from the hmmm... dept
Over the past few years, we've seen a small, but growing, number of businesses that set up lawsuit settlement factories, of sorts. The most common, of course, is the RIAA, which built a nice little business threatening to sue people for file sharing if they didn't hand over a few thousand dollars. Of course, before the RIAA, DirecTV did this for a group of folks who had purchased card readers. For many people, this whole process of demanding payment to avoid a lawsuit sounds an awful lot like "protection money," or extortion. Eric Goldman alerts me to a recent ruling by the New Hampshire Supreme Court that agrees that such settlement demands can be extortion, if the potential lawsuit is clearly baseless. Of course, this is only in New Hampshire and folks at the RIAA (I'm sure) would insist that its lawsuit threats were not "clearly baseless." That may be true in some of them, but you do have to wonder about the time they threatened a deceased woman who was 83 years old at the time of the supposed sharing, and seemed unlikely to have used Kazaa or the user named "smittenedkitten" while sharing 700 songs.