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RIAA Complaint Dismissed as "Boilerplate"

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the boil-this dept.

The Courts 197

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The decision many lawyers had been expecting — that the RIAA's 'boilerplate' complaint fails to state a claim for relief under the Copyright Act — has indeed come down, but from an unlikely source. While the legal community has been looking towards a Manhattan case (Elektra v. Barker) for guidance, the decision instead came from Senior District Court Judge Rudi M. Brewster of the US District Court for the Southern District of California. The decision handed down denied a default judgment (i.e. the defendant had not even appeared in the action). Judge Brewster not only denied the default judgment motion but dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. Echoing the words of Judge Karas at the oral argument in Barker , Judge Brewster held (pdf) that 'Plaintiff here must present at least some facts to show the plausibility of their allegations of copyright infringement against the Defendant. However, other than the bare conclusory statement that on "information and belief" Defendant has downloaded, distributed and/or made available for distribution to the public copyrighted works, Plaintiffs have presented no facts that would indicate that this allegation is anything more than speculation.'"

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Idiot Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20596347)

Fuck the RIAA, niggers!

Boilerplate legal documents? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | about 7 years ago | (#20596355)

Shocking.

Re:Boilerplate legal documents? (2, Funny)

linuxguy1454 (856932) | about 7 years ago | (#20598019)

Not shocking. More like they're steamed by this ruling!

magine that riaa (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 7 years ago | (#20596395)

you can't change reality with a lawsuit

reality: your business model is history

think up a new business model, and stop trying to prop up the dead one with the court system

a new business model means less money? too bad. the golden age is over. fucking deal with it and stop sending your barking dogs to terrorize little people in your rage and frustration and denial

Re:magine that riaa (4, Insightful)

click2005 (921437) | about 7 years ago | (#20596477)

a new business model means less money? too bad. the golden age is over.

Quite a few studies have shown that new business models would earn them even more money. It seems more that they aren't content with a slice of pie, they want it all. The notion of IP (intellectual property) has given them the excuse to try to get everything they can, even when things such as fair use and respecting your customers get in the way.

Re:magine that riaa (-1, Troll)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about 7 years ago | (#20596961)

I notice that Microsoft behaviour is quite similar.

Re:magine that riaa (4, Informative)

adona1 (1078711) | about 7 years ago | (#20598417)

Indeed, they should listen to the Patrician [wikipedia.org] and realise that instead of fighting, they should accept a smaller slice but enlarge the pie. There would be lots of $$ to be made if they looked to the future rather than the past.

just keep it a little longer... (2, Insightful)

eknagy (1056622) | about 7 years ago | (#20596727)

By frightening people, they are successfully slowing down the business model change which is a consequence of the IT revolution (or Industrial Revolution III).

My guess is that they know it is dying - they just want a little bit more money before discarding the RIAA as "the evil force that forced us to force the old model - but we have a new one now, and we became good and nice).

Re:magine that riaa (3, Interesting)

Dynedain (141758) | about 7 years ago | (#20596881)

Bizarrely enough, your comment works equally well in the previous story regarding Verizon and the FCC radio spectrum auction [slashdot.org] .

Bizarre? No. Logical (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20597015)

It fits in many more cases. It fits in every case where some monopolist or a company that has some sort of a more or less monopoly position for some reason (because of patents or because there's only so many provider of a certain good or service) wants to continue milking his customers, knowing well that there are better and (for the customer) more favorable products available and most of the time even within his reach, but the outdated product or business model means more money for him.

And I think that was one of the longest and most incomprehensible sentences I ever wrote.

Re:magine that riaa (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | about 7 years ago | (#20597831)

you can't change reality with a lawsuit
Yes you can:

"Law is the ultimate science" -- Padishah Emperor Saddam Corrino IV

Are these people morons? (4, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | about 7 years ago | (#20596405)

What is the deal with this RIAA/MPAA situation? Are these organizations run by total morons? I'm not trolling, but it seems like they aren't putting one iota of serious effort into this. Are they so cynical, moneyed, and jaded, that they think nothing of suing mothers and teenagers apparently just for the hell of it? How can they do such a lousy effort this yet be one of the largest sectors of industry?

The longer I live, the more I am in a state of sheer awe that society doesn't come apart like Britney Spears fan on youtube.

Re:Are these people morons? (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 7 years ago | (#20596481)

How can they do such a lousy effort this yet be one of the largest sectors of industry?

Perhaps they're more accustomed to people just rolling over with a chilling effects letter. Plenty of hard work keeps things finely tuned, it's evident that there have been a lot of legal people collecting retainer fees who have spent very little time practicing. Seriously, this is pretty amaturish.

Re:Are these people morons? (4, Interesting)

Atario (673917) | about 7 years ago | (#20596543)

It's the same reason people continue to spam.

Even if it only works a vanishingly small percentage of the time, applying a tiny effort to loads of people still results in a net gain.

(Except, of course, when you factor in the damage to reputation, but that never stopped the unscrupulous before...)

Re:Are these people morons? (5, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | about 7 years ago | (#20596885)

Well that's their theory anyway. Whether it is borne out in practice remains to be seen. Clearly it works for SPAM, but these lawsuits clearly cost more to implement than the plaintiffs are receiving in awards. Their hope rests solely on recouping their costs through deterrence, although it's unclear that a decrease in piracy would equate to an increase in sales, so their reasoning may be somewhat flawed.

Re:Are these people morons? (0, Redundant)

StikyPad (445176) | about 7 years ago | (#20596907)

Clearly.

Re:Are these people morons? (2, Interesting)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | about 7 years ago | (#20598405)

It's not clear that it is unprofitable. There's only a few boilerplate letters per "lawsuit", and most are settled at $3000 or so. That's a heck of a lot of money for a mailing few letters.

Eivind.

Re:Are these people morons? (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#20598445)

It's not clear that it is unprofitable. There's only a few boilerplate letters per "lawsuit", and most are settled at $3000 or so. That's a heck of a lot of money for a mailing few letters.
Actually, Eivind,

-only about 20% of the cases result in settlements, and

the RIAA is losing millions of dollars on the litigations.

They make money on quick settlements; they lose money on default judgments; they lose a lot of money on cases that litigate for awhile and then settle; and they lose a fortune on cases where the defendant fights back.

Re:Are these people morons? (2, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 7 years ago | (#20596587)

Are these organizations run by total morons?
No, they are run by zealots with a particular belief system. Society doesn't come apart like a fan on youtube because such zealots and fans, while capable of inspiring "sheer awe" in their lunacy, don't actually represent the "reasonable persons", the silent majority who actually Do Something Useful.

Re:Are these people morons? (2, Insightful)

Sheetrock (152993) | about 7 years ago | (#20596677)

They're caught up with the idea that they can continue to play the game by the old rules. They still seem convinced that the Internet will possess and distribute content solely by the terms of copyright holders. Their efforts to deal with copyright violations are disproportionally stick to carrot, and any benefits technology brings to the table with regard to low-cost distribution and promotion are set aside in pursuit of abusing technology to restrict distribution and limit choice.

Irregardless of the ethics of the situation, the reality is that copyright holders are competing with those who appropriate their content and share/copy it for free. One can't beat them on cost, but there are other carrots that could be offered with legitimate purchases -- "live" Internet webcasts of concerts, real concert tickets, audience-prompted cast interview events, mail-in tickets for exclusive merchandise, etc. Such things may even build fan loyalty or otherwise work as positive public relations.

On the other hand, one could sue handfuls of people and hope that's enough to pursuade millions of downloaders to change their evil ways. It does have the benefit of feeling "right", even if it doesn't alter the calculus of the situation one shred.

Re:Are these people morons? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20597149)

You needn't even include a ticket for a concert. Add a lottery ticket for one to a concert of some "star" and you'll already see people buy. Hell, I wouldn't call it impossible that there are some who'd buy two or more just because they 'have' to win that ticket.

Re:Are these people morons? (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#20596949)

Uhhh, since when is music "one of the largest sectors of industry"?

Total music industry revenue is about $40 billion worldwide, and about $12 billion in the United States, per year.

The GDP of the United States is $13.13 trillion, per year.

Compare this to "self storage" companies which make about $22.6 billion, per year.

Companies that supply lock up garages for people who own too much crap make almost twice as much per year as the music industry.

re: music industry vs. self storage (3, Funny)

djdavetrouble (442175) | about 7 years ago | (#20597381)

damn them both, the profiteers! I spend thousands of dollars on vinyl records each year, and have been forced to house the better part of my collection (about 100 crates last time I moved them)
in a self storage unit (small manhattan apartment). I think they are actually in cahoots !!!!

Re: music industry vs. self storage (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20597439)

Jesus. Some NYC asshole bitching about the size of his Manhattan apartment. I'll bet you pay like 400$ rent control. Go snot another line.

Re:Are these people morons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20597637)

Exactly. The entertainment industry wields a vast amount of power considering how tiny they actually are. I've never quite understood it. Look at the size of the computer industry, or just the home electronics industry, both orders of magnitude larger, yet they allow themselves to be pushed around by the "content providers".

You exposed what is realing going on (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 7 years ago | (#20597743)

Pirates are using self storage to hide all of the millions of pirates CDs and DVDs that the Music and Movie industry have been claiming as losses, thus giving a huge boost to the self storage industry.

(but really, thank you for pointing out how small the music industry really is). I'd also like to mention that more new books are published each year than music CDs. There are around 3 million authors in the US alone. (sorry I don't have the data to back it up, I read it somewhere and couldn't find any info to prove/disprove it in 60 seconds of googling)

Re:Are these people morons? (5, Informative)

JoelKatz (46478) | about 7 years ago | (#20596983)

The suit to follow is Tanya Andersen's. She has initiated a class action suit on behalf of all innocent people who have been harassed and bullied by RIAA lawyers. In Andersen v. Atlantic, the RIAA will have to defend itself against charges of malicious prosecution, and her case looks like a winner.

Re:Are these people morons? (1)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | about 7 years ago | (#20597653)

Courts tend to frown on malicious prosecution, even if the elements are met. IANAL.

Re:Are these people morons? (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#20597021)

they think nothing of suing mothers and teenagers apparently just for the hell of it?

Some people are trying to justify their job. They're in major stress, and stupid. So they sue mothers and teenagers.

You know, it's the outcome of the system we exist in. Doesn't justify their nonsense, but I thought I'd put things in a little perspective for you.

The moment that worries me is that it took long, long time for the legal system to start (albeit slowly) reacting against those frivolous suits.

RIAA as a private organization can't be trusted to be just and reasonable in the pursuit of its goals. The legal system however was supposed to handle this properly.

Instead, money speaks, as always.

Re:Are these people morons? (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about 7 years ago | (#20597817)

Some people are trying to justify their job. They're in major stress, and stupid

I don't know about the stupid part, but the rest is spot on.

When rap and hip-hop caught on, some artists were actually anti-establishment enough to advocate stealing their CDs in their lyrics. Physical theft by shoplifing rose to five or six times what was usual for a CD release for some Rap CDs, and many retailers had to swiftly adopt bulky frames to surround the normal CD packaging. It was the same people who had to go before their boards of directors and explain the large spike in shoplifting losses and the resulting protests from angry retailers that started making a big fuss about downloading. That helped shift the blame for overall losses to something 'no one could have foreseen', a new technology, and once stockholders bought that excuse, they (mostly) didn't fire people who in many cases were certainly close to getting fired otherwise.
      Basically, what I've just related can all be gleaned from industry magazines, interviews with media talent scouts in sources such as Rolling Stone, and the like. The next part is a lot more speculative, because for anyone in the industry to admit to it would be absolute career suicide. It strikes me as at least fairly probable that some of these people informally claimed that targeting inner city youth was an attempt to reach audiences that weren't likely to have computers or fast Internet connections, and so they ran the risk of one kind of loss to try and avoid another and not because of stupidity. But, that's at least very easy to spin as "We targeted blacks because they are too poor and stupid to use this Internet file sharing stuff", and so no one is going to admit now that any such conversations ever happened.
      So, the industry decision makers were stupid about some other things, and maybe also suffered the general stupidity of racism, but the final stupidity was more that of various boards of directors and CEOs who bought the argument.
       

Re:Are these people morons? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20597061)

Morons? No. It's run by people whose primary concern is income/expense ratios, who are also used to "winning". Dangerous combination for your corporate ego (read: your expectations how things continue to run).

It's less expense to file a boilerplate suit than a "real" one. They are used to winning. Connect the dots.

Re:Are these people morons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20597423)

>I'm not trolling

No, the proper term is karma whoring.

Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (2, Interesting)

zymano (581466) | about 7 years ago | (#20596449)

The penalties are not fair and way excessive. The Mpaa has records of all P2p filesharing transactions throught 3rd parties who monitor. Penalties should be spread around to everyone and no a few. $10-20 fine would be good.

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

Many people object to the application of copyright to not for profit (or at a loss) distribution or redistribution of copyrighted works. When copyright was created, it was to prevent book publishers from taking an author's work, publishing it, and making profits from the sales of that work without giving a cent back to the author. However, when financial gain isn't involved, as in peer-to-peer file sharing, many feel that copyright is absurd, as no one is truly gaining from the distribution, because ideas, which copyright "protects", are naturally free, just as speech is naturally free--unless the creator of the ideas chooses to keep them secret and outside of public knowledge and distribution. In a similar vein, some argue that since sharing a copy of their data costs nothing, it would be unethical to not share when someone else asks for a copy.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | about 7 years ago | (#20596797)

Many people object ... some argue that

Sounds like - what do they call it a wikipedia - oh yes, weasel words.

Oh, I had to check. You copied that verbatim from your fountain of wisdom.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (1)

MollyB (162595) | about 7 years ago | (#20596817)

However, when financial gain isn't involved, as in peer-to-peer file sharing, [...]
Isn't that the crux of **AA's original objection to file sharing? That downloaders=freeloaders were cutting into their potential financial gain since "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free"? I think they'll twist/spin the copyright angle until judges slap them down over and over.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (4, Funny)

RockModeNick (617483) | about 7 years ago | (#20597327)

I've always found that argument silly, let me tell you, if a girl is a wonder in the sack, even if she's not particularly great looking and comes with baggage, she can sure lure me into a relationship by giving me some free milk.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | about 7 years ago | (#20596923)

The theory in passing the laws seemed to be that there was no way of actually catching a significant amount of copyright infringers and suing them, so the fines were really high to provide a huge disincentive to steal. In real life, it's getting to the point where the RIAA/MPAA is just suing everyone. The laws need an updating.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#20597131)

The penalties are not fair and way excessive. The Mpaa has records of all P2p filesharing transactions throught 3rd parties who monitor. Penalties should be spread around to everyone and no a few. $10-20 fine would be good.

You're making me laugh. The fines were originally created to penalize organized crime groups creating bootleg video/audio casettes bring them enormous profits from the copying of a single product.

Fining them $10-$20 for distributing 30 thousand copies of Die Hard 4 would be hysterical.

The law needs to be refined. Exempts must be made, the copyright offense should be considered in the context given.

But even in the case about some kido downloading illegal MP3, $10-$20 is a joke. This is not product cost he's paying, it's a penalty. If you don't buy a ticket when you drive the train, if you're caught they don't just charge you few dollars more than the ticket price. They penalize you for working around the system and not paying in the first place.

I would consider $200-$300 per copyrighted material to be closer to how I see it. And with a ceiling if the offense is subject to one of the exempts (so having too much content at once doesn't make you a slave to RIAA until you die).

Face it: downloading music/movies is in fact not moral or just. It's just a side effect of the industry being too stupid and slow to react to the Internet and adapt its business models to it.

Still, it's not moral or just. We just shouldn't let the industry sue people with loose evidence and enslave them for *maybe* copying some movies on their computers.

The evidence must be goddamn solid.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (1)

zymano (581466) | about 7 years ago | (#20597373)

No no. I didn't explain that part.

10 to 20 for individual downloaders. Not huge fines for a single uploader.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20597527)

Face it: downloading music/movies is in fact not moral or just. It's just a side effect of the industry being too stupid and slow to react to the Internet and adapt its business models to it.

I believe it is moral. It might not agree with your morals but it does with mine. I download a lot of media (mostly TV & anime) and I also buy a lot of DVDs. I refuse to pay the excessive costs that these companies try to charge. I just download until the price is more reasonable.

eg.. Full Metal Alchemist 51 episodes & a movie.. just over 18 hours of media for $419. I'll buy it when its $40.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#20597573)

I believe it is moral. It might not agree with your morals but it does with mine. I download a lot of media (mostly TV & anime) and I also buy a lot of DVDs. I refuse to pay the excessive costs that these companies try to charge. I just download until the price is more reasonable.

eg.. Full Metal Alchemist 51 episodes & a movie.. just over 18 hours of media for $419. I'll buy it when its $40.


You realize you could not buy if it's expensive, and not download at the same time? Or is music/movies like drugs to you.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20598273)

You realize you could not buy if it's expensive, and not download at the same time? Or is music/movies like drugs to you.

I do realise that, however my method has 2 advantages over yours. Firstly, I get the media when I want and they still get paid, but more importantly, the executives that set prices might realise the DVDs sell better at a more reasonable price.

I dont listen to music so I never download it.

Drugs? no, I just like viewing media in a method and time of my choosing.

I'm just sayin' (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20597755)

"downloading music/movies is in fact not moral or just. It's just a side effect of the industry being too stupid and slow to react to the Internet and adapt its business models to it."

Neither is the way the musician is screwed by record companies.

I'm not saying two wrongs make a right. But it's hard to appeal to people's morality when you have none yourself.

It's like Brittany Spears saying girls shouldn't screw around and have babies until they're adults. You would laugh. Kids would laugh. She would be right. But she has no moral standing to make the recommendation.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (2, Informative)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 7 years ago | (#20598529)

Many people disagree with your judgment on morality and justice. In fact we Canadians have made it perfectly legal to make private copies of music for personal use, no questions asked. Just borrow your friend's CD and rip it to your heart's content, my Sony PS3 even does it for me.

We also allow private copying *and* unmodified redistribution of anything broadcast over public airwaves.

Just because these companies have spent so much money convincing you what you're doing is wrong does not mean it is in fact wrong, just that you've drank the kool-aid.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20597175)

Isn't it ironic that the same organisations who should be kept from ripping off creators of art by copyright are now using the same laws to do just that? And rip off the customers as well, while they're at it.

I think this would be a very appropriate case of the old saying about lemons and lemonade.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | about 7 years ago | (#20598363)

"I think this would be a very appropriate case of the old saying about lemons and lemonade."

Yeah, "When life gives you lemons, find someone who has vodka and throw a party."...wait, that doesn't sound quite right...

I believe you're looking for sayings involving Pots, Kettles, and a the color #000000.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 years ago | (#20597475)

The penalties are not fair and way excessive. The Mpaa has records of all P2p filesharing transactions throught 3rd parties who monitor. Penalties should be spread around to everyone and no a few. $10-20 fine would be good.

No, the judge just said that they didn't. So you're probably talking about some sort of levy, or (as I'm guessing from the rest of your post) to talk yourself into a moral position where copyright can't be enforced. Well sorry, but it's crap. It's like saying to the officer "hey you only saw me speeding down this little piece of the road, the risk is what, five bucks? here you go" or "ah well, yse I was trying to shoplift that iPhone... here's $500 and I'll keep the iPhone". If you want to talk morally right, at least come with a better argument that that it's okay because stuff is so cheap, you shouldn't be punished for taking it. At $10-20 it wouldn't matter if you got caught because it'd be a lot cheaper than buying it unless you were caught every fucking time, and it wouldn't cover the cost of tracking or sending out fines, far less dealing with anyone objecting.

As for the rest, you clearly happen to ignore that ideas must be created - I don't mean putting peanut butter, egg and salami on your toast but I mean the whole process from JRR Tolkien thought "hmm... maybe I'll make a story about a Ring" until Peter Jackson said "ok that's a wrap, good work people" and all the hundreds if not thousands of people that brought it to the movie screen. And they can't exactly do live concerts and go on tour either. Maybe you don't give a shit about any of that, and we'd still have some poets and singers and guitar players. But to pretend that a large part of current media wouldn't collapse and society would lose a lot (though we might gain a lot too) is simply delusional.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about 7 years ago | (#20598003)

The MPAA does not have records of all P2P filesharing transactions. Period. Take off your tin foil hat and get outdoors for some fresh air.

Re:Copyright infringement penalties are excessive! (1)

click2005 (921437) | about 7 years ago | (#20598293)

The MPAA does not have records of all P2P filesharing transactions.

True, they just assume you are unless you can prove otherwise.

Sooo... (0, Redundant)

bitterfun (413118) | about 7 years ago | (#20596453)

Is it over yet?

Re:Sooo... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20597209)

No, the RIAA still exists.

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20596465)

8====D
Read More [goaste.ch]

No facts? Exactly (5, Insightful)

Bonewalker (631203) | about 7 years ago | (#20596479)

"Plaintiffs have presented no facts." This is exactly right, and can likely be far more broadly applied than just this case. I think the best argument most folks have is that it is very hard to tie an IP address to a specific user. And they think that just because they provide a screenshot with a list of songs on it that that is damning evidence. Hooray for this judge who has seen through the rhetoric.

My thoughts (4, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 7 years ago | (#20596549)

Screenshot? could be photoshopped.
Text Log? could be edited.

If instead of that, you have a text log, verified by the ISP and with a signed statement asserting that this text log effectively shows that the given binary conversation took place at the given time, and that the receiving end has a given MAC address, and if that MAC address can be certainly confirmed as belonging to the accused, now THAT's a completely different story.

Re:My thoughts (1, Troll)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 7 years ago | (#20596751)

given MAC address, and if that MAC address can be certainly confirmed as belonging to the accused
AH HA! MAC can reside on a PC after all!

Re:My thoughts (1)

vigmeister (1112659) | about 7 years ago | (#20596999)

if that MAC address can be certainly confirmed as belonging to the accused
My router spoofs your momma's MAC address...

Cheers!

Re:My thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20597179)

MAC Addresses aren't unique, and can be easily spoofed with a router. They don't tie an individual any more than an ip address. And with most ISP's recommending wireless setups these days, you can't even be sure of the computers on a given network anyways (yes, some jack ass kept breaking into my wireless even with WEP and running some ftp server...took him about a month to get in each time, but he did it twice (I just changed the key the first time), so now I've tightened it even more...hasn't been back since, why he'd bother to spend a month (twice!) breaking my key I have no idea...little penis I guess :P).

So yeah, you can't use an IP address or a MAC Address to positively id a defendant if a router and/or wireless is involved.

Re:My thoughts (1)

dwandy (907337) | about 7 years ago | (#20597221)

and if that MAC address can be certainly confirmed as belonging to the accused
then we would still not know who committed the recorded infringement: just who is the current owner of a piece of hardware that is allegedly used in an infringement.

And so unless they plan to take a network interface card to court, they still know nothing.

Re:My thoughts (1)

MicktheMech (697533) | about 7 years ago | (#20598257)

I think that's going a bit too far. If you can track it to a piece of hardware and that hardware is set up in a residence then I think it's fair game to go after the owner. It's like on COPS when they arrest a driver when there's crack in a car, but they don't know who's it is.

Disclaimer: IANAL, I'm not even american and make absolutely no claim to being an expert in your laws. Plus, I still think suing your target market is one of the most idiotic tactics in the business world today.

Boilerplate level has always been sufficient (1)

Nymz (905908) | about 7 years ago | (#20596807)

I'd be interested in seeing exactly what constitutes their 'boilerplate' level of evidence. A third parties recorded snooping? Whatever it is, hasn't it been sufficient enough for most settlements and court proceedings, making this judgement a fluke, and not a new precedent?

Re:Boilerplate level has always been sufficient (1)

tftp (111690) | about 7 years ago | (#20596899)

If you look at the original complaint you will see that there is no link to the defendant, and no proof that the list of a few MP3 files is real, was captured in a reliable way, or links to any specific computer at all. Basically, the question is where did the name of the defendant come from? The complaint, as is, is no better than just a randomly generated letter that accuses citizen $foo of infringement $bar, where $foo is assigned from a phone book and $bar is assigned from top music charts, with no proof at all.

Re:Self-damning? (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | about 7 years ago | (#20597033)

I am curious about how much of an fishing expedition they could go on if they got someone on the stand?

Let's say they do, somehow, manage to use a prove-nothing Boilerplate get Joe Downloader into court. He argues that their evidence means nothing. They then put him on the stand, and ask "Did you download these mp3s?"

Let's say Joe actually did. Is the RIAA allowed to ask a broad, point-blank question like this? If he says "No", he's perjuring himself. Can he refuse to answer on the grounds that they should do their own damn evidence gathering, and not expect him to implicate himself?

Re:Self-damning? (1)

tftp (111690) | about 7 years ago | (#20597189)

I think (though IANAL) this is exactly why lawyers are reluctant to put their clients on the stand. They most definitely will be asked inconvenient questions. If Joe did in fact download the music then it's in his interest to stay away from the fight and let his lawyer to do the work - such as to attack the accusation, prove that Joe couldn't do it, and so on. But Joe can't be compelled to testify against himself.

Re:Self-damning? (1)

jstomel (985001) | about 7 years ago | (#20597695)

Well, in America you have a right not to testify against yourself. They can't put you on the stand in your own trial. Of course, if you're stupid enough to take the stand voluntarily...

Re:Boilerplate level has always been sufficient (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 7 years ago | (#20596991)

I'd be interested in seeing exactly what constitutes their 'boilerplate' level of evidence.


Evidence isn't at issue; this is a complaint, evidence hadn't even been presented yet. What this ruling says is that they didn't make specific enough allegations to even have a complaint that the defendant was obligated to respond to.

By Specific Allegations (1)

Nymz (905908) | about 7 years ago | (#20597851)

do you mean that the initial complaint should list information like the song, artist, copyright holder, date, and time of infringement? If so, then I agree, but doubt it will be that hard for them to comply.

Re:No facts? Exactly (3, Informative)

vokyvsd (979677) | about 7 years ago | (#20597841)

No no no no no! Plaintiffs should not have a "plausibility" requirement based on facts presented in the complaint. They are required to present a plausible case if they wish to win, of course, but the facts of the case should be presented after the discovery phase of the lawsuit, during which time they are able to use certain legal tools to aid them in finding the exact facts and natures of the violations.

Requiring the specific facts that make a "plausible" claim upon which relief may be granted to be present in a pleading has NEVER been required until Bell Atlantic v. Twombly was decided by the Supreme Court a few months ago. While the outcome in this particular situation (stopping the RIAA from making a likely frivolous claim) may been seen as a good thing, it is relying on a decision that overthrew decades of legal precedent designed to make sure everyone has their day in court, and had a fair shot at proving their claim.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure specifically state that boilerplate complaints are valid. They even PROVIDE THE FORMS for crying out loud. If the RIAA has no case, it should be determined by summary judgment, AFTER DISCOVERY, not by dismissal because plaintiff hasn't presented a plausible case. That is what discovery is supposed to be for, especially in this type of case, where defendant has control of the evidence that may prove their violation, and certainly wouldn't surrender it without a court order.

The Bell Atlantic decision is a broken abortion of justice, and this case is relying on its bad law.

OK, that was a bit melodramatic. But you get the gist.

Re:No facts? Exactly (1)

Bonewalker (631203) | about 7 years ago | (#20597919)

Ok, but playing the devil's advocate...it appears in this case to be protecting the little guy against a big bully. Otherwise, how can thousands of individuals with little or no money for a trial even consider going all the way to the discovery phase? They will just settle and the RIAA wins everytime and makes money simply by implying that someone broke the law having no real evidence, yet, to prove it. And that brings us full circle to the problems we have now. Bullies vs. the little guys. They would ALWAYS win if not for judgments like this.

Re:No facts? Exactly (2, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#20598333)

"Plaintiffs have presented no facts." This is exactly right, and can likely be far more broadly applied than just this case. I think the best argument most folks have is that it is very hard to tie an IP address to a specific user. And they think that just because they provide a screenshot with a list of songs on it that that is damning evidence. Hooray for this judge who has seen through the rhetoric.
You've hit it right on the head, Bonewalker. The Emperor wears no clothes. And Judge Brewster had the courage to make the call.

Different day, same old stuff (4, Interesting)

Whuffo (1043790) | about 7 years ago | (#20596555)

The members of the RIAA have been enriching themselves as (essentially) statutory middlemen. For decades, any music you listened to came to you through their distribution system; there was no other option.

This internet thing blows their monopoly apart - there's a new method of distribution that's cheaper, faster, and out of the control of the music companies. This presents a problem to them: their "money for nothing" gravy train is threatened. It's no surprise that they're using every tool they can to stop reality from sending them to the realm of the irrelevant.

But since they haven't worked for their money for years, when it comes to taking legal action they don't seem to be willing to put forth an effort there either. This latest decision is an interesting one; significant enough by itself, but it'll cause some big changes for a lot of people...

Re:Different day, same old stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20597009)

Yes, I had expected companies like Apple to start offering recording services to musicians. If they can record, promote, and distribute the music, why do they need the RIAA? Seems like this would be the new business model, and in my opinion, it's a better one, because Apple would be providing a service to the artists, and the artists get their music out there, so everyone wins. I guess it's a matter of getting some artists on board, and accepting the fact that as soon as they do this, the RIAA will no longer allow them to distribute ANY music that the RIAA owns.

Re:Different day, same old stuff (1)

MojoRilla (591502) | about 7 years ago | (#20597815)

Why would Apple offer recording services to musicians? They are about technology, not replicating the RIAA's failed business model. They already sell software [apple.com] to record music.

Unfair time-travel tacticts (5, Funny)

saveourskyline (1103211) | about 7 years ago | (#20596569)

FTA [p2pnet.net] :

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Defendant on November 14, 2007, alleging copyright infringement. According to the complaint, Defendant used and continued to use an online media distribution system...

The RIAA is using time machines now to go forward in time and file complaints in the future? Now that's just not fair...

Re:Unfair time-travel tacticts (1)

athdemo (1153305) | about 7 years ago | (#20596617)

Minority Report for illegal downloading? "But sir, I've never even heard that song before!" "Maybe not, but you were going to, and you were gonna like it. TOO much..."

Streetmentioner (1)

Oddscurity (1035974) | about 7 years ago | (#20596731)

Looks like they've neglected to apply the appropriate rules from Dr. Dan Streetmentioner's Time Traveller's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations as well.

YOU FAIL IT? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20596611)

Does this make it (1)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | about 7 years ago | (#20596635)

harder for the RIAA. Must they now provide solid evidence of a crime verses their word that one occurred? Does this me there must be a burden of proof and not just speculation, lies and innuendo? Film at 11.

Re:Does this make it (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 7 years ago | (#20596953)

Must they now provide solid evidence of a crime verses their word that one occurred?


Its not a criminal case, but a civil one so "crime" is mostly irrelevant. This isn't about proof, either. This is about the degree of specificity required in the allegations in the original filing for there even to be a case.

the sad fact (1, Interesting)

superwiz (655733) | about 7 years ago | (#20596683)

Is that this blabber of legalese is now legitimate tech news.

Re:the sad fact (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20597271)

What's sad is that it's now a requirement to be at least part lawyer if you want to spend your income on what you want, and in freedom.

1980s laws (2, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | about 7 years ago | (#20596781)

The laws governing copyright infringement need to be updated. The laws on the books today (or at least their ideologies) were written in a pre-internet era. Back then, pirating large amounts of media in the fashion that we easily can today WAS a serious crime because it actually took a criminal to do it. using the laws of then to govern today is like using an early 20th century speed limit to fine somebody driving a ferrari, or other ultra-high-performance race car.

Re:1980s laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20596941)

Are you seriously arguing that because its easier now to break the law, it should be changed? Do you think that should be applied to all laws, or just the ones making your access to free entertainment illegal?

Re:1980s laws (1)

blhack (921171) | about 7 years ago | (#20597075)

I am saying that the laws should reflect what is reasonable. Code ciphers where at point considered munitions and were, therefore, governed by applicable laws. However, we reached a point where creating (and even breaking) encryption became trivial. At that point it made sense to change the laws governing it.

Likewise:
There was a point at which pirating media WAS a serious crime because it took a serious CRIMINAL to do it.
That is no longer the case, and the laws should be changed to reflect that.

Re:1980s laws (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 7 years ago | (#20597925)

Breaking strong encryption is certainly not trivial. The mathematics that makes this true is still valid. As far as exporting cryptographic techniques, this was based on the fact that there were few people who really understood the state of the art in software, and they were all working in the US. That knowledge eventually spread through a variety of mechanisms, and the export controls only became a hindrance to US software companies looking to sell worldwide, without doing anything to enhance national security.

The evolution of technology in this case didn't make the crime easier to commit, it made the crime itself moot.


There was a point at which pirating media WAS a serious crime because it took a serious CRIMINAL to do it.


There has never been a time in my adult life (which I measure from 1965, when I turned 15) where pirating of some sort of media took a serious, dedicated criminal - from taping a friend's vinyl records, duplicating Bill Gates' original BASIC tapes, Xeroxing textbooks or articles, to copying VCRs tapes, CDs, and now DVDs, it has always been within the easy reach of the casual individual.

The only thing the internet has done is remove the restriction that you have to bring a copy or original to your house before you can copy it. In many ways piracy over the internet is more difficult and risky, because by transmitting the data over the public internet you expose yourself to observation by the copyright holders. In some sense using the internet and getting away with it takes a much more dedicated individual than these older methods.

Re:1980s laws (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about 7 years ago | (#20597967)

For one thing, up until about 1980, making say 10,000 copies of something took enough money that anyone doing it just about had to be interested in selling them to recoup their costs. If that's no longer the case, the law should be reflect that. What's happened here is the opposite - the law has gotten tougher, because something that used to mean the violator was part of an organized ring of criminals, planning to sell the duplicates to people who in many cases didn't know they were bootlegs and so should count as part of the victims, doesn't necessarily mean any of that now.
        If most people who download actually know they are not getting a legitimate copy and that no money goes back to the originator, they are not numbered among the victims - fewer victims used to mean less penalties, not more. If number of copies doesn't prove the accused was in it for profit, another thing that used to count as an agrievating circumstance has gone away, so again penalties should be less not more.
        Note that all this is assuming the record producers/copyright holders are victims, and are entitled to justice. It's still reasonable as a matter of law not to seek compensation for downloaders who, unlike people buying a physical bootleg, are not in some cases innocent fools, or reasonable not to apply penalties aimed at commercial infringement for non-commercial infringment.

Re:1980s laws (2, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 7 years ago | (#20597325)

There is no legal principle that grants an exemption from criminality or civil liability because technology has made the wrong easier to commit. The seriousness is always judged by the amount of damage caused.

   

we need a new tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20596823)

"mafihaha"

Note to RIAA Legal (2, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about 7 years ago | (#20596863)

Remove "INSERT NAME HERE" from boilerplate when filling in the forms to sue people.

Hmm. Someone should write a perl script to help them. Snag a baby naming database and write a perl script to randomize the names, files shared and IP addresses to output an official-sounding C&D&Pay-us Email. Kinda like foggy, but for a legal document. Yeah. That'd be cool. And probably as accurate and effective as the system they're using now...

Re:Note to RIAA Legal (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20597307)

I was already wondering whether they send their cease and desist letters through spam mailers today...

Gay zoo? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20596903)

They should start a zoo where all of the animals are gay.

Confessions of a convert (5, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | about 7 years ago | (#20596985)

They call themselves the RIAA, but really, they represent companies like Sony, UMG, Time-Warner, etc... The RIAA moniker is used to keep their activities from reflecting poorly on the sponsoring companies.

You know what's interesting? When I was younger, I had heard things about pop music being evil, then rock music being evil, and certainly, gangsta rap was evil. I just kind of dismissed them, thinking, how could listening to music be evil?

Turns out, I was asking the wrong question. The problem wasn't in listening to the music, so much as it was that my paying for music was funding evil things, directly and indirectly. Sure, rappers talking about killing cops isn't a good thing, but it wasn't as nearly as bad as what music purchasers were doing by feeding the record companies:

  • I didn't think about it at the time, but the record companies indirectly supported things like drug addiction, misogynism, and even satanism through the bands they promoted.
  • I didn't know that I was financing the exploitation of musicians. It wouldn't be until years later that I would learn that record company contracts often leave the band in debt to the record company, as the record company makes record revenues off the music.
  • I didn't know that the money I used to buy CD's would later be used to sue single mothers and teenagers.

I can't remember the last time I bought a CD. In fact, I'm probably one of those lost sales the RIAA blames on piracy. The thought that someone might not buy their music because they object to their lack of morality and common decency doesn't even occur to them. They think everyone else is just like them - greedy, money grubbers who can't stand the notion of actually paying for music. (After all, the RIAA member companies do their best to avoid paying the musicians).

You don't need to explain why you don't patronize the RIAA member companies like Sony, etc... Instead, ask the question, "What good has the RIAA done for music, musicians, and society in general?"

The silence will be deafening.

Re:Confessions of a convert (2, Interesting)

swordgeek (112599) | about 7 years ago | (#20597957)

So let's see here...

I agree with you. I do. And yet, my brother is a professional musician, and most of the artists I like are barely making ends meet.

How can the artists make a living. The RIAA, for all of its dirty behaviour, at least provided _some_ income for artists--your method provides none.

This has always been the struggle for me: How can I actually support artists (which I will willingly do!) but not the RIAA (who screws the musicians worse than they screw the consumers)?

Any ideas? Without the artists being able to make a living, we'll end up with no dedicated artists at all.

My approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20598219)

I don't buy a lot of CD's and the only ones I have bought this year have been direct from the bands involved. Most of my expenditure on music is paying to go to dances where live music is played by musicians who get paid.

Re:Confessions of a convert (1)

adminstring (608310) | about 7 years ago | (#20598467)

The record companies that make up the RIAA have provided income for some artists, and debt [mercenary.com] for others.

Before the abolition of slavery in the US, some abolitionists refused to buy cotton clothing, because the cotton in it had been picked by slaves. And although buying cotton clothing provided jobs for the slaves, their opposition to the system was too strong for them to want to be a part of it.

I feel similarly about the major record labels. The bands on major labels which I am most likely to enjoy (because they're doing something innovative) are the same bands who are most likely to get screwed by the system. I can't buy a major-label CD with a clear conscience, because I'm handing money to a system that abuses musicians. I can, however, buy tickets to shows with independent musicians when they come to my town (which is, luckily for me, all the time) and when I'm at the show, I can buy their CD right from the band, ensuring that they get most of the money from the CD purchase. The Internet also makes it possible to go straight to the artist for music, and the proliferation of cheap, relatively-high-quality computer recording equipment frees bands from the need to go to major labels just to get their recording bills paid.

This is the wave of the future; big record labels are now just dinosaurs biding their time. As more and more of us get our music directly from the artists (either in person or over the Internet) and directly support the artists (either through CD sales or some sort of online micro payment or "tip jar" system, more and more artists will be able to make a living without dealing with the treacherous major labels.

Today's well-paid musicians got that way making 50 cents per disc sold... it should hypothetically be even easier to do well if you get 5 bucks for disc, or even 2 or 1. All that needs to happen is for the music-buying public to vote with their wallets against the "music industry" and for the musicians themselves.

BTW, I'm a musician, and I've been able to put out a good CD every year or two while still holding down a full-time tech job... I'm not at all worried about the talent pool drying up if the majors go out of business. There are plenty of people out there making music because they love doing it and don't need to make any money at it to make it worthwhile. And for the few who can make a living at it without selling their soul, that's great... hopefully there can be more of them in the future as more of us turn our backs on major-label music and support more independent musicians.

Re:Confessions of a convert (1)

Darkinspiration (901976) | about 7 years ago | (#20598487)

And would that be so bad? In my grand parents time, the musician were not dedicated, they didn't play for a living. For them the music was more fun then profits. Was it so bad ?

Re:Confessions of a convert (4, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | about 7 years ago | (#20598569)

Well, I hate to break it to you, but artists really don't make a living. Be it music, painting, theater, acrobatics; it doesn't matter. You just can't do enough to make ends meet. That's why we have the term 'starving artist'.

Any ideas? Without the artists being able to make a living, we'll end up with no dedicated artists at all.
If you want dedicated artists, you'll either have to have the state pay for it ( good luck selling that in America ) , or have sponsorships of wealthy patrons and corporations ( selling out, anyone? ). All of the classical music that we get from the middle ages was paid for by the sponsorship of a wealthy patron or financed by the church ( which is why so much is religious ). Folk songs are songs that people sang when the got done working in the fields. The troubadour of medieval Europe was a combination musician, storyteller, and message- and news-carrier -- and also a wandering, starving vagabond. Your local opera, dance ensemble, or theater group exists on government grants, wealthy donors, and perhaps a trust fund. Art is not something that puts food in your mouth. It's something you do after you've put food in your mouth, in order to give your life meaning and a reason to get up in the morning.

The ability to make a living as a musician in the past 100 years has depended on the difficulty of production and distribution of music recordings, and the willingness of the artists to go on tour. Needless to say, the record companies raked in the lion's share of the proceeds, leaving the recording, performing musician mostly broke. A few people became super stars, which a few generations of suckers for the record labels to exploit, preying on their hopes of becoming famous and rich. Few people became famous; even less became rich. And those that did become rich made their money from performing; record sales, not so much.

Now we have come full circle: music recording and distribution has become so cheap, you don't have that revenue stream available anymore. Musicians who do make a living as musicians will do so by going around performing, just as they did before the 20th century. And the idea that musicians were actually able to make a decent living as recording artists during the 20th century is really a myth -- successful musicians, even those who sold lots of albums, made their money from touring. The record companies took most of the profits from record sales. Sure there were a number of popular musicians, but there were many more who never made any money off of it.

Most people with a Masters of Fine Arts who actually still paint ( and I know a few of them ) have a day job. A few of them are lucky enough to teach college kids to paint. The rest sell weed and/or are starving.

So, being a full time artist is a pipe dream for many people. It many sound like a downer, but I look at it the other way -- for human history, art has always been a folk expression. People got together in the village after they were done in the fields and danced and sang. Simple as that. Your brother will have a hard time making a living solely as an artist, but he can get a 9-to-5 and perform at some bars a few nights a week, release an album every few years, and have a damn lot of fun doing it, all without starving ;)

Now we know how to beat the RIAA!!!! (1)

RobBebop (947356) | about 7 years ago | (#20597379)

Don't show up! WooHoo!

To quote "WarGames"... (3, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 7 years ago | (#20597699)

Falken: I never could get Joshua to learn the most important lesson.
Lightman: What's that?
Falken: Futility. That there's a time when you should just give up.

Don't get too enthusiastic (3, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 7 years ago | (#20598039)

I wouldn't get too enthusiastic about this being a way out from under these lawsuits. It's a good win, but it's on very technical grounds and easy for the RIAA to deal with if they have even a shred of a tenuous case.

It's mainly about the technical requirements for a filing. Let's take the hypothetical case of me suing you for having stolen a car from my car lot. All I state in my complaint is that on information and belief I think you stole a car from me, and I attach a long list of cars (make, model, VIN, plate number, etc.). The problems with this complaint at this level are:

  • I haven't specified a crime. I've made an accusation, but where in there do I say what car was stolen, when it was stolen or where it was stolen from? Essentially the complaint can't say "You stole a car." but has to say "You stole this car.". And what's that list? I never say in the complaint whether it's a list of cars I allege you stole, a list of all the cars I have of which the one you stole is one. It could even be a list of all the cars left on my lot after the theft. Without some mention of what the list is, it's meaningless.
  • Even assuming the above is corrected, there are no facts alleged connecting you to the incident. The bar here is low. I don't have to offer enough to prove my case. I don't have to offer anything credible enough to survive even a cursory response from you. But I have to offer some speck of evidence that, if believed completely and not responded to at all by you, could possibly be grounds for finding in my favor.
That's basically what the judge found here: the RIAA had failed on those two points. The bad news is that it's fairly easy for the RIAA to fix this. Name a song, name a file on the list that contained it, and allege that you were offering it for download to them and the first part's dealt with. As for the second, alleging the files were offered by a particular IP address along with a statement by the ISP that that IP address was assigned to a particular person's account at the time in question suffices. There's lots of technical problems with it, but it meets the minimal bar involved. The good news is that even those minor fixes give the defendant more places to attack the RIAA's complaint. For instance, if they allege a particular file contains some specific song, the defendant can respond by asserting that that file contains something that'd justify it's name but isn't the song in question.

I suspect the RIAA got tripped up here because they never intended these cases to go to court. The filings were supposed to be merely clubs to wave at people to get them to settle, they were never supposed to actually be looked at as real lawsuits. We're going to see a lot of these for a while, but we're going to see a second round from the RIAA with these sorts of obvious errors fixed as they react to people actually fighting back. I'm not a lawyer, but I think one piece of advice is warranted: don't pick questionable defendants to fight this second wave. Pick ones that really are clean and can prove it and fight the RIAA on those. It's much easier to win judges over when you can present solid evidence in your favor, and much easier to fight the questionable defendants when you've got previous clean wins to cite.

Re:Don't get too enthusiastic (3, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 7 years ago | (#20598411)

I wouldn't get too enthusiastic about this being a way out from under these lawsuits. It's a good win, but it's on very technical grounds and easy for the RIAA to deal with if they have even a shred of a tenuous case.
With all due respect, Todd, on this one you are dead wrong. The reason the RIAA hasn't drafted better pleadings isn't because their lawyers don't have enough competence to draft a pleading.... it's because they don't have any evidence that the defendant infringed their copyrights . This case goes to the very core of what is wrong with the RIAA's whole campaign. And this decision may well be the beginning of the end.
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