Court Refuses To Dismiss RIAA Lawsuit Against Mother

from the silver-linings? dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about a mother who decided to fight back against the lawsuit filed against her by the RIAA. She claims she had nothing to do with the file sharing, which she believes was done by a friend of one of her kids. As we pointed out at the time, this could be a key case in making it clear to the RIAA that they can't just file lawsuits without actual proof of who was doing the file sharing. However, the woman's lawyer is reporting today that the judge on the case has refused to dismiss the case without a trial. The lawyer worries that this means it will be prohibitively expensive for most people in the same situation as this woman, as they'll have to pay tens of thousands of dollars just to defend themselves -- and the "settlement" fee from the RIAA is only a few thousand. However, there could be a silver lining. If this case actually does go to trial (and it might not), then it could lead to a much clearer ruling that prevents the RIAA from blindly suing those who may have nothing to do with the actual sharing of songs.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Michael, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 9:20pm

    The problem with the DMCA in regards to this...

    Under other laws in this country, if a plaintiff files a civil lawsuit against a defendant and the defendant emerges victorious, the plaintiff is responsible for the legal expenses of the person they sued. So in the case of an easily won flagrant lawsuit you would have attorneys lining up around the block to defend you at no charge, cause they'll get paid if they win anyway.
    This is not the case with the DMCA, a specific clause protects a plaintiff, in this case the corporate entities who could actually afford it from having to pay the legal defense of the person they're suing even if they LOSE the case.
    The problem of course is two fold, the DMCA is bad legislation, and it won't change until we the people make it known and/or it makes its way to the Supreme Court. Almost 6 years now and it still hasn't, everyone folds against the potential fees it would cost. The RIAA, DirecTV et al have nothing to stop them from filing these baseless lawsuits and the payout to them is too easy, so they won't stop no matter how much negative publicity they get.
    What is needed is a legal defense fund setup by an organization like eff.org and/or a good hearted (LOL) attorney who is familiar and specializes in these cases to take one on pro-bono and put it to the RIAA all the way to the top.
    Until this happens innocent consumers will continue to be terrorized by abusive lobbyist groups / corporations and their bad laws.

     

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  2.  
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    G, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 12:47am

    Re: The problem with the DMCA in regards to this..

    I dont think the winner gets legal fees paid for in most civil cases. Any lawyers going to clear this up?

    Also, if you ever settle, no fees are paid unless its part of the settlement (and why would the bullies agree to that?)

     

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  3.  
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    nitwit, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 2:08am

    stop buying their media!!!!!!!!!!!

    why does everyone keep supporting these jerks. stop buying music!!! it's like smoking. it's just a bad habit. you have to quit cold turkey. can you go without music for a day? they've got you hooked just like the tobacco companies. they put rootkits on your machines. they put subliminal messages on the cd's that make you go and buy more cd's. if you play these cd's backwards you can hear the message.

     

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  4.  
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    lisa, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 4:58am

    Re: stop buying their media!!!!!!!!!!!

    The music companies think people have already stopped buying their media. That's why this is happening.

     

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  5.  
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    thecaptain, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 5:11am

    Re: The problem with the DMCA in regards to this..

    I'm not a lawyer but from reading at overlawyered.com I gather that the US does NOT have a "loser pays" system and that there has been STRONG OPPOSITION to instituting it.

    Personally, I agree, "Loser pays" would greatly cut down on frivolous lawsuits. It wouldn't stop the RIAA tho, since they have deep enough pockets to file a ton of them...but at least the little guy could fight back without worrying about the cost.

    As it is, the US civil court system is becoming nothing but a big bad stick for the rich and the corporations to club the others into submission.

     

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  6.  
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    Stephen Tillman, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 6:37am

    Re: stop buying their media!!!!!!!!!!!

    AMEN. The RIAA has, for quite a while, been ranting and raving that this online file-sharing has been hurting their business and their sales (which evidence shows that it hasn't been). So, letís hurt their sales, if that's what they're so damned concerned about.
    I'm sure most people here remember stories about artists saying "NO! Share our songs, please!" If the artists don't care who has their songs, why should the RIAA take it upon themselves to "protect" someone who doesn't even care to be protected?
    And besides any and all of that, the artists get shafted on the percentage of the grossly-inflated cd prices anyway. And when you purchase music, for whom are you intending to show support anyway: the artist or the label? Yeah. Me too.
    So I say let's tell the RIAA to go **** themselves and stop buying music. Especially during the holiday season. Kick them in the wallet. It'll hurt 'em more there than trying for their "conscience".

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 8:21am

    No Subject Given

    (IAAL)
    No, the general rule in the US is that either party pays its own attorneys fees.

    There are exceptions: some laws specifically provide for a losing defendant to pay the plaintiff's fees. And if a court finds the suit was frivolous from the start, it can order the plaintiff to pay the defendant's fees. (This happens less often than it should, IMHO.)

    The loser-pays system has advantages, but it also has disadvantages. It's very difficult at the outset of a lawsuit to predict who will win. Loser-pays would do little to stop big business intimidation-by-lawsuit--it's just another cost of doing business--but would discourage individuals with a legitimate complaint (but not a guaranteed winner)from suing a big business (which can pile on the fees and afford to take the risk it might end up paying).

    There's no perfect system.

    I'll be interested to see a followup article--the original is skimpy on the details

     

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  8.  
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    FireMonkey, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 9:47am

    Re: stop buying their media!!!!!!!!!!!

    [nitwit's post was probably a joke, but here goes anyway...]Stop buying their music?!? And what do you suggest as an alternative? Steal it? That's wrong... the artists should be supported. And don't give me that "the artists get screwed by the labels" garbage; how else am I going to get dollars to musicians? Send them checks directly?
    And if you mean to get music only from people that are giving it away... please. Most of the free music I've found is crap, and too much of it has made my speakers wreak of patchouli. Not everyone likes folk/progressive/singer/songwriter music. That pop stuff you hear on the radio is called "pop" for a reason, and if not for the "evil" labels you would never have heard it in the first place.
    Don't get me wrong - I dispise the RIAA as much as the next guy, probably more. And NO ONE likes paying too much for CDs when the artist(s) gets next to nothing for the sale. It's an imperfect system - but the solution is not to simply "stop buying their media". If all my favorite artists would sell directly, I would buy directly. Until that happens, I'm going to keep feeding the machine.
    BTW, I quit smoking cold turkey about a month ago, and it's very much NOT the same... I think kicking tobacco has got to be easier than giving up music...

     

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  9.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Nov 29th, 2005 @ 11:11am

    Re: stop buying their media!!!!!!!!!!!

    Q. "How else am I going to get dollars to musicians?"

    A. Go to a concert. Last I looked, the Eagles charged $80 a seat, Barbra charges more, and even Metallica can command a good price if they were willing to work for a few nights.

    Geesh. It wasn't that long ago, say 100 years ago, when musicians couldn't make a living off of recorded music. From that time prior, some...oh...400,000 years of human existence, musicians would receive compensation for performing and entertaining people. Technology (Edison) allowed them to record their goods, and sell it even after they were dead (Elvis).

    Elvis earns more money in a year than 5,000 people like me -- and he's dead! Does that really make sense?

    So technology made it possible to replicate and resell the music in volume (Edison), and artists benefited from the technology. But years later technology made it free to share the music (Napster) and a lot of extravagant lives built on the printing of vinyl, plastic, and tape were threatened. But in reality, we're just back to the status quo.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    thatguy, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 12:20pm

    The real solution

    It's all cute and clever to say "just stop buying their music," but that is simply NEVER going to happen. Even if thousands of us never buy Sony music again, millions more will continue to. Ignorace ALWAYS prevails.

    In fact thousands and thousands HAVE stopped buying music ALL TOGETHER and gotten their entertainment fix in other ways. What was the result? The music industry blaming the lossed sales on file sharing. Anyone with half a brain has called bullshit on this for years. But the music industry STILL continues to make billions off the artistic creations of other people even after all this boycotting.


    THE REAL SOLUTION:

    The only people who can fix this issue with labels and their ridiculous power are the ARTISTS!

    Technology is a wonderful thing. There is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED for music labels anymore. Distribution is more efficient online and practically FREE, and social networking (tagging, linking, etc) has become so advanced that people can INSTANTLY find types of music they enjoy with a click of a button. And it will only get better.

    Music labels don't need to promote new music for artists anymore; artists can do it themselves online. Not only would this rid the world of music labels, it would also rid the world of shitty artists that don't acually have talent and are only selling music because of their fake image that was created by the music industry in the first place (spears, nsync, creed, etc). If you don't make music people enjoy, then people won't listen because of trends and mass media, and you as an artist aren't making shit. Only the talented will be rewarded for their TRUE creations; the way it should always be.

    So the real solution is for artists to stop signing new record deals. Period. Even new artists. Everyone should be INDEPENDANT. Be patient. If you are truely talented and people enjoy your work as a musician, you will be rewarded eventually; even without a label. But it will most likely take longer (at least during this transition).

    In fact, my rule has been, if a WELL KNOWN artist in the last 3 years has resigned onto a label, I no longer listen to their music. If your name is already known by millions, YOU DON'T NEED A LABEL! STOP SIGNING! F/O Metallica!

    Not that I enjoy their music (because I don't), but 'HARVEY DANGER' is one of the few artists smart enough to realize this. They are out of their label contract, and have their new album available online at their website FOR FREE! And overall they will make more money in the long run because of this offering. Donations, concerts, merchandise, etc will be more than enough for them to make millions more. And they will succeed in this as they deserve to.

    Giving music away for free only will open the door for NEW FANS. How can you make a fan as an artist if your potential fans never hear your talent? This is also why filesharing is a good thing. However, it should be up to the ARTISTS and only the artists to decide if they want to give away their music in order to make fans. NOT NAPSTER, NOT A COLLEGE KID WITH HIGH SPEED INTERNET.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Bill.., Nov 29th, 2005 @ 3:01pm

    Where are the comments?

    The front page lists six comments, but there are none here. Is techdirt borked???

     

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  12.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Nov 29th, 2005 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Where are the comments?

    The front page lists six comments, but there are none here. Is techdirt borked???

    Good eyes. We were doing a bit of maintenance and had to move a server this afternoon. There was a very brief period of time where some stuff wasn't showing, but they're all back now.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 11:35pm

    Re: stop buying their media!!!!!!!!!!!

    You bring up an interesting point. When recording music was a brand new thing, those who represented the then seminal recording industry were denounced as evil, because they were going to take away the musicians livelihood.

    The argument was that if people could just buy a recording, no one would ever pay to hear a musician perform live ever again, and musicians would go broke as a result.

    LOTS of people urged musicians to NOT record music, in order to protect their previous business model.

    It seems that we ARE doomed to repeat our history.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Gene, Oct 23rd, 2006 @ 6:39pm

    Constitutional rights affected

    I was sued by Directv in 2003 for an access card I purchased before the DMCA in 1997. I bought the access card after having the programming I bought and paid for illegally taken away by Directv on April 10,1997. 31 state attorney generals sued Directv for having taken the programming in an attempt to get consumers to pay more while in a one year locked contract. Directv paid 11 million to consumers.
    In 2003 Directv sued me as a class member for the access card I purchased to block there theft in 1997. In my state under the states constitution I have the right to protect against theft by taking passive means to stop a crime. The suit said I didn't pay them when in fact I held receipts. The suit actually pitted there right to take my programming illegally against my right to stop such a theft of my programming. The 2003 said nothing of the theft in 1997 of my programming or that I bought the access card to block the theft. It said nothing that the issue had been settled in another court and that they had paid 11 million to consumer's collectively of which I received a small amount.
    In the end I could not stand up against them alone as I just didn't have the money. But what was at stake in my case was the right of the individual to take an action to stop the crime of theft on April 10, 1997. When I had to settle, the people of the US lost a little more of there freedom. This one the right to purchase an access card to stop a theft. Our government as well supported the rights of Directv to sue me placing there rights above the state constitution in light of them having taken programming illegally. Essentially, I was sued for stealing my own property. Property I had bought and paid for. The right of the people to be secure in there home and effects? The right to protect your property? When the government will not defend, the people are on there own.

     

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