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Florida Judge Smacks Down RIAA 301

Posted by kdawson
from the which-part-of-no dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA is going to have to face the music in Tampa, Florida, and answer the charges of extortion, trespass, conspiracy, unlicensed investigation, and computer fraud and abuse that have been leveled against them there. And the judge delivered his ruling against them in in pretty unceremonious fashion — receiving their dismissal motion last night, and denying the motion this morning. The RIAA's unvarying M.O., when hit with counterclaims, is to make a motion to dismiss them. It did just that in one Tampa case, UMG v. Del Cid, but the judge upheld 5 of the 6 counterclaims. The RIAA quickly settled that one. When a new case came up in the same Tampa courthouse before the very same judge, and the same 5 counterclaims were leveled against the record companies, I opined that 'it is highly unlikely that the RIAA will make a motion to dismiss counterclaims,' since I knew they'd be risking sanctions if they did. Well I guess I underestimated the chutzpah — or the propensity for frivolous motion practice — of the RIAA lawyers, as they in essence thumbed their nose at the judge, making the dismissal motion anyway, telling District Judge Richard A. Lazzara that his earlier decision had been wrong. The judge wasted no time telling the record companies that he did not agree (PDF)."
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Florida Judge Smacks Down RIAA

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  • Pfft... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geminidomino (614729) * on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:14PM (#23316464) Journal
    Call me when Boyer refuses to settle and we finally get a decision on this.

    Until then, BFD.
  • Opps (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ceiynt (993620) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:15PM (#23316466)
    Hi. I'm the judge in this courtroom. I told your ass to get out of here once. you didn't listen. You came back with the same complaint. Guess what happens. I deny any and all settlement offers you offer to the counter-claimer. I will make it pretty damn clear this time your crap will not be welcome in this courtroom again. Prepare for contempt processes. Oh ya, I'm gonna make sure they put you in the same cell as a guy who likes to steal car steroes.
  • I'm curious (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tanman (90298) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:16PM (#23316494)
    I'd like to see a statement by the judge or other qualified individuals detailing why they didn't get sanctioned for this (mostly for curiosity -- the legal process is obtuse and interesting). It seems like the RIAA lawyers took a big risk in submitting the same info to the same court.
    • Re:I'm curious (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:14PM (#23317350) Journal
      IANAL but I'll take a guess.

      The two items - ruling on the motion and imposing sanctions - though fallout from the same act by the plaintiff lawyers, are separate. I'd bet the judge issued the ruling quickly in the interest of justice, to spare the defendant additional delays and lawyer costs. Rule 11 sanctions, if the distinguished jurist decides to impose them, may be along later.

      Given that there was a change in one of the counterclaims and an extra pleading by the RIAA, perhaps the judge doesn't think the motion was TOTALLY out-of-line. Or perhaps, now that he's given them some more rope, he's sitting back quietly while the RIAA's lawyers continue to demonstrate a pattern of abuse of process, in case they come up with some clearer examples. Since that's one of the counterclaims, perhaps the judge thinks a better sanction than spanking them early with Rule 11 (and perhaps deter their activities in THIS trial) is to add this (and any future frivolity) to the list of misdeeds when considering the amount to award on that claim.

      Wouldn't justice be better served if they have to pay the price of their bullying to the defendant? B-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by evanbd (210358)

        Wouldn't justice be better served if they have to pay the price of their bullying to the defendant? B-)

        No. Pleasant as it might be to watch the RIAA get smacked down harder, justice is always best served by putting a stop to injustice at the first possible opportunity.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by houstonbofh (602064)
        Or perhaps, now that he's given them some more rope, he's sitting back quietly while the RIAA's lawyers continue to demonstrate a pattern of abuse of process, in case they come up with some clearer examples.

        I would kiss a goat, full on the lips, just to watch the RIAA be found to be a vexatious litigant! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vexatious_litigation [wikipedia.org] or just google it.
    • Re:I'm curious (Score:5, Interesting)

      by KutuluWare (791333) <kutulu AT kutulu DOT org> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:34PM (#23317590) Homepage
      NYCL's optimism not withstanding, lawyers getting sanctioned for misbehavior isn't nearly as commonplace as you would hope, or as the summary would suggest. It takes a lot for a judge to decide that a lawyer's behavior was so blatently illegal that they need to be sanctioned. Overall, I think that's a good thing, otherwise lawyers may be too concerned about sanctions and potentially ignore possible legal avenues that may benefit their client. In this case, the RIAA's lawyer's supporting memorandum is pretty ballsy to flat out tell the judge he was wrong, but lawyers do that kind of thing all the time. For example, that's basically the definition of an appeal -- "Judge, you screwed up, let me show you how with sufficient evidence to change your mind." If the law firm really did, in what passes for "good faith" in civil law, believe that the judge's prior ruling was flawed, they had every right to submit a motion saying so, with evidence, which they did.

      I mean, look for much crap the SCO legal team has gotten away with without so much as a slap on the wrist (yet). And look how long it took Jack Thompson to get sanctioned for acting like a blatant lunatic.

      --K
  • by CWRUisTakingMyMoney (939585) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:18PM (#23316506)
    The problem is, the RIAA can get sued and convicted into oblivion, but all the RIAA is is a shell corp for the big record companies. The record companies themselves won't have to answer for this, and if RIAA is legally forced under, the record companies will just make another shell corp to cover their asses. This will only truly matter when someone sues the record companies themselves.
    • by Orange Crush (934731) * on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:23PM (#23316596)
      The plantiffs in this case are "Alantic Recording Group, etc. et al" so it looks like the actual RIAA member company/companies are on the hook for this.
    • by Skye16 (685048) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:25PM (#23316622)
      Very much so wrong. Look at who brought the suit the first time: UMG.

      The individual record companies have to sue; the RIAA just does the legwork for "finding" who "made files available" and hands it off.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      The record companies themselves won't have to answer for this

      Actually, they will. It isn't "RIAA vs Del Cid" it's "UMG v. Del Cid". UMG is the record company that filed suit, not the industry association.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This has been answered by others, but it's worth noting that the reason why this doesn't involve the RIAA is because the RIAA doesn't hold the copyrights involved. It's beginning to seem like copyright law is unenforceable...
      • by Sancho (17056) * on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:33PM (#23317582) Homepage
        Copyright appears to be largely unenforceable on pseudo-anonymous networks, due in part to the difficulty of gathering evidence on these networks. This will only lead to the members of the RIAA buying stronger laws which either allow a suit for weaker evidence, or allow seizure of computer equipment in order to gather evidence of copyright infringement. In the latter case, such a law is already making its way through the congressional process.
        • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:52PM (#23317826)

          Copyright appears to be largely unenforceable on pseudo-anonymous networks, due in part to the difficulty of gathering evidence on these networks. This will only lead to the members of the RIAA buying stronger laws which either allow a suit for weaker evidence, or allow seizure of computer equipment in order to gather evidence of copyright infringement. In the latter case, such a law is already making its way through the congressional process.

          And who is going to do the actual "seizing" of the equipment? Feds? Local gendarmes? (I can imagine that will go over big in some jurisdictions.....devoting time and manpower to seizing some geek's equipment for sharing music...) What happens if no infringing material is found? (A real possibility given some of the RIAA's other faux pas in the past.) Can the victim turn around and sue them? Will this be like the seizure/forfeiture laws under the War on Drugs in which they take your assets on the merest suspicion, then if you are not guilty, you have to jump through 197 legal hoops to even have the remotest hope of getting your stuff back?

          I'm waiting for someone in guvmint to start making the argument that sharing copyrighted music is a terrorist act intended to undermine the economy of the U.S. Then they'd also get to use the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, and all those other fun tools to nail file sharers to the wall.....Yes, postulating that scenario should by all rights be a sign of disturbed paranoia, but the way things are going.....

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by dargon (105684)
            Please don't give them any more lousy ideas, they come up with enough of them on their own, they don't need your help.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by marxmarv (30295)

            And who is going to do the actual "seizing" of the equipment? Feds? Local gendarmes? (I can imagine that will go over big in some jurisdictions.....devoting time and manpower to seizing some geek's equipment for sharing music...)

            If the Miller case in Arizona is any guide, I imagine they'll just order you to bring your data in for imaging. An enabled secure delete facility may require some explanation, lest it be construed as destruction of evidence.

            Your sig wins, by the way.

        • by monxrtr (1105563) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @05:43PM (#23318358)

          This will only lead to the members of the RIAA buying stronger laws which either allow a suit for weaker evidence, or allow seizure of computer equipment in order to gather evidence of copyright infringement.
          Good, let 'em try and do that as it will only lead to a total legal systemic meltdown, playing right into the hands of total copyright abolitionists. Governments have computers connected to the internet too. So too do businesses like the RIAA.

          Remember, absolutely everything creative is copyrighted, and it would be extremely easy to open a floodgate of tens of millions of copyright trolls. This is why Congress will see the light sooner than later, because the RIAA business model mass adopted could and would literally shut down commerce in the US. Politicians will be exposed to the same liability as consumers.

          The RIAA is *losing* because the laws are being fought with laws. And it's utter business suicide to be playing with $150,000 per violation statutory fines against 200,000,000 people who hate your guts.

          You know how fucked the RIAA is going to be if they ever mistakenly copy somebody's critical commentary file and attempt to sue for that file? Or it will happen if one of their artists like Bob Dylan plagiarizes lyrics from a novel about the yakuza. All their computers are going to be seized and examined in countersuits. I'm surprised there isn't already a 20 year backlog on examination of RIAA computers from one defense to another. Hell, just routinely make countersuit motion for the seizure and examination of all computers used in the original gathering of evidence. Defense has a right to examine the programs for mistaken identity. And speedy trial requirement will eliminated 90% of the cases due to discovery backlogs on RIAA computer equipment. Governments copying the data of travelers entering the USA are going to have their computers seized for copyright infringement discovery purposes as well. Are you willing to let the US Government copy your files at $150,000 per file copied compensation?

          Constitutional immunity for government agencies and businesses like the RIAA will be impossible. Congress will wise up and realize the more they attack the privacy of individual citizens the more they will be attacking their own privacy as well. And people like that have a helluva lot more dirty secrets and a helluva lot more assets to pay fines without declaring bankruptcy.

          This is a matter of Civil Law which is already well beyond unconstitutional. Further strengthening unconstitutional law will just hasten the inevitable end, especially when every citizen can privately track isp addresses and embarrass politicians by exposing their children's downloading and internet surfing activities. At that time, such RIAA investigative practices will be shut down faster than you can say how to catch a pedofile.

          The internet is a giant P2P program. Nothing can be seen, heard, tracked, or logged without by definition mass copying the entire internet. Allowing suits on weaker evidence will just open trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars of legal liability. The only way the RIAA could win is if the internet was shut down. And that's not going to happen when the GDP of business interests not the content industries dwarfs dying businesses like the RIAA.
      • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @02:08AM (#23321216) Homepage
        It is -certainly- unenforcable in a free state. (as in not a police state)

        Copying a file is a utterly trivial operation with todays technology, to the point where Grandma will do it in a split-second without even thinking about it. It's -literally- something you can do (and typically do) by moving your fingers a few cm, pretty close to the smallest effort imaginable. Distributing a file, let's say by emailing it to a friend, is equally trivial and common.

        Both are things you can do (and typically do) in your own home.

        This single fact is (imho) the best argument against current copyright-legislation; by nessecity we need to EITHER accept that a huge part of copying is simply unenforcable (and undiscoverable), OR we need to enact a extreme police-state. (to the point where the state would -discover- that the file you email your girlfriend -today- is a picture that is copyright someone else whereas the one you sent yesterday was a photo you yourself took.)

        This is -MUCH- to high a price to pay for an activity that causes no direct harm. It may cause -INDIRECT- harm in lessening intensives for creation of new works, the jury is still out on this, but it certainly causes no DIRECT harm. Nobody is any worse off 1 second -after- you email that mp3 to your girlfriend than they where 1 second -before- you did it.

        We should stimulate creativity. We should even do it MORE than we do today. But the method currently employed, copyright, is simply obsolete.
  • by techpawn (969834) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:19PM (#23316518) Journal
    The same process you use to mass mail your legal complaints can not be used to file your legal responses. This is why fellas. This case is going to get messy *grabs popcorn*
  • I'm only a layman, but it sure looks like more than chutzpah. Could the lawyers involved be disbarred? Could anybody actually see the inside of a cell over this?
    • Re:chutzpah? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nuzak (959558) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:42PM (#23316902) Journal
      > Could the lawyers involved be disbarred?

      No.

      > Could anybody actually see the inside of a cell over this?

      No.

      Not even sanctions. Really. Seriously, people, I know you've all been whipped into a frenzy and want to see the public executions of every spouse and child of every clerk and paralegal of every law firm who's ever done business with the RIAA, but all that happened was that the plaintiffs made a useless motion, and the judge gave it the due consideration it deserved, which was nothing. Trust me when I say that no baby seals were clubbed in the process.

      If anything, UMG should be pissed that their legal team phoned it in when it came to this motion. These are pretty serious counterclaims and they don't appear to be taking them seriously. Hubris does that I guess.

      • Re:chutzpah? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:37PM (#23317644)
        Disbarred, NO

        Sanctioned, Yes

        Actual misbehavior by lawyers and their clients is decidedly unfunny. That is the message of Rule 11, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This is the law that obligates the federal courts to impose sanctions on lawyers and clients who file and pursue lawsuits in unreasonable ways. Rule 11 breaks with precedent that required proof of bad faith to trigger sanctions. Unreasonableness is a lighter trigger that has proven beneficial to persons burdened by lawyer and client misbehavior. By the way, sanctions is legal terminology for getting your expenses back in some degree from an attorney or party who did you wrong in a lawsuit.

        WHAT REMEDY RULE 11 PROVIDES

        Rule 11 prescribes sanctions for certain basic misdeeds: (1) the filing of a frivolous suit or document; (2) the filing of a document or lawsuit for an improper purpose; (3) actions that needlessly increase the cost or length of litigation.

        Relevant parts of the rule are these:

        The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certificate by the signer that the signer has read the pleading, motion, or other paper; that to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation... If a pleading, motion, or other paper is signed in violation of this rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the pleading, motion, or other paper, including a reasonable attorney's fee (emphasis added).

        Sanctions may apply against an attorney, the client, or both; therefore, we have adopted the collective convention, attorney/client.
  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:21PM (#23316556)
    That is fascinating. The judge got a motion from the RIAA to dismiss the defendant's counterclaims, and he didn't even bother to give the defendants a chance to reply! Instead he saved them the cost for their lawyers and rejected the RIAA's motion to dismiss without causing any work for the defendants. I just wonder how unusual that is.
    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:34PM (#23316768)
      IANAL, but that almost defines "frivious." The judge didn't need to hear from the plantiffs (those targeted by the RIAA) because the motion to dismiss by the RIAA was so bad, and so close to one he's rejected already, he could supply the rejection logic himself.

      As Keith Olbermann reminds viewers of "Countdown" regularly, the technical definition of "insanity" is trying the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.
      • IANAT, but if that's really the definition of "frivious", my dictionary is missing a word.
      • by RobBebop (947356) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:57PM (#23317094) Homepage Journal

        As Keith Olbermann reminds viewers of "Countdown" regularly, the technical definition of "insanity" is trying the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

        I've seen that quote attributed to Ben Franklin, but I am sure that Olbermann could have very easily been the originator.

      • by QMO (836285) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:10PM (#23317300) Homepage Journal

        . . .trying the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results
        That's also a very close approximation of the definition of chaos theory.
      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:11PM (#23317304) Homepage
        As Keith Olbermann reminds viewers of "Countdown" regularly, the technical definition of "insanity" is trying the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

        That "definition" has always bothered me, as I would find those considered "sane" under that definition to be extremely crazy themselves.

        How crazy would you have to be to think that your previous actions would have no impact on future attempts?

        If you swung an axe at a door and made a small chip, which would be more insane: Thinking that the next or subsequent blow would put the blade entirely through the door, or thinking that you could swing the axe at the door all day and do nothing but make small cuts?

        It is very rare in real life that a certain event has the "memoryless" property (i.e. the outcome is based only on that event, not on the outcome of any previous events). That's a special case, not the general rule.

        Look at this case. They tried the same thing, and got a different result: Their motion was dismissed even more rapidly than before. If they keep trying this, it is highly unlikely that the outcome would be the same each time; eventually they would be found in contempt. Judges in particular do not often suffer from being "memoryless". :)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ikkonoishi (674762)
          If the door is chipped the state of the action is changed. You are no longer taking the same action, ie attacking an undamaged door. You are taking a new action attacking a damaged door.
      • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:15PM (#23317356)
        As Keith Olbermann reminds viewers of "Countdown" regularly, the technical definition of "insanity" is trying the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

        That isn't really a very good definition, unless everyone is insane. Even though coined by Benjamin Franklin, it completely defines many "normal" behaviors.

        Rolling dice
        Slot machines
        Voting
        Dating
        Software Debugging
        New Year's resolutions
        Answering the phone
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by snowraver1 (1052510)
          Software Debugging - Where doing the same thing over and over gives you different answers. Leading cause of insanity.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DarkOx (621550)
          I don't know I do lots of those things expecting the same results.

          Rolling dice -- I expect to get back some value between 1 and 6 randomly (usefull)

          Slot machines -- I expect to lose a token (sometimes and surprised)

          Voting -- I expect to cast a ballot and have an TINY impact on the election (usually works unless diebold manufactured the equipment)

          Dating -- I expect to have a nice dinner and someone to talk too (hey I might even want to see her again)

          Software Debugging -- I expect to get a headache ( and sub
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:23PM (#23316588)
    ...but if there's a supreme being out there somewhere, I'll agree to start praying to it or sacrificing cans of tuna on its altar or whatever the hell it wants (within reason, of course) if only, please, please, please, there's jail sentences for the bastards at the end of this affair.
  • For you litigation buffs out there, let's take a quiz.

    The facts.

    A lawyer just filed a 30-page brief in which he (a) devoted 28 pages to repeating the same arguments he had made in a motion that was decided less than 8 months earlier, and (b) devoted 3 pages to telling the judge that his previous ruling was "wrongly decided".

    Question #1

    What will happen?
    (a) The lawyer will win the motion.
    (b) The lawyer will lose the motion.
    (c) The lawyer will have to find a new line of work.
    (d) Both (b) and (c)

    Question #2

    If you are the client who pays lawyers to do things like that you are
    (a) A smart businessperson
    (b) A moron
    (c) A fool
    (d) Both (b) and (c)
  • Who? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:27PM (#23316644) Journal
    Does "ATLANTIC RECORDING CORP., etc., et al.," (the people being countersued) include the RIAA & RIAA member companies?

    Or did you just use "RIAA" in the same (wrong) way that frequently happens around here.
  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:28PM (#23316658)
    Just wondering: Since this is Judge Lazzara's second case already, I would think that he now knows more about the subject than your average judge, so it would only make sense to let him handle whatever over similar cases come anywhere near his court. Does the judicial system work that way, giving judges similar cases where possible, or are the cases handled by a random judge?
    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:45PM (#23316936)
      IANAL, and this can vary from courthouse to courthouse, but the typical MO is for them to assign cases truely randomly... which means the odds are against the same judge getting the same plantiff twice, unless that plantiff happens to be lawsuit-happy and rolls the dice / spins the wheel / calls Rnd(0) so many times that they draw the same judge. Then, they better change up their legal plans or face their nonsense not working for a second time happened here.
  • Enough already!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Every other article on any tech website is about the copyright abuse, especially by the *AA. How much will it take for people to actually stop buying CDs and stop feeding and outdated business model?
    http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/magazine/16-01/ff_byrne
    • We on Slashdot already quit buying CDs.

      The masses don't read tech sites, nor are they aware of the RIAA, nor would most of them care if they did.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by UncleTogie (1004853) *

        The masses don't read tech sites, nor are they aware of the RIAA, nor would most of them care if they did.

        All the more reason for we geeks to give 'em the answers in a format they can understand. I do it all the time here at the shop. They go away informed, a certain RIAA member loses PC sales over it, and life is good!

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:32PM (#23316736) Journal
    It seems like an automated system. I think the RIAA's legal team has been replaced by a server farm.
  • to a more deserving trade association.
  • IANAL, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:59PM (#23317118) Homepage Journal
    (yeah, all posts are, so what's new?)

    First, I think the RIAA lawyers are probably doing nothing different from any lawyer - trying to get as many suits dismissed as possible, so they only have to argue the smallest subset possible. I can understand such a philosophy, when time is money, there's a pressure to get quick results, judgements are worse publicity than accusations, and so on. That is probably more a function of the legal system and the American attitude to high-pressure living/working than the RIAA.

    Second, if a motion is frivolous, the judge should be doing more than just wagging a finger. Abuse of legitimate procedures devalues those procedures for others, as it increases the likelihood of judges in future regarding all such motions in a more hostile light. The judicial system does not just have a responsibility for those who stand before it today, but a responsibility for all who may ever stand before it, which means that there should be subtle encouragement of motions which are plausible (even if they are ultimately dismissed) and an unsubtle discouragement of motions which cannot possibly be construed as reasonable.

    It would be interesting if the courts had greater powers (within reasonable bounds) to deal with contempt of court and any other abuse of court procedures, and a greater willingness to use those powers when lawyers or clients go beyond mere over-enthusiasm to being out of control. It wouldn't need to be severe. A compulsary psychiatric evaluation would be interesting, as it conveys all kinds of messages (real and imagined) about those who try to twist things.

    I also think that some sort of staggered system, where you have a first round of aggressive fact-finding that feeds into a second round trial system, would help avoid the problem, the idea being that dismissal or whatever doesn't have any meaning until after the facts have been established, and accusatory systems are not very good at establishing facts, they're too busy constructing theories, but fact-finding missions are very bad at establishing context. Hence the need for both in a way that doesn't lend one to distract from the other.

    The SCO/IBM case demonstrates a lot of what I'm talking about - a lot of the hold-ups and confusion was caused by wild speculation and insinuation, a lot of the useful stuff was done by establishing the groundwork, and all of this was before any actual trial had taken place. It would seem to follow that tuning the system according to experiences of what has been effective is better than maintaining a multi-millenia-old method that has acquired a lot of cruft and could do with some refactoring and bugfixing.

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