How Long Does The RIAA Get To Abuse The Legal System?

from the keep-on-suing dept

The RIAA has dropped its file-sharing suit against an Oklahoma mother who had no connection to any such activities, beyond paying an ISP bill. Good news -- sort of. The case was dropped after the woman filed a claim to have it dismissed, then faced with the prospect their case would be thrown out, the RIAA asked -- and was allowed -- to withdraw it on their own instead. This is basically the same scenario as that of a Michigan woman who the group sued because her kids were alleged to be file-sharing, though in this most recent case, the RIAA will have to pay the defandant's legal bills. Several questions are raised here, but first and foremost is why does the RIAA simply get to drop these lawsuits with little or no repercussions when it becomes clear they're bogus? Again and again, the RIAA has filed these spurious lawsuits, simply bullying people and employing dubious tactics. And despite not ever actually winning a fully litigated case, instead just trying to steamroll people into paying ridiculous damages, the RIAA rolls on. At some point, shouldn't somebody put a stop to these bogus suits, and force the RIAA to own up to the consequences of using the legal system as its personal sandbox? The costs of these individual cases mean nothing to the RIAA, even if they have to pay a defendant's legal bills, but the costs to the people they're suing -- who are often innocent, but are bullied into settling -- are significant. Why are they allowed to continue? Keep in mind, too, that the lawsuits have done nothing to stop file-sharing.

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  1. identicon
    Scott, 31 Jul 2006 @ 2:14pm

    Re: No more PC

    Ask people who live in countries where there is no rule of law whether they think a profession that defends the rule of law is a noble thing. People in this country take a lot of things for granted, including the free exercise of their rights. However, without lawyers, most of those rights would have long ago been curtailed by the government. Many of the founding fathers were lawyers. Look at the excesses of the current administration: Indefinite detention at Gitmo; warrantless wiretapping; warrantless review of bank records, etc. Are those abuses being reigned in by doctors or politicians? No. By lawyers. The Gitmo detentions have already been challenged and defeated. Now those held must be accorded basic human rights guaranteed by the Geneva Convention. Want more examples? Desegregation, abortion rights, freedom from state sponsored religion and the right to protest. All are rights obtained by lawyers.

    As for your blockbuster example, it illustrates the ignorance of most people about the point behind such suits. Blockbuster overcharged millions of dollars. They just did it in small increments. Who can afford to take on Blockbuster over a few dollars? Does that mean it's okay for Blockbuster to steal money from all of its customers as long as they take from everyone and only a little bit? Of course not. So, how do you stop it? You band everyone together in a class and you sue them. The lawyers who took it on agreed to fight a billion dollar corporation knowing that they could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in time and get nothing. The outcome of the case is that Blockbuster had to give a coupon to everyone it stole from (which cost each Blockbuster customer nothing), the lawyers got paid for their time and the risk in taking the case and Blockbuster not only stopped the practice, but paid enough to have an incentive not to do it again. Thus, every Blockbuster customer got something now and going forward that they would not have had without lawyers willing to go to bat for them all as a whole. And, it cost them nothing.

    You'll find that most class action lawsuits are similar. The point is that too many companies beleive they can damage millions of people only a little bit and can get away with it. Class actions operate under the priniciple that no company has the right to steal, defraud, injure or otherwise damage its customers, regardless of the amount involved for each individual. Without these suits, corporations would have free reign to do such things.

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