Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government Media Music The Almighty Buck News Your Rights Online

RIAA Short on Funds? Fails to Pay Attorney Fees 341

Posted by Zonk
from the must-be-because-of-all-those-lost-record-sales dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Can it be that the RIAA, or the "Big 4" record companies it represents, are short on funds? It turns out that despite the Judge's order, entered a month ago, telling them to pay Debbie Foster $68,685.23 in attorneys fees, in Capitol v. Foster, they have failed to make payment. Ms. Foster has now had to ask the Court to enter Judgment, so that she can commence 'post judgment collection proceedings'. According to Ms. Foster's motion papers (pdf), her attorneys received no response to their email inquiry about payment. Perhaps the RIAA should ask their lawyers for a loan?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

RIAA Short on Funds? Fails to Pay Attorney Fees

Comments Filter:
  • Show Me the Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moehoward (668736) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:44PM (#20230451)

    So where is all that cash going that they are "winning" in settlements??

    Oh, that's right! Straight to the artists' pockets. Sorry for the stupid question. I was wondering how Fiddy Cent's new gold tooth was financed.
    • by an.echte.trilingue (1063180) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:49PM (#20230507) Homepage
      They obviously have the money to pay. But the point (or one of the points) of these lawsuits is to make people's lives hell, to make examples, to discourage copyright infringement by others. Here, they are trying to make show that even if you fight and win, you still lose.
      • Re:Show Me the Money (Score:5, Informative)

        by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @06:26PM (#20230841) Journal
        Ignoring a judgement is a pretty dangerous game. A creditor who knows what they're doing can get liens on property, seize bank accounts, etc.

        -jcr

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by thc69 (98798)
          Maybe she can seize the copyrights to some songs...
          • Re:Show Me the Money (Score:4, Interesting)

            by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @06:43PM (#20230997) Homepage Journal

            Maybe she can seize the copyrights to some songs...
            They don't own the copyrights to the songs.

            But they do own copyrights in some sound recordings which she can seize.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by slashbob22 (918040)
              This brings up some interesting parallels to SCO. The major difference is that everyone knows RIAA doesn't own the copyrights to the material. So instead of fear-mongering on behalf of M$ and other organizations to freeze peoples choices to current O/S offerings - they are working on behalf of the recording industry to freeze people to current procurement avenues.

              $699 license fee (per song) please.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by thc69 (98798)
              I stand corrected. Maybe she can seize the copyrights to some recordings.

              Correct me if I'm wrong, but the songs themselves are copyrighted by their writers, who are represented by ASCAP, right?
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by rtb61 (674572)
                No, they are copyrighted by the owners of the copyright not the authors, the corporations that bought the copyright to the creative works for cents in the dollar ie. they basically exploited the creative artists with promises of wealth, they just didn't bother to explain in by far the majority of instances it was wealth for the publishers and nothing for the artists except what they earned at live performances.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by kwandar (733439)
              They may not own the copyrights, but the Plaintiffs certainly own distribution rights, which have lots of value.

              I don't think this is a question of not being able to pay however, more a question as to who will pay as they plaintiffs didn't anticipate being bitten, and now they have to fight amongst themselves to determine the allocation of the judgement. That should keep them busy :)
        • Re:Show Me the Money (Score:5, Interesting)

          by no-body (127863) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @07:18PM (#20231315)
          A creditor who knows what they're doing can get liens on property, seize bank accounts, etc.


          Sure - but until it get to the actual act of that, there are steps to take and the deptor can turn around anytime and just put the money (including fees) on the table.

          It's harrassment, as previously mentioned. I have something like that going on with a larger company with a ridiculously small amount - they just show you the finger and have their fun with it.


          Underlying reason for this behavior? I'd say immaturity.
          Pretty much what this whole RIAA chase after small people is. Must be a bunch of brainless corporate robots "doing their job".

          • Re:Show Me the Money (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @07:36PM (#20231449)
            "A bank customer who was angered by the refusal of his branch to refund thousands of pounds of charges responded by sending in the bailiffs.

            Customers at the branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in North London were stunned to see debt collectors that were hired by Declan Purcell seize four computers, two fax machines and a till filled with cash."

            More:
            Times Online: Bailiffs seize bank's cash [timesonline.co.uk]
            • Re:Show Me the Money (Score:5, Informative)

              by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @03:40AM (#20233827)
              There is an important difference there:

              1. That's under the UK legal system.
              2. Specifically, it's under the Small Claims court. Which is a system we have in the UK which is designed specifically so that small (under £5,000) claims can be heard in relatively informal surroundings, and where it's not really necessary to hire an army of solicitors to fight your case. Neither is it necessary to wait 2 years for your case to be heard.

              Unlike Judge Judy, it is part of the same legal system as everything else and decisions are just as binding. If you decide not to defend, the chances are the court will decide against you. And if you don't pay up, and don't show up when the person taking you to court goes back to ask the court to send the bailiffs in (yes, the court sends the bailiffs in), chances are the court will simply rubber-stamp the request to send the bailiffs in.
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by hawk (1151)
                There's not a lot of difference between the UK typical US legal system (though ours vary from state to state). The US differs from most common law jurisdictions primarily in allowing contingency fees, not having a "loser pays" rule for fees in most cases (but it does for court costs), and having abolished debtors' prisons far earlier. Additionally, we don't have the formal solicitor/barrister split (though I think that we're far from unusual in that). Oh, and outside the military system, a lawyer cannot
          • by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @09:10PM (#20232055)
            Immaturity is not the reason. The reason is that companies know that making the process as hard as possible discourages others from undertaking that process. They want you to simply eat the loss, and if they make it as hard as possible for you to get your money back, then you wouldn't try again next time.

            Ultimately, the big fear is that if you are publically successful in such a suit, then it will inspire others to sue or fight back instead of bowing down. It's the "Millions for Defense, Not a Penny for Tribute" strategy. Same reason we "don't negotiate" with terrorists (not that I'm calling you or Ms. Foster a terrorist).
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by WmLGann (1143005)
              I love how everyone automatically assumes Capitol didn't immediately cut a check because they're EVIL.

              They didn't immediately cut a check because that's standard procedure in this kind of situation. Why should they lose the interest on the better part of $100k? It would be a disservice to their stockholders to part with that money before they absolutely have to.

              Regardless how they got to the point of owing the money (which, if not EVIL was at best unkind) it's bad business to pay your bills before they're

        • Re:Show Me the Money (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @08:33PM (#20231813)
          I won a federal lawsuit against a car dealer a few years ago and when they wouldn't pay the damages and attorney's fees as awarded by a jury my lawyer froze all their accounts. When employee's paychecks started bouncing they paid up pretty fast. I say freeze their accounts and see if their lawyers work when the checks don't clear
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Ignoring a judgement is likely to result in jail for the RIAA's officers and potentially disbarment proceedings against their attorneys, unless the latter can prove that they didn't advise the former to ignore a legal court order.

          The defendant who won the judgement could probably ask the court to seize the personal assets of the RIAA officers (or at least hold them in trust) pending satisfactory payment...

          And the defendant could also report the debts to various credit reporting agencies, which would make it
      • by iluvcapra (782887) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @06:34PM (#20230913)

        "The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly."
        --L. Ron Hubbard [wikipedia.org]

        Different end in LRH's case, but the same means. The tort system, without careful rules, is just a big harassment system that rich people can use on poor people.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          It's the same end, actually. Scare people away from publishing the material you want to sell at your amazingly inflated prices, pretend that it's incredibly valuable, and make sure they don't interfere with the money going to your top executives and not the people doing the hard work.
    • by krgallagher (743575) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:52PM (#20230535) Homepage
      "So where is all that cash going that they are "winning" in settlements??"

      It is being eaten up by all the money they are losing because people are downloading their songs instead of buying them.

    • by JonTurner (178845) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:59PM (#20230597) Journal
      "Your Honor, we ask for your understanding and leniency in this case. Rest assured my client and I are suing people as fast as we can. I mean, it's not like money grows on trees. We have to wring it out of grandmothers and college students and people who don't even have PCs and hey, those cheap bastards just aren't coughing it up like they used to. Plus, it's getting harder and harder to trick the public into buying the latest Bubblegum Boys album. So even with a crappy contract that guarantees poverty for the musician via advance fees, bills for studio time and 18th century "breakage" clauses, times are tough for us over at the chrome & glass RIAA skyscraper. We need just a little more time to get some cash together. We've got hungry executives to feed, and those Gulfstream jets don't exactly fly themselves, you know... etc. etc. etc."

      Or something like that.
    • by HermMunster (972336) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @06:42PM (#20230989)
      This is the RIAA abusing the system. Only at this time they have to pay with more than just their bad name. I"m sure the courts have a penalty system to account for the situation where the court costs aren't paid for in an effort to further attempt to create financial hardship on the defendant and their lawyers.
  • IANAL, but I think this would be a good time for Foster to hit 'em with Contempt of Court... Is that possible?
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:46PM (#20230467) Journal
    It removes responsibility. In particular, assume that RIAA declares bankruptcy, or simply decides to say that it is none-existent. The labels will simply spin up RIAAII. What is needed is to require the parent companies to take full responsibility for ALL of their subsidiaries, ownerships.
  • by multisync (218450) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:46PM (#20230469) Journal
    Actually, this shouldn't surprise us. They haven't lived up to their end of the copyright bargain, either.
    • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:06PM (#20232361)
      You wouldn't give artists a crappy deal...
      You wouldn't make them sign their rights away forever...
      You wouldn't sue your customers...
      You wouldn't pay for legislation...
      You wouldn't grossly exaggerate the effects of music copying...
      You wouldn't compromise the fair use rights of your customers...
      You wouldn't illegally pay to put your songs on the radio...
      You wouldn't promote awful music just as a grab for money...
      You wouldn't do more harm than good to musicians and music consumers...

      So why would you pay up?
  • by ArchieBunker (132337) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:46PM (#20230471) Homepage
    Knowing they lost the next best thing they can do is delay the payments in court as long as they can.
  • by earnest murderer (888716) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:47PM (#20230473)
    Why should they pay when they can ignore it and make her go through the extra steps to actually get the cash? Is there any penalty for failing to pay?
  • Blame the pirates (Score:3, Informative)

    by WhyDoYouWantToKnow (1039964) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:49PM (#20230497)
    Wow, all that music piracy* must really be cutting into their profits.

    *piracy - producing crap loads of crappy music and selling it at over inflated prices

  • Compartmentalized? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trillan (597339) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:50PM (#20230511) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if they've structured themselves that they can simply close whatever small working unit owes the fees.
  • I for one.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 3seas (184403) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:52PM (#20230531) Journal
    ...refuse to buy from our music industry overlords.
  • baffles me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SEAL (88488) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:56PM (#20230567)
    According to Ms. Foster's motion papers (pdf), her attorneys received no response to their email inquiry about payment.

    If you're trying to collect money owed due to a legal ruling, it'd be prudent for your attorney to pick up the phone, and/or put the request in writing and send it via certified mail.
  • Email inquiry? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by faloi (738831) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:59PM (#20230591)
    I hate the RIAA and the assorted *IAA's that seem to want nothing more than to force me to re-buy something I've already bought over and over again, but is an email inquiry really worth anything? There's no real mechanism for guaranteeing delivery of the email, short of a reply from the recipient. If they'd sent a certified letter and heard nothing back, that'd be one thing. But an email seems to be wide open to "we never got it" or "the guy that checks that account was out the last two weeks."
    • Re:Email inquiry? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kebes (861706) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @06:22PM (#20230823) Journal
      Email is not verifiable, sure. However the email in this case appears merely to have been a follow-up along the lines of "Remember when that judge ruled you needed to send us a cheque? We still have not got it!" It was a courtesy to send the email at all. Even without sending the email, Capitol is legally required to send the cheque for the amount owed. Failure to do so is breaking the law. It's not the defendant's job to run after them, continually requesting that they pay what they were legally mandated to pay.

      But an email seems to be wide open to "we never got it" or "the guy that checks that account was out the last two weeks."
      I'm sure either excuse would be laughed out of court. The court ruled against Capitol, at which point they were made aware of their legal obligations (in particular, to pay a certain sum). They are now breaking the law, regardless of whether they got the friendly reminder.

      The only reason to mention the email at all is that the fact that they are ignoring communication attempts is itself somewhat amusing.
  • by ookabooka (731013) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @06:04PM (#20230641)
    Get some perspective, consider how much record labels make, then look at the amount they owe: $68,685.23. I dunno but that seems like a bit like saying someone is broke when their child asks them for a quarter for the gum-ball machine and they shrug it off. Even if said person was broke you'd think they'd find a way to get a quarter to keep the screaming kid happy :-p
  • Here [p2pnet.net] they're spending about $5000 in attorneys fees to try and squeeze $543 out of a 20 year old. I guess
    -they really do need the money, and
    -they're really bad businessmen.
  • by codegen (103601) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @06:21PM (#20230813) Journal
    Looking at the actual motion at irweb, It appears that
    the judge may have erred slightly in procedure. Apparently
    the order and judgement were not put in separate documents
    or were not filed as separate documents. I'm not exactly clear
    since I am not a lawyer. The motion is to correct the paperwork
    by filing a judgment consistent with the court order of July 13, 2007.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @07:17PM (#20231305)
    Maybe, once they have this order in hand, they can seize the RIAA's main headquarters building. After all, that would create great publicity, which is what all these lawsuits is about.

    It's the RIAA's stubborn refusal to pay a single cent in exoneration that puts them at the top of the list of most evil organizations ever!

    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @09:08PM (#20232049)
      It's the RIAA's stubborn refusal to pay a single cent in exoneration that puts them at the top of the list of most evil organizations ever!

      no, sorry. not even close. no one dies because of 'music and greed'.

      you want to talk evil? talk big pharma co's.

      people DIE and its because of drug company profits being placed above ALL else. sickening! makes the 'music guys' seem like a bunch of hippies in comparison.

  • by jgarra23 (1109651) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @07:42PM (#20231497)
    This isn't really news so much as it is just the result of the apathetic civil justice system in America. Our judicial system here is really only expedient with executing (most) sentences when it is a criminal trial (convict goes to prison immediately usually). When it comes to civil cases, orders and judgments can take forever to be enforced. This isn't news, just a fact of our broken system.

    The worst is when an attorney for whichever side will act as an officer of the court and then you're liable never to get your paperwork from them (or judgment). These private attorneys are money-hungry and as a result over-worked and almost never bother to make sure that things get done unless it benefits them directly.

    In this case, I'll bet the only reason her lawyer is pushing the judgment is so they can collect the fees for their time. If she were collecting something she'd never see it except for maybe pennies on the dollar from the collection agency.
  • hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @11:14PM (#20232769) Homepage Journal
    * Fat Tony voice *

    Excuse me Mr. RIAA, I'm a building safety hobbyist. Just out of curiosity, how fireproof is your building?
  • Perhaps it's time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xednieht (1117791) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @11:34PM (#20232895) Homepage
    To stop referring to RIAA and start using the names of it's members. RIAA is nothing, and when they fade into the shadows it's members who drive it's current tyranny will walk around as if they were pristine.
    It's not RIAA, the real culprits include: 20TH CENTURY FOX
    A&M Records
    Arista
    Capitol
    SonyBMG
    Universal Music Group
    Virgin Records America
    and a slew of others you can find at http://www.riaa.org/aboutus.php?content_selector=a boutus_members [riaa.org]
    Of particular note is their board of directors http://www.riaa.org/aboutus.php?content_selector=w ho_we_are_board [riaa.org].

    Honestly, are their lawyers telling a judge that Sony, Universal, Virgin and the rest are low on cash?

    Pathetic to the n-th degree.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:48AM (#20234105)
    You can't sue someone else 'til the claims of another case you lost are settled.

    I doubt that they can't pay. They just don't want to. They want to make people suffer. They want to make people invest all their life to fight the harrassment, because they dared to stand up against the extortion. The message: You better just pay and go on with your life, because the alternative is to invest more of your time than it's worth.

    Create that law. As long as you didn't pay in case A, your case B is stalled. Because, hey, if you can't pay in A, what keeps you from suing everyone and their dog, even if you lose you don't lose. You can't lose more than you have.

    Because for me at least it's clear what should be the logical consequence if you lose against the RIAA and are forced to pay more money than you make in your lifetime: Sue every single record company for idiotic reasons. I mean, what can you lose?
  • Par for the course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archtech (159117) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:55AM (#20234135)
    This is precisely the kind of behaviour to be expected of a big modern corporation. It's not quite accurate to say that they ignore the law completely. It's more that they don't have any of the emotional respect for law that some (I hope, many) of us individual citizens have. Sure, we might cut corners in a few small matters... parking where we technically shouldn't, taking some stationery from the office cupboard, that kind of thing. But we would never dream of defying a court order.

    Joel Bakan explains what's going on in his great book The Corporation. Thanks to a framework of laws set up in Britain, the USA and other places in the late 18th and 19th centuries, corporations get treated as people - except that they don't have all the responsibilities of people. You can't imprison a corporation, and if it runs out of other people's money, it can simply declare bankruptcy and leave everyone else holding the bag.

    As Bakan explains, while corporations are hard to pin down legally, they are increasingly compelled by law to leave no stone unturned in the search for profits. Not just profits, maximum profits. Not just maximum profits, but maximum profits NOW. That makes them liable to behave, in some important ways, just like human psychopaths. A corporation has no "better nature"; no decency, no innate or learned morality, and very little actual reason to fear the law. To it, "ethics" means a set of showy acts designed to improve its public image.

    So it's hard to be surprised when a corporation behaves the way the RIAA has done. It simply compares the upside with the downside, and acts accordingly. Don't expect it to think or act like a decent human being: there's no "there" there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      This is precisely the kind of behaviour to be expected of a big modern corporation. It's not quite accurate to say that they ignore the law completely. It's more that they don't have any of the emotional respect for law that some (I hope, many) of us individual citizens have. Sure, we might cut corners in a few small matters... parking where we technically shouldn't, taking some stationery from the office cupboard, that kind of thing. But we would never dream of defying a court order. Joel Bakan explains what's going on in his great book The Corporation. Thanks to a framework of laws set up in Britain, the USA and other places in the late 18th and 19th centuries, corporations get treated as people - except that they don't have all the responsibilities of people. You can't imprison a corporation, and if it runs out of other people's money, it can simply declare bankruptcy and leave everyone else holding the bag. As Bakan explains, while corporations are hard to pin down legally, they are increasingly compelled by law to leave no stone unturned in the search for profits. Not just profits, maximum profits. Not just maximum profits, but maximum profits NOW. That makes them liable to behave, in some important ways, just like human psychopaths. A corporation has no "better nature"; no decency, no innate or learned morality, and very little actual reason to fear the law. To it, "ethics" means a set of showy acts designed to improve its public image. So it's hard to be surprised when a corporation behaves the way the RIAA has done. It simply compares the upside with the downside, and acts accordingly. Don't expect it to think or act like a decent human being: there's no "there" there.

      So what do you want me to do, only post stories when I'm surprised?

      There is nothing these people could do that would surprise me, as they have shown themselves to be (a) totally irrational (i.e. outside the bounds of behavior that would tend to serve their best interests and survival) and (b) totally indecent (i.e. unrestrained by the sense of conscience that is instilled in most people who are born of a human mother).

      So if I can only write about what surprises me, I will be silent.

      As you may have disc

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp

Working...