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U. Maine Law Students Trying To Shut RIAA Down

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the corrupt-enterprise dept.

The Courts 229

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Remember those pesky student attorneys from the University of Maine School of Law's Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, who inspired the Magistrate Judge to suggest monetary fines against the RIAA lawyers? Well they're in the RIAA's face once again, and this time they're trying to shut down the RIAA's whole 'discovery' machine: the lawsuits it files against 'John Does' in order to find out their names and addresses. They've gone and filed a Rule 11 motion for sanctions (PDF), seeking — among other things — an injunction against all such 'John Doe' cases, arguing that the cases seek to circumvent the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act which protects student privacy rights, are brought for improper purposes of obtaining discovery, getting publicity, and intimidation, and are in flagrant violation of the joinder rules and numerous court orders. If the injunction is granted, the RIAA will have to go back to the drawing board to find another way of finding out the identities of college students, and the ruling — depending on its reasoning — might even be applicable to the non-college cases involving commercial ISPs."

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229 comments

Hidden subject (1, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 6 years ago | (#22939312)

I'm just trying to be helpful here. NYCL's wording is a bit too lawyerly for the likes of us IANALs.

They've gone and filed a Rule 11 motion for sanctions (PDF), seeking -- among other things -- an injunction against all such 'John Doe' cases, arguing that the cases seek to circumvent the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act which protects student privacy rights, are brought for improper purposes of obtaining discovery, getting publicity, and intimidation, and are in flagrant violation of the joinder rules and numerous court orders.

They filed a Rule 11 motion for sanctions, seeking an injunction against these cases. They argue that 1) the cases seek to circumvent the FERPA (the FERPA protects student privacy rights), 2) the cases are in violation of the joinder rules and numerous court orders, and 3) the cases are brought for improper purposes of a) obtaining discovery, b) getting publicity, c) and intimidation.

If you ever wonder why lawyers get paid so much, it's the same reason porn stars do. It's not a difficult job, but you wouldn't want to tell your family that you spend all day producing gibberish.

Re:Hidden subject (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939328)

Wow, way to karma whore and not provide anything useful. 1. Good a) job.

Re:Hidden subject (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 6 years ago | (#22939358)

Sheesh, what is slashdot coming to when even BadAnalogyGuy gets too complacent to come up with a car analogy in order to clarify something that is apparently confusing?

And note,

If you ever wonder why lawyers get paid so much, it's the same reason porn stars do. It's not a difficult job, but you wouldn't want to tell your family that you spend all day producing gibberish.
Last time I checked, porn stars aren't paid for producing gibberish. /deliberately obtuse

Re:Hidden subject (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939366)

Last time I checked, porn stars aren't paid for producing gibberish.

Hence the BAD FUCKING ANALOGY. WTF were you expecting?

Re:Hidden subject (4, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 years ago | (#22939656)

Last time I checked, porn stars aren't paid for producing gibberish.

Have you ever been subjected to porn which attempts to actually have a dialog and maybe a plot? Believe me, these people aren't really capable of delivering lines. It's purely gibberish, and jarringly annoying.

Er, at least, that's what I've been told. Yeah, that's it. I, uh, read it on line some place. :-P

Cheers

Re:Hidden subject (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | about 6 years ago | (#22939864)

Er, at least, that's what I've been told. Yeah, that's it. I, uh, read it on line some place.

Must've read it on /. in some users journal. ;)

Re:Hidden subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939940)

Due to the preemptive nature of their work, rule#34 does not apply to p0rn star. ;)

Re:Hidden subject (1)

kd4zqe (587495) | about 6 years ago | (#22940364)

Last time I checked, porn stars aren't paid for producing gibberish.

I don't know about you, but I can rarely understand the words coming out of their mouth with their profession getting in the way...
I kinda feel the same way about lawyers...

Re:Hidden subject (1)

GHynson (1216406) | about 6 years ago | (#22940798)

I guess I'm the only one in the world that uses the FF button in porn.
So,..no, I don't know anything about the quality of the dialogue.

Re:Hidden subject (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#22939486)

Some additional translation:

FERPA is a law that products student records. FERPA :: Student Records == HIPPA :: Medical Records.

Joinder rules are what let a party join, whether the plaintiff or defendant, be named together in a single lawsuit. What these law students are doing is accussing the RIAA of misjoinder:

misjoinder [law.com] n. the inclusion of parties (plaintiffs or defendants) or causes of action (legal claims) in a single lawsuit contrary to statute. Reasons for a court ruling that there is misjoinder include: a) the parties do not have the same rights to a judgment; b) they have conflicting interests; c) the situations in each claim (cause of action) are different or contradictory; or d) the defendants are not involved (even slightly) in the same transaction. In a criminal prosecution the most common cause for misjoinder is that the defendants were involved in different alleged crimes, or the charges are based on different transactions.
The 3rd one is pretty obvious and means what it says.

Rule 11 [cornell.edu] is just the part of the Federal Rules for Civil Procedure that lets parties seek sanctions against a party in a lawsuit, usually for some type of misconduct.

Re:Hidden subject (1)

idiotnot (302133) | about 6 years ago | (#22939732)

But privacy protections do not extend to protections of illegal activities. This comes up more often in relation to drug investigations...

Cops: Have you busted individuals x, y, and z, on campus for drug posession and/or distribution?
School: I can't tell you that.
Cops: Okay, we're going to the magistrate right now, and we'll see your counsel in court first thing in the morning.
School: Okay, yes, we have busted them ten times. They all completed mandatory university-sponsored drug education, and the drugs were destroyed (in the lit professor's bong).

Re:Hidden subject (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#22939790)

But privacy protections do not extend to protections of illegal activities. This comes up more often in relation to drug investigations
Drug possession and distribution are criminal actions. The RIAA is filing civil copyright infringement suits. They are not the same thing. In either case, a proper subpoena from a judge, for just cause, must be served before the school can legally produce these records. I don't think that the RIAA has done that in many cases -- they just demanded records from the schools and some schools, fearing legal initimidation from the MAFIAA, just turned them over. Both the school and the RIAA are liable for FERPA violations in these cases.

In the exchange you proferred, the school broke the law. They should have, to cover their legal arses, requested the cops come back with a subpoena. THat would be completely within the law.

Re:Hidden subject (2, Insightful)

idiotnot (302133) | about 6 years ago | (#22940034)

Actually, reading the complaint, the RIAA did subpeona the records. The argument is that what they requested should still be protected, because the RIAA doesn't actually end up litigating these cases. It's a stretch.

Re:Hidden subject (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 6 years ago | (#22940160)

No, you're mixing together two different arguments.

The FERPA argument is: "The records are not discoverable under FERPA; the issuance of the subpoena was contrary to law. Period." The same point is made by the Oregon Attorney General in Arista v. Does 1-17 [blogspot.com] .

The additional arguments for sanctions, which are separate and distinct from the FERPA argument, are that (a) the case is brought for improper purposes (publicity, intimidation, and discovery) and (b) the deliberate misjoinder flaunts the court rules and numerous court orders.

The discovery issue under (a) is that it's never proper to bring a lawsuit in federal court for the purpose of obtaining discovery. The "John Doe" cases are definitely brought for that purpose, because they are immediately dropped after the RIAA gets the information it was looking for. I.e., it is a pre-action discovery proceeding [which is not authorized under the Federal Rules] masquerading as a copyright infringement proceeding. It is immaterial to the latter argument whether the discovery is or is not barred by FERPA.

Re:Hidden subject-You'd Think (5, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 6 years ago | (#22940904)

a pre-action discovery proceeding [which is not authorized under the Federal Rules] masquerading as a copyright infringement proceeding.

You'd think the judge could put a stop to that -- or better yet a new Federal Rule -- mandating that any identities discovered could only be utilized in the current case. That way, if the plaintiffs lost, or never went to trial in the first place, that information couldn't be misused otherwise.

There was a non-RIAA non-Copyright case a couple years ago where a company sued to obtain the identity of a blogger, critical to that company, and believed to be an employee. While that company had no possibility of winning their case under the First Amendment, once they forced the internet site to cough up sufficient identifying information, they dropped their case and simply fired the employee. That should have never been allowed, and side-steps the whole intent that anonymous persons can be forced to be identified by the courts in virtually any case, no matter how lame, because it's necessary for the administration of justice to identify these defendants.

The whole idea that this will all come out in the wash so to speak, meaning at the actual trial exonerating innocent defendants and punishing overreaching plaintiffs totally misses the point of the damage already being done by the time identities have been revealed under the most flimsy of pretenses.

There should be an argument made that because the RIAA cannot win at trial with the illegally gathered evidence they already have, then identities shouldn't be revealed in the first place. Of course the RIAA will throw back the Jamie Thomas case were stupid juries, a less than bright defendant, and outright wrong jury instructions show that anything is possible if you throw enough b.s. at it.

Of course, my idea will only work if the penalties for actually misusing identity information outside of the trial itself are very VERY severe!

Re:Hidden subject (2, Informative)

audubon (577473) | about 6 years ago | (#22940960)

...the deliberate misjoinder flaunts the court rules and numerous court orders...

flaunt to exhibit ostentatiously

flout scoff: treat with contemptuous disregard; "flout the rules"

Re:Hidden subject (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939894)

>But privacy protections do not extend to protections of illegal activities.

Actually, they do. My wife is a doctor and she always asks her patients if they're doing crystal meth (we're in the midwest; apparently the question gets changed to coke/crack in the east and pot/shrooms in the west) to make sure the meds don't have adverse reactions. Under HIPAA, she cannot provide that information to the authorities. A recent case in Kansas supported this where the attorney general (AG) tried to get Planned Parenthood (PP) to turn over medical records because he thought they were performing illegal late-term abortions. The Kansas Department of Health and PP fought the order and after 4 years have succeeded multiple times in preventing the AG from looking at patients medical records because he thought they _might_ have done something illegal (he was on a fishing expedition).

Lawyer records are similarly protected, except that a lawyer has an ethical obligation to report an ongoing crime (eg if his client tells him he plans to kill the informant).

Re:Hidden subject (4, Insightful)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about 6 years ago | (#22940562)

>But privacy protections do not extend to protections of illegal activities.

Actually, they do

Aren't you both right? There are some illegal things that have privacy protection in some circumstances and some that don't.

In the case of your wife who's a doctor, she may be obligated under HIPAA to keep drug use private. But if some 8-year-old comes in with a condition clearly caused by repeated sexual activity, I'll bet she has a higher priority legal obligation to notify the authorities. You can get no-questions-asked treatment for drug addiction but if you go to a therapist and ask for help overcoming your addiction to child porn, you're likely to find the cops banging on your door.

Likewise, confessional privilege varies. It doesn't exist in the U.K. In the U.S., it's modified depending on the state you're in, whether your priest is a licensed counselor of some sort (and thus subject to the laws applying to that profession) and the context under which your confession is made.

In the instant case, we're dealing with things at a lower level. This isn't a planned murder or ongoing child molestation. This is a civil claim, represented as being *really* big and important by the people who are bringing it, versus a set of legal protections for student records, something generally acknowledged to be a good thing. But neither concern is so clearly inferior to the other that a judgement is easy. It sounds to me like a real crap shoot whether a judge would come down on one side or the other.

Of course, I could render a more insightful opinion if I actually read the article. But then I wouldn't be a true slashdotter, would I?

Re:Hidden subject (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 6 years ago | (#22940880)

>But privacy protections do not extend to protections of illegal activities.

Actually, they do.... Under HIPAA, she cannot provide that information to the authorities.
Doesn't doctor-patient confidentiality predate HIPAA?

Re:Hidden subject (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22940654)

FERPA is a law that products student records. FERPA :: Student Records == HIPPA :: Medical Records.

Some correct translation:

FERPA == Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act : protects student records

HIPAA == Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act : protects medical records

Re:Hidden subject (4, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#22939496)

If you ever wonder why lawyers get paid so much, it's the same reason porn stars do. It's not a difficult job, but you wouldn't want to tell your family that you spend all day producing gibberish

I don't question the money my doctor will make when he sticks needles in my eye tomorrow. He has the training and experience to do the job. I also didn't question the money I paid my divorce attorney when I was divorced; she, also, had the training and experience. I don't pay my lawyer to produce gibberish, I pay him to translate it to me, and speak Martian with his fellow Martians. Most normal people (i.e., those not on slashdot) whouldn't have a clue what two slashdotters were talking about when we're discussing, say, computers. "Sorry, Mr. Geek, I don't speak nerdish".

I don't see where a porn star has to have a lot of education. Like an MD, you pay your lawyer more for what he knows than for what he does.

Re:Hidden subject (1, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | about 6 years ago | (#22939602)

I don't see where a porn star has to have a lot of education. Like an MD, you pay your lawyer more for what he knows than for what he does.
Bollocks. Like an MD, you pay your lawyer for his membership in an exclusive, government enforced monopoly.

Re:Hidden subject (4, Insightful)

Kierthos (225954) | about 6 years ago | (#22939950)

Actually, I pay him because he knows what the hell he is doing and has had the training to do it. I wouldn't pay an auto mechanic to represent me in court, and I wouldn't pay a lawyer to fix my transmission. It has nothing to do with any sort of government enforced monopoly. It has to do with the fact that they are trained to perform the jobs I ask them to do.

Easy on the pr*n stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22940110)

I don't see where a porn star has to have a lot of education

Maybe because a smart woman is infinitely more attractive than a dumb one? Sorry, maybe it's just personal opinion, but I like to see a brain behind the eyes. No, the eyes higher up. Dumb peple are IMHO irritating, especially when they become president.

Hmm, slight tangent. What would happen with a pr*n start as president? It would make life hard for those seeking indictment, and it's not like it would change much from current, umm, "leadership" other than be a heck of a lot more entertaining (and probably less violent).

However, given the national reaction to a simple "wardrobe malfunction" (sjeez what a PC term, let's call it "exposed normal body part") I'd say "fat chance". I must move to Italy..

Re:Hidden subject (2, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | about 6 years ago | (#22940204)

Like an MD, you pay your lawyer more for what he knows than for what he does.

Not quite. A good lawyer, or team of lawyers, should be able to put their knowledge to good use. Just knowing how to defeat someone doesn't mean you actually can.

So you're paying for both, the strategist who comes up with the game plan and the warrior who executes it.

It's the same with surgeons, and even sometimes with general physicians. You wouldn't want to have a needle meant to draw blood going into a nerve, would you?

I kind of agree with everything else though. Well, except that it's far more likely to be: "Sorry Mr. Geek, I don't speek Klingon."

Re:Hidden subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22940068)

What badanalogyguy meant to say was that both lawyers and porn stars f*ck around all day, with their thumbs in theirs or other people's arses.

Re:Hidden subject (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 6 years ago | (#22940208)

"If you ever wonder why lawyers get paid so much, it's the same reason porn stars do. It's not a difficult job, but you wouldn't want to tell your family that you spend all day producing gibberish."

But...what you said was in no way more clear or concise than NYCL's summary.

Re:Hidden subject (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 6 years ago | (#22940462)

How exactly is your version easier?
I actually have less problems with the original version, but that's mainly because I understand the legal terms. Anybody who doesn't, still won't after reading your version.

No evidence (5, Insightful)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | about 6 years ago | (#22939316)

All the so called evidence the RIAA has would be circumstantial. Just because a particular computer was at a particular IP address does not mean a particular individual was responsible for the infringement. I certainly hope they are fully successful.

Re:No evidence (2, Insightful)

Kierthos (225954) | about 6 years ago | (#22939976)

For colleges, this is especially true. What if the IP is for a computer in a classroom or lab? Oh look, suddenly, it's gone from 1 or 2 possible students using a dorm room computer, to potentially hundreds of students having access. (There are/were several computer labs at the university I went to which were open to anyone, and several others where you only needed to know the door code to get in, and they were remarkably simple to learn.)

Re:No evidence (5, Informative)

ari_j (90255) | about 6 years ago | (#22940288)

"Circumstantial" does not mean any of the following, about evidence: (1) inadmissible; (2) insufficient to prove a fact in court; or (3) unreliable. You can be convicted of murder based on nothing but circumstantial evidence, if it is strong enough. Otherwise, murderers who hide their victims' bodies the best could not be convicted. And the RIAA only has to prove infringement by a preponderance of the evidence, a much lower standard of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt as required for a criminal conviction.

This is about the RIAA's abuse of the discovery process and, in particular, its filing lawsuits for the sole purpose of collecting evidence through discovery. You personally can't just send me interrogatories [wikipedia.org] without having a pending lawsuit against me, and you also can't file a lawsuit whose only purpose is to allow you to send me interrogatories. And that's what the RIAA is apparently doing, rampantly.

Interesting problems for students (5, Interesting)

adpsimpson (956630) | about 6 years ago | (#22939318)

When I was studying Engineering, the most interesting case studies were the real life cases - actual original research and current theories.

Similarly here, these students seem to have a deparment which values them enough to give them something interesting AND useful to work on.

Good on them all.

Not only that (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939400)

There's been a number of movements [yahoo.com] against the *iaa. I particuarly like the third group in the list.

Re:Interesting problems for students (4, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | about 6 years ago | (#22940316)

When I was studying Engineering, the most interesting case studies were the real life cases - actual original research and current theories.

I wonder if many of the engineering students have figured out that an Ubuntu Live CD and a USB hard drive leave no fingerprints on a computer. There are no deleted files. They never existed. DHCP with temporary leases and an editable MAC addresses finish out the playing card. Some networks will allow www through their proxy but not the campus network without a login. ;-)

Not logged in, a new MAC address and DHCP lease, + no HD writes = no cache, history, or deletions evidence. Find a good place to stash that USB drive. That's the online privacy game at it's finest.

SACRIFICIAL SUICIDE! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939332)


  Satanized, crucified, feel the warth of suicide
  Incus fear of the sphere, angel darkness disappears
  Covenant, blasphemous, open up unhollness
  Father Satan, let me just unholy sins

  Chorus:
  Suicide sacrifice
  Desrtuction of holy life
  Blood of unholy knife
  Satan I sacrifice

  Behold the crucifix, symbol of sterility
  I am crucifix - Satan
  Suicide sacrifice, profeasting evil night
  Lust into reality - Satan
  Angel of the black abyss, Satan lord i hall
  Insane blasphemous - Satan
  Sacrifical suicide, Ritual to end my life
  Behemoth incess my fate - Satan

  Dammed to tell, end of my life
  Warth of God - Satan
  Sin my soul, blesses with fire
  Throne of stone - Satan
  I must die, in my wake
  Seventh gate - Satan
  Suicide, end my life
  I must die - satan

  Suicide sacrifice, thrust of evil deep inside
  Lucifer never lies, take away thee mortal life
  Demigod, Satan son, commend to body to the ground
  Father Satan, I'll find peace when I am God

  (Repeat Chorus)

Those pesky students... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939338)

That's right, it was I who falsely accused thousands of innocent people of having violated copyright. And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!

New Library Wing..... (5, Insightful)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 6 years ago | (#22939362)

Dedicated by the RIAA in the near future at the University of Maine.....

That should get the faculty to shut up those pesky law students :)

Re:New Library Wing..... (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 6 years ago | (#22939674)

More likely, they will bribe the U.S. Congress directly to cut of federal funding for any college that doesn't bow before the RIAA. They've been trying [boingboing.net] . And with Democrats (who are owned by Hollywood) and Republicans (who are owned by big business) dominating Congress pretty much exclusively, it's quite likely they will succeed.

Re:New Library Wing..... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22940856)

OMG! Democrats and Republicans are dominating Congress?!! Run for the hills!

Re:New Library Wing..... (4, Interesting)

sexybomber (740588) | about 6 years ago | (#22939780)

I don't know which is more disturbing: the fact that I would fully expect the record companies to stoop that low or the fact that such a ploy might actually work.

Re:New Library Wing..... (2, Informative)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 6 years ago | (#22939782)

I'd love to see that happen, just so I could laugh. For those who didn't know (which I would assume is all but maybe 5 other people around here), the Maine School of Law isn't actually at the University of Maine, which is in Orono, but at the University of Southern Maine, which is in Portland. Still the state university system, but the campuses are about 150 miles apart.

Re:New Library Wing..... (1)

swillden (191260) | about 6 years ago | (#22940078)

Dedicated by the RIAA in the near future at the University of Maine.....

That should get the faculty to shut up those pesky law students :)

And encourage the faculty at other law schools to get their students involved. New RIAA endowments for everyone!

Re:New Library Wing..... (2, Interesting)

Kierthos (225954) | about 6 years ago | (#22940220)

*snort* Yeah, I could actually see that happening here. The nearby law school (less then two blocks away) is trying to get a new building, only they're not doing so well at raising the money through the various means (fundraisers, getting the state to kick in some bucks, alumni donations). I could easily see them taking that path...

Rule 11 (5, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | about 6 years ago | (#22939390)

In case you were wondering what Rule 11 [wikipedia.org] is like I was...

What a bucnh of idiots (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939394)

How about college kids learn to PAY THEIR FUCKING WAY and stop stealing music?
What the hell is wrong with tracing who is downloading copyrighted material then suing the cunts?
If you cant afford the music you cant have it. You are at college to learn, not max out your fucking mp3 player.
Idiots.

Re:What a bucnh of idiots (2, Interesting)

pipatron (966506) | about 6 years ago | (#22939468)

If you cant afford the music you cant have it.

Answer #1: Why not?

Answer #2: Since it's now free, everyone can afford it.

Answer #3: These days, you can have the music even if you can't afford it. Since they're at college to learn, they'd better spend their money on books.

Re:What a bucnh of idiots (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939546)

Should you have a car if you can't afford it? You can if you steal it. Does that fact that you can make it right? Grow up and stop leeching off of others.

Re:What a bucnh of idiots (5, Informative)

jwisser (1038696) | about 6 years ago | (#22939736)

Talk about your bad car analogy.

Look: I take your car. Now I have a car, and you don't. I have clearly caused you harm: I have made it more difficult for you to go to work, spend time with your family, pick up groceries, and pay for a new car.

Now look again: You're sharing some music files. I download them from you. Now we both have a car... I mean, music files. I have not caused you harm- you still have your music that you (presumably) paid for. The only argument you can make is that I have caused harm to the RIAA (and those who work for it) and the artist. This may be the case, but it's not a given. If I was never going to buy that music to begin with, I haven't deprived anyone of anything. In fact, if I decide I like the music I would never have heard otherwise, I may decide to buy it somewhere down the road. I have caused no harm; I have simply gained a benefit, but not at anyone else's expense.

On the other hand, if I were planning to pay for the music, but downloaded it instead, I have denied income to the RIAA and the artist. That's pretty lousy, although a lot of people understandably have a lack of sympathy for uber-billionaire multinational corporations and their multi-billionaire hack artists. This lack of sympathy doesn't make the denial of income any less wrong; just more understandable.

You paint this out to be black and white, but in truth, this situation is extremely nuanced, and the heart of the problem is that our current laws (and the RIAA's current business model) are in no way sufficient or even relevant for it.

Re:What a bunch of idiots (5, Insightful)

hobo sapiens (893427) | about 6 years ago | (#22940424)

You really nailed it. It is very nuanced and the reason why the debate rages because people can play the semantics game and make either side sound plausible. Thing is, slashdot is *the* place for geeks, and geeks are normally more objective than this. I guess everyone (or community) has their blind spots. You'll probably catch a few undeserved troll/flamebait mods for stating what you did because you'll look like an RIAA stooge (and you obviously aren't). But at least what you said is objective.

That said, the RIAA should NOT be allowed to use questionable tactics to enforce their copyrights. They really do bully people. It's unfortunate that well connected and very wealthy organizations can do things that the average guy couldn't. The law should be enforced with a modicum of parity. If the law really falls short in addressing what downloading music illegally is defined as, at least it can be consistent in how far a corporation can go in defending its IP, as well as how much in damages it can seek in a civil trial. The story of the woman from Michigan who was successfully sued for >200K should have never happened. What sane court could grant such a sum for such a small crime? That should be as illegal as copyright infringement, I know the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment doesn't pertain to civil trials but in this case that's what it was.

Re:What a bucnh of idiots (2, Informative)

228e2 (934443) | about 6 years ago | (#22939562)

Re: to answer 1, 2 and 3. No.

Look, its seriously time to stop pretending your silly excuses are valid. I will admit I download music/vids/etc, but it IS illegal. No seriously. Yes, some music through special online, downloadable vendors are legal ways to d/l music, but Kazaa is not. Limewire is not. Stop making excuses for yourselves and those who do this. Now, i am in no means a RIAA lover, but ignoring that stealing anything is illegal is irresponsible and childish.

Re:What a bucnh of idiots (2, Informative)

pipatron (966506) | about 6 years ago | (#22940138)

but it IS illegal

And because it is written in the holy book it is true and shall always be.

ignoring that stealing anything is illegal is irresponsible

A copyright violation is not stealing.

That's ridiculous (5, Interesting)

evolvearth (1187169) | about 6 years ago | (#22940178)

The only reason why we pay for art is to support the artist. If we see that the artist is either high on the hog or that the artist isn't making very much from the recorded music, then there is less incentive to buy. Artists will always make money from concerts and various things like t-shirts and such, so they people we're really supporting are the ones who are popularizing their music globally. Basically, it is the businessmen who we aren't supporting through downloads.

The problem businessmen have is that they can't figure out the solution to this problem. Perhaps by exposing a band to a wide market, they could collect x amount of dollars from the concerts they performed, as they're supposedly responsible for popularzing the band to begin with. So the contract would spell that out for as long as the band is signed up with a particular record label. Recording music would simply be to advertise for the band rather than a major means of profit. You simply can't reproduce live performances--it's a different experience. Start making shit that can't be downloaded! Add extra shit to those hard copy of albums to make them worthwhile to buy: extra art, neat case, raffle tickets to win apparel, dogtags with band member names on it, et cetera. It's time to be creative. The artist at this point seems to be supported, so now I want my art for free and I'll worry about the artist when necessary. After all, isn't art's main purpose to be enjoyed by both the creator and his of her fans? As long as the artist isn't broke, I'm not going to feel guilty for not supporting the business of uncreative suits.

Another musical career insight (2, Insightful)

deesine (722173) | about 6 years ago | (#22940980)

from somebody who doesn't know a single working (as in making a living with music) musician.

The artist at this point seems to be supported, so now I want my art for free and I'll worry about the artist when necessary.
That statement reads exactly like a 5 year old saying "I want it now!" - absolutely no connection to reality.

Re:What a bucnh of idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939528)

Judging from your spelling, you didn't get very far with edumacation, did you?

Re:What a bucnh of idiots (0, Flamebait)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#22939534)

How about anonymous cowards learn to IDENTIFY THEMSELVES and stop trolling?
What the hell is wrong with discussing who is downloading copyrighted material then laughing at the RIAA cunts?
If you don't have a clue you cant have it. You are at slashdot to learn and teach, not troll your fucking ass off.
Idiot.

Re:What a bucnh of idiots (-1, Flamebait)

evolvearth (1187169) | about 6 years ago | (#22940214)

That's right! Fucking ass shit! Cunts tits motherfucker! Shit slapping pantywagon cuntstick on a frog! Fucking ass shithole Barbara Streisand!

Re:What a bucnh of idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22940660)

I'm confused. Should I be at /. to learn and teach, or to discuss who is downloaded copyrighted music and laugh at RIAA cunts?

Because really, they're not one and the same.

Re:What a bucnh of idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939610)

Note to any soon-to-be students: The parent is an idiot, no-one else expects you to work all your waking hours. Enjoy yourselves, it's much easier to learn that way.

RIAA is Slashdot's new SCO (1, Interesting)

cplusplus (782679) | about 6 years ago | (#22939414)

It seems like we see a new RIAA related story every day.

Re:RIAA is Slashdot's new SCO (2, Insightful)

Mantaar (1139339) | about 6 years ago | (#22939590)

As long as they suffer the same sort of demise SCO has suffered in the end - I don't really mind.

Besides, RIAA gives us plenty of reason to bitch about them, as long as they do, I actually want to stay informed. I'd be glad to see a rapid decline in bitch-against-RIAA-stories on /. and reddit, but only because that would go hand in hand with a decrease in corruption and braindeadtivity on the MAFIAA's side.

Re:RIAA is Slashdot's new SCO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939930)

I'm Looking forward to see these stories tagged: diealready

Re:RIAA is Slashdot's new SCO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22940846)

>It seems like we see a new RIAA related story every day.
And why not? This issue attracts all the newbies and wannabes: With a real, honest-to-goodness *lawyer* giving Slashdot the play by play, it makes them feel as though copyright infringement is justified.

Which, of course, you'd never hear NewYorkCountryLawyer say.

His point, and the point of these lawsuits, is to force the RIAA to obey the law while trying to bring cases against accused copyright infringers - something that is a good idea, I think.

But they in no way make copyright infringement legal, nor OK, no matter how much rationalization happens here.

And, finally, and most importantly to the "editors" here: It generates revenue for Slashdot. The more the kiddiez gnash their teeth about "teh evil MAFIAA", the more money they make, something that I find endlessly amusing.

we would have gotten away with it... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939418)

...if it wasn't for those meddling kids!

Talk about a quality law school (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | about 6 years ago | (#22939554)

im a foreigner, dont know us law, and even i have understood what they were suing against, and what they were going to use.

you dont need to have a big name to be a good law school. you just need quality students, and encouraging teachers.

If RIAA wins all these cases (4, Insightful)

bravo369 (853579) | about 6 years ago | (#22939654)

Then they will have too much power to continue these actions. On the flip side, constantly fighting these cases in court is not what RIAA wants to do. They want it settled and out of the way as soon as possible. Hopefully law students in each state all take up this cause pro bono. I say law students because they probably will be most likely to fight pro bono and save the defendants money but also they will probably fight as hard as anyone against the RIAA. Imagine putting that on your resume after law school...that you successfully brought down the RIAA.

Re:If RIAA wins all these cases (2, Interesting)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 6 years ago | (#22940716)

Lawyers are very much like football coaches in at least one respect. When one thing works, everybody copies it to death. If the RIAA gets slammed for abusive discovery processes in Maine, other lawyers will try to play the same game elsewhere. Rule 11 means that the abusive litigant (or their lawyer) has to pay money - - sometimes LOTS of money. Rule 11 sanctions have the power to strike fear into the heart of lawyers. The RIAA will have to change their game if they lose. I can't imagine Congress wading in to help them because the procedural rules represent a careful balancing of competing considerations--twisting them up to help one particular kind of litigant in one particular kind of case would really upset the applecart.

Huzzah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939738)

Here come the cavalry!

A Generation Against Them (4, Interesting)

mbrod (19122) | about 6 years ago | (#22939774)

The RIAA is creating a whole generation of enemies by going after College students. Their demise can't happen soon enough.

Re:A Generation Against Them (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 6 years ago | (#22940122)

The RIAA is creating a whole generation of enemies by going after College students. Their demise can't happen soon enough.

That's what the hippy's thought in the 1960s with free love, drug law reform, and peace. Look at that generation now...

Re:A Generation Against Them (3, Interesting)

compro01 (777531) | about 6 years ago | (#22940370)

which is why these things need to be done quickly, before this generation becomes used to the way things are.

Re:A Generation Against Them (1)

mbrod (19122) | about 6 years ago | (#22940438)

I can quite easily choose to stop giving any money whatsoever to the RIAA. I can't stop paying my taxes if I disagree with policy.

Re:A Generation Against Them (1)

mgblst (80109) | about 6 years ago | (#22940440)

If only the world wasn't so god damn apathetic, we might have something. Most people don't care, and to be honest, there are a lot more important things for most people to worry about. It is quite a luxurious position in, to care about something that doesn't actually kill you.

RIAA to blame for increase in graffiti (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 6 years ago | (#22940612)

It's just one of the many things that makes GenY so cynical: Bill Clinton lying about sex, GW Bush lying about WMD, low salaries, multi-national corporations, hypocrisy of suburbia (enshrined in American Beauty, the anthem movie of GenY).

This point was really driven home to me on discussion list recently. All the GenY members were defending graffiti as an artform whereas all the older members were condemning it as vandalism. GenY seems to think vandalism is OK as long as it is done against large corporations. I blame the RIAA in part for this. I blame the RIAA in part for the increase in graffiti.

Re:A Generation Against Them (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 6 years ago | (#22940918)

What about the members of the RIAA? The music labels deserve their share of the blame for supporting the RIAA with their membership dues. The RIAA exists in part so that their members can act behind the scenes as part of an organization that shields them from the direct wrath of activists, bad PR, and the possible sanctions associated with questionable legal tactics. The RIAA is a contemptible and possibly corrupt organization ala RICO [wikipedia.org] , but let us not forget the labels who stand behind the RIAA and approve of it's actions by continuing to pay their membership dues.

Cantenna and a wireless router in the library! (2, Interesting)

mlwmohawk (801821) | about 6 years ago | (#22939966)

Using a cantenna, the "smart" students should aim the directional wifi to their dorms and surf on the library IP address. That would be funny. Then the university would HAVE to defend itself against this nonsense instead of throwing its students under the wheels.

Re:Cantenna and a wireless router in the library! (1)

notorious ninja (1137913) | about 6 years ago | (#22940244)

How would that be any different? Most/all universities (or at least all of the types of universities that the RIAA targets) require authentication to access the university network, whether it's from the ethernet port in their dorm room or through a wireless access point in the library. It'd still be traceable back to a single student account.

FERPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22939982)

It's actually a very good move. IANAL, but I did go to law school for awhile and both my parents were educators. It amazes me that the schools have turned over any information. When I was working tech support for a school district hardly a day went by where we would run into an administrative roadblock because of FERPA, and all the privacy guarantees it gives to students.

Speaking for me only, if I were among the students whose identity had already been turned over I would attempt to get my identity withheld in discovery because it was illegally obtained. I would also sue the school which gave away my information.

Re:FERPA (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 6 years ago | (#22940008)

It amazes me that the schools have turned over any information. When I was working tech support for a school district hardly a day went by where we would run into an administrative roadblock because of FERPA, and all the privacy guarantees it gives to students.
I think the reason it's happened is because the proceedings are ex parte: i.e., they're behind closed doors, without prior notice to the students or to the college. Had the discovery motion been made on notice, the university and students would have had a chance to educate the judge about FERPA and other privacy statutes. Certainly the RIAA isn't doing that.

So the real culprit is the judge who signs an ex parte order instead of requiring proper notice of motions, as the law requires.

Re:FERPA (2, Interesting)

steelfood (895457) | about 6 years ago | (#22940284)

So the real culprit is the judge who signs an ex parte order instead of requiring proper notice of motions, as the law requires.

You can blame the judge, but I usually like to presume ignorance until I know otherwise. Rather, I'd blame the lawyers of the RIAA, for not informing the judge of this particular law (which they're not obligated to do, but is a matter of ethics), and for the schools for not appealing based upon this.

IANAL (which makes me either really foolish or really bold to argue with you ;) ), but it just seems like judgment made in ignorance of a law that would affect the judgment would be grounds for appeals.

Re:FERPA (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22940326)

actually, the lawyers are required by the bar of whatever jurisdiction they practice in to disclose to the court all applicable laws and binding precedent. failure to do so leads to serious sanctions, including disbarment, which is a very serious matter for a lawyer

Re:FERPA (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 years ago | (#22940584)

So the real culprit is the judge who signs an ex parte order instead of requiring proper notice of motions, as the law requires.

Unfortunate that we can't hold these judges responsible somehow. Sovereign immunity should be abolished.

Re:FERPA (2, Insightful)

thomas.galvin (551471) | about 6 years ago | (#22940662)

I think the reason it's happened is because the proceedings are ex parte: i.e., they're behind closed doors, without prior notice to the students or to the college. Had the discovery motion been made on notice, the university and students would have had a chance to educate the judge about FERPA and other privacy statutes. Certainly the RIAA isn't doing that.
The fact that judges are issuing ruling without being knowledgeable of the pertinent laws kind of terrifies me. It also kind of gives lie to the whole "ignorance of the law is no excuse" line; if the judges don't know the law, how on earth are the rest of us supposed to?

Re:FERPA (2, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 6 years ago | (#22940912)

No judge or lawyer can be expected to "know the law". I don't care if the judge knows all about FERPA or not. I do care that the judge knows that our system requires "notice" to the other side, so the other side can get a lawyer to look into it and bring the law to the judge's attention.

Ruling judge's sanctions (2, Informative)

esocid (946821) | about 6 years ago | (#22940016)

IANAL so don't mind me if I'm incorrect here, but in that case the ruling magistrate judge suggested Rule 11 sanctions [blogspot.com] . Stating In my view, the Court would be well within its power to direct the Plaintiffs to show cause why they have not violated Rule 11(b) with their allegations respecting joinder. This judge's complaint is the last point of the motion that the legal aid is filing, but if even the judge has problems with what the MAFIAA is doing here I see the defendants winning most, if not all of the points of this motion.
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