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Papers Sealed In Class Action Against RIAA 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-their-eyes-only dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Andersen v. Atlantic Recording, the Oregon class action brought by Tanya Anderson against the RIAA, MediaSentry, and others, the plaintiff's motion for class action certification has been sealed by the Court. Also, the Court conducted an 'in camera' conference with the defendants' attorneys — meaning the Judge met with the defendants' attorneys alone — in connection with a discovery motion, and the record of that conference has been sealed as well. The RIAA has made a motion to dismiss the class action; that has not been sealed. In case you're wondering what's going on here, so am I."
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Papers Sealed In Class Action Against RIAA

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:39PM (#27737415)
    Ray Beckerman (NYCL) has graciously hosted a fully illustrated PDF of the plaintiff's brief for class action certification (the documents in question) on his site [beckermanlegal.com]. Now, I'm not a lawyer but that's got a whole lot of lengthy legalese that no human could understand.
  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:40PM (#27737435) Homepage

    The documents are sealed in a plastic box, but you can buy them for only $15.95 at your local record store.

    If you copy them, we'll sue you. And there's no refunds if you don't like the documents.

    • by tnk1 (899206) on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:43PM (#27737501)

      Obviously fake. If this was real, it would have been mentioned that you have *leased* the contents to that box.

      By terms of the license, you may enjoy the documents, but only for your personal and exclusive use.

      The RIAA would never actually let you use the word "own" withing 50 feet of the IP that they have worked so hard to wring out of musicians.

    • by Cpt_Kirks (37296)

      Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk!

      No mod points today, sorry.

    • by grumpyman (849537) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:12PM (#27738001)
      Only the first guy needs to purchase it. The rest can get it from Pirate B... wait a minute...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dimeglio (456244)

      To me it's clear that the RIAA is trying to get people to pay a premium, not for creativity but for the opportunity of making money off other people's creativity. Too much is at stake so they'll take out the big guns.

      I think AllofMp3 had the perfect business model and they obviously had the price right.

      Crossing fingers.

  • by foobsr (693224) on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:46PM (#27737557) Homepage Journal
    otherwise one probably has to assume that the proceedings touch 'national security'.

    CC.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Unfortunately, as with ACTA, that argument is sometimes made by people who aren't joking.
    • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:02PM (#27737833)

      one probably has to assume that the proceedings touch 'national security'.

      But this is exactly the point the RIAA has been driving at all the time. You've just now grasped their entire motivation!

      Now, can a judge seal anything he/she wants? Or does something have to meet certain conditions? What sort of allegations in the plaintiff's motion might possibly result in this? Did the RIAA ask for it to be sealed?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by causality (777677)

        one probably has to assume that the proceedings touch 'national security'.

        But this is exactly the point the RIAA has been driving at all the time. You've just now grasped their entire motivation! Now, can a judge seal anything he/she wants? Or does something have to meet certain conditions? What sort of allegations in the plaintiff's motion might possibly result in this? Did the RIAA ask for it to be sealed?

        I'm ignorant of such matters and I hope someone here, like maybe a lawyer, could explain this. Why are they ever allowed to seal anything? What useful purpose does it serve that outweighs the potential for abuse? I also would like to know whether there is ever any way to challenge a judge's decision to seal a document, especially when the lack of disclosure is so entirely one-sided. It really seems to me that the dangers of anything approaching secret courts (which have been tools of oppression by vario

    • by b4upoo (166390) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:48PM (#27738443)

      Transparency inspires confidence. Secrecy inspires revolutions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Narpak (961733)

      otherwise one probably has to assume that the proceedings touch 'national security'.

      Actually it is because of all the subliminal messages the Government (read: our alien overlords that run the world) place in the music. Which is why I only listen to white noise from my old analogue radio! Cthulhu fhtagn!

  • Uh-oh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:47PM (#27737569) Journal
    Ray Beckerman:

    In case you're wondering what's going on here, so am I."

    Oh fuck. It was bad enough when we had rank-and-file nerds asking for legal advice on slashdot.

    Now we have a 'house lawyer', so to speak, and he's asking for legal information on slashdot.

    The apocalypse is upon us! Run for the hills!*

    IANAL. Even if I were a lawyer, I'd not be YOUR lawyer. This is not legal advice. By reading this footnote, you are agreeing to not hold Red Flayer liable for any damages sustained while running for the hills. For that matter, please walk, don't run -- and make sure to look both ways before crossing the street.

    • Re:Uh-oh! (Score:5, Informative)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray AT beckermanlegal DOT com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:05PM (#27737897) Homepage Journal

      Ray Beckerman:

      In case you're wondering what's going on here, so am I."

      Oh fuck. It was bad enough when we had rank-and-file nerds asking for legal advice on slashdot.
      Now we have a 'house lawyer', so to speak, and he's asking for legal information on slashdot.
      The apocalypse is upon us! Run for the hills!*
      IANAL. Even if I were a lawyer, I'd not be YOUR lawyer. This is not legal advice. By reading this footnote, you are agreeing to not hold Red Flayer liable for any damages sustained while running for the hills. For that matter, please walk, don't run -- and make sure to look both ways before crossing the street.

      Good post, Red_Flayer. But I thought you guys could help me out and explain to me what's going on; I've only been working in the litigation field for 35 years, so I'm kind of new at this.

      In Soviet Russia....... oh wait, maybe we are in Soviet Russia.

      • Re:Uh-oh! (Score:5, Informative)

        by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:17PM (#27738073) Journal

        In Soviet Russia....... oh wait, maybe we are in Soviet Russia.

        That would explain things. Soviet revolutionary tribunals [wikipedia.org] were explicitly defined as "following the interests of the revolution" and therefore "not bound by and forms of legal proceedings". Also, when determining guilt, they were also meant to look first not at any evidence at hand, but at the social class to which the accused belongs.

      • I'm assuming you checked pacer and there was nothing up there.

        If I still lived in Vancouver I'd drive across the bridge for you and ask what new documents are available.

      • Re:Uh-oh! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:30PM (#27738235) Journal

        Good post, Red_Flayer. But I thought you guys could help me out and explain to me what's going on; I've only been working in the litigation field for 35 years, so I'm kind of new at this.

        Well, Ray, I wasn't really looking for any kind of response or anything, I was just making a joke.

        But since you insist on getting my advice... let me help you out.

        1. Google is your friend. It probably won't help you move, definitely won't help you move bodies, but if you use an anonymizing proxy, it may be a good place to research how to get rid of bodies.

        2. Never tell a judge his robe makes him look fat. Relatedly, never tell him that his gavel is compensating for something.
        3. The best response to "Order in the Court!" is "Ham and cheese on rye, yer Honor!"

        That's about all the free legal advice I can give at this time, if you're looking for more where that came from, my billable rate is $375.

        • Re:Uh-oh! (Score:5, Funny)

          by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray AT beckermanlegal DOT com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:33PM (#27738281) Homepage Journal

          That's about all the free legal advice I can give at this time, if you're looking for more where that came from, my billable rate is $375.

          No problem; just send the bills to CowboyNeal.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by k10quaint (1344115)
            I can tell you, with absolute certainty, precisely what has occurred to make the judge meet with the defendants without the plaintiffs present. The check from the plaintiffs bounced. The check from the defendants did not. IANAL, I am something even more relevant to our judicial system. I am an accountant.
            • Checks?!? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Locke2005 (849178)
              I was once given $1000 is cash in an unmarked white envelope by a head-hunter to entice me to quit the job I had just started and go to work for another firm so that he could make his commission. Not a check. I suspect the methods used by the RIAA to influence judges also don't show up so obviously on bank statements. In fact, since the RIAA members routinely hire independent song promoters who give away hookers and blow DJs to get songs placed in rotation on top-40 stations, I'm pretty sure they consider "
        • Re:Uh-oh! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @02:35AM (#27742467)

          1. Google is your friend. It probably won't help you move, definitely won't help you move bodies, but if you use an anonymizing proxy, it may be a good place to research how to get rid of bodies.

          You're always going have problems lifting a body in one piece. Apparently the best thing to do is cut up a corpse into six pieces and pile it all together. And when you got your six pieces, you got to get rid of them, because it's no good leaving it in the deep freeze for your mum to discover, now is it? Then I hear the best thing to do is feed them to pigs. You got to starve the pigs for a few days, then the sight of a chopped-up body will look like curry to a pisshead. You got to shave the heads of your victims, and pull the teeth out for the sake of the piggies' digestion. You could do this afterwards, of course, but you don't want to go sievin' through pig shit, now do you? They will go through bone like butter. You need at least sixteen pigs to finish the job in one sitting, so be wary of any man who keeps a pig farm. They will go through a body that weighs 200 pounds in about eight minutes. That means that a single pig can consume two pounds of uncooked flesh every minute. Hence the expression, "as greedy as a pig".

          • Re:Uh-oh! (Score:4, Funny)

            by Missing_dc (1074809) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @07:31AM (#27744125)

            While I recognize it is a movie reference, I do have this to say:

            If you don't have room for 16 pigs in your flat, try the self cleaning oven, it heats to about 750F and will leave naught but bones and ash, then vacuum out the oven, apologize to the neighbors profusely about the burning smell while you learn to cook, throw the bones in a backpack and run it over numerous times to crush whats left.

            Then you can put them in an urn and spread them at sea, claiming it was an aunt's last wish.

            I doubt the authorities would require a permit or really investigate the disposal of cremated ashes.

            (not that this is legal advice, and please note that I am not suggesting murdering anyone or disposing of the evidence. I am just pointing out an alternative to explaining to the police why you keep 16 well-fed pigs in your flat.)

      • by tlambert (566799) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:42PM (#27738379)

        IANAL, but I do read a heck of a lot.

        My guess is the Noerr-Pennington doctrine. I expect that Anderson tried to define "all recipients of demand letters" as a class, and RIAA argued that that can not constitute a class because it has immunity under Noerr-Pennington, per Sosa v. DIRECTV, Inc. 1684 (2006):

        http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2006/02/14/0455036.pdf [uscourts.gov]

        Probably, the specific interpretation of BE&K Construction Co. v. NLRB, 536 U.S. 516, 525 (2002). The argument would be that if the lawsuit was able to impose RICO liability on RIAA for sending the demand letter, then it would burden RIAA's ability to settle legal claims short of filing a lawsuit. RICO specifically provides for private enforcement and treble damages.

        This is all predicated on the demand letters being specifically for no more than treble actual damages, so it may not apply if RIAA was asking for statutory damages (which they were). There is also some question as to whether the demand letters were objectively baseless and thus fall within the doctrine's sham exception. So I see at least two ways to fight a dismissal on direct.

        -- Terry

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by egcagrac0 (1410377)
          +1, [Numbingly impressive legalese|Informative]
        • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Monday April 27, 2009 @06:38PM (#27738991)

          All of that is fine, and you're probably at least partially right, but none of it explains why the records need to be sealed. "This is not a proper class" isn't something that needs to be held secret, nor is it something that should be discussed with only one party of the lawsuit involved.

          You may be right that that's one of their defenses; it certainly sounds as though it should be. But it is, at best, a small part of what's going on. They're saying SOMETHING that a judge has apparently decided is so important to keep secret that not even opposing counsel can know about it. Whatever that is, it's not Noerr-Pennington. Not even a lawyer who has worked on these cases can hazard a guess as to what it might be. That's awfully irregular.

          • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Monday April 27, 2009 @06:47PM (#27739075)

            They're saying SOMETHING that a judge has apparently decided is so important to keep secret that not even opposing counsel can know about it.

            My guess is that it involves blackjack and hookers. Well, maybe they forgot about the blackjack.

          • by Dan B. (20610)

            IANAL, but my guess on the sealing of the documents is to limit the number of 'copy-cat' cases that might be brought before the courts in other states/jurisdictions prior to this one being decided.

            But like I said, it's a guess.

  • IANAL, etc. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:47PM (#27737573) Journal
    But are there any plausible and non-nefarious explanations for this turn of events? I mean, is meeting with the defendant's attorneys privately, sealing the record of what went on there, and then sealing the plaintiff's motion a relatively normal thing? Or is it as weird and skeezy as it sounds?
    • Re:IANAL, etc. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cpt_Kirks (37296) on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:48PM (#27737597)

      When dealing with any *AA, you really can't go wrong assuming the worst.

    • Re:IANAL, etc. (Score:5, Informative)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:58PM (#27737769) Journal

      But are there any plausible and non-nefarious explanations for this turn of events? I mean, is meeting with the defendant's attorneys privately, sealing the record of what went on there, and then sealing the plaintiff's motion a relatively normal thing? Or is it as weird and skeezy as it sounds?

      Allow me to explain. It's like a child who has a new toy. The child must take the toy everywhere and show it to everyone and make the toy do everything it can to impress everyone. Similarly the RIAA has a new toy (the court) that they recently acquired ... and to show it off they have made it censor just about everything. Even briefs of motions for class action when you can find the full complaint in its entirety online [ilrweb.com].

      Why? Because they can. Remember, they lost to her last year [slashdot.org] so they've got some face to save in this class action. Or at the least just keep it out of the eye of the public--don't want those sheep getting all uppity.

    • Re:IANAL, etc. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray AT beckermanlegal DOT com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:08PM (#27737951) Homepage Journal

      But are there any plausible and non-nefarious explanations for this turn of events? I mean, is meeting with the defendant's attorneys privately, sealing the record of what went on there, and then sealing the plaintiff's motion a relatively normal thing? Or is it as weird and skeezy as it sounds?

      To me it sounds "weird and skeezy".

      But what do I know?

      • Re:IANAL, etc. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Zocalo (252965) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:56PM (#27738525) Homepage
        What seems to be lacking here is more information on the circumstances that led to the in camera meeting, which is probably the crux of the matter. "Eldavojohn" presents a plausible sounding circumstance above where this might happen, so the questions I have are:
        1. Are there any other instances of one side (either one) being in camera with the judge alone?
        2. If so, how often does it happen? (Not very, if at all, judging by NYCL's reaction)
        3. Were the lawyers for Tanya Anderson present when this meeting was initiated?
        4. If so, presumably they either agreed to the meeting or objected and were overruled - which was it?

        If Tanya Anderson's lawyers agreed to the meeting, then one can only hope they know what they are doing, but if it's the latter then I can't imagine how that might play out bearing in mind the the RIAA et al are the *defendants* here. If it were the other way around, I'd go for "instant mis-trial", but does that still hold in any way should the RIAA escape censure in the case?

      • by nabsltd (1313397) on Monday April 27, 2009 @06:07PM (#27738629)

        About the only good thing I can think of is that the judge wanted to give the **AA lawyers just one chance to fix something in private before he hauled out the contempt charges and sanctions. And that's a real long shot.

        Every other reason I can think of would seem to be bad news for the human race, and good news for the **AA.

      • Re:IANAL, etc. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @10:27PM (#27741023) Homepage Journal

        Is there any possibility that some of the RIAA lawyers have developed a concern that some of their client's activities are in violation of the law, and they need direction from the judge on how to proceed? I'm thinking in terms of their separate roles as defenders of their client, and officers of the court.

        Other than finding themselves stuck between a rock and a hard spot concerning client privilege and their own potential culpability as an accessory to a crime, I can't think of anything that would cause this kind of one-sided court seal in a civil case. Of course, IANAL, and I don't know nothing.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:49PM (#27737613) Homepage

    Okay, the judge and the defense have met in private...? I get the impression that this is highly irregular. Is it improper enough to have this judge thrown off the case and reprimanded?

  • by v1 (525388) on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:50PM (#27737623) Homepage Journal

    Why are they allowed to get all aspects of a court hearing "sealed"? This makes no sense, I realize they don't want the records made public, but why is the court going along with it?

  • Sealed? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Reason58 (775044) on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:51PM (#27737641)

    I'm not a legal expert. Does sealed mean that during the course of the proceedings they won't be disclosed? Or does sealed mean that they will never be revealed, even after this is out of the courts?

    • Re:Sealed? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:01PM (#27737811)

      In IP cases, often times, one of the parties may wish to explain something to the judge which is a trade secret, and which they don't want disclosed to the other side. Normally, you'd get a confidentiality order from the judge to make the other side keep it secret, but sometimes, the party wants to explain the nature of things so the judge can issue a meaningful order. Sort of, in order to understand why we want to keep A confidential, you need to know B, which we *really* want to keep confidential, and is not the subject of this suit.

      An example might be where you are litigating on some IP identified by a code name, and in discovery, the other party turns up some other code names. You need to explain (in camera) to the judge why you don't need to produce the other stuff. The judge makes the call that it really isn't relevant, and you go on your merry way.

      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... minus physicist> on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:19PM (#27738095) Journal

        RIAA Lawyer: Your Honor, we need to disclose our trade secrets to you, in private.
        Judge: Okay, step into my chambers. Now, what's this big secret of yours?
        RIAA Lawyer: (points)
        Judge: Well that looks like a briefcase full of hundreds, a kilo of Peruvian Marching Powder, and a coupon book for 'Escorts R Us.'
        RIAA Lawyer: Sssshhh! That's a trade secret!

        • Hey, it worked for a bunch of judges in pennsylvania and their custom, little kiddie sex/work prison, so why wouldn't it work here?
      • Re:Sealed? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rahvin112 (446269) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:19PM (#27738107)

        Having one party to a litigation in a meeting without the other to discuss any aspect of the case is a BIG BIG no no. This meeting having happened is grounds for a mistrial later and I doubt there is an appeals court that wouldn't immediately grant the mistrial simply because the meeting was held, even if they were discussing their favorite baseball teams. You can't have fair litigation if the judge is only listening to one side.

        As far as your analogy about explaining technical items to the judge, that occurs in COURT, if it's a secrete it happens in a closed court with a sealed transcript but again, BOTH sides are present and both have the opportunity to argue the details and value of the information presented along with the legal right to rebut any information given. What's happened here is the defense is whispering in the ear of the judge and the plaintiff has no idea what was said, how it till affect the case or even if they need to rebut any of it.

        The Judge should be removed from the bench or at the very least publicly reprimanded and removed from the case.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by taustin (171655)

          Actually, ex parte (or 'in camera') stuff happens all the time, and is routine. Not necessarily common, but not at all unusual, and not necessarily a no no of any kind.

          • by Zocalo (252965)
            That's true, but in this case only *one* party (the RIAA's lawyers) was represented in the Judge's chambers whereas I gather that normally representatives are both sides are present in the interests of a fair and balanced trial. What matters here is whether having only one party in camera is acceptable, and if so under what circumstances did it occur here.

            IANAL and only have TV and books to go from but, somewhat apropos, the only times I can recall instances of only one lawyer being present with the jud
        • this is a case about whether she downloaded some songs. Then it was a case about whether her lawyer fees should be paid. What is there to keep secret except damning evidence the RIAA isn't following the law?

    • Re:Sealed? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BlueKitties (1541613) <bluekitties616@gmail.com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:05PM (#27737905)
      The first google search result for "sealed court case duration". [url]http://www.leg.state.nv.us/CourtRules/SCR_RGSRCR.html[/url] - " (c) Sealing of entire court file prohibited. Under no circumstances shall the court seal an entire court file. An order entered under these rules must, at a minimum, require that the following information is available for public viewing on court indices: (i) the case number(s) or docket code(s) or number(s); (ii) the date that the action was commenced; (iii) the names of the parties, counsel of record, and the assigned judge; (iv) the notation âoecase sealedâ; (v) the case type and cause(s) of action, which may be obtained from the Civil Cover Sheet; (vi) the order to seal and written findings supporting the order; and (vii) the identity of the party or other person who filed the motion to seal. 6. Scope and duration of order. If the court enters an order sealing or redacting a court record, the court shall use the least restrictive means and duration."
    • Here is one answer (source: State of Connecticut Judicial Branch [ct.gov]):

      Q: What becomes unavailable to the public when a file is sealed by the court?
      A: Only those portions of the file that the judge has ordered sealed. In the event of a partial sealing, certain information in the court file will continue to be available for public inspection.

  • Obviously not a lawyer ... but aren't irregularities like this good fodder for an appeal if the verdict ends up in favor of RIAA?
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:59PM (#27737779) Journal
    It's just the normal procedure when the US court system is faced to the fact that some big croporation appears to have acted illegally.
  • The **AA stumbled upon some sort of blackmail content (pictures or whatever) involving the judge and wanted to meet with him privately to give him the chance to toss the case before revealing said material. Hence the judge's willingness to seal everything going on. I would laugh at myself for the idea but am not sure its much of a joke these days....
    • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:25PM (#27738171)

      The **AA stumbled upon some sort of blackmail content (pictures or whatever) involving the judge and wanted to meet with him privately to give him the chance to toss the case before revealing said material. Hence the judge's willingness to seal everything going on. I would laugh at myself for the idea but am not sure its much of a joke these days....

      Figured it out? With a name like BJ_Covert_Action, I wouldn't be surprised if you were part of it!

  • by ApproachingLinux (756909) <[moc.llunrats] [ta] [todhsals]> on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:05PM (#27737885)
    maybe there's a clue in that the defendants want the case dismissed based on the Noerr Pennington doctrine [wikipedia.org].
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      From Wikipedia: "The Ninth Circuit recently held that Noerr-Pennington also protects against RICO Act claims when a defendant has sent thousands of demand letters threatening suit. Sosa v. DirectTV, Inc., 437 F.3d 923, 935 (9th Cir. 2006)" Yep, that sounds like the RIAA alright! It also makes sense that the plaintiff would invoke RICO against the RIAA. But I still don't see how this justifies sealing the file. The whole point of a class-action is to give everyone who has been harmed the option of joining in
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by idontgno (624372)

      IANAL. In fact, this is the first I've heard of Noerr-Pennington, and what little I've learned in the last 15 minutes is from reading a pretty nifty Federal Trade Commission staff report [ftc.gov] (PDF warning).

      Anyways, one of the branches of descent of this doctrine (California Motor Transport Co. v. Trucking Unlimited) protects court action (lawsuits) from antitrust enforcement (on the basis that petitioning the government is a 1st Amendment protected activity, even if anticompetitive, and a lawsuit is a petition t

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:11PM (#27737981) Journal

    Here at RIAA, we're the sleaze!
    Much worse than venereal disease!
    We'll take you to the courts,
    And stick your head in dirty shorts.

    We'll defecate through our noses,
    Whilst beating you with rubber hoses.
    Here at RIAA we're so vile,
    But we're vile with endless style.

    Some folks think they can win,
    But we've got endless yards of spin.
    Oh! Here at RIAA, we're the sleaze!
    We'll probably give you a venereal disease!

    • by ffoiii (226358) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:30PM (#27738243) Homepage
      Are you by chance a Vogon?
    • Thanks for the inspiration on a slow day:

      {To the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic}

      The RIAA has an oddball view of what should be our rights
      and they think they're superheroes all with capes and nifty tights.
      The Fair Act wasn't fair they say, in fact they think it bites.
      Their scam is plodding on....

      The RIAA will send a subpoena,
      In court, they act like total weiners.
      I'd like to kick 'em all
      in their tiny, shrunken balls,
      so hard it hurts their dog...

  • Who is this judge? What is his/her name? I'm thinking that if there are shenanigans going on here, some digging with the judges' name should bring up some possible links to the reason(s) why the judge would bend over for the RIAA, if that's what is happening here. Did one of the RIAA labels offer the Judges' niece a record deal or something? Or did the RIAAs' private investigators obtain some nasty blackmail material on the judge?

    This *does* seem rather bizarre. What next? "Judge announces summary judgment

  • by vivaelamor (1418031) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:20PM (#27738113)

    From the linked pdf on NYCL's blog, it appears that the reasons cited for dismissing the case amount to a twisted interpretation of the Noerr Pennington doctrine [wikipedia.org] roughly translated to:

    1. IP addresses are fair game for probable cause because a previous case involving DirecTV successfully used the Noerr Pennington directive to challenge class action against people supposedly infringing on their signals by buying smart card readers.

    2. Media Sentry not holding state investigative licenses is irrelevant because the information they gathered was publicly available.

    3. That allegations of the impropriety of accessing publicly shared folders has no basis in law.

    4. That any objection to the numerous 'Doe suites filed is countered by the successfulness of such proceedings. Also that such proceedings are not against the law.

    5. That the case against Ms Andersen herself was not "objectively baseless" despite failure to link Ms Andersen to the accused infringing Kazaa user name due to flaws in the investigative process.

    - IANAL

    Still, pretty weak arguments imho. Certainly shouldn't be enough to dismiss the case.

    As to the whole sealed shenanigans.. I guess we have to wait and see.

    • As to the whole sealed shenanigans.. I guess we have to wait and see.

      I suppose all this depends if it has an expiry date. IANAL, so if someone knows if a sealed court order has no expiry, what does it take to get it unsealed?

    • by UncleTogie (1004853) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:53PM (#27738491) Homepage Journal

      2. Media Sentry not holding state investigative licenses is irrelevant because the information they gathered was publicly available.

      In Texas, at least, it doesn't matter if it's public info or not. You have to have a license for your company if it:

      :(2) engages in the business of securing, or accepts employment to secure, evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or investigating committee;

      Check Texas Penal code 1702.104 here [state.tx.us] if you don't believe me.

  • Similar(?) History (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:51PM (#27738469) Journal

    I similar set of events occurred during the big tobacco lawsuits. Some testimony was sealed and later opened, some remains sealed. Some of the former was from the tobacco comany researcher Dr. Jeffery Wigand. His story is the basis for the movie "The Insider". NYT has an archive of articles from throughout the course of the suits at: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/jeffrey_wigand/index.html [nytimes.com]

    Some of the latter was from another tobacco company researcher named Pele, who worked out the biochemical mechanism of nicotine addiction. After his employer quashed news of the results, he leaked the details to a news magazine (either Time or Newsweek, I forget which), Subsequently all his testimony and work was sealed, he was fired and prevented from working in that field any more.

    After these and similar testimonies that were greatly damaging to the companies' claims, the lawsuits suddenly sped up and concluded with the companies paying out US$280Bn. It was speculated that had the testimony been public and the suits based on the claims therein (ie. they themselves had the proof of nicotine addiction, something they'd denied existed), the companies would have been fined a great deal more, or possibly forced to sell out.

    We can only hope that what's been sealed and discussed is so damaging to the RIAA that the judge is telling them to defend against it would require perjury, and he's giving them a chance to back off, settle before it gets a lot worse for them, and go lick their wounds.

    One thing you can be sure of, and happened in the tobacco suits, if the companies lose and are fined, the amount they pay out will be made up by price increases. All buyers will end up paying the fine. And once they've covered the cost of the fines, they'll leave the price where it was moved up to, and rake in even more.

    • by againjj (1132651)

      One thing you can be sure of, and happened in the tobacco suits, if the companies lose and are fined, the amount they pay out will be made up by price increases. All buyers will end up paying the fine. And once they've covered the cost of the fines, they'll leave the price where it was moved up to, and rake in even more.

      Supply and demand? Prices up, units sold down?

    • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday April 27, 2009 @06:45PM (#27739063)
      ...prices increases... and rake in even more.

      Are you unfamiliar with the concept of elasticity of demand [wikipedia.org]? If they raise the price high enough, then it becomes feasible for me to start a private club wherein 20 people contribute to the purchase of a CD and we all get a backup copy. The RIAA litigation model can do nothing against this form of sharing, and if everyone did it, then net profits would go down, not up. Do you seriously expect that if the RIAA raised the minimum price of a CD to $100, that they would make MORE money? I believe they are already well past the optimum price point for their product, and that _lowering_ the price to under $10 would in fact improve their net income. How many songs has Apple sold at this (lower) price point?
    • As much as I'd like to believe your scenario, I think the truth is more likely the Defedants' whining that the same unproven, conclusory allegations they've seen 100 times before are about to be republished, to their harm, all over the internet. Don't get me wrong, I think those allegations are AS GOOD AS proven and must be resolved conclusively AGAINST the record companies, but they seem to make a big point in their brief supporting their motion for dismissal, or judgment on the pleadings, that no court h

  • Very odd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by debrain (29228) on Monday April 27, 2009 @06:46PM (#27739073) Journal

    There are two possibilities, that I can think of to posit:

    1. The Judge has serious concerns with the RIAA's behaviour, has advised them in chambers that such behaviour won't work with her (i.e. privately, so as to not embarrass them or make them defensive, or lock them into a particular position), and she has given them some lee-way to govern themselves accordingly;

    2. The Judge is not mindful of the RIAA's pattern of behaviour, and is having the wool pulled over her eyes.

    I'm doubtful of #2. It is typically the tendency of the bench to assign higher calibre Judges to class actions. As well, the risk of some form of judicial review or appeal on the basis of bias or impropriety given ex parte in camera discussions (not to mention the appearance of impropriety among the Judge's peers), strikes me as something the Judge would be mindful of.

    Only two types of experiences come to mind where Judges take counsel ex parte into chambers. One is getting statements without influence (i.e. getting statements of a child where potentially dominating or threatening people are otherwise present), which isn't the case here (is the RIAA showing up in Court to watch their lawyers?). The other is the Judge is talking at counsel.

    Knowing the grounds for the RIAA's motion to dismiss the action would lend assistance to any analysis. I'd imagine they're claiming that the proposed representative plaintiffs are unsuitable, there's a lack of jurisdiction, there is a preferable procedure for resolving the dispute, there's no cause of action, the class can't be identified, or the issues aren't common to all members of the proposed class. None of these give rise to the need for ex parte discussions.

    I'm sure plaintiff's counsel has their heart in their throat, but based on virtually no information whatsoever, I'm hopeful for a positive outcome.

  • by P1aGu3ed (979864) on Monday April 27, 2009 @07:13PM (#27739355)
    Is it just me or is the RIAA becoming more and more like Scientology all the time?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrJimbo (594231)
      I don't know. How many lawyers does Scientology have in the Department of Justice? The RIAA five [wired.com].

      Come to think of it, this might explain why they think the can get away with the shenanigans that Ray just uncovered.
  • This has the pungent aroma of legal douchebaggery all over it. A cynic might suspect that all the business-friendly appointments to the bench Bush made are starting to pay off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by causality (777677)

      This has the pungent aroma of legal douchebaggery all over it. A cynic might suspect that all the business-friendly appointments to the bench Bush made are starting to pay off.

      In truth, the two major parties are quite comfortable with their duopoly. There is but one and only one significant difference between the two major politcal parties of the USA: the justifications given for things that they're going to do anyway. All of the rest is designed to make you believe that all problems and all instances of corruption are due to the other party or the other candidate(s). It's always some kind of "other". Some people think the entire problem is the Republicans. Some people thin

  • IANAL, but ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Monday April 27, 2009 @08:08PM (#27739871)

    ... my understanding of such maneuvers is that the defense may want to see how the judge will rule on some discovery motion in open court prior to that motion being made. The defense may deem that such discovery would be more damaging than just settling the suit. In that event, they don't want the subject of potential discovery to be made a part of any public record.

    We here on Slashdot may have no love for the RIAA. But in general, defendants shouldn't be forced into exposing sensitive information, like trade secrets or business strategies, as a means to blackmail them into settling.

    The end result may be that the judge looks at the information in question, determines that it is in fact materiel to the case and will be delivered should the trial continue. At this point, the RIAA may decide to settle to keep their info. out of the public record.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by _LORAX_ (4790)

      We here on Slashdot may have no love for the RIAA. But in general, defendants shouldn't be forced into exposing sensitive information, like trade secrets or business strategies, as a means to blackmail them into settling.

      You mean like the RIAA does in every single one of their cases? Turning over all computer in the house probably with privilege information all over it as well as the only way these defendants have to contact and organize a defense.

      • Re:IANAL, but ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray AT beckermanlegal DOT com> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @08:48AM (#27744885) Homepage Journal

        We here on Slashdot may have no love for the RIAA. But in general, defendants shouldn't be forced into exposing sensitive information, like trade secrets or business strategies, as a means to blackmail them into settling.

        You mean like the RIAA does in every single one of their cases? Turning over all computer in the house probably with privilege information all over it as well as the only way these defendants have to contact and organize a defense.

        Excellent observation, LORAX.

        Actually the real reason the RIAA presses for secrecy of its own information in every case is that it seeks to increase the litigation costs for the defendants in other cases. The more information a defendant's lawyer can obtain online, from other cases, the less work he or she has to do in the case at hand.

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