A Look At Just How Much The RIAA Clogged The Court System With Mass Copyright Suits

from the well-that-was-helpful dept

Over a five year period, the RIAA really seemed to believe that its strategy of suing music fans directly made sense. Of course, it did nothing of the sort. The strategy was a miserable failure. More people than ever are sharing unauthorized files online, and the major record labels the RIAA represents have continued to see their revenue drop. The few success stories for those labels have come through innovations from elsewhere, with the labels kicking and screaming (and quite frequently suing) in protest.

Of course, at the end of 2008, the RIAA admitted that they were mostly giving up on the strategy (while they implied — and many claimed — they had stopped the lawsuits entirely, the truth is they kept filing lawsuits, just slowing down the pace) in favor of supposedly impending agreements to implement three strikes plans with ISPs. Of course, those agreements never showed up, and the more likely story (which we’ve heard over and over again from folks involved) is that the RIAA was realizing just how much money the legal strategy was costing, and finally recognized that it wasn’t really helping. At the same time, with the record labels themselves losing so much money, they were less and less interested in giving so much money to the RIAA. The end result was that soon after all this happened, the RIAA laid off a bunch of folks — basically admitting defeat.

Wired has now put together a wonderful chart and article demonstrating just how much the RIAA clogged the courts with its mass lawsuit strategy:

You would think that someone in the government might notice this, and question if this is really a proper use of the courts. Of course, the numbers may jump up again due to the emergence of a series of new operations that seek to file tens of thousands of copyright lawsuits in an attempt (probably not legal) to squeeze money out of thousands of people via “pre-settlement” demands (i.e., “pay up or we take you to court”).

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Comments on “A Look At Just How Much The RIAA Clogged The Court System With Mass Copyright Suits”

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39 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

it would be much better if the record industry would just shut up and enjoy all the free publicity. they can give away their product, ignore the pirates, and sell lotttts of t-shirts to make up for it. perhaps mike you might want to run a chart of the amount of p2p traffic next to this one and see if you see a trend? god, you are dense at times.

DH's Love child says:

Re: Re:

Your reading comrehension never ceases to amaze. He clearly stated that file sharing is going on. What you failed to grasp is that the whole lawsuit strategy didn’t do anything to curtail it. All it was successful in doing was throwing a ton money at lawyers and pissing off the very people they should be marketing to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

He understands that, he just wants to pretend it isn’t true. What TAM wants more than anything else, is to wake up one day and have his worldview actually exist.

I have concluded that the only way someone could be so tone-deaf and be so focused on the behavior he exhibits here is that some event or events have caused him to view the rest of the world with bitterness. I almost believe that he probably has tried and failed to implement various content business models.

I might think otherwise, but while many here seem willing to attribute merit to opposing positions and treat others with respect, TAM has never (to my knowledge) done the former and only rarely and begrudgingly done the latter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“it would be much better if the record industry would just shut up and enjoy all the free publicity. they can give away their product, ignore the pirates, and sell lotttts of t-shirts to make up for it.”

Wake me up when you’ve found the bit of this article that explicitly states the above. You might have to knock a little harder though; one’s hearing deteriorates quite a bit with old age and coffin wood in the way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“You would think that someone in the government might notice this, and question if this is really a proper use of the courts”. there you go. basically, mike wants the government to step in and tell a group that they have no right to justice. first he tells the music industry to use due process, and when they do, he gets upset and wants the government to tell them to stay out of court. isnt that just weird?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

what can i say? the other choice is to do what they are doing now, putting thousands of items into a single action, except then companies like tw tell them to break them down individually. justice denied, no? you are saying the the music industry has no right to pursue legal action because it is too much? what is this, the ‘too big to sue’ standard, following ‘too big to fail’? the concept is nonsense. the numbers show more than anything that something has to be done about piracy, otherwise the entire legal system could be ground to a halt.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

you are saying the the music industry has no right to pursue legal action because it is too much? what is this, the ‘too big to sue’ standard,

In a nutshell yes.
If the nation cannot afford you to pursue this course of action then that is that. In the end practicalities rule – there is no other way.

Remember the serenity prayer

“God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference. “

At present the recording industry’s problem is with the last line.

Overcast (profile) says:

Funny how companies like VMWare can seemingly make lots of cash – even with giving out free products.

Odd too, how until recently broadcast radio and TV made loads of cash, even though the customers didn’t ‘pay’ to listen or watch…

All without lawsuits.

If they just spent HALF the time innovating as they do suing, they’d be much better off.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

VMware gives partial solutions away, with the expectation that the complete solution will entice you to pay up.

RIAA sells data, and they want to manage that data in a world that can easily attain it elsewhere. RIAA’s model is completely outdated. One day VM-ware’s will likely be as well, after all, every major platform has Virtualization built into it now, and it’s only a matter of time before they surpass VMware, patent protection or not. VMWare will be acquired long before this, however.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Anyone else?

“Of course, the numbers may jump up again due to the emergence of a series of new operations that seek to file tens of thousands of copyright lawsuits in an attempt (probably not legal) to squeeze money out of thousands of people via “pre-settlement” demands (i.e., “pay up or we take you to court”).”

Interestingly, after recently doing my annual system reformatting, I forgot to reinstall my AVG antivirus. I do not knowingly download infringing material, but I do poke around torrent sites for CC stuff, freely distributed material, and to look into things I read on some sites like TechDirt.

A few days after reformating, I did a system restart and the OS desktop would not load like normal. Instead, I just got a screen saying something along the lines of the MPAA and/or RIAA had detected infringing material on my system and was going to sue unless I did a pre-settlement, even though I had never heard of the file they had supposedly found.

Now, I’m fairly certain this wasn’t official, since it wanted me to link to a site and then pay by credit card, nor would it allow me to open up my Task Manager. But when I thought that, I realized how little difference there was between the presettlement extortion letters and the malware….

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: Anyone else?

That sounds like a phishing scam.

Technically, you could report this to the FBI.

Or you might file a report on the linked site with the CERT.

I hope it was actually RIAA.

Sorry about your computer 🙁

By chance did you backup or retain the disk in its corrupted/hacked state? It could be evidence if it’s for real enough.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Anyone else?

“Sorry about your computer :(“

That’s the wonderful thing about doing dillegent backups and having a partitioned, OS. Another quick restore and I was back to normal.

“By chance did you backup or retain the disk in its corrupted/hacked state? It could be evidence if it’s for real enough.”

I did not, though without a link to another computer capable of doing a full image, how would that have been possible? By preventing the OS Desktop from loading, it wouldn’t even let me connect wirelessly (which rendered their plan to have people click their link and enter their CC info useless), so I couldn’t link to my office BDR setup.

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Anyone else?

I did not, though without a link to another computer capable of doing a full image, how would that have been possible?

You could have used a prepared boot disk with a lightweight OS and backup software (or even better sector copy software to make a duplicate image on a separate hard drive). However in most cases is would probably not be worth the effort. Even trying to get the attention of the FBI would take a pretty special case, or a few good friends.

Sneeje (profile) says:

Re: Clog?

That sounds nothing like TAM. You actually asked a reasonable question. Statistics out of context can be misleading.

However, even on their own, many thousands of lawsuits seems beyond trivial. If you just consider some real-world examples, there is a federal court here called the rocket docket. They usually try a case in 3-5 days. So, for a single judge, that would be roughly 52 cases per year, not accounting for other activities, vacation, variability, etc. Just to try 1,000 cases would require 200 judges.

Of course these lawsuits are spread all over the country, and a vast majority never get tried, etc etc. I’m just trying to put some practical context on the numbers. Even if each of the 1,000 cases takes 1 hour for a court to deal with, that’s one-half of a person-year, not accounting for all of the ancillary personnel impacts beyond the judge.

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