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New Hampshire Law Students Take On RIAA 173

Posted by timothy
from the or-die-die-die dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "We have recently learned that another law school legal aid clinic has joined the fight against the RIAA. Student attorneys from the Consumer and Commercial Law Clinic of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire, working under law school faculty supervision, are representing a lady targeted by the RIAA in UMG Recording v. Roy in New Hampshire. The case is scheduled for trial next Fall. That makes at least 4 law schools providing anti-RIAA defense services: University of Maine, University of San Francisco, Franklin Pierce, and, most recently, Harvard. Hopefully many more will follow. One commentator theorizes that this news 'will ... [encourage] professors and students at other law schools to take on hitherto defenseless people being pilloried by the corporate music industry.'"
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New Hampshire Law Students Take On RIAA

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  • Awesome (Score:2, Informative)

    by kno3 (1327725)
    We need more of this to happen! See, not all lawyers are bad.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by musikit (716987)

      they didnt say the lawyer was working for free. wait for the bill to come. she might have been better off settling

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The clinics at law schools are virtually always free of charge. That is the entire point, to provide services to those who couldn't afford them.

        • by lgw (121541)

          That is the entire point, to provide services to those who couldn't afford them.

          Rather, the entire point is to provide free training to law students, handling (parts of) real cases for people who can't complain too much if they screw something up.

    • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

      by retech (1228598) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @02:59PM (#25992549)
      Wait till they graduate. Right now they're idealistic and assume they can change the world.
    • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:08PM (#25992717) Homepage Journal

      See, not all lawyers are bad

      Ray is my third favorite lawyer, right behind the lady who handled my divorce and the gentleman who handled my bankrupcy. When you need a lawyer, you NEED a lawyer!

      The only "bad" lawyers (a) work for corporations or (b) are suing you. When you need a lawyer, one will save you far more than (s)he costs in fees. If you need to sue (say an uninsured drunk driver puts you in the hospital), one will tell you if you have a case or not. Here in Illlinois lawyers generally charge 1/3 of a settlement, or 50% of a judgement if it goes to court.

      In an auto accident here, you get 3x the medical costs for "pain and suffering". If you have $10k in medical bills, the doctor(s) get(s) $10k, your lawyer gets $10k, and you get $10k. Without a lawyer you'll be lucky to get your bills paid.

      • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

        by homer_s (799572) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:35PM (#25993097)
        When you need a lawyer, you NEED a lawyer!...

        And when you DON'T need a lawyer, you still need to pay a lawyer! Because they write laws that ensure that they get paid even when you don't need them.

        (I needed some work done reg. my immigration and I approached a friend of mine who works as a paralegal. Even though the work was trivial and she was more than capable of doing it, she told me that it was illegal for her to do that as she was not a lawyer.)
      • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:41PM (#25993195)

        The only "bad" lawyers (a) work for corporations or (b) are suing you.

        You've been fortunate.

        Here's one anecdote in contradiction with your anecdotes: A friend of mine had a divorce lawyer that dropped him 6 months in and 1 week before court because they discovered that his wife had done one of those "free first appointments" with them 7 months prior (she apparently did that with all of the local divorce attorneys so that he would have a hard time finding representation). They kept his money and because of the "old boys club" of lawyers in his town he had to go out of town to even find an attorney who was willing to sue the first for his money back.

        Which leads to the real problem with lawyers - the bar. Lawyers are "self-regulating" which we should all know by now is an inherent conflict of interest that inevitably leads to corruption, regardless of what industry does it.

        In an auto accident here, you get 3x the medical costs for "pain and suffering". If you have $10k in medical bills, the doctor(s) get(s) $10k, your lawyer gets $10k, and you get $10k. Without a lawyer you'll be lucky to get your bills paid.

        Your last sentence is telling. How much of that is because of the way the system works? The system that was setup by, is run by, and is regulated by lawyers?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by barnackle (905200)

          Lawyers are "self-regulating" which we should all know by now is an inherent conflict of interest that inevitably leads to corruption, regardless of what industry does it.

          Professional engineers are self-regulated. State boards of professional engineers, the exams, all that stuff is run by engineers and for engineers. In Florida, for example (which is typical of most states), the only government involvement is a few laws that give the Board its power. And medicine is not all that different.

        • I think the real problem is people who run off to lawyers when they don't necessarily need them. I was fortunate enough to be able to make fair compromises with my ex-wife in regards to our kids and our stuff without the "services" of an attorney.
      • by sdpuppy (898535)

        The only "bad" lawyers (a) work for corporations or (b) are suing you.

        You forgot:

        c) lose your perfectly valid case

        When you need a lawyer, one will save you far more than (s)he costs in fees.

        Very true.

        In addition, if there weren't lawyers, we wouldn't be able to tell morbid jokes that people laugh at.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          c) lose your perfectly valid case

          That's not a bad lawyer, it's an incompetent one. Lawyers are like programmers or doctors, though - some of them are excellent, some are mediocre. Like finding a mechanic, doctor, or barber, the trick is to find a competent one.

          • by Dun Malg (230075)
            If a town has two lawyers, go to the one paying an obscene amount of alimony after his divorce?
      • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:44PM (#25993237)

        "The only "bad" lawyers (a) work for corporations or (b) are suing you."

        Oh man, you couldn't be more wrong. There are many, many lawyers out there just aiming to make a quick buck on someone who "NEEDS" a lawyer and doesn't know how to pick one.

        My father hasn't had to deal with lawyers much, and he picked a bad one. It ended up costing him a LOT of money without actually fulfilling his 'need'. The lawyer was good at one thing: Convincing the client to stay with him instead of going elsewhere. No matter what I said, my father refused to leave and find a better lawyer, even after admitting that the guy wasn't doing the job.

        • ...someone who "NEEDS" a lawyer and doesn't know how to pick one.

          How does one go about picking a lawyer, anyway (aside from avoiding the ambulance-chasing shysters who advertise on TV)?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by stewbacca (1033764)

        The only "bad" lawyers (a) work for corporations or (b) are suing you.

        or (c), advertise heavily on tv, asking if you've been injured in an accident.

      • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dun Malg (230075) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:43PM (#25994039) Homepage

        My cousin is a bad lawyer under category (c) "Lawyers who you know are bad because you know them". The stories he proudly tells about using courtroom dirty tricks are astounding. One of my favorites is the "jar of marbles". He currently works for a large hotel chain defending them against suits brought by workers they've cheated. In one case, the suit alleged that the hotel would only promote white men to management. He argued that the fact that all management was white men could be pure chance. He produced a jar of marbles that were 10% black and 90% white and said "is it not possible to reach into this jar and, by chance, pull twenty marbles and not pull one black one, just by chance?" The plaintiff's attorney objeted at this bullshit and the objection was sustained, and the jury told to disregard that little bit of irrelevantr statistics; but (as he proudly related) "I kept that jar of marbles on the defense table, right where the jury could see it, for the whole trial--- and we won". Even if it was lack of evidence that caused him to prevail, the fact that he is proud of that marble shit just goes to show what kind of dickhead tends to become a lawyer--- or maybe, what kind of dickhead becoming a lawyer tends to turn you into.

        • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

          by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:50PM (#25994171) Homepage Journal

          the fact that he is proud of that marble shit just goes to show what kind of dickhead tends to become a lawyer--- or maybe, what kind of dickhead becoming a lawyer tends to turn you into.

          Isn't there a third possibility? Like that some lawyers are jerks? Just like there are some jerks everywhere else in the general population?

          • Isn't there a third possibility? Like that some lawyers are jerks? Just like there are some jerks everywhere else in the general population?

            I went along to a bunch of court appearances and watched an acquaintance of mine suffer at the hands of the "wrong" attorney during his divorce. The wrangling it took just to get that attorney to go away so he could use another lawyer was really surprising. Thankfully his next attorney was really good, and a great person. I know now who to call if I ever need a lawyer for courtroom work.

            If I hadn't seen these lawyers in action and I was staring at the phone book looking for a lawyer, I wouldn't

          • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Funny)

            by z0idberg (888892) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @06:24PM (#25995439)

            Like if you had a jar of marbles and 10% of the marbles were jerks?

          • by Dun Malg (230075)

            Isn't there a third possibility? Like that some lawyers are jerks? Just like there are some jerks everywhere else in the general population?

            Indeed, that was my intended point. I got wrapped up in the story and forgot to add "loud, showy jerks like my cousin are who people remember, making everyone think lawyers all suck".

      • by The Moof (859402)
        Shady lawyers are there when you "need" them also. Summarized in this anecdote:

        I had a friend who was in a pretty bad car accident with his best friend, who was driving at the time. They both went to the hospital and had bills to pay, etc. My friend (the non-driver) hired a lawyer to assist with the insurance companies. The first thing the lawyer did without consent was to sue the driver. As soon as the non-driver friend found out, he told the lawyer that he never had any intention of suing the drive
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by easyTree (1042254)

      See, not all lawyers are bad.

      Wash your mouth out!

  • New Hampshire! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Samschnooks (1415697) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:01PM (#25992579)
    Don't Tread on Me! Baby!
  • Not mainstream yet. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by retech (1228598)
    Until this hits the masses the RIAA will continue its mad dog attacks and back room deals. Get this out there for everyone to see. Run an RIAA case in front of Judge Judy and then we'll see the changes that really matter.

    /tag this +1 sarcastic please.
    • Judge Judy is a bad choice there - she tends to go for the quick, harsh, and "obvious" (including a very strong implication that you are a fuckwit for thinking any differently) solution. That is very likely to be "don't steal songs". Do you think Judge Judy will recognize any human need for music?
  • Why?... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:04PM (#25992639)
    Why did it take this long for schools to fight against the RIAA? Ignoring the possibility that the RIAA might have been right * (which the majority of us would be arguing against, surely...), it just seems to be a perfect opportunity for any law students to actually practice law and earn some valuable experience on high profile cases. Were I a law student, I would salivate at the chance to be involved with something like this in the defense of fellow students. I'm surprised it took this long for law departments to get involved.

    *And, really, it doesn't matter if the students being targeted were guilty. In our society, everyone deserves legal representation, even the guilty. Right or wrong, it's just how our system works. The law departments view shouldn't have been "this person is obviously innocent - we should get involved and help them". It should have been "these cases are high profile cases that will involve a lot of complex legal issues and will teach our law students a lot of valuable lessons that will make them better lawyers in the future. We should be involved." In my opinion, of course...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      They took this long because despite what most believe, universities are exceptionally political. They have been targeted by RIAA in the past and did not want to lose potentially millions in legal fees at a time when enrollment is dropping due to rising costs. Ethical discourse is a luxury that few universities can afford right now; As you might notice, all of the universities to date have been financially well-off.

      As to the position the law departments' take, I would point out that they are under no ethical

    • Re:Why?... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:39PM (#25993151) Homepage

      Part of the problem is stigma. Let's say there was a high-profile child pornography ring in the city where the university is. Under the concept of "everyone deserves representation", shouldn't the law school assemble an army of lawyers to help out in the defense of the accused?

      No, they wouldn't because the local (and maybe national) press would utterly crucify the school, the professors and the students.

      Now, the RIAA is interesting because the battle is clearly over the University's rights to shield their students, no matter what the students do. In a lot of ways, the University may be right that they can shield the students and are not required to expend any resources on the behalf of the RIAA attempting to track down the students. It might even be that all the students were doing is covered by fair use. However, it is highly likely that the student's activities are in fact infringing on copyrights and shielding them isn't a great policy.

      The one problem is that no matter how "wrong" the students may be, forcing the University to do anything at all in support of a lawsuit against the students would seem to be an unpopular move.

      And besides, everyone that knows how is downloading stuff today. Free has won the day and paying for digital stuff is unlikely to ever come back into favor.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I would pose another why? question. Why in today's society does one feel it necessary to illegally download music? In the past record industries failed to acknowledge the need for downloadable content. Once they did they wrapped DRM around it so tight that it was easier to go out and buy a CD, go home and bit torrent the same cd just to get a copy to play on your freaking mp3 player. I support drm free providers (Amazon seems to have a good policy, and the price of music has come down significantly in r
    • And, really, it doesn't matter if the students being targeted were guilty.

      Nitpick: in our society, no one is guilty until a court has found them so. The students (and speeders and murderers and pedophiles) are innocent until that instant, which is why every deserves good representation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Harin_Teb (1005123)
        Nitpick: in our society nobody is legally guilty until proven so in a court of law for criminal matters. In reality someone can still be guilty as sin even if they aren't convicted. If you are going to harp on someone's choice of words make sure that the word doesn't have different meaning in different contexts. In the context he used its clear that "guilty" is not refering to "legally guilty of a criminal offense."
        • In addition, you can still be "guilty in the eyes of the public" long before you've even had a trial and even long after your innocence has been proven in a court of law. Suppose a teacher was arrested for possession of child pornography and had a high-profile trial. Even if the teacher was cleared of all charges, the public would still see the teacher as a threat to their children and would force the school to fire him/her. The public wouldn't care that all of the evidence proved that he/she was innocen

  • Great, now this law schools are really delivering what they promise. High profile, real case of study against mayor law firms.

    Lots of legal battles to teach their students the ways of the corporate warfare...
    They students not only will have Harvard Law Student in their resume, also RIAA legal case.

    For the fee this universities collect, they have found a new way to train legal sharks...

    I should patent this "field training from school active model" :D

  • dont these people have a site they take donations for the effort, or we just donate to eff.org ?

    granted, im gonna donate 10 bucks, but i do this frequently.
  • by Smidge207 (1278042) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:12PM (#25992769) Journal

    BUT: "Circumstantial" does not mean any of the following, about evidence: (1) inadmissible; (2) insufficient to prove a fact in court; or (3) unreliable. You can be convicted of murder based on nothing but circumstantial evidence, if it is strong enough. Otherwise, murderers who hide their victims' bodies the best could not be convicted. And the RIAA only has to prove infringement by a preponderance of the evidence, a much lower standard of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt as required for a criminal conviction.

    This is about the RIAA's abuse of the discovery process and, in particular, its filing lawsuits for the sole purpose of collecting evidence through discovery. You personally can't just send me interrogatories without having a pending lawsuit against me, and you also can't file a lawsuit whose only purpose is to allow you to send me interrogatories. And that's what the RIAA is apparently doing...

    =Smidge=

    • by The Moof (859402)

      All the so called evidence is circustantial

      I often find my case is helped when cross examination is delivered from the trapeze. Though I find the judge is not amused when I use the clown car to approach the bench.

  • by thtrgremlin (1158085) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:20PM (#25992897) Homepage Journal
    Taking the humanitarianism out of the equation (as wonderful as it is) this is the perfect opportunity for hands on experience. Lawyers usually only get to look at the same old cases that have been reviewed to death, but here is the opportunity go up against the same prosecutor in the same case over and over again. These are nearly scripted debate speeches. Sure, in a way you could say that is what a lawyer does, but this is uniquely different in that there are just sooo many cases, all with the same prosecutor fighting the same fight.

    A class where students get into groups and provide legal council in different cases that almost all look the same? Computer science students can get identical computers, biologists can dissect many of the same species, but I don' think before the RIAA started going sue happy across the country was there such an opportunity to standardize a law class year after year fighting the same case in a real courtroom over and over again.

    This is going to help real people, but realistically I hope it doesn't last long. I can just see it now: RIAA gets bailout from congress to save law school curriculum across country. HA!

    Good law schools should really take advantage of this opportunity. I think schools could be judged by this for how up to date they are and how much they really care about their lawyers getting real experience in the classroom.
    • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:32PM (#25993065) Homepage Journal

      Good law schools should really take advantage of this opportunity. I think schools could be judged by this for how up to date they are and how much they really care about their lawyers getting real experience in the classroom.

      I agree, and Franklin Pierce happens to be one of those institutions that really cares about getting its students real-world, law-practice, experience [piercelaw.edu].

      • I can attest to that, having graduated from FPLC. They had extensive externship opportunities (actually working for an entire semester in lieu of classes), clinics, competitions. They are best known as being an IP school so they are particularly well suited for this sort of work in fighting the RIAA.
        • I can attest to that, having graduated from FPLC. They had extensive externship opportunities (actually working for an entire semester in lieu of classes), clinics, competitions. They are best known as being an IP school so they are particularly well suited for this sort of work in fighting the RIAA.

          1. As someone who worked in a law firm all the time I was in law school, I know from personal experience that getting the practical experience along with the law school curriculum is an incredibly valuable part of one's legal education.

          2. You have good reason to be proud of your alma mater. This is really in the finest tradition of our profession.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:21PM (#25992923)
    We need the IT students to be the expert witnesses too :)
  • Did the lady being defended by valiant students and faculty actually infringe on RIAA's intellectual property?

  • Real world cases are the best kind to learn from. Especially those on the emerging cusp of new legal theories.

    Now how long before the RIAA starts filing protests on how public money is financing the cases against them (and the need for Congressional action to Stop That Now), or targeting those schools providing such assistance for "enhanced enforcement" actions?

  • This won't be a serious public issue until it shows up on an episode of Boston Legal. And they better hurry since that show is in it its final, truncated, season.
    • It was already covered in The Paper Chase...oh wait, I'm giving away my age again.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by av567 (902488)

        ..And they better hurry since that show ("Boston Legal") is in it its final, truncated, season.

        It was already covered in The Paper Chase...oh wait, I'm giving away my age again.

        That bogus "deadline" is a canard! Besides the Paper Chase, "Boston Legal" was also preceded by "L.A. Law", and probably others too numerous to remember; they can *always* make a sequel.

  • Agreed (Score:3, Funny)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:22PM (#25993751)
    The Righteous Inquisition Army of America will know the full extent of public scrutiny once the whole of North America sees Denny Crane get sued for a million dollars because his next door neighbour uses his unencrypted wifi to use his limewire to download Metallica's latest!
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:21PM (#25996167)

    Rightly or wrongly, the legal profession enjoys somewhat the same level of public approval as your average used car salesman. The fact that law students fighting the RIAA are looked on as the good guys shows you what complete douchebags the RIAA really are.

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