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RIAA May Be Violating a Court Order In California 339

Posted by kdawson
from the play-nice-now dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In one of its 'ex parte' cases seeking the names and addresses of 'John Does,' this one targeting students at the University of Southern California, the RIAA obtained an order granting discovery — but with a wrinkle. The judge's order (PDF) specified that the information obtained could not be used for any purpose other than obtaining injunctions against the students. Apparently the RIAA lawyers have ignored, or failed to understand, that limitation, as an LA lawyer has reported that the RIAA is busy calling up the USC students and their families and demanding monetary settlements."
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RIAA May Be Violating a Court Order In California

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  • RIAA strikes again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chadenright (1344231) <chadenrightNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Monday December 15, 2008 @08:52PM (#26127281) Journal
    So, how many countersuits would it take to wipe RIAA off the face of the planet?
    • by empesey (207806) on Monday December 15, 2008 @08:56PM (#26127321) Homepage

      A million. One to make the countersuit, 999,998 to download the suit via P2P and one RIAA agent to sue the lot of them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bios_Hakr (68586)

      I've wondered why no one has tried to "poison the well" with suits yet. You could create a GIF of a 7-legged spider and then let someone else violate your copyright. Use the RIAA's tactics to locate the infringers. Then, with lawyers on both sides working together, take the cases as far as possible. Get a local circuit court to make a ruling. Appeal to the next court. Wash, rinse, and repeat until you have set a firm legal precedent.

      It seems whenever the RIAA is about to get a ruling against them, the

      • by kramer (19951) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @01:28AM (#26129375) Homepage

        You don't really understand how the legal system works, do you?

        Most judges who even suspect you're working both sides of the aisle will toss you and your case out of court. You'll probably be fined for wasting the court's time. Not to mention that a lawyer who does as you suggest, and throws a case for the purpose of setting precedent will probably never be able to practice law in that jurisdiction ever again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by irtza (893217)
        Not sure its still necessary - the RIAA seems to have lost key points already - http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/5928.cfm [afterdawn.com] . The problem is that unless you read /. or follow these cases for other reasons, you won't know that. Secondly, it is up to you or your attorney to point out the appropriate case law, so if you get scared and settle, or if you don't have an attorney that brings forth these issues - you lose regardless of whether or not you did anything wrong. What is needed is a direct case agai
    • by belmolis (702863) <billposer@nOSpam.alum.mit.edu> on Monday December 15, 2008 @11:22PM (#26128509) Homepage

      Countersuits? Feh! The headline I look forward to is: "RIAA lawyers jailed for contempt of court". That will discourage them more than countersuits.

  • Devil's Advocate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Monday December 15, 2008 @08:54PM (#26127299) Homepage Journal

    Just to play the Devil's Advocate here... Couldn't the RIAA use the information, once granted, to call the students and offer to "leave them alone" (as opposed to settle since they now can't sue them for anything other than injunctive relief) for a fee?

    • by chadenright (1344231) <chadenrightNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Monday December 15, 2008 @08:54PM (#26127309) Journal
      They could...IF that weren't blackmail.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Couldn't the RIAA use the information, once granted, to call the students and offer to "leave them alone"

      Which begs the question of, why do they need to call them to announce they are doing nothing? Besides, such an action could be used in future lawsuits to demonstrate a lack of good faith effort to enforce their copyright, which would invalidate the copyright in turn. It is not in RIAA's best interests, legally, to do this. Ignorance can be bliss in the world of civil litigation.

      • Re:Devil's Advocate (Score:5, Informative)

        by BlueBlade (123303) <mafortier&gmail,com> on Monday December 15, 2008 @09:47PM (#26127775)

        Invalidate the copyright? You must be thinking of trademarks. You can't invalidate a copyright by lack of defending it (or in this case, bad faith). If someone reproduces a book I've written for 10 years and I don't do anything, I can still sue them at anytime even if I was previously aware of the violation. You can't 'lose' a copyright.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by VShael (62735)

          You can't 'lose' a copyright.

          I know it's GETTING there, but unless Disney have bought another law for Christmas, I don't think copyright is eternal yet.

    • by rossz (67331) <ogre@@@geekbiker...net> on Monday December 15, 2008 @09:32PM (#26127605) Homepage Journal

      To put it simply, NO. The judge put a very narrow restriction on the information. Any other use is a violation of that restriction. Judges take a dim view of being ignored.

      • by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Monday December 15, 2008 @11:46PM (#26128693) Journal

        Yeah, but can he give them a slap on the wrist (i.e. a fine)? Or can he actually give them a solid kicking (a 7-figure+ fine and organise some sort of professional sanctions against the lawyers) and actually end the cases? Because the RIAA isn't suing people for the money, they're suing people to try and scare the public at large and if they can go "look, we can get your names on a 'no-sue' basis, ignore that, sucessfully sue you anyway and it'll only cost us a moderate fine" then they're come out clearly on top. Infact if the message that they can carry illegal lawsuits all the way through even after being called on it gets out, it'll play right into their hands.

        To play devil* for a moment, using the old information-wants-to-be-free argument, once someone knows who it is that they need to sue how can you conscionably tell them that they can't actually sue them because you only told them the name so they could use it for something else?

        *the devil is the RIAA's advocate.

    • Re:Devil's Advocate (Score:5, Informative)

      by Aellus (949929) on Monday December 15, 2008 @10:25PM (#26128069)
      That is what they're already doing. I work for one of the top 10 universities targeted by the RIAA, and the "offer" they make the students has absolutely no legal authority to it. They're quite literally "promising not to sue" if the student pays them some number of thousands of dollars. There is no suit being filed, no legal action being taken, no trial. Just a letter, an offer, and instructions to visit their handy website to make paying as easy as possible: www.p2plawsuits.com
  • by Valarauk (670014) on Monday December 15, 2008 @08:56PM (#26127319)
    The article's title should read: "RIAA Violating a Court Order in California".
    • by Darundal (891860)
      The article's title should read: "RIAA attempts to continue extortion in direct violation of a court order."
    • by stephanruby (542433) on Monday December 15, 2008 @09:08PM (#26127421)
      The article's title should read: "Here is an article about the RIAA, I only skimmed it, let me know what it says".
    • by pfleming (683342) on Monday December 15, 2008 @09:36PM (#26127647) Homepage Journal
      Considering that NYCL contributed the article, I would say he's speaking as plainly as he can without going over the potential libel line.
      See how I did that there?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jack9 (11421)

      I don't think it's fair to outright accuse them of an undetermined finding, in an article title, regardless of the entities involved. If an organization that wasn't so maligned (like Apple) was to be accused, there would be no small amount of grandstanding on this point. IANAL and neither are the editors involved in the proceedings.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by againjj (1132651)
      NYCL is a L (from NYC), and therefore is going to be careful what he says.
    • by penguinchris (1020961) <penguinchris@@@gmail...com> on Monday December 15, 2008 @10:51PM (#26128245) Homepage

      I think it's FAR better when Slashdot headlines are like this one - too many jump to conclusions that the articles don't support.

      It's unfortunate that Slashdot is resorting to sensational headlines to attract viewers. For me, when I find out that the headline and summary were wrong (always pointed out in the comments when so - don't even have to RTA :) ) I get quite annoyed. If the story actually matters, then there's no need to exaggerate with a sensational headline. If one finds him or her self tempted to exaggerate the headline, perhaps the story is not that interesting or important!

      Sometimes corrections are posted, but the damage is already done.

      For this specific case, as others pointed out, NYCL is being safe (and fair) in his wording. Even if it was made official by the judge ruling that they're violating the order, your proposed title would still not be the best. It would then be "Judge Finds RIAA in Violation of California Court Order" or something like that.

      This is what Slashdot should be. We gladly get the news here a day or two after digg or wherever, because the editors are (supposed to be) here to ensure that we get the best news and that the facts are straight in the summary.

      This ideal has, unfortunately, been slipping away recently. The exception is usually stories from NYCL, because he puts a lot of effort into making sure he gets everything right. In order to improve things, ideally we should all step up and start submitting better stuff. The problem is that many of us don't have time to prowl for stories - Slashdot aggregates all the best stuff for us already, and provides all kinds of insight and references through the comments, and that's why we like it. So I do appreciate those who put time into submitting stuff, I really do, because otherwise I'd have to find it myself. I just regret that it seems to be losing the focus it once had of news for nerds and stuff that matters. Too much focus on entertainment - that's done better on other sites already, we don't need it here.

      Thanks for reading my rant!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I think it's FAR better when Slashdot headlines are like this one - too many jump to conclusions that the articles don't support. It's unfortunate that Slashdot is resorting to sensational headlines to attract viewers. For me, when I find out that the headline and summary were wrong (always pointed out in the comments when so - don't even have to RTA :) ) I get quite annoyed. If the story actually matters, then there's no need to exaggerate with a sensational headline. If one finds him or her self tempted to exaggerate the headline, perhaps the story is not that interesting or important! Sometimes corrections are posted, but the damage is already done. For this specific case, as others pointed out, NYCL is being safe (and fair) in his wording. Even if it was made official by the judge ruling that they're violating the order, your proposed title would still not be the best. It would then be "Judge Finds RIAA in Violation of California Court Order" or something like that. This is what Slashdot should be. We gladly get the news here a day or two after digg or wherever, because the editors are (supposed to be) here to ensure that we get the best news and that the facts are straight in the summary. This ideal has, unfortunately, been slipping away recently. The exception is usually stories from NYCL, because he puts a lot of effort into making sure he gets everything right. In order to improve things, ideally we should all step up and start submitting better stuff. The problem is that many of us don't have time to prowl for stories - Slashdot aggregates all the best stuff for us already, and provides all kinds of insight and references through the comments, and that's why we like it. So I do appreciate those who put time into submitting stuff, I really do, because otherwise I'd have to find it myself. I just regret that it seems to be losing the focus it once had of news for nerds and stuff that matters. Too much focus on entertainment - that's done better on other sites already, we don't need it here. Thanks for reading my rant!

        Thanks for your kind words, penguinchris. One of the problems with headlines on Slashdot is that they have to be very short. I struggle with that on almost every submission. It would be much easier for submitters to provide accurate headlines if we had more space to work with.

  • This is a country where the congress can reject a bill (auto bailouts for example) just to see the president go ahead and do it anyhow.

    • by Uberbah (647458) on Monday December 15, 2008 @10:05PM (#26127933)

      This is a country where the congress can reject a bill (auto bailouts for example) just to see the president go ahead and do it anyhow.

      I hope he does, so I can enjoy watching the Republicans who voted against the Detroit bailout bitch about the president ignoring Congress. You know, since those Republicans have acted as a rubber stamp for every violation of the Separation of Powers or the Constitution the last 8 years.

    • "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 discoveries" (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8) - US Copyright Office [copyright.gov]

      A musical or video recording is neither a writing nor a discovery. It was never the intent of the framers to extend copyright to these things and the practice should be abolished by law.

  • Shock and Alarm! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HannethCom (585323)
    How come I'm dying of not surprise?

    Might be because the RIAA keeps functioning illegally, slanders and purposely lies.

    When is the US Department of Justice going to do something about this criminal organization? They are a monopoly that for decades has abused the artists they are supposed to protect and villainized their customers.

    To support my accusation, look at the article this it attached to.

    Also look at the many claims they make about Canada and Piracy. Just pull up the studies they done that "s
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When is the US Department of Justice going to do something about this criminal organization?

      January 21 is my guess.

  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Monday December 15, 2008 @09:11PM (#26127445)

    "Last week, Warner Music Group proposed a voluntary blanket licensing scheme for universities. The proposal would add a fee to student tuition to permit music file sharing in schools."

    And then, via another link;

    "The rest of the details are still to be determined, including whether it would be a mandatory fee for all students, or an opt-in fee (complete with continued lawsuits for those who fail to pay?). It's also not clear what the fee would be, although those familiar with the talks suggest less than $5 per student per month... "

    Sounds more like a pragmatic solution and better than criminalizing your potential customers via dubious legal processes, such as this one.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday December 15, 2008 @09:20PM (#26127509)

      Sounds more like a pragmatic solution and better than criminalizing your potential customers via dubious legal processes, such as this one.

      ...Or legalized racketeering.

    • by Xelios (822510) on Monday December 15, 2008 @09:32PM (#26127607)
      Because if there's one thing students in the US don't have enough of, it's fees.

      But seriously, an opt-in fee to benefit the artists sounds like a good compromise, though I think it's safe to say that's not going to happen. It will be a mandatory fee, collected by the universities and deposited into the coffers of Sony BMG, EMI, Warner and Universal without them having to lift a finger. Artists will never see a dime, labels will have a new printing press for cash and students all across America will get screwed.

      It's a sad state of affairs when the pessimistic view is synonymous with the realistic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CroDragn (866826)
      Wow, who fired their marketing department. They could have billed it as "download all the music you want for 5 dollars a month". Instead, they're running it as "we're forcing college students to give us 5 dollars a month and we won't sue you". Except for the mandatory part, which sounds like it could be dropped, it's basically what people have been telling the RIAA to do since the Napster fight.
      • Doesn't the current Napster service already do that, at a price only slightly higher than that?

  • I hohohope they get nailed for this real hard. Merry Christmas.
  • USC? (Score:3, Funny)

    by chainLynx (939076) on Monday December 15, 2008 @09:48PM (#26127783) Homepage
    But aren't those the RIAA execs' kids?
  • Priceless! "Yes, I saw you waving me over, Officer, it's just that this is the only way I know how to drive."

    There are serious pitfalls ahead of people who respond in set patterns to everything.

  • by systemeng (998953) on Monday December 15, 2008 @10:46PM (#26128201)
    Couldn't somebody get state engineering licensing board to go after some of the so called RIAA investigators? After all, these are technical matters and if the cases were about bridges falling then one would be required to have a PE license to testify as to the technical matters.
  • If you are still reading, NYCL, could the RIAA's actions be considered contempt of court? Judges don't seem to appreciate that a whole lot...
    • Demanding Money,
      making unsolicited phone calls for unproven debt,
      making threats to property and freedom,
      preventing a citizen from doing his duty,
      deliberate ignorance of court orders,
      The injured party can pursue a civil case ex-parte, get a default judgement in Court for compensation, wait until the time limit passes for RIAA to pay (of course the court will send a letter to the RIAA local collection office and it will be ignored), approach the court again for redressal.
      The judge will ask what i want the cou

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I think the US should adopt the Commonwealth language. "Demanding Money with Menaces" gets right down to the point, don't you think? Whereas the term "Extortion" sounds like something you measure from the exhaust pipe.
  • by redelm (54142) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @12:20AM (#26128921) Homepage
    ... and not just with customers, but now with judges/courts too. It's a "going out of business" move.

    Defense attornies should have this violation at their fingertips and cite when motioning to limit discovery. Since it is substantially the same plaintiff (and may be the same attornies), the judge will have to consider the malfeasance, and probably is adequate justification for granting the motion to limit discovery rather than add conditions.

    Of course, the RIAA can go to appeal, but for that to be successful, they will have to thoroughly purge themselves of their contempt cited. Judges (even appellate) do not tolerate being ignored.

  • by AaronLawrence (600990) * on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:05AM (#26129553)

    I was just reading NYCL's article on this whole situation
    http://beckermanlegal.com/Documents/080729LargeRecordingCompaniesVsTheDefenselessHTMLVERSION.htm [beckermanlegal.com]

    and it seems to me that the RIAA lawyes have come up with a scheme that brazenly uses the legal system to threaten people (nothing new there) but ALSO that the legal system has tacitly gone along with it. The "old boys club" of judges has decided that it's OK for these dirty pirating scum to be hammered through their courts, because they are so sneaky that there is no other way.

    To the older generation, copyright infringement like this seems very wrong and the fact that the internet allows it to be done anonymously, with no easy trackdown, also seems wrong and perverted.

    So basically they have allowed the RIAA to jam some wedges into the court system and use it to get those naughty infringers.

    If they were not at least partially comfortable with the RIAA doing this, surely, they would have close it down long ago, because the whole process is surpremely dodgy.

  • Just goes to show... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jskline (301574) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @10:53AM (#26132529) Homepage

    This whole thing just goes to show that a:) the lawyers suing on behalf of the record companies don't give a flat fuck about anything the judges have to say; and 2:) in this case specifically, to have quite literally told this specific judge to fuck off and die. They'll do what they want.

    You are now beginning to witness the folding of American law and justice. This is where someone in a movie once said that in the future, they abolished all lawyers. Hmmm; could there be some credence to that thinking..??!!

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