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.

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Companies: riaa

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Comments on “Tanya Andersen Decides To Drop Racketeering Charges Against The RIAA”

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moe says:


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.

hellslam says:


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

BTR1701 (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

PaulT (profile) says:

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.

Tack Furlo (user link) says:

Re: 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.

BTR1701 (profile) says:


> 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.

Tack Furlo (user link) says:

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.

BTR1701 (profile) says:

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.

PaulT (profile) says:

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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