RIAA Calls Another Critic Vexatious After She Points Out Flaw In RIAA Logic

from the time-to-get-a-thesaurus dept

It appears that someone in the RIAA's legal team discovered the word "vexatious" lately and now likes to use it. First, the RIAA declared lawyer Ray Beckerman vexatious, and now it's trying to pin the same word on a woman who is demanding a jury trial in her battle against the RIAA. We had written about this case back in August, where the woman used an innocent infringement defense to try to get the fines for file sharing decreased. That is, she admitted that she had shared the files, but rather than accepting the $750 to $150,000/per song fines that might entail, she claimed that she had no idea what she was doing was illegal, and that the law allows for such cases to be reduced to a $200/song fine.

The RIAA initially pushed back on this, but eventually relented and let the judge set a $7,400 total fine, thinking that the case was pretty much wrapped up. Except... there's the problem of the Jammie Thomas mistrial ruling, which added to a long list of rulings that claimed that "making available" files wasn't necessarily infringement. So, the woman in this case, Whitney Harper, is now pointing out that the number of files she's "guilty" of infringing should be reduced based on the Thomas ruling. She notes that while she made 37 songs available for download (hence the $7,400 fine), the RIAA only has evidence that six songs were downloaded. Thus, she believes the fine should be reduced to $1,200, and would like a jury to hear the case. You can understand why the RIAA might be frustrated, but considering how quickly it rushes out to tell other judges in ongoing cases whenever one judge rules in its favor, it seems only reasonable to have a court reconsider this case in light of the Thomas ruling.

Filed Under: innocent infringement, lawsuits, riaa, vexatious, whitney harper

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  1. identicon
    Uneducated Consumer, 20 Oct 2008 @ 10:47am

    Re: Fines and the LAW

    The RIAA doesn't produce anything. They don't sell a product and are sustained by suing people who don't pay for downloading music, but justify themselves by claiming to represent the artists that produce the music for which they are happy to collect a fee as well. I can't cite any statistics but I'd be willing to bet a limb that the artist that produced any of the songs subject to lawsuits will never see a penny from the settlements. If RIAA "stopped going to work" there would still be music and there would still be channels to distribute the music.

    The knee-jerk to this argument (especially on Techdirt) is to say "but their business model sucks, they should change... radio head... Trent Reznor... blah blah blah." While their business model might be slowly dying with every court decision against them it appears to still be working which in mafia-speak I believe they refer to as "earnin'". In fact I think they have a really good business model. They Don't produce anything, have No responsibility to anyone and will sue the hell out of anyone they can point a finger at for downloading music. They make an astronomical request and then badger anyone who doesn't pay until they finally give up. They employ an army of fresh young lawyers who are happy to work for peanuts and will do anything they are asked. Okay, so maybe it's not a sustainable business model but it's worked for a while and why would they change a moment before they absolutely had to? As long as they can squeeze the public they're going to and I don't blame them.

    Don't confuse my not blaming with thinking they should still exist without change. They're another hand in the pot and if the people on both sides would realize and adapt, we wouldn't have to hear about all these cases and how everyone should be like Trent Reznor and Radiohead.

    Their resistance to change is completely natural because any type of change for them would result in their obsolescence. There would be no change they could make to remain relevant as they don't really DO anything as it stands. A change in business model would have to be as drastic as H&R Block if we ever nixed the income tax. There would be nothing they could do and they would simply fade into irrelevance with Joe's Typewriter Corp. and The Abacus Superstore Inc.

    Well in short, milk it while you can.

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