Judge Recognizes That Parents Aren't Liable For Kids RIAA Mis-Adventures

from the it's-about-time dept

For years, we've been asking why so many parents just roll over when the RIAA comes calling about unauthorized file sharing activities of their kids. It was never clear if there was any real liability, but many parents agreed to pay up because they either didn't understand the law (and the RIAA certainly didn't help), or just wanted to protect their kids. This issue has finally been getting more attention lately, as a few parents have started fighting back against the RIAA, raising the question of liability for the actions of others. This came out last week, so we're a bit late on it, but it's worth noting that in at least one such case, a judge has said that the liability cannot be placed on the parent, freaking out the RIAA, who withdrew the case, and then tried to have the judge open up another way to go after the kid -- and the judge refused. This is bad news for the RIAA, especially if more parents begin to realize that they can fight back. However, the one downside to this ruling was denying the mother's request to have the RIAA pay her attorney's fees. For that, the judge said that the RIAA had "taken reasonable steps to try to prosecute this case and litigate against the proper defendants." That seems questionable. We've been pointing out for years that the RIAA and the MPAA seem to send out threatening letters without any effort to actually determine who was involved. They simply determine who owns the connection and go after them, even though it's quite clear at this point, in an age of easy networking, that the owner of a connection is often not the person using it. In fact, in home situations, the owner of a computer may not even be the person using it.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Mikester, Sep 21st, 2005 @ 10:42am

    Another liberty eroded

    Wow. Just wow. Although, I suppose it shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. Governments are increasingly wanting to control our lives as we seem unable to do so ourselves. From allowing what happens in the bedroom, to what people watch, and now this, what parents are allowed to let their own children do. Soon the gov't will have succeded in turning us into will-less drones, doing what ever they want us to.

     

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  2.  
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    Yodzilla, Sep 21st, 2005 @ 10:57am

    Re: Another liberty eroded

    You are absolutely retarded. Did you even read the news post before spouting your shit?

     

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  3.  
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    Pete Austin, Sep 21st, 2005 @ 11:02am

    Please read the article

    ...not just the techdirt summary. It's short and well-written, though the lawyer is a defense attorney (i.e he opposed the RIAA).

    From Digital Music News
    1. The RIAA realized it can't sue the parent for what the child did.
    2. The RIAA can't sue the child unless a special guardian ad litem is appointed by the Court to protect the interests of the child. This is a major protection for children who are being targeted by the RIAA, and it will be a major problem for the RIAA to contend with.
    3. According to one federal judge in Michigan, it is inappropriate to award attorneys fees against the RIAA if they take all reasonable measures to make sure they are suing the right person.
    Ray Beckerman

     

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  4.  
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    jim s, Sep 21st, 2005 @ 11:36am

    Re: Please read the article

    I noted in another case having to do with Apple trying to sue sites with "leaked" trade secrets, that the judges found that Apple did not take sufficient steps to try to discover on their own that they had information on the perp's before suing and issueing subpoenas, etc, and it looks like that case is going against Apple for that reason.

    Does that not apply to step 3, if one argues that the RIAA is not pursuing other options sufficiently that their prosecutions are not proper?

    I obviously do not know the law, but there seems to be an overall desire to just set up a stream of people easily giving them $$ to keep their prosecutions going, and no desire on their part to take on individual cases with real attention to those cases on their separate merits.

    I wonder if they should not be required to prove in each and every case they file to do more work to prove there was a real infraction, not just some junk records on some site that could have been forged in some manner. It should be on them to prove every step is correct.

    What if someone wanted to start polluting peoples systems with data that the RIAA could say showed there was access to sharing, but in actuality was just a list of crap. They would have to actually go and prove that the actual move took place, not that the list of data was present. It is entirely too easy to forge the data that suggests that files are there, and logs from ISP's and so forth do not show a connection to an actual system transfering a file.

    This has been at the heart of some other courts ruling that there is not sufficient proof that the transfers took place, especially when ISPs which change IP's and dialups are involved.

     

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  5.  
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    Mikester, Sep 21st, 2005 @ 11:44am

    Re: Another liberty eroded

    My apologies. I commented in the wrong thread. This was meant for the "Best Way To Get Around Kid Buying Ban On Video Games? Ask Mom" entry.

     

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  6.  
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    Darstan, Sep 21st, 2005 @ 1:24pm

    Load of crap

    You know I find it to be a load of crap that a parent can't be sued for the actions of their child. Until a child is 18 years of age the parent is responsible for a child and this should include with their computer use. It is not the governments or a corperations fault that a parent is not monitoring what the child is doing. I'm not saying a parent should have to treat a child like a prisoner but come on people need to take a little responsibility. If a parent allowed a kid access to their hand gun and a kid used it to rob a store then the parent would be held accountable along with the child what is the difference. Only difference is the child is not using a gun but rather the parents internet connection. So why should the parent be held accountable. Ignorance is not a legitimate deffense but somewhere along or legal system has forgotten this.

     

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  7.  
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    widepart, Sep 21st, 2005 @ 1:29pm

    record and music industry

    I guess there are really good computer system security systems out there...because I would have thought by now someone would have crashed their networks worldwide in revenge for their stupid (in my opinion) actions.) Sueing your customers NOT SMART.

     

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  8.  
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    Darstan, Sep 21st, 2005 @ 1:34pm

    Re: record and music industry

    Would one not have to buy the product and/or abide by the laws governing the use of the product to be a customer?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2005 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Load of crap

    Your full of crap my friend..... it's like the IRS codebooks.... about 6 ft tall..... ignorance is no excuse there either, but it's a load of crap too, as they don't even know their own codes.....

    Please .... tell me you KNOW EVERY LAW ON THE BOOKS :P

    Riiiiiiggggggggghhhhhhtttttt..... shut up.

     

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  10.  
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    Mousky, Sep 21st, 2005 @ 6:27pm

    Stretching the truth

    Mike, I read the two orders issued by the Judge and neither order mentions that parents are not liable for the actions of their children. I did read a response from a Ray Beckerman that stated that the "RIAA realized it can't sue the parent for what the child did". Again, that conclusion did not jump out at me from either order. I'm not sure how either of you reached the "parents are not liable" conclusion based on the information and links at Digital Music News.

    What happened here is that the lawyers for the music companies got caught with their pants down. The RIAA requested a motion for leave to add the daughter, but the Judge concurred only if the RIAA agreed to dismiss the mother with prejudice. The RIAA withdrew the original motion to dismiss without prejudice and subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the mother with prejudice and requested concurrence with the mother. She refused to concur on the basis she should be awarded costs. This response appeared to have caught the RIAA by surprise. They were saying, 'like, wtf, this is exactly what the Judge was going to order and she is not opposed to the dismissal'. During this time the RIAA failed to add the daughter as a defendant. Ooops. In the second order, the Judge reminded the RIAA they had an earlier opportunity to add the daughter as a defendant. So, where is the bit about parent's not being liable for their children? Unless you can point me to some additional information or links that I am unaware of, you are stretching the truth on this one.

     

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  11.  
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    Bill.., Sep 22nd, 2005 @ 2:09am

    You can't have it both ways people..

    You want the government to stay out of the way you raise your children. But, when they do something wrong, you don't want to take responsibility? Make up your minds! I don't agree with the government getting this far into the affairs of families, but if the parent's aren't willing to take the responsibility, someone has to. This country is (theoretically, at least) ruled by the majority. If the majority of parents, as seems to be the case now, aren't willing to take the responsibility of raising their own kids, then the government will step in.

     

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  12.  
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    khf, Jan 31st, 2006 @ 10:11am

    Re: Please read the article

    pooooooooo

     

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  13.  
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    Smart chick online, Jan 31st, 2006 @ 10:13am

    U COPIED ME IDIOT

    You want the government to stay out of the way you raise your children. But, when they do something wrong, you don't want to take responsibility? Make up your minds! I don't agree with the government getting this far into the affairs of families, but if the parent's aren't willing to take the responsibility, someone has to. This country is (theoretically, at least) ruled by the majority. If the majority of parents, as seems to be the case now, aren't willing to take the responsibility of raising their own kids, then the government will step in.

     

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  14.  
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    Mark, Feb 7th, 2007 @ 7:47am

    Re: Load of crap

    Well, if the only protection they are getting before they are 18 is that they are under age, and the parent is going to not be held responsible for the kid's actions by the government, then sooner or later that kid is going to be over 18, and will no longer have the "safety" of being a minor.

    But comparing copyright infringement to armed robbery is a red herring in this context. The number of possible legitimate reasons for a parent to allow a minor to have access to a loaded hand-gun is limited in the extreme (certainly small enough to be considered the exception and not the rule), while there are many perfectly legitimate reasons to allow children to have access to an internet-capable computer compared to a relatively small number of illegitimate ones.

     

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  15.  
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    Bob, Oct 8th, 2007 @ 10:59am

    YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

     

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