the jurisdiction would charge and the number of hours they'd take on that type of case, so if you found a really really cheap lawyer you couldn't stop the defendant from claiming fees at a more normal rate.

You almost got the story right... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18445015)

The issue is that the RIAA objected to the defendant's costs, and said they were excessive. There is a court precedence that if the plaintiff spent oodles for their lawyers, then the defense is entitled to have spent a similar amount. The defendant now what to know how much the RIAA spent. The only reason this came about is because the RIAA didn't pay and instead said the defendant's costs were outrageous. Frankly, it looks like the RIAA was out-lawyered.

Re:Could someone explain? (5, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444165)

a) Why does the defendent care about the plaintiff's billing hours?

The defendent doesn't care, the judge does.

One of the arguments the RIAA is using to say they don't need to pay Foster's legal fees is 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."

b) Why does the plaintiff care if the defendent finds out?

Two possible ideas I can come up with...(disclaimer, IANAL, so these may not even matter)

1, it's a disgustingly high amount which is now released into the public record, which could bode badly in future cases
2, it's a stall tactic, plain and simple.

Re:Could someone explain? (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444463)

Two possible ideas I can come up with...(disclaimer, IANAL, so these may not even matter)

1, it's a disgustingly high amount which is now released into the public record, which could bode badly in future cases
2, it's a stall tactic, plain and simple.


Another party who is probably very concerned is the law firm involved. Law firms tend to be fairly secretive about what they bill, and how long it takes them to do things.

Re:Could someone explain? (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444599)

One of the arguments the RIAA is using to say they don't need to pay Foster's legal fees is 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 [ilrweb.com] tol_foster_070221MotReconsider [ilrweb.com] , page 4)

Even if RIAA is telling the truth their legal fees, how could that possibly be a valid reason not to pay Foster's legal fees? If its a law, it seems rather silly and easy to abuse.

Re:Could someone explain? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444903)

Never said the argument made sense, just that the RIAA made it. It's also not a law. There's cases where attorney's fees both have and haven't been paid depending on circumstances.

It's up to the judge to weigh the arguments on each side and decide which one makes more legal sense, so the RIAA's just making every argument they can come up with and hope it sticks to the wall...

Re:Could someone explain? (4, Informative)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444223)

a) Because the plaintiff complained that the defendant's billing hours weren't reasonable. Apparently when you are suing for attorney's fees, if the other side claims they are not reasonable, it is apparently allowable to take the defendent's billing hours and hold them up against the plaintiff's billing hours to see if they are reasonable. If the plaintiff spent 3 hours on a case, but the defendent spent 3000, then that would probably be considered "unreasonable". But if the plaintiff spent 3000 hours and the defendent 4000, it would probably be considered reasonable. Basically, the RIAA lawyers sued a lady and was rejected (or whatever) with prejudice. She then sued them for attorney's fees (since it was thrown out with prejudice, this is allowable). The RIAA then claimed the attorney's fees were unreasonable. It is apparently common practice for the courts to judge the reasonableness of a defense by the amount of hours the (former)plaintiffs had put in, so the judge ordered the billing records turned over. b) Because either the plaintiff DID spend 3 hours on the case, making it look like they weren't doing due diligence, or they spent 3000, which makes them look crazy (and not like a fox). So they probably don't want this getting out - and it will, becoming part of the public record. Which means their anti-RIAA foes will have a field day with their spending on these law suits. - - - - - Keep in mind, most of this I gathered from *seemingly* respectible slashdot posts. On the one hand, it could all be right. On the other, it could all just sound right, but be horribly, horribly wrong. So take it with a grain of salt. Or an entire salt shaker.

Sigh. Please forgive the above lack of formatting (1)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444259)

a) Because the plaintiff complained that the defendant's billing hours weren't reasonable. Apparently when you are suing for attorney's fees, if the other side claims they are not reasonable, it is apparently allowable to take the defendent's billing hours and hold them up against the plaintiff's billing hours to see if they are reasonable. If the plaintiff spent 3 hours on a case, but the defendent spent 3000, then that would probably be considered "unreasonable". But if the plaintiff spent 3000 hours and the defendent 4000, it would probably be considered reasonable.

Basically, the RIAA lawyers sued a lady and was rejected (or whatever) with prejudice. She then sued them for attorney's fees (since it was thrown out with prejudice, this is allowable). The RIAA then claimed the attorney's fees were unreasonable. It is apparently common practice for the courts to judge the reasonableness of a defense by the amount of hours the (former)plaintiffs had put in, so the judge ordered the billing records turned over.

b) Because either the plaintiff DID spend 3 hours on the case, making it look like they weren't doing due diligence, or they spent 3000, which makes them look crazy (and not like a fox). So they probably don't want this getting out - and it will, becoming part of the public record. Which means their anti-RIAA foes will have a field day with their spending on these law suits.

- - - - -

Keep in mind, most of this I gathered from *seemingly* respectible slashdot posts. On the one hand, it could all be right. On the other, it could all just sound right, but be horribly, horribly wrong. So take it with a grain of salt. Or an entire salt shaker.

Re:Could someone explain? (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444965)

You've explained it pretty well, Skye16. It's just one of the factors the Court needs to consider. As the Supreme Court said, the RIAA can't litigate tenaciously and then be heard to complain about how hard defendant's lawyer fought back.

Re:Could someone explain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444295)

I'm not a lawyer, but I think something like this might have happened from what I've read:
  1. the RIAA lost (possibly in a counter-suit) and were ordered to pay "reasonable court costs" and damages.
  2. The defendant's lawyers submitted their bill, and the RIAA challenged the amount, claiming it was
              well in excess of the damages.
  3. There is precedent in the U.S. that if legal fees are awarded to a defendant, that the plaintiff who initiated
              and aggressively pursued an inappropriate law suit may cause the "reasonable" legal fees of the defense to
              increase in response in order to mount an appropriate defense.
  4. The RIAA is trying to avoid setting precedent here, since this would allow defendants to get high quality legal
              representatoin with an expectation that reimbursement would come out of the RIAA's deep pockets.

Please correct me if I'm wrong on this, I hope it helps.

Re:Could someone explain? (4, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444303)

a) Why does the defendent care about the plaintiff's billing hours?

As I understand it, the court ordered the RIAA to pay for the defendant's legal bills. The defendant presented the plaintiff and the court with a detailed invoice. Then the plaintiff complained that the bill was "unreasonable." The defendant then responded with a motion for the plaintiff's bill pretty much saying "if it's unreasonable, how much did you spend?" Basically if the RIAA never made the argument that the bills was unreasonable they wouldn't have to be forced to prove what is reasonable. The court granted the motion agreeing with the defendant and is only trying to determine what is a reasonable settlement. There is precedent that a party to a court case cannot spend as much as they want on a case and then complain about how much the other side spent when they lose and have to pay the legal bills.

b) Why does the plaintiff care if the defendent finds out?

Normally the plaintiff wouldn't care . . . if they didn't have something to hide. My best guess is that these suits en masse would show that their lawyers are not spending enough time on each case and just filing against people without really researching the details. In other words, they are abusing the system.

Re:Could someone explain? (1)

Razed By TV (730353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444433)

1) The defendant wants his lawyers bill paid by the plaintiff. The plaintiff says that the amount the defendant is requesting be paid is unreasonable, that the lawyer is charging an unreasonable amount of money for his services. The defendant is therefore requesting the disclosure of the amount of money the plaintiffs are paying their lawyers. If that is a large amount of money, it shows that the plaintiff's argument that the defendant's lawyer fees are inflated is bunk, and that it is entirely reasonable for the defendant's lawyer fees to be as high as they are.

2) I don't really know. The plaintiff may be spending a disproportionate amount of money on this lawsuit. This may be useful in setting some sort of precedent, or may expose the plaintiff to additional criticism and skepticism in future lawsuits. If the money spent is much larger than they sought to gain, maybe it could be construed as a frivolous lawsuit? Maybe somebody can correct me on this?

Re:Could someone explain? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444459)

As simple as possible:

RIAA must pay Foster's legal fees.
Foster shows them the bill.
RIAA claims it's the legal fees are too high.
Judge says; "Sure RIAA, how much money do YOUR lawyers cost?".
RIAA thinks "If they find out our legal fees are a lot higher, our claim will be rejected".

In fact, it may get even worse for the RIAA if the judge thinks they knowingly lied in their claim that fees were too high.

Re:Could someone explain? (1)

bcharr2 (1046322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444807)

a) What is in question is how much she can claim in attorney's fees. I believe the RIAA's position is that the defendant cannot claim compensation above the amount she was being sued for, which would have been a relatively small amount of money. Her defense is maintaining that she was required to mount a defense equitable to the prosecution, which probably cost a considerable sum of money.

i.e. the RIAA is saying "we sued her for $5000.00, that is all she would have lost if she had not defended her innocence, so that is all she can claim in attorney's fees".

The defense is saying, "they spent $12,000,000.00 to prosecute her, so we were forced to spend $8,000,000.00 to defend her, and that is the amount we should be awarded".

Please note I made the above numbers up. I would not even attempt to ballpark the amounts involved.

Re:Could someone explain? (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445289)

As of the time of the attorneys fee motion the amount was $55k. But Ms. Foster is also entitled to supplement her application for fees incurred later -- including for all this nonsensical, dilatory motion practice the RIAA is generating.

Re:Could someone explain? (2, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444841)

(a) it's relevant to the 'reasonableness' of defendant's fees that the plaintiffs were spending money like there's no tomorrow on the case (b) only the plaintiffs can answer (b)..... what are they afraid of? i don't know.....

Confidentiality? (1, Insightful)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444083)

IF they must pay fees based upon their expenditures,
so be it. Hiding from the public record should be a
death penalty offense for all officers of the
corporation. A corporation is merely a documented
conspiracy. END CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP - It never existed.

Re:Confidentiality? (2, Informative)

cez (539085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444275)

Agreed. This reminds me of similar circumstance (well ok similar in that money was invovled and disclosing it). I read an article yesterday wherein Pharmaceutical companies in some states had been required by law to make publically available the figures and amounts given to doctors who prescribe their drugs...wherein as compliance, listed 0 dollars and classified the rest under "trade secrets". Complete BS if you as me. Shouldn't the SEC have a say here as investors I am sure would certainly like to know how much is fumbled away for these lost causes(well in the case of attorney's fees)?

Re:Confidentiality? (0, Flamebait)

orielbean (936271) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444785)

The original point of a corporation was to protect the people and officers that run the company from being held personally liable from actions of the corporation - so your business or India Tea Company could go bankrupt and they wouldn't seize your personal assets. I don't like corporate ethics as they exist today, but at least get a clue here as to why they were created in the first place. Nobody would go into business at all if you threaten the chair, dude.

Is a class-action lawsuit possible? (3, Informative)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444199)

IANAL, but I wonder when the class of people harassed by RIAA will grow so large as to constitute a class for suing the organization. If RIAA is indeed making extortionate use of barratry, then falsely-accused consumers would seem to have just cause for legal action.

Of course, if they do win, RIAA will probably try to offer an in-kind compensation -- discounts for music downloads.

Man they've got balls (5, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444289)

The RIAA's argument against paying "attorney's fees" boils down to this-

The defendant should've just let the RIAA win. She didn't *have* to go to court, and hire a lawyer. And so, they shouldn't have to pay her fees. Even though the judge said they *did* have to pay her fees.

Unbelievable. If that isn't enough to get the Feds to start investigating the RIAA for RICO violations, I don't know what is. They really *are* trying to blackmail people.

Re:Man they've got balls (2, Informative)

locokamil (850008) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444469)

From what I can tell, sadly, RICO only applies when you've committed two or more "racketeering" crimes... in this case, it's just extortion. But if the RIAA and its ilk were to diversify into, say, the protection business while keeping their core competencies (extortion), an enterprising plaintiff could cite RICO.

IANAL... would a real lawyer care to comment?

protection... (0, Offtopic)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444959)

what do they call it when they offer the universites a hold harmless payment to universitys for cash?

Re:Man they've got balls (2, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445523)

Alright, but this does not answer the original question of the parent. If the judge issues an order how can the RIAA or indeed any organization or individual "refuse" to comply with that order once their appeals and motions have been exhausted (i.e. they have played all of their cards and they lost). In the case of an individual I suppose that they could imprison them for contempt of court until they comply with the order or in the case of a corporation some sort of fine would probably be in order.

It was unfortunate that the previous responders had to cloud the subject and sidetrack the issue at hand by bringing up a special case, involving the branches of government and separation of powers, from current events (i.e. the Karl Rove subpoena). The Karl Rove subpoena is important in its own right and should be discussed separately, but it really irks me when people use things like this to sidetrack every other interesting discussion.

Anyway, the parent asks a good question...why the gross contempt for the legal system by the RIAA? They pulled out the legal stick first and they lost so now they are going to whine about it? Sickening...truly.

Re:Man they've got balls (3, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445721)

They have really overstepped their bounds. The RIAA lawyers are not thinking clearly at this point. They're so desperate to keep the client (and the fee revenue), and so blinded by the humiliation they are experiencing in Oklahoma, that they've lost sight of the constraints within which a lawyer must conduct him or herself in order to continue being a lawyer. The judge has previously pointed to an instance in which they 'flouted' his order, and to do it again, and flout another order issued by the very same judge, is truly insanity.

stop whining about the RIAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444323)

every story is about the RIAA and tagged with juvenile whinings about the 'MAFIAAAAA'.
grow up kids and stop leeching. time to pay your way like the grown-ups do.

Re:stop whining about the RIAA (1)

JrOldPhart (1063610) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444579)

Yea, pay up. The Association of Servo Engineers want royalties.
Reasonable only $0.0001 per seek of your disk drive.

Pay up!

Hello Pot. Hello Kettle (1)

styryx (952942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444359)

protective order seeking confidentiality
And they would be suing this lady because they respected her right to confidentiality and privacy? Or are they hypocrites? (Let's call that rhetorical.)

Can't she claim more than the attorney's fees ? (3, Insightful)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444383)

Can't she claim more than the attorney's fees ?
  • For troubles and having her name cited as a pirate ?
  • For the time spent
  • For being sued without solid proofs
  • For bad behavior in the court from the RIAA attorneys (i.e. trying to spread false information or playing on words)

Re:Can't she claim more than the attorney's fees ? (1)

FutureDomain (1073116) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445067)

For troubles and having her name cited as a pirate?


Especially since her name got Slashdotted. Now everyone knows the RIAA claimed she was a pirate.

Re:Can't she claim more than the attorney's fees ? (2, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445157)

Can't she claim more than the attorney's fees ?

Yes, she can. She'd have to file a countersuit. She did not, she is just seeking fees for the one suit. Let her win the fees on this one, then someone else, after this case sets fee precedent, can also file a countersuit. It is best, when faced with so many suits being filed, to tackle one and only one legal issue with each case. It's easier to focus on the single issue and win.

Re:Can't she claim more than the attorney's fees ? (2, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445577)

Sure, but she'll have to sue for:

1) Damages to the persons reputation and possible loss of income/opportunities/jobs/...

2) Damages because of loss of income or jobs (because the time she has to be in court, she can't work)

3) A little more difficult for a person, but certainly an argument in 1). The court however can decide to pull the BAR license for the lawyers if it's really obvious that they're suing just because they're a**holes or just want to take the courts time and consideration from other cases.

4) That's what lawyers do, but again as stated in number 3) that's more the court's call and also arguments for 1)

The problem is proving (and calculating) your losses and again, it's a lot of time for the litigation to go through. Just look at how long this case has been going on (2 years?) and she wasn't even remotely connected to any of the pirating cases.

Those in glass houses.... (1)

jusDfaqs (997794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444411)

Shouldn't file lawsuits against the people unless they them selves are willing to accept the verdict of the court.

Wonder what it would have cost to stop me from dubbing cassette tapes in my youth?

One big fishing expedition (2, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444697)

Oy, the words are English, but the way they're put together hurts my head... but after going through the RIAA's responce ( http://www.ilrweb.com/viewILRPDF.asp?filename=capi tol_foster_070314Oppos [ilrweb.com] ) noticed something interesting on page 5...

Plaintiffs' current counsel invoice Plaintiffs in accordance with alternative billing arrangements that they have negotiated with Plaintiffs. As such, Plaintiffs' counsels' invoices do not provide any information about the hours spent on any cases. Though counsel track their time for individual cases, that tracking is not part of the invoices.

Sounds to me like this is being funded as a giant fishing expedition. I gather all RIAA's counsel has to do is say "We spent X man-hours today on Y cases." Doesn't matter how many cases or how many hours, just that there's X and Y. Based on what the RIAA is claiming, they don't even have any way of actually verifying their counsel's hours or case volume is accurate even since they're not getting itemized receipts.

I'd figure with all the money problems the RIAA has, they'd want accurate records that someone can be held accountable to. This is like just throwing money to the four winds.

Sounds like the RIAA has bad lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18445631)

If they knew they couldn't produce the billing records, then they were stupid to put up the objection in the first place.

If they didn't know that the judge could force them to produce their bills, then they're incompetent. If I was the RIAA, I'd fire them and hire someone who appeared to know what they're doing.

Failing all that, they should just pay the woman's bills and be done with it. All they're doing now is thrashing around and hurting themselves in the process.

Hey NY Country Lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444715)

In the last article on this I said very clearly they would claim confidentiality and that this activist judge's order would never stand. You said there was no way to get out of it, and no confidentiality would apply. Just wanted to say TOLD YOU SO. Time to take your lumps, sir.

shoe on other foot (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444859)

I wonder how credible the RIAA think "motions for a protective order seeking confidentiality" are if all the people they wrongfully charge filed them.

Maybe it's just me (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445093)

Has anyone noticed that the more the MAFIAA litigates and implements DRM the lower their sales drop? I think it's simple to understand, litigation pisses off their customers (bad idea in business I thought) and DRM makes it damn near impossible for Joe Schmoe to figure out how to use the media that he "liscensed" so he talks to his /. savvy buddy and gets the DRM gone or just pirates what he wants to avoid paying for unusable media.

contempt (1)

azakem (924479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445537)

Oh please please please let them find these guys in contempt of court and hand them some time in a jail cell.
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