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University of San Francisco Law Clinic Joins Fight Against RIAA 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the bay-area-reinforcements dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA's litigation campaign has met resistance from the academic community before, but now it's been taken to a whole new level: the defense of RIAA victims who are not part of the college community. First the University of Oregon lashed out on behalf of its students, then it was the University of Maine's Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic on behalf of its undergrads. Now, the University of San Francisco School of Law has taken the fight a giant step further. Its Intellectual Property Law Clinic's attorneys-in-training, working under the supervision of law professors, are going to bat against the RIAA by helping outside lawyers to defend their clients, pro bono. They reached out 3000 miles to get involved in Elektra v. Torres and Maverick v. Chowdhury, two cases going on in Brooklyn, NY, against non-college defendants. Two of the law students in the USF's legal program assisted in the research and preparation of briefs in these cases, opposing the RIAA's motion to dismiss the defendants' counterclaims. Thousands of honor students throughout United States law schools, most of them digital natives who actually understand the legal fallacies and technological missteps the RIAA is taking, and who can't wait to expose them, make a pretty good resource for the poor and middle class people trying to defend these cases."
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University of San Francisco Law Clinic Joins Fight Against RIAA

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  • by kaos07 (1113443) on Friday February 29, 2008 @06:30AM (#22598398)

    Come on, NewYorkCountryLawyer, Slashdot isn't your personal outlet! Get your own blog.

    Maybe something like http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jaxtherat (1165473)
      Unfortunately, due to the prominence and infamy of Slashdot, it is in fact very appealing as a public forum and soapbox. Plus, it'd take ages to drum up enough publicity for http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

      Just saying...
    • by Deadfyre_Deadsoul (1193759) on Friday February 29, 2008 @06:55AM (#22598470) Journal
      I imagine the RIAA is having seizures from this news.
      • by Himring (646324)
        For some reason, this made me think of a pub warcraft3 game and then lotr when sauruman sent all his troops to helmsdeep then the ents attacked and he had nothing but peons to defend. Hate that shit when it happens in a good game....

        "The Ents! zomg the Ents!! wtf! all my creeps are attacking ur town! No fair fucking imba!" -Sauruman

        I mean, like, the RIAA didn't see this coming and stuff and now their townz is gone and....

        Sorry

      • I imagine the RIAA is having seizures from this news.
        And isn't that a pleasant thought?
    • by mrvan (973822) on Friday February 29, 2008 @07:06AM (#22598510)
      I like the posts of NewYorkCountryLawyer, and if the editors or readers of slashdot would get sick of them they would not get past the firehose. And if slashdot were against people keeping journals and submitting them as stories, why do you think "Slashdot journal entries can be automatically submitted as stories"?

      If you care about Your Rights Online, I think both his stories and his comments are to the point and well written and at least HIAL. If you don't care about your rights online, you can choose not to see that section in your preferences.

      NewYorkCountryLawyer, keep up the good work!
      • by kaos07 (1113443) on Friday February 29, 2008 @07:20AM (#22598556)

        Wow you missed the sarcasm and the joke.

        http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] IS run by Ray Beckerman. I'm a big fan of his, and his contributions to Slashdot. That post my subtle way of directing people to another source of information.

        • by mrvan (973822)

          I'm sorry for that, I guess I'm not used to subtleties on slashdot :-$ Good thing you can still get modded up for missing jokes here...

          I was aware that that was his blog; I thought you were telling him that since he has a blog over there he should stop harassing us with his frequent posts and stories. Anyway...

          NYCL: keep up the good work :-)
          Others: go forth and multiply the HTTP GET requests [blogspot.com]

        • Wow you missed the sarcasm and the joke. http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] IS run by Ray Beckerman. I'm a big fan of his, and his contributions to Slashdot. That post my subtle way of directing people to another source of information.

          Wow you missed the sarcasm and the joke. http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] IS run by Ray Beckerman. I'm a big fan of his, and his contributions to Slashdot. That post my subtle way of directing people to another source of information. Thanks kaos. Much appreciated.

          By the way, let me tell you, someone just pointed out to me the other day that I'd missed some Slashdot sarcasm, and he was right; it's really easy to do. But it's part of what makes Slashdot fun, the dry humor delivered straight.

      • by sm62704 (957197)
        And if slashdot were against people keeping journals [slashdot.org] and submitting them as stories, why do you think "Slashdot journal entries can be automatically submitted as stories"?

        I dunno, just to piss off kaos07?
      • I like the posts of NewYorkCountryLawyer, and if the editors or readers of slashdot would get sick of them they would not get past the firehose. And if slashdot were against people keeping journals and submitting them as stories, why do you think "Slashdot journal entries can be automatically submitted as stories"? If you care about Your Rights Online, I think both his stories and his comments are to the point and well written and at least HIAL. If you don't care about your rights online, you can choose not to see that section in your preferences. NewYorkCountryLawyer, keep up the good work!

        Thank you for your kind words, mrvan.

  • Are they just lazy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday February 29, 2008 @06:31AM (#22598402) Homepage Journal
    Is there a legal way the RIAA could be achieving their goals or is the mere concept of aggressively enforcing their rights under copyright law against regular folk something the legal system is currently stacked against?

    I guess what I'm asking is, are they just lazy or just stupid?

    • Answer: (Score:5, Funny)

      by azrider (918631) on Friday February 29, 2008 @08:12AM (#22598688)
      yes.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dwater (72834)
        ...and that wasn't an 'ex-or' either, in case anyone was wondering.
    • by jonwil (467024)
      The problem the RIAA has right now is that the evidence they have to show that was talking sharing is not as ironclad as it should be (and the tactics they are using to collect that evidence aren't that good)
    • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Friday February 29, 2008 @08:21AM (#22598716)
      The problem is the RIAA do not represent the Artists, and do not care about the buyers of music

      They represent the Big Four music producers, and are only answerable to them ....

      That is the problem - They have no Copyright (of their own) to defend, they have no customers to care about....

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sm62704 (957197)
        They represent the Big Four music producers, and are only answerable to them ....

        That is the problem - They have no Copyright (of their own) to defend, they have no customers to care about....


        The big four that they represent own the copyrights. The Corporate Owned Congress made musical recordings "works for hire" granting copyright to the record company, not the people who actualkly perform the music.

        As Lynard Skynard said,

        Want you to sign the contract
        Want you to sign today
        Gonna make lots of money
        Workin' fo
          1. Yes, they represent the copyright owners. No, they have no inherent right to sue, because they do not own the copyrights. Were they to file suit on behalf of the copyright owners, the suits would be EMI v. Joseph Blow or somesuch. The whole thing is a pathetic exercise in refusing to recognize that the game has changed, like a child who tries to keep players of the new game from playing because it wants to play the old game.
          2. Lynyrd Skynyrd (pronounced LEH-Nerd SKIN-Nerd).

          "I'm taking my ball and going home!

        • The big four that they represent own the copyrights. The Corporate Owned Congress made musical recordings "works for hire" granting copyright to the record company, not the people who actualkly perform the music.

          Yup, exactly right. All anyone needs to know about music ownership, the big labels, and the RIAA is summed up nicely in this comic. [imageshack.us]

          Enjoy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hhawk (26580)
      They are trying though court cases and laws (DMCA) to over turn "fair use."

      Also to be convicted of selling or distributing copywritten material, you typically have to a) charge for it and b) prove that you actually distributed it. But the RIAA is trying to say just "making it available" is the same. This isn't supported in case law (yet...).

      I just can't wait until someone hits them with something like RICO.
  • by Dannkape (1195229) on Friday February 29, 2008 @06:38AM (#22598422)
    The little funny quote at the bottom of the page at the moment read "What's done to children, they will do to society."

    Would be great if this is the children that have been sued bankrupt for musicdownloads that finally (in time) sues the MAFIAA out of business. But being pesimi... erh, I mean, realistic, I'm not going to hold my breath...
    • Oh... Too bad I used up all my mod points, otherwise, I would definitely give you one for this.
  • Honestly... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lifyre (960576)
    it's about time that people outside of schools are tapping this resource. I would have expected law students to have been tapped a long time ago, not only for this but in general by law firms since they have an expertise in the field in question largely due to having lived and grown with computers their entire lives.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Timesprout (579035)
      There is a big difference between between using a computer and an understanding of the law, nevermind grasping that there is an even bigger difference between the machinations of the legal system and justice.
  • What interest me most is how this will evolve in the next generation of lawmakers. If these young people are going to step up against RIAA and win, who will be left to watch the RIAA propaganda videos like recently exposed on /.? Seems to me that RIAA with their complete propaganda machinery is no match for educational facilities :-)
    • Re:Future scaping? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:36AM (#22599600) Journal
      What interest me most is how this will evolve in the next generation of lawmakers. If these young people are going to step up against RIAA and win, who will be left to watch the RIAA propaganda videos like recently exposed on /.? Seems to me that RIAA with their complete propaganda machinery is no match for educational facilities :-)

      Back in the seventies, we young people all smoked pot. Now that my genertation's rich people have taken over from the last generation's rich people, is it legal? Hell no, the assshats running things all deny ever having touched the stuff. Well, one famous asshat former doper claims he tried it once but never inhaled, as if he were talking to a nation of idiots. Well maybe he was.

      But at any rate, I think when you in your twenties now are my age, your generation's rich people that become lawmakers are no more going to restore copyright to reasonable terms and legalize noncommercial copying than my generation's rich people that became lawmakers legalized the marijuana that nearly every single one of them broke the law smoking in the seventies.
      • by Wildclaw (15718)
        Which just goes to prove that the last people you would want sitting in goverment is rich old people. Unless you like having old lying hypocrites in power.

        OK, that may be a little unfair to a few of them. But really, looking at it statistically, rich old people in power aren't really the best choice unless you want cynical people that could sell their own mother and afterwards convince everyone that it was for her own good.

        Age may reflect wisdom, but it also reflects stagnation and cynicism. Riches may refl
      • by Anonymous Coward
        No doubt. Back in those days I thought by time my generation came into control, things would not be as anal as they were then. But the opposite has happen. The country has become more anal and less respected worldwide thanks, in part, to our nation's single-issue voting Evangelical Christians.
        • by sm62704 (957197)
          Pat Robertson, the wolf in sheep's clothing we were warned about, has converted more Christians to athiesm than all the athiests on slashdot put together.
      • Running the risk to outweird you, I'm Dutch and smoking pot is legal now overhere. Sorry.
        • by sm62704 (957197)
          I might emigrate when I retire, as not only is pot legal but I hear prostitution is, too.

          I have great respect for prostitutes. They perform a needed service for society, and frankly, it appalls me that my countrymen villify them.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday February 29, 2008 @07:31AM (#22598580) Homepage Journal
    This is a cautionary note based upon experience i have seen in the movies:

    When you find a new super weapon and decide to use it to help the people, it almost always backfires.

    We are cheering the fact that MORE lawyers are being created.
    What will happen when they finish with the RIAA?

    "It won't stop at anything, and it will never stop hunting you until you are dead."
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ettlz (639203)

      When you find a new super weapon and decide to use it to help the people, it almost always backfires.
      "That's no moon... it's a gigantic grey ball of legal practitioners!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dun Malg (230075)

      We are cheering the fact that MORE lawyers are being created.
      What will happen when they finish with the RIAA?
      We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lawyers. Then, we've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat. Then comes the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
  • by splutty (43475) on Friday February 29, 2008 @07:48AM (#22598612)
    I think if I was a law student, I'd be very very happy doing this sort of work.

    Actual cases with a lot of what every defence lawyer is looking for: Suspense, Lying, Cheating, Inexpert Witnesses, Corporate Greed, Perjury, Farfetched application of laws...

    This would be great. You could probably make a TV series out of it even!

    (Okay okay.. Some of this is tongue in cheeck, but the basic premise is obvious: This is great material for law students to study and participate in. They get a real life example of how screwed up and convoluted cases can get)

    And maybe, just maybe this'll breed a generation of lawyers not hellbent on making Escheresque pictures out of the law.
    • This would be great. You could probably make a TV series out of it even!

      Please don't give David E Kelley any ideas.

    • by Secrity (742221)
      There is also the potential for a new lawyer to get media exposure in a high profile lawsuit. As long as they are winning, media exposure would have to be good for their budding career.
  • Double Standards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fork_daemon (1122915) on Friday February 29, 2008 @08:12AM (#22598686) Journal
    I dont Understand this RIAA Crap. The other day i was watching the Movie JUNO. A character in the movie burns a CD containing some songs for Juno. Now is that not illegal according to RIAA? Why not raise a voice against that rather than draggin their ass behind innocent students??
    Honestly speaking RIAA and MPAA are not loosing anything near what they claim.
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      I dont Understand this RIAA Crap. The other day i was watching the Movie JUNO. A character in the movie burns a CD containing some songs for Juno. Now is that not illegal according to RIAA? Why not raise a voice against that rather than draggin their ass behind innocent students??

      Honestly speaking RIAA and MPAA are not loosing anything near what they claim.

      They are if each song download costs them $750 as they have once claimed.

      So I owe the RIAA $11,250,000.00 wow!

      ~Dan

    • character in the movie burns a CD containing some songs for Juno.

      I first thought you meant that she destroyed it by tossing it into a fire. And that this was a comment on the lousy quality of current music, and its obvious destructive effect on teenagers and preteens (witness that Juno herself is pregnant at age 15).

      Only after rereading your post a couple more times did I realize that you meant that they showed the creation of an illegal CD in a CD burner.

      First it was drug use in the movies that had

    • by SoulDrift (638565)
      To be fair, this one time I saw a movie where one guy actually shot another guy! That's almost definitely illegal, but nobody complained.
  • What happens now? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday February 29, 2008 @08:16AM (#22598702) Homepage
    In the past, the RIAA has shown that the grapes are too sour when it comes to attacking colleges whose law students and faculty stand ready to defend them. Now these same colleges are taking the fight to the RIAA? This cannot end well for the latter, I think.
    • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday February 29, 2008 @09:11AM (#22598896) Journal
      The simple fact that the latest batch of lawyers see the wrongful doings of previous batches heralds a kind of change. It's not just a cry of 'that's not fair', it is a cry of 'that's not fair use'. The tide will have turned when older established lawyers hire the newer tech savvy lawyers. They will need to: DNA tests, AI, robotics, and many other new technologies will spawn legal cases that deal with matters unheard of before.

      It is, in some way, perhaps the beginnings of the fight against the corporate control of America. It is definitely a fight against IP and copyright run amok, as well as shady lawyer tactics. It's not clear cut when looking at only one case but if you look at the situation on the whole, the RIAA still needs to get some wins in court somewhere. Add to this what is happening to MS and others in the EU with regard to their business practices a picture begins to form about the general state of play in courtrooms around the globe. In Russia schools are moving to F/OSS because of legal action. The EU lobbed a 1.3Billion Dollar fine against MS. US law students are fighting against the **AA. Of course that is only a few of the cases. The big picture is that the fight against software IP, extended copyright laws, and bad corporate tactics is taking shape one case at a time.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        The tide will have turned when older established lawyers hire the newer tech savvy lawyers. They will need to: DNA tests, AI, robotics, and many other new technologies will spawn legal cases that deal with matters unheard of before.

        Just like doctors and programmers keep current, so do lawyers. Age doesn't keep one from learning, and it doesn't keep one from being able to understand technology.

        Now get off my lawn!

        -mcgrew
  • Law Clinic? (Score:4, Funny)

    by presarioD (771260) on Friday February 29, 2008 @09:18AM (#22598936)
    Hmmmm, a clinic is a place where sick people go in order to get well. A "law clinic" is a place where sick lawyers go in order to get well... nah, it's the place where sick laws get in order to get well... nah, it's the place where new lawyers test their immunity system when exposed to sick lawyers... nah, it's the place where the new breeds of laws test their immunity system against the sick laws... nah, it's the place where sick law interbreeding happens... aghhh, I give up...
  • Its Intellectual Property Law Clinic's attorneys-in-training, working under the supervision of law professors, are going to bat against the RIAA by helping outside lawyers to defend their clients, pro bono.

    Even a literate layman who takes the time to read the US Constitution can see that the concept of intellectual "property" is unamerican. "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discover
    • by Jaysyn (203771)
      Simpler & cynical: If it's not taxed, then it's not property.
    • 'Intellectual property' is a term used in American law to describe patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret law. No more, no less.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        So it's just a word, like "brasierre", that isn't descriptive in any way? I'm still lost. I'd make a lousy lawyer!
  • That's what this is. The best way to teach a subject is through the medium of something the student is interested in and cares about. What better way to instruct a generation of legal professionals on the previously arcane area of copyright law than to enlist them in the fight to bring down the RIAA/MPAA?

    It seems to me that every law school clinic in the country should be doing the same thing--there'd be no shortage of students willing to participate. But if every law school doesn't do this, the ones that
    • That's what this is. The best way to teach a subject is through the medium of something the student is interested in and cares about. What better way to instruct a generation of legal professionals on the previously arcane area of copyright law than to enlist them in the fight to bring down the RIAA/MPAA? It seems to me that every law school clinic in the country should be doing the same thing--there'd be no shortage of students willing to participate. But if every law school doesn't do this, the ones that do should play it up in their marketing material to prospective students. Most kids go to law school because they want to help others; imagine how exciting it would be to lead the fight to help your peers against the most hated company and industry in the world.

      I would not be surprised to see many follow suit.

      By the way, speaking of "class project", did you see Professor Nesson at Harvard Law School assigned a project of drafting a motion to quash an RIAA subpoena [blogspot.com]?

      Gotta like that guy.

  • A New Legal Argument (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FromTheAir (938543) on Friday February 29, 2008 @11:04AM (#22599892) Homepage
    Maybe this idea will get to the right minds perhaps one of you know who they are and will create awareness. When we purchase music we purchase a license to listen to the songs we paid for. I don't think the music industry understands this; apparently this has not been clarified in the courts. We are not buying the piece of plastic they are printed on.

    It does not matter what the source is or what format we have it in. We are purchasing a license to listen at our leisure to a song or watch a movie. We can have a thousand copies because we can only listen to one at a time. Somebody needs to argue this in court. That we are in fact purchasing a license to listen, not a piece of plastic or a digital file of zero's and ones.

    This is the New legal justification for open downloads of music or copy righted material:

    In fact the record labels need to, I think legally provide, free downloads of music. The record companies have not provided a way for me to enjoy my license to listen if the CD gets scratched, as it is now they force us to buy a new license they should probably reimburse anyone who has had to buy more than one license because of damage media.

    I noticed about 10 years ago CDs became very easy to scratch not the bottom but the top. I wonder if this was by design to produce more sales? If so then the recording industry owes the consumers money

    Because the carrier medium can be damaged we should all be able to get a download of a new instance of the song we paid for from the Internet if we purchased the license to listen to it. Since the record companies have not provided a way for us to get a replacement copy the Internet downloads can ethically be justified.

    Truth is we don't need the record companies anymore. We can all buy from the artists direct and vote with a link what is most popular. I would be happy to pay the creative talent directly without the huge middle man cut. Another things is corporate pressure to maintain the status quo system cannot be put on artists by large corporations.

    Hopefully someone will get this into the hands of the attorneys for the defendants.

    Technically based on quantum physics there is only one copy of a piece of music in the universe. This exists in the intangible realm; all tangible manifestations of this one copy are simply a physical conveyance of this one real instance. It is an information universe, everything is ultimately just information.

    • by boris111 (837756)
      I don't know anything about this website, but it was the first google result when I typed in "legal torrents". Apparently they're revamping their site to allow for compensation directly to artists. Not sure if it's voluntary or not like Radiohead. Legal Torrents [legaltorrents.com] I would hope there is some kind of Netflix like rating system to filter out all the crappy bands that all they do is cover Lynard Skynard.
    • by pthor1231 (885423)

      I noticed about 10 years ago CDs became very easy to scratch not the bottom but the top. I wonder if this was by design to produce more sales? If so then the recording industry owes the consumers money

      Actually, the "top" of the CD is more important than the bottom. The actual data is burned into the very thin layer of writeable material thats on the "bottom" of the top layer of the CD. Try scratching off the pretty picture from a music CD and see if it plays.

    • Technically based on quantum physics there is only one copy of a piece of music in the universe. This exists in the intangible realm; all tangible manifestations of this one copy are simply a physical conveyance of this one real instance. It is an information universe, everything is ultimately just information.

      That's worth repeating. Excellent insight.

  • While it's nice to have another ally in the fight, I am left with the question of what took them so long to get involved? These suits have been going on for years, and the campaign against college and university students for over a year itself. Did the wrong someone at this school finally get extorted/sued?
  • even lawyers band together pro bono to help strangers fight you and your cause. I mean seriously. Seriously.

2.4 statute miles of surgical tubing at Yale U. = 1 I.V.League

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