Another Day, Another Smackdown By A Judge Against The RIAA

from the yet-again... dept

In the early days of the RIAA lawsuits, it seemed like judges just took the RIAA's word on things, but that's long since changed as lawyers defending those accused have become more sophisticated -- often realizing that the RIAA research tactics were questionable, the evidence they had was quite flimsy and the system was guaranteed to accuse all sorts of innocent people without much support. As this has happened, judges have become increasingly skeptical of these RIAA lawsuits and those who haven't done anything wrong actually (finally) have a decent chance of pointing out that the RIAA's evidence is wrong. And, in fact, judges are increasingly pushing the RIAA to pay the legal fees of the people they falsely accuse. In the latest such decision, a judge has smacked down the RIAA and ordered them to pay the legal fees in the case of Tanya Andersen. You may recall that the RIAA had accused Andersen of copyright infringement a few years ago -- and then continued to pressure and intimidate her long after it became quite obvious that Andersen clearly was not guilty of what the RIAA was accusing her of doing. The RIAA eventually dropped the case, but Andersen wanted her legal fees paid (separately, she's also suing the RIAA, claiming their investigation techniques are illegal).

The ruling from the judge on paying the legal fees is well worth reading, as it suggests yet another judge is sick and tired of the RIAA assuming that it can just throw up some flimsy evidence and then bully people into paying:
Copyright holders generally, and these plaintiffs specifically, should be deterred from prosecuting infringement claims as plaintiffs did in this case. Plaintiffs exerted a significant amount of control over the course of discovery, repeatedly and successfully seeking the court's assistance through an unusually extended and contentious period of discovery disputes. Nonetheless, after ample opportunity to develop their claims, they dismissed them at the point they were required to produce evidence for the court's consideration of the merits..... this case provides too little assurance that a prosecuting party won't deem an infringement claim unsupportable until after the prevailing defendant has been forced to mount a considerable defense, and undergo all that entails, including the incurring of substantial attorney fees.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 10:24am

    And how long will it be that they delay paying the legal fees in this case? Seems to be part of their strategy when they lose.

     

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  2.  
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    Someon, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 10:47am

    Im sure the RIAA will appeal, appeal, appeal, appeal until they don't have to pay.

     

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  3.  
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    Mike C., Sep 24th, 2007 @ 10:48am

    Not the final decision

    Unfortunately, this is only the first step. While it may appear a formality, there are still the opportunity for both sides to raise objections and it must be signed by the District judge.

    That being said, this will carry a lot of weight in not only this case, but her class action suit and any other suit of this type where the defendant is clearly innocent.

     

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  4.  
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    Old Guy, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 10:54am

    Pay up

    I'm no lawyer, so I don't know if this would be legit but...

    Could a court slap a lien on RIAA assets rendering them unable to use those assets to sue other innocent people until such time as they pay up those who they already owe? (sweet catch-22 there)
    Are entities such as the RIAA subject anything similar to wage garnishment as are individuals?

    Any atty's out there that can answer?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 10:54am

    I've always thought judges in general were smarter than your average person. This viewpoint has been losing some ground as of late with the way patent claims and the RIAA suits have been going.

    But it seems to me, the judges were merely cautious on subjects they are only loosely knowledgeable in (some tech patent claims take a bit of understanding, and the RIAA's arguments were, weither you like it or not, sufficent enough to require some thought about). Hopefully this is a start to a new trend, and more of these stupid lawsuits get slapped down with harsher penalties to those bringing them to court.

     

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  6.  
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    Nunya Biz, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 10:55am

    Again?

    Mike writing about another RIAA story? NO WAY!!!

     

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  7.  
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    The Swiss Cheese Monster, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 11:33am

    RIAA Smackdown, what a fun game....

     

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  8.  
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    norman619, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 11:36am

    Re:

    Yeah kinda like Whack A Mole but much more fun.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 12:07pm

    This is obviously a judge that needs to be removed from the bench. Probably some left wing liberal democrat.

     

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  10.  
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    RandomThoughts, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 12:22pm

    If you were to pull all left wing liberal democrat judges off the bench, we would have to build more law colleges.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    If you were to pull all left wing liberal democrat judges off the bench, we would have to build more law colleges.
    Maybe then we could get some who understood how not to interfere with honest companies just trying to make an honest dollar.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Reed, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: R E S P E C T, what companies need to do

    "Maybe then we could get some who understood how not to interfere with honest companies just trying to make an honest dollar."

    Suuure, I know literally tons of completely honest companies that just need to be left alone so they can make a profit. Unfortunately the RIAA and the MPAA aren't one of these companies nor are most major US corporations.

    If we seriously consider just "leaving" companies alone then companies are seriously going to have to start following some kind of real ethical guidelines. The chances of a major corporation being ethical over making a profit is not very realistic.

    Until then we will have to keep harassing these companies until they respect our citizenship rights just as we respect their right to exist.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 1:53pm

    Thats right, because it is our god given right to steal as much content as possible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Kyros, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 2:05pm

    Except that these people (in the mentioned cases) are CLEARLY Innocent.

    Seriously, don't you have the guts to at least attach an email or at least a name to your comments?

     

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  15.  
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    Russ Stebbins, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 2:21pm

    Trend?

    As much as I agree with the decision, I would not go reading this as a trend.

    Of the 20,000 or so cases (including settlement letters) not one has gotten to trial, and only an handful (2,3?) have resulted in a judgment against the RIAA.

    The defense is getting better, but one or two wins are not enough to declare the tide has turned.

     

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  16.  
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    George Bush, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 2:24pm

    Re:

    Sure, my name is George Bush. My email is gbush@thewhitehouse.

     

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  17.  
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    crankywench, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 2:30pm

    @Kyros: don't feed the trolls. :-)

     

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  18.  
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    Luke Smith, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 3:12pm

    Why are we enforcing IP again?

    Can someone point me to a news story or study that quantifies number of people have died or had been in a state of clear and present danger as a result of IP infringement?

    I don't want to say it yet.. Showing restraint..!

     

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  19.  
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    Today's Optimist, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 5:40pm

    Hooray~

    I'll take what good we can get. The law moves slowly, folks. Really, really slowly. And it doesn't help when you've got some of the largest, most powerful companies in the country lobbying to keep antiquated, biased laws or have the laws interpreted in their favor. The courts won't vote on the side of the people (and against the powerful evil folk) until they think enough people are pissed off enough about the issue to take a certain stance.

     

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  20.  
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    sharingislegal, Sep 26th, 2007 @ 11:44am

    As it should be...

    This judge RULES!!!!! I love this judge, finally some honest law recognition. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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