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Class Action Complaint Against RIAA Now Online 176

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-read-if-you're-insane dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Recommended reading for all interested in the RIAA's litigation war against p2p file sharing is the amended class action complaint just filed in Oregon in Andersen v. Atlantic. This landmark 109-page document (pdf) tells both the general story of the RIAA's campaign against ordinary folks, and the specific story of its harassment of Tanya Andersen, and even of her young daughter. The complaint includes federal and state RICO claims, as well as other legal theories, and alleges that "The world's four major recording studios had devised an illegal enterprise intent on maintaining their virtually complete monopoly over the distribution of recorded music." The point has been made by one commentator that the RIAA won't be able to weasel its out of this one by simply withdrawing it; this one, they will have to answer for. If the relief requested in the complaint is granted, the RIAA's entire campaign will be shut down for good."
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Class Action Complaint Against RIAA Now Online

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  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:39PM (#22761534) Homepage Journal
    Remember, the have more money to have better attorneys.

    If they lose, this will 'shut them down', but if they win, we are screwed.
    • by warrior_s (881715) * <<kindle3> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:41PM (#22761552) Homepage Journal
      No..., If they win.. everything will as it is right now... It can not get worse than this.
      • by lilomar (1072448) <lilomar2525@gmail.com> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:49PM (#22761602) Homepage
        NO! Please tell me you didn't just say "It can't get any worse."
        Tell me you said something else in another language that just looks like that phrase in English.
        Sigh.
        Gets ready for it to get worse.
      • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:55PM (#22761636) Homepage Journal
        Cant get worse?

        Are their new laws making it a criminal offense to even think about IP violations? Do we have federal IP cops going door to door to inspect everyone's computer that has internet access? Do we have them stopping people on the street to look at MP3 players? Do we have mandatory 'restricted access clients' installed on our PCs that have a internet connection to monitor our traffic PRE-encrypted and our files?

        Yes, it CAN get worse. ( and will if we don't get this thing derailed in time )
        • by warrior_s (881715) *
          We don't have all these things.. i agree... but we do have people ordered by courts to pay in excess of $200,000 as fine for music sharing.. It was difficult for me to digest that thing.. I thing I may leave the planet when all those things you are saying start happening.. seriously.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yes, it CAN get worse. ( and will if we don't get this thing derailed in time )

          A few things need to happen:

          Firstly, the RIAA must be bitch-slapped. Hard. We need to show them what we do to groups who abuse the court system. No matter how much cause they have to be angry, we need to show them tough justice.

          Secondly, all those pirates must also be bitch-slapped. Their contribution to this mess must not go unnoticed and unpunished. We need to make copyright infringement a criminal matter, and institute heavy p

          • by nurb432 (527695)
            Non Profit piracy should not be punished. IP Laws should be abolished. That would solve the problem.
      • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @06:02PM (#22761688)

        No..., If they win.. everything will as it is right now... It can not get worse than this.

        As a general rule that is almost infallible, there is nothing on God's Green Earth that "can't get worse." Maybe the sun exploding and wiping out the planet....that might qualify. Anything short of that, though.....
        • by ashridah (72567)
          Maybe the sun exploding and wiping out the planet....that might qualify
          Hm.. dunno. would falling into a black hole be worse?

          but then, what's worse than falling into a black hole? going back in time and pouring bleach into the primordial soup we came from, I guess.
          • by CSMatt (1175471)
            Of course that would create a great-great-great...grandfather paradox, which may or may not be worse depending on your theory on paradoxes.
            • by ashridah (72567)
              If it's a malevolent alien race, is it really a paradox?

              and that begs another question, is there a paradox that could be billed as "unable to get worse than that"

              And is being your own parent worse or better than killing an ancestor before they reproduced? :)
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by pxlmusic (1147117)
          compared the dwindling resources, food and oil shortages we're facing, the sun exploding would be a mercifully quick end. in reality though, humans have made their bed, and must lie in it. don't think i'm being self-righteous or anything, i'm no different. personally, i would rather be vaporized in a massive solar event or by a nuke than have to stick out what's waiting down the road for humankind.
          • by plague3106 (71849)
            Huh? Humans won't be wiped bout by food or oil shortages. At worse, events will lead to a population drop, which would hopefully put is back into more of an equilibrium.
        • by Kingrames (858416) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @09:49PM (#22762694)
          Or every atom in the entire universe could spontaneously split...

          But I would assume that there's a difference between "can get worse" and "likely will get worse."

          You see, the fact that this case is now going forward IS progress. it's taken this long just to get the courts to notice that these evil rat bastards have been exploiting every loophole to keep their campaign going.

          They have been using delay tactics for a very long time, trying to make it so inconvenient to continue the fight that we give up. It's nice to see that that is not going to work.

          And you can say that if they win, it's over and we lose, but that's not true. This case will likely force people to take notice, and it's very likely that even if the RIAA were to win, they would likely be shut up and shut down by people higher than them, without any laws being passed and without any real paperwork trail.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by dmsuperman (1033704)
          The RIAA, MPAA, and Microsoft all combining would be worse than the sun exploding. Far worse.
        • Maybe the sun exploding and wiping out the planet....that might qualify
          Yes but if the sun wipes out the planet and there's nobody left to grieve does it still make a noise, if you see what I mean?
    • by Laguerre (1198383) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:54PM (#22761628)
      I think the point is whether they win or lose, RIAA will have to submit to discovery [wikipedia.org], which should have the effect of uncovering all sorts of dirt about their legally questionable [p2pnet.net] methods of finding people to sue.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by guruevi (827432)
        Maybe they can hire the white house admins that converted their e-mail systems from Lotus Notes to Exchange and conveniently forgot to migrate the data retention mechanism.

        BTW: if any of this happens (White house debacle) in a real company, did you know that they automatically lose any lawsuit that has a grounded basis in those documents?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by jonathansdt (1176719)

          BTW: if any of this happens (White house debacle) in a real company, did you know that they automatically lose any lawsuit that has a grounded basis in those documents?
          Only if it can be proven that you suspected said records would be discovered and used. So start every enterprise with a policy of records destruction by fire.
    • by aleph42 (1082389) * on Saturday March 15, 2008 @06:02PM (#22761680)
      They also apparently have an army of unlicensed private investigators.

      It seems that their tactic was:

      1)"illegally enter the hard drives of tens of thousands of private American citizens to look for music recordings stored there". That was MediaSentry's job.

      2) Fill "thousands" of anonymous lawsuits, only to subpoena the ISP, and then "discover" the IPs that they already illegaly found. The lawsuit is then discarded, having served it's purpose.

      3) Profit, by settling out of court, harrassing and such.

      I thought I was pretty well informed on those things, and yet it's the first time I hear about that. It sheds a very new light on the fact that they often couldn't give the proofs. (What I still don't get though, is how they ended suing guys without computers.)
      • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @06:49PM (#22761938)
        What I still don't get though, is how they ended suing guys without computers.)

        You're making the assumption that the RIAA's attorneys care about that. I think it's been demonstrated that their activities center around scaring people away from acquiring music illegally via the Internet, rather than recovering "damages" due to copyright infringement. Suing innocent people just makes the RIAA's lawsuit mill appear even more intimidating.
        • by schon (31600) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @08:35PM (#22762426)

          I think it's been demonstrated that their activities center around scaring people away from acquiring music illegally via the Internet, rather than recovering "damages" due to copyright infringement.
          Uh, no.

          It's been demonstrated that the recovering of "damages" is their primary goal. They set up a fscking Settlement Support Center [p2pnet.net] as a for-profit corporation to streamline their extortion. If they're just trying to scare people, why do they need a new corporation (which has it's own army of lawyers) to process the payments?

          Scaring people is just a happy side-effect. The "settlements" are revenue-generating.
          • by ricree (969643)

            If they're just trying to scare people, why do they need a new corporation (which has it's own army of lawyers) to process the payments?
            To scare more people, and to do it faster and more efficient at the same time, perhaps? Really, though, both goals are likely to be important to them.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ScrewMaster (602015)
            I think you missed my point. Recovering damages for actual copyright infringement is secondary to the goal of trying to reduce the perceived quantity of infringement. Given that they don't care whether or not actual infringement occurred, only that they have the appearance of infringement, indicates that true redress of grievance is simply not the idea. Out-of-court settlements extracted from terrified people that haven't had their day in court aren't damages ... they're extortionate. Besides, all those set
      • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@@@beckermanlegal...com> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @07:03PM (#22762012) Homepage Journal

        They also apparently have an army of unlicensed private investigators. It seems that their tactic was: 1)"illegally enter the hard drives of tens of thousands of private American citizens to look for music recordings stored there". That was MediaSentry's job. 2) Fill "thousands" of anonymous lawsuits, only to subpoena the ISP, and then "discover" the IPs that they already illegaly found. The lawsuit is then discarded, having served it's purpose. 3) Profit, by settling out of court, harrassing and such. I thought I was pretty well informed on those things, and yet it's the first time I hear about that. It sheds a very new light on the fact that they often couldn't give the proofs. (What I still don't get though, is how they ended suing guys without computers.)
        I wonder about that myself. If I were a judge I would have hit the RIAA's attorneys with Rule 11 sanctions, big time.
        • by CorSci81 (1007499) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @07:34PM (#22762166) Journal
          After reading/skimming my way through all 109 pages of that, I have a question for you. I noticed many of the allegations made against the defendants look like laws with criminal punishments. Is there any chance (please say yes) that some of the people involved in this legal travesty could face prison time? Preferably somewhere with multiple large cellmates named "Bubba"?
          • by CorSci81 (1007499)
            Oops, I phrased that poorly. It appears to me this is a civil suit, but what I really mean to ask is there a possibility for criminal charges to be filed as well?
          • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@@@beckermanlegal...com> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @08:05PM (#22762294) Homepage Journal

            After reading/skimming my way through all 109 pages of that, I have a question for you. I noticed many of the allegations made against the defendants look like laws with criminal punishments. Is there any chance (please say yes) that some of the people involved in this legal travesty could face prison time? Preferably somewhere with multiple large cellmates named "Bubba"?
            Yes.

            For example, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth recently pointed out [blogspot.com] that
            (a) MediaSentry has no license to conduct investigations in Michigan (b) MediaSentry needs a license to conduct investigations in Michigan (c) MediaSentry appears to have been conducting investigations in Michigan and (d) the penalty for conducting investigations without a license in Michigan includes up to 4 years in prison.
            • by CorSci81 (1007499) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @08:12PM (#22762332) Journal
              Right, I was aware of the illegality of the MediaSentry investigations. I guess I had my eye on the much jucier RICO charges like racketeering that can carry up to 20 year sentences. Any chances a US Attorney could indict on those grounds even after this litigation is settled?
              • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@@@beckermanlegal...com> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @08:21PM (#22762386) Homepage Journal

                Right, I was aware of the illegality of the MediaSentry investigations. I guess I had my eye on the much jucier RICO charges like racketeering that can carry up to 20 year sentences. Any chances a US Attorney could indict on those grounds even after this litigation is settled?
                Sure. They'd have plenty of material to work with. In the Napster case the judge held they could no longer assert attorney-client privilege, under the 'crime-fraud exception', because they'd lied to the US Department of Justice when it was conducting its antitrust investigation of them.

                Of course the Napster case was settled shortly thereafter.
            • by belmolis (702863)

              What exactly is it that a license is required to do? That is, is it conducting investigations on the behalf of others for money that requires a license, or is it certain investigative activities that require a license, even if done on one's own behalf?

              • IANAL, but I believe that the license is required if two criteria are met:

                1. You are being paid to perform the investigation.
                2. The evidence produced by the investigation will be presented in a court of law.

                AFAIK, if you are performing an investigation on your own behalf, you are not required to obtain a license of any sort, regardless of what investigative methods you are using (though you are, of course, still liable if you use methods that are inherently illegal).
            • Sorry Ray, you gotta be complete in your answer :-)
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by kwandar (733439)

              I have to say that I loved (though I thought it might be just a "bit" over the top) the description of Media Sentry's business. "Defendant MediaSentry is in the business of conducting illegal, flawed and personally invasive private investigations of private citizens in many states throughout the United State ..."

              Congratulations to the team that put this together. A wonderful document that I'm sure will keep the judge's interest!!

              Now I'm wondering what the settlement might entail, and there doesn't

              • "illegal, flawed and personally invasive"
                That description is quite consistent with exactly what the Attorney General for the State of Oregon had to say [blogspot.com] about MediaSentry's investigations. Do you think the Attorney General for the State of Oregon is in the habit of saying things that are 'over the top'?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vuffi_raa (1089583)

      Remember, the have more money to have better attorneys.

      no, from what I have seen most of their attorneys are pretty big flunkies- even though they have the $ to spend it doen't mean that they get the best personell- the thing is that in this case they will be defending- so upon request the burden of producing the discovery in the trial will be on them, which upon request will open the floodgates to a ton of data on tactics, media sentry, coersion and other things to the public that were not previously under public scrutiny except in requests to produce by the

  • by The Ancients (626689) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:40PM (#22761538) Homepage
    I for one would like to wave goodbye to our RIAA overlords.
    • by The Ancients (626689) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:44PM (#22761570) Homepage

      Actually, since I live in NZ, they're not our overlords yet, but we do have the RIANZ down here, who are cut from the same cloth.

      In fact, here it's illegal to make any copies of music at all. Hence, until the iTMS arrived, it was a pretty good bet that almost all music on any digital devices was illegally uploaded. Law changes are proposed, and the RIANZ wants to keep the law the same, but they give their word they won't chase the little guy, but want the law to remain the same just in case.

      • by Petrushka (815171) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @07:37PM (#22762174)

        Actually, since I live in NZ, they're not our overlords yet, but we do have the RIANZ down here, who are cut from the same cloth.

        In fact, here it's illegal to make any copies of music at all. Hence, until the iTMS arrived, it was a pretty good bet that almost all music on any digital devices was illegally uploaded. Law changes are proposed, and the RIANZ wants to keep the law the same, but they give their word they won't chase the little guy, but want the law to remain the same just in case.

        Yup. And judging from the comments that came back from the select committee that reviewed the Copyright (New Technologies and Performers' Rights) Amendment Bill [parliament.nz] last year (I made a submission; hope you did too), there's a huge amount of resistance to changing that. The Bill, if it is ever passed, does include (at the moment) a limited exception for format-shifting audio recordings for personal use, but only audio recordings; even that has met a lot of resistance.

        I guess all those videos I've got on my iPod are going to remain forever illegal, then. Politicians seem completely incapable of grasping the idea that it is just dumb to keep somehing illegal when not only is everyone doing it, but everyone is morally right to do it.

        For reference, the Green Party is the only party to have opposed the DMCA-like DRM circumvention measures in the bill.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Politicians seem completely incapable of grasping the idea that it is just dumb to keep something illegal when not only is everyone doing it, but everyone is morally right to do it.

          That only hold true if the goal of the politician is to serve the people. If the goal of the politician is to have power over the people or to serve someone who wants to have power over the people, then having the majority of the people open to prosecution at your leisure is a very useful tool. Most parking and speeding tickets
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Technician (215283)
      I for one would like to wave goodbye to our RIAA overlords.

      Read the last pages of the PDF. There is a request for a public trial. I hope they post the dates and place. I would make the trip to sit in on it and as you suggest, wave goodbye. More important, I want to shake her hand.
  • unprofessional (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:42PM (#22761558) Homepage

    In June 2003, the RIAA publicly announced that it would begin a campaign that
    would involve thousands of threats and sham lawsuits against individuals.


    It goes on and on like this... plaintiff repeatedly referring to them as sham lawsuits, and in many cases, as above, suggesting that even the defendant acknowledged them as such.

    Now don't get me wrong, I think all the lawyers representing RIAA and all principals of the record companies should be in jail (or worse). But this suit reads as inredibly amateurish to me, and if I were the judge I would get pretty irritated by being repeatedly told what to think, rather than the facts of the case.
  • "killing dolphins" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aleph42 (1082389) * on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:42PM (#22761562)
    You gotta love the style the linked pdf is worderd:

    1) "Killing "Dolphins" by Direct Threat and Intimidation"
    The funniest thing: that's actually the RIAA's own word:

    As a senior RIAA spokeswoman explained: "When you fish with a net, you are going to catch a few dolphins".
    This will make for interesting reading, and has a good potential for quotations; I think we can hope some real prime-time awareness this time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hyades1 (1149581)

      It's 'way past time we came up with an expression to represent the current situation. Perhaps, "Killing Weasels".

      The phrase itself could be something like, "When you're shooting rats near the henhouse, it's inevitable that you're going to hit an occasional weasel." This would cover the RIAA thugs the record companies have hired, as well as the scumbags who actually run the Big Four.

    • by zerocool^ (112121)

      That's actually a great name for a band and a single!

      "...And now, straight from NewYorkCountyLawyer's iPod, it's the hit single 'Killing Dolphins', by new sensation 'Direct Threat'!"

      Sounds very post-punk.

  • but, Ray, as an experienced attorney, what odds would you give that any of this will stick?
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @06:04PM (#22761706) Homepage Journal
    The server saw all the nerds coming and had an emotional breakdown.
    • Sorta like a woman! Only, we can fix servers. We can't fix women... There's, no fixing what can't be fixed - Only god can fix them! But, the New York Times said god is dead.
  • There is a T missing on page 18, "Oregon Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Ac"
  • by Bombula (670389) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @06:26PM (#22761820)
    "The world's four major recording studios had devised an illegal enterprise intent on maintaining their virtually complete monopoly over the distribution of recorded music."

    That would be an oligopoly, not a monopoly. "Monopoly" means "one seller". We have four fish to fry here.

    • by niceone (992278) *
      And they are not "Recording Studios", they are Record Labels or Media Conglomerates or something.
  • Normally we bemoan that with class-action suits, lawyers get rich and the plaintiffs get very little.

    In this case, I think I'll be happy as long as the RIAA gets badly bruised. The only way this could turn out badly is if the class-action lawyers accept a payoff by the RIAA before discovery happens.
    • In this case, I think I'll be happy as long as the RIAA gets badly bruised. The only way this could turn out badly is if the class-action lawyers accept a payoff by the RIAA before discovery happens.
      Well, if there were a quick settlement which included a consent decree against bringing any more of these stupid cases, and the dropping of the cases that are out there.... that would be okay with me. The main thing in my book is to stop this evil thing.
      • Nope.
        The RIAA is just a front company for the media companies.
        If a judgement were to be made against them financially, one particularly costing millions of dollars, this RIAA would file Chapter 11 and be dissolved.
        A fresh new RIAA would then arise from same set of people with same tactics.
  • Comments (Score:3, Insightful)

    by debrain (29228) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @08:14PM (#22762346) Journal
    I imagine this will take twice as long to resolve as the SCO litigation, unless the RIAA lawyers weasel out of it. I hope she is well supported, financially. A few comments that may be interesting for someone. :)

    It may be difficult to enforce judgment against the "Big 4" directly. If I understand it correctly, the RIAA operates as a separate entity from them, and unless it is shown that the corporate veil can be pierced [wikipedia.org]. This is typically difficult, though I imagine there is a smoking gun somewhere in the RIAA-Big 4 correspondence that shows that the RIAA is a front.

    Class actions are much more difficult to get a judgment on than regular actions. In general (and in essence), for a Judge to feel comfortable ruling on the class, they must be convinced that the issues particular to individuals in the class are not more difficult to figure out than that of the issues in common. The standard typically ranges from "a class action is the best way to resolve the common issues" to "a class action is the best way to resolve the dispute". The latter is significantly more difficult to prove - the Court must be satisfied that the issues specific to each individual do not outweigh the overall issues the members of the putative class have in common (and there is no way cheaper-than-individual-litigation to resolve these individual issues). That's a mouthful, but class actions inherently balance the rights of many people who do not have legal counsel against a defendant with a substantial interest.

    The court will also want a very clear and well defined class of people. Because the judgment of the court may preclude people from bringing future actions against the RIAA, there is typically a requirement of notice to the members of the class. This notice typically includes instructions on how to opt out of the class proceeding so that you can bring your own action (for mandatory opt-in jurisdictions; some are optional opt-out). If you fail to opt out within a specified time period, you may be bound to the judgment. In this case, the class is pretty trivial - people who have been wrongly sued.

    That leads to an interesting point: Will the members of the class are people who have been wrongly sued, or those who have been wrongly sued and where the RIAA has already lost.

    This action is a minefield for nuanced issues, like the above and others. I wish counsel the best. You can rest assured that if the Big 4 defendants perceive any exposure, they are dumping their excess resources into a legal defence.
    • I am not a Lawyer, but... It sure seems to me that the clearly related actions that associate RIAA & their investigators -with the subsequent lawsuits by one of the Big 4' would make a reasonable case for a -linked conspiracy-. Clearly the actions of the record companies in the actual filing of the lawsuits is not independent/coincidental from the RIAA actions or the actions of the investigators (and it's not clear who those investigators work for. If they're under contract to RIAA and then RIAA tr
    • One thing that sticks out as a possible vector for the piercing of the RIAA is that when they filed suit, it was never "RIAA vs XXX" it was "Atlantic Records Vs XXX"....

      In other words, the RIAA was more or less acting as an AGENT for the Big 4, and MediaSentry, Settlement Support, et al. were acting as agents for RIAA.
  • Sure, it'll be good to get this abuse of the legal system sorted, but will it address the key problem? Will it undo the damage already caused to people's lives, to the fair use doctrine?

    The other question I have is how it will affect the RIAA members, the club the RIAA apparently acts on behalf of. It's not like they didn't know what was going on. If doesn't affect the members they'll be free to set up a new club doing basically the same.

    But it's a step in the right direction, and there is hope more judg
    • by cheros (223479)
      [just for the record]
      Before you say they're named in the suit, I know. But the record companies will try to weasel out of this one, and I think they stand a fair chance at managing that, unlike the RIAA. That class action suit is art, and the RIAA stands a lot less chance than SCO to drag this one out..
  • by hhawk (26580)
    Class action is great but what we really need is a RICO victory that would allow the RIAA and their members to be broken up, their assets returned to artists via a trust, and the future marketing of music and songs using a P2P model that allows for fair use copies and for stores to print physical media for a royality payment.

    The big fish is the copyright RIAA member organizations put on the CD, Tape or Photograph. It has no artistic merit. It is almost like printing up lables w/ your name on them, sticking

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