First RIAA Lawsuit To Face A Jury

from the so-how-will-a-jury-of-your-peers-feel? dept

The RIAA didn't want it to come to this, but one of its lawsuits accusing someone of sharing unauthorized content is about to go to a jury trial. As Ray Beckerman notes, it's not a particularly good trial for the RIAA (which partly explains their desire to avoid the whole jury thing). There's no evidence that the defendant infringed copyrights, and the supposed expert witness the RIAA is expected to call has been thoroughly debunked as an expert. Of course, juries can be very tough to predict, and you can bet that the RIAA will appeal to the emotional angle of "stolen" music. If it's worked on politicians, perhaps they'll find a gullible jury as well.


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  1.  
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    MadJo (profile), Sep 28th, 2007 @ 7:02am

    Do they have Gene Hackman on their team?

    then the jury can be rigged... unless of course we have a John Cusack in the jury, who will rig the jury in the people's favor. :)

     

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  2.  
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    jhunter, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 7:12am

    Politicians don't care

    Its the financial angle that has worked on politicians.

     

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  3.  
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    Overcast, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 7:24am

    Yeah, too bad for the RIAA that we have the right (for now) to a Jury Trial.

     

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  4.  
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    SilverSliver, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 7:34am

    Unfortunately for the RIAA a jury is there to keep all the power out of the politicians/lawmakers hands. Regular people, and regular people the the RIAA suck. Even if they had a real case it would be tough for them without one, good luck

     

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  5.  
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    Joe Smith, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 7:39am

    politicians

    Politicians believe what they are paid to believe. It is illegal to bribe a jury while bribes to politicians, characterized as donations, are legal.

     

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  6.  
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    mjr1007, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 7:45am

    Re: politicians

    Bribing politicians via campaign contributions is not only legal but our idiot Supreme Court has institutionalized this corruption by calling it free speech.

     

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  7.  
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    TheDock22, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:00am

    Yay, the circus is in town!

    I am very excited to watch this lawsuit play out. If the RIAA loses it will set a precedent for judges on rulings like this. Judges have a hard time making a lone decision on a touchy issue, but if they know the feelings of the public (i.e. jury) it will make their decisions that much easier.

     

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  8.  
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    CharlieHorse, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:08am

    Fully Informed Jury Act

    political and money issues aside, I think going to jury is a good thing in cases like these ... should be interesting to watch.

    It is the right of the jury to judge not only the facts of the case, but the law itself.

    this was/is one of the primary reasons we have the right to trial by jury of our peers here in the U.S.

    the jury can acquit even if the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt that "the law" was broken. if the jury thinks the law itself is unfair or wrong, then they can acquit.

    in fact, the jury can completely disregard the judges "instructions" should they so choose. a jury can acquit if they don't like the color of your shoes. it's that simple, really. it's also one of the reasons why judges and lawyers (mostly prosecutors, but occasionally defense) will absolutely freak out if you mention the rights of a jury to any potential jurors.

    Fully Informed Jury Assoc.
    http://www.fija.org/

    http://emporium.turnpike.net/P/ProRev/juries.htm

    http://nowscape. com/fija/fija_us.htm

    stay informed. know your rights.

     

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  9.  
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    Debunked, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:13am

    Neither Side Looking Forward

    Neither side on this case has a slam dunk:

    1. Juries are unpredictable- any prospective jurors that hate the RIAA will be weeded out and not be on the jury
    2. The defense expert will end up slightly debunked as the RIAA expert will be some level of debunked
    3. Since this is a civil trial the evidence does not have to meet the high "beyond a reasonable doubt" standards of a criminal trial

     

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  10.  
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    Tim, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:21am

    Re: Neither Side Looking Forward

    Actually, you aren't quite right on your #3. You still have to prove the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt. You just have to prove it to 12 people instead of just one (the judge), so it may take "better" evidence to do it.

     

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  11.  
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    CharlieHorse, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:23am

    a bit off topic

    well, the pols and money bags will try and corrupt this process (i.e. the jury) as much as possible, but that issue aside - going to a jury in cases like these is *A Good Thing*.

    it is the right of a jury to not only judge the facts of a case, but the very law itself.

    even if a prosecutor has proven beyond reasonable doubt that "the law" has been broken - the jury can acquit if they feel that the law itself is unjust or unfair or unconstitutional.

    the jury can ignore the "instructions" of the judge should they so choose. they jury can acquit if they don't like the color of your shoes. it's that simple, really. the jury is the final say in the courtroom - not, as tv would have you believe, the judge.

    Fully Informed Jury Assoc.
    http://www.fija.org/

    http://emporium.turnpike.net/P/ProRev/juries.htm

    http://www.jerry esmith.com/index.php/40

    okay, so I'm kind of veering off topic, but nonetheless -
    stay informed. know your rights

     

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  12.  
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    norman619, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re: politicians

    The only way to stop it is to not allow contributions at all. There is no way to tell the difference between a legit contribution and a bribe. That is the problem the Supreme COurt had to deal with. So you either ban all contributions or you don't. I'm in favor of banning them all.

     

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  13.  
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    Bill, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:28am

    Re: Neither Side Looking Forward

    Tim:
    In a civil court, the evidence need only support the plaintiff by a "preponderance", not beyond a reasonable doubt.
    And debunked isn't quite right either; each side can only reject so many prospective jurors, so this can't happen.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:30am

    Note that while the RIAA has dropped the "Making Available" charge in new cases, that is the very crux of this case--and the only case they are really attempting to make.

     

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  15.  
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    norman619, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:32am

    Re: Neither Side Looking Forward

    You are funny. How many people lie to get booted from jury selection becasue they really don't want to be there? How many people woudl be willing to lie to be selected for this trial? I sure as hell would.

     

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  16.  
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    john, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:35am

    Work on a jury as well.

    What will work on a jury? They aren't allowed to buy the jurors private vacations and jets among their other incentives.

     

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  17.  
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    Curtis, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Neither Side Looking Forward

    Actually, Debunked is 100% right on their #3 and Tim you are incorrect. Civil trials may be to judge or jury (some are not even allowed a jury trial - like a divorce) and the level of evidence required is usually a preponderance of the evidence - typically explained as 51% of the evidence. There are also exceptions to the "preponderance of the evidence" rule, which result in a higher level of proof being required. I'm not sure but there may actually be a higher level required for the RIAA to prove infringement, but I'm not an IP attorney so I'm not sure.

    Criminal trials are ALWAYS to a jury unless the defendant waives the right to a jury trial (and that waiver can sometimes by refused) and the level of evidence required for a verdict against the defendant is "beyond a reasonable doubt".

     

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  18.  
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    deadzone, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 9:01am

    Interesting.

    This will definitely be an interesting one to watch. Hopefully it will set some positive precedents for music fans that are not based on treating them all like "criminals".

    I'll be following this one closely. :)

     

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  19.  
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    Seattle Guy, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 9:32am

    Re: Neither Side Looking Forward

    With regards to your #1, there are only so many people that the RIAA can pass on out of the jury pool, the same goes with the defense. They could end up with haters on the jury.

     

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  20.  
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    Sean Wilhelm, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 9:44am

    Re: Re: Re: politicians

    If you ban all political contributions it won't change much. Only the rich will be able to run for any political office. It always has and always will take money to run for office.

     

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  21.  
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    Tin Ear, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re: Neither Side Looking Forward

    (Capital Letters)(Bold) LOL!!! (close tags)

    Too True! Most people try their damndest (sp?) to GET OUT of jury duty... I think you hit the nail on the head that more people would try like hell to get ON this jury!

    Who among us HAS NEVER downloaded even one 'illegal file' or shared a program with a friend? The ability to freely share a part of your life is the best part of the internet. If music makes you happy, and you feel that you want to share that happiness with like-minded people, is that so bad?

    Granted, sharing with two million people might get you noticed. In that case it might not be the best thing to do, but I still feel that file sharing isn't the big boogey-man that the $$AA has made it out to be.

    I'll be watching this trial closely as well. Should be interesting...

     

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  22.  
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    Tim Lee, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 10:11am

    "Bribing politicians via campaign contributions is not only legal but our idiot Supreme Court has institutionalized this corruption by calling it free speech."

    What on earth are you talking about? The Supreme Court has consistently rejected the argument that campaign contributions are a form of free speech.

     

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  23.  
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    Chris, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 10:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: politicians

    In case you hadn't already noticed, only the rich win office anyways. Who else can take such time off of work to run around campaigning? I also think campaign contributions should be banned, but what politician is going to propose a bill that would force them to spend their own money on running for office?

     

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  24.  
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    interval, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 10:42am

    Re: Neither Side Looking Forward by Tim

    Tim; reasonable doubt only applies to criminal cases, that standard is not applied to civil cases.

     

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  25.  
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    Shun, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 10:45am

    Preponderance of the Evidence

    As several people have pointed out, the standard in civil trials is preponderance, which is 50% + 1. Not a very high standard, I know. That's why plaintiff's lawyers like to work in civil litigation, since you don't have to convince a jury by overwhelming evidence. Keep in mind that the jury is the trier of fact. The judge decides the law (unless you're one of those jury nullification folks, in which case the jury decides both the facts and the law). The facts in dispute in this case seem to be :

    1) Do the RIAA cartel companies own the copyrights in question?

    2) Did defendant, an actual real live person, download and distribute those songs?

    One thing I liked in the judge's motion to deny summary adjudication was the suggestion that the parties meet and confer. Here, in California, case management and settlement conferences are mandatory for complex civil litigation. The judges really don't want to see you in their courtroom, arguing every little detail. The ones that don't settle are usually the result of "irreconcilable differences."

     

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  26.  
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    SimonTek (profile), Sep 28th, 2007 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Neither Side Looking Forward

    I have never downloaded music....... How is there lightning in my room, ouch that hurts. Ok, maybe 1 or 2 thousand songs.

     

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  27.  
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    Jury Man, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 11:21am

    Doesn't matter

    I loved my jury time, especially when the judge said, it doesn't matter how you feel about this persons intent or if you think he was treated fairly, you will only decide if he broke the law based on what you see in court.

     

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  28.  
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    SilverSurfer, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: Neither Side Looking Forward

    Tim said: Actually, you aren't quite right on your #3. You still have to prove the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt. -- Actually, Tim, this is a civil case and guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is not applicable. That's criminal you're thinking of. Civil case is a preponderance of the evidence.

     

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  29.  
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    CharlieHorse, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 12:18pm

    RE:#24 and trying again ...

    well, the pols and money bags will try and corrupt this process (i.e. the jury) as much as possible, but that issue aside - going to a jury in cases like these is *A Good Thing*.

    it is the right of a jury to not only judge the facts of a case, but the very law itself.

    even if a prosecutor has proven beyond reasonable doubt that "the law" has been broken - the jury can acquit if they feel that the law itself is unjust or unfair or unconstitutional. NO MATTER WHAT THE JUDGE "INSTRUCTS."

    the jury can ignore the "instructions" of the judge should they so choose. they jury can acquit if they don't like the color of your shoes. it's that simple, really. the jury is the final say in the courtroom.

    Fully Informed Jury Assoc.
    http://www.fija.org/

    http://emporium.turnpike.net/P/ProRev/juries.htm

    http://www.jerry esmith.com/index.php/40

    okay, so I'm kind of veering off topic, but nonetheless -
    stay informed. know your rights

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Mischa, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Doesn't matter

    Yeah, in other words, the spirit of the law doesn't matter, only the letter of the law. :-(

     

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  31.  
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    Speechless, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 12:53pm

    Questions to prospective jurors

    I'd love to attend the jury selection.

    Mr/Ms prospective juror, have you ever illegally downloaded music from the Internet? Have you ever copied a song or album using tape or a CD-R, and given it to a friend? Has anyone ever given you a copy of music?

    Hmmmmm.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 1:36pm

    Time for some "Jury Nullification" of copyright laws.

     

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  33.  
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    teknosapien, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 2:49pm

    you dont give people enough credit

    Most people are smarter than your average politician

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 9:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: politicians

    I think you missed the problem. That's precisely the point that the rich politicians are corrupt. Make the politicians ONLY deny themselves as contributors. Make them EARN the money of their constituency so they are REPRESENTATIVE, and not just paying for their power. I think all campaign donations can only be in the amount of $20 (or even $50 if you want to not change the world in one swell foop) and make all assets -- every single dime -- from the actual candidate itself be ineligible to contribute to the campaign. Make government represent the people, as it was intended.

     

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  35.  
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    Boogaloo, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 7:17am

    Sorry, gang, but it's wrong

    Notwithstanding whether RIAA, et. al., has merit to sue, I can agree the 'expert' deposition is weak. When the defense tries to discover if the software can detect whether the defendant specifically and purposely initiated an 'upload' to share, the expert's answer should have been a simple 'yes'.
    In any file share, there must be both an 'upload' and a 'download' otherwise nothing has happened. P2P software is specifically designed to accept ALL 'upload' requests, universally, by automated instead of manual initiation, among a group of files specifically tagged as uploadable. When configured this way by the defendant, she has tacitly agreed to upload any tagged file on demand to anyone.
    I'm sorry gang - I've written allot of checks to BMI, ASCAP and SESAC for broadcast rights and can come up with my own reasons why I think it's a rip-off. None-the-less, when a work is the copyrighted property of an author, who holds and maintains the sole priviledge of licensing its distribution, file-sharing copyrighted works is a form of theft in which both the 'uploader' and 'downloader' are complicit.
    If you were J.K. Rawling, the owner of "Harry Potter", and you discovered that your work was being electronically shared without your permission, you would sue, too. She had no obligation to sit down at a desk and develop a popular series over the course of years and give it away for nothing, unless she wants to. She would still be on Britain's welfare dole. Instead, her work has created countless thousands of jobs around the world in its distribution because of its sure and certain real value we give it as consumers and we do NOT have the right to enjoy it by stealing it. Period. Anything else is meaningless semantics.

     

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  36.  
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    Boogaloo, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 7:21am

    Re: Re: Neither Side Looking Forward

    Nope .. not 'reasonable doubt'. The civil suit standard is 'preponderance of the evidence', a much lower standard and a jury is the defendant's option ... not a requirement.

     

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  37.  
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    H, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 5:03am

    Counter suits??

    If the RIAA sees fit to sue anyone that shares a song, then we the people should sue them for every bit of music we are forced to listen to from stores, malls, loud car stereos, etc which we have no control over.

     

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


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