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FSF Files Amicus Brief In RIAA Case 73

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the can't-believe-the-riaa-still-thinks-this-is-a-wise-course-of-action dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The Free Software Foundation has requested permission to file an amicus curiae brief in an RIAA case, SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, defending the defendant's Due Process defense to the RIAA's claim for statutory damages. In the brief [PDF], FSF cites some of the leading authorities for the defense, including the 2003 decision of the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Parker v. Time Warner, which held that excessive statutory damages are subject to the same due process test applicable to punitive damage awards by juries. Additionally, the brief cites three district court decisions, including UMG v. Lindor, and two law review articles — all of which deal specifically with Copyright Act statutory damages applicable to infringement of an MP3 file — to like effect."
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FSF Files Amicus Brief In RIAA Case

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  • by Mrs. Grundy (680212) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:11PM (#27275313) Homepage

    I understand slashdot's obsession with the RI...really I do. But, don't you think stories like this that aren't really even news are getting a little too much attention? There is no decision, no new case, no new theory--not even the filing of an amicus curiae brief, just a petition to file an amicus curiae brief. Next we'll be hearing what the lawyers are eating for lunch.

    • There is always a motion for leave to file amicus brief filed with the amicus brief. The amicus brief itself is attached. That is the only filing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by conureman (748753)

      This *stuff* lives and dies by the minutiae. Good to see that the court gets plenty o'reasons to look at the precedents. Could save some fees.

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:42PM (#27275531)
      I do not understand why you think this "isn't news". It is, in fact, very encouraging good news: an important new fact regarding a case that is important and very relevant to today.

      The outcome of this case affects, indirectly, whole industries surrounding recorded music and video, and the software industry as well. Being a software engineer, I, for one, am VERY interested in any news surrounding this case.

      I will admit that this does not reflect a new decision, or other outcome. But that doesn't mean that it's "not news".
    • don't you think stories like this that aren't really even news are getting a little too much attention?

      No I don't! The RIAA and MPAA are trying their mightiest to bring down the free exchange of ideas, knowledge, and data that we enjoy over the Internet as well as (with the help of Microsoft and Apple lackeys) control what you can and cannot do on your own personal computer. If you think this is some far off battle on some arcane legal minutiae that will never touch your own life, you are so wrong that t

      • "with the help of Microsoft and Apple lackeys"

        That isn't entirely on topic... But you surely are missing the big picture here, and ignoring the reality of who is using who.

        Just to be short, Microsoft and Apple have everything to gain here, while RIAA people are a bunch of fools.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by FatdogHaiku (978357)

      Next we'll be hearing what the lawyers are eating for lunch.

      No need to report that, it's still the little people...

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      Next we'll be hearing what the lawyers are eating for lunch.

      This just in: lawyers eating children for lunch.

    • I'm sure it'll be on their twitter pages
  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:30PM (#27275429) Homepage

    ...will there be an end to these suits which were claimed to have been stopped long ago or...

    Will I be able to cause all of their heads to explode using the powers of my mind?

  • Yay!!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:38PM (#27275491)
    I just love it when a plan comes together.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why don't add a brief summary about what your posts actually mean to the non-legal types, rather than this legalese summary each time?

    • by Loadmaster (720754) on Friday March 20, 2009 @08:06PM (#27275707) Homepage

      Because he's a practicing attorney and doesn't have the time to break every event down into simple terms (that's what Groklaw is for). I'm sure he would if he could, but that's the way it is.

      I'm glad he does this, though, at least then we're made aware of happenings and can then go find further information about it.

      • by Splab (574204)

        While I do agree he is helping - a bit of translation for those of us who aren't native English speaking (nor understand US legal system) would very much be appreciated.

    • by The FNP (1177715) on Friday March 20, 2009 @08:24PM (#27275815)

      Because those of us who have been following along with the RIAA and MPAA and Pirate Bay and Microsoft and Psystar and the EFF and Apple and AT&T and Verizon and Comcast and every other technologically relevant entity who can hire a lawyer and a PR person has now given us a basic understanding of the way these cases work.

      Ray may have already helped me skip the first year of law school, just because of the sheer volume of information he has provided to the /.ers who have been paying attention. If you're new here, read his blog archives and get an idea of what he's already contributed to the community.

      --The FNP

      P.S. I apologize for feeding the A.C., but I've got Karma to burn.

    • Why don't add a brief summary about what your posts actually mean to the non-legal types, rather than this legalese summary each time?

      There was nothing in the summary that would be confusing to anyone who paid attention during their high school civics class, and who reads a newspaper semi-regularly.

  • Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mc1138 (718275) on Friday March 20, 2009 @08:19PM (#27275777) Homepage
    A little off topic, but I wonder what if anything the RIAA actually has accomplished from all these years of lawsuits. People hate them, is the money coming in at all? Does it really come down to just the principle of the matter now?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Win or lose, the lawyers get paid.

      It is the lawyers who have been scamming a desperate RIAA, which keeps hoping they will come through with big wins eventually. (Suckers!)
    • I like that the judge voiced his concerns about the defendants financial situation: "You know, it seems to me that counsel representing the record companies have an ethical obligation to fully understand that they are fighting people without lawyers, to fully understand that, more than just how do we serve them, but just to understand that the formalities of this are basically bankrupting people, and it's terribly critical that you stop it, so there will be a settlement conference in the Tenenbaum case at t
    • A little off topic, but I wonder what if anything the RIAA actually has accomplished from all these years of lawsuits. People hate them, is the money coming in at all?

      They've accomplished absolutely nothing except:
      1. enriching their lawyers and
      2. bringing 4 record companies closer to obsolescence.

    • by HiThere (15173)

      The RIAA doesn't depend on being liked by people. It's purpose is to give the various record companies a bit of anonymity and plausible deniability. Most people who see RIAA don't think of this as action by, say, Sony. And the companies can always say that their agent mishandled a case if they *do* happen to get associated with it.

      The RIAA *exists* to do things that the record companies wouldn't want associated with their names.

      • The RIAA doesn't depend on being liked by people. It's purpose is to give the various record companies a bit of anonymity and plausible deniability....The RIAA *exists* to do things that the record companies wouldn't want associated with their names.

        Interesting theory. How's the plan working for them? Is there a soul out there who doesn't know that it's the 'Big 4' record companies (EMI, Universal, SONY, Warner)?

        • by Thing 1 (178996)
          Hi Ray! How about "Warner, EMI, Sony, Universal"? Makes for a better, more realistic acronym. :)
  • by foniksonik (573572) on Friday March 20, 2009 @08:43PM (#27275909) Homepage Journal

    "defending the defendant's Due Process defense"

    This sentence construction is indefensible!

    • "defending the defendant's Due Process defense"

      This sentence construction is indefensible!

      I throw myself on the mercy of the court.

      • You're OK, you haven't quite reached the bottom yet:

        http://www.lawschoolbound.net/TO/humor2.htm [lawschoolbound.net]

        Q. When he went, had you gone and had she, if she wanted to and were able, for the time being excluding all the restraints on her not to go, gone also, would he have brought you, meaning you and she, with him to the station?

        MR. BROOKS: Objection. That question should be taken out and shot. :-)

  • It's nice to see someone go to the effort to file an amicus brief, but why the FSF? Excessive statutory damages for copyright infringement doesn't necessarily seem like something that's in their area of interest (i.e., I can't see how it affects software freedom one way or another). Or is it simply a lawyer at the FSF who happens to be interested? Do organizations often file these kinds of briefs in areas that the organization isn't primarily interested?

    • Re:Why the FSF? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Loadmaster (720754) on Friday March 20, 2009 @09:18PM (#27276107) Homepage

      The FSF is working with The Recording Industry vs. the People to provide an Exper Witnesses Fund. Basically, they're providing computer experts to combat the misinformation spouted by the RIAA concerning technology.

      http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/2007/11/expert-witness-defense-fund-for-riaa.html [blogspot.com]

      https://www.fsf.org/associate/riaa [fsf.org]

    • by nyet (19118)

      Because Tenenbaum's lawyer *royally* screwed up the appeal and failed to cite the most salient case law.

      Thankfully, the FSF stepped in to fill in the gaps that were missed.

    • I think they pretty well explained their interest in the case when they said:

      As an organization dedicated to the rights of computer users and their interaction with copyrighted works, we are concerned with the RIAA's attempt to redefine copyright law through legal proceedings against individuals who are generally unable to defend themselves.

      • by KwKSilver (857599)

        I think they pretty well explained their interest in the case when they said:

        As an organization dedicated to the rights of computer users and their interaction with copyrighted works, we are concerned with the RIAA's attempt to redefine copyright law through legal proceedings against individuals who are generally unable to defend themselves.

        Ray, do you think that the redefinition of copyright law may be the real goal of the RIAA, MPAA and other organizations of their ilk? You and others have occasionally said that the ill-will that is being created cannot possibly be balanced by the monetary payoff. If there is no monetary payoff, there must be an intangible payoff, and the erosion and elimination of user's rights could be an immediate goal. Thinking a little further, taking control of peoples' systems and turning it over to the cartels cou

        • Ray, do you think that the redefinition of copyright law may be the real goal of the RIAA, MPAA and other organizations of their ilk? You and others have occasionally said that the ill-will that is being created cannot possibly be balanced by the monetary payoff. If there is no monetary payoff, there must be an intangible payoff, and the erosion and elimination of user's rights could be an immediate goal. Thinking a little further, taking control of peoples' systems and turning it over to the cartels could have an enormous, if not unlimited, long-term payoff. The thought of root-kitting creeps like these being in control of everything is scary stuff. Glad I've been supporting the FSF.

          There's no doubt in my mind that that rewriting the copyright law is one of their objectives, as part of their overall strategy of defeating the internet until they can subjogate it to their own monopolistic practices. And it will be interesting to see what the Obama administration -- now packed with RIAA lawyers at the highest level -- will have to say in this case. Are they going to take the legal position, as they did under George Bush -- that smacking teenagers with 'statutory damages' of $750 to $150,0

  • True Irony Alert! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday March 20, 2009 @09:53PM (#27276297)
    There is some true irony here as one of the Plaintiffs in this case who is arguing that such damages shouldn't be limited to a single-digit ratio of actual damages, argued (and won) in an Appeals Court case when they were the Defendant that such damages should be so limited.

    Estoppel is the word that first comes to mind here.

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