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U.Maine Law Clinic Is First To Fight RIAA 129

Posted by kdawson
from the lawyers-guns-and-money dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "'A student law clinic is about to cause a revolution' says p2pnet. For the first time in the history of the RIAA's ex parte litigation campaign against college students, a university law school's legal aid clinic has taken up the fight against the RIAA in defense of the university's students. Student attorneys at the University of Maine School of Law's Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, under the supervision of law school prof Deirdre M. Smith, have moved to dismiss the RIAA's complaint in a Portland, Maine, case, Arista v. Does 1-27, on behalf of two University of Maine undergrads. Their recently filed reply brief (PDF) points to the US Supreme Court decision in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, and the subsequent California decision following Twombly, Interscope v. Rodriguez, which dismissed the RIAA's 'making available' complaint as mere 'conclusory,' 'boilerplate' 'speculation.'"
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U.Maine Law Clinic Is First To Fight RIAA

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  • Arista always shows up as the bad guy. Remember, it's all the big industry shops that are suing, boycott them all!
    • by jacquesm (154384)
      I can see the situation in court, the defendaners prefexing every statement with 'iaanal'...
  • I Always Assumed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Apple Acolyte (517892) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @04:51PM (#21792968)
    it was a stupid idea to sue university students, especially universities with law schools.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by shykid (1193451)
      The RIAA's ego has gotten overinflated because of how easily they're able to extort Joe Schmoe. I do believe they're in for a very rude awakening.
    • it was a stupid idea to sue university students, especially universities with law schools.

      You have your law degree. Where do you find gainful employment? The answer for most will be the private corporation or the government agency.

      The employer who has his own IP to defend and is least likely to feel sympathy for the kid who lost his free movie fix after the RIAA had a word with his school.

    • it was a stupid idea to sue university students, especially universities with law schools.

      It's also stupid idea to underestimate a rich industry, especially rich with federal legislatures in their pockets.

    • it was a stupid idea to sue university students, especially universities with law schools.
      It was a big mistake. And they still don't get it.
      • As young as the /. crowd is, you wouldn't think they would be so jaded already!

        Point is, history has many good observations about the enthusiasm of college students for a cause.

        Wow, if there was some way to harness the energy of 'students campaigning a cause', then most of the world's energy problems would be solved...but it could slow down our planet's orbital velocity so we fall into the sun....Hmmm...
  • Except (Score:3, Insightful)

    by proudfoot (1096177) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @04:58PM (#21793014)
    Most schools with legal departments seem to have simply backed down. The RIAA still gets much of their purpose accomplished.
  • by Seumas (6865) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @05:02PM (#21793052)
    I give this thing twelve months before the federal government stops allowing student loans and federal aid of any and all kinds from being spent on students and services for this school.
  • Legal WAR! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @05:04PM (#21793060)

    You see, the RIAA could focus their efforts on developing innovative ways to market music. What if they could come up with something even more convenient and irresistible to millions of consumers than Apple's iTunes store? What if this innovative marketing brought in so much money that piracy would represent only an immaterial portion of their bottom line? They would look like heroes and every company would flock to imitate them.

    But, you see, they fell into the trap of thinking that lawyers and litigation could solve their problems. They declared legal war on an entire population. Whenever there's a war, whether a legal one or a physical one, everyone knows how it begins, but nobody knows how it will end. Nazi Germany started war on the entire world, thinking they were big, mighty, and unstoppable. And what happened? In the end, there was devastating destruction throughout Europe, tens of millions of lives destroyed, and the country in the worst shape of all was Germany. Why?

    • You're right, but you are talking about the Recording Industry Association of **America)). For any corporation in this litigation-happy country goes: if all you have is lawyers, then every problem looks like a lawsuit.

      It is sort of a war, and (like in any other war) the fighting causes net loss for everyone. The only winners here are lawyers and P2P network capabilities.

    • I surmise that it is because 90% of the execs are not creative. At All. They couldn't dream up an innovative marketing idea if their professional life depended on it (it does).

      It's ludicrous/tragic that people this unimaginative have managed, for so long, to persuade millions that they are essential elements of our cultural and artistic life.
      • by rts008 (812749)
        "It's ludicrous/tragic..."

        Look at the numbers of botnets, the amount of SPAM, the need for a multitude of Anti-virus/Anti-Malware software to run on (windows) most PC's. The average Joe Sixpack/office drone is a factor in this equation.

        Most people just do not give a rat's ass unless it bites them in their ass. Until the unwashed masses give a shit, it will be a variation of the same old shit.

        I agree with you, but I have to ask: How the fsck did the likes of B. Spears and P. Hilton get so well known/newswort
    • Nazi Germany started war on the entire world, thinking they were big, mighty, and unstoppable. And what happened? In the end, there was devastating destruction throughout Europe, tens of millions of lives destroyed, and the country in the worst shape of all was Germany.

      And after the was there was the Marshall Plan [wikipedia.org], the rise and fall of communism and today Germany is the third largest economy in the world.

      Sometimes patterns of cause and effect are clear, but other times they aren't [wikipedia.org].

    • Good grief, I think that one Godwined with the force of a nuclear explosion...! Mind you, I'll stop laughing when the RIAA rolls out the tanks....
    • by jacquesm (154384)
      talk about bad analogies...
      sorry, but I think you lost me there, would you mind explaining what you meant with 'country == record companies' ?
    • by noidentity (188756) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @06:47PM (#21793580)

      You see, the RIAA could focus their efforts on developing innovative ways to market music. What if they could come up with something even more convenient and irresistible to millions of consumers than Apple's iTunes store? [...] But, you see, they fell into the trap of thinking that lawyers and litigation could solve their problems.

      I blame it all on the listeners. They should be the ones learning to like what the RIAA so graciously offers. They should know how hard it is for huge organizations to change. Really, the music industry shouldn't have had to go beyond vinyl records, but they were generous and gave us audio tapes and compact discs, all great advances in technology. And now the listeners won't accept the newest advances in digital technology that allow even fewer uses than previous formats. Lawyers are the only option they have left to make us like what they offer.

    • Because it's not really about money. Money's for shareholders. In the end, it's all about control.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Maradine (194191) *
      Nazi Germany started war on the entire world, thinking they were big, mighty, and unstoppable. And what happened?

      Godwin showed up and told you to sit down.
    • Well, according to many historians, the country worst off was France. ;) I'll leave frog jokes to others... otherwise, good analogy.
  • screw em (Score:1, Insightful)

    You know once somehting is publically broadcast there is no controlling it. Try as you might, the public domain is the public domain!
  • Harvard (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @05:15PM (#21793122)

    Slightly off-topic, but I often see people mentioning Harvard hasn't been targetted by the RIAA.

    It's not for legal reasons. If you use any P2P software, Harvard IT shuts off your access; you're blocked on a DHCP level. You get three "strikes" before this happens- unless you're on wireless, in which case, you're booted right away.

    • Re:Harvard (Score:4, Informative)

      by arivanov (12034) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @06:01PM (#21793336) Homepage
      Which means that they have a DPI box like Ellacoia or P-Cube or a P2P cache box like CacheLogic or OverSee. From there on they are actually right to use this policy. The reason is very simple.

      RIAA can subpoena the college IT and get real seeder IPs out of the P2P cache logs. From there on it is "game over". You show up on the cache log only if you have both offered a file and someone has used it. So armed with this log they should be able to prove what they have gone to prove. Check, Mate.

      So if a college has deployed P2P Cache or DPI from there on they have no choice but to use it. It is actually in the interest of the students because the college IT dept can be made to provide much better evidence than the laughable junk supplied by MediaCentry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Skapare (16644)

      Even if you are downloading something that is legal, like Linux?

      • Re:Harvard (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SuperBanana (662181) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @07:55PM (#21793944)

        Even if you are downloading something that is legal, like Linux?

        Yes; they're fully aware of Linux distributions and whatnot being preferably distributed via BT. If you let them know ahead of time, it's not a problem. Granted, that was in the context of staff- I don't know if this applies to students. Staff can also get semi-permanent authorization; students MIGHT be able to as well.

        Also, I should mention- this may only apply to the medical school.

      • by Nullav (1053766)
        Not that it matters too much. Most (if not all) distros allow you to download via FTP or HTTP.
        • And considering we're talking about a major university, they've probably got a local mirror for most (if not all) distros that would be much faster than BitTorrent.
    • by slserpent (898476)
      That's interesting, because I was getting a torrent from a seeder which resolved to students.harvard.edu a couple weeks ago. I thank that poor bastard.
    • by ediron2 (246908) *
      Isn't this easily bypassed by MAC spoofing, or at least a trigger usable as a DOS (for pranks or against one's enemies?)
  • by tuntis (1065596)
    I doubt this'll benefit anybody (and neither that it'll end well for the anti-RIAA party).
  • Finally some is fighting back. Hopefully they'll be the first of many. Until that point though, I agree with sethawoolley, boycott them. Always Jamendo for your music fix and hopefully Pandora will be providing a record label filter so we don't have to listen to RIAA supporting music.

    On a minor note, what happened to the college funded music setups [news.com]? That would've been nice to have a networked repository of music we could access at any time and just have it included with tuition and fees.
  • by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @06:00PM (#21793332)
    What a university provides to students is usually geographically restricted high speed access to the Internet. There's a heavy investment in wire and routing, but the university doesn't necessarily put a lot of file servers and storage in sync with that. Most often the university's own research computers are behind firewalls, and their administrative systems invariably are. Some mail services are frequently offered, but the storage amounts are generally much smaller than even free sources such as Google or Yahoo. So in that way, a university network is more similar to a common carrier's systems, like the phone company or snail mail, than is a commercial ISP's. It's designed to deliver information, not to be a static source.
          Wouldn't it be interesting if, a few years down the road, all this gets thrashed out in the court system, and the legal decisions are essentially that the university systems don't enjoy any of the protections of common carrier status, but commercial ISPs do? All carriers are equal, but some are more equal than others.
         
    • ISPs don't want to be common carriers. They went to great lengths to make sure that data services were not considered the same as phone service, which would have placed them under common carrier rules. At this point, they're much more profitable not being subject to the QOS standards and other regulatory burdens that go along with that status, and even the phone companies are exempt when providing Internet services. Ultimately, being a common carrier does provide certain legal immunities ... but it also cos
    • by dodobh (65811)
      Commercial ISPs are not common carriers.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As I've aged (I'm 41), my interest in contemporary music has waned to the point that I've almost completely lost interest in "modern" music.

    The only stuff I listen to now is my classical collection, which I built up over a few years in my 30s.

    I purchased a few high quality imported CDs from brick-and-mortar stores, and downloaded a bunch of albums and and tracks via KaZaA Lite in the 90s.

    I haven't downloaded any music in at least the last three years.

    Get the fuck off my lawn.
  • by westlake (615356) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @06:51PM (#21793612)
    The law students who begin these cases will have graduated before they reach the higher appellate courts, a full third may be gone before their cases go to trial.

    There is a world of difference between the law school and the law office.

    How about we wait until we get definitive victories on appeal and in Congress?

    The federal criminal code was revised to remove any doubt that an infringer could be prosecuted even when there was no financial gain.

    The statues could be just as easily revised so that "making files available" to the P2P nets becomes sufficient to establish infringement as a matter of law.

    • "The statues could be just as easily revised so that "making files available" to the P2P nets becomes sufficient to establish infringement as a matter of law."

      This might be true, but remember you guys had this phase when something else people wanted was illegal. (alcohol)
      And what has it brought in the end?

      So what do you think will happen if your GOV will get totally corrupted by Big Content and goes against so many people even more hardcore with "Prohibition 2.0" that they do nowadays with NET-Act and Co?
      • by westlake (615356)
        but remember you guys had this phase when something else people wanted was illegal. (alcohol)

        The bootlegger was not known for his charitable impulses. You paid his bill or he broke your legs.

  • by nomadic (141991)
    Student attorneys at the University of Maine School of Law's Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic

    Oh lord. Good luck, I personally wouldn't want to be represented by a law student. Or a law professor, for that matter, most law professors I've met practiced for a very short period of time before going back to academia.
    • Their brief was excellent! You would be lucky to have people of this quality representing you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nomadic (141991)
        It was a nice brief, and this is not meant as a criticism of their abilities; for law students they're operating at a very high level. But now what? Even if the Court dismisses, the RIAA will file an amended complaint that meets the Twombly pleading standard (which with a little effort they could probably do, it isn't that much higher a standard than Conley). At that point your "attorneys" are a few months closer to graduation, and you're back where you started.

        As unfair as the law is on this point,
        • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Saturday December 22, 2007 @10:32PM (#21794814) Homepage Journal

          Even if the Court dismisses, the RIAA will file an amended complaint that meets the Twombly pleading standard (which with a little effort they could probably do, it isn't that much higher a standard than Conley).
          I respectfully disagree. I have seen their new complaint. It suffers from the same infirmities as their original complaint. For an example, see the amended complaint in Interscope v. Rodriguez [blogspot.com]. I believe this new version likewise fails to state a claim for copyright infringement [blogspot.com] and is subject to dismissal.

          There is a reason why no amount of amending can cure the RIAA's problem. It is that the RIAA simply does not have evidence of a copyright infringement by the defendant.
          • by nomadic (141991)
            I respectfully disagree. I have seen their new complaint. It suffers from the same infirmities as their original complaint. For an example, see the amended complaint in Interscope v. Rodriguez [blogspot.com]. I believe this new version likewise fails to state a claim for copyright infringement [blogspot.com] and is subject to dismissal.

            If it's the same judge it's quite likely it will be. But if that complaint is filed in enough venues its eventually going to make it past dismissal, even post-Twombly, an
            • by psxndc (105904)
              Defendants seem to think that Twombly is a panacea for their problems. Twombly (called Bell Atlantic by the courts - Twombly seems be be lawyer-speak) for all intents and purposes didn't accomplish anything. As soon as a defendant raises Bell Atlantic, every judge in this land will let the plaintiff their complaint. No judge is going to dismiss a case pre-discovery that may actually have merit. Bell Atlantic is a nice idea, but it will have little long-term effect.

              -p-
  • by OakLEE (91103) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @09:58PM (#21794612)
    I think the blog post on p2pnet gives this motion to dismiss a lot more credit than it is due. The basic crux of motion's the argument is that Bell Atlantic v. Twombly (Decision Here [supremecourtus.gov]) raises the pleading standards for what a lawsuit must allege to a level that the RIAA's complaint, as currently written cannot meet.

    The argument used does not challenge law suit on any substantive legal ground (i.e., the law underlying the complaint), but rather on procedural grounds. That basically means that the motion alleges that that RIAA/MPAA failed to meet a proper standard of proof with respect alleging enough facts to merit a suit.

    I externed at a Federal Court this summer, and we saw plenty of these motions with this same argument for many different types of cases. Most of the time this procedural error was the fault of some idiot lawyer forgetting to check the validity of the case law cited in some boilerplate form complaint that the submitting firm had in their document library. The cases were usually dismissed, with leave to amend the complaint and refile one a sufficient complaint could be drafted. This is not "groundbreaking" will not stop the RIAA cold in its tracks. They will file another suit once they tweak their complaint to meat Twombly's new standard of proof.

    I wish the students luck in fighting the suits against them and hope they win, but this is nothing more than a legal pothole, not the roadblock that the summary makes it out to be.
    • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Saturday December 22, 2007 @10:07PM (#21794652) Homepage Journal
      I think what p2pnet was referring to when it called it a "revolution" was the fact that this was the first time a university's law school legal clinic has gone to bat for the university's students, thus levelling the playing field a bit. A level playing field is the death knell of the RIAA's entire litigation campaign, which relies exclusively upon a massive economic imbalance in every case, to keep the defendants from correcting the RIAA's (a) false statements of fact, and (b) bizarre legal theories.
      • by OakLEE (91103)
        I agree with you on this. If you had some good law school legal clinics taking up the cause, it would do a lot to end most of these suits, assuming the RIAA is filing them primarily for nuisance value. I know the clinic at my school has wanted to get involved, but we also have a film school that has way more pull, and they love internships and jobs that **AA member companies throw to graduates. More schools with less conflicts of interest should get involved.
  • Sounds a lot like a little hot dog stand in Van Nuys, CA in the 70's called Law Dogs. On Wednesdays, you could get free legal advise from the law students working there with the purchase of a hot dog. You do get what you pay for.
  • As a music lover and someone thats used the internet for about 9 years now I still see the main problem being that there still isn't anywhere decent to buy music from legally.

    Sure there's iTunes, but I don't want an Ipod, and I dont want it in MP4, and I dont want their MP3's!

    If I'm going to pay for digital music I want my audio in something like FLAC or APE, thats lossless, and the quality that I would get if I purchased the CD... or at the very least I'd like it in V0 MP3 so its near perfect quality.

    The f

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