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Judge Says RIAA "Disingenuous," Decision Stands 195

Posted by kdawson
from the smackdown dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Judge Lee R. West in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has rejected the arguments made by the RIAA in support of its 'reconsideration' motion in Capitol v. Foster as 'disingenuous' and 'not true,' and accused the RIAA of 'questionable motives.' The decision (PDF) reaffirmed Judge West's earlier decision that defendant Debbie Foster is entitled to be reimbursed for her attorneys fees." Read more for NewYorkCountryLawyer's summary of the smackdown.

The Court, among other things, emphasized the Supreme Court's holding in Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. that "because copyright law ultimately serves the purpose of enriching the general public through access to creative works, it is peculiarly important that the boundaries of copyright law be demarcated as clearly as possible. Thus, a defendant seeking to advance meritorious copyright defenses should be encouraged to litigate them to the same extent that plaintiffs are encouraged to litigate meritorious infringement claims." Judge West also noted that he had found the RIAA's claims against the defendant to be "untested and marginal" and its "motives to be questionable in light of the facts of the case"; that the RIAA's primary argument for its motion — that the earlier decision had failed to list the "Fogerty factors" — was belied by unpublished opinions in which the RIAA had itself been involved; that the RIAA's argument that it could have proved a case against Ms. Foster had it not dropped the case was "disingenuous"; and that the RIAA's factual statements about the settlement history of the case were "not true." This is the same case in which an amicus brief had been filed by the ACLU, Public Citizen, EFF, AALL, and ACLU-Oklahoma in support of the attorneys fees motion, the RIAA questioned the reasonableness of Ms. Foster's lawyer's fees and was then ordered to turn over its own attorneys billing records, which ruling it complied with only reluctantly.
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Judge Says RIAA "Disingenuous," Decision Stands

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  • Hey, RIAA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Himring (646324) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:18PM (#18859817) Homepage Journal
    Judges can't fix your flawed business model and/or lack of innovation....

  • Sadly.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 8127972 (73495) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:19PM (#18859845)
    .... I suspect that this will not stop the MAFIAA from making the lives of millions of Americans miserable. They'll just blow it off and it will be business as usual for them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jfengel (409917)
      Millions?
      • by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:36PM (#18860143)
        You don't just count the people being sued, you have to also consider the great many Slashdotters who believe that any expectation that you pay anything at all for any media that can be digitized equates to misery.

        That they be denied the ability to obtain, free of charge, the latest pop music in a format that not only plays on any conceivable device but was also developed by people who share their particular political and philosophical leanings with regard to software....that is truly misery for them.

        Bands make money from touring. DRM is evil. You can make unlimited copies of a song for no marginal cost. I only listen to independent bands anyway. Live music is better. The president of the RIAA has a monocle and stokes a cat all day. Ogg Vorbis is a good name for a file format. Micropayments are the future. Outmoded business model.
        • Re:Sadly.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:45PM (#18860259)
          I agree. It's a shame that people are trying to undermine the successful and legitimate efforts by these businessmen to successfully lock up all major distribution channels, radio stations and to have laws passed to extend their copyrights indefinitely or as jack valenti said, "forever plus one day."

          It's just wrong that corporations should not be able to force artists into contracts which deny them any profits after millions of dollars worth of sales. If this goes on, we might see the destruction of copyrighting sequences of notes and see entire new genre's of music like blues which shamelessly infringe on the same set of riffs for different songs.

          A unique combination of generations of producers, lawyers, organized criminals, and the congressmen and senators that they bought have worked hard to create a virtual monopoly. Where is our respect for all that work?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by radish (98371)
            It's just wrong that corporations should not be able to force artists into contracts which deny them any profits after millions of dollars worth of sales.

            Show me one example of a record company holding a gun to a band member's head to make them sign a contract.

            Nope?

            Then the artists have nothing to complain about. They were offered a contract and they took it, if they didn't read it properly, or better yet have it read for them by someone competent, it's entirely their own fault. The work I do for my employ
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by pegr (46683)
              Show me one example of a record company holding a gun to a band member's head to make them sign a contract.
               
              You could make an anti-trust argument... that the music publishers have an unfair advantage over musicians due to collusion and unfair business practices.

              Otherwise, its just taking advantage of the stupid, which I believe is still legal...
              • Re:Sadly.... (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Artifakt (700173) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @04:40PM (#18862081)
                The RIAA and MPAA individual members have all, without one single exception, lost at least one suit, filed by an artist or multiple artists, where the corporations were caught concealing the true status of profits, under-reporting gross or net take, and/or over-reporting expenses, billing for expenses not actually incurred, double, triple, and even quadruple billing. In several of these cases they have committed such large numbers of 'convenient mistakes all just happening to fall their way' that the judges deciding those cases have freely used terms such as "egregious", "willful" and even "rising to a level that is undoubtedly criminal" in their decisions. Last I heard how the law is supposed to work, contract fraud is supposed to be illegal, even with no armed force involved.
                      Yes, you could possibly justify an anti-trust argument, but how about this broader one. If artists are still entering into contracts with a group of companies that have all been caught cheating on contracts, there must be some unfair advantage to keep them doing it. Whether it's a monopolistic trust that leaves them no better options, or the group otherwise enjoys selective immunity from paying the full price of their contract violations is irrelevant. The government could vigorously prosecute where conduct crosses the line to criminal accounting practices, lieing under oath, and so on, and this would help a great deal whether there is a proven monopoly or not.
                      Sure, some of it, at least a little, can be blamed on various artist's stupidity. Put a clause in your recording contract that says there will be bowls of all green M&Ms available at all times on the soundstage, and you can expect to pay very dearly for it. Fair enough, but not nearly all the artists are that stupid. Which seems more likely, that there are so many artists too stupid to realize the risks, or that many of them do know they are going to get screwed, but feel like all better alternatives are closed off to them, and hope to be the one who isn't screwed too badly.
                      Prior post amounts to saying "show me a successful white collar criminal who turned to blue collar methods when they didn't have to, or agree I'm right!" I'm rather surprised you're rebutting only one part of it and letting the rest stand.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by defile (1059)

                  Sure, some of it, at least a little, can be blamed on various artist's stupidity. Put a clause in your recording contract that says there will be bowls of all green M&Ms available at all times on the soundstage, and you can expect to pay very dearly for it. Fair enough, but not nearly all the artists are that stupid. Which seems more likely, that there are so many artists too stupid to realize the risks, or that many of them do know they are going to get screwed, but feel like all better alternatives ar

                  • Re:Sadly.... (Score:5, Insightful)

                    by The_Wilschon (782534) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @07:46PM (#18863863) Homepage
                    Did you even read the first paragraph of the GP? You know, where he pointed out that the record companies don't just ask for artists to sign contracts that some might consider unfair (arguable whether they are unfair or not, conceded). They ask for this, and then they turn around and commit contract fraud by lying to the artists about how much money is really being brought in, etc. Whether the original contract was fair or not, and whether you think contract fraud is fair or not, the law of the land says that contract fraud is no bueno.

                    The fact that people still sign contracts with these companies is very suggestive that perhaps they feel that there are no alternatives. It suggests that people are resigned to getting screwed over, not necessarily on the contracts themselves, but on how closely those contracts are followed. It suggests that people feel like there is no alternative but to idly sit by and watch the law be broken. I say that this is a very bad thing indeed.
            • Re:Sadly.... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by DarkSarin (651985) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:46PM (#18861199) Homepage Journal
              No, there wasn't a gun involved, but there might as well have been.

              If you are trying to make a living by writing and selling music, then you have essentially three choices--market it on your own, make it free and try to make money touring (if you can get noticed); or you might be able to secure an independent label contract, market it essentially on your own, and hope to make money touring; or, if you get lucky, you can get noticed, sign a major label (read: RIAA) contract, and be stuck with whatever terms they offer, because while some people are good enough to have multiple labels clamoring over their stuff, this is unusual. Instead most bands are lucky to have any label be willing to sign them and there are always others willing to take your place.

              The result is that RIAA labels, in effect, have huge amounts of buying power when it comes to negotiating artist contracts. These contracts are typically draconian in nature, and leave most bands actually losing money for a while, although the label is raking in lots of cash.

              Now, if you go with an independent label, you just have to HOPE that you get famous and make money. The same is true of no label deals, and in all cases you are expected to tour relentlessly and hope for the best. NPR did a fluff piece on the Dresden Dolls a while back that talks about how the band was making less money than the people they had to hire to make the tour work! Sad.

              The point is that being an artist isn't easy, and the RIAA does NOTHING to make it easier for the vast majority. Only a very few actually get deals that reward them in line with the amount of CDs they sell relative to the amount of work it requires from the artist.

              I have no expectation of free music, but I DO expect that the price I pay get passed mostly on to the artist with only a small percentage going to the label and distributors (including the retailer). This isn't what happens, and I know why people are pissed.
              • Re:Sadly.... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by ffflala (793437) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @05:06PM (#18862451)
                You're laboring under the assumption that it is in fact, some inherent quality of the music that most greatly influences the music on which you are willing to spend money.

                A few years ago I saw an estimate that around 100 CDs were being created per day, every day. It seems like a fairly conservative estimate. Assuming that's in the ballpark, in the time it takes you to listen to one CD, around 3 others will have been created. And you can't listen to music 24/7.

                Distribution power has tremendous influence on what music will sell. Great distribution power --physical sales and the airplay, good PR, and buzz needed to push those CDs to the register-- requires a lot of capital. It is the exception for heavily marketed product to completely flop: even the worst will go gold if it's crammed down enough throats (thanks, Clear Channel!) I'm not talking postering, I'm talking about pay for play.

                The reason you buy bands --the reason you may even identify with them-- is because you found mention of them in the first place. In a world where you're exposed to thousands of advertisements every day, it is far more likely that you came across them in an ad of some sort; or at least the person who told you about them did.

                So your expectation for all your money to go to the artist, at least in the case of the RIAA label bands, is misplaced. Don't fool yourself -- most of the capital that gave them the huge sales did not, in fact, come from their musical efforts. They simply have the gratification of being the faces of the advertising campaign that is their latest CD.
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  Yes, that's how it used to work before music went digital. Record labels were abusive back then, too, and we still see the occasional case of some formerly well-known but now downtrodden artist suing a label for unpaid royalties. Not only are the contracts pretty hardball on artists at the time of signing, but labels also have the ability to illegally drop their end of the contract if the artist doesn't take off -- if you're not selling albums, you certainly don't have money to hire a lawyer, do you? Anyway
              • Re:Sadly.... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by shark72 (702619) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @05:20PM (#18862647)

                The situation you describe also applies very well to writing software, building houses, selling ice cream, and innumerable other professions. Try to go it alone, work with a small company, or work with a big company. Each have reasons that make them good, and bad. This is part of doing business in modern society, no matter what your business is. Why would ye olde Invisible Hand make an exception for the music industry?

                "I have no expectation of free music, but I DO expect that the price I pay get passed mostly on to the artist with only a small percentage going to the label and distributors (including the retailer). This isn't what happens, and I know why people are pissed."

                Why would you expect that? When you put together the end-to-end costs of recording, producing, marketing and selling a CD, the studio time (including the paying of the session musicians) and the royalties (in which the songwriters, composers, and featured performers are paid) are but a small percentage of the cost.

                You probably already know that retail margins are anywhere from 10% (Amazon) to 50% and more (Best Buy, etc.) across all categories. Music is no different. If this is truly pissing you off, how do you cope with the anger of paying 10% - 50% markup for everything you buy?

              • So why not do away with artificially propped up labels and artists and over marketed crap altogether? How many thousands of leisure products (books, movies, albums) get produced that end up getting recycled at best, or landfilled at worst? Let em fail if they aren't worth listening to.

                Art for arts sake is a dead concept for most of the crap I end up chucking in the bin after 10minutes/50 pages/2 tracks. How much bubblegum can the world actually chew?
            • Re:Sadly.... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by MetalPhalanx (1044938) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:57PM (#18861385)

              I think you might have missed an important sentence in the GP post... the one that explains how the corporations can hold a gun to a band member's head. I'll point it out: (emphasis mine)

              It's a shame that people are trying to undermine the successful and legitimate efforts by these businessmen to successfully lock up all major distribution channels, radio stations and to have laws passed to extend their copyrights indefinitely or as jack valenti said, "forever plus one day."

              In the days before the internet, the record labels made life for independent artists as hard as they could, to force them into restrictive contracts. Good luck trying to get any air time on a significant radio station as an independent artist. And the strange thing about bands, is that while you can make money touring, you first have to gain a strong following. To do that, people have to hear you. If you can't get any air time the only way to do that is tour with other bands. But chances are, unless you're very original AND very good, most people will not remember your material nearly as well as whatever song that one of the labels has playing on the radio every 20 minutes all day long. NOT accepting a contract with a record label was a death knell for almost any band. Of course, there is always the possibility of arguing for a better contract, but it's not likely to be improved much, unless you really are very good and very original.

              Of course, now with the internet their efforts to lock up the major distribution channels are starting to fail, so they are flailing wildly in an attempt to gain control over this new and unexpected threat. So far, they seem to be having some trouble, and I hope it continues that way.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                Of course, now with the internet their efforts to lock up the major distribution channels are starting to fail, so they are flailing wildly in an attempt to gain control over this new and unexpected threat. So far, they seem to be having some trouble, and I hope it continues that way.

                I hope internet radio isn't part of the new and unexpected threat, since recent changes in royalty rules (retroactive to 1-Jan) are going to put most of those independent outlets off-the-net.

            • by tinkerghost (944862) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @04:36PM (#18862019) Homepage

              Also remember that both the movie & record distributors have been caught repeatedly doing some very funny accounting in reguards to what makes a 'profit'. Most of the contracts issue an advance followed by royalties after a net-profit has been gained.

              ISTR that a producers new Ferrari was once considered an 'expense' in calculating net profits. For a modern example of this look no farther than New Line Cinema & Peter Jackson - LOTR1 is showing $100M+ discrepency in the audit. That's a lot of money to be 'disputed' as an expense - like 2 more movies. Worse, although it's in the contract, NL is trying to bar Jackson from auditing the books on the other 2 movies. We are talking potentially 1/2 of $1B in profits being swept under the table & hidden from the 'Artists'.

            • I agree. And all that nonsense about breaking up "company stores" that kept workers in virtual slavery back in the 1800's was nonsense. I think it is wonderful to have a captive audience of customers who you can sign contracts with and then execute them in a way so they can never get free of the contracts.
              http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/bigsugar/sugar.htm l [www.cbc.ca]
              http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-4175(198610) 28%3A4%3C729%3A%22MFOST%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Y [jstor.org]

              If it is legal, then screw'em I always say. I think abolishin
          • by Sancho (17056)

            It's just wrong that corporations should not be able to force artists into contracts which deny them any profits after millions of dollars worth of sales.
            You want to protect the artists from themselves? They entered into those contracts freely.
          • by hxnwix (652290)
            I agree? Amen? Right on? Weak sauce.

            Fuckin' A? That's a spicy meatball!!

            On the topic of the RIAA, what Maxo-Texas said.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by shark72 (702619)

            "It's just wrong that corporations should not be able to force artists into contracts which deny them any profits after millions of dollars worth of sales."

            It's much worse than you think. I'm at the director level for a company that makes PC peripherals. I'm in charge of $40MM of business a year, yet my employment contract (which I was "forced into" in the same sense that artists are "forced into" recording contracts) includes a salary that isn't one hundredth of that amount. I've probably been responsi

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The president of the RIAA has a monocle and stokes a cat all day.

          If cat-stoking is as illegal in the US as it is in Europe, this might just start a case worth watching.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by bigmauler (905356)
          It is also abhorrent how all of these close minded slashdotters seem to follow the flawed Americanized idea
          of "innocent until proven guilty"
          I for one want no part ina group that follows such an evil trend.
          When coroporations sue, we should automatically side with the selfless corporations as they are most likly right.
          • Re:Sadly.... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Sancho (17056) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:43PM (#18861157) Homepage
            It's said multiple times in each RIAA/MPAA story: civil suits do not have to pass the reasonable doubt test. They only have to pass the preponderance of the evidence test. This is because the reasonable doubt test would rarely even apply in civil cases, and when it DID apply, it would be an almost insurmountable barrier. You'd get nasty people causing damage to other people and getting away with it without compensation to the victim. It's just unfortunate that corporations and individuals are considered to be on the same playing field when it comes to courts.
        • Re:Sadly.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by teflaime (738532) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:24PM (#18860863)
          One point...Most bands really do make their money from touring, not from their records. In fact, if you pay attention at all, you hear horror stories from everybody who isn't a corporate rock fuck about how if they had to rely on album sales they would starve to death.
          • One point...Most bands really do make their money from touring, not from their records. In fact, if you pay attention at all, you hear horror stories from everybody who isn't a corporate rock fuck about how if they had to rely on album sales they would starve to death.

            Somebody makes money on album sales (or at least used to, pre-internet), it's just not the bands. The RIAA isn't going after the copyright infringement for mere principles...

            • by j_w_d (114171)
              The whole issue has nothing to do with artists and everything to do with corporate business. One small change in copyright law would completely eliminate much of this. Rewrite the law so that copyrights cannot be sold or inherited and instead reside with the artist for the artist's lifetime. Artists can license rights, possibly even exclusively, so a corporation can make money if so inclined, but the license cannot be perpetual. Allow no organization to own a copyright, since by definition organizations
        • by jimicus (737525)
          The president of the RIAA has a monocle and stokes a cat all day.

          Really? How do you stoke a cat, anyway?
        • by twitter (104583) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @04:00PM (#18861427) Homepage Journal

          You don't just count the people being sued, you have to also consider the great many Slashdotters who believe that any expectation that you pay anything at all for any media that can be digitized equates to misery.

          It's more like the 125 million US citizens with an ISP connection that might be wrongly accused and threatened with the loss of all their life savings.

          That they be denied the ability to obtain, free of charge, the latest pop music in a format that not only plays on any conceivable device but was also developed by people who share their particular political and philosophical leanings with regard to software....that is truly misery for them.

          Yes, I'd like my music to play on restrictionless devices. If you like having to beg permission to play and copy your files or keep running your OS. I'm not sure why anyone would prefer that but to each his own. Perhaps you would like one of Mr. Gates' bed o'nails and pillow full-o-thorns to sleep on?

          Bands make money from touring. ... blah blah blah

          You don't have a real job do you?

        • "The president of the RIAA has a monocle and stokes a cat all day. "

          Oh, so the president of the RIAA burns cats for warmth, I knew it! Thanks for the info but it's not as if we needed any additional ammo to hate this man...
    • Re:Sadly.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by melikamp (631205) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:29PM (#18860053) Homepage Journal

      I would not be so sure about that. If this decision withstands the test of time, many lawyers will be willing to take on at least some of the cases, since the salary will now come out of **AA's pockets. The obvious outcome will be that more people will engage in illegal filesharing (seeing that it is possible to go to court and win), while **IA will have to pay considerably more for its "war on piracy".

    • Re:Sadly.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pdboddy (620164) <pdboddy AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:32PM (#18860087) Homepage Journal
      Quite the contrary, this is setting precedence, and there are a number of other cases where RIAA is not only in danger of losing, but also in danger of having to pay lawyer fees. Think of how many cases they have filed, knowing they can't win all of them but hoping the defendants will cave to pressure and settle. Now imagine these defendents standing up for themselves and going to court... RIAA *could* end up losing quite a bit of money, quite a few lawsuits and what remains of their tattered credibility. It will also give pause to other companies pondering this sort of litigation.
    • by rm69990 (885744)
      Millions of course is a slight exaggeration. Not to defend the RIAA, but they have only filed ~20,000 lawsuits.
  • Nice to see... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Churla (936633) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:22PM (#18859897)
    It's nice to see a judge finally start applying some "put up or shut up" logic to this mess. Actually this looks more like a "Put up AND shut up", but I'm willing to run with that as well.
  • Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lockejaw (955650) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:23PM (#18859929)

    because copyright law ultimately serves the purpose of enriching the general public through access to creative works, it is peculiarly important that the boundaries of copyright law be demarcated as clearly as possible
    It's about time we started hearing this sort of thing again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Himring (646324)
      Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc

      Is that the one where John Fogerty had to prove he didn't sound like himself?...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Ripped from an email in response to a fax that I sent concerning copyright issues / problems. It may be a form response, but who knows, maybe somebody is paying attention.

      >>>>>>
      Thank you for contacting me regarding copyright protection. I welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue.

      Copyright protection has been central to America's prosperity and job creation. Movies, books, computer software, television, photography and music are among our unique American products and some o
      • It's important that we consider carefully the effects of [issue]. With my carefully worded statement I assure you that I'm on your side on [issue], no matter what it is.

        You have to consider that [the business interests opposed] have a great deal of money and are willing to fund my reelection so I can work on this urgent issue for you. Remember that their great business is what provides [jobs to thousands of impoverished Pakistani factory workers/drugs for washed up one hit wonders/hope for world peace/pr

  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:24PM (#18859941)
    Yay for legal precedent
  • Yay (Score:4, Funny)

    by jswigart (1004637) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:25PM (#18859955)
    Another bit of a gut check for the Rectum Insertion Academy of America.
  • Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MicktheMech (697533) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:33PM (#18860089) Homepage
    Maybe I missed it, but if the RIAA complied with the order to show their attorney's fees, does that mean they're available in some accessible court document somewhere?
    • by zappepcs (820751)
      I was thinking exactly that, but don't know where to look. I'd be real interested in finding out what it is costing them to sue file sharers. I'd be willing to bet that hits their bottom line nicely, and might encourage member companies to think a bit about what they are paying for.
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:38PM (#18860173)
      Nope, they're sealed - the RIAA won the fight to keep them out of the public eye, citing possible damage to other lawsuits in progress.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I really don't think this could damage other suits in progress, since they could make the same request. More likely it would harm their extortion business... if people knew they would be safe spending 100 grand on a nice big lawyer and have it reasonably covered in attorney's fees they might be more confident in their ability to win said fees and come out from a lawsuit even or perhaps ahead. If they think anything over 10 grand might be considered "unreasonable" they might not be so confident in their la
        • by Adriax (746043)
          I can see how this could be damaging.
          It probably proves the whole lawsuit campaign is nothing more than them tossing huge chunks of money at the courts in the hope it scares everyone into not only stop copying, but even stop practicing fair use, and buying every cd as it comes out "just to be on the safe side".
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:33PM (#18860967) Homepage Journal
      They are presently confidential [blogspot.com].

      But when the Court's final decision fixing the amount of fees is issued, the details will probably be in the decision.

      And if the RIAA appeals, then the underlying papers will be filed as part of the appellate record, and it is highly unlikely that the appeals court would keep them confidential.

  • by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:34PM (#18860115)
    "Lying Bitches"
  • New York Country Lawyer? Is that some sort of pre-hyperchicken?
  • by Sodade (650466) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:46PM (#18860261)
    Revoke RIAA member's corporate charter? Invalidate their predatory contracts with artists. Thile we're at it, eliminate Ticketmaster. This leaves room for a non-profit system for promoting and desseminating music. We need a blue-collar musician class.
    • I thought they already nerfed troubadours. Or was that paladins? I always forget.
    • by hackstraw (262471) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:37PM (#18861029)
      We need a blue-collar musician class.

      In older times, this was called a union. Its kindof a bad word today, but in order for artists to get around the RIAA and Tickemaster and any new incarnation of the same, a union may actually be something that can protect their rights.
      • by Mattintosh (758112) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:53PM (#18861321)
        "Unions" are for laborers. Factory workers, service-job workers (bus drivers, retail clerks, etc.) should be in unions. (Or not, depending on how they feel on that issue.)

        "Guilds" are for artists and creators. Engineers, actors, painters, musicians, and even computer programmers should be in guilds, not unions. (Again, "or not" applies here.)

        Unions got a bad name from the corrupt officials in their organizations (past, present, and probably future). Guilds don't have that problem.
      • Um...isn't that what the RIAA is technically supposed to be? Not that it actually represents the artists' interests.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by shark72 (702619)

          "Um...isn't that what the RIAA is technically supposed to be? Not that it actually represents the artists' interests."

          No; not hardly. They represent the recording industry. From their "about" page (emphasis mine):

          The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members' creative and financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that compris

      • by steelfood (895457)
        Not particularly coherent today, so forgive me if not everything makes sense, but I'll take a shot at replying.

        http://www.freelancersunion.org/ [freelancersunion.org]

        What they do, except perhaps with more of a music slant. Like offering discounts to equipment/promotional resources or pairing producers with singers, etc. If done right, it could theoretically completely replace what the RIAA does. RIAA members owning a good chunk of the major media outlets does present a challenge to the organizers of such a union, the RIAA could b
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ffflala (793437)
        Ah, there IS a musician's union. It's been around for over a century: the American Federation of Musicians.

        http://www.afm.org/public/home/index.php/ [afm.org]
    • by tnk1 (899206)

      Revoke RIAA member's corporate charter? Invalidate their predatory contracts with artists. Thile we're at it, eliminate Ticketmaster. This leaves room for a non-profit system for promoting and desseminating music. We need a blue-collar musician class.

      Because "We the People" is represented by Congress and Congress doesn't feel like it. Additionally, there's a good chance that a significant portion of "The People" don't actually care. Note that "the People" tends to include people who think an MP3 is an old

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Thile we're at it, eliminate Ticketmaster.

      You spelled "Ticketbastard" wrong.
  • fscking A!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by VorlonFog (948943) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:47PM (#18860287) Homepage Journal
    It's about damned time. Now how and when can we get Sony, Macrovision, and the MPAA to back off? They just killed the open-source FixVTS website, and gagged everyone involved. Just like they did with RipIt4Me a month ago. Way too much open-source innovation is being squashed, and it's a crime they're quashing any discussion of it, too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CelticWhisper (601755)
      How can they truly stop it, though, if it's open-source? All that would need to happen is for one person to have downloaded the source .tar and distributed it far and wide, unofficially. Let a programming team in a foreign country pick up the project and keep it alive.

      This is why I really wonder about the sanity of some of the developers of these ripping apps--if you know there's a real, tangible threat from the industry, why-oh-why do you never release your source? DVD Decrypter, DVDFab, and DVD Shri
    • Re:fscking A!! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Mattintosh (758112) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:58PM (#18861397)
      Too bad they're thoroughly incompentent in everything they do.

      FixVTS [afterdawn.com]

      RipIt4Me [videohelp.com]

      Sony, Macrovision, and the MPAA are a little vaklempt. Discuss amongst yourselves.
    • Exactly! It's about time we did a file system check!
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @02:58PM (#18860441)
    ...like a thousand record company executives suddenly sending each other whiney e-mails.
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      I vote that the next person who uses a tired slashdot meme gets a great disturbance to the braincase.
  • by iamacat (583406) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:20PM (#18860799)
    We need a reform whereby when litigants have dramatically unequal net worth, the plaintiff is required to reimburse defendant's lawyers up to the amount that they themselves spend on legal services. The plaintiff can then argue for whatever damages they can convince jury the defendant can pay based on their income level. The same should hold true in criminal cases. When prosecutor feels the crime is grave enough to justify calling dozens of expensive expert witnesses, surely the suspect should be given a chance to prove themselves innocent. Justice shouldn't depend on your bank account, especially since we all know how many rich guys are crooks.
    • by DDX_2002 (592881) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @04:18PM (#18861727) Journal
      Should there be an award of costs if you sue someone and lose? Damn straight, that's how the British and the Canadians have always done it and it really cuts down on frivolous litigation. Costs in those systems aren't anything near actual solicitor-client costs, but they're high enough to make people think twice about wasting the court's time and the defendant's money.

      As to damages based on respective income level, dear god no. That change would completely and utterly overwhelm your first point - if McDonalds injures me to the tune of an actual loss of $1 out of my pocket, I shouldn't be able to claim $1000 just because they're a big company. That creates an enrichment in me and a huge incentive to sue big companies over frivolities. Conversely, if someone backs into Bill Gates' car, he should get less than the cost of fixing it why, exactly? If I have a $1 loss, it is perfectly reasonable to say megacorp defendant who caused the loss need to pay me $1, my filing fees and a reasonable amount on top of the real loss for my discomfort/trouble/pain/annoyance, but as a matter of legal and economic theory, I should *never* come out ahead by suing. A lawsuit is not a jackpot and god help us all if it ever becomes such (though many would argue the US is already there). Now, having said that punitive damage awards do happen- those enrich the plaintiff and are economically questionable, especially on the scale sometimes seen in US courts. But the theory is, megacorp can afford to lose $3 to cause a $1 injury if they actually make $3.25 by doing it or if they only get caught at this one time in ten, so sometimes you need to put a thumb on the scale, as it were. Punitive damages are intended to send the clear message not to do the complained of act again and avoid hundreds or thousands of other people having to sue to make the same point. They are also meant to be rare and in Canada, actually are.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)
        I partially agree. Backing into Bill Gates' car shouldn't result in me paying less than the actual damage.

        However, I'm a big supporter of punitive damages. Without them, companies tend to see lawsuits as a "cost of doing business". Companies will happily pollute rivers as long as the cost of doing so (measured in payouts to those affected who bother to pursue them) is less than the savings resulting from this deed. A few large punitive damage awards can bankrupt a company, which is a good thing: if the
      • by iamacat (583406)
        We are talking about two different things. If I am involved in the accident with Bill Gates, he sues me and he gets legal help which is out of my budget, he should be required to reimburse my lawyers for the same amount. Only then can justice be served to determine who is really responsible for the accident. This is irrelevant to the question on how much I should have to pay if I lose. I would suggest though, that if Bill Gates chooses to drive his $10M car on a public road, his insurance company should cov
    • ... the plaintiff is required to reimburse defendant's lawyers up to the amount that they themselves spend on legal services.

      Apparently you haven't been following this case so I'll fill you in. Essentially, the case against the defendent was "dismissed with prejudice" and should she will be reinbursed for her legal fees. The RIAA balked at the amount she demanded and tried to argue that it was far too large an amount. The defendent replied "Well, how much did you spend? If you spent more than I did, the amount I'm asking for should be reasonable." The RIAA didn't want to reveal how much they had spent, but the judge forced them

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by deblau (68023)

      We need a reform whereby when litigants have dramatically unequal net worth, the plaintiff is required to reimburse defendant's lawyers up to the amount that they themselves spend on legal services.

      This won't work, and here's why:

      Most cases, say 98% or so, never make it to trial. Why? If the lawyers figure out that one side or the other had a clear advantage, they will settle, because it's in their clients' respective best interests. So going to trial is (usually, roughly) a coin flip. Which is how i

  • by Borland (123542) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:54PM (#18861335)
    The RIAA is a cure that is worse than the disease, piracy, that it fights. Frankly, I hope they do end up paying out the ass for their McLawsuit business model. That said, it always seems that arguing fairness on digital media is like arguing abortion: It is difficult to find middle ground, let alone win, an argument with a true believer.

    My own stance is often conflicted on digital media. I've never deluded myself into thinking I'm striking a blow for justice by downloading a game, software, song, show, etc. gratis. But the often clumsy DRM does sometimes make me regret a legitimate purchase. With BT games, I can take my machine to a LAN party without bringing a single disc. With a legitimate game, I'd either have to bring the discs or patch it as if I had obtained an illegal copy. Hell, I wanted a few songs right away to exercise with, so I downloaded the MSN service and bought a few bucks worth of songs: Easy as pie...until I restore my system, or until MSN folded into URGE without properly supporting legacy customers.

    Even this far into the Internet age we still haven't developed proper analogues to physical media. You can loan a book to a friend; the only DRM is the security sticker removed at the store. How do you easily loan an audio book to a friend, without making it easy to endlessly provide perfect copies? The business model needs updating, but to what? As it stands, we are buying encrypted paper books that can only be read with a cipher key licensed to an individual.

    But even that metaphor breaks down easily, since paper books employ near-universal formats that anyone literate in the language can read. Since the format is interpreted by the human mind, not a computer, any irregularities in the format (i.e. manga style graphic novels) can be adapted on the fly. We don't have to consider if a book comes in .doc, .avi, .mp3, or other format and choose the correct interpreter in addition to the language barrier.

    Ease of use is key to adoption, but what is the balance between business and consumer? Is it fair that iTunes limits players or is it fair to demand that iTunes support an open format? Damned if I know the answer.
  • by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer.hotmail@com> on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @03:56PM (#18861383)
    I'm just glad to be reading another piece of good news in the whole fair use / RIAA abuse spectacle! Thank God for a judge who was willing to look for precedent, and was not simply willing to let yet another case go by that would have kept the thumb screws down on yet another defendant.
  • by Cleon (471197) <cleon42.yahoo@com> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @09:40AM (#18870377) Homepage
    The RIAA's motives are not "questionable," in that there is no question about what those motives are:

    1. Ever-increasing profits at all costs.
    2. Protection of their predatory, exploitative business model at all costs.
    3. Complete market domination for 1) and 2) above.
    4. Total control over the distribution of music.

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