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RIAA Backs Down Again in Chicago

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the can't-win-them-all dept.

The Courts 126

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA seems to have a problem making things stick in the Windy City. It has once again backed down in BMG v. Thao, after suing a misidentified defendant. Same thing occurred last October in Elektra v. Wilke. In the Thao case, the RIAA based its case on information that the cable modem used to partake in file sharing was registered to Mr. Thao. However, it turned out that Mr. Thao was not even a subscriber (pdf) of the ISP (pdf) at the time of the alleged file-sharing, and therefore did not have possession of the suspect cable modem at that time."

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126 comments

That's not backing down (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18980651)

Realizing you are suing the wrong person is not 'backing down'.

Re:That's not backing down (4, Insightful)

mathletics (1033070) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980715)

Considering that the RIAA willingly sues innocent people, this is still 'backing down.'

Re:That's not backing down (-1, Offtopic)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980747)

While I don't have a quote on hand I'm almost certain that GW Bush has often asserted that we will not back down from Iraq.

Maybe Thao was in league with someone who was file-sharing. Guilt by association is enough to start a war and kill thousands: why shouldn't it be good enough for the RIAA?

Re:That's not backing down (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983297)

Realizing you are suing the wrong person is not 'backing down'.

Normally this would be true. But the RIAAs lawsuit "MO" is not predicated on sueing the "right" person, only on suing the person they think has the highest probability of folding and paying their extortion fees.

Re:That's not backing down (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983353)

While I might agree with you in general, this is a special case. The RIAA has a slew of lawyers who are prosecuting these cases all over the country, even providing help to other countries. There is no longer any excuse for taking a case of this nature to court without any proof whatsoever of wrong doing on the defendants part.

This amounts to malicious litigation, and should be treated as such by the courts, not just public opinion. If this was the first case by the RIAA to go to court, okay, oops might be excusable. That's not the case, and 'oops' is not acceptable. Did the RIAA offer any recompense to the man they put through that shit?

Analogy: Your neighbor has a pit bull. You don't really know your neighbor but there is no problems between you until one day the pit bull gets loose, chases you down the street and up a tree. While trying to attack you the pit bull only manages to make a small rip in one of your pant legs. The neighbor gets hold of the dog, says sorry, and goes away quickly. Meanwhile, you fall out of the tree and break your arm and have to go to the hospital and pay for the treatments.

Now, the dog didn't bite you, and the owner said sorry, but would you still sue the neighbor?

Re:That's not backing down (2, Insightful)

Calydor (739835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984297)

A better analogy would be that a pitbull that LOOKS LIKE the one your neighbor has does the above mentioned, but you never see for sure that the dog who chased you up the tree belonged to your neighbor. Subsequently you go on a crusade about how dangerous pitbulls are and demand that your neighbor's dog gets put down.

Re:That's not backing down (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983617)

"We were just kidding [wikipedia.org] ."

Glad to see it (4, Informative)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980665)

I love seeing these cases where RIAA has been shown to be a bit skimpy on their evidence. Hopefully it will make more people fight back.

Re:Glad to see it (5, Insightful)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980833)

In most cases, if you read the briefs, the lawyers are clueless about the evidence presented, in almost ANY field, not just in tech. The verbage indicates ignorance in many many areas. In most cases though, the lawyer is more up to speed then is the judge. Think that one through and you will understand the ture pickle we are in...

Re:Glad to see it (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18981021)

Exactly. My wife's best friend clerks for a federal judge and as part of her job writes decisions. It shocked the hell out of her to see that her work was not just used as a distilled reference for the judge's own decision but were read word-for-word and unedited in court the same day she wrote them without any review. It is frightening that a 20-something from a tier-3 law school is literally interpreting law with no oversight. So far she has decided computer, pharmaceutical and telecommunications cases with no experience in any of these fields. And according to this clerk it is common and accepted.

Why anonymous? (2, Interesting)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981349)

Seems like a serious enough problem that you'd want to expose the judge in question and get himher removed from power.

Re:Why anonymous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18981651)

Can't speak for the posting AC, but ummm....maybe that's because this is what clerks do? They do the heavy liftling for a judge that may be trying several cases.

Re:Why anonymous? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983703)

This is quite common practice, and acceptable. It is quite unlikely that the judge did not read over the decision before hand. Judges often simply agree with a proposed order's reasoning. That's what law clerks are for. It's the same thing at the US Supreme Court.... clerks write many of the opinions for their justice.

Often in state court, the PARTIES write the decisions for the judges and submit them as "proposed" orders and the judge just scratches through the word "proposed" and signs it. I've written dozens of these that the judge just signed w/o a single change.... and I'm not even a law student.

PS. Here's a secret.... lawyering ain't hard. Most programmers would make very god lawyers with a minimum of training.

Re:Glad to see it (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981481)

Imagine how the losing side in a case would feel
if they found out.

Re:Glad to see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18981535)

This is how the legal system works. Clerks and teams of clerks do the research for the judge. Perhaps the judge just found themself in complete agreement with the clerk. Unless there was a breach of procedure, ethical misconduct, or legal basis for judicial review, what exactly do you think can be done about this?

Re:Glad to see it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18982283)

Unless there was a breach of procedure, ethical misconduct, or legal basis for judicial review, what exactly do you think can be done about this?

Spankings?

Re:Glad to see it (3, Funny)

Evilest Doer (969227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982323)

Spankings?
And after the spankings ... the oral sex!

Re:Glad to see it (1)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982497)

So...thank God for PJ is what you're saying?

Re:Glad to see it (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982561)

Duh. Have any of you ever Met a Judge?

You do not become a Judge by being the smartest or wisest person of the land.

You become a Judge by having lots of money, knowing lots of people and making people know you.

Either elected or appointed, your skills, integrity, or knowledge means nothing. Who you know and who knows you is EVERYTHING.

I have installed Theaters for Judges, Many are incredibly dense and after talking to them Frighteningly inept.

They are 100% identical to a mayor, congresscritter, or president. There is NOTHING special about a judge other than who they know.

Re:Glad to see it (5, Insightful)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982831)

Think of it this way. We know the standard Slashdot opinion of politicians and lawyers. A judge is a lawyer that is more politically savvy than most. /shiver

Re:Glad to see it (2, Interesting)

brian.gunderson (1012885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982247)

It seems that today's judges are the looniest of all. This Judge [boingboing.net] is a plaintiff in a RIDICULOUS case, where he is suing a dry cleaner who lost his pants... To the tune of $67 Million. Simply amazing.

Re:Glad to see it (1)

bradavon (1066358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981161)

I find it strange no other music body in the world goes to this length.

Speaking of fighting back. (0, Flamebait)

retrogameguy (1096733) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981791)

I begin to wonder how long it will be before someone drives a truck full of explosives up to the RIAA HQ and kills the lot of them.

Two Black Eyes (1)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983099)

What do you tell the RIAA who has two black eyes? Nothing it hasn't heard twice before. :)

I hope ... (2, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980691)

... they get stuck with Thao's legal fees. It's really far past the time for the RIAA to start paying for all their mistakes.

Re:I hope ... (4, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980771)

How is it the *AA's mistake?

From what the summary says, they were given incorrect information. Information they should have been albe to trust and act upon. So really its the ISP's fault for fingering the wrong guy. ( and they should be liable for damages/cost of defence )

Sure, i hate the the 'industry' as much as the next guy, but this isnt exactally a victory here.

Re:I hope ... (2, Insightful)

polaris878 (716143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980987)

While it may not be their fault, cases like these show that the RIAA may have acted on bad information in the past. The burden of proof might be elevated for future cases, thus making it harder for the RIAA to sue people. While it may not be a direct victory, many cases like these can discredit RIAA suits.

Re:I hope ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18980991)

This post was not 'exactally' a victory for grammar or spelling.

Re:I hope ... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981001)

It is another "The IP number doesn't identify the person" clue stick upside the head.

Re:I hope ... (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981027)

The point is that the RIAA is acting like an enforcement agency instead of a civil litigant. They've used uniformed "swat teams", they do their own para-police investigations. If they're going to collect their own evidence, then they're going to have to abide by the rules, and if they storm into somebody's life they better get it right.

Yes, the RIAA "made a mistake" and should be held accountable.

Re:I hope ... (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983397)

You know, if they came after me with one of these "SWAT" teams I think that my PTSD from multiple Iraq tours would have to rear its ugly head.

Re:I hope ... (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981183)

They should have verified it. They should then have to get that money from the ISP and hopefully that will discourage ISPs from falling in so easily, knowing that a simple mistake can cost them money, even if they aren't compensated for looking up the guys IP in the first place. (or is the ISP compensated in someway?) Then the ISPs will demand more rights and lobbying and it will turn around and help strengthen the whole system from radical abuses.

Re:I hope ... (2, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981727)

And verify it how? WIth the ISPs records? Thats the only way you can validate it. with records from the same people that gave it to you ( and botched ) it in the first place.

Im sorry, if the ISP gave them bad information, its their ISP's fault in this case.

And yes, i agree it does help show that just having an IP and a date isnt a good case to stand on, but its not their fault when they asked for data from the ISP involved.

Re: Not the ISP's job (5, Interesting)

evought (709897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982093)

On the ISP side, it is not their job to have forensic quality logs that can stand up as evidence in court. ISPs keep logs for their own internal purposes. So, to some extent, the data which ISPs are being required to provide via subpoena is being misused. I do not see any reason that the ISPs should have to keep data of sufficient quality to satisfy third party needs, particularly without being compensated for it. Having had to implement tamper and fraud and time change and dropped record and system failure and etc. resistant logging for a client, I can tell you it adds an order of magnitude of expense. This expense is of no benefit to the ISP.

When I was in the position of handling abuse reports in the past, I would not respond with user details unless absolutely forced to. Instead, the policy was that if someone reported a possible abuse of the TOS and provided their own logs sufficient to investigate, I would then perform an internal investigation, which might include beginning additional logging on the account if it seemed warranted. If a TOS violation was supportable, I would then notify the user and let them respond. In this case, the user would have said "WTF: I wasn't your customer at the time!" and I would have said: "OS! Computer error, my bad!" (if I had screwed up that badly in the first place). If they could not deny the TOS violation, I would terminate the account. If the TOS violation also involved possible illegal acts, I would then turn over my logs and notes to the appropriate authorities directly, with any necessary caveats; the authorities could do whatever they needed to do with the information. I would *not* turn over confidential information to the original reporter, whose identity and authority I could probably not validate anyway. They can get the information from the authorities if they are authorized to do so. Bottom line is, though, provide the data as is, say how it is gathered, and take no responsibility beyond that.

Basically someone reporting a violation would have two choices: go through the hoops and get action quickly, or get a supoena/court order and get action slowly. People went through the hoops. Luckily I did not have to deal with this long or often.

Re:I hope ... (2, Informative)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981329)

They bought the law suit forward, if they loose or decide not to pursue further, they should pay the costs incurred by the defendant. It's not the defendants fault that the RIAA didn't make sure their position was watertight before moving forward. Of course the RIAA should then have the right to sue the people who did the shoddy investigative work, assuming they did not deliver on the contract.

Re:I hope ... (1)

recursiv (324497) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981333)

Of course, all the best intelligence they had at the time points to the existence of hidden stashes of P2Ps. How could they have known?

I'm not buying it.

Re:I hope ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18981467)

Yeah, it'd be like going to war on some trumped up evidence... like invading some random state on a rumor that they had some sort of bad weapon or something.

Re:I hope ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983731)

So really its the ISP's fault for fingering the wrong guy. ( and they should be liable for damages/cost of defence )

But it's not the ISP who took the person in question into the expensive legal fight, but RIAA did. So RIAA owes those legal costs. Of course, RIAA can try to recover the costs from the ISP later, and then we will see how much other ISPs will be willing to give their users' data to RIAA approaching them without court orders.

Backing Down? (0, Redundant)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980725)

More like 'oops, wrong person'. Not their fault they were given the wrong information.

Re:Backing Down? (5, Insightful)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980807)

More like 'oops, wrong person'. Not their fault they were given the wrong information.
Ooops. Sorry about sending you to Guatanamo. We had the wrong info. No blood, no foul, right? No hard feelings? Just sign this release form.

Oh? Did you have a promising career all planned out just before this little mishap? Sorry about that. No blood, no foul, right? We're sure your home country will have some nice relief services for people who are down on their luck.

Have a nice day!

Re:Backing Down? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18980931)

Shut up, you homeless piece of shit.

Re:Backing Down? (2, Insightful)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982577)

Ooops. Sorry about sending you to Guatanamo. We had the wrong info. No blood, no foul, right? No hard feelings? Just sign this release form.

Congratulations, you just described reality.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamdouh_Habib [wikipedia.org]

The difference is that the RIAA's targets actually get a day in court, and the RIAA aren't allowed to extract confessions using tortu^H^H^H^H^H "psychological pressure". Why are you expecting American companies to behave any better than the American government, when one controls the other?

Re:Backing Down? (1)

multisync (218450) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984071)

not to mention Maher Arar [maherarar.ca]

Re:Backing Down? (2, Funny)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983109)

Oh come on - we're talking about terrorists and pirates here! Something must be done. If you want to make an omelette, you've got to break a few eggs you know.

Ahh idealism - it's so last century.

Re:Backing Down? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983351)

Something must be done. If you want to make an omelette, you've got to break a few eggs you know. Ahh idealism - it's so last century.

Yep. Popular metaphor. Good use of irony, Wall0159. Not slagging you, but people are not eggs.

Re:Backing Down? (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983683)

"people are not eggs"

Amen.

Re:Backing Down? (2, Insightful)

powerspike (729889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980879)

but it's their job to vaidate it.

Re:Backing Down? (5, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980947)

Yeah, lets see a newspaper pull that off. "But your honor one of our sources reported that Celebrity T was doing R bad thing at the time therefore we didn't slander them."

Guess what, if you sue someone it's now your problem. If the RIAA doesn't fully explore evidence before suing people over then they have no right to continue suing people. It would be like the police bringing a case against a suspected murderer and asking, in the trial, to search the house, car etc. to find evidence. That's not how the legal system is supposed to work. Trial is supposed to be the last thing in a long line of to do's, one of which is verifying that you've got the right person. The RIAA doesn't do that long list, which is horribly wrong but not quite illegal, and more and more often it's coming back to haunt them.

Re:Backing Down? (1)

jmac1492 (1036880) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981635)

Yeah, lets see a newspaper pull that off. "But your honor one of our sources reported that Celebrity T was doing R bad thing at the time therefore we didn't slander them."

In the US, there must be both untrue and printed with "actual malice." So yes, this works.

Re:Backing Down? (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981901)

If the RIAA doesn't fully explore evidence before suing people over then they have no right to continue suing people. It would be like the police bringing a case against a suspected murderer and asking, in the trial, to search the house, car etc. to find evidence.
Ever heard of discovery? Here's how they do it in Utah, USA [utcourts.gov] , on the first page of a Google search for
discovery in criminal cases. Gathering supporting facts for a trial after prosecution is not only routine, it's actually part of normal flow of the legal process.

That's not how the legal system is supposed to work. Trial is supposed to be the last thing in a long line of to do's, one of which is verifying that you've got the right person. The RIAA doesn't do that long list, which is horribly wrong but not quite illegal, and more and more often it's coming back to haunt them.
It's generally a good idea to know what you're talking about BEFORE making a post...

There are two kinds of fool. One says 'This is old therefore good.' And one says 'This is new therefore good'- Dean Inge
I'd wager there's a third type....

Re:Backing Down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18982603)

hey dumbass,

facts are gathered at all stages, before, during and after trials. -and "discovery" is pre-trial dickhead.

if a prosecutor is gathering most of his evidence, DURING a trial(which is after discovery, moron), he won't have a job for long.

the grandparent is correct. everyone should come to trial prepared, and if in the process of preparation you discover you don't have a fucking case, you don't go to trial.

Re:Backing Down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18982643)

Ever heard of discovery? ... it's actually part of normal flow of the legal process.

And RIAA FAILED to 'Discover' that the evidence they had was wrong.

Re:Backing Down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983343)

It's generally a good idea to read the article that you link to in your comment. That way you don't sound like a jackass.

Welcome to the twenty-first century! (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982571)

Yeah, lets see a newspaper pull that off. "But your honor one of our sources reported that Celebrity T was doing R bad thing at the time therefore we didn't slander them."

It's good to see you've discovered the internet since waking from your coma, although you may be disappointed to find out that along with television it's eating the newspaper industry alive. There have been some other changes for the worse during the last [salon.com] six [salon.com] years [salon.com] , too. You're not going to be happy with the state of the news media today. Not only can they pass along lies without facing the repercussions, but they refuse to reveal the identity of lying "anonymous sources" thereby protecting those liars from facing any negative consequences at all.

yes (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980755)

It's really far past the time for the RIAA to start paying for all their mistakes.
no, it is time the companies that support the RIAA pay for what they're doing. the quickest way to do that is to outright ignore their garbage- even refusing to pirate their garbage [free publicity right?] stop indirectly supporting these idiots- listen to alternatives!

Re:yes (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981315)

Send the copyright holders a letter explaining why you have stopped. Otherwise you are another pirating music instead og buying it.

I understand eMailing Steve Jobs gets things done faster.
Bo only if you give the secret code 09.. ah nevermind.
.
.
.
.
.
HOT GRITS!
*runs away

Let's name actual companies: Sony etc., not "RIAA" (5, Insightful)

KWTm (808824) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981389)

As others have noted, the RIAA has been successful promoting themselves as a concept in people's minds so that we direct our ire toward this nebulous phantom group, rather than the actual companies. If you look at their list of members [riaa.com] , you'll find that there appear to be many many --until you see shenanigans with member names like "Universal(1)" and "Universal(2)". Like, wow, there are so many members of RIAA that Universal is on there twice! And Sony ... well, there's Sony Direct, Sony Labels, Sony Music Special ... gimme a break.

Wikipedia has a comment about this:

The RIAA's website contains a list of members, which has been disputed in the past, as Matador Records, Fat Wreck Chords[4] Lookout Records, Epitaph Records and Bloodshot Records (who are not members) have been listed there.[5] Some may have been automatically included in the list as they were using RIAA members as distributing labels.
--from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA [wikipedia.org]

Let's name the actual companies involved: Sony, Universal, Capitol, KGB Records, Synapse Films... We might even make up a new acronym for the coalition.

Nice try (2, Funny)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981399)

As if those independent pirate-friendly artists could ever concoct music as brilliant as K-Fed's "Playing with Fire"

Re:yes (1)

sctaylorcan (1003944) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984081)

I don't understand the popular /. stance that there is some higher form of music of greater intellectual value than the stuff that /. posters suggest is being pushed upon us by **AA or some other nefarious organization. The stuff that is pirated is pirated because people want to hear it - I don't care if they want to hear it because the pirate has some inherent sense of fine music that makes them want the latest Xtina record, or if they are brainwashed to think that the latest Xtina is worth listening to, or if Xtina is a musical genius (I personally think she kicks ass!!!) - people pirate/download what they want to hear, brain-dead/tech-dead/taste-dead though they may be. So if you like the non-**AA music, go ahead and download that without paying - and good luck finding it.

I'm a total hobby musician who thinks it would be cool to make money from making music one day. I also work in a company that makes software (I don't personally build it these days). So I wonder how I'd feel about people stealing my company's software because they felt it should be free, and I know the answer - I'd be pissed, it would impact my ability to pay my mortgage, and if I could track them on a network that said "person x pirated your cool-ass software" and I had some reason to rely on that information, I'd go after them.

At any rate, can somebody explain to me why a significant number of /. folks seems to think that downloading (without paying) music that belongs to an RIAA member is generally okay, and that because the best method of identifying likely culprits is flawed, pursuing claims is such a big problem? What else would you do if *you* were the rights-holder and should have been paid for that song being heard?

That said, I'm not against restricting the ability of the **AA to go after essentially random litigation targets, but too often I read /. opinions that equate to the ridiculous "well, I'm kinda fuzzy in your camera shot of me mugging that old lady, so I get to keep the $50 I pulled from her fist as I kicked her in the face, and besides, how do u know my pet monkey didn't do it?". What am I missing?

Re:yes (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984245)

I think the reason alot of slashdotters hate the RIAA, insist that what they sell is garbage or whatever and download the music anyway is: 1) most slashdotters are very tech-smart in other words because they can 2) it is easier for people to steal from an organization they hate because the RIAA actually goes after people who are suspected of stealing music although the sheer number of people who have downloaded music illegally makes the RIAA's job basically a living hell. 3) the RIAA goes about trying to stop pirating in the worst possible way- that is with shoddy evidence and bad if not illegal legal tactics ie. we won't take you to trial if you give us something... For those reasons I know that the only way all this nonsense is going to end is if the reason to pirate RIAA controlled music dries up completely. It is inevitable that a small but significant number of people will download music illegally regardless of any security or legal measures; what needs to happen is people who want free music go to indie bands or something instead of stealing mainstream music. However, this as you noted is unlikely as much of the music worth listening to is of the RIAA variety and thus illegal to download without proper compensation. Inevitably the music industry and everyone that benefits from the work done there will need to reach a stable equilibrium or become extinct. Either people adapt to new ways that give them access to their favorite music and yet help the artists or the entire industry suffers/dies as a result.

What happens when you're misakenly... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18980767)

dragged into these lawsuits, hire an attorney to handle it($$$), and then the plaintiff says "Oopsie!"?

Is there anyway to at the very least get your lawyer fees covered? Or do you have to file your own lawsuit to get those?

This is getting fucking ridiculous!

Re:What happens when you're misakenly... (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982367)

IANAL but you need to file a counter-suit for attorney fees, harassment, defamation ect. possibly name your ISP as a co-defendant. You wouldn't get must most attorneys would work on contingency for a third, fees and expenses so after taxes all you really get is satisfaction

Re:What happens when you're misakenly... (1)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982845)

Any money that comes from a judgement in a lawsuit is TAX FREE? This is money to right a wrong and/or give relief. What taxes are you referring to?

Pwned! (1)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980783)

This will severly damage the RIAA's crediblity in the courtrooms. Stuff like this weakens the RIAA's stranglehold and now the law is starting to see things how they are.

RIAA... the new SCO?

Ah the memories... (4, Insightful)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980785)

I remember back when the RIAA lawsuits first began. While they didn't stop a lot of people from file sharing, it did disquiet a lot of people. The idea of the RIAA sniffing the P2P networks and logging everything you did was frightening, and people imagined itemized lists of dates and times their downloads were completed.

Now the only disquieting thing is that the RIAA seems inclined to sue anyone and anybody, regardless of whether they have anything to do with it or not. The more cases they pursue, the more obvious it is that their ability to locate and pursue anyone is pathetic. Feelings of Big Brother subside, and now we can rest easy knowing that if the RIAA does sue you, it's because they think you're someone you're not.

Monkeys throwing poo (3, Funny)

adam.dorsey (957024) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980803)

The RIAA seems to have a problem making things stick in the Windy City.

Well, there's only so mush shit you can throw at a wall before it stops sticking.

I guess that's why they call it the Blues... (4, Funny)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980863)

RIAA they knows *nothing* 'bout The Blues.

They don't got it in their pocket or their shoes

Chicago you know has Always had The Blues.

I guess this time was RIAA's turn to lose.

--

Any good blues chord progression should do it, repeat to fit in 12 bars. Prounounce the acronym as a word. Play it until you run out of alcohol or your brains fall out your ears, or both.

This makes no difference at all... (5, Insightful)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 7 years ago | (#18980871)

...unless the defendant turns around and sues the RIAA to recover court costs, attorney's fees, the value of the time he lost defending himself, and a hefty sum on top of that to make them think real hard about doing something like that again.

The only way the RIAA is going to stop harassing people through the courts is when it costs them so much that they can't sustain it anymore. That won't happen simply by suing for court costs and attorney's fees -- the RIAA (through its members) is much too wealthy for that.

Re:This makes no difference at all... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981029)

there needs to be a civil rights association founded for this anti-riaa moves. they should take on this work.

Re:This makes no difference at all... (4, Informative)

Frodrick (666941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981247)

Unfortunately, Thao made the mistake of letting the RIAA drop the suit WITHOUT prejudice which means that
  1. it could theoretically be refiled, and
  2. no attorney's fees are awarded.

No choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18982481)

I could be wrong, but I'm not sure Mr. Thao or his lawyers had a choice, and this bit of law is why:

RULE 41. DISMISSAL OF ACTIONS

(a) Voluntary Dismissal-Effect Thereof.

        (1) By Plaintiff-By Stipulation. Subject to the provisions of Rule 23(l), of Rule 66, and of any statute of this state, an action may be dismissed by the plaintiff without order of court, unless a provisional remedy has been allowed, (i) by filing a notice of dismissal at any time before service by the adverse party of an answer or of a motion for summary judgment, whichever first occurs, or (ii) by filing a stipulation of dismissal signed by all parties who have appeared in the action. Unless otherwise stated in the notice of dismissal or stipulation, the dismissal is without prejudice, except that a notice of dismissal operates as an adjudication upon the merits when filed by a plaintiff who has once dismissed in any court of the United States or of any state an action based on or including the same claim.

The PDF of the motion cited Fed R Civ P 41(a)(1)(i) [state.nd.us] which I have quoted above. Note that although that's a North Dakota court link, the rules in question are federal. Assuming their lawyers are right, the defendants may not have had any choice in the matter because the case hadn't gotten very far before they dismissed it. They did something similar if not identical in the RIAA v. Merchant case, only to refile it against some John Does seeking discovery from Mr. Merchant, much to his lawyer's annoyance. Because of that, I'm not convinced this is the last of it, but I remain hopeful.

Finally, please don't take this as any kind of legal advice—I am NOT a lawyer, just some guy who knows how to Google legal citations, and you want to get a good lawyer and let them fight this crap for you if they come after you. It probably wouldn't hurt to ask for a referral from your local bar association, or maybe even from Ray Beckerman, for someone who knows how to fight the dirty RIAA tricks. A lawyer who knows their game plan from the start would probably be more able to counter the sneaky maneuvers they've been known to pull. Otherwise, you might end up like Mr. Merchant, a "non-party" from whom they seek discovery in ex parte fashion, in an attempt to root through your computer without giving you any standing before the court to complain about it.

On an unrelated note, I'd love to see Fed R Civ P 41(a)(1)(ii) come into play due to some accident in the RIAA's gamesmanship. Hopefully, some good lawyer can trip them up with something like that.

Re:No choice? (1)

Frodrick (666941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983403)

may be dismissed by the plaintiff without order of court, unless a provisional remedy has been allowed, (i) by filing a notice of dismissal at any time before service by the adverse party of an answer or of a motion for summary judgment...

I, too, am not a lawyer (still have my soul) but it seems to me that there must have been some kind of answer to the complaint since the defendant got them to drop the suit by proving that it wasn't him and that he didn't have the modem at the time. I do not know, however, if this rises to the level of "service of an answer", but it I were a lawyer I would be attempt to argue that it did.

Probably a secret payoff and deal to keep quiet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983091)

See this comment at TFA [blogspot.com] which conjectures that RIAA offered to pay something to allow them to dismiss the case without prejudice and keep the deal secret. That lets the RIAA avoid the bad publicity and precedent that would result from losing a motion from the defendant to recover legal fees, and gives the defendant their money without further court battle, legal expense, and some uncertainty of winning.

Something is wrong with dates (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18980913)

While I am all for RIAA getting it in the kisser, something is fishy.

The letter from the guy back to Earthlink states that offending IP was identified on Feb. 15 2004 (sorry, writing dates from memory). However, the letter from Covad shows that he was a customer from October 2002 till July 2004. So, in February 2004 he was very much a customer of Covad (which, I assume, is an actual provider for Earthlink DSL service). So, I am not sure how the defense of "wrong time" might have worked here. I guess he has a REALLY good lawyer :)

Re:Something is wrong with dates (3, Informative)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981051)

You would be right if it was Feb. 15 2004. The letter read that the IP was used "02/15/2005" which is a while after the May 14th cancellation. Nothing to see here, the RIAA's just sued another innocent person with flimsy evidence...

Lawsuits Revisited (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981131)

I highly think it's time laws are made to correct the use of FUD through lawsuits. Maybe a quota as to the number of lawsuits that can be filed per year by an organization? With provisions that this quota be dismissed in rare cases of course.

lest we ever forget... (0, Troll)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981217)

BMG (Sony BMG) is Bertelsmann. A German company that committed Nazi atrocities in the 1930s and 40's. Info HERE [bbc.co.uk]

Just in case anyone actually needed another reason to hate the RIAA, or enjoy their failure.

Only buy music directly from the artist, or second hand.

Re:lest we ever forget... (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981665)

...and forever punish those who would dare have anything to do with this company regardless of whatever contrition it has expressed for the crimes of it's ancestors, because we all know that reform, even by future generations, is impossible.

RTFA - this is crap (2, Insightful)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981243)

The law suit was dismissed without prejudice which means they can sue him again... and he wasn't offered costs! His lawyer should have asked for costs and should also ask the case be struck with prejudice.

Re:RTFA - this is crap (2, Insightful)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982459)

I'm sure the RIAA was much more likely to end it quickly if they had a NDA on how much their victim was compensated and was allowed to let it look like a draw rather than a humiliating defeat.

No choice :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18982941)

I went into more detail here [slashdot.org] , but if I'm right, this isn't the first time they've done this.

Also, his lawyers had no choice. If they're correct in their application of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, they can simply dismiss the case any time before the defendant's lawyers file an answer or motion for summary judgment. Basically, they've done so little in that case that the Court has to let them slink away.

The only good news is part (ii) of the law that lets them off the hook. If I'm reading it right, and IANAL, they can't pull that trick twice or it ends up being an "adjudication on the merits." Assuming I can read the legalese, the second time you pull out of the same litigation like that, you automatically lose.

Of course, the problem is that they may very well recycle their trick from RIAA v. Merchant and refile the case against various John Does, only to seek discovery from Mr. Thao. Of course, if this guy doesn't have a computer, I have no clue what they would be able to get out of him. In the Merchant case, the guy at least had a computer.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer. As RIAA v. Merchant proved, you NEED a good lawyer on your side to fight the RIAA's ... inventive ... legal tactics.

Questions for litigators (1)

Rey Willie (932990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981295)

1. Why would defendant accept dismissal without prejudice? Does the evidence not clearly show that the facts alleged in the complaint are without merit? Why should plaintiff have the right to refile?

2. Again, why would defendant agree to accept a sharing of court costs? Are the costs so small that litigating further would not be worth it?

Misidentification is a bit troubling. (5, Interesting)

urikkiru (801560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981299)

This mis-identified defendant issue is a bit worrying. I mean, let's say you're tracking information on a p2p network. Now, you write your own client, and sit there tracking what IP address sends you data from downloading a specific file(that is supposedly copyrighted). At that point, you have the data block(s), and can compare them against the final downloaded file, which you can verify with it's file hash. And you have the IP, and the date/time you got it from them.(Let's assume this is a p2p protocol where the client you get the data from is definitely the one that actually has the data purposely shared, and not one like say Freenet, where it's passed often by other clients)

Then you go to the ISP, and query who had that IP address at that time. For bonus points, you ask if they have any traffic logs that will verify the IP address was participating on the appropriate ports for that p2p network.

All that data seems enough to validly go to court. You still have to link a person successfully to the ip address, but the base level identification is enough to have a valid name to at least start with.

So the overwhelming question for me, is how they can get it so wrong? If this is the wrong person, and they are not even a subscriber to a comcast cable modem, how is their name in the RIAA's possession? I'm throwing out the wacky idea that they are suing via random selection in the phone book :P(which would garner them insanely bad press, and make judges in courtrooms very, very angry with them)

Obviously you have to treat each case on it's own merits, and making assumptions about guilt/innocence is a dangerous thing indeed. Also, we are not counting the times when an adult is the target in court, but it turns out it's the child of the adult who is the infringing person. But still, these *completely* erroneous identifications are very worrying. Just who are the RIAA getting their information from?

Re:Misidentification is a bit troubling. (3, Interesting)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982013)

Well, it's not hard to imagine that the RIAA contract out the process of finding and identifying "pirates". If the contractor is paid per person identified then there wouldn't be much incentive to be thorough..

Re:Misidentification is a bit troubling. (1)

rearden (304396) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982279)

The same cable company that billed me for two locations after moving my service, canceling the accounts, getting a refund and a letter. Yes, Comcast billed me after we moved for my old Apartment and new home. When they were unable to get the billing right we canceled the service. They still billed us and then realized their mistake (many, many phone calls later) and sent us a refund and a letter saying the problems had been resolved... Three months later we get a call from a collection agency saying we are deadbeats and owe money!

The cable companies can not get their systems right, their data is suspect and I think should be challenged as such. Personally, I think everyone laid off from AOL's billing department was hired by Comcast.

I hate... (1)

dunezone (899268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981305)

I hate Illinois Nazis...err...I mean Illinois RIAA

Re:I hate... (1)

Evilest Doer (969227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982433)

I hate Illinois Nazis...err...I mean Illinois RIAA
Elwood: We've got 35 Gigs to download, a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.

Jake: Hit it.

In memory of those grammar school word puzzles (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18981375)

How many can you find?

C0 8C 35 C0 88 56 63 C5 56 41 D8 5B E3 74 9D 02 11 F9 09 0A
88 38 59 0D 18 54 60 12 51 26 5A 4C 33 21 41 36 4F 2A F9 0C
56 87 C0 0D 60 46 17 04 26 31 53 5B 57 31 1B 34 C0 05 11 3C
63 47 88 50 35 36 55 48 06 2B 0B 3B 2D 37 0D 88 88 2F 02 32
C5 0F 56 0D 11 26 30 48 3F 4E 4C 5A 12 40 56 31 56 4F 9D 5F
56 5D 63 2B 63 45 38 37 1A 5E 0F 5D 4F 63 1B 14 63 0A 74 1C
41 43 C5 28 54 C5 4E 32 59 5B 5C 35 C5 30 5B 37 C5 62 E3 19
D8 18 56 2E 3F 20 37 2A 3F 53 4D 56 10 23 58 39 56 59 5B 26
5B 45 41 48 50 62 61 41 5C 0A 41 0A 08 08 3C 04 41 1A D8 4D
E3 25 D8 0F 03 15 19 05 D8 D8 3B 60 08 29 27 4B D8 05 41 24
74 5C 5B 4C 3F 46 07 3E 5B 5B 1D 18 43 3D 4C 17 5B 3F 56 48
9D 12 E3 0A 40 1F 22 E3 01 05 E3 06 34 1F 1A 4D E3 3D C5 49
02 57 74 0B 16 15 74 42 4F 16 43 29 0D 42 26 08 74 2E 63 56
11 4D 9D 17 22 9D 62 1E 57 3E 21 4B 4D 06 53 48 9D 01 56 4C
F9 43 02 2F 02 21 0A 53 30 0A 61 13 35 17 63 49 02 25 88 0B
09 2C 11 11 38 62 54 4D 0D 5B 16 53 3E 22 63 01 11 01 C0 15
5E 3F F9 41 20 03 4E 04 1C 2E 04 48 02 49 3D F9 F9 3C 43 18
32 09 09 F9 11 35 17 21 10 4C 61 46 18 3B 16 1D 09 12 53 44
63 42 63 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 88 C0 03 03 24
48 C0 88 56 63 C5 56 41 D8 5B E3 74 9D 02 11 F9 09 17 05 4C
Solutions posted soon

Re:In memory of those grammar school word puzzles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18981737)

I get 7, but I went over it quickly. Might have missed a couple.

Re:In memory of those grammar school word puzzles (1)

msblack (191749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981913)

You should find eight of them

Gosh how I love those hidden-word search puzzles (-;

you FAIL it (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18981549)

BitToorent) Second, over a quality Numbers continue name on the jar of

Cable modems do not share files (2, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981889)

People share files.

RIAA should be required to show evidence that a particular person rather than just a particular peace of hardware was involved in file sharing to start a lawsuit. If you have kids visiting your house, it's possible and likely that one of them will do a quick download. And, given that there is no requirement to even secure GUNS kept at home, I don't see how we can require people to keep their gaming box under lock and key. Difficult, I know. But we want one to build a good case to abridge someone's freedom by dragging them to court.

Fishing expeditions (1)

pickyouupatnine (901260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982119)

I think someone that files suit should be automatically held liable for emotional harassment.

it's pretty windy here! (1)

razpones (1077227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982207)

maybe thats why it didn't stick

Slow bleed ... (1)

ProfM (91314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982443)

Too bad the legal system is as mucked up as it is, and the procedures that are used in it are difficult for the layman to understand.

What would be nice, is a RIAA-lawsuit toolkit that ANYBODY could use to be a Pro-se litigant, and using templates that would hold up in court.

Unfortunately, the system is stacked against pro-se litigants, but it would be nice to cause the RIAA to bleed money, but not defendants.

Sue everyone (1)

AoMoe (1095449) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982671)

It seems time and time again that the RIAA should sue all Americans. This way they will be guaranteed to actually sue someone who owns a computer. Hey, if they do not know how to use it they must be guilty. The more the RIAA embarrasses themselves, the more times that can claim that they are winning.

So they have an IP address... (2, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982771)

That gets them to a house. A house with an account holder in it, probably. It in no way identifies the person performing the copyright infringment.

Come on, if the account holder isn't responsible then nobody is at all, ever. The Internet remains anonymous and without consequences for everyone.

Ever try to get someone to stop brute-force cracking attempts on a system? The ISP doesn't care, or at best will just warn them so they push their attempts through a proxy. Law enforcement doesn't care until there are significant damages. So any attempts to get a script kiddy to stop results in no action until they are in some serious and deep stinky stuff. Assuming they are dumb (and almost always are) and brag about it. Because once again, the Internet is anonymous and without consequences - unless you are stupid.

The answer to all of this seems to be "Wasn't me. Must have been someone else using the Internet connection. Come on, prove otherwise!"

Not warranty registration (4, Interesting)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982827)

However, it turned out that Mr. Thao was not even a subscriber [CC] (pdf) of the ISP [CC] (pdf) at the time of the alleged file-sharing, and therefore did not have possession of the suspect cable modem at that time.

When I first read the summary I thought they had tracked Mr. Thao down because he had registered his cable modem with the manufacturer (the warranty card) and they had gotten the ownership information from the manufacturer (it doesn't seem that far-fetched to me). But I guess he had an ISP-supplied device (a DSL router he wasn't buying outright) and since he was the person in possession of the router at the time the RIAA went looking for the owner, he was the one they sued, even though another customer had the router at the time of the infringement. I wonder if the RIAA can find out who that was. Do records of equipment leasing fall under the list of stuff ISP's are supposed to be keeping for a longer period of time now?

Who gives them the evidence? (4, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984377)

In Belgium the way to go would be to sue an unknown person. It is then up to the court to demand evidence from the provider. No evidence or identity may be given to the suer, their lawer or anybody else. Only to the court by court order.

What has happend is that the Belgian *AA wanted to file many, many, many lawsuits. The courts said something like: go f*ck a duck. We are not going to harrass people who did just share. Please come back when you have people who are making money over it. Those are the people we will put money and efford in, but we are not going to sue the whole country.

Sounds reasonable to me and yes, they do that with other things as well.
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