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RIAA Accepts $300 Offer of Judgement In Carolina

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the when-will-they-just-give-it-up-and-go-home dept.

The Courts 165

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a North Carolina case, Capitol v. Frye, the RIAA has accepted a $300 offer of judgment made by the defendant. This is the first known use, in the RIAA v. Consumer cases, of the formal offer of judgment procedure which provides that if the plaintiff doesn't accept the offer, and doesn't later get a judgment for a larger amount, the plaintiff is responsible for all of the court costs from that point on in the case. The accepted judgment in the Frye case (PDF) also contains an injunction — much more limited than the RIAA's typical 'settlement' injunction (PDF) — under which defendant agreed not to infringe plaintiffs' copyrights."

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165 comments

Hey (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19872413)

The RIAA sucks

The user who mods this flamebait or troll or offtopic must be an RIAA supporter.

Re:Hey (3, Funny)

fohat (168135) | about 7 years ago | (#19872499)

Your post is redundant if anything.
Now that I've meta-moderated your meta-moderation, I need a nap.

Re:Hey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19872853)

Captain Obvious to the rescue!

I'm no lawyer, but (1)

Bombula (670389) | about 7 years ago | (#19872437)

Does this mean this rather lenient deal the RIAA has accepted can be used as a precedent for future cases? Will it prevent them from successfully reaming people's grandmothers with 7-figure lawsuits? Hope so.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (1)

ari_j (90255) | about 7 years ago | (#19872483)

Nope. It just means that one particular defendant convinced them to drop the matter for $300. No legal precedential effect.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (4, Informative)

Camael (1048726) | about 7 years ago | (#19872739)

Actually, RIAA won. In simple terms her offer was "Okay I'm willing to plead guilty and pay you $300 inclusive of everything" and RIAA accepted. So the award is made against her. It's different from convincing the RIAA to "drop the matter".

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (2, Informative)

Knara (9377) | about 7 years ago | (#19872977)

Right, but the important thing is that AFAIK it can't be relied on as precedence like it could be if there was an actual judicial decision in the RIAA's favor.

IANAL

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (3, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | about 7 years ago | (#19873031)

Even if the RIAA took it all the way to trial and won a judgment of $8 billion dollars, it would likely still have next to no precedential effect. It's not like you can go to another court with a different defendant and say "See! We over there against that chick, so, Your Honor, you have to give us money from this guy too!" Thankfully, whatever faults it does have, the American legal system doesn't work quite like that.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (2, Interesting)

Phil John (576633) | about 7 years ago | (#19874489)

Exactly, otherwise companies wanting easy lawsuits in the future could be very dishonest and pay someone to be sued (and lose).

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (5, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | about 7 years ago | (#19873001)

Not really. First off, you don't plead guilty in civil cases such as this. Second, courts have held (see, e.g., Scosche v. Visor Gear [georgetown.edu] ) that Rule 68 judgments do not have a preclusive effect on litigating issues they dispose of. Therefore, the RIAA probably cannot take the Rule 68-based judgment and use it against this defendant in a future case to avoid actually litigating the issues in the future case. Numerous sources indicate that Rule 68 has the sole purpose of encouraging settlement.

Finally, the real issue that was raised and to which I responded: There is no precedential effect, no matter how you take the Rule 68-based judgment. Legal precedents are only as to issues of law. It seems that no interpretation of law was made here, and any issues that were disposed of by the judgment are factual in nature. There is no such thing as a legally binding factual precedent.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19873045)

In simple terms her offer was "Okay I'm willing to plead guilty and pay you $300 inclusive of everything"

Correct, except for the "plead guilty" part. That's only in criminal cases.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#19873091)

In simple terms her offer was "Okay I'm willing to plead guilty and pay you $300 inclusive of everything" Correct, except for the "plead guilty" part. That's only in criminal cases.
Well, a formal Rule 68 offer of judgment is something different than that. It's kind of a dare. It's saying to the RIAA:

Here's a judgment for $300. I'm throwing $300 on the floor. Either pick it up, or go forward.
I dare you to try to recover more than that.
If you don't recover more than that, you're going to be liable for all of the court costs from this day forward.
If you've got the guts, bring it on.
If you don't, pick up the $300 and get out of my life.

Sanctions? (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about 7 years ago | (#19873141)

I notice that the settlement offer explicitly excludes any claims for sanctions that the defendant has already requested. Can you give more information on possible sanctions against the RIAA and/or their lawyers?

Re:Sanctions? (4, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#19873185)

I notice that the settlement offer explicitly excludes any claims for sanctions that the defendant has already requested. Can you give more information on possible sanctions against the RIAA and/or their lawyers?
Those of us who believe the RIAA's litigation tactics are frivolous would like to move for sanctions under Rule 11 (c) [cornell.edu] , but the rule is quite limited, providing the offending party with a "safe harbor", and many judges are reluctant to invoke it altogether, as the consequences of a Rule 11 sanction against an attorney are very severe. So it is invoked rarely. I am not aware of any successful invocation of Rule 11 in the RIAA cases by a defendant. I am aware of one instance in which the judge disagreed with the defendant's lawyer on the merits of the underlying motion, found the Rule 11 motion to itself be frivolous, and has held that the defendant's lawyer should be sanctioned, based on several things he had done that irked the judge.

And yet, never any sanctions against RIAA lawyers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19874429)

the defendant's lawyer should be sanctioned, based on several things he had done that irked the judge.

Irking the judge has defensible standing in law?

If it does, how come that the RIAA's lawyers bringing meritless suits based on an almost total absence of evidence against a sizeable proportion of the young population has not yet irked any judge, and sent their lawyers packing?

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (4, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 7 years ago | (#19872497)

The blog said no precedent was being set, that it was clear it was the best the RIAA could expect from the case given that the subject was not likely to give much return on the collection effort, and another high-handed collection effort from a penniless mum would work against them. There was very little that could be taken from her, being another single mother receiving housing and income assistance. I'd say that that $300 was a pretty big whallop out of her budget though, and will make the RIAA look even worse as a result.

Providing that's possible, of course...

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (4, Insightful)

GizmoToy (450886) | about 7 years ago | (#19872575)

True, but on the other hand it's entirely possible she was guilty, knew she was guilty, and thus saw this as the cheapest way out. Which is not to say that the RIAA could have proved it to the satisfaction of the judge, but rather that the defendant knew she was wrong and owned up to her mistake.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | about 7 years ago | (#19872771)

if you didn't think it could be proven, how the hell did you come to the conclusion that she was guilty?

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (3, Insightful)

Daychilde (744181) | about 7 years ago | (#19872845)

I believe it was a hypothesis, not a conclusion, and I'd expect everyone to have figured out that the courts aren't always able to determine truth... Or do you think someone is only guilty or innocent after the findings of a court, regardless of what actually happened in real life? Put another way - if courts are able to reach accurate verdicts 100% of the time, no matter the nature of the case, why is there so much unsolved crime? The Justice System is pretty good, all things considered; but it's not at all like television. You don't always get fingerprints; you can send stuff off to the lab and get a clearcut answer all the time...

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (2, Interesting)

GizmoToy (450886) | about 7 years ago | (#19872857)

Nowhere in the entire post did I say either that I didn't think they could prove their claims or that I thought the defendant was guilty. You should re-read the post.

I said that since I don't know the details of the case I have no idea if it was possible for the RIAA to prove their claims, and that the defendant may have been guilty and wanted to end the suit. Neither is unreasonable given the posted article and the case's resolution.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#19872945)

I love the way people keep throwing around this word "guilty". Like this is a criminal case. The longer people apply criminal law terminology like "guilty" and "innocent" and "theft" the easier it will be for the copyright owners to get new criminal laws passed.

Stop playing their game.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (1)

GizmoToy (450886) | about 7 years ago | (#19873015)

There are other definitions of the term 'guilty' than merely the legal definitions. You'll notice the sentence doesn't even make sense using 'liable.'

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (4, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#19873047)

There are other definitions of the term 'guilty' than merely the legal definitions. You'll notice the sentence doesn't even make sense using 'liable.'
I disagree. I think it would have made perfect sense to use the civil litigation language, instead of criminal terms:

it's entirely possible she was liable, knew she was liable, and thus saw this as the cheapest way out

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (1)

GizmoToy (450886) | about 7 years ago | (#19873117)

Yea. I think you're right, it would have made sense. I don't know what I was thinking.

Although I think the original usage was acceptable as I was not discussing the findings of the case, but rather her thought process on the matter. Still, using 'liable' would have been clearer. Apologies all around, hehe.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#19873143)

I don't doubt that was her thought process... specially, she was probably thinking about it as a matter of guilt, because that's the RIAA wants her to think about it. "I did something wrong" not "I caused significant damages to a music company". The first is easy to plant in people's minds, the second isn't.

Which is why I was saying that you shouldn't help them do that.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (1)

GizmoToy (450886) | about 7 years ago | (#19873155)

True enough. I certainly don't want to be doing them any favors.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (5, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 7 years ago | (#19873077)

There are other definitions of the term 'guilty' than merely the legal definitions. You'll notice the sentence doesn't even make sense using 'liable.'
"True, but on the other hand it's entirely possible she was liable, knew she was liable, and thus saw this as the cheapest way out."

WTF are you talking about? It makes perfect sense.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (2, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#19873099)

Dun, you and I just wrote almost the exact same post, at the exact same time. I hope we don't get modded "redundant".

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (2, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#19873017)

I love the way people keep throwing around this word "guilty". Like this is a criminal case. The longer people apply criminal law terminology like "guilty" and "innocent" and "theft" the easier it will be for the copyright owners to get new criminal laws passed. Stop playing their game.
I agree wholeheartedly, QuantumG. I wince every time someone says "guilty" or "innocent".

These are civil cases. The terminology should be "liable" and "not liable".

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (1)

ari_j (90255) | about 7 years ago | (#19873195)

Of course, courts will speak of people being "guilty" of, say, contributory negligence. The difference is that they are not using it as a legal term of art in those cases,* and I don't get as upset about it as I do when people speak of "plead(ing) guilty" in the civil litigation context. That's the one that really makes no sense, no matter how you slice it. At least "she knew she was guilty of copyright infringement and offered to settle" makes sense, so long as the context makes clear that no legal terms of art are being used.

* - Haha, I can do it, too!

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19873029)

Same reason we can say you're guilty of using to word "guilty" in a post.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19873107)

Bad English?

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (1)

lionheart1327 (841404) | about 7 years ago | (#19873303)

Yeah, thats one thing I don't get.

How come such a huge percentage of the people being sued by the RIAA are penniless, single parents living on government assistance? Or elderly grandmothers? Or cute puppies and kittens?

Quite frankly, it defies all the laws of probability!

By randomly suing IPs that they found online, how can they possibly be finding so many?

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19873521)

they're randomly suing all kinds of people, but the cute penniless grandmother kittens make for better anti-riaa press, so those are the cases that you hear more about

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (1)

Propaganda13 (312548) | about 7 years ago | (#19874221)

All the people with money settled with the RIAA for $3000.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (3, Funny)

TechForensics (944258) | about 7 years ago | (#19873507)

The minimum damages the Courts must award for the RIAA's type of copyright infringement claims is contained in the statute, and is $750.00 per song. When cases of this kind have gone to default judgment (Ray, correct me if I'm wrong), judges generally award ONLY the minimum $750.00. This means you can easily trash the RIAA's absurd settlement demands EVEN IF YOU REALLY WERE filesharing by making an offer of judgment of $750.00 per song-- they almost have to let you go for that amount because if they don't they risk paying ALL of your costs and expenses. (You're not the kind of dummy who downloads more than one song at a time, are you?)

Note, in cases in which the suit is simply wrong in alleging you've fileshared, an "offer of judgment" is going to SHIFT THE BURDEN TO THE RIAA to make DAMN sure they haven't been careless in their statement of claim. An offer of judgment is apparently going to be POWERFUL in fighting these b*****ds. And if you're a one-file-at-a-time kind of guy, $750.00 is cheap to buy out of this fscked-up RIAA misery.

Congress should rein in the **AAs, but I doubt they are going to. This is a great evil. Corporate America has co-opted our culture and is fighting hard to keep control in perpetuity.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19874337)

Without suggesting anything incriminating, I much prefer having entire albums or compilations to individual tracks. It suits the way I listen to music much better.

Re:I'm no lawyer, but (2, Funny)

Binkleyz (175773) | about 7 years ago | (#19874853)

Just a quibble, but since we're all seeming to quibble here..

You wrote: "**AA"s

Wouldn't it be more proper to use "??AA"s

Z

Decent Resolution (4, Interesting)

GizmoToy (450886) | about 7 years ago | (#19872461)

Seems like a reasonable resolution for the defendant. $300 to make a lawsuit like this go away could be worth it if you don't really have the financial means to mount a decent defense and there's no way the RIAA had spent less than $300 to that point, so they lost money on the deal. This a very low settlement amount for the RIAA, so it's possible others may be able to utilize this.

It'll be interesting to see if the RIAA accepts it if anyone else tries it.

Re:Decent Resolution (3, Insightful)

Darundal (891860) | about 7 years ago | (#19872477)

I would be willing to bet they excepted not to be reasonable, but because they probably realized that they didn't have enough for a case with someone who would fight and they believed that she would. I would be willing to bet that this is actually a sign that at this point, if you make it clear you will fight, the RIAA will try to back down and save as much face as possible as opposed to going through having another botch on their end show up all over the web and on newspapers nationwide.

Re:Decent Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19872493)

Reminds me of that old saying:

$300 for RIAA is better than two in the bush.

Or is it the other way around?

Re:Decent Resolution (3, Insightful)

dattaway (3088) | about 7 years ago | (#19872529)

No. A reasonable resolution would be compensation for time and money to respond to a poor case with awful "evidence" and absolutely no detective work. $3,000 for the defense perhaps?

Re:Decent Resolution (4, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#19872781)

Hey, they was detective work!

Sure, it wasn't do by registered detectives and is therefore illegal, but we tried!!

Re:Decent Resolution (1)

Myopic (18616) | about 7 years ago | (#19873689)

Oh, great, you must have more details than the rest of us, which is good because the story offered very little. Me, I assumed the defendant was guilty, that's why he even offered the three bills. Can you provide a link to information showing how poor the case was, and how there was absolutely no detective work?

Sorry for being picky, but... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19872505)

"Judgement" in the title should really be spelled judgment (notice the missing "e")...

Re:Sorry for being picky, but... (1, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | about 7 years ago | (#19872555)

For no known reason, both words mean the same thing. Judgment sounds like an Americanism though, as judgement is how it's spelled in countries that still speak English.

Re:Sorry for being picky, but... (5, Informative)

stuntpope (19736) | about 7 years ago | (#19872587)

Get thee to Wikipedia!

"The spelling judgment is found in the Authorized Version of the Bible. However, the spelling judgement (with e added) largely replaced judgment in the United Kingdom in a non-legal context, possibly because writing dg without a following e for the /d?/ was seen as an incorrect spelling. In the context of the law, however, judgment is preferred."

Re:Sorry for being picky, but... (3, Informative)

Atmchicago (555403) | about 7 years ago | (#19872789)

We should note that their are other situations where the "j" pronunciation with "dg" is found, such as the English town of Bridgnorth. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgnorth [wikipedia.org] ) So there are still places in England where "dg" is the correct spelling. This probably stems from earlier times when spelling in English was less consistent and not as standardized.

Re:Sorry for being picky, but... (3, Funny)

morari (1080535) | about 7 years ago | (#19872877)

...Because we all known that the Holy Bible is a great source of factual information!

Re:Sorry for being picky, but... (4, Interesting)

The One and Only (691315) | about 7 years ago | (#19873265)

Since most written languages in the Western world were standardized by their translation of the Bible, the Bible is a great source for this information.

Re:Sorry for being picky, but... (1)

Tom (822) | about 7 years ago | (#19873493)

As much as I consider the bible one of the very few, possibly only, book(s) that really ought to be banned or burned, it did set spelling standards in several countries due to the fact of being so widespread that whatever its spelling was, it was taken as consensus for a long time.

I used to think American spelling was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19873445)

...a corruption of the English version.

Then I learned better.

Most American spelling is, in fact, correct...
.
.
.
.
. ...for the seventeenth frikkin' century!

Get with the times, folks, you're sounding positively dated (especially when you throw in that whole Metric / Imperial units thing... ;-)

I was in a grocery store in Detroit back in 2000. The cashier assured me that we Aussies must have found the US confusing, as her uncle had assured her that Australia was 10 years behind Canada, and *everyone* knows that Canada is 10 years behind the US... This she tells us as she is standing in front of a small sign saying "We now accept electronic payment at the register". Hello? What? In 2000? Gosh, that's amazing. I mean, Australia has only had a nation-wide electronic payment system since 1984. And payment by check? Apart from the weird spelling, who uses personal cheques anymore? FYI, the only time I ever had a personal chequebook was to pay rent to a landlord who suggested we slip the cash under his door (yeah, right), and I've never paid *cash* for groceries in my life.

Re:I used to think American spelling was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19874331)

Obviously you're a troll, but I'll bite anyway. You've just generalized the whole US based on a visit to one store in one city. I live near Detroit. I can tell you that Michigan is behind both the east and west coast. You also did not define what part of detroit you were in. In some areas, let's just say the customers might not be into "high tech" payment systems. Electronic or check payment is not very common among the poor or people with bad credit. There is a trend to use debit cards or pay cash here. Credit cards have 20-30% interest for many people and we don't use wire transfer very often. Different parts of the world prefer different payment methods. Accept this.

There is nothing weird about our spelling, it is just different from yours. Many parts of the world were influenced by various cultures and have adopted unique language adjustments. Compare Quebec to France. It is night and day. A French person typically hates Quebec and vise versa.

If I were to generalize about your culture, I might think you all drink Fosters and only lesbians drive cars (subaru) there.

Re:Sorry for being picky, but... (1)

PMBjornerud (947233) | about 7 years ago | (#19872751)

Speaking english is fine, but written "English" seems to be a competition in inserting irellevant letters into words.

Not to mention that every combination of vowels seem to have different pronunciations for every single word, except the different ones except when you pronuncs different ones identically. ("see", "sea", "me", "ski")

Be grateful for anyone trying to clean up that mess of a writing system you call "English" anyway. Some words are so written so different from their pronunciation that it's easier to memorize Chinese. And "Color" is awesome, by the way, and if you don't like it, go back to spelling it "couleur" the way the original french do.

End rant. This is a pet peeve of mine.

(But big thanks for going easy on Grammatical Gender and Cases, there are harder languages out there.)

Re:Sorry for being picky, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19872769)

Not to mention that every combination of vowels seem to have different pronunciations for every single word, except the different ones except when you pronuncs different ones identically. ("see", "sea", "me", "ski")
Ever tried learning modern greek? Same goes. Multiple combinations of vowels have the same sound.

THE RIAA JEWS ARE LOSING BATTLE (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19872513)

We are winning the war against zionism! HEIL HITLER!

Re:THE RIAA JEWS ARE LOSING BATTLE (1)

soccer_Dude88888 (1043938) | about 7 years ago | (#19872585)

People like these are far more dangerous then the RIAA.

Re:THE RIAA JEWS ARE LOSING BATTLE (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19873197)

Agreed. We should hate the jews, not just the riaa.

Re:THE RIAA JEWS ARE LOSING BATTLE (-1, Troll)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 7 years ago | (#19873813)

I disagree.

If someone like this shows up on your doorstep, you can shoot him in the face and there'll be parades in your honor. If the RIAA shows up on your doorstep, they'll most likely have cops with them.

LK

thanks for the summary! (4, Funny)

Karma Sucks (127136) | about 7 years ago | (#19872543)

I'll be sure to ask my lawyer to translate it for me.

Re:thanks for the summary! (5, Informative)

hxnwix (652290) | about 7 years ago | (#19872647)

Someone's getting sued by the RIAA. He said to the RIAA, "look, buddy, I'll give you $300 to go away, and if you wont take it and you can take me to court instead. However, bear in mind that there are two ways things could go from there: the court could say I owe you more than $300, or they could say I don't. If for any reason they say I don't, you have to pay for my lawyer."

The RIAA crunched the numbers and decided to take the $300.

Re:thanks for the summary! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19873189)

The RIAA shit its pants and decided to take the $300.

Fixed that for ya.

Re:thanks for the summary! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19872729)

Let's say Joe sues you for $10,000 for your kids trampling his rose bush.

You think Joe is full of shit, that his mangy rose bush is only worth $100. So you offer to pay him $100 to end the lawsuit.

If Joe accepts, that is the end of it.

If Joe turns you down, then he will have to pay all of your costs (and is some states, attorney fees) from that moment on if when the case goes to trial, he does not win MORE than the $100 you offered.

The basic reasoning is that if someone who injured you offers to pay you what your claim is worth, you should take it. If you don't accept the offer, you should have to pay him for the trouble you cause to HIM by not taking his reasonable offer.

If Joe wins MORE than the $100 you offered, he is in the clear.

It makes people examine exactly what the claim is worth, and gives both sides incentive to offer (and accept) a reasonable offer.

Summarize this summary (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | about 7 years ago | (#19873333)

> The basic reasoning is that if someone who injured you offers to pay you what your claim is worth, you should take it. If you don't accept the offer, you should have to pay him for the trouble you cause to HIM by not taking his reasonable offer.

I am intrigued by this posters ideas, and would like to subscribe to their newsletter, but being an anonymous coward I have no forwarding address.

Question: Is this a real principle of the they are quoting? (or something they made up?)

Re:Summarize this summary (1)

flink (18449) | about 7 years ago | (#19873439)

I don't buy it. If it doesn't have a fancy-sounding Latin name, it can't be legal (regus somethingsomething QED)

It's called Habeas Lucrus :-) [EOM] (2, Funny)

Pogue Mahone (265053) | about 7 years ago | (#19873671)

The joke is in the Subject. Nothing more to see. Move along, folks.

ha (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 7 years ago | (#19872799)

The really funny thing is it cost them $350 to actually file the lawsuit...

Re:ha (5, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#19872839)

The really funny thing is it cost them $350 to actually file the lawsuit...
They lost many thousands of dollars on this case.

Re:ha (1)

ari_j (90255) | about 7 years ago | (#19873161)

You would know better than anyone on Slashdot: How many lawyers does the RIAA sic on people in cases like this? Is $500/hr/atty a reasonable estimate of what they're being billed? Running some reasonable-but-very-much-guessed numbers in my head gets me to a cost of around $3,000-4,000 to the RIAA to respond to the Rule 68 offer alone. Then again, they may be acting in a more streamlined fashion than any other corporation with a major litigation strategy, or even using in-house counsel for these suits, for all I know.

Re:ha (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#19873227)

You would know better than anyone on Slashdot: How many lawyers does the RIAA sic on people in cases like this? Is $500/hr/atty a reasonable estimate of what they're being billed? Running some reasonable-but-very-much-guessed numbers in my head gets me to a cost of around $3,000-4,000 to the RIAA to respond to the Rule 68 offer alone. Then again, they may be acting in a more streamlined fashion than any other corporation with a major litigation strategy, or even using in-house counsel for these suits, for all I know.
I know that they're spending a fortune, and I know that they're using law firms all across the country. In most cases they're using two law firms. They're also using in house counsel to direct the law firms. I don't know the hourly rates. I'll probably have a better idea after the Court issues its attorneys fees decision in Capitol v. Foster [blogspot.com] .

Re:ha (1)

ari_j (90255) | about 7 years ago | (#19873257)

I'll watch for your comments, stories, and blog posts on the matter. I'm sure most of Slashdot is at least passingly curious about how much the RIAA is spending to harass their grandmothers.

Isn't the minimum judgment $750? (1)

slashqwerty (1099091) | about 7 years ago | (#19872837)

I thought civil copyright infringement carried a range of statutory damages from $750 to $150,000 per work infringed. Why not offer a judgment of $1 and no injunction? The offer clearly says she thinks she will win at trial but she doesn't want to go through the expense.

And clearly the RIAA accepted only because they thought her legal fees would be outrageously high. No doubt they would be.

Re:Isn't the minimum judgment $750? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#19873209)

The offer clearly says she thinks she will win at trial but she doesn't want to go through the expense.
And if a pit bull's looking like it's going to attack me, I'm going to take a threatening stance whether I'm urinating myself or not. It's just posturing.

Re:Isn't the minimum judgment $750? (2, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | about 7 years ago | (#19873511)

Why not offer a judgment of $1 and no injunction?
Because the RIAA, much like a 3rd world strongman dictator, is trying to save face. The defendant probably told her attorney "make this go away" and $1 wasn't going to accomplish that. A $1 judgment would raise more eyebrows and get more publicity than a $300 one. Anyone can tell that a $1 win for the RIAA is really a loss, but $300 will make a notable percentage of the public think the RIAA won. Thus, everyone involved on both sides knew $1 wasn't going to be accepted under any circumstances and would therefore have been a waste of time. It's all about appearances for the RIAA. Their whole campaign is to give the public the impression they are not only going after violators but are winning, and not just winning $1.

Re:Isn't the minimum judgment $750? (1)

LouisJBouchard (316266) | about 7 years ago | (#19874411)

Gosh, $300 does not look like a win to me.

In most places, that is similar to the cost of a average speeding ticket by the time court fees and the like are taken into account. That low of an amount certainly does not stop speeding.

Also, by the time you consider that the settlement offers are requesting thousands of dollars, one could simply ignore them, wait for the lawsuit, contact a lawyer to make the settlement offer, and be done with it for less money. Why would I answer a settlement letter after this (assuming I get one first considering the way things are going regarding ex parte subpoenas for the RIAA).

Offer of Judgement (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19872903)

I don't know about cash, but I'd be willing to offer to fill up a hard drive full of mp3s for them. That ought to be worth millions from their perspective!

They need to sue me (1)

steveaustin1971 (1094329) | about 7 years ago | (#19872949)

I hope I get letter from them, in my current state of health it will need to be this year, but it would give me the opportunity to shoot an RIAA lawyer in the face at close range. This is only one of the possible scenarios that would be more satisfactory to me than my current fate, anyone have any suggestions on how to go about being sued by the RIAA? I can't possibly download more movies, my harddrive is full!

Re:They need to sue me (1)

ari_j (90255) | about 7 years ago | (#19873103)

Why would you shoot the RIAA's lawyer? The chances are good that the lawyers actually working on this are junior partners in firms hired by the RIAA, with no RIAA people ever really talking to the lawyers who actually go to court for them. The RIAA talks to the "cosmic partner" (so called because nobody actually ever sees him, especially not doing any actual work), who then divvies the cases out to junior partners who work with associates to take them to court. The chances are slim that you'd be shooting anyone evil. It'd be like shooting a Microsoft internal IT guy because you don't like Vista.

Re:They need to sue me (1)

steveaustin1971 (1094329) | about 7 years ago | (#19873229)

yes, but it would get some pretty widespread media coverage wouldn't it...

Re:They need to sue me (1)

Oldav (533444) | about 7 years ago | (#19873363)

If its OK for your "Vice" President, Why Not? "Vice" president is so apt in this cans(-:

Re:They need to sue me (1)

ari_j (90255) | about 7 years ago | (#19873111)

Addendum: The RIAA will probably not sue you for downloading movies. While they could, because of the sound tracks, you have a better chance of being sued by the MPAA for movies and the RIAA for mp3s. Plus, you can fit more mp3s than movies on your hard drive.

Something Doesn't Compute (1)

lorcha (464930) | about 7 years ago | (#19873181)

Surely I must be missing something here. What is to stop every North Carolina civil defendant from offering a $1 judgment to the plaintiff? What does the defendant have to lose?

It would seem that the worst case for the defendant is that the plaintiff doesn't accept and then the defendant is no better of worse off than he was before. But for the plaintiff, the stakes are huge.

What did I miss, here?

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#19873199)

Surely I must be missing something here. What is to stop every North Carolina civil defendant from offering a $1 judgment to the plaintiff? What does the defendant have to lose? It would seem that the worst case for the defendant is that the plaintiff doesn't accept and then the defendant is no better of worse off than he was before. But for the plaintiff, the stakes are huge. What did I miss, here?
Actually, I would not be surprised to see a lot of defendants doing just that.

But there are consequences if the RIAA accepts the offer. There is a judgment against you, which shows up in a credit report, and in view of the judgment you can't claim to be the prevailing party and assert entitlement to attorneys fees.

But for many the Rule 68 offer of judgment will be a useful tool.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

freedom_india (780002) | about 7 years ago | (#19873763)

How does a civil judgement go into my Credit Report?
Does paying $300 by cash/bankers pay order make the judgement enter my credit report???
If that is the case then all the traffic fines for no-parking, etc., would be in my credit file that is now idling in my hands.
All i see in my credit file are my credit applications to www.apple.com and www.overstock.com and a overdue credit card which i can't seem to even remember i had (which is the prime reason i pulled it from Experian)

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19873931)

yeah, seems odd to me. but not surprising... I am an MPA, not a lawyer, and my experience is that the gov't is heavily tied into the credit industry and basically uses it as outsourced/privatized financial and security management for both business and hiring decisions.

As far as I can tell, you can be denied employment for a non-sensitive position that doesn't involve finance, regardless of a lack of an criminal history or civil rulings, based entirely on your credit report. I've had credit reports required for non-sensitive volunteer positions. The gov't supposedly has to tell you if you are rejected for employment or a promotion, but somehow I doubt that always happens--as there appears to be limited oversight. Amusingly though, I recall a university in NC having a position paper stating that credit based hiring may represent a system of discrimination against minorities that is illegal (this is highly likely, but a test case might be hard to find and argue). In addition, misuse of credit reports may not apply to federal or "security" evaluations--even irrelevant ones, because it's hard to show they are irrelevant. I have horrible credit, but that's due to my economic situation and the less-important nature of business contracts (they are always entered into with an amount of risk to be understood) and not reflective of my ethics or a predictor of my potential to be blackmailed. Regardless, I'm going back into the private sector, mainly due to incompetent personnel and hiring practices that make even the most respected government organizations, such as the GAO, seem unprofessional.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

Alterion (925335) | about 7 years ago | (#19874639)

True, but we would all acknowledge that a) copyright infrignment is wrong b) there is a significant (though in not way necessarily a majority) of people who are sued by the RiAA and know it. In these cases a reasonable judgement (say $300 which is roughly 20cd's worth which is likely to be similar to the amount d/l'ded for most non-musical types) seems a much more fair penalty. If the MAFIAA had proper evidence collected legally and went after people for $300 they would get a lot less complaints about it from me than when they go around with dubious evidence collected in a dubious way to claim thousands of dollars to ruin lives.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#19873233)

Because they're less likely to take it than an actual, reasonable offer, and if the judge sees you being a twit it'll factor into future decisions.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

lorcha (464930) | about 7 years ago | (#19873427)

You have missed the point completely.

Because they're less likely to take it than an actual, reasonable offer,
The defendant wins whether or not the plaintiff accepts the offer. If the plaintiff accepts, then the defendant gets off with a measly $1 judgment. If the plaintiff declines, then the defendant is guaranteed free legal counsel if he prevails, but suffers no penalty if he loses.

if the judge sees you being a twit it'll factor into future decisions.
I would be surprised to learn that a judge reacted in a hostile manner to any motion that could potentially settle the dispute.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#19873495)

I would be surprised to learn that a judge reacted in a hostile manner to any motion that could potentially settle the dispute.
I would too, but judges are typically intelligent enough to realize that a $1 offer, at less than 1% of what they could get for a win on a single song, isn't likely to settle the dispute.

If the plaintiff accepts, then the defendant gets off with a measly $1 judgment. If the plaintiff declines, then the defendant is guaranteed free legal counsel if he prevails, but suffers no penalty if he loses.
Two penalties if he loses: the judge regards him as a twit for offering a settlement that's ridiculously low compared to the amount that the RIAA could get for a single song, and the defendant has to pay his lawyers for the time spend writing and defending the motion.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

lorcha (464930) | about 7 years ago | (#19873513)

I would too, but judges are typically intelligent enough to realize that a $1 offer, at less than 1% of what they could get for a win on a single song,
$300 is also much less than the statutory damages for a single violation. Why is $300 more reasonable than $1, then?

Well... (1)

Xenographic (557057) | about 7 years ago | (#19873973)

Unless I'm missing something, you still have to pay your own lawyers, no? The settlement may not be that great, but I thought this thing only got you out of court costs and that you still had legal bills to foot.

But I may have misunderstood that, so if NYCL corrects me, listen to him.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

mithras invictus (1084169) | about 7 years ago | (#19873585)

Surely if people being twits could affect a judge's decision the RIAA would have been shut down years ago.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

Shihar (153932) | about 7 years ago | (#19873389)

First, I believe that the judge has to accept the deal. In other words, it needs to be a good faith attempt to offer reasonable compensation for the 'damage' that has been done.

Second, offering $1 is silly because the 'you pay for me' effect only kicks in if the finial judgment is that less then $1 of damage is done.

Think of it like this. The woman offers up that she did $300 worth of damage. The RIAA at this point can either go to trial or take the $300. If they go to trail and the judge rules that the damage done was less then $300, the RIAA has to pay for her legal defense (which will likely be a pile of money after it is all said and done). The idea is to force the person bringing the lawsuit to really examine how much damage has been done and accept a fair offer instead of wasting the courts time.

The interesting piece to this is that this means that the RIAA might actually have been afraid that the 'damage' done by a little copyright infringement was less than $300. Well, either that or the RIAA just felt like they had made their point by stomping on some single working mom's head enough, and were ready to move on knowing that she had blown $300 + legal bills that she already can't pay for.

Crap like this makes me all warm and fuzzy feeling know that I have not bought music from an RIAA label in years.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

lorcha (464930) | about 7 years ago | (#19873485)

First, I believe that the judge has to accept the deal. In other words, it needs to be a good faith attempt to offer reasonable compensation for the 'damage' that has been done.
Why should a judge second-guess whether or not $1 is reasonable? The judge can't speak for the plaintiff.

In this case, $300 is almost certainly not reasonable compensation. Statutory damages for even 1 infringement are between $750 and $150,000. How could $300 be any more or less reasonable than $1 when the minimum judgment, assuming the defendant was guilty at all, would be $750?

Second, offering $1 is silly because the 'you pay for me' effect only kicks in if the finial judgment is that less then $1 of damage is done.
But what does the defendant have to lose by offering? Worst case scenario for the defendant is that plaintiff rejects the offer and is awarded more than $1 in damages. This is the same result as if the defendant had never made the offer to begin with. There appears to be no penalty for the defendant to make a stupid offer of $1.

Think of it like this. Defendant offers plaintiff a $1 judgment. The three possible outcomes for the defendant are:
  1. Plaintiff accepts. Defendant pays plaintiff $1 and everybody goes home.
  2. Plaintiff rejects and the case goes to trial. Plaintiff is awarded more than $1. This is the same outcome as if the judgment offer was never made at all.
  3. Plaintiff rejects and the case goes to trial. Plaintiff is not awarded any judgment. Plaintiff has to pay defendant's legal costs.
My point is, the defendant has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

hengist (71116) | about 7 years ago | (#19873659)

Statutory damages for even 1 infringement are between $750 and $150,000. How could $300 be any more or less reasonable than $1 when the minimum judgment, assuming the defendant was guilty at all, would be $750?

As I understand it, statutory damages are not equal to actual damages.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (1)

Time_Ngler (564671) | about 7 years ago | (#19873703)

Except that it's not the defendants choice as to what the plaintiff will choose. So:
  • If the plaintiff would go to court if the defendant offered $1, and would not if the defendant offered $300, and
  • the plaintiff won (with a judgment greater than $1), and
  • the total amount the defendant had to pay (judgment + legal fees) was greater than $300
then the defendant would lose.

You may think the difference between $1 and $300 is trivial to the RIAA, but since being awarded $1 may be perceived as losing the case by the general public, whereas being awarded $300 may not be, it might have had a bearing on whether the RIAA accepted the offer. The RIAA is concerned with their image after all. If they start losing a bunch of cases, more people would try to fight them, costing them more money in the end.

Re:Something Doesn't Compute (2, Interesting)

Shihar (153932) | about 7 years ago | (#19873785)

Think of it like this. Defendant offers plaintiff a $1 judgment. The three possible outcomes for the defendant are:

      1. Plaintiff accepts. Defendant pays plaintiff $1 and everybody goes home.
2. Plaintiff rejects and the case goes to trial. Plaintiff is awarded more than $1. This is the same outcome as if the judgment offer was never made at all. Filing pointless motions does two things. First, it pisses off the judge to have to wade through your bullshit. Pissing off the judge is never a good idea because they can and will make your life miserable. Second, it costs money to file anything. Even if the filing itself is free, it costs lawyer time... and by lawyer time costs money out of your pocket.

3. Plaintiff rejects and the case goes to trial. Plaintiff is not awarded any judgment. Plaintiff has to pay defendant's legal costs.
If no damages are awarded, then this rule does not apply. There is a separate mechanism for potentially recouping losses from a civil suit that fails. You can potentially recover lawyer costs (and potentially more in some cases) if someone files a civil suit and you successfully defend yourself, but this is not the mechanism that does it. This mechanism only kicks in if you are found to have committed damage and the amount of damage was less then what you offered.

The point of this mechanism is not punish someone for demanding more money than they are entitled to. The point of this mechanism is to prevent needless litigation. Imagine if your neighbor threw a baseball through your window because he was sick of hearing loud music coming from your house. You take him to court and claim $10,000 worth of damage. Normally, you could be a dick and just carry on suing him because you want to make him pay his legal expenses as extra punishment and see how large of a settlement you can score. You know you are asking for a bullshit amount of money, but lets pretend your a rich jerk and just want to make your neighbor suffer. Your neighbor knows he is going to lose because he did indeed break your window and you can prove that it did damage to you. What he can do is offer to pay up $200 in damages via this mechanism. You can still bring it to court if you want, but if the judge decides that you only did $150 in damages, your neighbor just pays that $150 and then drops a few thousand dollars worth of legal expenses with your lap. So, being wise you grumble and accept the deal because it is a fair amount. By accepting the deal you don't waste the court's time and do your small part to help keep state legal costs down.

The point is just to force people to accept fair settlements before it ends up costing a judge time and the state money to sort out the mess.

so (1)

ScottyMcScott (1003155) | about 7 years ago | (#19873393)

um how many songs did she pay for $300?

I really don't follow this?? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19873783)

As far as I can tell, America is a lawless country where the constitution lets persons kill anyone they don't like. That's what Americans tell me on blogs when I ask them about Iraq.

So why don't you just kill the lawyers? Problem solved!

Re:I really don't follow this?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19873795)

Yup, sounds fair to me. America is a broken society, and killing themselves is a good way to solve this. Just so long as they stop exporting violence. They have never done anything else for the world except line their own pockets!
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