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RIAA Gives Up In Atlantic Recording v. Brennan 230

Posted by timothy
from the wasn't-one-of-the-ghostbusters-named-ray? dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Atlantic Recording v. Brennan, the landmark Connecticut case in which the first decision rejecting the RIAA's 'making available' theory was handed down, the RIAA has finally thrown in the towel and dismissed its own case. Mr. Brennan never appeared in the case at all. In February, 2008, the RIAA's motion for a default judgment was rejected for a number of reasons, including the Court's ruling (PDF) that there is no claim for 'making available for distribution' under the US Copyright Act. The RIAA moved for reconsideration; that motion was denied. Then, in December, the RIAA's second motion for default judgment was rejected. Finally the RIAA filed a 'notice of dismissal' ending the case."
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RIAA Gives Up In Atlantic Recording v. Brennan

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  • Its ow available for distribution on my website...

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:44AM (#26386187) Journal

      I'm not cheering. Think about how much money was wasted by RIAA, by the defendant, and by the U.S. Government prosecuting a case that went nowhere.

      When a prosecutor or litigant voluntarily closes a case, the government should impose a fine for "wasting taxpayer dollars" or something similar. Discourage RIAA and others from wasting the People's money on BS cases.

      • by Sancho (17056) * on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:55AM (#26386329) Homepage

        So to play Devil's Advocate, if you know that you've got a loser (either because new evidence comes to light or just by the way that the trial is moving), you think that they should continue to waste taxpayer money in order to avoid a fine rather than cutting their (and the taxpayer) losses and dismissing the case?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sjames (1099)

          Personally, I've always thought that a new phase should be added to the civil court system.

          Before even bothering the defendant, the judge needs to go over the complaint in detail and decide if the plaintiff's case could win on it's face. That is, decide if everything the plaintiff claims in the suit were true, could it win?

          In this case, the judge could have struck down the making available theory before even bothering the defendant. Assuming there was no other more meritorious theory on the part of the plai

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Sancho (17056) *

            This sort of thing does happen, though. It happens during pre-trial, and with grand juries. The problem is that for justice to be served, you can only strike the most extreme cases. It seems as though it's rarely done in civil trials for that very reason--a preponderance of the evidence is a fairly low burden of proof, and as such, it's extremely hard to determine the frivolity of a case before all of the evidence is presented.

            In criminal cases, DAs try to avoid cases where they can't win. As such, if a

      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:18PM (#26387555) Homepage Journal

        When a prosecutor or litigant voluntarily closes a case, the government should impose a fine for "wasting taxpayer dollars" or something similar.

        Because the law as it is is restricted to the wealthy, but isn't restricted to the rich enough?

        The intent is good, but your suggestion would achieve the opposite of your stated goal: Only the very rich could sue, because THEY can afford the fees.

      • by John Hasler (414242) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:36PM (#26387821) Homepage

        The defendant might still be able to recover costs and/or expenses if he wants to try. That is up to the judge. It's easier to get into court than to get out of it. You can't necessarily say "Oh well, that didn't work" and walk away.

      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:07PM (#26388349)

        Time is money, so any time you fight against a corporation doing idiotic things, it is going to cost someone. The only shame here is that someone didn't fight back earlier with this defense. If you are concerned about money being spent, you will cheer this dismissal. Consider it an investment, because those settlement letters are losing their effectiveness every time RIAA gets their crappy legal theories shot down. And that costs the people less money overall.

        Justice is not a waste of money, it's all of the passive settling that people did. They gave up a little money, collectively, to avoid being personally hit for a bunch of money. And basically, that's what you're complaining about - the taxpayers collectively giving up a little money so they don't get individually hit with this silly prosecution idea. Only this way, the prosecution's ideas get thrown out (yes, slowly) until they come up with something valid.

        Whether the RIAA will stop going after individuals is still being debated, but they at least made the announcement, meaning they know it's not effective, or it's not based on sound legal theory.

        • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:20PM (#26388553) Homepage Journal

          those settlement letters are losing their effectiveness every time RIAA gets their crappy legal theories shot down. And that costs the people less money overall. Justice is not a waste of money, it's all of the passive settling that people did. They gave up a little money, collectively, to avoid being personally hit for a bunch of money.

          Exactly. Every "settlement" payment was just adding fuel to the fire, encouraging them to go after other people. And every time someone refused to settle, they were helping to bring about an end of the madness.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I realize this will sound like the stereotypical slashdot corporations-are-evil attitude, but I think we need something slightly more complicated. Without going into details, the result should be:

        -If $giant_corporation sues $little_guy and wins, everyone pays their own legal bills
        -If $giant_corporation sues $little_guy and loses, $giant_corporation pays all the costs for the entire trial
        -If $little_guy sues $giant_corporation and wins, $giant_corporation pays $little_guy's legal fees, but not other
  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:10AM (#26385021)
    We can expect our good friends of the Righteous Inquisition Army of Autocrats to file more lawsuits and claim that their arguments were never rejected in court because they dismissed their counterclaim before the judge could smack it down. Business as usual for the scum of the earth, I guess. Hey remember when these guys used to SELL MUSIC?
    • by Darundal (891860) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:17AM (#26385089) Journal
      Actually, I doubt they will file any more lawsuits, considering they are trying to work with the ISPs (AKA shift the bad PR away from themselves) to "handle" downloaders.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by FireStormZ (1315639)

        And as they have their claws into Obama via Biden and not an RIAA lawyer appointed to the administration (Tom Perrelli for associate attorney general and David Ogden for deputy attorney general). To me hiring this man comes awful close to breaking a promise of not lobbyist in his administration..

        • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768 AT comcast DOT net> on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:28AM (#26385215) Journal
          Lawyers are not lobbyists. They MAY be the scum of the earth, but they are a hired hitter and often have no real opinion one way or another about a case except winning. In reality this is WHY they are as scummy as they are, they have scruples and no loyalties or moralities to anything unless it could ultimately hurt them like knowing a client is guilty through the clients own admission but hiding this fact.
          • by FireStormZ (1315639) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:33AM (#26385239)

            That's why I said this is *close* to breaking the promise nit that he did break the promise. Since about 2001 this guy has been on speed dial for a lobby group. I am unable to find anything he has done outside of the Recording industry for the past seven years. This, to me, is straining the spirit of that promise.. The guy decided to make his bones throwing for one industry while in public life (2001-2008) and lawyer or not that says something about his relationship to lobbyist..

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Obama is a politician.

              Politicians lie.

              QED Obama lies. I don't know why this comes as such a shock to you, but I know how you feel. I was duped by Clinton in 1992. Hopefully you've now learned, as I learned, not to trust either side of the Demo-Ruplicrat Duopoly. They lie to got votes, just the same as you and I would lie on our resume to get a job. "They are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps." - Thomas

          • by Locklin (1074657) on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:28AM (#26385937) Homepage

            Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it's also illegal in the U.S. for a lawyer to refuse a case based on their personal opinions one way or the other. Just because a lawyer made a case in court doesn't mean they actually believe their own rhetoric. Lobbyists, now that's another story.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            Lawyers are not lobbyists.

            A lobbyist is paid to proselytize all the time. A (retained) lawyer is paid to look out for your legal interests all the time. Given that the only court that really matters is that of public opinion, it is not really surprising that the two jobs have considerable overlap.

          • they have scruples and no loyalties or moralities to anything unless it could ultimately hurt them like knowing a client is guilty through the clients own admission but hiding this fact

            For general litigators, I agree with you completely. I vehemently disagree with you in many other areas. For example, most public defenders and private criminal defense attorneys are deeply loyal to the Constitution, protecting 4th and 5th Amendment rights, even in the face of potential guilt. It's not so much about the g

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:14AM (#26385737) Homepage Journal

      Hey remember when these guys used to SELL MUSIC?

      They never sold music, they sold records. The music was just a reason to get you to buy a black piece of plastic with grooves, or a silver piece of plastic with rainbows. If they were selling music to you, you would own the music and it would be yours to do with as you wished. As it was, you could do anything you wished with the plastic disk, but not the music it contained.

      The folks who publich sheet music for musicians to buy in music stores sell music.

      Now the majors are trying to rent music and call it a sale. All they are selling is a service, a download of bits. Whether or not there is DRM you have no rights to the music you "buy" from them. You are paying only for the download. IMO sixty nine cents for a download of bits you have no rights to is insane.

      The indies are far more honest and reasonable; they give the music away on websites and via P2P, using the music itself as a reason for you to buy other things (CDs, t-shirts, etc).

      • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:23AM (#26385885) Homepage Journal

        The indies are far more honest and reasonable; they give the music away on websites and via P2P, using the music itself as a reason for you to buy other things (CDs, t-shirts, etc).

        Indies also sell their music, and anyone who professes to hate the RIAA should be sure to buy music from indie performers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          anyone who professes to hate the RIAA should be sure to buy music from indie performers

          Well, other than saying they sell music (like I said, you don't won the music you "buy", only the medium or the act of downloading) I agree completely. Plus, the indies have the advantages of usually being less expensive, and the music on the media or the download you buy is usually higher quality (I'm referring to the quality of the music, not the quality of the recording, which is also often superior). RIAA fare is prod

        • by u-235-sentinel (594077) on Friday January 09, 2009 @11:52AM (#26387169) Homepage Journal

          I've been reading these stories for years and wanted to thank you for the good work you have all done.

          It's changed my perspective and my families purchasing habits with music. Everyone I speak with knows I don't purchase music when the RIAA will benefit from it.

          I go to sites such as secondspin.com, gametz.com or amazon.com marketplace and purchase second hand music if I must have that song. Also I've been using google to find independents to purchase directly online.

          The internet is a liberating tool. Another reason I'm hoping it becomes like public roads. Everyone should have it available and fast. This way we can punish organizations such as these guys by taking our money elsewhere.

          Over the last few years I've also switched my home computers to Ubuntu Linux (kicking Microsoft out) and replaced Concast Internet with a local provider. Similar reasons. I don't like their poor attitude and won't do business with them.

          This is the only way everyday people will get these companies attention. Perhaps they will figure it out. Then again, perhaps they will be the ones asking for a bail out as well.

          Thanks again and keep up the great work!

          • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:04PM (#26387333) Homepage Journal

            I've been reading these stories for years and wanted to thank you for the good work you have all done. It's changed my perspective and my families purchasing habits with music. Everyone I speak with knows I don't purchase music when the RIAA will benefit from it. I go to sites such as secondspin.com, gametz.com or amazon.com marketplace and purchase second hand music if I must have that song. Also I've been using google to find independents to purchase directly online. The internet is a liberating tool. Another reason I'm hoping it becomes like public roads. Everyone should have it available and fast. This way we can punish organizations such as these guys by taking our money elsewhere. Over the last few years I've also switched my home computers to Ubuntu Linux (kicking Microsoft out) and replaced Concast Internet with a local provider. Similar reasons. I don't like their poor attitude and won't do business with them. This is the only way everyday people will get these companies attention. Perhaps they will figure it out. Then again, perhaps they will be the ones asking for a bail out as well. Thanks again and keep up the great work!

            On behalf of the folks who have suffered so much from this long RIAA nightmare, thank YOU for being so conscientious about being sure not to do business with the bad guys. I keep a list [blogspot.com] of independent music sources for consumers such as yourself.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by timias1 (1063832)
          Listening to Indie performers also coveys the additional benefit of being able to smugly claim "I liked them before the went mainstream". The smugness benefit is the same benefit held by many products Slashdot fanboys love and worship.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BlueNoteMKVI (865618)

        The folks who publich sheet music for musicians to buy in music stores sell music.

        Sheet music for musicians actually falls under very similar copyright laws. If you go down to the retail sheet music store and buy a piece of sheet music, you are legally not allowed to photocopy that sheet music any more than you're legally allowed to copy a CD or downloaded MP3 or any other book for that matter. If your copy of the media (usually paper, more recently downloaded PDF files) is destroyed or rendered useless then you're generally SOL and must purchase it again, just like with CDs or paid M

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by secretcurse (1266724)
      The RIAA has never sold music. It is a trade group representing the huge labels. The RIAA has never done anything to help any artist anywhere.
    • by b4upoo (166390)

      One can only hope that those sued by the RIAA can recover large sums due to the nonsense nature of the suits. Breaking even is unfair to the victims of these creeps.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:13AM (#26385051) Journal

    The rejection of the making available argument appears to have stuck, but in dismissing the case does the law still recognize the summary judgment as a precedent for future cases?

  • Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:19AM (#26385113) Journal
    I'm guessing that by "gives up" TFA actually means "is allowed to leave without any consequences for filing a meritless suit". This seems rather like finding a thief in your house and having him give your stuff back and leave. I'd rather have my stuff back than not; but somehow justice seems underserved.
    • The fact that it was defeated doesn't imply that the original action was without merit. I, for one, was of the opinion that holding liable people who make copyrighted materials available is sensible. In many circumstances, they are, after all, just as party to causing damages to the copyright holder as the person/people who take advantage of the availability. Since copyright infringement is so notoriously difficult to pinpoint, it seems sensible to attack it from both ends.

      • "Sensible" really isn't good enough when you've pulled a legal theory out of your ass and started hitting people with it. If "making available" should be included in copyright law, then that change needs to be made. Until it is, though, it isn't law.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by jebrew (1101907)
        So to further the OP's analogy, the thief was in your home because you were at his video arcade playing the games he offers for free, but not buying any of the merch he sells...

        It really sounded less convoluted when I started this post.

      • Re:Hmm. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday January 09, 2009 @11:21AM (#26386711) Journal

        I agree with you, but until such time as I can buy a Britney Spears CD or a Speedracer DVD, try them, determine they are trash, and return them for either a refund or store credit, then I will continue to pirate. I am sick-and-tired of wasting my money buying Hollywood trash.

        Any other industry, even the food industry, guarantees satisfaction or your money back. There's no reason for the entertainment industry to be any different. I consider refusal to provide refunds/credits to be as bad as corporate theft.

      • I, for one, was of the opinion that holding liable people who make copyrighted materials available is sensible.

        Even if nobody takes advantage of the availability?

        In many circumstances, they are, after all, just as party to causing damages to the copyright holder as the person/people who take advantage of the availability.

        If someone DOES download them, it's the person who distributed them who IS liable. The "making available" theory isn't saying "the distributor is liable"... that's true regardless. The "mak

      • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Artifakt (700173) on Friday January 09, 2009 @11:51AM (#26387143)

        In many cases, a woman (or man) standing on a corner at midnight dressed in hot pants, bikini top and spiked heels, is soliciting for prostitution, but to make an arrest stick, she (or he) still has to actually ask for money. We make cops go through the action of bringing up price and getting an answer, to avoid basing an arrest merely on whether that same cop thinks someone is dressed too provocatively.
              Copyright infringement may be every bit as difficult to pinpoint as you say, but it's equally difficult to say just where to draw the line if we start drawing it somewhere in the largish space of 'making available'. Just like Barney Fife may honestly think that woman standing on the curb, trying to hail a cab, in the same outfit she went clubbing in, is a hooker, the RIAA may honestly think (or claim to think) that having a torrent program at all is over where the line should be drawn.
                In debating just where to draw the legal line, it should always be remembered, some lines have practical problems when it comes to actually testing them, some are based on simple principles, and some require very intricate interpretations of those principles. Good laws are usually, if not always, ones where the lines are simple enough to apply in many cases, clear cut enough to repeatedly give the same verdicts when the same circumstances apply, and based on principles that can be explained to the general public's satisfaction.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zappepcs (820751)

      Judge Roy Bean would say the thief 'gave back your stuff' as it fell from his hands shortly after his heart stopped working.

      Isn't there some room for a counter suit based on harassment of a frivolous litigation? Trained and experienced lawyers 'should' know better than to initiate frivolous litigation. Isn't that an act that can be penalized? [cbsnews.com]

      I certainly hope that there is a punishment dished out to the RIAA legal team. It might put a lot of this to rest quickly, and subdue any plans to have ISPs start boll

  • Is it just me... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ender_Stonebender (60900) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:25AM (#26385171) Homepage Journal

    ...or is it looking more and more like the RIAA has realized that downloading really isn't hurting them, and they don't want the embarrassment of admitting it publicly, so they're just slowly backing off from their "Piracy is da debil!" stance and hoping that we won't notice?

    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:09AM (#26385671) Homepage Journal

      It's just you. The RIAA hasn't realized anything of the nature, whether true or not. What the RIAA has> realized is that the lawsuits are ineffective (duh, big surprise, dumbasses) and that there are less costly and probably more effective ways of dealing with copyright infringement, such as pushing the responsibility over to the ISPs.

      As I've said before, I think the RIAA has discovered a way to either force or at least entice ISPs to do their bidding.

      I'm not in the loop on this, but here's the entirety of what I think

      1) P2P has, most recently and very publicly, become a headache for high speed Internet providers. P2P traffic taxes their infrastructure, so they make moves to block or at least limit it, including everything from additional charges through routing changes, to downright packet manipulation.

      2) RIAA has a different reason for disliking P2P. But they see that the ISPs have a common enemy here: P2P.

      3) The only remaining question is -- where to go from here? P2P is prevalent enough and has enough legitimate uses that the ISPs don't want to outright cancel customers, but they also don't want customers taxing their infrastructure to the max.

      How do RIAA and the ISPs team up in this regard? It's a good question. I think we're seeing the beginning of the end of network neutrality.

      • Re:Is it just me... (Score:5, Informative)

        by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:19AM (#26385813) Homepage Journal

        What the RIAA has realized is that the lawsuits are ineffective (duh, big surprise, dumbasses)

        Digital music guy Steve Meyer just came out with a good article [blogspot.com] on that subject.

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        One important issue though is that a lot of people purchase the higher tiered internet plans specifically for P2P (or if not P2P, other equally bandwidth heavy activities). If you're just browsing the web and looking at email you just don't need high bandwidth, or the higher costs associated with it.

        I know that I personally would transition to a much cheaper tier of service if Bitorrent weren't available to me.

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Friday January 09, 2009 @11:15AM (#26386599) Journal

        P2P has, most recently and very publicly, become a headache for high speed Internet providers. P2P traffic taxes their infrastructure, so they make moves to block or at least limit it, including everything from additional charges through routing changes, to downright packet manipulation.

        Yeah, P2P has become a headache for ISPs but how much of that headache is caused on music vs video? I could download/upload 60 mp3s and probably not have the same impact on my ISP as the neighbor downloading last nights American Idol......

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      It's just you.

      Btw, still sunny on Happyland? Are the unicorns as cute as always?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Captain Hook (923766)
      more like the RIAA has realized that trying to stuff cats into a bag like they are trying to do prosecuting individual uploaders is not effective method of getting people to buy more stuff.
  • by Proteus (1926) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:26AM (#26385187) Homepage Journal

    Anyone who paid attention and had even a hobbyist's legal training could see that the goal of the RIAA lawsuit in question was primarily intimidation.

    Transmitting copyright material without authorization (or without a solid fair use claim) is illegal, and I don't begrudge copyright-holders their ability to do so. But simply advertising that you might have some information someone might want? This gets far into the realm of Orwellian and rightly doesn't have any legal teeth.

    My bet is that the RIAA is quietly formulating ideas about how to push for legislation that will allow them to draw and quarter... *ahem* litigate against individuals who imply that they might have some copyright content available. Hopefully those of us who get the silliness can educate Congress and keep that from happening.

    The system does, kinda-sorta, work. ;-)

    • by castironpigeon (1056188) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:48AM (#26385399)
      The system only works for those who can pay to play.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by secretcurse (1266724)
        Well, our forefathers rather intended that. Weren't they the ones that said only white males who were landowners could vote? Didn't they come up with the brilliant proposition that a slave counted officially as 3/5 of a person? If it's working for those who can pay to play, it's working pretty damned well.
        • You say that as if the U.S. Founders were all in agreement, but that was not the case. The Northerners wanted to count slaves as whole people, whereas the Southerners refused to acknowledge blacks as being human. Therefore a compromise was reached to preserve the Union, rather than have a Civil War in 1790. I think it's an elegant solution to a very sticky problem. Sometimes in order to get things done, you need to "push back" your beliefs and leave the question to be resolved by your children or grandc

          • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:10PM (#26387421) Homepage

            The Northerners wanted to count slaves as whole people, whereas the Southerners refused to acknowledge blacks as being human.

            No, it was the other way around. Remember, the fight in the 3/5 Compromise wasn't about freeing or enfranchising them, it was about allocating seats in the House of Representatives. If slaves were not counted, the South would have a low population, and be dominated by the North in the House. If counted fully, the South would have a huge population, and dominate the North in the House. Each side preferred to not be dominated, thus the North was against counting them, and the South for. As with the composition of the legislative branch, a compromise between the two sides was reached. Even so, the South wound up being very powerful prior to the Civil War, thanks to this.

    • by cliffski (65094)

      simply advertising that you might have some information someone might want?

      So I can run a website saying I am making heroin, illegal firearms and small children available for purchase, and that's fine right up until the money changes hands?
      Is that how US law works?
      I would have thought that conspiracy to commit a crime was punishable too no?

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        So I can run a website saying I am making heroin, illegal firearms and small children available for purchase, and that's fine right up until the money changes hands?
        Is that how US law works?
        I would have thought that conspiracy to commit a crime was punishable too no?

        Depends. Are you actually making heroin, illegal firearms, or selling small children? Those are the crimes. Putting up a webpage saying your doing them isn't. Until those activities are verified, it could be a joke, or you could be just lying for publicity. Lookup "bonzai kitty" if you need a real work example of this happening.

        So basically, advertising something is not worth anything unless they prove that you were able and willing to carry out your advertised service.

      • by Proteus (1926) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:31PM (#26387725) Homepage Journal

        So I can run a website saying I am making heroin, illegal firearms and small children available for purchase, and that's fine right up until the money changes hands?

        I'm not an attorney, but I do have some legal experience. Let me show you the imperfections in your analogy. (Note, none of this is legal advice; if you need that, hire a real lawyer).

        Announcing on a website that "hey, I'm making heroin, I'll be selling it later" is not, of itself illegal. It's quite possibly probable cause for investigation, perhaps even a search warrant. If you actually were making heroin, you'll be charged with a crime. If you actually were planning to sell heroin, you'll be charged with a crime. If you did neither of those things, you'll end up with some hassle, but you've done nothing wrong.

        Pay special attention to the "crime" portion of that explanation -- under most circumstances, copyright infringement is not a crime (see this article [stason.org] for an explanation) -- it's a civil matter.

        My saying "hey, I have a Beatles CD that you could make a copy of" is legal. Making the copy is almost always legal. Actually giving the copy to someone is probably illegal, but not a crime -- if I'm Apple Records, I can file suit to get you to stop, and maybe I can even collect some damages.

        Now, if you start selling the copy, now you might be in crime territory. If you sell enough copies, it could even be a felony. But simply announcing that you have them for sale isn't illegal, it's actually selling or attempting to sell (making a general offer like "I have some copied music I might be willing to sell" usually isn't enough, but making a specific offer like "give me $0.99 for this song copy" is probably enough to qualify as "selling").

        US law is a murky, murky world; this is why lawyers are rich -- more money is made from advising people on how to interpret all the twisty little packages than is made on filing and defending lawsuits.

    • The entertainment industry was an extremely enthusiastic and early backer of Barack Obama. When he needed large masses of money to make abandoning the finance system smart, they were ponying up millions for him, in a single night, so he didn't have to do multiple big fundraisers. The Democratic Party has been a heavy recipient of financial support from them. Unions supplied the GOTV manpower for the party, even if Senator Obama built his own network as well, and the entertainment industry, trial lawyers,

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      If you want that new ACDC album, just plug your radio into your PC and sample. It's easier than an "illegal" downoad, free, and legal. The RIAA isn't afraid you'll hear or download the new ACDC album, they're afraid you'll download an indie tune that you WON'T hear on the radio, like it, and buy the indie tune instead of the ACDC album.

      "Piracy" doesn't cost the RIAA any sales, studies show that "pirates" spend more money on music than non-pirates. However, competetion DOES cost them sales. If I spend fiftee

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Proteus (1926)

        The "Piracy" argument is misdirection. Thet's not what they're really worried about.

        Partly, but it's way more complex than that.

        There are three basic things that the media industries, as represented by MPAA and RIAA, care about when it comes to copyright infringement:

        1. lost sales. Whether or not it's true doesn't really enter into it. Leadership of these organizations and their largest members truly believe that if all infringement could be stopped, people would have to buy their music. They don't understand
  • by Boetsj (1247700) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:33AM (#26385237)
    Is there any way the RIAA can now be held accountable for the costs incurred by the legal system for reviewing the this nonsense?
    • by tsstahl (812393)
      Mod parent up.

      Brennan should most certainly go for that prevailing party status to get legal expenses reimbursed.
    • Well.

      We could exercise our Second Amendment right to remove the CEO as a "tyrant" that abuses the People. The only reason I hesitate to do that is because RIAA is now backing down, so the tyrant appears to be capitulating (perhaps because he fears for his life).

  • So that's it? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:38AM (#26385297)

    The RIAA hogs the civil justice system for racketeering and ruining people's lives and simply gets to walk away unscathed when they smell a loss?

  • Is there any way for people who settled or were prosecuted with similar arguments to have a new case or see their deal reviewed in the legal system? With all the cases going on about what the real costs of each file is worth and that making available is not enough, it would be nice to see all those people bilked for money get something back. However I would assume that's unlikely since those deals/cases are all closed.
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:42AM (#26385345) Homepage

    Attorney's fees?

    Because if I'm not totally mistaken, the standard RIAA tactic on them is:
    1. Argue against any counterclaims for attorney's fees on the basis that those can always be handled after the case has been decided and is thus redundant.
    2. If they're going to lose (and thus be subject to an attorney's fees hearing), withdraw the case so that no attorney's fees decision gets in front of a judge.

    The obvious risk here is that attorney's fees are essential to deterring the "pay up or I'll cost you even more in legal fees" tactic.

    • File another lawsuit (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RulerOf (975607)
      I would assume that the only recourse in that event is to file another lawsuit. Of course, since it's a separate case, any lawyer who takes it will want a third of any settlement or judgment, which means you'd have to seek damages in excess of 150% of your original attorney's fees.

      If that happens, the ironic thing is that you could clearly argue Brennan's activities never actually resulted in monetary loss to Atlantic... but their witch hunt lawsuit sure as hell did.
  • by MeNotU (1362683) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:45AM (#26385369)
    Sounds fair to me... That lawsuit could have been affecting at least 720 people!
    • by johannesg (664142)

      Sounds fair to me... That lawsuit could have been affecting at least 720 people!

      I know where you're coming from, but you also have a serious point there: since their goal is to scare as many people as possible into not copying music, I'd say that it is affecting far more people than that.

  • Yay! Nice to see this guy managed to beat the RIAA and avoid having to pay thousands of dollars to make a bogus accusation go away.

    Oh. Right. Lawyer's fees.
  • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:52AM (#26385449) Homepage

    Or should they have to repay everybody for all the time and money they've wasted.

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:53AM (#26385451)

    Being accused amounts to a punishment as it requires a HUGE expenditure to defend yourself.

  • I think the issue now is whether the RIAA can dismiss the case at this point without prejudice. If they can, that will allow them to get out of paying the other party's legal fees but allow them to refile the case in the future. If they cannot, they can be held responsible for the legal fees and cannot refile.

    So what I want to know it, what is the point where the judges say "Put up or shut up"? I know in the Oklahoma case (don't have the particulars on hand), the RIAA was forced to accept a dismissal with p

    • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:17AM (#26385765) Homepage Journal

      I think the issue now is whether the RIAA can dismiss the case at this point without prejudice.

      Under the Federal Rules, a second voluntary dismissal operates as an adjudication on the merits. This is the second case against Mr. Brennan, the first being the case in which they sued him as a John Doe, obtained a subpoena, learned his name and address, and then dismissed. So it would appear to me that this is 'with prejudice' even though they have labeled it 'without prejudice'. In any event, I don't think they're going to mess with Judge Janet Bond Atherton again, any time soon.

  • The RIAA has being going about this all wrong. I don't think there's so much a case of "making available" being direct grounds for copyright infringement as much as there is a case that making something available would forego any possible claims that it was for personal use only (because really, how can you argue that it was for personal use if you deliberately make it available to others?). I would think that it would even factor into whether or not fair use is applicable as well. This, in turn, _could_
  • that they are liable for the defendant's court costs? I should certainly hope so!
  • Heh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sloppy (14984)

    Give me a default judgment. The evidence is overwhelmingly in my favor, so having a trial is a waste of time.

    No, really, give me a default judgment. The evidence is overwhelmingly in my favor, so having a trial is a waste of time.

    Oh, we're going to have a trial? Well, then I have no chance. I give up.

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