RIAA Accused Of Coaching 15-Year-Old Witness In File Sharing Suit
from the bad-PR? dept
Lawyer Ray Beckerman may have ditched Patricia Santangelo after promising to stick with her case against the RIAA all the way through, but he’s still highlighting some interesting cases of people who are finally fighting back against the RIAA by exposing the exact problems with their lawsuits that many of us have been suggesting ever since the RIAA first started suing its customers. The first case has to do with an accused person protesting that the RIAA’s practice of bundling a bunch of totally separate lawsuits together is inappropriate. He has some support in this. Nearly two years ago, a federal judge told the RIAA it needed to file each lawsuit separately — something they still don’t do. This same anonymous defendant is also poking holes in the rest of the lawsuit filing, saying that his ISP should not release the identification associated with his IP address, because the RIAA has not shown sufficient evidence and submitting evidence that the system used to find IP addresses of infringers by the company Media Sentry is unreliable. Courts in both Canada and the Netherlands have thrown out evidence from Media Sentry in the past, so there’s at least a chance that this argument will hold.
The second lawsuit is even more interesting. It starts out like many of the recent lawsuits, a case where the person accused doesn’t use a computer and knows nothing about file sharing. The defense began by highlighting how problematic this is — pointing to numerous cases where the RIAA filed lawsuits against people who obviously did not do the file sharing, even while the RIAA insists that whoever’s name is on the account is automatically responsible (something the law would appear to disagree with). However, here’s where the case takes an interesting turn. The RIAA then received testimony from a 15-year-old employee of the defendants’ home-based business, claiming that the defendant’s wife did, in fact, listen to the downloaded music on their computer. After a number of others claimed that this was not the case, the 15-year-old asked to change her original deposition. The RIAA accused the defendants (now including the wife after amending the original case) of coercing the girl to change the story, but the defendants have spun that around to accuse the RIAA of influencing the girl’s original deposition — something the girl says is true. Apparently, the lawyers for the RIAA had contacted her, urging her to testify against the defendants, her employers. Combined with the fact that no other person who testified could recall the defendants ever using the computer to listen to music, it certainly seems to support the story that they did not do so. Also, not helping the RIAA’s case was that, after being told that the defendants don’t use a computer and don’t use file sharing, they were told that it didn’t matter: “someone is going to be responsible and someone is going to have to pay.” None of this is all that surprising, but it’s good to see people highlighting that these RIAA cases have a lot of legal problems, and seeing more and more people start to fight back against the lack of any real evidence by the RIAA. Still, it’s a bit troubling to see the RIAA so unsure of their own legal standing against some of these defendants that they may have been reduced to coercing a 15-year-old girl to lie about her employer.