Judge Slams RIAA Tactics

from the about-time dept

Early on, in the RIAA’s legal campaign against file sharers, it appeared that judges were mostly siding with the RIAA, and taking the RIAA’s claims at face value. However, due to widespread backlash, and an improved understanding of how the RIAA’s tactics are legally questionable, it appears that opposing lawyers have become much better at pushing back on some of the dubious claims by the RIAA, including the basis for the whole campaign. It’s nice to see judges are beginning to recognize this as well. While we’ve seen it in judges rejecting RIAA arguments in court, in one case, it appears that Judge Nancy Gertner pointed out how ridiculous the RIAA’s position was and suggested they stop their legal blitz:

“…counsel representing the record companies have an ethical obligation to fully understand that they are fighting people without lawyers… to understand that the formalities of this are basically bankrupting people, and it’s terribly critical that you stop it….”

The RIAA used to count on the “sympathy” vote in court, and played the role of a “victim” quite well (they’re pirates! they’re stealing!). However, it appears that many judges just aren’t buying it any more.

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Companies: riaa

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Comments on “Judge Slams RIAA Tactics”

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Ed says:

Read the remarks of the editor.

[Ed. Note. While it is heartening to see Judge Gertner show some recognition of the unfairness in the way these cases are being handled, it is unclear how she can say that the law is overwhelmingly on the side of the record companies when she recognizes that for the past 5 years she’s only been hearing one side of the argument. It is also disheartening that she evidences no recognition of how she has herself contributed to the “imbalance” by consolidating all of the cases, thus (a) providing the record companies with massive economies of scale not available to the defendants, (b) providing virtually untrammeled ex parte access to the Court on all common legal issues, and (c) creating a one-sided atmosphere in the courthouse that causes all defendants to abandon hope. How can Judge Gertner conclude that the settlements have come about because the law is on the record companies’ side, when she knows full well that the reason the settlements have come about is that there is no economically viable way for defendants to defend themselves? -R.B.]

slimcat (profile) says:

Even better news...

Harvard law professor Charlie Neeson and colleagues have determined that the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999, the law on which RIAA litigation rests, is actually intended for criminal cases and that civil use is unconstitutional. Further, they believe the act itself is also unconstitutional.

You can read the story here

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Even better news...

Perhaps this is the good professor’s views, but he is distinctly in the minority within the legal profession in attempting to say that a civil action should be construed as a criminal action. This argument is almost certainly DOA, though he may have a valid point in arguing that statutory damages may be excessive. However, even here he has a very difficult row to hoe in trying to overturn longstanding judicial precedent deferring to the clear language of the pertinent copyright statute.

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