Tanya Andersen Decides To Drop Racketeering Charges Against The RIAA

from the this-is-for-the-best dept

Business Week has a fantastic and detailed article going through the history of Tanya Andersen's legal battles with the RIAA. As has been pointed out from early on, the RIAA went after her with very little evidence, bullied her to settle and pay up, and then tried to force her to agree not to countersue before it would drop charges. Andersen and her lawyer, however, refused to give up -- and not only won against the RIAA, but had the RIAA pay up on Andersen's lawyers' fees. After all that, she and her lawyer have filed a series of lawsuits against the RIAA alleging illegal investigative practices and racketeering.

While it's great to see her fighting back, we'd always said that the racketeering claim was a huge stretch, based on the specifics of the law. It doesn't do anyone any good to file a racketeering charge if it can't be proven. So, it's good to see that Andersen appears ready to drop that claim. At the very end of the article, it notes that a judge has pushed back on Andersen's filing, and she plans to drop the racketeering and fraud charges. Instead, a new filing will focus on "conspiracy, negligence, and abuse of the legal process." Again, "conspiracy" seems like a long shot -- but negligence and abuse of the legal process seem a lot more interesting. Either way, there will be plenty to follow in this case.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Me, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    So Sorry

    I only wish a BS lawsuit would hurt their pocket as much as it hurts anyone they decide to sue.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Pete Valle, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 7:35am

    Re: So Sorry

    You're right. The thing about RIAA's tactics is that for most people, it is more economically viable to pay for extortion..I mean, for a settlement, that to fight back.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Max, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 7:53am

    RIAA

    What do you mean by economically more viable to pay can you explain it more clearly?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    wasnt me, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 7:58am

    i think Pete is saying its cheaper to settle than to sue.

    i don't expect any single law suit to hurt the RIAA's pockets, but a win on Tanya Andersen's part will at least bring precedent and might encourage more ppl to stand up for there rights. The and only then the RIAA might be stopped from its illegal and unethical practices.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    moe, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 8:06am

    Re: RIAA

    I can't speak for him, but I think he means that in the end it is cheaper to just pay the few thousand dollars the RIAA offers as a settlement price. Compared to the legal costs and the opportunity costs to you (you may have to skip work for court, etc), the RIAA's settlement amount is cheaper. Even if they have no real evidence (as is the case most times). And even if you're innocent.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 8:20am

    Conspiracy

    A conspiracy charge could be proven easily. I don't know if you know much about that little word but if 2 or more people are involved in anything that might be considered a crime, the law can easily consider that conspiracy.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    hellslam, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 8:50am

    @MAX

    The RIAA demanded she "settle" for $4000-5000. In fighting the lawsuit, she accrued an estimated $300,000 in legal fees.

    Despite the ultimate conclusion that she was did not infringe on any copyrights, it would have been cheaper for her to just pay their demands. Many people who they have sued have not been awarded their legal fees by the courts. She was (luckily) awarded her legal fees from the RIAA, but I believe they are fighting tooth and nail to avoid paying, or at least delay the process as much as possible.

    My favorite quote concerning the RIAA legal strategy from http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/:

    "The concern of this Court is that in these lawsuits, potentially meritorious legal and factual defenses are not being litigated, and instead, the federal judiciary is being used as a hammer by a small group of plaintiffs to pound settlements out of unrepresented defendants."
    -Hon. S. James Otero
    District Judge
    Central District of California
    March 2, 2007
    Elektra v. O'Brien
    2007 ILRWeb (P&F) 1555

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Pete Valle, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:39am

    Re: RIAA

    Economically more viable is my horrible, grammatically dense way of saying, its cheaper. In other words, a $1,000 settlement is cheaper than having to pay lawyer fees for fighting back the a RIAA lawsuit, even if you're innocent.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    GHynson, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    Economically viable?

    If they slap a lawsuit on you for $4000,
    You counter sue for $4mil.
    If your innocent, then these counter suits will
    stop the RIAA from slapping BS suits on other people.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 10:58am

    Conspiracy

    > Instead, a new filing will focus on "conspiracy,
    > negligence, and abuse of the legal process."

    Conspiracy to do what? There has to be a predicate offense. Conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to defraud, etc. No one has ever been found guilty of just plain conspiracy. It's not illegal to conspire in general. I conspired with my co-workers to go to lunch today; nothing wrong with that.

    I'd also note that of the three allegations listed above, two are civil (abuse and negligence) while conspiracy is criminal, which would mean these suits would have to split and tried separately under two very different burdens of proof.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 11:02am

    Re: Fees

    > In fighting the lawsuit, she accrued an estimated
    > $300,000 in legal fees. Despite the ultimate
    > conclusion that she was did not infringe on any
    > copyrights, it would have been cheaper for her to
    > just pay their demands.

    The court also awarded Andersen attorney's fees, which means RIAA had to pay them, not her. Therefore, it wouldn't have been cheaper for her to pay the $5000 settlement offer that RIAA initially wanted.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Sasha, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 11:26am

    Curious

    Please don't bash the newbie here.... Where does the money that RIAA collects go? I mean, do they share their somewhat ill-gotten booty with the poor recording artists??

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Fees

    Your statements seems flawed. In your statement you say that she didn't receive money and that the RIAA paid her lawyer fees. I wonder how much work she missed while in court? I doubt she got paid for that. I personally put a value on my time, and that was time wasted by another that I could have been doing something better.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    The Angry Intern, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: Fees

    in this case, yes this is true because she won. In most cases, however, it would be cheaper to just pay, which is why the RIAA uses the tactic in the first place. It amounts to legalized extortion.

     

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  15.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Apr 28th, 2008 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Fees

    ...only because she managed to get the fees back. Many haven't and she had to put up one hell of a fight to get them back herself.

    For some people, avoiding the stress and heartache that the legal fight caused her would be worth paying the $5k even if they are innocent. It would be cheaper because Andersen's costs weren't merely monetary.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    eleete, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 11:55am

    Re: Economically viable?

    Thank You Council

     

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  17.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Apr 28th, 2008 @ 11:55am

    Re: Curious

    That's what they want you to think, but no.

    Example link

    In a nutshell, they use the "poor starving artists" excuse to get as much money as possible out of people in these lawsuits, then use contractual loopholes to screw the artists when they receive their money. There's plenty of stories here and elsewhere that might fill in the details.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    eleete, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: Economically viable?

    Oops, Counsel

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Todd, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Curious

    Not one damn dime. The artists are used as an example of who is being hurt from downloading music on-line. Even though the artists are being screwed by both the record labels & the RIAA.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Tack Furlo, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Conspiracy

    I would just like to point out that as a certified paralegal, though you are correct that conspiracy as defined in state law (I haven't read up on my federal law lately) is a criminal charge, fraud is actually both a criminal and civil claim. If she is claiming that the parties (the record companies, MediaSentry, collection agencies, etc) worked in tandem to defraud people, then each is guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud. That is to say that if she can prove that any one party - we'll say just Sony, for example - was attempting to defraud people, and another company, we'll say MediaSentry, had a reasonable suspicion that Sony's intent was fraudulous, then even if MediaSentry wasn't sure, both Sony and MediaSentry can be found liable (the civil equivelent of guilty) of conspiracy to commit fraud.

    The reason this is done so that when people lose their life savings to a con artist, even if they still want the guy put behind bars in jail, they can still recoup some of their money. Otherwise, since fraud is a criminal charge, if it was not also a civil cause of action, people would not be able to get their money back even if the prick goes to jail.

    Remember, criminal means jail time & civil means money. Conspiracy to commit murder isn't something you go against to get money. Conspiracy to commit fraud is. Though this may not be what she is trying to claim, there are conspiracy charges in civil law too.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Tack Furlo, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    Re:

    As a certified paralegal working at a law firm even this moment I am amazed at these fees. $300,000? For one case? For one client?

    I work at a law firm in Alabama so even the big firms here top out around $300/hour and we bill around $200/hour. Yanno how much we make every year, income, before expenses and only after taxes? $147,000 on the best year out of 16 thus far. We represent over 50 clients with well over 120 active cases and amongst all of them the single largest monthly bill we've ever sent - ever - was for less than $5700. We were so damn proud we made a copy and pinned it to a corkboard in my office. To this day the best paying case we ever had netted us $47,000 and that was before $21,000 of taxes and a combination of car payments and house payments. After all was said and done we had just enough left to buy a used 11 year old $1,200 jet ski.

    Where on god's green earth are all these attorney's pulling down hundreds of thousands of dollars on every case for every client? I've dealt with at least 15 lawyers in this county and never met one of them.

    I'm not really complaining. I just don't understand how other attorneys get away with this. We had one client that was sued by someone else for $250,000 and we ended up winning him over $50,000. We practically worked a freaking legal miracle. We sent him a bill for that and 3 other cases totaling under $4,200 and he called and complained. How in the hell these other attorneys manage to squeeze $300,000 in fees out of a single case - or even a single year - simply blows my mind.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 7:58pm

    Little Old Lady Who Doesn't Own A Computer

    I live on social security, I do not have much money. How am I supposed to fight against these RIAA lawyers who say that I stole their property ? They do not care if I die, all they want is is my small savings account. What is a p2p anyways.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Just an Interested Reader, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 3:34am

    Re: Re:

    These cases are far from average and regular. There are options of multipliers which I understand can be used to make an example of. You would not believe the amount of work an attorney puts in to defending one of these case. It goes way above and beyond that which is normal or usual.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re: Conspiracy

    > fraud is actually both a criminal and civil claim

    That would be great if she were alleging fraud. However, acording to the article she's not; she's alleging "conspiracy, negligence and abuse of legal process".

    And I say that as a licensed attorney (since we apparently need to establish our credentials with every post).

    > If she is claiming that the parties worked in
    > tandem to defraud people, then each is guilty of
    > conspiracy to commit fraud.

    Yes, that's why I asked what she's claiming they conspired to do. According to the article, it's unclear. It just says "conspiracy", nothing more.

    > Remember, criminal means jail time & civil means money.

    No kidding. I've been practicing law for years. I hardly need a remiedial lesson in the difference between a criminal and civil case.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    SomeGuy, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Conspiracy

    In Tack's defense, BTR, not all of us have been practicing law for years, and at a casual glace it's hard to differentiate you from any of us. I, for one, found his post to be rather educational. Don't take it so personally.

     

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


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