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RIAA Trying To Avoid a Jury Trial 183

Posted by kdawson
from the judges-are-friendlier dept.
Joe Elliot writes "Faced with a jury trial set to begin on October 1, the RIAA has filed a motion for summary adjudication of specific facts: that the RIAA owns the copyrights to the songs in a file-sharing case; that the registration is proper; and that the defendant wasn't authorized to copy or distribute the recordings. If the judge rules in their favor, Ars notes that it may turn into a Novell v SCO situation where the only thing left to be decided are the damages. There are some significant problems with the copyright registrations — they don't match up. 'Thomas argues that since she lacks the financial means to conduct a thorough examination of the ownership history (e.g., track the ownership of "Hysteria" from Mercury to UMG) for the songs she is accused of infringing the copyright to, her only opportunity to determine their true ownership is either via discovery or cross-examination at trial.' Ars also notes that the RIAA's biggest fear is of losing a case. 'A loss at trial would be catastrophic for the RIAA. It would give other defense attorneys a winning template while exposing the weaknesses of the RIAA's arguments. It would also prove costly from a financial standpoint, as the RIAA would have to foot the legal expenses for both itself and the defendant. Most of all, it would set an unwelcomed precedent: over 20,000 lawsuits filed and the RIAA loses the first one to go to a jury.'"
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RIAA Trying To Avoid a Jury Trial

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  • Good story (Score:4, Informative)

    by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <[ray] [at] [beckermanlegal.com]> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:05AM (#20551353) Homepage Journal
    Good story by Ars Technica.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:07AM (#20551373)
      And the award for understatement of the year goes to...

      It would give other defense attorneys a winning template while exposing the weaknesses of the RIAA's arguments. It would also prove costly from a financial standpoint, as the RIAA would have to foot the legal expenses for both itself and the defendant.


      Hmm, destruction of your whole business model, financially costly? Really?
      • A single lost case won't destroy their business model, like for SCO.
        But surely would make future litigation more costly.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by davetd02 (212006)
          Sure -- but it's standard practice to ask for summary judgment on reasonably undisputed facts. If there's no reason to believe that the copyright is invalid then it wastes everybody's time and money to sit down and prove it in front of a jury -- and it wastes the jury's time to have to hear facts that nobody disputes.

          It's not that they're "avoiding a jury trial", it's that they're limiting the scope of the trial to things that are actually disputed. If the defendant claimed that she hadn't actually downlo
          • by Artifakt (700173)
            But the actual ownership of the copyrights is being disputed. The judge can force the issue if the grounds offered by the defendant for that dispute are unreasonable, but it's not, and (IMHO) should not be a given. There may be good reason why the ownership deserves to be questioned - in particular where the article mentions a work, the first reasonable question should usually be "how old is it?" If any of these works date back before about 1970, there's actually an increasingly good chance there's a real p
      • Re:Good story (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:17AM (#20552993)
        Hmm, destruction of your whole business model, financially costly? Really?

        Not if your business model is fatally flawed and/or obsolete.

        The fact is that the labels' current business model is untenable. Fifty years ago it took LOTS of money to make a record. Today it only takes a couple thousand; just about every local band [thestationmusic.com] (link is to friends of mine) in Springfield has at least one CD recorded in a studio and professionally duplicated.

        They don't HAVE to sell a million to make a profit - the things only cost a buck or two apiece, anything above that is profit, so long as they're sold at the bands' shows.

        The RIAA labels' only current hold on music is that they still control radio and empty-v. THAT is why they killed internet radio and are trying to kill P2P - they can't control it and keep the indies off. These two outlets are the indies' meal tickets and the labels' worst nightmare.

        If you're trying to find, say, a live version of The Station's song The Fog [kuro5hin.org] on Kazaa (say someone told you about them), you're likely to find a Radiohead song by the same name, and get yourself sued. But the labels' fear is that you'll be looking for Radiohead's tune and find The Station by mistake. You buy their two CDs (or downloads from iTunes) and you no longer have the money you spent on those two CDs and now can afford one less RIAA CD, since they cost twice as much as most indie CDs sold as shows.

        This isn't about "piracy", it's about destroying the competetion.

        -mcgrew [mcgrew.info]
    • Re:Good story (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Cowclops (630818) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:26AM (#20552239)
      Ray Beckerman has the first post on a legal topic and it gets modded down as redundant? It may not be insightful enough to warrant being modded up... but modding an early post by an expert on the subject as redundant is just stupid. Good thing for metamodding.

      To make this comment not a gripe in whole, it does seem quite possible that the RIAA could avoid the trial by jury silver bullet in this case, if the defendant was in fact file sharing and they have "good" proof. Not all the defendants are dead, children, or too old to own/know how to use a computer.

      Still, the writing is on the wall. They won't get away with extortion forever.
      • Re:Good story (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <[ray] [at] [beckermanlegal.com]> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:02AM (#20553855) Homepage Journal

        Ray Beckerman has the first post on a legal topic and it gets modded down as redundant? It may not be insightful enough to warrant being modded up... but modding an early post by an expert on the subject as redundant is just stupid. Good thing for metamodding. To make this comment not a gripe in whole, it does seem quite possible that the RIAA could avoid the trial by jury silver bullet in this case, if the defendant was in fact file sharing and they have "good" proof. Not all the defendants are dead, children, or too old to own/know how to use a computer. Still, the writing is on the wall. They won't get away with extortion forever.
        Thanks, Cowclops. I guess I brought it on myself, though. I was shocked that I happened to go to Slashdot, find a post linking to a story I'd just read last night, and find that the story just went "online". giving me probably the first chance I've had to be the first commenter. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of anything pithy to say, or any important links to throw in, since Eric's Ars Technica story had already linked to my story linking the court documents.... so I jumped in and said the only thing I could think of to say at that time in the morning (I hadn't had breakfast yet)....which was that it was a good story. So I deserved what I got. Meanwhile, as for the RIAA.... they will NEVER go to a jury trial in any of these cases. The only reason there is a jury trial in civil cases is that there are CONTESTED issues of fact. There is no contested issue of fact that the RIAA will ever win. I would love to see this case get tried and see them get their butts handed to them, but they are cowards and will never go that route. If they can't get "summary adjudication" -- which I predict they can't because I think the judge is much too smart for that -- they will move to voluntarily dismiss their own case, as they did in Capitol v. Foster, Interscope v. Leadbetter, Priority Records v. Candy Chan, Elektra v. Santangelo, and others.
        • by Cowclops (630818)
          I just think that in general, modding down should be reserved for obvious abuses of the posting system. When I read the exact same obvious sentiment 4 times and somebody still bothers to post the same sentiment a 5th time, that would probably warrant a "redundant" mod. And obviously GNAA type crap should get dropped to -1. But, a first post shouldn't EVER be modded redundant... and if its not flagrantly offensive it probably shouldn't be modded down at all. The right thing to do is nothing at all... don't m
        • by Anonymous Coward
          If they can't get "summary adjudication" -- which I predict they can't because I think the judge is much too smart for that -- they will move to voluntarily dismiss their own case, as they did in Capitol v. Foster, Interscope v. Leadbetter, Priority Records v. Candy Chan, Elektra v. Santangelo, and others.

          A voluntary dismissal once or twice might simply indicate a genuine mistake, but that's clearly not the case with the RIAA --- they're abusing the legal process for strategic commercial gain. Doesn't this
        • they will move to voluntarily dismiss their own case, as they did in Capitol v. Foster, Interscope v. Leadbetter, Priority Records v. Candy Chan, Elektra v. Santangelo, and others.

          They should not be able to escape paying the attorney fees of the defendant, particularly if the case is dismissed by the judge with prejudice and the defendant should definitely make the case to the judge that the entire action brought by the RIAA was frivolous and deserves to be punished with an award of attorney fees. The
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            they will move to voluntarily dismiss their own case, as they did in Capitol v. Foster, Interscope v. Leadbetter, Priority Records v. Candy Chan, Elektra v. Santangelo, and others.

            They should not be able to escape paying the attorney fees of the defendant, particularly if the case is dismissed by the judge with prejudice and the defendant should definitely make the case to the judge that the entire action brought by the RIAA was frivolous and deserves to be punished with an award of attorney fees. The RIAA should not be able to jerk people around for no cost other than their own attorney and court filing fees, especially not when their case is frivolous, and moving to dismiss your own action when you feel that the tide is turning against you should definitely be taken as strong evidence of frivolousness (i.e. the burden should be upon the plaintiff to prove that his withdrawal by moving for dismissal of his own case is not frivolous and that should be a heavy burden in order to deter frivolous actions which waste the court's time).

            I agree with you, but that's their usual strategy. They'll try to avoid the attorneys fees but may not succeed. In Capitol v. Foster [blogspot.com] they dismissed their own case, but the judge slammed them for $68,685.23 in attorneys fees.

            From 34 years of experience in litigation, I don't think I've ever seen a judge say no to someone wanting to withdraw their own case.

      • by Brownstar (139242) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @02:03PM (#20557977)
        The story was linked to in a Slashdot article. Of course it's a good story, otherwise it wouldn't get past the editors and make it to the frontpage.

        So pointing it out is redundant....

        (and yes this is probably a troll, or flamebait. Possible Funny)
      • I've read what he had to say before, and yes, he's someone to listen to. But moderation is not done on the reputation of the person, but on the post.

        Read the comment. It WAS redundant. The guy already had a +1 karma mod for being him, that's all he should get. The post then ought to be modded as redundant. I know that's the first thing I thought when I clicked on the article and saw "Good Article" = +5 Insightful.

        But what do I know. I'm new here (and just a caveman)
        • I've read what he had to say before, and yes, he's someone to listen to. But moderation is not done on the reputation of the person, but on the post. Read the comment. It WAS redundant. The guy already had a +1 karma mod for being him, that's all he should get. The post then ought to be modded as redundant. I know that's the first thing I thought when I clicked on the article and saw "Good Article" = +5 Insightful. But what do I know. I'm new here (and just a caveman)

          I think it was fair for the moderator to mod me down, since I had nothing exciting to say. I can take it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:09AM (#20551395)
    Just so everyone knows... I, too, am trying to avoid a jury trial. Heck, I'm trying to avoid ANY trial. Heck, I'm on the run from the police. Heck, I haven't done anything and I'm on the run. That is just how fscked up the justice system is.... I'm scared and I haven't done anything wrong.
    • by biocute (936687)
      I'm scared and I haven't done anything wrong.

      Trust me you're still okay. I'm scared that I haven't done anything wrong.
  • Wishful thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:18AM (#20551479) Journal
    Hm. Another article deserving of the tag 'wishfulthinking'.

    According to TFA, the defendent *still* doesn't have the copyrights to the songs, even if the registrations are wrong - in that case, the registered copyright is still to record companies. Who are probably RIAA members. If this case fails, the defendent can just be sued again by the registered rights holders. I don't see then name "Jammie Thomas" as the rights holder under either columns in TFA.
    • by Spad (470073) <slashdot @ s p a d . c o.uk> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:34AM (#20551627) Homepage
      Thomas is fighting the motion, saying that the plaintiffs need to prove two things: that they are the true copyright owners and that there was an act of infringement.

      She's not fighting the case soley on the basis of ownership. However, if she wins then it sets a huge precedent, which would further prevent the RIAA from using their shotgun approach to lawsuits. If they have to trace & prove ownership of every song that they're claiming for, it's going to add a lot of overhead to their cases and could well dredge up some unwelcome cases where they discover that they *don't* own the copyrights to songs that they've been making money off for years.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by calbanese (169547)
        A district court jury verdict won't set any precedent, let alone a huge one, since it would not be binding on any court anywhere. If the RIAA loses and it is appealed, it could set a precedent for that circuit, but that would be a long way off in any event.
        • All cases argued to conclusion in court set precedent. How strong depends on a lot of things of when a conclusion is reached in a competent court that has jurisdiction over the matter, a precedent is set. What do you think the word means? It then becomes something people can cite in later cases. Doesn't mean it will be an overwhelming precedent, but don't think that it doesn't count for something.
          • by calbanese (169547)
            This is wrong. A District Court decision is not binding on any court. No other court is required to follow that ruling. Other court may cite any decision reached by a judge as persuasive, but its not binding. And this only occurs when there is a decision by a judge either via pre-trial rulings or a bench trial.

            Juries are only used in Federal District Court. When a jury renders a verdict, there is no decision. Therefore, there is nothing to cite as precedent. On appeal to the Appeals Court for a ci
            • This is wrong. A District Court decision is not binding on any court. No other court is required to follow that ruling. Other court may cite any decision reached by a judge as persuasive, but its not binding. And this only occurs when there is a decision by a judge either via pre-trial rulings or a bench trial. Juries are only used in Federal District Court. When a jury renders a verdict, there is no decision. Therefore, there is nothing to cite as precedent. On appeal to the Appeals Court for a circuit, that decision is precedent. It is binding only on other district courts in that circuit - all other courts in other circuits are not required to follow that decision. It may be used as persuasive authority outside that circuit, but no court outside the jurisdiction of the appeals court rendering the decision is required to follow it. Trust me on this - its what I do all day, and often all night long. No one cares what a jury does. It can't be cited. Juries decide facts, not law. Very few courts care what a district court judge says in any decision of law. And unless its 5th, 7th or 2nd Circuit, no other courts will care much about what a Court of Appeals says anyway. Its why things like circuit splits exist.

              I understand what you're saying, but you have to realize a few things that are different here.

              There are 30,000 cases, and counting, all of which are virtually identical. And the whole litigation campaign isn't about any one case for the RIAA. Each case in and of itself is only worth from $5000 to $8000 for the RIAA. The cases are about creating a mass fear of using p2p file sharing, to help the record companies maintain monopoly power on the internet. Now given that as the backdrop, take these 3 things in

    • Re:Wishful thinking (Score:5, Interesting)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:47AM (#20551753) Homepage Journal
      Actually, two of the records are listed as having an original copyright holder as being CBS Records. CBS Records is not an RIAA member, according to their website [riaa.com]. Also, many of the companies listed on that link aren't RIAA members, either, they just report to the RIAA. I think among those is Geffen, which is also listed in TFA, but I'm not sure.
    • Re:Wishful thinking (Score:4, Interesting)

      by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:24AM (#20552199) Homepage Journal

      According to TFA, the defendent *still* doesn't have the copyrights to the songs

      That's irrelevant. *Only* the copyright holder has standing to sue over the copyrights. If the plaintiff doesn't own the copyrights, the suit will be dismissed.

      If this case fails, the defendent can just be sued again by the registered rights holders.

      Assuming it fails only on the copyright ownership grounds, probably. It's also entirely possible that the copyrights fell through the cracks at some point and that it's not possible to clearly establish the ownership, or that the ownership ended with some other company or individual that isn't interested in suing Thomas, since it will be much more profitable to sue the company who has been illegally distributing the material for profit.

      Actually, even if the ownership did turn out to rest with another RIAA member, I'd still expect a lawsuit against the current distributor, seeking restitution of all profits related to the song (less expenses related to the song, of course, meaning that a bunch of auditors will make millions).

      Finally, as another poster pointed out, this may well establish a precedent that the labels are required to exhaustively trace the ownership of the songs over which they sue, adding significant cost and complexity to already-expensive cases. It's a good legal tactic and it's also quite proper -- companies *should* have to ensure they truly hold copyrights before they sue over them. Think how much pain that would have saved in the SCO case.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cptdondo (59460)
        Bingo!

        The RIAA 'sues' over $3,000. A half-decent law firm won't even answer the phone for that. Litigation (and preparation for litigation) is *extremely* expensive. The RIAA has been able to extort money from people by threats of litigation, without actually doing any of the real work of preparing for litigation.

        People are finally getting the idea that the RIAA is weak in prepartion. Suing someone over something you don't own is a bad thing. If other lawyers start doing this kind of research, all of t
    • by iabervon (1971)
      Ownership of the copyrights is half something that she needs to get dealt with before any other claims, because if she won on other claims, but the ownership turned out to be wrong, the actual owner could still sue her (since a judgment against the claimed owner wouldn't necessarily stick, since the actual owner shouldn't be hurt by the claimed owner arguing the case incompetently). And the actual owner might not be interested in suing her.

      But it's pretty unlikely that the ownership isn't right, simply beca
    • First, if the plaintiff cannot prove that they own the copyrights, they have no basis to sue the defendant in the first place. Second, they must prove that the defendant actually infringed on their rights. If the prove the second and not the first, then the entire case is moot. I cannot sue someone who damages my neighbors property. Only my neighbor can sue damages to his property. Now if my neighbor gave me power of attorney, then that's different. Really it would not take much to prove the RIAA owns
  • by gblues (90260) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:19AM (#20551481)
    You know, as interesting as TFA is, it's not cool to copy/paste entire paragraphs in the writeup without attribution.
    • Someone with that much journalism experience (and an English major, too!) should probably know better.
    • It depends - the c/p paragraph looks like a pretty good synopsis of the issue; let's call it the abstract for arguments sake. Now, if the article is complete and detailed, then the c/p is reasonable. If the c/p paragraph is most of the article, then the OP was out of line, but it wouldn't matter because the article itself is utterly useless.

      See, either the lifting is okay, or the article is not worth the time to click the link. Problem solved.
  • what case? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hemogoblin (982564) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:19AM (#20551485)
    I know I could just RTFA, but you should probably mention which case you're referring to in the summary.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:21AM (#20551511)

    Jury trials are good if RIAA is subject to them

    Jury trials are bad if IBM is subject to them

    Hence it is proven that jury trials are both good and bad.
    • Mr. Beckerman would be the expert here, but you are correct. Law is about 90% facts and 10% lottery. If you're being sued, and you're not 100% in the right, go for the Jury Trial. If you're a criminal, Jury Trial, definately. If you're completely in the right, and your lawyer knows the Judge is a good Judge, skip the jury, because it's easier to convince one knowledgable person than 12.
  • Summary Judgment (Score:5, Informative)

    by gravesb (967413) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:25AM (#20551551) Homepage
    Summary Judgment just means there are no facts in dispute for the particular areas disputed. If that's true, then its in everyone's best interest to grant summary judgment. However, if there is a question about the registration, then the judge can grant summary motions for the other areas, and try that part before a jury. However, the defendant needs some proof to fight it. I hope that she has some. It shouldn't be that hard to trace the registration.
  • by EvilGrin666 (457869) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:26AM (#20551561) Homepage
    With so many lawsuits filed, surely the the RIAA knew it was going to hit someone who'd fight back? Wont they of considered this possibility and have a defence ready?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285)
      This may mirror image of the tobacco suits. If so, the lessons are the same. First, if one is involved in legal proceedings it is important to keep everything perfectly legal. Tobacco should never have been so flippant with congress, and the RIAA should never have been so flippant with the law suits. In the former such behavior really broke the 100% winning streak, and in the later such behavior gives then no hope for a completely fair jury trial, and every child of the juror is potential target of the u
    • Not necessarily. They might have just figured that they could just quietly drop the case (or settle for a tiny figure) if the defendant fought back too much. It's worked in some cases (like the Granny who was accused of downloading rap using a Mac computer when the file sharing program she was accused of running was Windows only), but it might not work here. Unlike what the RIAA would like the think, the courts don't just automatically rubber-stamp approve everything the RIAA wants to do.
  • Backups? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sanosuke001 (640243) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:31AM (#20551605)
    I'm not sure as IANAL, but if you owned a physical copy of a CD/Record/8-Track/phonograph of a song, you are legally able to make a copy of it, correct? So, would sending someone else a copy of a song you ripped from your recording be legal if they also owned a copy? ie. I own a CD, a friend owns the same CD. He doesn't have a CD-ROM on his computer so I rip it for him and send it to him so he has it on his MP3 player.

    I see this more as a "can I legally 'help' people backup their music" and "is it my fault that others can't follow the law."

    From how I see it, it isn't their fault someone else downloaded the song; they didn't force anyone to do anything illegal. If they own the recording, shouldn't they be able to let others download it to have a personal, digital, copy? If not, why?
    • by mwvdlee (775178)
      The owner must make the backup.

      So sending the other person the files you copied, means they didn't make the copy themselves. Depending on where you live, this either makes both of you a copyright offender or just the person sending the copies.

      I don't quite know how it works if you just provide the other person with instructions on how to make the backup. Just look at the whole DeCSS history to see how difficult this can get.
      • While we're playing what if's...

        Same scenario as far as

        I own a CD, a friend owns the same CD. He doesn't have a CD-ROM on his computer.
        What if my friend makes a copy of his CD using my computer, then downloads it onto his computer from mine (assume we don't have any external memory storage device). Is it okay then?
        • by mwvdlee (775178)
          IANAL. Let me repeat that: IANAL. With emphasis: IANAL.

          AFAIK, all fair-use requires is that it's the owner that click the "copy" button. ...But I'm probably way-off on this.
    • I've discussed this before with someone on here.

      Its a distributed off-site backup scheme. Its very simple and so far as I can tell (IANAL and this is all with tongue firmly implanted in cheek) perfectly legit, except maybe for the intent.

      It goes like this: Mary rips all her cd's that she legally owns onto her computer system, for whatever reason. She has spent countless hours doing this and figures its more efficient to backup these rips than to go through the entire process of reripping in the event of a d
    • by deblau (68023)
      Disclaimer: IANAL either, but I might be in December depending on the July bar results. This is not legal advice.

      if you owned a physical copy of a CD/Record/8-Track/phonograph of a song, you are legally able to make a copy of it, correct?

      I think fair use is something that people around here have a hard time understanding. Fair use is totally unlike programming, where you have black-and-white rules that give you immediate results. Misplace a semicolon, get a compiler error. Fair use isn't like that.

      The

  • Isn't this normal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WPIDalamar (122110) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:36AM (#20551651) Homepage
    In any case, don't both sides often attempt to get summary judgement on some issues? It makes trials go faster.

    The article makes it sound like RIAA is running scared, it sounds to me like they understand it's a big deal and are doing everything they can to win the case. I would expect anyone involved in a court case to, you know, actually try and win it.
  • um (Score:3, Informative)

    by theMerovingian (722983) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:38AM (#20551673) Journal
    that the RIAA owns the copyrights to the songs in a file-sharing case; that the registration is proper; and that the defendant wasn't authorized to copy or distribute the recordings

    It sounds like the only disputed issue is whether RIAA in fact owns the copyrights. This is a question of fact that would vary song-by-song, and a determination that these particular songs belong to RIAA would not prevent the issue from being re-litigated in every other case.

    • by JustNiz (692889)
      except that this lady didn't have any music on her computer at all, yet the RIAA thought they had her IP address so tried to sue her anyway.

      They are still suing her only because they can't be seen to back down because their whole tactic is based on incorrectly stating the law to get people to pay them a hefty 'avoid court' fee. The success is largely based on the threatened individual's fear of large attorneys bills and lack of knowledge of the law, rather than actual fact of law.

      Finally this woman is the f
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      It sounds like the only disputed issue is whether RIAA in fact owns the copyrights.

      In TFA, Virgin Records, et al wants summary judgement on the issue of whether "the defendant wasn't authorized to copy or distribute the recordings."

      Which is nice, but not relevant.
      They still need to prove that distribution happened.
      That is something I'd consider a "disputed fact" and quite frankly, is the heart of the matter.

      I imagine they'd also need to prove that those files are what they claim.

  • by m2bord (781676) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:50AM (#20551783) Homepage Journal
    no one can predict how a jury will vote. it's a 50/50 shot.

    some jurors may empathize with the defendant while at the same time, another handful of jurors sympathize with the plaintiff.

    the truth is that you just don't know. i think that some of these cases should go before a jury and let's see what happens.
    the riaa's arguments may be solid but the question of what constitutes copyright infringement and what constitutes fair-use needs to be codified.

    my question has always been, "why was it okay for my to make copies of my vinyl albums, put them on cassette, and give it to a friend but it's not okay for me to make a copy of a cd and give that cd copy to the same friend?"

    the end result is the same. my friend gets the music that i paid for.

    could it be that only now the record labels are panicking because people are not gathering in herds to buy the latest stuff put out by seemingly talent-less hacks like kelly osbourne or britney spears?

    so many computers are used in producing pop music now that it would indeed make the world's largest beowulf cluster.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by east coast (590680)
      my question has always been, "why was it okay for my to make copies of my vinyl albums, put them on cassette, and give it to a friend but it's not okay for me to make a copy of a cd and give that cd copy to the same friend?"

      Quote me the law that says it's ok (as in legal) to give out a copy to a friend.

      Just because the practice is winked at doesn't make it legal. I think it's just a matter that the technology has not only given people a better and easier way to distribute it but it's also given way to an
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        Just because the practice is winked at doesn't make it legal.

              There's also a lot to be said about a government that has done nothing about the practice for years nay DECADES and suddenly (and EXCLUSIVELY) because of lobbying starts "arresting" people for it.
      • Just because the practice is winked at doesn't make it legal.

        They only winked at it because recording to analog tape is inherrently lossy no matter how good your equipment is. After a few generations it's clearly not as good as the original source. To top it off playing vinyl and analog tape wears out the surface and eventually the quality of your media degrades. It seems only fair that if your expensive vinyl is going to wear out if you play it over and over that you're better off only playing it a f

        • They only winked at it because recording to analog tape is inherrently lossy no matter how good your equipment is.

          No.

          Nobody publicised their music sharing to the world back in the tape days.

          Yes.

          You see, the reason it's prosecuted so widely today is that we have, for the first time in our history, the ability to make a large number of copies available for what is essentially no cost to us and for what is a somewhat insignificant cost for the RIAA to investigate.

          Do you really think that the RIAA consi
      • by Ken D (100098)
        IT's right there: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap10.html#1008 [copyright.gov]

        No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings.

        emphasis added.
        Note that it does NOT say, "for personal use only", it says "for noncommercial use"

        • This article is about recording devices and the medium, not the content of the medium. Also note that the article never touches on distribution of copyrighted materials, that's what is largely at question.

          You're taking a snippet of the whole out of context and that's a dangerous thing to do in law.

          But if you really think you're right feel free to contest it in a court of law. I'm pretty sure I already know how it will turn out for you.
          • by Ken D (100098)
            The content of the medium is the only possible thing you could bring a copyright infringement action on.

            And my original post was in response to the people asking "when was it ever legal for you to make tapes of your albums?". And the answer is "right after the AHRA was passed."
    • by djmurdoch (306849) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:57AM (#20551865)
      my question has always been, "why was it okay for my to make copies of my vinyl albums, put them on cassette, and give it to a friend but it's not okay for me to make a copy of a cd and give that cd copy to the same friend?"

      What makes you think that was legal?
      • by m2bord (781676)
        this goes back some time ago but in my hometown, a medium sized city with a population of 350K, local radio stations used to sponsor album copying events and members of the bands and once in a while a label representative would be there. it always corresponded to a tour stop or some other event where the band would be in town anyway.

        if you brought a cassette tape, the station would make a copy of the lp for you...but like i said...that was a LONG time ago...mid 80's.

        so while it may not have been legal...it
        • by djmurdoch (306849)
          so while it may not have been legal...it was clearly sanctioned by the bands and the labels involved.

          If they were the copyright holders, they'd be able to give you permission to make copies, so that would be legal.

          What would probably not be legal (then or now) would be for you to make a copy for your friend without obtaining permission first. For some time it was illegal even to make a copy for yourself, but that was eventually decided to be fair use. (This is based on my very limited knowledge of US law;
    • my question has always been, "why was it okay for my to make copies of my vinyl albums, put them on cassette, and give it to a friend but it's not okay for me to make a copy of a cd and give that cd copy to the same friend?"

      It was never okay for you to distribute dubbed cassette copies of albums to your friends.

      The difference is that before public file sharing took off, there was no way for the RIAA companies to rifle through your tape collections to see what unlawful copying you might have been engaging in
    • no one can predict how a jury will vote. it's a 50/50 shot.

      That is one of the best parts about them. They have the potential to be a great equalizer in a dispute between powerful organizations and average citizens. What do you figure your chances would be in the absence of such an accommodation? Slim to none perhaps?
  • How about this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stormcrow309 (590240) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:01AM (#20551891) Homepage Journal

    Maybe my thinking is a little wacky. However, how about someone scan through the files that RIAA say that they "own" and look for any infected by viruses. Wouldn't RIAA be responsible for that? I think establishing ownership for data could be very expensive in secondary consequences.

  • Defense Fund? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rlp (11898) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:04AM (#20551933)
    Is there a defense fund we can donate to?
  • The law and you (Score:3, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:34AM (#20553283)
    Let's take this summary point by point:

    The RIAA has filed a motion for summary {judgement.] If the judge rules in their favor...it may turn into a...situation where the only thing left to be decided are the damages.

    Well, yeah. In a motion for summary judgment, you are asking the judge to rule that the defendant hasn't got a case worth taking to trial - no matter how generously how you read the arguments in his favor.

    Thomas argues that since she lacks the financial means to..track the ownership of [the] songs she is accused of infringing, her only opportunity to determine their true ownership is via discovery or cross-examination at trial.'

    Her lawyers want a trial to determine whether the RIAA should sue her as the representative of Label X or as the representative Label Y? There is no real doubt that the recordings are still under copyright?

    Ars also notes that the RIAA's biggest fear is of losing a case. 'A loss at trial would be catastrophic for the RIAA. It would give other defense attorneys a winning template while exposing the weaknesses of the RIAA's arguments. It would also prove costly from a financial standpoint, as the RIAA would have to foot the legal expenses for both itself and the defendant. Most of all, it would set an unwelcomed precedent: over 20,000 lawsuits filed and the RIAA loses the first one to go to a jury.'"

    Cases are lost at trial all the time.

    You don't get that far unless the parties are pretty evenly matched. But establishing meaningful precedent is extraordinarily rare.

    The problem here is that you are really looking only at the admissibility of evidence used to prove infringement and the weight to be given that evidence. The burden of proof in a civil case is light and relevant evidence is rarely excluded.

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      Her lawyers want a trial to determine whether the RIAA should sue her as the representative of Label X or as the representative Label Y? There is no real doubt that the recordings are still under copyright?

      You missed the detail that at least part if not all of the titles the RIAA are suing over are not with Member labels.

      This means that they do not have standing to be pressing suit over an infringement of the rights on those files.
      It means the case might very well get dismissed as RIAA doesn't have standing

      • by westlake (615356)
        You missed the detail that at least part if not all of the titles the RIAA are suing over are not with Member labels.

        If the only issue is in dispute is who owns own the copyrights what makes the story worth posting? In a thousand cases P2P how many times will that line of attack be worth pursuing?

  • by asphaltjesus (978804) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:47AM (#20553555)
    ..over 20,000 lawsuits filed...

    This, ladies and gentlemen is the entire point of the exercise. Induce the consumer behavior to check with the RIAA members before doing anything with the media you have legitimately purchased.

    "Check with us before doing anything with the media you purchased or else we'll drag you into court." is the explicit threat. That one in 20,000 isn't going well is a fantastic track record. The RIAA is already lawyered-up and ready to drag it out. What individual can afford the fight? Certainly not the ones the RIAA has chosen to prosecute.

    And yet nothing will be done by American consumers to reign in another abusive cartel.
  • by Bonewalker (631203) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:55AM (#20553715)
    List of songs from the article:
    • "Appetite for Destruction"
    • "The Comfort Zone"
    • "Control"
    • "Frontiers"
    • "Let it Loose"
    • "Get a Grip"
    • "Hysteria"
    • "If You See Him"
    Based on the titles, if these aren't RIAA anthem songs, I don't know what would be. No wonder they want to get her!

    Also... A handful of defendants have managed to be exonerated, most notably Debbie Foster, Patricia Santangelo, and Tanya Andersen--who is now suing the RIAA for malicious prosecution. Why are all the women getting off? If Jammie Thomas wins, there's another one! I am pretty sure men are being discriminated against...or are only women actually fighting the RIAA?
  • We are The Record Companies.

    We own the copyrights to all the music you'll ever want to listen to.

    Q.E.D. Because we own all copyrights, we own these copyrights and you must pay us.

    There really is only One Record Company now, despite the fiction of several different names. We think alike. We act alike. We sue alike. We settle alike. Q.E.D.

  • The idea that the firm that won the trial on the Exxon Valdez case (Faegre & Benson)http://www.faegre.com/articles/article_751.aspx [faegre.com] is afraid of jury trials is silly. They are just trying to save the judge time, and the client money.
    • The idea that the firm that won the trial on the Exxon Valdez case (Faegre & Benson)http://www.faegre.com/articles/article_751.aspx [faegre.com] is afraid of jury trials is silly. They are just trying to save the judge time, and the client money.M
      The lawyers aren't afraid. Why would they be? That's how they make a living.

      The RIAA is afraid because they will lose.
  • Who does the RIAA work for ?

    What would happen if artists started filing lawsuits against the RIAA for failing to protect their intrests or somthing ?

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