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RIAA Directed To Pay $68K In Attorneys Fees

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-with-impunity dept.

The Courts 192

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Capitol v. Foster, in Oklahoma, the RIAA has been directed to pay the defendant $68,685.23 in attorneys fees. This is the first instance of which I am aware of the RIAA being ordered to pay the defendant attorneys fees. The judge in this case has criticized the RIAA's lawyers' motives as 'questionable,' and their legal theories as 'marginal' (PDF). Although the judge had previously ordered the RIAA to turn over its own attorneys billing records, today's decision (PDF) made no mention of the amount that the RIAA had spent on its own lawyers."

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And the winner in all of this is . . . (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884119)

the lawyers, of course.

Re:And the winner in all of this is . . . (5, Insightful)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884257)

Yes, but at least that is motivation for lawyers to take on more cases like this. Hopefully this will benefit people who could not afford a decent lawyer normally.

Re:And the winner in all of this is . . . (5, Funny)

Barny (103770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885039)

Hopefully this will benefit people who could not afford a decent lawyer normally.


Or original cds... aparently :P

Re:And the winner in all of this is . . . (0, Troll)

drozofil (1112491) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885639)

Sounds like the law is ruled by offer and demand ... Although I should have expected this from the United States of America*, I'm really surprised of the contradiction between the way you** handle the law on one side and the way you** (are supposed to) write them on the other side. I think that when laws are written, it's in order to achieve something specific either by coercion or by attraction***. The market seems the allow the richest to bend the rules, even if they end up to be in contradiction with what the law was attempting to do in the first place. Instead of judging, it just sounds like bargaining. This is just revolting (for me). Though I don't have any idea of how you could extract the business from the court ... Perhaps this is what some people call "moral corruption", although I've never been able to put a good definition on that expression.

*: ok that sounds length. how should I spell "U.S." in order that it sounds like "T.H.E.M." ?
**: well, it's not personal, it's more about the about the "American way of handling the law"
***: as one might figure out, this is YAUT****
****: Yet Another Unproven Theory

PS: I do like the stars. -*- outline-mode -*-

And the winner in all of this is . . . ME (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884457)

Now I feel that the effort I made to do technical analysis of the RIAA's evidence and post it here and on another forum was worth it. Even if my particular work didn't help directly. I don't think the lawyers are winning nearly as much as they could be if they had to do all the technical analysis through leagal companies. Also, this kind of situation shows up the RIAA and is likely to slow down their similar actions in future.

Re:And the winner in all of this is . . . (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19885859)

There's one even bigger winner: government. Obviously, the business of government today is orders of magnitude more lucrative than, say, 100 years ago when total revenue (and power) was a fraction of what it is today.

Lawyers are mere pawns compared to the power elite who actually run the business of government.

So (5, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884121)

Do they have to pay this in cash, or can they give the defendant part of a CD? After all, each song is worth $150,000 or so...

Re:So (4, Funny)

kypper (446750) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884153)

Nah, they'd probably just screw the defendant by giving a Britney Spears track.

Re:So (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884851)

Nah, they'd probably just screw the defendant by giving a Britney Spears track.
Sadly that's worth much more than real music

Re:So (1)

beckerist (985855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885947)

...by ripping off her forearm?

Re:So (1, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884155)

They should have to buy $68K worth of CDs, then give the defendant $150,000 for each song on each individual CD.

Re:So (1)

slugstone (307678) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885165)

They should have to buy $68K worth of CDs, then give the defendant $150,000 for each song on each individual CD.
Then the RIAA would be a pirate too, just like the rest of us, buying CD's. Wait when was the last time I bought a CD?

$68K should be enough for anyone! (5, Funny)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884133)

I'm really sorry.

Re:$68K should be enough for anyone! (5, Funny)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884229)

Please hand in your password and UID to security as you exit the site.

Re:$68K should be enough for anyone! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884531)

54095
Iwannahavetux'schildren

Noticed (5, Interesting)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884135)

I suspected this will noticed by lawyers as much as by anyone threatened. I imagine that cases will be taken on contingency that wouldn't be touched before. Not that I can blame a lawyer. Working for months at the risk of not being paid wouldn't be attractive to anyone. That risk is now much less if your lawyer believes in you.

I do wonder if this really does cover costs though. I couldn't read the link the article posted too - busy - but I did read the New York City lawyer reply indicating he feels the dollar amount isn't enough. I am sure he has a better idea of costs then I do.

Re:Noticed (4, Insightful)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884375)

The court order referred to in the article states that "reasonable attorney's fees" should be set at somewhere between $175 and $225 per hour. That seems a bit low by comparison with what senior attorneys make around here. (Here being the East Coast.) If you think about it, even a higher hourly rate for a lawyer would be fairly well in line with what's commanded by other skilled and/or professional individuals--including computer consultants. It's interesting to stop and think what the doctor who takes out your appendix earns in an hour. The woman's actual bills as submitted summed up to a little over $114,000. That included a lot of other expenses besides attorney fees, including fees paid to expert witnesses. The RIAA seems to have put up quite a fight of their own, and they've succeeded in whittling down the sum to be awarded to the plaintiff.

The problem is that not everybody has $68,000 or $114,000 or even a few thousand dollars to put up that kind of fight. If it's beneficial to continue to carry the fight back to the RIAA in this manner, it's going to take a combination of well-heeled individuals and civic-minded lawyers.

After I read the article and the document, a chilling thought occurred: If the RIAA knows that certain people have the means to turn and fight, will they then concentrate their efforts on those people without the means? That would be students, children, the elderly, people just starting their careers, people working at lower-paying jobs.

Re:Noticed (3, Interesting)

Reverberant (303566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884435)

That seems a bit low by comparison with what senior attorneys make around here. (Here being the East Coast.) If you think about it, even a higher hourly rate for a lawyer would be fairly well in line with what's commanded by other skilled and/or professional individuals--including computer consultants.

In my experience (working with lawyers on public and high-profile corporate projects across the U.S.), even mid-level lawyers tend to make more than senior level architects and engineering consultants. For example, (again, IME) an expert engineering consultant (where by expert I mean someone who has 30+ years experience, P.E. registration, advanced degrees, and engineering methods named after them) would bill on the order of $300 per hour. I've seen entry level lawyers bill jobs at $225 per hour.

I would suspect that a typical lawyer would make far above what computer consultans make unless the consultant has a name like "Woz", "Tog", "Spolsky" or "Berners-Lee."

Re:Noticed (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19885551)

FWIW, what entry-level lawyers bill and what entry-level lawyers make are two very different numbers.

Similarly, it isn't too uncommon for big consulting houses and their competition at the big corps like IBM and HP to bill average-level engineers at $300/hr to the clients but pay them about a fifth of that as a regular salary. That's one reason this AC went independent, now I bill 10% less than IBM does but take home 90% of that (10% goes to expenses) instead of only 20% of $300.

Re:Noticed (1)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884453)

While this does seem a bit low for hourly rates, even in this area, why is it interesting to consider a surgeon's compensation? A surgeon typically has at least 6 more years of training than a lawyer. I wouldn't expect their salaries to be comparable, just as I wouldn't expect someone with an undergraduate degree to be making as much as a lawyer. On average, of course. There are always exceptions.

I would be inclined to argue that lawyers are overpaid, especially if you go by skilled or professional workers with equivalent amounts of schooling. At $200/hr, that's at least $400,000 a year... far more than you could make with most other degrees you put the same amount of work into. It's a lucrative career path, to be sure.

Re:Noticed (2, Interesting)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884541)

At $200/hr, that's at least $400,000 a year...

You're assuming they get to bill 40 hours per week, and have no costs. They have to spend some of their time on non-billable running-the-business work, possibly pay secretaries and legal researchers, rent, malpractise insurance, attending conferences...

IANAL, so I don't know what the overheads are like, but they'll be a non-negligable fraction of that $400,000.

Re:Noticed (1)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884603)

Sure, but doctors have almost all of those exact same costs, except for maybe the secretaries. And the paralegal research stuff is all billed separately.

Certainly all of that is not take-home cash. I agree with your point, but they probably take home around 25%-50% of that, which is still well above occupations with similar amounts of schooling. Especially if they get away with double billing for the same work like the guys in this case tried to do.

Re:Noticed (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884893)

they will likely have a recpetionist to pay, a couple of paralegals... not the mention the cost of renting an office and insurance. all that quickly eats $400,000 away.

Re:Noticed (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884635)

R'ing TFA, it seems to me like they manage to bill for much of that "non-billable" work too, including (but not limited to) secretaries and legal researchers...

Re:Noticed (4, Interesting)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884865)

My wife just came out of a court battle against her ex for support. While this was done in a Canadian family court and not an American civil court, I think a few excerpts from our legal bill would be enlightening...
10 hours @ 200$/hr = 2000$
6 faxes @ 4 each = 24$
long distance 80m@.90/m = 72$
court filing fees = 135$ (3x45$)
mediation fees = 980$
GST = 336$
(the GST is the federal level tax at 7%, no the math does not work out, amount listed is for GST on total bill (4800$) while I am only providing selected excerpts to illustrate my point.)

    My wife has an excellent lawyer, the antithesis of all those lawyer jokes you've heard. However, note that while he makes 200/hr, this is only when he is in court for us. (Each appearance seems to be rounded to the nearest half hour in the detailed bill.) On the other hand, he "nickel and dimes" us for absolutely everything done on our behalf. I am quite sure that he charges 4$ per fax because that is the pro-rated amount it costs him to have an employee handle those. Similarly, while he charges more than the prime rate for long distance, I suspect that this rate also includes the basic overhead of having the multi-line phone set up in the first place. He charges a much lower rate when simply meeting us and the ex in a conference room in his own offices, a fee which probably not only covers his time, but the space as well.
  Finally, GST applies to everything except the court filings themselves. My wife was charged almost 5 grand for a comparatively simple case being handled by a small town lawyer. Based on her experiences, I can easily see a battle against a RIAA suit going into the six figures. Where many people go wrong when figuring legal costs is to assume that the entire sum is based purely on "billable hours". Quite often that final sum will include a LOT of little things like faxes or phone calls. While not as large a percentage of the total as the main billable hours, it's not negligible either.

Re:Noticed (2, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885785)

You wanna talk pay? My PhD took me 5 years. Then, I had to work another 8 as a "lecturer", making about 12 bucks an hour and no benefits (this is at a "Midwest Ivy" institution). OK, now I've realized I'm not getting a tenure track position at this joint, so I go to a Cow College where I'm a "senior lecturer" where I'm up to about 15 bucks an hour, but still no bennies. 3 years and I get offered a tenure track gig at Corn U. What am I up to, about 20 years since getting my bachelors (hey, the PhD was NOT in math). Now, I'm tenure track, making 32k WITH benefits and even a TIAA-CREF account. Finally, I get to be an associate prof back at Midwest Ivy and I'm making 48k plus benefits (and the golden ring, tenure). The dude on the back of the garbage truck is making 56k, but I get to bang coeds, so that's a wash.

Forget doctors and lawyers. You want to hear the story of low pay per unit of schooling, become an academic. It's much better now that I'm a full prof, but I'm married so I don't get to bang coeds any more. I need to take a closer look at that contract...

Re:Noticed (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884517)

beadfulthings (975812) wrote:

The court order referred to in the article states that "reasonable attorney's fees" should be set at somewhere between $175 and $225 per hour. That seems a bit low by comparison with what senior attorneys make around here. (Here being the East Coast.) If you think about it, even a higher hourly rate for a lawyer would be fairly well in line with what's commanded by other skilled and/or professional individuals--including computer consultants.

Very few computer consultants make more than $225/hr.
Unbrokered computer consultants average from $50-$150 per hour, depending on skill.
So yes, I agree that an adjustment for lawyers to the rate of other professionals would be in order, with only the top percentile being paid top rates.

Regards,
--
*Art

Re:Noticed (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885525)

Uhm, when you guys talk about computer consultants do you mean what the guy gets paid or what the company charges? Back when I was a slave coder I made around $50, but the company charged around $200 per hour of work I did.

Re:Noticed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19885545)

Note the words "make" and "unbrokered". Does that answer your question?

Re:Noticed (2, Insightful)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884835)

I'm personally waiting for TV commercials saying, "Have you been threatened by a record company accusing you of copyright infringement? Get the justice you deserve!!"

Once these commercials are plastered all over Judge Judy's commercial breaks, I bet the record companies will stop their foolishness.

Re:Noticed (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885335)

I imagine that cases will be taken on contingency that wouldn't be touched before.

This is just costs. No damages. I can't see any lawyer being prepared to take a case on contingency if the expected outcomes are either winning and being paid what they should be due, or losing and being paid nothing. They are only going to take cases on contingency where there is a chance of making much more than their costs.

Sad (4, Insightful)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884145)

It's sad when it costs you $70,000 to defend yourself against an RIAA suit. At least in this case the RIAA had to pay for the defense's lawyers, but there have been plenty of others were the defendants were on their own when all was said and done. On top of that, the RIAA is well aware of the costs of defending against their lawsuit and uses this cost to force people into settlements.

The whole situation makes me sick.

Re:Sad (3, Insightful)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884313)

I agree, it is sick. I can only hope that this becomes a trend for companies trying to sue their way into a profit margin through fear. It's ugly and despicable that it has even gone this far before someone was awarded their lawyer fees.

Obligatory Simpsons Quote (-1, Redundant)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884195)

"In Capitol v. Foster, in Oklahoma, the RIAA has been directed to pay the defendant $68,685.23 in attorneys fees."

<NelsonMuntz>"HA-ha! You got pwn3d!"</NelsonMuntz>

Re:Obligatory Simpsons Quote (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884377)

I just looked at your website and it confirmed my suspicion: you're an idiot. Here's your obligatory "shut the fuck up".

What are you, 14? Or were you 14 when you wrote the incoherent rants on your website? I get better writing from my 10th grade English class. You have no business being online - go back to school until you can speak like an adult.

Objection: misleading the jury (5, Informative)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884219)

The summary is mis-leading the reader as it makes it seem like all fees are paid for by the RIAA and the defendant got off untouched. Depending on how solid her fees were, it could still end very badly for the defendant. If her stated fees are actually due, this judgement will still cost her about $46k which doesn't sound like much of a victory to me.

Re:Objection: misleading the jury (1)

shawn443 (882648) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884311)

Still a victory my lass. Arrgh. And a fine one at that.

Re:Objection: misleading the jury (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884317)

The summary is mis-leading the reader as it makes it seem like all fees are paid for by the RIAA and the defendant got off untouched. Depending on how solid her fees were, it could still end very badly for the defendant. If her stated fees are actually due, this judgement will still cost her about $46k which doesn't sound like much of a victory to me.

You need to see past the particular case and seek long-term effects from such developments. It's unfair to the defendant, but who said the legal system is fair. Well.. someone did, but he was just kidding, the joker.

I doubt RIAA would have internal approval of their actions if they start consistently paying the defendant's expenses at the end.

Re:Objection: misleading the jury (2, Interesting)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884557)

I doubt RIAA would have internal approval of their actions if they start consistently paying the defendant's expenses at the end.

I disagree.

Let's assume legal fees are 100k for both sides. If RIAA have to pay 60k extra for every tenth or so trial the average cost is increasing less than 10% - a marginal change.

On the other hand fear factor is not going down, the defendant still lost 40k, at least few years worth of income (after rent, etc.).

Now think about how much the losers have to pay RIAA, and how much money they get in out-of-court settlements. So even if RIAA loses two thirds of the cases (and have to pay) I think they still would be winning (monetary wise). Not as much as previously, but enough not to stop their racketeering activities.

Re:Objection: misleading the jury (1)

Perseid (660451) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885351)

No, this campaign is already an expense for the RIAA. They never intend to actually make money from the lawsuits - it's a PR stunt. Download Madonna and get sued, that sort of crap. So this just makes their campaign slightly more expensive.

Exactly (4, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884367)

Even if they did end up paying all her legal fees, plus interest, plus lost wages, the MAFIAA would still be ahead.

The point of these lawsuits isn't to recover "damages". It's to frighten the rest of the country into acting the way they want them to. If their skin were a little darker, it would be called "terrorism".

Re:Exactly (-1, Troll)

kad77 (805601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884499)

Are you a racist? Or is it you can't distinguish between 'slimy' legal tactics in a democracy, and brutal, bloody fascism (the current popular form being a perversion of a religion)?

Get a clue, some ritalin, something...

Re:Exactly (1)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884721)

It was a tongue-in-cheek comment pointing out that the tactics used resemble those of a "terrorist" organization. You should really take your own advice, and try not to get your panties in a bunch, especially when you misunderstand something so obvious.

Re:Exactly (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884579)

Hey! You were supposed [slashdot.org] to have handed in your password and UID and left the site. Now come quietly or we will bring out CowboyNeal.... [Sound of screaming and heels being dragged backwards on a concrete floor]

Re:Exactly (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884617)

"Even if they did end up paying all her legal fees, plus interest, plus lost wages, the MAFIAA would still be ahead."

Nah, I used to love music. It used to make me happy and make me think about wonderful things. It used to excite me and relax me, whichever I needed at the time of listening to it.

I bought about a half-dozen of CD's every month, of many different kinds of music. I lovest finding new music and listening to it.

Until this shit started. Almost every time I hear new music now, it makes me think of sleazy bastards in a courtroom, or lying producers with unfounded promises of wealth to naive beginning bandmembers. It now often just makes me angry.

Sometimes it doesn't, but that is very rare now: I have bought four CD's in the last four years.

Maybe someday, when the musicians, bands, and artist shed themselves from the bastards and sleazebags, when music re-discovers their soul, their power to inspire, maybe then I'll feel the 'vibe' too and spend my dollars on music.

Until that day comes, oh I still have some old music that I like, and I'm beginning to get used to hearing the sounds of nature, you know, that what you hear outside of the city when you turn off the music...

The 'Music Industry', that is sooooo 20st century...

Does that come with high-fructore corn syrup or aspartame? No thanks anyway.

Re:Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884827)

If their skin were a little darker, it would be called "terrorism".


Blow me.

Re:Exactly (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885437)

RIAA Income from lawsuit: $300
RIAA Expenses from fees: $67,000

The look on the dead Jack Valenti's face when he learns RIAA is spending 223 times its income from litigation: Priceless

Overzealous lawyers? (3, Informative)

achurch (201270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884615)

Judging from the decision, it looks like the defendant may have been overcharged by her lawyers, in the sense of being billed for more time than was reasonable. The judge makes several disparaging remarks about the defense lawyers block-billing time rather than keeping accurate records of exactly how much time was spent doing what, and about "almost frenetic" activity once they knew they would be recovering costs.

Re:Objection: misleading the jury (2, Insightful)

borizz (1023175) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885295)

That's just not how it should work. RIAA* sued, RIAA were wrong, RIAA pay. The woman did nothing wrong and thus should not have to pay for anything.

* Yes, I know it's not the RIAA that's doing the sueing...

This is why so many take the RIAA $3K settlement.. (4, Insightful)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884241)

This is exactly the reason why so many capitulate and take the RIAA $3000.00 settlement. maybe, just maybe people will begin fighting these RIAA thugs in suits because of this ruling.

Re:This is why so many take the RIAA $3K settlemen (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884449)

Eh, I dunno. It looks like the lady still has $46k in fees to pay. She just doesn't have to pay the lawyer.

A $3k settlement would suck, but I'd sigh, whip out the credit card, and resign myself to not buying any goodies for the next month until it's paid off. $46k would basically ruin my life for the next couple years. I completely understand why people settle.

Re:This is why so many take the RIAA $3K settlemen (1)

Photonic Shadow (1119225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885217)

Why would the lady have to pay $48k? The judgement stated that the rate that her legal counsel set for her via fee agreement was $175 per hour. I would suspect that the bill that her counsel initially submitted was purposely set high under the assumption that the court would not grant the initial fee request. Sort of an initial horse-trading position.

PS

Hah!!! (1)

spankey51 (804888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884259)

That'll teach those bastards a thing or two!!!

Not as much as she was asking for (0, Redundant)

PavementPizza (907876) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884267)

Per the Judge's opinion, she was apparently asking for about $114,000.

This is great stuff (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884283)

The first thing I wondered was, what on earth do the lawyers do that cost this much? First she requested $55,000 for lawyer fees, which the court gave her. The RIAA complained that it wasn't reasonable, and of course since her lawyer had to work extra to deal with that request, they raised the bill to $114K. This includes $225/hr for the lawyer, $100/hr for the paralegals, and 8 cents a page for copies. Apparently the court thought this was a bit high because they reduced it down to $68,685.23. Still, I'm sure it's quite a win for the lawyer.

--
Need to trade for a newer girlfriend? Now you can!! [usedgirlfriend.com]

Re:This is great stuff (2, Informative)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884309)

When attorneys realize that they're seeking costs, they tend to ask for billed hours that they normally would write off. The hours were actually expended, but usually are not billed to keep the client happy. If you have a shot at having your opponent foot the bill, you do not write those off. The court normally reduces them. Of course, it should go from $114K to $68K so I guess someone really padded the bill.

Re:This is great stuff (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884365)

The bill and the justification are available online:

The Bill [ilrweb.com]
The Justification [ilrweb.com]

Interesting reading.
--
Need to trade for a newer girlfriend? Now you can!! [usedgirlfriend.com]

Re:This is great stuff (4, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884393)

Now the decision and order has loaded, it seems that the defendant and her attorneys engaged in gamesmanship and got caught by the judge.

The defendant's attorneys charged for costs associated with answering e-mails, phone calls, and leaving voice mails. He also billed the same work twice by having two attorneys attend the same motion hearings. The Court got real pissy and took away some hours that it thought were due to the incompetence of the defendant's attorneys resulting in things having to be done twice.

Most tellingly, the Court was annoyed that half of the attorneys fees demanded were incurred after the defendant had been declared the victor and had already initially filed for attorneys fees. It seemed that the defendants/his attorneys belatedly realized that they were going to file for fees and had to rack up the hours. The Court found that there was an "increased, almost frenetic activity on the part of counsel for the defendant after it was determined that Defendant was the prevailing party" and was thereby eligible for attorneys fees.

And the defendant's attorney was trying to get away with $1.50 for each photocopied page. The Court granted them $.20. Kinko's charges $0.02.

So it sounds like I was right -- the defendant's attorney was running up the fee request by asking for things that no sane client would ever pay, and no sane attorney would ever ask from a real-life paying customer.

Re:This is great stuff (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884431)

While it's true there are some blatant attempts to rack up the bill here and the court adjusted for that, it's misinformed to believe that the court was "annoyed" by anything. It's all just part of the game. You push as far as you can to see what you can get--you'd be doing your clients a disservice by being conservative with the amount of the reward, especially against a party as pernicious as the RIAA. There's some vengeance there--you make them cough up every penny you can, because it's exactly what they'd do to you when the tables turned.

Moreover, answering emails, phone calls, and voicemail are all billable time. Every attorney charges for those costs. They also charge for long distance airtime. "Billing twice" for attendance is also potentially billable if the services of both attorneys are integral or appropriate for the proceedings. If you've got two people at a meeting from one department, both get paid for the time they spent there. Why should lawyers eat the cost of extra bodies? What you're saying holds true if and only if the presence of more than one attorney is superfluous. Also, given that courts themselves charge attorneys up to $1 per page for photocopying, the $1.50 assessment has to be put into perspective. Copying isn't free--even if you do use Kinko's, there are other expenses related to punching, binding, and preparing documents for filing. I also happen to know that Kinko's charges $.08 for self-serve copies, at least around here, and that's with the corporate discount. They also have a tiered pricing system, but that's beside the point.

The examples you chose are not all pushing the envelope. Most of them are sane, standard, and assessed charges, in point of fact.

Re:This is great stuff (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885279)

To be fair not every attorney does the whole "billable time" thing. I've hired an attorney, and while in the fine print, he could conceivably had charged me for phone calls and stuff, I hired him for the job. He gave me a figure, I met it, and things are going well. Not all attorneys bill time. Some do pricing by the job. It all depends on how deep you are in it. However, my troubles with the law fell into the category of standard operating procedure. I'm not alone in my law breaking, and they've pretty much got some of the common things figured out, and can give a flat fee. It is all a bunch of theater, formality, procedure and money paying in my case.

Re:This is great stuff (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884447)

Actually there was a huge amount of work which Ms. Foster's attorney had to do after the initial, February 6th, decision, due to innumerable motions and other dilatory tactics by the RIAA. Just look at some of the litigation documents (and this list was very selective) in my folder for Capitol v. Foster [blogspot.com] . I was really shocked by the Judge's knocking Ms. Barringer-Thomson's bill down so far; she did not deserve that. My best guess is that he was trying to protect the record against any kind of appeal from the RIAA.

Despite my disappointment at the amount awarded, an attorneys fee award against the RIAA for more than $68,000 is a very important precedent, one which
-is being taken very seriously by the RIAA, albeit with a slight sigh of relief, and
-is being noticed by lawyers and litigants across the country, as a sign of encouragement to stand and fight.

Re:This is great stuff (3, Informative)

PMBjornerud (947233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884501)

Just wondering,

If the defendant ended up with huge expenses even when winning, could this be used in some form of racketeering lawsuit against the RIAA?

As in "Give us $3000 or we'll sue. Then, even if you win it will cost you ten times more than that."

It's obvious that they're not suing people for money, but to create a public image of it being dangerous to cross them.

Re:This is great stuff (4, Informative)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884391)

Not really. That's a fairly modestly-priced lawyer. It's expensive to be in the legal profession--between malpractice insurance, bar membership, various subscriptions to legal services, and everything else, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year just to be an attorney. That doesn't even factor in the operating costs of the business (rent, utilities, supplies, voice/data services, etc.) which of course are themselves in the tens of thousands of dollars for just a small firm. I'm not saying that lawyers on the whole are struggling financially, but that $225 an hour is nowhere near raw profit. What it is is extremely high revenue.

If you took your company's (assume you work for a company that doesn't manufacture anything for the moment) annual revenue and divided it by the number of employees, it would work out to a staggering hourly rate. Obviously that doesn't all go into your pocket. Same with lawyers. The hourly rate (and the percentage cuts from awards) are a law firm's *sole* source of income. It's not directly comparable to the hourly rate you get paid at your job.

Further, what seems to be a good windfall more often than not ends up covering debt from a pro bono case somewhere else. Lawyers take on massive debts to argue cases with the hope that they'll get paid. It's hardly a guarantee. Chasing down clients for money they still owe is something every lawyer is familiar with. That's why big wins are celebrated--it's what creates the "rich lawyer." Most cases, including this one, are nothing spectacular, but they're enough to encourage lawyers to take the risk, now that this gate is open.

Re:This is great stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884445)

The first thing I wondered was, what on earth do the lawyers do that cost this much? [snip!]This includes $225/hr for the lawyer, $100/hr for the paralegals, and 8 cents a page for copies.

Not necessarily rooting for or against lawyers, but that doesn't seem like an overly expensive rate. I'm a private consultant, and I charge about that much. I'm not the cheapest around, but apparently some people believe I'm worth it, because I have work, and there certainly is competition around. Even then, I wouldn't exactly say I'm filthy rich. I'm financially well off, but I'm not exactly driving around a Ferrari Enzo. Those hourly costs most likely cover normal office fees (utilities, rent, what not) in addition to many many hours that AREN'T paid. Like those few days that there is no work, or a few days here in there that were spent doing research that no one paid for, etc.

Another thing that irks me though is this notion that somehow it's wrong to get rich for supplying services that the service receiver couldn't work out on their own. The attorney (might have, haven't read all the fine print in the article) got the defendant off the hook for some odd dollar figure. The original litigation may have been a whole pile of s*** to start out with, but it doesn't change the fact that the defendant was up s*** creek without a paddle, and needed some help. I've had to deal with attorneys in the past. Some of them were assholes, some of them were real great and worth every dollar. Same with just about any other profession really.

Now the question is, did the lawyer REALLY work that many hours? That's an entirely different issue. But even then... something about getting the RIAA to pay up for what may have been a loss due to some other pro bono case makes me smile.

Re:This is great stuff (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884585)

I wouldn't call the work pro bono if some other client (or their losing opponent) gets billed for it. Actually, I'd call that fraud. The idea of pro bono is that the lawyer doesn't charge, and definitely not by robbing Peter to pay Paul.
If it is common practice for lawyers to recuperate their losses for pro bono work by having others pay more than they should, I start to understand why lawyers are hated so much.

Re:This is great stuff (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884673)

Huh? If a lawyer takes on a case free of charge, the money to cover the costs pretty much by definition has to come from some other client or their losing opponent. Where else would it come from?

Pro Bono (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884747)

It should of course come from the lawyer, who does it at a personal loss. Much like when I set up computers and networking for non-profit charity, I don't charge anyone for those hours, but accept that I won't be paid for those hours, and thus make less. If I charged other clients more to cover getting paid for those hours too, I would be committing fraud.

Yaaaaaaaaaahhhhhooooo!!! (1)

JagsLive (1106379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884297)

Yay! guess music labels wud be better of if they just shut RIAA down. they'll save millions in attorny fees at the least & will earn people's respect in addition

peace!

Re:Yaaaaaaaaaahhhhhooooo!!! (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884327)

They wouldn't save millions in attorney fees at all, and certainly wouldn't earn respect. Then it'd become blindingly obvious to EVERYONE that the recording companies were responsible for the lawsuits all along.

So is it the RIAA or is it Capitol Records? (5, Interesting)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884299)

I think we should stop referring to the big, bad RIAA whenever possible. One of the reasons this organization exists is to funnel bad press away from specific companies (e.g. oh I dunno, Capitol) and toward an organization that doesn't really do anything on its own. Saying "the RIAA is suing somebody" doesn't really tell me anything.

If, instead, we referred to the actual company(-ies) involved, it would let people know who is really filing these lawsuits. I realize that it's mostly the Big Four who are doing this, but I feel that just slapping the RIAA label onto everything clouds the discussion.

Re:So is it the RIAA or is it Capitol Records? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884351)

What, and force people to edit their boilerplate responces each time this comes up?!

Re:So is it the RIAA or is it Capitol Records? (3, Funny)

supremebob (574732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884379)

Good point. Maybe kids will be less willing to buy less of those Maroon 5 or Rihanna CD's if they know that the profits were indirectly being used to sue their friends who got caught using Limewire.

Hearing less Maroon 5 or Rihanna would just be a bonus :)

Re:So is it the RIAA or is it Capitol Records? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884899)

Don't worry, you will just hear the same disks more. Less variation, but then that's what the RIAA and it's member are about anyway.

That's their point, and it's tricky. (4, Interesting)

PMBjornerud (947233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884535)

The great thing about RIAA suing people is that they're the ones doing the dirty work. But as in the MAFIAA, you can be sure that there is never any specific company that ordered each lawsuit. So how can you blame, say, Capitol?

Boycotting the big fours is a good start, but a good thing would be RIAA-tracking sites like http://www.riaaradar.com/ [riaaradar.com] or some other way people can know. It's very difficult, since idependent labels might have a joint venture with a small RIAA member, but it's probably possible to turn it into some kind of "rotten" percentage.

The problem is how to make it easy to use. A user-friendly, but probably infeasible solution would be if you just took a picture of the bar code of an album, then submitted that image to a search function that would immediately return all the dirt of any company involved in releasing said album.

Re:That's their point, and it's tricky. (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884719)

As long as the record companies support and fund RIAA, we can (and IMNSHO should) blame the record companies too. Much like you blame the guy who pays the hitman, and not just the hitman.

Much like Piano rolls were a dying business when radio and records took over some 80 years ago, records in their CD reincarnation is a dying medium now. And just like Aeolian blamed and sued others back then (like those who made a record out of a piano roll performance -- see the parallel?), the record companies refuse to accept reality and step back into a niche market now. However, the genie is out of the bottle, and no matter how many lawsuits RIAA fights for the record companies, or even win, they can't put it back in.

Re:That's their point, and it's tricky. (1)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884813)

Perhaps you should read the second word in the summary. It's not the article, it's not even the whole summary, just the second word:

"Capitol"

In all of these cases, specific record companies are the plantiffs. In this case, it's one company, in other cases, it's two record companies. It's only the press that reports it as actions of the RIAA, since all the legal filings specify the record companies claiming infringement.

Re:That's their point, and it's tricky. (1)

PMBjornerud (947233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885677)

Ooops, my mistake.

But that means it would be possible to dig up each and every case, pull out the names of the involved record companies and create the "racketeering index" web site somewhere. The one-stop place to see which company you're supposed to boycott until they stop suing people.

Bonus points for creating a banner/image that other pages can link, updated on a weekly basis. If there is enough people against the lawsuits that start linking such an index that identical banners with "Boycott Capitol Records, the #1 racketeer" appear on blogs and sites often enough, maybe someone would notice. Preferably Capitol Records.

This should definetely be turned it into a PR-game where the one with the most lawsuits loose.

a sad day (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19884315)

i hope all of you fucking theives goto jail. assholes.

Re:a sad day (2, Funny)

multisync (218450) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884425)

i hope all of you fucking theives goto jail. assholes.


Unfortunately, they've only been made to pay the defendant's legal fees so far. Maybe one day the **aa "theives" (sic) will get jail time as well.

Re:a sad day (2, Informative)

MLease (652529) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884481)

Sigh.... I know I'm feeding a troll, but I can't seem to help myself today. I haven't downloaded a single tune in my life (I'm 49). I like classical music for the most part, and have a decent CD collection of my favorites; I also like some contemporary music, and have a few CDs of that nature, as well. I just never really got into downloading tunes; I don't expect them to sound great on my computer, and I don't have any players or whatever.

However, I do think that the RIAA and the companies which comprise it are being vicious, vindictive and petty in their approach. I think they are going after people who can't afford to defend themselves and trying to bankrupt them, merely to scare others away from "piracy". They don't care whether their victims are actually guilty of any wrongdoing; they're counting on the fact that they can throw expensive lawyers and "expert" witnesses at them, and that the victims can't afford to fight, regardless of their actual liability in the matter.

I don't "steal" music, but I don't buy it anymore, either. I listen to what I already have, or I turn on the radio (I know, that does indirectly support them; but then, I can't remember ever buying anything as the result of a radio ad). I think the music industry as it exists now does not deserve the support of my dollars, and they're not going to get it.

-Mike

Re:a sad day (1)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884601)

You should consider buying from some of the non-evil distributors.

Look into

cdbaby [cdbaby.com]

magnatunes [magnatunes.com]

jamendo [jamendo.com]

I've found some great music from all of the above. I'm sure that there are others.

Re:a sad day (1)

chefren (17219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885223)

Buying a cd from cdbaby is worth it for the order confirmation email alone :)

Re:a sad day (3, Funny)

oztiks (921504) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884809)

i hope all of you fucking theives goto jail. assholes.

I didn't know Britney came on /.

They didn't expect the spanish inquisition! (1)

Tatisimo (1061320) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884373)

Looks like modern times have made the inquisition a fair system, and now the commoner can burn the inquisitor at the stake.

May I be the first to say.. (0, Redundant)

qualidafial (967876) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884437)

$68K ought to be enough for anybody.

Re:May I be the first to say.. (1)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884475)

Actually, you may not. Someone else [slashdot.org] already said it.

Re:May I be the first to say.. (1)

Noishe (829350) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884489)

No, you may not be the first to say. Go read the comment earlier in the thread that has +5 funny on it. It's good for a laugh.

Chutzpah (5, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884513)

From the filing:
[Plaintiffs] further argue that the defendant is not entitled to fees for work that could have been avoided had she assisted the plaintiffs or acceded to the settlement.

She can't charge for attorneys' fees because she decided not to settle? Does that imply that if she had settled, she would have gotten attorneys' fees? What planet are these people from?

Finally, [plaintiffs] contend the case was of too simple and mundane a nature to warrant a fee in excess of $100,000.

Yet they see nothing wrong with a fine of $100,000 per violation for copyright infringement.

How did the judge feel about this?

The plaintiffs argue that the defendant is not entitled to fees incurred after some point when she allegedly "could have avoided [fees] altogether but chose not to do so." Throughout the course of this litigation the plaintiffs have alleged that had the defendant appropriately assisted their copyright infringement investigation and litigation, she could have avoided being sued. The Court has rejected this argument on numerous occasions and declines to entertain it yet again. The defendant was entitled to litigate the claims the plaintiffs chose to bring against her and, as the prevailing party on those claims, she is entitled to recover the reasonable attorneys' fees she incurred in doing so.

Or, in layman's terms: Did your Mom drop you on your head when you were little?

This will just make them stronger... (2, Funny)

Pionus (1128701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884591)

$68K, that's chump change to them. I'm sure they waste 100 grand monthly to pay for Madonna's Kabbalah Water. The only positive side to this is that it shows that that there is some good left in our legal system and others will not be scared into not downloading music because the big RIAA will give them a maximum penalty of $250,000 and 5 years in prison. Still they will eventually win the battle, because they have the Benjamin and we don't.

Re:This will just make them stronger... (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884679)

Man, Pionus, how behind the times are you?

Madonna has owned her own label for years.

get with the times grandpa!

Re:This will just make them stronger... (1)

Pionus (1128701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884799)

Grandpa? Sorry friend but you are 4 years behind the times. According to Wikipedia Madonna left Maverick in 2004, Confessions on a Dance Floor didn't have the Maverick name. Anyway this is quite off topic.

Ouch for the defense lawyers (4, Informative)

deblau (68023) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884633)

You should know something before you go congratulating Debbie Foster's lawyers for a job well done. The opinion slams them pretty hard.

She asked for over $114,000 but the court only gave her about $68,000, because her lawyers charged too much. For example, the "docket in this case is replete with the defendant's supplemental and corrective filings designed to cure defects in motions and responses that should have been complete and correct when originally filed." (page 8). In other words, her lawyers screwed up, and had to fix their mistakes at her expense. Also, once they learned that she was the winner and their bills would be paid, they started "frenetic activity" which they billed her for. (page 9). Also, they nickel-and-dimed her to the tune of about $1,500 on things like copy and fax costs (they charged $1.50 per fax page, where the court found $0.20 to be "generous"). (page 13).

Ouch.

Re:Ouch for the defense lawyers (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884877)

In other words, her lawyers screwed up, and had to fix their mistakes at her expense. Also, once they learned that she was the winner and their bills would be paid, they started "frenetic activity" which they billed her for. (page 9). Also, they nickel-and-dimed her to the tune of about $1,500 on things like copy and fax costs (they charged $1.50 per fax page, where the court found $0.20 to be "generous"). (page 13).
Now time to sue the lawyer!

They didn't nickle and dime her (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885911)

They nickle and dimed the Capitol Records. Just because this is what they asked for in a ruling, doesn't mean that is what they were going to charge her. They might have even taken the case pro bono, and agreed to charge her nothing. Doesn't mean they can't still be awarded fees. Well when you are asking for an award from the court, you throw in everything you can think of. Reason is that you want to get as much form the other party as you can and the judge will rarely raise award you more than you ask for.

Protection (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884795)

I thought The Law was there to protect the people, but continuous harrasment of the people by organisations with $$$ is perfectly ok.
Stealing is not ok, but the penalties are way out of proportion and should be in line with the people you're punishing ("feel" the punichment equally (*1)) and not with what the corporations want.

In Sweden AFAIK there is a system with fines that relate to your income. This sounds more fair to me.

In Soviet Russia... (4, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19884855)

In Soviet Russia, YOU sue the RIAA.. er... in America, YOU the RIAA sues... nevermind.

Motorola (1)

Meneth (872868) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885191)

Someone had to say it [wikipedia.org] .

A great day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19885261)

For music thieves and their apologist mates here on slashdot.

And a considerably worse day (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19885575)

For Robber barons and their extorting lackeys at ShiTAA.

I've been thinking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19885725)

This is somewhat OT, but the "haha" tag should get a picture attributed to it; and I know just the one!

http://inverse.physics.berkeley.edu/archives/nelso n.gif [berkeley.edu] ...of course I assume it's copyrighted, which means we'll eventually see a Slashdot story entitled "Slashdot forced to pay damages to Matt Groening"... and it'll get the "haha" tag. Come on CmdrTaco, you know it's worth it.
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