Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government News Your Rights Online

RIAA Threatens Harvard Law Prof With Sanctions 333

Posted by timothy
from the those-lucky-artists-sure-have-a-zealous-benefactor dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Unhappy with Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson's motion to compel the deposition of the RIAA's head 'Enforcer', Matthew J. Oppenheim, in SONY BMG Music v. Tenenbaum, the RIAA threatened the good professor with sanctions (PDF) if he declined to withdraw his motion. Then the next day they filed papers opposing the motion, and indeed asked the Court to award monetary sanctions under Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

RIAA Threatens Harvard Law Prof With Sanctions

Comments Filter:
  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:22AM (#26572937)

    From the first link: 'Mr. Oppenheim is the person who has been identified by the RIAA lawyers sometimes as the "client", sometimes as the "industry representative", and sometimes as the "client representative", and on at least one occasion as "the only person who had settlement authority" for the RIAA members. He claims to be associated with an entity called "The Oppenheim Group", and has acted as attorney of record for the record companies in several proceedings in Washington, D.C.'

    So, if he represents the interests of the artists, (ahem), why is he - or his legal team, taking such extraordinary steps to avoid testifying?

    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:35AM (#26573027) Homepage Journal

      He's a suit. 'nuff said.

    • by meist3r (1061628) on Friday January 23, 2009 @08:05AM (#26573243)
      You mean THIS guy:

      "was the Senior Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs for the RIAA."
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Oppenheim [wikipedia.org]

      "Mr. Oppenheim then became active as one of the lead litigators representing the record industry in the landmark "file-sharing" cases against peer-to-peer networks, including against Napster, Aimster, AudioGalaxy, Morpheus, Grokster and Kazaa."
      http://www.spoke.com/info/p6QsSD8/MatthewOppenheim [spoke.com]

      "It is not legal, ethical or cool to copy somebody else's CD for your own use."
      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/forum/june03/copyright2.html [pbs.org]

      See, he doesn't even agree with himself. What the RIAA does is not legal, ethical or cool since they copy the artists CDs for their own use. Bad Bad RIAA ;)
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday January 23, 2009 @08:34AM (#26573533) Homepage Journal

        "It is not legal, ethical or cool to copy somebody else's CD for your own use."

        Oh, come on. It is kind of cool.

        You know it is.

        And even cooler is copying DVDs. You can have like thousands of movies in perfect quality, and the best part is that Mr. Oppenheim (if that is his real name) and his Rothchild/Bavarian Illuminati/Reptilian/Council on Foreign Relations/Banking Cartel buddies don't get a single red cent.

        And the fun with Blue-Ray is just starting.

        Now that's really cool.

        Seriously, who's doing the RIAA's public relations?

        • by sukotto (122876) on Friday January 23, 2009 @09:55AM (#26574433)

          Even cooler is that you:
          - don't have to worry about your kid scratching the DVD and making it unplayable
          - can easily skip the fscking "no skip" crap that every DVD seems to have
          - can FIND the movie when you want to watch it

          In almost every way, the ripped copy of the DVD is better than the physical disc

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday January 23, 2009 @08:25AM (#26573445) Homepage Journal

      why is he - or his legal team, taking such extraordinary steps to avoid testifying?

      Because he's so morbidly overweight that he's no longer able to leave his bed. That and the bad hair plugs keep him from going out in public. Oh, and he's got one of those crazy eyes where you can't tell where he's looking and he knows everybody on the internet will put his testimony on YouTube and laugh at him and leave mean comments. He's really a very sensitive soul and if you met him you'd like him, except for the horrible odor that comes from his unwillingness to bathe due to his persistent aquaphobia.

      That, and if he showed his face he'd be in more danger than Barack Obama at a Klan meeting.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday January 23, 2009 @10:06AM (#26574553) Homepage

      why is he - or his legal team, taking such extraordinary steps to avoid testifying?

      Uh... because (they say) that he wasn't actually subpoenead to testify, and so being "compelled" is Bad Juju. (They claim) Profession Nesson actually subpoenead someone other mysterious 3rd party, who is resident in Maryland and so can't be subpoenad to a Massachusetts District court anyway.

      Now, maybe they're lying, but that would be pushing it even for the RIAA. It almost sounds as though they created some Fake Oppenheim, let Nesson serve him, and now they bitch-slap him for claiming that he served the Real Oppenheim.

      So I guess those would be extraordinary steps too, but at least the reason for taking them is obvious: it'd be damn funny if that's what they've done. Evil Robot RIAA Doubles. It's all true.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday January 23, 2009 @10:55AM (#26575153) Homepage Journal

      So, if he represents the interests of the artists

      He doesn't. Nobody represents the artists, who get screwed over badly. The artist doen't even hold copyright to his own recorded performances, the label does.

      If you want to know just how badly the RIAA labels screw over their artists, read any treatise by any RIAA musician (except Mad Donna or the dufus drummer from Metallica). There are good ones by Courtney Love and Steve Albini that will make you feel REAL sorry for the fools who sign with major labels.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Chabo (880571)
        ... did... did you just call Courtney Love a good musician?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jamstar7 (694492)
          No, he said Courtney's rant about her contract is a good one.

          Personally, since Courtney got sober, I'm waiting for her to finish detoxing so we can see just what kind of artist she really is. Should only take a couple more years...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:27AM (#26572967)

    It's not about the law. It's about money! Stop interfering with our money-making!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2009 @09:13AM (#26573935)

      going one step up, er... down, money is about control.

      That explains why RIAA heads seem not to care if their actions get them hated or boycotted. Their battle is making people accept Intellectual Property being enforced. Is it a primary objective or just a way to terrorize people and prevent them for doing other things, like, you know, looking at what other powerful people do to society, dunno.

      Those who collected enough power to be able to influence how much money is printed have no interest in having more or less money. They want money to have maximum control over as much people as possible. This effort shaped the history of the latest centuries, somebody call it conspiracy, i call it a natural outcome of control freaks interacting with other people.

      • Dripping with Bias (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Friday January 23, 2009 @10:12AM (#26574627) Journal

        Their battle is to enforce (a certain subsection of) the law until it doesn't need to be enforced. Just like any honest law enforcement agency you care to name. That's no conspiracy; anyone in a functioning democracy can read up about their responsibilities regarding IP.

        However, just like most dishonest law enforcement agencies, they are not above threatening people who aren't doing anything wrong.

        There really isn't much more to read into it than that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Just Some Guy (3352)

        Their battle is making people accept Intellectual Property being enforced.

        Umm, I'm all for certain types of IP being enforced (Copyright: good. Trademark: good. Software patents: terrible). You can be OK with copyright and still find their actions despicable.

      • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:23PM (#26576811) Homepage Journal

        Their battle is making people accept Intellectual Property being enforced.

        If only. That's what their battle should have been. When they got super-sloppy with their investigative techniques and started suing innocent people, the battle changed. Nobody needs berserkers who don't even know who their enemies are. I bet if RIAA had stuck to suing copyright infringers, none of us would have ever heard of NewYorkCountryLawyer. Nobody would give a damn about RIAA and we would have moved on to fighting the much more evil and freedom-threatening MPAA.

        • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:44PM (#26577215) Homepage Journal

          I bet if RIAA had stuck to suing copyright infringers, none of us would have ever heard of NewYorkCountryLawyer.

          May well be so. I only came into the fight because of my hatred of bullies, and because these bullies were so obviously wrong on the law, wrong on the facts, and immoral and unprofessional in their behavior.

          You might have otherwise heard of my alter ego, Ray what's-his-name, in other contexts, but probably not in this context.

          I only first discovered Slashdot when one of my litigation documents in Elektra v. Santangelo got 'Slashdotted' one day in the Summer of 2005. I traced the backlink to this place I'd never heard of, where an intelligent Talmudic discussion was going on, among a bunch of people who seemed kind of like lawyers, but who clearly were not lawyers, but who seemed smarter than lawyers. It looked like an ordinary message board, but it obviously was a whole 'nother thing.

          Things haven't been quite the same since.

          1. Spend a lot of time on Slashdot.
          2. Get the word out.
          3. Have a lot of fun.
          4. ???
          5. No profit whatsoever (in the financial sense).

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:28AM (#26572975)

    "Stop this (perfectly legal thing) or our teams of lawyers will fuck up your life" seems to be the new iteration of having thugs beat up a family member or sending pictures of your kids playing outside.
    The intent is merely to scare people.

  • Your Honor (Score:5, Funny)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:36AM (#26573041)
    Your Honor, we would like you to impose sanction against him. He's not supposed to fight back. Please punish him for fighting back. Our strategy doesn't work when intelligent lawyers fight back. This must be put to an end right now.

    Pathetic RIAA.
    • Re:Your Honor (Score:5, Informative)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday January 23, 2009 @08:49AM (#26573693) Homepage Journal

      Well, the court can't impose sanctions under Rule 37 for fighting back.

      Rule 37 says the court can impose sanction, basically, if someone refuses or fails to appear, respond, answer etc. when so ordered by the court:

      (A) Motion; Grounds for Sanctions. The court where the action is pending may, on motion, order sanctions if:

      (i) a party or a party's officer, director, or managing agent â" or a person designated under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a)(4) â" fails, after being served with proper notice, to appear for that person's deposition; or

      (ii) a party, after being properly served with interrogatories under Rule 33 or a request for inspection under Rule 34, fails to serve its answers, objections, or written response.

      (B) Certification. A motion for sanctions for failing to answer or respond must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the party failing to act in an effort to obtain the answer or response without court action.

    • Re:Your Honor (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday January 23, 2009 @10:59AM (#26575217) Homepage Journal

      Your Honor, we would like you to impose sanction against him. He's not supposed to fight back. Please punish him for fighting back. Our strategy doesn't work when intelligent lawyers fight back. This must be put to an end right now.

      Pathetic RIAA.

      whisper_jeff, you really hit it on the head. I see you've already been modded to +5 Funny. I wish you could be modded to +10 Funny AND Accurate.

  • by jbssm (961115) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:37AM (#26573055)
    This is what capitalism is all about right?
    You have money SO, you can hire good lawyers SO, you can prolong the process making the necessary appeals to higher courts for a long long time ... SO you bankrupt the other party SO, you win.

    Nothing new to see here, move along.

    • by mustafap (452510)
      >This is what capitalism is all about right?
      >You have money SO, you can hire good lawyers SO, you can prolong the process making the necessary appeals to higher courts for a long long time ... SO you bankrupt the other party SO, you win.

      That's not capitalism, that poker
    • by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Friday January 23, 2009 @08:24AM (#26573439) Homepage
      Not really. The RIAA is a perfect example of a cartel and what it can do. There's a reason they are usually illegal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hatta (162192)

      If they sanction this guy under Rule 37, we should sanction the RIAA under Rule 34.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tmosley (996283)
      It's ABSOLUTELY NOT capitalism. The US doesn't have a capitalist system, it has a corporatist system. Corporations are in bed with the politicians, and what they spawn together takes away our freedoms, both personal and economical.

      Another name for such a system is fascism. It's not pretty, as we have seen all too often.
  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:37AM (#26573057)
    The PDF reminds me of something I have seen before with bad lawyers: the worse the case, the longer and more threatening the language. The RIAA seem to have spotted a new idea: if you want to be e.g. a bank robber or a burglar, become a lawyer. Then when you get caught, you can try to avoid testifying on the grounds of legal privilege.

    On the other hand, when you have a strong case things are different. I'm reminded of a business acquaintance who had a case against a powerful US trade group some years ago. His lawyers said the case was unanswerable, spent a morning summarising it on one side of a letter, and sent it off. The other side promptly settled out of court. The other famous example was the UK satirical magazine Private Eye, which once received a long and very threatening letter from the lawyers of a notorious fraudster. Their reply was something on the lines of "We have had your interesting letter and we have taken legal advice. Our lawyers advise us to tell you to f**k off".

    Given this history, the one liner back (in effect "bring it on") is surely instructive.

    • by plover (150551) *

      The RIAA seem to have spotted a new idea: if you want to be e.g. a bank robber or a burglar, become a lawyer.

      That's not exactly a new idea!

      • by TimSSG (1068536)

        A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more money than hundred men with guns

        Unknown author. Tim S

    • by butlerdi (705651)
      That was indeed a memorable moment and one I would like to see repeated often.
    • by Tryfen (216209) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:58AM (#26573199) Homepage

      The case to which you are referring is Arkell vs Pressdram.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkell_vs_Pressdram#Litigation [wikipedia.org]

      The salient point is that Arkell's lawyers wrote to Private Eye saying "Our client's attitude to damages will depend on the nature of your reply". Private Eye's response was "We would be interested to know what your client's attitude to damages would be if the nature of our reply were as follows: Fuck off".

      I recommend that people take this option more often. I *am* a lawyer - this is legal advice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ebuck (585470)

        The real beauty of the letter is that Private Eye didn't tell them to fuck off, they just asked for information. The information they asked for made it abundantly clear the intent but didn't voice the intent or bind them to any course of action.

        I'm not a lawyer, but I appreciate a well crafted argument. This one speaks volumes without actually saying anything.

    • One reason I love somethingawful. I wonder if the examples they publish are their normal reaction but they do seem to get a lot of threats along the lines of "People are making fun of us....on the internet...make them stop or else!" and their responses always crack me up.

  • by meist3r (1061628) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:39AM (#26573069)
    First they get the live online-coverage of one of these processes postponed. Now they try to legally blackmail the defense lawyer. What's next?

    "That's an awfully nice courtroom you have here, your honor. Wouldn't it be terrible if something happened to it?"

    Jeez, I hate these guys.
  • by l2718 (514756) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:46AM (#26573111)
    If I sue you, I can't hide my claims against you on the theory that my thoughts about these claims are part of my legal representation. This is the case even if I'm a lawyer. The RIAA is trying to do just that by employing a lawyer intermediary between the RIAA itself and the legal team representing them: First, the RIAA generates "evidence". Then the RIAA gives the evidence to the intermediary lawyer, and also charges him with making all the decisions for the corporation. Finally, the intermediary becomes the "client" for the actual legal team. This way the real client is shielded from discovery: all their contributions to the lawsuit were done through their "client-attorney" relationship with the intermediary. It's a thing of beauty, but I suspect it's not legal.
    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:51AM (#26573145)

      It's a thing of beauty, but I suspect it's not legal.

      As always.

      Wait, this isn't the britsh pedophiles topic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I am a lawyer - and therefore not technically (heh) or morally inclined to post other than anonymously. But what Oppenheimer is doing is using the attorney-client privilege to create a legal "black hole" whereby some substantive operations of the company (the RIAA) that businessmen commonly have control over are instead controlled by the lawyer, creating a situation where documents that would otherwise not be privileged magically are. Most companies would rather pay someone in lower management a lesser sala

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AK Marc (707885)
        But what Oppenheimer is doing is using the attorney-client privilege to create a legal "black hole" whereby some substantive operations of the company (the RIAA) that businessmen commonly have control over are instead controlled by the lawyer, creating a situation where documents that would otherwise not be privileged magically are.

        Privilege extends to legal work alone. If someone happens to be a properly licensed attorney and you hire them to be your accountant, they can still be called on in court to t
  • If not, we need it to tag this story on riaa's behalf.
  • From: Charles Nesson

    the motion stands
    we welcome your opposition

    -=-=-=-

    He's become my new personal hero.

  • Their most powerful weapon was intimidation. It isn't working anymore. Time to pull down their pants and give them what they so richly deserve. Something with thorns and sharp edges would be appropriate.

  • What is Rule 37? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'd be thankful if NYCL, or another /. regular legal eagle, would explain Rule 37 in normal English, or if possible in engineering English.

    I tried reading the rule myself, and it was so chock full of legal terms that I fear I summoned a succubus.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      From the pdf, it sounds like rule 37 is saying "You haven't asked us nicely for this information outside of court first and you should"

  • What a bunch of Legal Mumbo Jumbo. It seems like this is all now a gigantic chess game, and we are at least 4 or 5 levels of stupidity removed from anything vaguely resembling anything like justice or serving the purpose of a legal system necessary for society.

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Friday January 23, 2009 @09:24AM (#26574051)

    Most people are still not understanding what this means, its implications, and its likelihood for success.

    It's important to translate things out of legalese and analyze it in the context of the proceedings.

    Slashdot is a tech site, not a legal one, so while the general community can see "aha", "touche'", and "gotcha" moments in, say, the realm of computer science or electrical engineering, we don't see it in legal context without some actual analysis. Feel free to qualify things with "this is my opinion" or whatever, but analysis and translation is essential.

  • Wasting resources (Score:5, Insightful)

    by immakiku (777365) on Friday January 23, 2009 @09:39AM (#26574243)
    RIAA's lawyers actually wrote this in the threat: "Defendent's repeated failures to follow basic rules of procedure is making this case far more expensive and time consuming than it should be." hmm... I'd almost say something like, Plaintiff's repeated contortions of basic rules of procedure is making multiple cases far more expensive and time consuming than it should be.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2009 @10:28AM (#26574831)

    Nesson loves this stuff. He represented Ellsberg (the guy that stole and released the pentagon papers) against the us government. In classes he loves telling stories of how he stood against government intimidation to protect Ellsberg's location (e.g., being followed everywhere, never using phones in his home or office, taking elaborate trips arranged through fantastic means to have in person meetings away from the watching eyes of the us government). The government was breaking law after law to find Ellsberg and put him away, but Nesson managed to hide him long enough to prepare for defense and turned the government's own illegal actions back at them to get the case thrown out.

    This is just the type of action the RIAA can be sure will get Nesson even more excited about this stuff. He'll just wear it a badge of honor.

  • Full Story? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday January 23, 2009 @10:44AM (#26575025)

    What's the full story behind this? I'm only getting the RIAA's story. It appears that Professor Nesson wanted to depose Mr. Oppenheim on January 22. But sometime after January 9, the RIAA objected citing attorney-client privilege, the depositions were to be held in Massachusetts and not Maryland, there was no fee, there was no confer and meet, etc. Then Professor Nesson filed a motion to compel. I didn't read that he answered their objections. The RIAA then filed for monetary sanctions.

    I am not a lawyer but dispositions and motions to compel seem to be fairly commonplace in lawsuits like these. The RIAA seems to have valid points on not allowing Mr. Oppenheim. Filing for monetary sanctions however is really overboard though.

    • Re:Full Story? (Score:4, Informative)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday January 23, 2009 @11:39AM (#26575881) Homepage Journal
      Mr. Oppenheim is a shadowy figure, who changes his stripes according to what he thinks the judge wants to hear. I.e., he will say whatever is most advantageous for him to say. He has claimed at various times to be:

      -the client
      -the client representative
      -the industry representative
      -the principal
      -the only person in the world who has settlement authority
      -the attorney

      It is clearly true that he was the person who has controlled these cases, and who had complete authority to settle the cases. He is the enforcer of whatever unholy agreement these 4 supposed competitiors made among themselves, and he is instrumental in whatever trickery was developed to ensure that only the Big 4 -- and no other RIAA members -- were permitted to participate in this litigation war. He is the enforcer.

      He is clearly an appropriate person to be deposed.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

Working...