Record Labels Disobey Court Order On How Student Info Can Be Used

from the this-is-a-surprise? dept

Ray Beckermann points us to the news that in a lawsuit involving various record labels against some USC students, the record labels asked the court to help identify the students — which the court granted on the condition that the only use of the student info would be to seek injunctive relief (i.e., get them to stop file sharing) rather than monetary relief. However, as LAist is reporting, it only took a few months for the record labels to, instead, demand money via a typical pre-settlement letter, that demands thousands of dollars to get the RIAA and labels to not sue you. This certainly appears to be contempt of court, going in direct contrast to the judge’s order.

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Comments on “Record Labels Disobey Court Order On How Student Info Can Be Used”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I haven’t RTFA, but what’s the judge going to do? If you fine them, they simply pass the cost onto the next round of sue-ee’s. You can’t prevent them from suing people – that’s the American way to make money. The only way to get their attention is to STOP listening to music, stop downloading music, and stop going to concerts. Continuing to feed them and tell them ‘No’ is almost as frivilous as the lawsuits themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mr. Beckerman’s obvious delight aside, the judge in this case is Judge Manuel L. Real of the Federal District Court, Central District of California. Judge Real has a rather unusual history as a jurist, such as, for example, hearings in Congress two years ago to debate articles of impeachment, and more recently a reversal of a decision he rendered with an order that he be removed from the case and another judge assigned ( Removal is an extreme and highly unusual measure, reserved for only the most egregious of conduct.

That said, I have substantial doubts that the limitation contained in his order is even enforceable should a contempt proceeding be held. It is anomalous to issue a discovery order pertaining solely to injunctive relief, which is an equitable remedy, while at the same time denying the application of that order to the very remedy specifically provided by federal statute.

Anon2 says:

clearly contempt

As the Supreme Court and the appeals courts have on numerous occasions held, nobody is free to ignore a court order, and contempt is only one available remedy. And, courts absolutely have the power to hold a hearing, and based on all the evidence, label the party a vexatious litigant and forbid them from filing anything else in that court without the express permission of a designated judge. Among other things.

Moreover, being granted the power to get discovery provided that the litigation will be confined to the issue of injunctive relief binds the hands of the court. The RIAA accepted this condition, rather than challenge it, and now it is openly flaunting the order. That could also lead to dismissal with prejudice of the action, and of any other subsequent action against that party. It had a number of alternatives, from a motion to reconsideration, to a request for permission to take an interlocutory appeal, to going directly to the appeals court to apply for an order of mandamus. It did none of those things, but instead agreed. It should not now be permitted, especially after violating the terms of the order, to be heard to complain about the propriety of the order.

Contempt decisions are reviewed on appeal by a very lenient standard. Again, court orders must be complied with, no matter how much you disagree with it. There are proper avenues if you want to challenge the original order; in this instance, the RIAA likely voluntarily accepted it as a condition of taking discovery. It’s no different than a litigant agreeing to waive certain rights to pursue certain claims, or to refrain from certain things, as a condition of being able to proceed to the next stage in a litigation. At that point, it’s pretty much a dead letter, the waiver, if voluntary and based on an informed decision, cannot later be easily withdrawn.

I hope they get slammed right through the wall, and that the relevant documents are circulated to every federal judge in the U.S. who is presiding over one or more of these suits. And just to inflict more pain, the court should order that a senior executive for each label, and the head of the RIAA, appear personally in court for the hearing and be ordered to show cause why they should not be personally sanctioned for permitting this clear breach of fundamental rules of court. With an opportunity for the defendant also to appear, and address the court on the devastating personal impact the case has had on her or him. I’ve seen it done in other cases, and it can serve as a true reality check in some instances.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: clearly contempt

“Moreover, being granted the power to get discovery provided that the litigation will be confined to the issue of injunctive relief binds the hands of the court.”

Commenting merely to note that this is not an evidentiary matter but one of law (i.e., the content of the order), and such matters are considered de novo and without deference.

Personally, I have never seen a discovery order limited to injuctive relief (discretionary on the part of a court) until now.

gene (profile) says:

riaa and directv

Directv and the RIAA have sued many they knew were innocent. Where people were innocent, the suits were a fraud. Law enforcement should have stepped in to stop innocent people from being sued. Those innocent people need to do what Justice did. Law enforcement ignored justice in these suits. People need to ignore justice the next time they are a juror or a witness. Jury nullification will ignore Justice the next time.

another mike says:

headlines and misdemeanors

From the headline of the article, I thought RIAA had sent the student info over to the marketing department to be signed up for all their spam lists.

I wouldn’t put it past them to still try that. “Youze betters pay up or else wheeze gonna flood yer inbox, see?”

Has spam gotten so bad that that’s really the first thing I thought of?

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