RIAA Goes After Ray Beckerman, Demands Monetary Sanctions

from the wow dept

If you follow the various RIAA lawsuits against music fans over unauthorized file sharing, you certainly know the name Ray Beckerman, a lawyer in New York who not only has defended clients against the RIAA, but runs a wonderful resource, called Recording Industry vs. The People, that keeps people informed on various issues and cases related to the RIAA’s campaign. We don’t always agree with Beckerman, though we do side with him in the vast majority of cases. He is fighting an important fight, standing up for people that the recording industry has often unfairly bullied through the use of questionable legal tactics and flimsy evidence. Before Beckerman came along and took a very public stand, exposing the RIAA’s playbook, there was almost no one in the legal community standing up to cry foul at the RIAA’s actions.

Apparently, the RIAA has had enough of him, however, and has filed motions against him directly, asking that he be declared a “vexatious litigant” and demanding monetary sanctions. Specifically, the RIAA is claiming that Beckerman made false statements, sending the RIAA off on tangential efforts, while trying to block every effort by the RIAA to obtain the evidence it needed in the case. Plus, the RIAA’s lawyers are not at all happy that Beckerman posted all of the motions he filed to his blog, claiming:

Finally, as this Court is aware, Defendant’s counsel has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass Plaintiffs. Such vexatious conduct demeans the integrity of these judicial proceedings and warrants this imposition of sanctions.

While it’s unclear how much truth there is to the false statements claims, complaining about the blog is simply ridiculous. From the beginning of the RIAA’s legal campaign, its own executives have always insisted that the lawsuits were part of an educational and PR campaign to promote that downloading was illegal. On the whole, the entire filing has the feeling of sour grapes on the RIAA’s lawyers’ part. They don’t like that they lost, and they hate the fact that Beckerman keeps exposing their tactics and flimsy evidence. Clearly, he’s getting under their skin a bit. It was much easier suing music fans with questionable evidence when no one was standing up for them.

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Comments on “RIAA Goes After Ray Beckerman, Demands Monetary Sanctions”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Reminds me of Blackadder

Melchett: Anything to say before we kick off, Captain Darling?

Darling: May it please the court, as this is clearly an open and shut case, I beg leave to bring a private prosecution against the defense council for wasting the court’s time.

Melchett: Granted. Council, he is fined fifty pounds for turning up. This is fun! This is just like a real court! Alright! Let the trial begin!

PaulT (profile) says:

In other words, Beckerman’s been way too successful at upholding the rights of people and pointing out the idiocies of the RIAA’s actions, so they figure they can get some payback…

Also, last time I checked his blog, it mostly consisted of updates on the court cases being fought with comments intended to help non-lawyers understand the relevant motions. If that was “anti-recording industry”, it’s only because Beckerman is working for the defendants the industry’s attacking, often with no evidence.

“…has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass Plaintiffs”

Erm, of course he’s going to post his own motions on his own blog. How is there anything wrong with that? If this bolsters his own public profile, then maybe they’re not as baseless as the RIAA thinks. It also makes you wonder why they don’t call him out on them being baseless if they are so, and offer a counterpoint, rather than attempt to silence one of their most visible critics.

drkkgt says:


“Such vexatious conduct demeans the integrity of these judicial proceedings”

Exactly, I mean since Beckerman sends out those harassing letters demanding payment or go to trial with little to no evidence. Since he is harassing colleges and getting the govt to threaten said colleges in order to have them police their networks and turn over their students. Since he is taking over police investigations, …oh wait.

justme says:

court cases

Court cases are always public. Unless the judge rules otherwise. They will have a hard time convincing any Judge that what is public is worth suing over because the person made it public. The RIAA is more mad that the cases brought against the consumer are in the public eye. It just irks them they no longer have the secrecy, or the upper hand anymore. Now that the cases are public, more consumers are winning their cases. Ray Beckerman has done the public a good service. He should be commended, not taken to Court. If the Judge has a lick of sense he should throw the RIAA’s law suit out because it is bordering on abuse of the Court System.

Everyone knows that the RIAA loves to abuse the Court System.

You never know says:

Mr. Beckerman has blackened the eye of the RIAA and has made it very public that he has done so. The RIAA finds it harder to bully and bluff the public with the blog in place so of coarse they want it down and what better way to do so is to strike back at the author and hero. It just stands to reason this was going to happen and I’m sure Mr. Beckerman is more than ready for them. It will be an interesting case as the RIAA will look like the complete buffoons they are and give the blogs more of a reason to remain up. Once it becomes popular and financially prudent more lawyers will stand up and punch the RIAA. It’s about time the music industry moved on and developed a new business plan instead of continuing to screw its customers.

John (profile) says:


So the RIAA sues college students and tells one of them to quit MIT so she can pay the settlement fees, yet the RIAA is NOT considered a “vexatious litigant”?
I guess I don’t really understand what “vexatious litigant” actually means.

(And if I remember correctly, in this case, the student hadn’t been found guilty: the payment amount was the usual “pay us or we’ll take you to court” extortion.)

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