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New Attorneys Fee Decision Against RIAA

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the maybe-you-should-reconsider-your-strategy dept.

The Courts 144

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA has gotten slammed again, this time in Oregon, as the Magistrate Judge in Atlantic v. Andersen has ruled that Tanya Andersen's motion for attorneys fees should be granted. The Magistrate, in his 15-page decision, noted that, despite extensive pretrial discovery proceedings, 'when plaintiffs dismissed their claims in June 2007, they apparently had no more material evidence to support their claims than they did when they first contacted defendant in February 2005.....' and concluded that 'Copyright holders generally, and these plaintiffs specifically, should be deterred from prosecuting infringement claims as plaintiffs did in this case.' This is the same case in which (a) the RIAA insisted on interrogating Ms. Andersen's 10-year-old girl at a face-to-face deposition, (b) the defendant filed RICO counterclaims against the record companies, and (c) the defendant recently converted her RICO case into a class action"

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Precedent! (2, Interesting)

superbus1929 (1069292) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717605)

It seems like 9/10 of rulings in America are based on the ideal of precedent; it's worked a certain way in the past, so we see no reason to go against the grain.

There are a lot of precedents being set against the RIAA lately, and it leads me to believe that maybe... just maybe... there's light at the end of this tunnel.

Re:Precedent! (4, Funny)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717633)

There are a lot of precedents being set against the RIAA lately, and it leads me to believe that maybe... just maybe... there's light at the end of this tunnel.

Tunnel indeed. Hopefully this legal diariaa will have this shit cleared out of the tubes quickly and regularity can be restored.

Re:Precedent! (3, Insightful)

ScouseMouse (690083) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718409)

Yeah, no doubt there will be a new round of lobbying for changes in the law starting any time now.

Hold It! (2, Funny)

Phoenix Wright (1153585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717735)

maybe... just maybe... there's light at the end of this tunnel.
Are you sure that's not the light from an oncoming train? I hope you're right. What are we doing in this tunnel anyway?

Re:Hold It! (3, Funny)

nrgy (835451) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717795)

I don't know why we are in a tunnel but it sure does smell like ASS in here.

Re:Precedent! (4, Informative)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718161)

Lower court decisions, such as this one, do not set precendents in any court other than their own. If the RIAA were to bring another similar case before this particular court, then this decision could be used to argue attorney fees against the RIAA. No other court is required to consider this result in its own decision.

If the decision is appealed and upheld, then a precendent has been set for the circuit in which it was appealed. All lower courts within that one circuit would be required to apply the appeals court's decision in all subsequent similar cases.

See this article [wikipedia.org] for details.

Re:Precedent! (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718277)

Lower court decisions, such as this one, do not set precendents in any court other than their own.
1. That is an overly simplistic view. Yes if there is an appellate decision in one circuit that is binding authority over all district court decisions within that circuit, and it is usually the only absolutely binding authority, other than Supreme Court decisions, on each district court within that circuit.

2. But it is very very rare that any case is ever determined on the basis of an absolutely binding higher court authority. Almost invariably, where there is such authority available, the attorneys have figured that out long ago and there is no litigation to "decide".

3. Most briefs that are submitted cite plenty of non-binding judicial authorities, and even where they are citing binding higher authority, it is usually based on vastly different sets of facts.

4. There are numerous issues in the RIAA cases that will be decided on the basis of the fact that the RIAA has both brought, and pressed, numerous frivolous cases, with no evidence that the defendant committed a copyright infringement, just as was done in the Andersen case. And in those cases it continues to try to extort a "settlement" from the defendant even though it knows it has no case against the defendant. And in those cases where the defendant hangs tough, and is willing to see the case through to its conclusion and a jury trial.... the RIAA drops the case, as it did here. See, e.g., Capitol v. Foster [blogspot.com] , Elektra v. Santangelo [blogspot.com] , and Elektra v. Wilke [blogspot.com] . This recurring phenomenon will be relevant to future attorneys fees decisions, to possible sanctions motions against the record companies and their attorneys, to the record companies' claims of a "Noerr Pennington" defense which is not applicable to "sham" litigations, to claims of copyright misuse, and numerous other issues, in all district courts across the country, and will be cited by appellate courts when these cases finally do get to the appellate courts -- an event the RIAA is trying to avoid.

So yes. This judge's recognition of the RIAA's tactics is a very important precedent.

Re:Precedent! (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718919)

Slightly off topic, however if you have the time...

You have explained the situation rather neatly, and in itself the system seems fairly straight forward (in so far as any legal procedure can be), but I note that you have not indicated an opinion of the system (not that you needed to). Id be interested to know if you thought that the system you described regarding precedents, where they are established and where they are valid is satisfactory, or, if you would prefer either that each case be judged purely on its own merits, or whether you felt more amenable to the formal use of precedents from outside of each court / circuit. I guess the third option would be a mechanism to codify precedents, although that would be a step closer to "legislating from the bench", but at least in that scenario those doing the legislating are qualified.

Anyway, thanks.

Re:Precedent! (4, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718985)

Id be interested to know if you thought that the system you described regarding precedents, where they are established and where they are valid is satisfactory, or, if you would prefer either that each case be judged purely on its own merits,
Precedent is part of the rule of law in our system. Asking judges to decide "each case on its own merits", without regard to legal principles that have been worked out over the years, would

-leave too much to chance

-heighten unpredictability, and

-wreak havoc on our ability to plan our lives. I.e., it would be a step towards lawlessness.

Re:Precedent! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20719451)

Jury Nullification is a legal precedent too, one that should not be ignored but should be thought over honestly and deeply before it is used. Used correctly it could be negating to an unjust law or an unjust application of law. Used incorrectly it would definitively be a step in the direction of the lawlessness of which you spoke. Of course it would be something unlikely to happen where there was a significant body of highly related case law, unless of course that body of case law was made up of numerous acts of jury nullification. If it gets to that point we need some new lawmakers. A system of law is not necessarily a system of justice.

Re:Precedent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20718931)

The expectation by the RIAA of their attempts at extortion being protected by Noerr/Pennington probably encouraged them to start (and to continue) making them. I've read the finding on Sosa/DirecTV and I can see why they'd have such an expectation. With such similarities between the behavior of DirecTV and the RIAA (threatening letters, based on flimsy/no evidence, demanding admission of guilt, surrendering of property, and payment of monies sent to thousands of innocent citizens), could you give us a little insight into why the RIAA would fail at such a defense?

Re:Precedent! (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20719211)

The expectation by the RIAA of their attempts at extortion being protected by Noerr/Pennington probably encouraged them to start (and to continue) making them......could you give us a little insight into why the RIAA would fail at such a defense?
1. Well, last week's decision by Judge Lazzara [blogspot.com] in UMG v. Del Cid, rejecting the RIAA's attempt to rely on Noerr Pennington, gives you one of the many reasons.

2. Defendant's opposition papers in Lava v. Amurao [blogspot.com] and our opposition memorandum in UMG v. Lindor [blogspot.com] give you some others.

3. I can't here discuss with you all of the many reasons the RIAA's attempts to hide behind Noerr Pennington will fail, since the RIAA lawyers seem to read everything I write on the internet, but if you follow the legal documents filed on my blog you'll no doubt see more on the subject.

4. By the way, I doubt that they thought about Noerr Pennington when they started doing the illegal things they do; I think N-P is just an afterthought their lawyers came up with in hopes of preventing the Courts from finding out about their illegal conduct. But it will all come out. In the Napster case they lost their attorney client privilege by reason of the fact that their attorneys had lied to the US Department of Justice team investigating their digital music price fixing scheme. See "Court Finds Reasonable Cause to Believe that UMG and Capitol Deceived United States Dept of Justice" [blogspot.com] , Recording Industry vs. The People, April 21, 2006.

Re:Precedent! (1, Informative)

The Only Druid (587299) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718397)

Actually, this "court" doesn't set any precedent at all. Magistrate "judges" aren't actually judges: they're Article II employees, created by Congress, who serve at the whim of actual judges, i.e. Article III Judges.

Magistrate Judges cannot actually do anything: their entire power comes from their parent district court's approval.

Re:Precedent! (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718455)

Actually, this "court" doesn't set any precedent at all. Magistrate "judges" aren't actually judges: they're Article II employees, created by Congress, who serve at the whim of actual judges, i.e. Article III Judges. Magistrate Judges cannot actually do anything: their entire power comes from their parent district court's approval.
1. They certainly are judges. They are not life tenure judges, but they are judges.

2. They do not serve at anybody's "whim".

3. Magistrate decisions are ctied all the time.

4. There are many instances in which they have binding authority in the matter before them.

5. As the underlying article [blogspot.com] makes perfectly clear, this was not a binding authority, but awaits approval by the District Judge.

6. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but in 34 years of working in the litigation field I cannot recall ever having seen a District Judge reject the Magistrate Judge's findings. Usually Magistrate's "recommendations" -- like this 15-page decision -- are extremely thorough.

Re:Precedent! (1, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 7 years ago | (#20719743)

It seems like 9/10 of rulings in America are based on the ideal of precedent; it's worked a certain way in the past, so we see no reason to go against the grain.
This is the main problem with anglo-saxon "justice" systems. It's a fairly primitive law-system (similar to those used to stone-age cultures) since it is dictated by custom. It essentially means that whatever misguided decisions must be perpetuated ad vitam æternam, and whenever a new decision has been made (such like when new, never before seen, technology, such as the Internet, is involved), the prevailing party is the one with the deepest pockets, who is able to afford the best legal team to shoehorn the case into various precedent cases, no matter how unrelated or convoluted, and make it stick to the court.

Fortunately, other, more civilized countries use a civil code system where most situations are formally codified, which essentially prevents rich people from making their own custom-made laws and shove them down the throats of, We, the People, against our will.

Re:Precedent! (3, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720029)

Poppycock. Common law embodies a heritage of freedom. Code Napoleon embodies a heritage of state dictatorship. Instead of a body of of laws imposed by a central authority to govern every possible situation (and no doubt to the benefit of those with the money or position to influence the shape of those laws) Common Law provides a mechanism where laws arise from the lower levels of the legal system and percolate upwards through the system. And the idea the precedent is immutable is fatuous. Precedent is a living body.

Louisiana has been using the Napoleonic system since it joined the US. I can tell you from having lived and worked in that state that their legal system is no better or worse than any other state- it is in fact the implementation and administrators that govern the effectiveness of the system. And in Louisiana they certainly have no special competence.

Yes, common law is more chaotic. It is also a far older system which has a much longer track record of success.

Re:Precedent! (-1, Troll)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721183)

Typical anglo-saxon cluelessness. The very basis of anglo-saxon culture revolves around the core idea that "the state is bad, evil, perverted, corrupted". Only the anglo-saxon believe that, hence their convoluted institutions that insure that the State will be stuck in an inefficiency rut.

Other cultures than anglo-saxons (read: the rest of Mankind) do not harbour such a distrust of the State and, you know what? their States are efficient and work towards the benefit of their nations.

I do not expect you to understand this, as anglo-saxons have an inherent incapability to understand other cultures.

Re:Precedent! (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 7 years ago | (#20722767)

I do not expect you to understand this, as anglo-saxons have an inherent incapability to understand other cultures.

Ah, a racist. I can see there is no need to continue here.

Re:Precedent! (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721909)

Pfft. I don't know why you think, for example, that France is more civilized than the UK or Louisiana than Mississippi. I suppose you're entitled to your opinion, but you're not doing yourself any favors by being derogatory toward "Anglo-Saxons."

In the US, most situations are also formally codified -- in those cases, the judge just applies the statute to the case at hand. The only question is what you do when you hit a new situation which isn't formally codified. I have a tough time believing that any country has a civil code in which the solution for all possible disputes is set out in black and white. There have to be in-between areas where the rules do not precisely spell out the answer. And, then the question is: what happens to the second person who hits that gray area? Is he allowed to say "Look. I did exactly the same thing John did, and you said he didn't do anything wrong, so you shouldn't find that I did anything wrong either"?

Re:Precedent! (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20722871)

Pfft. I don't know why you think, for example, that France is more civilized than the UK or Louisiana than Mississippi. I suppose you're entitled to your opinion, but you're not doing yourself any favors by being derogatory toward "Anglo-Saxons." In the US, most situations are also formally codified -- in those cases, the judge just applies the statute to the case at hand. The only question is what you do when you hit a new situation which isn't formally codified. I have a tough time believing that any country has a civil code in which the solution for all possible disputes is set out in black and white. There have to be in-between areas where the rules do not precisely spell out the answer. And, then the question is: what happens to the second person who hits that gray area? Is he allowed to say "Look. I did exactly the same thing John did, and you said he didn't do anything wrong, so you shouldn't find that I did anything wrong either"?
In France people are being prosecuted criminally for offending the record companies by engaging in peer to peer file sharing.

Re:Precedent! (2, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20722845)

This is the main problem with anglo-saxon "justice" systems. It's a fairly primitive law-system (similar to those used to stone-age cultures) since it is dictated by custom. It essentially means that whatever misguided decisions must be perpetuated ad vitam æternam, and whenever a new decision has been made (such like when new, never before seen, technology, such as the Internet, is involved), the prevailing party is the one with the deepest pockets, who is able to afford the best legal team to shoehorn the case into various precedent cases, no matter how unrelated or convoluted, and make it stick to the court. Fortunately, other, more civilized countries use a civil code system where most situations are formally codified, which essentially prevents rich people from making their own custom-made laws and shove them down the throats of, We, the People, against our will.
I am not in a position to discuss the merits of the common law system versus those of a code system, since I have never practiced law under a code system. But I can tell you that
-your description of our common law system is way off base in many, many respects, and
-in some code countries, like France, people are being prosecuted criminally for p2p file sharing, in order to enrich the coffers of the big record companies. 3 of the 4 big record companies are based in code countries, where they apparently have quite a lot of influence over the "code".

Giant multinational corporations have too much influence everywhere. That is the problem.

Re:Precedent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20722155)

It is true precedent matters in our common law system, but precedent from a magistrate judge has almost no weight.

One step closer... (1)

rev_media (973772) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717611)

...to an RIAA free America...

Re:One step closer... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20717767)

and then no doubt a content and culture free America where the biggest budget, highest quality movie is a cat falling off a chair on youtube.
you bunch of fucking ignorant thieves and leechers who whine about the RIAA should just learn to PAY YOUR FUCKING WAY.

Re:One step closer... (4, Insightful)

janrinok (846318) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717815)

Although I shouldn't respond to you - I will. This is nothing about Americans not paying their way. This is about cases being brought to court with inadequate evidence, or simply no significant evidence at all, in a hope that the case will either be settled by the defendants simply to avoid the expense of the case - but not as an admission of their guilt - or as a way of frightening others. If they had adequate evidence then the case should be in court, but they haven't. And recently we have learnt that MediaDefender, the company that collects evidence on behalf of many of these cases, are not beyond fabricating evidence or using very dubious tactics indeed in order to frame individuals.

Re:One step closer... (2, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718191)

Although I shouldn't respond to you - I will. This is nothing about Americans not paying their way. This is about cases being brought to court with inadequate evidence, or simply no significant evidence at all, in a hope that the case will either be settled by the defendants simply to avoid the expense of the case - but not as an admission of their guilt - or as a way of frightening others. If they had adequate evidence then the case should be in court, but they haven't.
Well you're only saying that because you actually RTFA, as opposed to the ignoramus -- probably in the employ of the RIAA -- to whom you were responding.

Re:One step closer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20717829)

..as opposed to the current biggest budget high quality movie, which has SUPER DUPER 3D SPECIAL EFFECTS NINETY SIX POINT EIGHT SURROUND DOLBY DIGITAL, but has the plotline of said cat-off-chair (only it's been extended into a 3 hour flick, complete with merchandising and sequels.

I mean really, what was the most recent movie that WASN'T a (pre/se)quel with a decent, original plotline. Underdog? ITS AN INFORMERCIAL FROM THE SIXTIES. "Evan" Almighty? A sequel for a movie that was not possibly sequel'able. (Yes I know these movies are a little dated in america, but they've only just come out over here - another example of getting less than you in return for paying for it.

Re:One step closer... (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717853)

Pan's Labyrinth?

Re:One step closer... (1)

Gorshkov (932507) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717871)

Pan's Labyrinth?
I'm pretty sure Hollywood had nothing to do with that movie.

Re:One step closer... (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718369)

Wasn't that movie made in Mexico by Mexicans?

-uso.

Re:One step closer... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20717855)

if its all so shit, why do you and your thieving ass friends max out your broadband connections bit-torrenting it all?

Re:One step closer... (4, Insightful)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718009)

Because they can. Seriously.

See, the value of it is very very low. The asking price is considerably more than that. Therefore, most people wouldn't seriously consider buying it at the asking price, and will simply go without, or wait until it comes onto TV and then record it, or buy it second hand, or whatever.

Digital content provides another option, and one which is quite convenient for many people at that. It's so convenient that many people pay for fast internet connections specifically so they can download things; and many of these people also wear part of the cost of allowing other people to access the content too! Which just goes to show, the content does have some value, it's just much less than the content producers want to charge for it. Also, since the content producers aren't making it available in a convenient and affordable manner, the money is going to those who do: ISP's.

Previously, Big Media have been able to charge whatever they wanted, because it was impractical for anybody else to distribute it. Now, it's cheap and easy to distribute high-quality copies of the content to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Eventually, the content producers will have to accept that they can only charge what the market is willing to pay, but for now they're just throwing a tantrum and calling everyone who doesn't value their content as highly as they do "thieves".

Re:One step closer... (5, Interesting)

gmack (197796) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718545)

It's not just that its too expensive. They are so used to the old system that in many cases I can't even buy what I want.

I'm the sort of person who buys what he likes.. I prefer to give money to people who provide me with entertainment. My usual MO is to download what I want and if I like it I will look for it on CD or DVD and purchase it. I have a strange collection of movies and many of them were downloaded before I bought them. I make good money and I'm more than willing to share some of it with people who make my life more enjoyable.

When it comes to TV shows I find I can't even buy what I want. It's just not available. My choices are to either download it or sit during the time they put it on the TV and watch it and there is my problem. My evenings are MINE to decide what to do with. I'm not going to give up hanging out with friends just so I can sit and watch TV. I'm not going to give up making extra money to sit and watch TV. I'm not going to give up weekly church events to sit and watch TV.

So I download and hope whoever ripped what I want didn't do too bad a job of it. But you know what? My time is expensive. I would happily pay someone to make sure that whatever I got was good quality. But they simply don't provide that service.

How did things get so completely backwards? What happened to customer convenience? The whole point of capitalism is to provide a SERVICE. When the customer wants a service the customer pays for it and gets what (s)he pays for. Give me what I want(entertainment) and I'll give you what you want(money). Instead we have an organization that expects me to make changes for them and do business at their convenience. And then they have the nerve to feel entitled to this arrangement.

They need to get over themselves and start providing a service again. Until they do that: I'm stuck downloading.

Re:One step closer... (1)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 7 years ago | (#20719079)

Thank you SO much! That's a point I've been unable to formulate, a logical link I'd never seen stand by itself. Yes, the point of downloading things is not only price, but convenience. It is so EASY! I'd happily pay for most content, really. What if my ISP gave money to some artists I name on a list, what with my 100/month bill.
In my case, I'd see it that way : My ISP charges 50 for a month, with a 50GByte limit. Beyond that, it's priced 1/GB. I'd be happy to know that some percentage of that goes to the copyright holders of the things I download.
Moreover, there are lots of things I download that are simply not available, like in "a collection of Italian Giallo flicks most of which VHS-rips in Italian with English hard-coded subtitles". Or Canadian amateur cinema. Or old zombie films. And such, on and on, the Long Tail - list of everything that someone, somewhere could like to watch, but that's never been profitable to keep and carry and ship and sell in shops.

Re:One step closer... (1)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 7 years ago | (#20719121)

Wtf? The euro sign doesn't appear in slachsod? How do I type 1 like $1? (Trying £1 (pound)... just to see)

Re:One step closer... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20719687)

For HTML, try:

€
But be aware that it's not supported universally. Otherwise, you can just precede the number with EUR.

Re:One step closer... (2, Interesting)

shark72 (702619) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721167)

"Thank you SO much! That's a point I've been unable to formulate, a logical link I'd never seen stand by itself. Yes, the point of downloading things is not only price, but convenience. It is so EASY! I'd happily pay for most content, really. What if my ISP gave money to some artists I name on a list, what with my 100/month bill. In my case, I'd see it that way : My ISP charges 50 for a month, with a 50GByte limit. Beyond that, it's priced 1/GB. I'd be happy to know that some percentage of that goes to the copyright holders of the things I download."

Well, here's the problem with that: you mention "goes to the copyright holder" and "goes to the artist." The record company holds the rights to the recording, and the composer and lyricist own the rights to the music and the words. I think you really meant the latter, in which the record company is cut out of the picture.

Many people have suggested the same thing: that we set up a system in which only the artist is compensated when we pirate music. The trouble is that record companies are typically for-profit ventures and have finite resources. We like to claim that the current business model is dead, but the alternative model of "record companies provide the cash and expertise to record, produce, and promote the music, with money going only to the artists" does not work well, either. Of course, I'd like to be proven wrong... if anybody reading this wants to set up a service like this (where, again, you get the artist's music produced, and they keep all the money from the sales or donations), then please do. If you can make it work, you'll be a hero among Slashdotters everywhere. A flat broke hero, but a hero nonetheless.

As an aside, I think your notion of a socialized music system (where artists are paid a percentage from ISP fees using the assumption that people are using their connections to pirate music and films) might work in Europe, where I suspect people tend to be a little more comfortable with socialized commerce. But here in the US and Canada, I do not think it would work. US residents already pay a tariff on music CD-Rs for much the same reason, and Canadian residents must pay an even higher tariff on ALL CD media. These laws are highly reviled around here. I personally hate them because I don't pirate music or films, and I certainly don't want to subsidize the entertainment industry on behalf of those who do.

Re:One step closer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20719043)

While the post above gives an accurate description of the situation, I still do not understand the conclusion.

Argument:
The content costs too much, so thus people found another source for identical content, for a cheaper cost (transport alone). The producers/controllers of the content are now attacking people who didn't pay them for it.

Question:
How is that not theft? If the people do not value an item as highly as the producers want to sell it at, they should not be buying it. Acquiring it another way is theft.

Lets say, there was a new gadget produced at a very high price, one which I didn't think it was worth. There are many people who think this way, and so someone diverts a truck full of these items to a new 'store'. (Corporate office doesn't get wind of it, some drone just moves the truck delivery location). They now just open the back end the truck, and everyone can take what they want out. If it runs out, another truck appears. The only cost is the gas to drive and get the gadget.

If this occurs nation/world-wide, there is a problem, as everyone is willing to take the risk of misdirecting a truck (or being caught taking from the truck) to not pay the cost of the gadget. However, this does not change the fact that the people are taking something which is not theirs.

I agree with you, Big Media is going to have to reduce their costs to something people are willing to play. However, until this happens, people should express their dissatisfaction with the label's pricing by NOT purchasing, instead of stealing. Merely claiming people are 'paying their ISP instead of Big Media' is not a valid excuse*. The people who are actually taking the content without paying for it in a correct way should be prosecuted, however without this shoddy, shotgun style crap lawsuits thing they are doing currently.

Someone owns that content. It may be able to be express as nothing but binary data, but it is more than its parts and thus has meaning, and value.



*Don't forget that if legally bought content online goes through the ISP, and that cannot be accurately termed double charging.

Re:One step closer... (3, Insightful)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 7 years ago | (#20719375)

It's not theft, because you're not depriving the producer of anything. In your gadget example, those gadgets a) cost money to produce and b) selling them is the only way for the company to recoup its costs.

My downloading a copy of a film or whatever doesn't prevent the producer from being able to sell it to other people. The other big difference is that the outcome, for the producer, is the same whether I choose the legal option (don't buy the content, and therefore never see it) or the illegal option (to download it): they get nothing from me, but I also don't cost them anything.

It's for this reason that it appears "neutral": I'm not directly harming them by downloading something I would've otherwise chosen to ignore.

This of course, depends on the idea that you only download things you truly wouldn't buy if you couldn't download them. This isn't always the case, and I guess this is where an individual's sense of ethics comes into it, and why distributing copyrighted material without the copyright holder's permission is against the law. On the other hand, quite a few people do buy things they've already acquired by downloading them (myself included), and in many cases had they not being able to try it out "for free" they wouldn't have bought it. There's also the potential for increased word-of-mouth advertising: downloaders telling their friends, who go out and buy the DVD because they actually find it more convenient than downloading, or more people watching it on TV resulting in more advertising revenue. And, since downloading and sharing is an "underground" activity (due to it being illegal), it's nigh impossible to track with any kind of accuracy the nett effect of downloading. So, those in favour of it say it actually helps them sell more stuff, and those opposed say it decreases sales. Both sides are just making stuff up, because nobody actually knows.

Back to your gadget analogy, it would be more accurate to imagine that someone finds a way to duplicate the gadget for a tiny fraction of the RRP. So, he buys one from the store at full price (maybe splitting the costs between a few friends), then he uses his gadget duplicator technology to make limitless additional copies and sells them for a pittance to cover his costs. The manufacturer of the gadget, rather than embrace this new copying technology, continues to make their gadgets the old fashioned way and sell them at the same price. Conscientious consumers naturally choose the cheaper option.

Even worse, the manufacturer may in fact embrace the copying technology in order to lower their costs, but sells their now much cheaper to produce gadgets at the same price as before. Or, they sell them a bit cheaper but with built-in self-destruction devices so you end up needing to buy it several times over if you want to keep using it (that's my analogy for certain DRM schemes).

Now, the manufacturer does still need to defray the R&D costs so they can't sell it as cheaply as the guy who merely copied it, but they need to do it in a way that doesn't make the customer feel like they're being ripped off. That's the tricky bit, and the answer may very well turn out to be that spending millions (or hundreds of millions) of dollars making TV shows or movies just isn't a viable use of resources. For example, Prison Break is a reasonably entertaining programme, but is 42 minutes of reasonably entertaining TV really the best use of two million dollars [wikipedia.org] our society can come up with?

Re:One step closer... (2, Interesting)

brassman (112558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720369)

Mod parent(s) up!

I drove to the store last month looking for a specific, recent movie. Could not find it. Get it? I'm actively trying to pay for a DVD, trying to encourage the producer to make more like it -- and it's not in the flippin' store.

But there is a torrent for it.

Don't forget, this is a current movie; the fact I'm a weirdo who also would like the complete run of Misfits of Science does not enter into it. The simple fact is that the torrent providers are doing a better job of distributing niche material than the people who are supposed to be getting paid.

That's not even touching on the arguments about unskippable FBI notices, annoying ads for other movies, and whether I can watch it on a Linux box. Those all presume that at least I can find and pay for the damn' DVD -- but I can't.

Re:One step closer... (1)

bryce1012 (822567) | more than 7 years ago | (#20719471)

"Copyright infringement is not a big truck. It's a series of tubes..."

... wait.

What were we talking about again?

Re:One step closer... (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717961)

Copyright is a fairly recent notion, as it popped up only four hundred years ago or so, and in a small part of the world. Long before that--and today in places were copyright is not respected--culture and content continue to abound.

Think about all the great poets and philosophers of Greece and Rome. They didn't get a dime when copies were made of their work by amanuenses and sold in the marketplace, but they didn't complain. Indeed, the only time someone had issue with copying, the Roman poet Martial in his Epigrams [amazon.com] , it was because another fellow was putting his name on those copies. And even then, Martial didn't demand legal penalties; he just lampooned the guy.

In Hong Kong, the film and music industries continue to flourish even though very few pay for content, as creators there have discovered other viable economic models. In the European Union especially, many forms of art couldn't generate a profit even if all copies were sold, but government subsidies ensure culture remains vibrant.

Re:One step closer... (2, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 7 years ago | (#20719825)

Prior to the invention of the printing press copyright was not necessary since there was no economic incentive to copy a work - maintenance of the slaves or paying the manual transcriber's salary was a far greater cost than buying copies from the author's agents.

It was only in England (not too coincidently) the home of the industrial revolution 400 years ago this incentive brought about by mass production of copies first came to exist, and it is not too surprising that this is where and when copyright law first emerged.

Playing on the idea of the noble savage not needing copyright law is disingenuous and completely neglects the main issue - mass production or copies at prices low enough to make a creator's work a significant part of the cost of the copy.

This isn't ancient Greece or Rome... (3, Interesting)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | more than 7 years ago | (#20719923)

I respect your point that culture and content was abundant in times when there were no copyright laws, but its relative abundance paled in comparison to today. Consider that:

  • Most poets and playwrights came from the social elite, because they did not get paid for their work. Imagine how much creative work we would have today if our only source was the portion of the population rich enough to work without pay.
  • The philosopher Socrates was poor. He supported his family from gifts he received from wealthy admirers. There was no paycheck from a university tenureship to support what he did all day.
  • The people who attended Plato's philosophical school in Athens - the Academy - were only those who could afford to live and study without working to support themselves.

Also, consider that this was a time when:

  • The primary job of a ruler was to please the gods, because upsetting the gods meant failure in war, natural disaster, disease, or hard times. If something bad were to happen to the city, it was because the ruler wasn't pleasing the gods, and he would overthrown.
  • Honor and prestige was the reward for seeking top political positions, not money or even power. In fact, top government officials were expected to fund warships, public infrastructure, and public entertainment out of their own pockets. Many of the ancient temples, theaters, government offices, bath houses and other public structures whose ruins we see today were built using the private funds of top government officials.
  • People of each social class were expected to help and support those in the class below them, and did so.

We live in different times and have a completely different culture, so to compare today's creative content to that of ancient Greece or Rome is misleading. Copyright law was created for a reason. Without it, we wouldn't have nearly the amount of creative works we have today, because those who created most of what we do have today would have taken 9-5 day jobs instead.

Re:This isn't ancient Greece or Rome... (1)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 7 years ago | (#20722223)

People of each social class were expected to help and support those in the class below them, and did so.


Bullshit. People were expected to work as slaves to those in the social class above them, and were occasionally given a few scraps from the table.

Very over-simplified and historically ignorant... (3, Interesting)

Garwulf (708651) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720103)

"Copyright is a fairly recent notion, as it popped up only four hundred years ago or so, and in a small part of the world. Long before that--and today in places were copyright is not respected--culture and content continue to abound."

That is a very simplistic way of looking at things. It assumes, among other things, that all cultures have the same nature, and that therefore copyright isn't necessary. And that is very historically ignorant. The nature of cultures in the past was not the same as it is now.

"Think about all the great poets and philosophers of Greece and Rome. They didn't get a dime when copies were made of their work by amanuenses and sold in the marketplace, but they didn't complain."

Actually, that's not true. We honestly don't know if they were paid royalties or not. We do not seem to have any defenses from the Athenian law courts regarding copying, but that just means that none survived to us - there may or may not have been any. The current documents that have survived suggest that the Athenians were not suing people over copying, but we honestly don't have enough recovered to know for certain.

Aside from which, neither ancient Greece or Rome had a concept of individual rights. People would be sued based on a failure to carry out their responsibilities, but the rights of the individual was a concept that was centuries in the future. There was a concept of obligation, and that went right through to Christian times (for example, in terms of religion, the Romans didn't like the Christians because they didn't fulfill their obligation of joining the rest of their community at sacrifices, meaning that they were not "doing the sacred things" (aka "sacra facere") - and meaning that bizarrely to our conception of religion, the Christians were persecuted for being atheists).

"Indeed, the only time someone had issue with copying, the Roman poet Martial in his Epigrams , it was because another fellow was putting his name on those copies. And even then, Martial didn't demand legal penalties; he just lampooned the guy."

In fact, there was a law I recently learned about passed by the Emperor Augustus that declared that the content being copied belonged to the copyist. That being said, in Ancient Greece and Rome ridicule was a corrective, and it could be very dangerous to somebody. There is at least one case on record of somebody committing suicide because of slanderous poems being written about them (I know because I've spent the last two years working on a book about ancient Greek and Roman humour with a professor of Classics).

I can't speak for the law outside of Europe, but my own inquiries into the history of copyright have suggested that in order for a concept of copyright to develop, there needs to be certain factors in play:

1. A concept of the rights of the individual.
2. The technology to mass produce copies of the work (without this, copying is not an issue).
3. A society capable of mass consumption of the work (for literature, a literate society, etc. - and again, copying is pointless if there is no market to consume it).
4. A free market economy (extremely important, as it means that there is a financial stake for whoever is copying, and whoever creates).

Without all of these, there can be no development of the concept of copyright. As soon as all four appear, however, copyright follows. The Stationer's Log (the earliest form of copyright in England) was at the dawn of this, but copyright as we know it didn't come until 1705 - and at that point, the patronage system was beginning to disappear, society was literate and the printing press had been around for a while, there was effectively a free market economy, and the rights of the individual had become prevalent enough that two revolutions would occur within the century over them. A lot of people may not like to hear this, but copyright did develop naturally as the circumstances developed so that it became necessary.

"In Hong Kong, the film and music industries continue to flourish even though very few pay for content, as creators there have discovered other viable economic models. In the European Union especially, many forms of art couldn't generate a profit even if all copies were sold, but government subsidies ensure culture remains vibrant."

And this is ultimately a red herring, and has very little to do with copyright. One of the biggest misconceptions about copyright - and the one that just makes me want to scream every time I hear it - is that copyright is all about money. It is not - it is simply a legal guarantee that the creator of an original work gets to dictate how that work is copied. It is not a form of intellectual rights welfare. Just because some companies try to use it as a weapon for extortion (like the RIAA), that doesn't change that, and I would point out that the RIAA hasn't actually won any of those cases yet in court. In fact, most of the legislation around copyright has nothing to do with the consumer, but instead to do with how the creators deal with the distributors.

The health of culture and content has almost nothing to do with copyright, but instead with consumption. It is a free market system. If a creator has a product that people want, s/he will likely make a profit if s/he tries. But if nobody wants what they have to offer, it will fade away.

(And for the record, as a basic economic fact, if all of the copies sold and you didn't make a profit, you didn't price it right.)

Re:Very over-simplified and historically ignorant. (1)

808140 (808140) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720699)

Nice post — or at least, it seems like an informative post to me. I'll admit I don't know enough about the time period to comment at all. However, this:

(And for the record, as a basic economic fact, if all of the copies sold and you didn't make a profit, you didn't price it right.)

... is not the least bit correct, and someone with your apparent mental faculties should be able to see why. For any product for which demand exists and for which there is limited supply, there is a set of prices that are low enough (law of demand) that all items will sell. Of these, pick the highest: this represents the most money that you can make, while still selling all the items in your inventory.

Here is where you made an interesting (by which I mean, meritless) logical leap: that this maximum price covered the operational costs associated with the production and/or appropriation of the goods or services you are selling. Because profit is not revenue: profit is money you made in excess of the associated costs of production, labor, etc.

It is a "basic economic fact" that the laws of supply and demand work together to set an optimum price for a good. But profit does not follow from these basic economic facts. Whether or not a businessman can profit from his endeavors has everything to do with whether a market exists for his goods and services. If you take as a given that a market does in fact exist, then the difference between making a profit or not can be a question of pricing — but it seems fairly clear to me, despite my admitted ignorance of ancient greek and roman law, that the original poster was making rather the opposite assumption.

Re:Very over-simplified and historically ignorant. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721919)

Actually, that's not how they run things these days.

Given you have 1000 items to sell that cost you $1.00 to make.
Given you would sell all at $1.50 or less. ($1500 gross - $1000 cost = $500 profit)
Given you would sell none at $8.00.
You find you can sell 200 of them at $7.00 ($1400 gross - $200 cost = $1200 profit)
For simplicity, let's say higher prices give lower profits as sales approach zero.
For simplicity, let's say lower prices give lower profits.

Given these facts, businesses will charge $7.00. They don't want the most people to have their product- they want the most profit.

This pricing model is often used for things like books, songs, amusement parks, etc. It's called yield management. Maximum profit. Not maximum product in the hands of consumers. They even do this for food at times.

Re:Very over-simplified and historically ignorant. (1)

808140 (808140) | more than 7 years ago | (#20722673)

I'm sorry, I have no idea how what you're saying relates to what I said. Perhaps you didn't read my post? Maximizing profit is the goal of any business and understanding how to do that is not rocket science. I never suggested that anyone wanted "the most people to have their product". The GP suggested that if you have a good or service, sell all of it, and don't turn a profit, you have not picked the right price. The truth is, there are some things that you will be unable to turn a profit on, regardless of price -- they just aren't profitable. I explained why this was true in the context of "basic economics", since the GP seemed to misunderstand what basic economics entails.

I have a suggestion for you: in the future, when you respond to my posts — which I encourage you to do — do me (and yourself) the favor of reading and understanding what I say first. It saves me time and makes you look less like you lack basic reading comprehension skills.

Thanks.

Re:One step closer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20722309)

Copyright is a fairly recent notion, as it popped up only four hundred years ago or so

Copyright actually started off as a tool of censorship in 1557 when Queen Mary Tudor capped off a long struggle to regulate printing presses by granting the Stationers' Company the exclusive right to print most books. Of course the Stationers' Company only printed books the Queen approved of.

Modern copyright followed 150 years later with the Statute of Anne in 1710.

Re:One step closer... (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#20719047)

Some of the best movies I've watched have been low budget things.

And honestly I'd rather watch a cat falling off a chair then some of the stuff Hollywood defecates out and/or ruins.

yeah, well, you can't have everything (4, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717635)

when plaintiffs dismissed their claims in June 2007, they apparently had no more material evidence to support their claims than they did when they first contacted defendant in February 2005

You'd think it would take them a lot less than two years to fabricate the proper evidence. Maybe their "research" team is running a backlog of cases and this one fell through the cracks.

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (3, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717689)

They're not going to fabricate3 evidence. Something you have to realise is that the RIAA thinks they're the good guys here, defending their historical industry against the eeeevil pirates.

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (4, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717749)

Something you have to realise is that the RIAA thinks they're the good guys here, defending their historical industry against the eeeevil pirates.

They do think they're the "good guys", which is more of a motive than you might think [slashdot.org] . When you're the "good guy", your own misdeeds can be morally justified (at least in your own mind) because your overall mission is "good", not "evil".

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718413)

yes, but if as is the case with the RIAA, if a large number of people outside of your own "group" punch holes in both your logic and morals, then obviously something is wrong. Just because people can't look at themselves from a 3rd person perspective doesn't exclude them from seeking that from others. Thats why judges are impartial and what they are there for. If the RIAA has a legitimate reason behind what they're doing as opposed to false information, etc, court would be different. However, they're doing immoral work and it shows on all sides of the equation. And trumping copyright law, fair use, first amendment, is not something that fits into the "legitimate reason" category.

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (5, Insightful)

gmack (197796) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718459)

I think this applies: Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences. -- C. S. Lewis

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (2, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718577)

I don't think it does. The RIAA is doing what it does for no reason other than money.

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (4, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720011)

Well, either way I'd say the robber baron appellation is a good fit. Give us your stuff, or we'll just bop you on the head and take it.

Speaking of money, I had always thought the RIAA was funded by the various member corporations, and was to some degree subject to their will. With the RIAA extracting substantial sums from these settlements, are they functioning now as an independent profit-making enterprise? Are they operating this lawsuit mill at a loss? If not ... where does the money go, anyway?

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (2, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721161)

Speaking of money, I had always thought the RIAA was funded by the various member corporations, and was to some degree subject to their will. With the RIAA extracting substantial sums from these settlements, are they functioning now as an independent profit-making enterprise? Are they operating this lawsuit mill at a loss? If not ... where does the money go, anyway?
Being somewhat familiar with what is going on, and being fairly good in arithmetic, I'm pretty sure they're operating the litigation mill at a substantial loss. But I think their primary objective is to save their dying business model, which is a much bigger problem than the few million a year they're dropping on the litigation.

I.e., they are not measuring it in terms of whether the revenues from the litigation exceed the expenses of the litigation. The primary objective of the litigations isn't to produce revenue; it's to produce terror.

The problem is, the people they're trying to terrorize are laughing at them, and have long ago figured out how to avoid detection.

The people they are terrorizing aren't their enemies; they're innocent folks like Tanya Andersen.

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721361)

That's interesting. I have attorneys in my family (and they maintain the same opinion on the RIAA's core motivation as you) but I have no feel for the costs involved. I had sort of tacitly assumed that they were profiting from the cases that settled immediately.

Of course, terrorism (which apparently doesn't always require the application of high explosive, just a certified letter or two) has little to do with specific targets: quite the opposite. The more you can encourage everyone to believe that they are at significant risk (especially if they're not) and to modify their behavior accordingly, the more you have succeeded. But you're right, untold millions of people are laughing at them, and you can still find just about any song you want via any Gnutella client. Whether that will prove to be beneficial for society in the long run is an open question, but it is as great a testament to their failure as any.

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (2, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721543)

I have no feel for the costs involved. I had sort of tacitly assumed that they were profiting from the cases that settled immediately
Again, based on nothing more than my general knowledge and arithmetic, I think the RIAA
-makes a profit on the settlements,
-loses money on the default judgment cases (which make up the large majority of the cases), and
-loses a ton of money on any contested cases.
I think the percentage of cases ending in default judgments and in settlements has diminished, and the percentage being contested has increased, thus moving them from breaking even to losing money.

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20722311)

I think the percentage of cases ending in default judgments and in settlements has diminished, and the percentage being contested has increased, thus moving them from breaking even to losing money.

So their efforts are no longer self-sustaining. That's what I was getting at. If they're operating in the black they can keep this up forever, but if this has turned into into an ineffective money sink their masters may eventually call a halt.

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20722805)

If they're operating in the black they can keep this up forever, but if this has turned into into an ineffective money sink their masters may eventually call a halt.
I'm thinking it's the judges who are starting to call a halt. I'm seeing judges
-throw out the RIAA's boilerplate complaint
-uphold very grave counterclaims
-balk at the ex parte motion practice, and
-assess attorneys fees.

Re:yeah, well, you can't have everything (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721835)

Of course they'd fabricate evidence. What do you think MediaDefender and the RIAA's "expert witnesses" have been doing all this time?

What did we learn today? REVENGE! (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717697)

=)

Seriously, while this is small potatoes change to RIAA, it's a major blow in terms of precedence.

FINALLY, their tactics are coming back to bite them in the ass.

And it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of racketeering bastards.

Settling still seems less painful (3, Interesting)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717725)

Most everyone already knew that settling for a few thousand is worth it, versus the incalcuable time and money and headaches of fighting the RIAA extortion racket. So while I'm glad a single judge was able to figure it out eventually, will this case really have any significant impact upon future threats from the RIAA? Without some explicit legislation (a law) that protects citizens fair-use rights, paired with reasonable copyright protections, I just can't imagine any court procedings fixing our societal dilemma.

Geez, never heard of precedent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20717757)

It is the way the US runs its legal system, once a ruling has been made it functions as a guidance to ALL future cases of a similar nature. This is the first time such a case has gone to court, and BAM, it goes against the RIAA and in favor of the defendant. That means that from now on (until a higher court comes up with a new ruling) this is the way ALL future cases will be judged if they are similar enough.

Why do you think the RIAA is so upset about this loss? Not because they can't afford the money but because this shows to all those setllers that they have been a bunch of suckers and that in future EVERYONE who gets a letter from the RIAA can just go to court with this ruling in their pocket.

The US of A has two "legal" systems if you like, one is made up off the laws made by companies... oops sorry, the politicians bought by the companies, and the other is a far larger set of laws made up of the decisions of the various courts. As long as the courts remain at least somewhat independent, this latter set of laws has so far turned out to be far more powerfull.

This is why it is so fucking damn important that the supreme court does NOT become a yes-man to whatever dumbfuck the nutcases have chosen to elect.

Re:Geez, never heard of precedent? (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717995)

I think the GP's point was "what is to stop the RIAA continuing to sent out nastygrams demanding money or we'll sue?"

Unless the recipient seeks independent legal advice from someone who's actually aware of these cases before settling, the short answer is "Not a lot".

Legal Advice from Slashdot (4, Funny)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718079)

Unless the recipient seeks independent legal advice from someone who's actually aware of these cases before settling, the short answer is "Not a lot".
Serves them right. If they had been reading Slashdot everyday, then they would have known better :-)

Re:Geez, never heard of precedent? (2, Insightful)

rhizome (115711) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720633)

I think the GP's point was "what is to stop the RIAA continuing to sent out nastygrams demanding money or we'll sue?"

The risks of having to pay all costs (which include negative publicity), being sanctioned for bringing frivolous lawsuits, and having additional judgements narrowing the **AA's target area.

RTFPDF, smile and wait for class action (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20718059)

Copyright holders generally, and these plaintiffs specifically, should be deterred from
prosecuting infringement claims as plaintiffs did in this case.
The Magistrate gives the impression in his ruling that the attorney fees be granted [blogspot.com] that he thinks they should be stopped from such activity, starting with making them pay the defendant's lawyer fees and possibly extra penalties. Further, he states that the defendant is still eligible to participate in the class action suit and other claims against the RIAA even after she is receives her award for attorney fees etc in this case. I get the impression this Magistrate would not be forgiving to the RIAA if he were hearing the class action suit and heard evidence showing that the RIAA's lawyers consistantly performed their jobs as they did in this case.

If it can be shown that any significant number of the RIAA's settlements were only settled to avoid lawyer's fees greater then the settlement combined with the RIAA backing down when actually opposed, would it be possible for the court's to order all such activity by the RIAA be stopped, all money collected by them through such activity be refunded with additions to cover costs and interests? The RICO counterclaims are appropriate cause the RIAA's lawyers and their so called experts are doing little more then running protection rackets for the record companies. Considering all that the recording studios pull on artists, the artists really should join in on the RICO claims.

Standard IANAL disclaimer.

Re:Settling still seems less painful (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718555)

But to settle is to give in; and, it is a tacit admission of guilt. (If you did it, then you should settle). While it's statistically unlikely, next time they come after you, they will have the settlement to point to. They can go "look, he admitted guilt once before in this settlement..." In addition, if you settle, you send the message "This Works!" While it's more expensive to litigate, it's the only way to send the message that going after consumers is a bad idea. That is short of convincing Congress to pass laws blocking their action, which by the way isn't going to happen.

Re:Settling still seems less painful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20721149)

I have not seen any RIAA-related settlements, but most settlements include a statement that it is not an admission of guilt and can not be used as one in court. That is particularly important in cases involving criminal allegations, such as copyright infringement.

Re:Settling still seems less painful (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720611)

So while I'm glad a single judge was able to figure it out eventually, will this case really have any significant impact upon future threats from the RIAA?

It doesn't make sense to assert that settling will be less painful (to whom?) when you organize your entire argument around an unanswered question. Yes, running away from a fight is less painful than getting punched, but this isn't necessarily the only criteria involved.

I just can't imagine any court procedings fixing our societal dilemma.

Beyond the assumption that the **AA problem can only be solved as a "societal dilemma," I'm guessing you aren't a lawyer.

Re:Settling still seems less painful (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721185)

I just can't imagine any court procedings fixing our societal dilemma.
Beyond the assumption that the **AA problem can only be solved as a "societal dilemma," I'm guessing you aren't a lawyer.
I'm guessing that not only is he not a lawyer, he's never read a history book, either. Because court proceedings have been crucial at every stage of American history, and have fixed many 'societal dilemmas' which neither the legislative bodies nor the executive branches in state and federal government were able to 'fix'. I have already labeled the author of the GP a "foe" and he continues to demonstrate that he richly deserves that appellation.

Lawyers Luv the DMCA (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#20722229)

I just can't imagine any court procedings fixing our societal dilemma.
Beyond the assumption that the **AA problem can only be solved as a "societal dilemma," I'm guessing you aren't a lawyer.

Laws are passed by legislatures, but only interpreted and applied by judges. A judge cannot make new laws, and he cannot fix bad ones, he can only deal with the law as it IS, not as it SHOULD BE.

I assert that we have too many overextensive and overreaching copyright protection laws, because companies have pressured and lobbied legislative bodies to pass those laws. Judges cannot fix this situation, as it's up to us to pressure and lobby our representatives to fix the bad laws, and make good laws that protect us all. That is the 'societal dilemma' I spoke of, and no, I'm not making money off court cases as you guessed.

Dupe??? (-1, Offtopic)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717739)

I replied to this very article, which is duplicated word for word, hours ago but my reply disappeared, but can still be accessed through my user info. I guess is not a bug, but a feature. *shrug*

Re:Dupe??? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20718831)

the firehose serves only as a testbed for posts, and any comments you post to the firehose do not really exist...

Nitpick grammar check: Attorneys' Fee? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20717743)

That was a difficult title to read. Should it be "attorneys' fee"? Sorry to nitpick.

(Also, if you stare at "attorney" too long, the word just looks funny.)

Re:Nitpick grammar check: Attorneys' Fee? (2, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717889)

Also, if you stare at "attorney" too long, the word just looks funny.

That's because it is funny. It's a 15th century misspelling of a french word, what do you expect it to look like?

Re:Nitpick grammar check: Attorneys' Fee? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717897)

Ya know, if I cross my eyes while looking at that word...I see a sailboat.

Freaky.

This is exactly why recording contracts are HUGE.. (2, Interesting)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717791)

.. they are built upon historical cases. Every case they lose, they update the contract to make sure they do not end up in that position again. All this does is give more ammo to the RIAA / MPAA, they GAIN EXPERIENCE (so do we but they have people focusing on this 24/7).

To me, it seems they never learn :) (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717819)

If they learned something, they wouldn't push DRM so viciously.

Re:To me, it seems they never learn :) (2, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717873)

If they learned something, they wouldn't push DRM so viciously.

Got that right. It's the number 2 reason I haven't bought any music online. Value is number 1. Too much money for too little quality, content and usability. DRM/Copy protected CD tracks are incompatible with my car stereo, living room DVD player, portable DVD/MP3 player and Winamp, PowerPoint, Lights-O-Rama, DigitalPhotoFrame,.... I buy DVD's instead. CSS is broken enough DVD's can be put on both the kids Zen and iPod without buying the media twice, once in each format.

Re:To me, it seems they never learn :) (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 7 years ago | (#20717901)

Well, I meant learning as in LEGAL PROCESS learning :)

Re:To me, it seems they never learn :) (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720165)

Well, I meant learning as in LEGAL PROCESS learning :)

Well, no question they seem to be good at that. So far as learning about anything else, that's really a matter for their member companies to figure out for themselves. I mean, let's put the blame where it belongs. The RIAA is just an enforcement arm at this point: if Sony et. al woke up one day and said, "That's it. This whole DRM/anti-fair-use/lawsuit/rootkit thing just isn't working and we're going to sell 320 kbit/sec archival-quality DRM-free MP3 files from now on" this would all go away overnight. They might even make more money. Hell, I might even buy another Sony product, something I've sworn I'll never do.

What it will take for that to happen I don't know. It's not happening anytime soon. We may have to wait until the current management teams at the major record companies die off.

Re:To me, it seems they never learn :) (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720359)

Waiting until they die off wont do. The problem with the "Rat Race" is, its full of, RATS. Plenty of more to replace them.

Re:To me, it seems they never learn :) (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720409)

True, but as has been conclusively demonstrated in thousands of experiments with the little bastards ... they can learn if properly motivated.

Re:This is exactly why recording contracts are HUG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20717921)

Yes, they must be at least level 5 racketeers with their amount of experience points gained! Yay!

Do you think you're special, Ms. Andersen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20717969)

Well you are. Congratulations.

Why is this important? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20718319)

I apologise if this is a very stupid question, but I really don't see what this means. Don't people always pay the lawyer's fees?

A long way towards discouraging the mess (2, Insightful)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718553)

Methinks they should base the attorney's fees awarded on what the plaintiffs spent on attorney and court costs. I'm sure the defendant would have been happy to spend more (yes, she won, but she obviously couldn't have known that at the onset), and the plaintiffs have clearly indicated what they believe the case was worth to try and work through the courts...

(Even better would be to force the RIAA to pay the defendant what they were attempting to collect in the first place - do that only once or twice and all of these cases go away.)

Re:A long way towards discouraging the mess (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20718611)

Methinks they should base the attorney's fees awarded on what the plaintiffs spent on attorney and court costs. I'm sure the defendant would have been happy to spend more (yes, she won, but she obviously couldn't have known that at the onset), and the plaintiffs have clearly indicated what they believe the case was worth to try and work through the courts...
I agree with you. Certainly, if the RIAA makes the mistake of challenging the reasonableness of the legal fees incurred, the Court will find the RIAA's own fees to be highly relevant. See, e.g. March 15, 2007, Order and Decision in Capitol v. Foster [blogspot.com] .

About Time (1)

acm1979 (1160659) | more than 7 years ago | (#20719063)

I'm glad that judges are beginning to see the flimsiness of the cases brought to their courts by the RIAA and the rather lame methods they use to gather what they claim as "evidence." This will set a precedent for future cases that go to trial. I've noticed that many times judges wait to see what their legal counterparts will do before they decide themselves. All it takes is one judge to step up and make the call and others will soon begin to follow. I can only hope that MediaDefender will get pulled into this as well as being an accessory at some point.

The customer is always wrong-or is a crook! (4, Insightful)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 7 years ago | (#20720639)

That's the attitude the RIAA and MPAA have towards their customers-and they wonder why their customers are voting with their feet in droves! Yes, downloading has a small effect on their sales, but it's their complete lack of customer service that's their biggest problem! Look, if I go to a grocery store and time after time either can't find what I want or the it's packaged so I have to buy five pounds of hamburger or rice when I only want one pound of it, and/or am treated rudely by their staff, I'm simply going to say; "Hasta la Vista, baby!" and go to another store. Yet, that's EXACTLY the way the music and movie industries treat me. Big problem for them is there are OTHER things I can spend my money on that I get enjoyment from. Look at iTunes-they provide music in a user friendly way and provide a no hassle way for me to buy EXACTLY what I want-WHEN I want it! No wonder why they've sold over a billion songs in such a short time. If everyone was pirating content, they'd have NO business! The thing I can't understand is Congress' hard on to pass laws friendly to the music and movie industries. You don't see them passing laws requiring me to shop at Safeway, for example. Are they THAT corrupted?

Re:The customer is always wrong-or is a crook! MOD (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721133)

Look at iTunes-they provide music in a user friendly way and provide a no hassle way for me to buy EXACTLY what I want-WHEN I want it! No wonder why they've sold over a billion songs in such a short time. If everyone was pirating content, they'd have NO business!

I'd mod the parent Insightful +1 for that point alone.

instant karma got 'em (3, Funny)

scottsk (781208) | more than 7 years ago | (#20721479)

Gotta love the irony ... the RIAA members spent a couple of decades pumping out filthy rap trash as mainstream "entertainment" which encouraged people to break the law in more ways than I ever thought possible. Now, when they need it the most, they can't get anyone to obey the law! Instant karma got 'em!

Re:instant karma got 'em (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20722775)

Yes, but that was all about minor crimes such as rape, shooting police officers and selling heroin, mere misdemeanors in comparison to what's happening on P2P nowadays. I mean, they most certainly weren't intending to encourage the theft of something as vital to our society and our economy as pop music ... my God, that would be worse than murder!
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