Former RIAA Lobbyist, Now Judge, Says Lowest Possible Statutory Damages For Single Case Of Infringement Is $3,430

from the punishment-does-not-fit-the-crime dept

Remember Judge Beryl Howell? She’s one of the only judges who’s received one of these copyright troll cases involving hundreds, if not thousands, of totally unrelated John Does in a single case to refuse to sever the unrelated defendants (and bizarrely tried to claim it was to their benefit to be sued together). It only later came out that Howell was very recently an official lobbyist for the RIAA. At the very least, that calls into question her objectivity on copyright cases.

Anyway, late last week, Judge Howell also made an interesting ruling in one of US Copyright Group’s cases, involving the movie Call of the Wild. Like her earlier ruling, this one will have many more copyright trolls filing cases in her district, hoping to get a judge so amenable to the arguments of copyright trolls. The ruling was a default judgment, meaning that the guy being sued simply did not respond to being sued (a dumb move). Of course, with a default judgment, the court still has some leeway in ordering what kind of award is given, and in this case, Judge Howell has apparently decided that the absolute minimum anyone could pay if found in default on a copyright case is not the $200 for innocent infringers, nor the $750 amount that is the official minimum listed in the law… but, rather $3,430, which is the $750 amount plus another $2,680 in lawyer’s fees. That’s a bit strange since it’s not all that common to award attorney’s fees in such cases, and considering that US Copyright Group is a factory of sorts, pumping out tons of these cases, and suing tens of thousands of individuals without much effort to ascertain the legitimacy of the lawsuits, it’s difficult to see how it could have cost them that much at all.

Still, have no fear that this particular default judgment will be waved around by USCG and others in their shakedown letters to people who are being pressured into paying up.

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Comments on “Former RIAA Lobbyist, Now Judge, Says Lowest Possible Statutory Damages For Single Case Of Infringement Is $3,430”

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184 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

These sorts of psychotic comments about murdering the so-called “corrupt” and Judge Howell and beastiality only reveal to lawmakers the character and mental state of opponents to reasonable copyright measures. Thanks Mike for hosting a forum where true substance of the opposition can be put on full display.

P.S. Costco is having a sale on aluminum foil this week. Stock up now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

@Jay

So now you’re a psychic? You understand the motivation and intent of each and every post? Sorry, these kinds of posts are generally taken a face value by legislative staffs who monitor the discussion of proposed bills.

I haven’t seen proponents of the copyright or the Protect IP bill suggest killing pirate site operators or stating that judges who render copyright decisions they disagree with have group sex with animals. Perhaps copyright proponents just lack the wacky, sophisticated sense of humor of the apologists. I hope they keep it up though, it discredits them far more than anything else I can think of.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“I haven’t seen proponents of the copyright or the Protect IP bill suggest killing pirate site operators or stating that judges who render copyright decisions they disagree with have group sex with animals. “

… Are you absolutely sure about this? I’m giving you your ONE chance to back away from this statement.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Once again, there’s more than two sides to an argument.

Also, I find it ironic that you talk to Senators all day and don’t remember the one Senator who became infamous for wanting to destroy computers left and right.

There have been death threats in filesharing.

And who could forget that once upon a time, copyprivilege was punishable by death?

Feel free to go ahead and debate them and minimize them all you want. I’m sure the point will be lost on you that this really isn’t a huge issue to me, because the thoughts and opinions of one anonymous speaker wanting to Donkey Punch Beryll, doesn’t mean that everyone in the world who supports filesharing, or speaks out against it, feels the same way.

Zot-Sindi says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Right now your side are the ones with shit on their faces.

er, you mean the shit you threw on our faces? that’s nothing new, just a drop in the ocean of poo-flinging your side has done for years and is still doing today

for all i know, one of yours could’ve posted that, it’s friggin’ anonymous, who knows what side their on

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Quote:
“A smart man solves the problem, an intelligent one avoids it”

Source: Albert Enstein.

Quote:
In the brief moments that genesimmons.com was back online on Sunday, Simmons posted the following threat against Anonymous. (via slyck)

Some of you may have heard a few popcorn farts re: our sites being threatened by hackers.
Our legal team and the FBI have been on the case and we have found a few, shall we say “adventurous” young people, who feel they are above the law.
And, as stated in my MIPCOM speech, we will sue their pants off.
First, they will be punished.
Second, they might find their little butts in jail, right next to someone who’s been there for years and is looking for a new girl friend.
We will soon be printing their names and pictures.
We will find you.
You cannot hide.
Stay tuned

Source: http://www.urlesque.com/2010/10/19/ddos-attacked-gene-simmons-lily-allen-officer-bubbles/

Zot-Sindi says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I hope they keep it up though, it discredits them far more than anything else I can think of.

*shrug*

not worried about that, really, you’d have to be like an expert at losing credibility to beat what the MAFIAA has already accomplished

…or a spy sent by them to discredit the other sides…

good thing i already had a supply of tinfoil hats premade

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Sorry, these kinds of posts are generally taken a face value by legislative staffs who monitor the discussion of proposed bills.”

Sorry, [citation needed].

You’re right to question this. I doubt that this is true. People should feel free to assert that judges accept money in exchange for rulings and have group sex with dogs. No way that sort of stuff would color an outsider’s perception of the people who frequent this site.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Bestiality? The comment that’s been voted down by the community already? Both comments made by ACs (who get painted as “Techdirt staffers” if they say something sensible pro-TD, but are apparently unquestionable when they act like fools).

Oh, and it’s hardly tin foil hat time to suggest that a judge who has worked as an RIAA lobbyist might have a conflict of interest when working on a verdict that directly profits the RIAA. That seems pretty direct, even if it’s not a deliberate conflict.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Paul, why don’t you read the bios of some federal judges. You’ll discover that 100% had legal careers before taking the bench. The federal government is lousy with former Googlers in senior policy positions. It shouldn’t be a surprise that people had careers in the private sector before becoming judges or senior policy people.

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9133954/Growing_White_House_ties_to_Google_draw_protest

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“It shouldn’t be a surprise that people had careers in the private sector before becoming judges or senior policy people. “

Since you’re too stupid to understand the point I’ll repeat it:

Having a career prior to being a judge is not a problem. Being a lobbyist for an industry prior to judging cases for that exact industry is a conflict of interest. I’d be saying the same thing for your “Googlers” too if they were expected to make important policy that directly favoured Google, but that’s not what’s being discussed.

bratwurzt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

These sorts of psychotic comments about murdering the so-called “corrupt” and Judge Howell and beastiality only reveal to lawmakers the character and mental state of opponents to reasonable copyright measures. Thanks Mike for hosting a forum where true substance of the opposition can be put on full display.

You, sir (ma’am?), disgust me. Taking an AC comment (anonymous, probably written by the same shill-machine you in/directly work for) and putting yourself on the same anonymous pedestal just to drop a few of fallacies here? And doing it anonymously? Disgusting…

Analogy:
Lawyers like Evan Stone only reveal to voters the character and mental state of proponents to unreasonable copyright measures. Thanks Mike for hosting a forum where true substance of the copyright proposition can be put on full display.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course, with a default judgment, the court still has some leeway in ordering what kind of award is given, and in this case, Judge Howell has apparently decided that the absolute minimum anyone could pay if found in default on a copyright case is not the $200 for innocent infringers, nor the $750 amount that is the official minimum listed in the law… but, rather $3,430, which is the $750 amount plus another $2,680 in lawyer’s fees.

“Innocent” infringement has to be proved by the defendant. Since the defendant here didn’t put on a defense, as a matter of law, $200 in damages was not available. So when you WHINE about Judge Howell not awarded $200, IT IS PURE FUD. The fact that you should know better makes it MANIPULATIVE LIES. Instead, she did in fact award the minimum, which is $750. So when you whine that she didn’t award the minimum, IT IS MORE FUD.

That’s a bit strange since it’s not all that common to award attorney’s fees in such cases, and considering that US Copyright Group is a factory of sorts, pumping out tons of these cases, and suing tens of thousands of individuals without much effort to ascertain the legitimacy of the lawsuits, it’s difficult to see how it could have cost them that much at all.

Now, of course you’re going to WHINE and spread FUD on the attorney’s fees. That’s a given. If Judge Howell rules in any way, shape, or form in a copyright case, Mike will WHINE about it no matter what facts, law, or reasoning are. Rather than look at the court filings to see how USCG justified the amount of attorney’s fees being claimed here, Mike just goes with his gut. And WITHOUT ANY PROOF OR BASIS whatsoever, Mike has declared that the amount awarded here is wrong. Mike, if you want to understand how this number was arrived at, look it up. The fact that you don’t PROVES (once again and for the millionth time) THAT YOU WORK BACKWARDS. Such idiocy. You truly are an IDIOT.

Another moronic hit-piece from Pirate Mike the Pirate Apologist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If we don’t have all sides to an argument, this site turns into a bunch of yes-men (and women). No discourse can be had. Just because you don’t like his articles or the way he presents them doesn’t mean he should take a hike. It just means that you want to cover your ears to anyone’s point of view that isn’t yours.

Prisoner 201 says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Fuck you, asshole, in principle I agree with your stinking fat ugly rapist ass, but personally I find that asshole cunt reading and digesting fuckwad crap bumyeast hateful, swearing posts and filtering out the fucking frogmuppet crap is just too fucking assrape tedious and frankly, motherfucker, annoying.

So yeah, you are correct, but I dont have the energy for it.

Asshole.

The above swearing and name calling is included for educational purposes only, no emotions were wasted on this post, and no offense intended. No animals, humans or keyboards were harmed in the making of this post. This post is rated PG13 for foul language. Parental discretion is advised.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“If we don’t have all sides to an argument”

You mean like how the mainstream media and big corporations abuse their wrongfully granted government established monopoly power over public airwaves and cableco infrastructure to present one side, and only one side, of the IP debate (the indefensible, pro-IP side) while refusing to allow critics, like MM, to respond?

For example, see

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091101/1818186751.shtml

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100727/10432810380.shtml

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20101005/12204511290/why-won-t-universal-music-let-you-see-the-20-20-report-from-1980-about-how-the-music-industry-is-dying.shtml

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110603/02385514537/why-is-federal-government-running-ads-secretly-created-owned-nbc-universal.shtml

Among others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I don’t remember saying that they were right for suppressing a side either. Can you point out where I did?

Mike provides this forum and if some guy wants to come in with his rant against what Mike says, then that’s Mike’s call to let him/her to do so. Even if the person acts like a fool, there may be some insight into what they are saying. I’m not talking about this specific case, but in general.

Note: Calm down, buddy. I’m not on their side or your side. I’m just reading and seeing a lot of people who don’t own the server space telling someone to go somewhere else. That’d be like me seeing some guy in a privately owned park and telling them to leave. That’s up to the owner of the property.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

” if some guy wants to come in with his rant against what Mike says, then that’s Mike’s call to let him/her to do so”

Do you have any examples of when this was not allowed, other than times when someone did so and was piled on for acting stupid? I’ve never seen examples of times when Mike has been proven to block someone for their opinion.

Bearing in mind, of course, that acting like a moron and then having 10 people saying “you’re a moron” is not censorship.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Exactly. IP maximists tend to lock the comment sections of their blogs down, Techdirt opens them up for anyone to see.

The IP maximist mainstream media blocks IP criticisms from seeing the light of day, abusing their government established monopoly power to do so no less, while IP critics welcome criticism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Since you obviously have a problem with this forum and it’s moderator why don’t start your own? You can then be an asshole to your hearts content and not bother the adults..

Here. This is where people are telling him to go away. This is what I have a problem with. It does not say ‘You’re a moron’. It says ‘GTFO’.

We’re supposed to be better than this. I’m being attacked for no reason other than I think that people should be allowed to state their mind unless the person that owns the property tells them to go away.

I feel a strong need to include the words ‘Leave Brittany alone!’ in here somewhere.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

He’s welcome to stay, but his constant complaining suggests that he doesn’t like it here. If he doesn’t like it here, perhaps a good suggestion would be for him to leave. He doesn’t have to leave, but why stay if he doesn’t like the blog? Why stay if he doesn’t like the commenter or the comments? Why stay if he doesn’t like it here? Instead of always complaining, maybe a better option for him would be to leave and start his own blog that he would be happy with. Just a suggestion. No one is forcing him to leave.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

He complains about Techdirt, so we’re challenging him to do better. Instead of sitting here and complaining all day, why doesn’t he start his own blog and do better. He’s welcomed to stay, but the point is that he can’t expect anyone to take him seriously when all he does is complain about techdirt and he does nothing to meet the challenge of starting his own blog and doing better.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“If we don’t have all sides to an argument”

There are many sides to every argument that don’t involve trolling, name calling, misrepresentation of others’ opinions and outright lies. That we rarely get dissenting arguments here that don’t consist of some (or all) of those is hardly Mike’s fault.

Try presenting an opposing argument that doesn’t contain any of those, and be prepared to back up assertions if challenged. That’s all that’s needed for a debate that includes “all sides”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

There are many sides to every argument that don’t involve trolling, name calling, misrepresentation of others’ opinions and outright lies. That we rarely get dissenting arguments here that don’t consist of some (or all) of those is hardly Mike’s fault.

If I came off sounding like I was blaming The Maz, then I apologize. Didn’t mean to come off that way.

I agree with you about the ‘many sides to every argument’, but I haven’t seen Mike tell the guy that he needs to go away and be an asshole somewhere else. Until then, I assume he’s a welcome commenter just like everyone else here.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The problem being that there’s rarely a considered, thoughtful, even truthful opposition. Sure, Mike isn’t right 100% of the time but every post is full of stupid trolls trying to paint everyone who doesn’t toe the corporate line as a pirate.

Look at your post, for example.

You scream and shout at Mike in all caps, which generally say nothing except LOOK AT ME I’M AN ATTENTION WHORE. Unless there’s a word or two that need to be emphasised and you don’t have time/knowledge to use html, there’s no excuse and it makes you look obnoxious.

Then, there’s the core of your argument. You take the (possible insightful) objection to Mike’s opposition to the fees, suggesting that the defendant’s failure to defend makes these fees impossible to avoid. But in doing so, you miss a couple of his central issues (the judge is a former RIAA lobbyist, these accusations are so scattershot and often so baseless that ordinary people can’t effectively defend). and fail to address them in favour of your chosen narrative. A total strawman, and stupid childish name-calling to boot, not to mention exactly what you’re trying to accuse Mike of doing in the first place – “FUD”.

Once again, if you have a reasonable objection to the post, act like an adult. Point out your objection and cite the reasons why. Don’t start strawman building or namecalling. Then, you might find more people willing to engage you, and perhaps even agree with you. As it is, you’re driving away your own potential allies by your own actions, then pretending that Mike’s controlling everyone and/or a pirate.

All this achieves it make you look stupid. Try subtlety and/or intelligence and then you might get somewhere.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: PaulT, prim schoolmarm.

This quickly became the usual “comments on comments” tangle that you freetards evidently don’t grasp doesn’t help your case, either.

By the way, I seem to have suppressed a certain Techdirt “Insider” from making bizarre sexual references here, but do I get any thanks for it? Was there ever any of the regulars (say, Jay, who lectures above) who called for that to end? — Did Mike? — No, so long as one agrees with Mike, anything goes.

So phooey on your schoolmarm reprimands, PaulT, unless equally and PRIOR-LY directed to freetards.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: PaulT, prim schoolmarm.

So you can’t even respond to me without having an ad hominem attack in the very subject of your post? No cites or references to when your imagined slights might have taken place?

Yet, you expect me to take you at your word. See how silly that is? At least, unlike the average AC, you provide a name that can be mostly tracked via Google (though not a login that can be looked at via a post history directly). You still commit most of the sins described above, though.

“freetards”

Oooh and you end with an ad hominem as well. How symmetrical.

el_segfaulto (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: PaulT, prim schoolmarm.

Isn’t there somewhere else you’d rather be? Shaking down schoolchildren or waving your reproductive organs at traffic? You seldom have anything intelligent to add to a conversation (you do have your moments though) and usually come off as a complete ass. Especially when you litter your ramblings with “freetard”, a moniker I would wear with pride but one which others may find offensive, especially if they have to deal with a loved one with a mental handicap.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: PaulT, prim schoolmarm.

By the way, I seem to have suppressed a certain Techdirt “Insider” from making bizarre sexual references here

Are you one of the guys who down-voted the bullshit A.C. post about the judge fucking animals, or whatever?

If so, then you have my thanks, at least. Whatever disagreements we have about her, there’s no need for /b/tard tactics.

Of course, I still suspect it was posted by the other side trying to make Techdirt look bad… but I have absolutely no evidence to back up this suspicion.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 PaulT, prim schoolmarm.

“Are you one of the guys who down-voted the bullshit A.C. post about the judge fucking animals, or whatever?”

No, no, ootb the pole smoking penis wang is referring to me. He apparently thinks I’ve somehow stopped making phalic related jokes, but he must have cocks on the mind because I’m as committed to mentioning man-sausages as ever.

bratwurzt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: PaulT, prim schoolmarm.

Could you explain this oxymoron freetard? Am I a retard because I want and get information for free? Or because I copy and give it away (i.e. share) for free?

I found some explanations on Urban Dictionary and if you’ll take the time and follow the link – which definitions do you agree with and which do you not?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You really have no idea what FUD actually means, do you?

Here’s a hint: Every time you use a phrase like “Pirate Mike the Pirate Apologist,” you are spreading FUD.

I believe that Mike knows that the $200 damages for innocent infringement are not even a possibility here as a matter of law, but he throws that in anyway to deepen the FUD. This whole article is just plain FUD, Karl. I don’t know how you could consider it to be anything but. From the headline (which is just plain wrong and intentionally misleading) to the very last period. It’s all FUD.

Having said that: I think the award is not even remotely unexpected. And under the letter of the law, it is not unreasonable either.

Right. She awarded the minimum statutory damages allowable, $750. The attorney’s fees don’t seem unreasonable, considering the expense of filing a federal lawsuit (this is a named defendant), pre-trial motions, discovery, etc. The number looks low to me.

Regardless. I would not write an entire article about how ridiculous and wrong these fees are without first understanding how USCG arrived at the numbers. Or at the least, I’d look up awards in other cases with similar circumstances for comparison.

Not Mike the Pirate. He’s ready to go to print without bothering to let facts guide him. That’s how you know it’s FUD. Who needs facts when you’ve got FUD?

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Lawyer costs here are actually $0. Attorney fees make sense when attorneys work for hire and don’t have a vested interest in a lawsuit. For USCG it is a business enterprise (joint venture with other conspirators), not a work for hire. Therefore their time and a fortune spend to file a federal case ($350) is just a risky business investment, which paid off nicely by the way. Asking for “fees” on top of their dirty profit is impudent to say the least.

If Al Capone nicely asks a store owner to pay for “protection” in a letter, and the owner does not receive that letter for some reason, his associates turns out and get their ransom anyway, but do they also complain that because of that damn store owner they had to buy additional guns and should be reimbursed for that?

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I believe that Mike knows that the $200 damages for innocent infringement are not even a possibility here as a matter of law, but he throws that in anyway to deepen the FUD.

“Innocent infringement” can (but usually won’t) be decided by a judge, even in default judgement cases. It’s rare, but it does happen.

It is slightly less rare (but not by any means unheard of) for judges to award statutory damages, but not attorney’s fees.

The fact that it is a default judgement probably determined damages more than anything else. Judges don’t like to be ignored.

This whole article is just plain FUD, Karl. I don’t know how you could consider it to be anything but.

Perhaps because I’m not paid to do so.

I agree that the article might be a bit alarmist. That’s certainly debatable. What is not debatable is that Mike has never, once, advocated piracy, so claiming he is a “pirate apologist” or calling him “Mike the Pirate” is absolutely, positively spreading FUD.

You know, when you do this stupid name-calling bullshit, everyone can see right through it. You would really be much better off sticking to the facts.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Here’s the problem with your arguments. You start with an assumption:

“I believe that Mike knows that the $200 damages for innocent infringement are not even a possibility here as a matter of law”

You don’t state what this is based on, you have no proof. It is an assertion that’s based on an opinion. But then, you parley that into a further assumption:

“but he throws that in anyway to deepen the FUD”

You then launch into a tireade as if both of these assumptions are the correct, unvarnished and unmistakable truth, yet they’re not. They’re simply your own personal opinions.

Until you stop basing everything on your own assumptions, fail to take input from others and quit the childish name calling, your opinion is invalid.

“Who needs facts when you’ve got FUD?”

Your family motto, I presume?

anonymous says:

i hope the person concerned can get some sort of appeal. this judge/lobbyist is of the opinion that she can make up laws as she goes along. why on earth is she not questioned by her peers on her rulings and the reasons used? why on earth was she made a judge in the first place, given her former ‘occupation’? there has to be bias here without doubt!

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Beryl Howell seems to have lost her damn mind. I refuse to call her a Judge any more, because Judges are supposed to be impartial and uphold the law.

It is nice that she quotes the law allowing the recovery of costs, can she quote the portion of the law that says they have had the case open for more than 4 months and there are still Does on the docket and that is a violation? She’s only extended it several times and looks to do so again, why should the court cut them a break because they filed against to many people to process at once?

I’m trying to work through recap to see how Jason Smith was served, this would not be the first time that a copyright troll buried the notice to be overlooked. (The case of the woman in NJ who comes to mind who was able to get the court to reopen the case against her because the letters to her were unbelievable so she ignored them.)

I think there is something VERY hinkey here…
Can someone with PACER access please access Document #61?
“AFFIDAVIT FOR DEFAULT re: Defendant Jason Smith by CALL OF THE WILD MOVIE, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit (Military))(Kurtz, Nicholas) (Entered: 07/20/2011)”

Is it possible he didn’t answer because mail service to military personnel might be a little hit or miss?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Thank you Jane, it appears that there is just a special addendum on the affidavit saying that he is not in a military according to their research.

I am more interested that they would personally serve someone rather than just mail it. Also troubling is its just one of the lawyers claiming its true and there is no proof of service other than his say so.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The “proof” is here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/64684718/10-Cv-00455-BAH-Document-65-Proof

And as you’ve said, it’s just the attorney’s word. These scumbags save even on mailing – summons were sent via first-class. My troll, Sperlein, bothered to send certified mail with a proof of delivery (signature), which he had subsequently filed.

Unfortunately, in civil cases the bar of proof is very low: as far as I know sending something via first-class mail is enough.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

the /s/ is used on electronically filed documents.

I do not think first class mail is actual real service.
It is an apartment building, and from a quicky Google search it has a bad bed bug problem, it could be possible Mr. Smith no longer lives there and did to get the letter.

They have no proof to show it was ever gotten, this qualifies as service? I think there is a real problem brewing here.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

bah

“mailing it to the person?s last known address ? in which event service is complete upon mailing;”

http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/Rule5.htm

But it is still possible the person no longer lived there as this case has been running for a very long time. It could be why he was picked for the special treatment. He is a defendant who is completely unaware of any actions against him, the perfect patsy.

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Not to sound too tinfoil hat-ish, but the affidavit stating that is filed by the plaintiff’s lawyers (aka, the troll) and not a single one of them are exactly known for being thorough in their research of… well, much of anything. So the guy may, or may not, be in the military but the only thing saying he isn’t is based on the lawyer saying he isn’t.

Personally I don’t give much credence to what any of the copyright troll lawyers say, we’ve seen time and again that they’ll stretch the truth if not outright lie as long as it benefits them.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: WTF

Actually the RIAA seems more gunshy these days, and the MPAA are just pressing them to keep up the valiant effort.

Considering how much cash they burned trying to crucify their customers (and innocent bystanders/dead people/dogs) even they are coming to the conclusion that the open litigation tactics are a bad idea.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Although I wholeheartedly agree on TAC’s assessment of judge Beryl, and, given the fraudulent evidence, the amount should be zero (or even negative), I don’t think that in this particular case it it such a big win for trolls: threatening anyone with 3.5K, and only in a case of default is ridiculous since the amount is basically the same as settlement.

If a default fine is that low, being a defendant, I would expect that if I file an answer to complaint to avoid default, I would expect a lesser fine or no fine at all.

An yes, not replying to court (not a troll!) is stupid: http://www.fightcopyrighttrolls.com/faq

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I recuse!

Of course the judge would have recused herself is she or her prior lawfirm had represented the plaintiff in the action. However, the plaintiff is not the industry organization known as the MPAA, and the MPAA is certainly not the RIAA, recusal in a bogus issue for those here bent on coming to the aid and lending support to the defendants.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: I recuse!

except she lobbied on laws about this and getting them changed to make these types of cases easier.

she has ruled that the Does have no right to question this case on issues of misjoineder, lack of jurisdiction because they are not named yet.

She has extended the limit for the plantiffs to name Does and move forward an several occasions deciding the rules of federal procedure should be bent for people who attempt to sue more people than they can possibly handle.

She has refused to look at the questionable evidence and the agreement with the firm supplying the information, this same firm has had its “evidence” throw out of courts in Germany. The firm uses multiple names to appear to be different groups, which also might be a tactic to protect the business model if one of the cases collapses.

She has provided every opportunity for plaintiffs, while making it near impossible for the Does to have any consideration.

Her actions are “questionable” at best, and when framed with her former position lobbying in this arena there is the appearance of impropriety. Any Judge when faced with things looking improper should recuse themselves to remove any doubt about the case being handled properly.

Ed C. says:

Re: Re: I recuse!

It’s about having a fair trial. Or do you think the RIAA is never wrong? The argument against the judge is hardly bogus when she has previously demonstrated a clear bias on IP issues. Has she yet to give a judgement in favor of the defense, or raise questions like other judges have about the sort of shoddy evidence typically used in these cases? In this case, she wasn’t required to favor the prosecution because the defense didn’t show. She still has to judge the evidence that is presented. There have been cases dismissed without any defense, based solely by the evidence submitted by prosecution.

out_of_the_blue says:

Mike's title is FALSE.

“… Lowest Possible Statutory Damages For Single Case Of Infringement Is $3,430” — No, it’s 750 plus attorney fees.

Now, you freetards can defend your position — actually you don’t: 90 percent of freetard comment above is sheerly ad hom, “shut up”, and prim lecture — anyway, it’s FACT that Mike began this with a title that is simply not true, not even with a stretch. That falsehood sets the tone here.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Mike's title is FALSE.

So, are you saying that it’s somehow possible to make the $750 payment without paying the legal fees, or that the title is factually correct? You seem to be confusing yourself here.

Not surprising for someone who uses the term “freetard”, which usually indicates kindergarten-level debating skills, but still…

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: Mike's title is FALSE.

“So, are you saying that it’s somehow possible to make the $750 payment without paying the legal fees,” — YES, if you had READ Mike’s post, you’d see that he states attorney’s fees are optional: “That’s a bit strange since it’s not all that common to award attorney’s fees in such cases”.

Man, this is the sort of snowballing wrongness that Techdirt fosters. First Mike inflates his claim. After I call him on it, you leap in to defend and only end up showing that you haven’t even read the piece!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Mike's title is FALSE.

“YES, if you had READ Mike’s post, you’d see that he states attorney’s fees are optional: “

Really, so what part of the article states that? I could only see the following:

“Judge Howell has apparently decided that the absolute minimum anyone could pay (is) $3,430, which is the $750 amount plus another $2,680 in lawyer’s fees.”

and:

“That’s a bit strange since it’s not all that common to award attorney’s fees in such cases”

Could you point out what I missed, since you seem to be looking at words I’m not seeing?

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wow...

You seem to have problems with reality. Thomas is simply a commentor on Techdirt, as am I, as are you. What he’s saying isn’t Techdirt saying anything. And the law agrees with this, there are provisions in the law (upheld plenty of times in court) that sites aren’t responsible for what their commentors say.

So stop making stuff up, you’re just making yourself look childish.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow...

He is afraid of drowning in is own BS.
The tide is coming and people are organizing in many fronts, open culture is becoming more wide spread, tools are being created to not only light the dark corners of politics but also to do something about it and if ever people are able to put a unified front and start voting on the issues instead of the people those idiots are screwed.

Timmy says:

Am I missing something

How does the sharing of a single file with one other person equate to several thousand dollars in damages? Did the RIAA somehow manage to lose interest in stock to that amount when one file was shared???? Uh.. This isn’t justice. This is stealing from the poor to give to the wealthy. This judge has fewer brain cells than a five year old.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Am I missing something

Absolutely. What if the guy being talked about actually does walk into court one day with the DVD of the movie in question? Can he say the disc was scratched and he simply downloaded a replacement copy?
Oh wait. I forgot. Apparently you buy a LICENSE to the movie. Which is something that is never actually told to you at the till. I always thought it was an out and out sale.

Austin (profile) says:

I wish

As a paralegal working in an actual law firm that does primarily civil corporate contract law, I can say with certainty that at best we get 45% on any given case, and usually 1/3 or even less if by-the-hour. In Alabama, any lawyer asking for more than 45% is pretty much going to be hit with an automatic state bar complaint as this violates the standard in the Rules of Civil Procedure for a “reasonable attorneys fee” so anyhow…yeah, I really wish we could collect 4x the amount of a judgment as Attorney’s fee but it ain’t happening here. Don’t know about other states but this is insane.

Anonymous Coward says:

This woman is a disgrace, she doesn’t care about the law she cares about her buddies in the entertainment industry and think that by creating the right financial incentives justice will be served when it will not, justice should be hard, justice should be painful for both parties so people don’t abuse it make it easy to overcome the burdens of it for one party and not the other and we have a focking disaster.

Anonymous Coward says:

Another Techdirt fail.

The judge said the minimum is $750 (as per the law). The lawyers fees are something that are asked for in a civil matter, and agreed to by the courts. It isn’t a “minimum”, because if they lawyer costs were only $100, then the total would have been $850.

Congrats Mike, you are about 4 out of 5 on punting shit today.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think you missed that part where one of the Names in the docket was claimed that he was not in the Military, with no evidence cited, and was given a default judgement against himself. Thw award is for $200 innocent infringement PLUS ~$3,000 in attorney fees.

I don’#t know about you, but for a ?350 filing, that’s…what? 1,000% of the original cost? That’s a massive profit margin.

RadialSkid (profile) says:

The ruling was a default judgment, meaning that the guy being sued simply did not respond to being sued (a dumb move).

I disagree with this. Not responding and accepting the default judgement is generally cheaper than hiring an attorney and fighting, and it’s less convenient for those filing against you than a settlement. They still have to go to court (assuming they don’t drop it), and the victim isn’t likely to get hit with a Jammie Thomas $2 million judgement.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Re: Re:

Looking back at this particular judgement, yes, you are right, but the case law about what the appropriate amount of a default judgement is still in the works, so I wouldn’t advocate ignoring summons, it’s still a lottery, a scary lottery: a couple of months ago a Canadian guy got hit with $60 K default in a similar case.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Re: Re:

…that’s why despite Howell’s ruling is still disgusting, I think it is rather good than bad in a long run. One of the pillars of trolls’ “business model” is their weapon of fear charged with “up to $150K” rounds.

If judges start awarding minimally allowed judgements, in defaults, Does will realize that a boogieman is just a clown and incapable of inflicting any serious harm. The entire trolling “business” will collapse.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No one said that and it was my point – the case law is not mature in this area (I’m talking narrowly about mass p2p cases). That’s why I think that this decision is more good than bad, because when precedent base is being built, every such decision is rather a win.

But of course no one can guarantee you anything, and at this moment in history knowingly allowing default to be brought on oneself is stupid.

Sorry for not being clear.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Jammie Thomas is an aberration for a few reasons.

The RIAA claimed on the stand, and was not called on, that the act of ripping a CD was violating the law in their mind.

Jammie conveniently had a new hard drive installed in the machine, and then denied having done so.

It was a jury trial, where all of these “experts” were called upon to testify. Feelings were admitted as law, the instructions were bad, and the defendant changed her story early and often.

Even if it were possible that she were innocent in all of this, she set into motion a long series of actions that showed her as someone who was guilty.

The problem currently with the Tennebaum (sp) and Thomas cases is they are both arguing the damage awards are unconstitutional, the problem is neither one of them is that likeable to the average person. Tennebaum told the open court, yeah I did it… and? Thomas devastated her own case by her own actions and speech.

The average person does not think some 15 yr old who downloads a Bieber song to their iPod should have to pay $150,000… but that is the law of the land. The law was written for a time when then only people who might “pirate” things were people doing it for profit. To deny rightholders of income by putting out the copies of the material and diverting the cash to themselves. Now we have a system that refuses to catch up to the times, and infact has become more draconian acting that if you share something you have killed a baby seal…on national television…during a kids show…

The simple answer would be for the “fine” for noncommercial filesharing to be the cost of the item. This would free the courts up for more serious matters than large scale fishing trips, and the labels would have to actually adapt their business model to get consumers to stop sharing.

There will always be people sharing, but you can make it work for you. Or you can waste all of your time trying to get those darn kids who are downloading taken care of while you annoy your customers to the point where they understand the label has no interest in making them happy and its just easier and better to find other sources for the material growing the number of those darn kids. There are less restrictions and hassles with whats being shared than with purchased content. It is not always all about wanting it for free, sometimes its just wanting it free of the crap attached to it.

wvhillbilly (profile) says:

Lobbyist for the RIAA?

She was a lobbyist for the RIAA? Judging copyright cases? A very big conflict of interest, indeed.

I guess next they’ll start suing people for infringement for playing copyrighted music at a private party or watching copyrighted movies with friends over.

I wonder… are private letters now covered by copyright, seeing anything reduced to any kind of fixed medium (baby scribbles on the wall) is automatically copyright? You can be sued for infringement for reading a letter from your mum?

Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

Karl (profile) says:

Agent provocateurs...?

Hey, Mike… Can you set my mind at ease about something?

When this story first was posted, there were a couple of rather extreme comments about the judge. I didn’t like them, and apparently nobody else did either, because they were quickly downvoted.

In response to one of them, I posted a link to Wikipedia’s page about “agent provacateurs.” It was kind of a joke. But now I’m not so sure that it actually is a joke.

My reasoning:

1. The posts are all anonymous.

2. They are completely out of character for this site, even among Techdirt’s most vehement supporters. (We may use salty language, and we may get a little hot under the collar, but none of us are obsessed about our opponents’ dalliances with non-human fauna.)

3. The usual A.C. detractors used these commenters to paint the entire site in these colors. They did so within minutes of the other A.C.s’ posts. And at least according to one A.C., that has a political consequence:

Sorry, these kinds of posts are generally taken a face value by legislative staffs who monitor the discussion of proposed bills.

Could those obnoxious A.C. douchebags actually be people who are working for the other side (literally or metaphorically)?

And before anyone gets their panties in a bunch – no, I’m not talking about all Anonymous Cowards, or even most of them. I’ve had plenty of good discussions on this site with A.C.’s, even those I completely disagree with.

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