Tue, Jul 17th 2007 11:47am
Despite the RIAA's astounding legal gymnastics and its questionable -- if not illegal -- investigative techniques, it typically finds a way to wiggle out of paying the legal bills of anybody it has sued in its misguided legal campaign against record labels' customers. Though there's been a few exceptions, the group's strategy of dropping cases when people notice their flimsy evidence seems to generally shield them from having to pay costs. That's a real problem, since it makes it very easy, and relatively cheap, for the RIAA to abuse the legal system by filing thousands of suits, then suffer no repercussions when it drops them after they're exposed as bogus. Hopefully, though, that's starting to change, as more judges become aware of the RIAA's tactics, or at least pay attention to the facts of its cases. A judge in Oklahoma has now ordered the RIAA to pay $70,000 in legal fees to an Oklahoma woman, after tossing out the group's suit against her earlier this year. In this case, the RIAA didn't make a very good impression on the judge by claiming that they shouldn't have to pay the defendant's legal bills because she could have avoided being sued, had she "appropriately assisted their copyright infringement investigation and litigation" -- which means had she given in to their bullying and accepting one of their generous settlement offers. That's absolutely ridiculous, as the judge noted, since it steamrolls a defendant's right to defend themselves against bogus suits. It's up there with the RIAA's promise in another case not to incorrectly sue a woman a second time, as long as they didn't have to pay her legal bills for the first time they wrongly sued her. The RIAA has gotten away for far too long with bending the legal system to fit its desires; hopefully those days are coming to an end.
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