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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Companies: riaa

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Comments on “First RIAA Lawsuit To Face A Jury”

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37 Comments
Chris (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.

CharlieHorse says:

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.

Debunked says:

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

Curtis says:

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”.

SilverSurfer says:

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.

Tin Ear says:

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…

CharlieHorse says:

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.jerryesmith.com/index.php/40

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

Shun says:

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.”

CharlieHorse says:

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.jerryesmith.com/index.php/40

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

Boogaloo says:

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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