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RIAA Sues 19-Year-Old Transplant Patient 663

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Just when you think they've reached rock bottom, it seems the RIAA always finds room to sink a little lower. This time they've sued an innocent, 19-year-old transplant patient, hospitalized with pancreatitis and needing islet cell transplants. Although the young Pittsburgh lady claims that she did not infringe any copyrights, she failed to answer the complaint in time, and a default judgment was taken against her. A Pittsburgh area lawyer has stated that he will represent her pro bono and make a motion to open up the default."
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RIAA Sues 19-Year-Old Transplant Patient

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  • What is this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moniker127 ( 1290002 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:32PM (#26025607)

    She is guilty because she didnt respond in time? WTF is this? Guilty until proven innocent?
    Why even hold a trial? Why not just delare the person with the most expensive lawyer the victor?

    • Re:What is this? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:34PM (#26025619) Homepage

      If the defendant is served papers and then doesn't request an extension or delay and then doesn't show up, generally victory is granted to the present party. Unless there are extenuating circumstances like these.

    • Re:What is this? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Walpurgiss ( 723989 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:38PM (#26025663)
      It's basically the same as house robbers robbing people who are on vacation. They aren't around to see what you are doing and cannot respond in time to stop you.

      Easy money.

      Send your lawsuit letters to people you know are not home to receive them, and profit.
  • IANAL, so a question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Coopjust ( 872796 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:33PM (#26025615)
    I think it's ethically wrong, but as far as not responding to the judgment, is there a solid legal ground for a motion to reopen the case? Is it mainly down to the judge's discretion?
  • by Cathoderoytube ( 1088737 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:37PM (#26025645)
    Just curious, why is the health of this person relevant in the case? I assume the RIAA didn't know this person was actually sick before they went after them. Course you can always get conspiratorial about this situation.
    • by SoupIsGoodFood_42 ( 521389 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @09:00PM (#26025911)

      I assume the RIAA didn't know this person was actually sick before they went after them.

      I thought that was part of why people disagree with what the RIAA is doing here. How can you blindly file lawsuits against people you know nothing about?

      • How can you blindly file lawsuits against people you know nothing about?

        Thank you. A civilized person. How refreshing after reading several posts suggesting that this sort of thing is okay.

        It is not okay in the America I come from.

  • Artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:37PM (#26025651) Journal

    When is it that the artists that sponsor the RIAA psychopaths, will say "enough, I don't want to be tainted with this shit"? When will they distance themselves from the RIAA? Or is the bling that the racket money gets them so important?

    I for one hope that every single artist that works for the RIAA (yes, FOR the RIAA) will be remembered in infamy. As in "X Y was a very gifted and prolific [vocalist/composer/guitarist/drummer], but his/her work for a RIAA label has tainted his/her biography."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:39PM (#26025683)

    The title of this story should be "RIAA Sues Innocent Person". Mentioning the illness is just a weak emotional appeal (not unlike "think of the children"); if somebody breaks the law, they ought to be punished as much as the next guy. Traditionally prosecution can and will give the guy a break out of empathy and basic human dignity (yes, lawyers are humans, too), but being in a bad spot is not a blank check to get away with crime. Assuming she is innocent, that ought to be enough to deserve our scorn.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      I agree the summary is badly written. Her medical condition is relevant because this was a default decision. She was not represented and did not represent herself because she failed to respond. If the reason she failed to respond is because she could not do so for medical reasons then basic fairness is that the decision should be vacated in light of that fact and she should get a civil trial. Since the matter is more then $20 she is even entitled to a jury if she wants one.

      A judge needs to examine the i

  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:53PM (#26025835) Journal

    I find it amazing that not only is there a 19 year old out there who doesn't download music, but the RIAA managed to find them! I mean what are the odds that a 19 year old the RIAA sues, HAPPENS to be one of the very few who don't pirate?

    The odds are simply staggering. Why if the RIAA had those odds when it came to the lottery, they wouldn't need to sell music anymore.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cor-cor ( 1330671 )

      They may not be as staggering as you think. I'm 20 and I download music, but I do it from legal sources. I do know a fair number of others my age who don't pirate music either.

      And as soon as I stumbled across Slashdot and became more informed about issues like this, I decided to boycott music from RIAA-associated labels.

      So yes, regardless of our age, some of us "young kids" do have principles, don't necessarily do anything wrong, and are fed up with being treated like criminals just because of our age.

  • by NewYorkCountryLawyer ( 912032 ) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:58PM (#26025885) Homepage Journal
    I knew when I posted this that a certain significant minority of Slashdotters, or AC's, would come out of the woodwork saying that the defendant's illness and poverty are irrelevant, so I'll say this once:
    -I'm a lawyer
    -I don't bring lawsuits against helpless people
    -I wouldn't accept any client who wanted me to do that
    -yes she is innocent, as anyone knows who RTFA
    -it is not really newsworthy that she is innocent because of the 40,000 people sued by the RIAA, probably 20,000 to 30,000 are innocent
    -yes defendant's illness makes it harder for her to deal with the case and defend it
    -yes defendant's illness makes it more morally opprobrious to sue her, without at least investigating beforehand to make sure she is in fact liable for copyright infringement, especially when -- as in these cases -- the plaintiffs' actual damages are probably in the neighborhood of $3 or $4
    -yes it matters that she is sick and impoverished because being subjected to a lawsuit gives such people more anxiety and depression, and more severely impairs their health, than it would to someone who is healthy and has plenty of money
    -these types of cases demonstrate more vividly than others how ridiculous, cruel, and immoral the RIAA's suits are, and what an embarrassment they are to the federal court system which has permitted them to exist
    -yes her poverty and illness and depression were factors in her failing to respond on time, since it is usually impossible for someone in her position to get a lawyer to take her case.

    And to those of you who think that it's okay to bring suits against helpless people, I repeat what I've said to you before; that is not a legal question, it's a moral question. And if you really believe what you're saying, you have different morals than I have. And if you think it's okay, my personal moral evaluation is as follows: you can rot in hell along with the RIAA ghouls who do this sort of thing.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @09:12PM (#26026023) Homepage Journal

    Pretending the RIAA can respond rationally is a waste of time and effort. I'm afraid that even in our modern society it is time, it's really time to apply brute force on these people. Maybe it's silly to pick out this one arena but there you have it. I think that the RIAA should be singled out for acts of terrorism against them. I think the RIAA should be targeted for killing. All they represent is fascism with a friendly face.

    Yes it is extreme but that's what it will take. Sorry if you feel the need to moderate the fuck out of this. It is truly what I believe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @09:49PM (#26026411)

    It's been said before but apparently just won't sink in...

    The RIAA is a sham, a FRONT for the organizations that we should actually be hating, namely;

            * EMI
            * Sony Music Entertainment
            * Universal Music Group
            * Warner Music Group

    They have built this front so they can treat their paying customers like criminals without it affecting their corporate image or SALES.

    We vent our hate on the RIAA and the record companies can continue screwing both the artists and the music buying public.

    If every time someone spouted "Fuck the RIAA" they just substituted any (or all 4) of the companies driving the RIAA's actions it would be a very different story.

    Think about it, the RIAA sells NOTHING so you can't boycott them, you can't affect them in any way.
    YOU aren't their customers.

    So we are powerless to do anything about;
    "RIAA Sues 19-Year-Old Transplant Patient".

    "EMI/SONY/BMG/WMG Sues 19-Year-Old Transplant Patient"
    Lets us know who NOT to buy music from if we think their actions stink.

    Lets keep repeating this till the mainstream press starts repeating it eh?

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:10PM (#26027063)
    The Sauros said they've lived in their home since Ciara's father moved out. They claim the Internet account in the lawsuit was opened by him at his new address.

    A father walks out on his wife and critically ill daughter leaving both deeply in debt - and now his wife and daughter are claiming that the downloads were made to his account at his new address.

    How could they possibly know that?

    There are too many missing pieces to this puzzle, too many that don't quite fit.

    It would be nice to believe that the sick and diabled are as innocent as new-born lambs. But it isn't always so.

  • by NewYorkCountryLawyer ( 912032 ) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Monday December 08, 2008 @11:40AM (#26033319) Homepage Journal
    Some posts accuse me of 'bias' against the RIAA. I don't really understand. Yes I detest them and their lawyers and other running dogs, but this isn't based on some preconception, or general mistrust or malevolence, or something I read in the papers. It is based on their deeds.

    If you want me to pretend to be objective and dispassionate about a gang of bullies and extortionists, who on a daily basis lie about the facts and try to twist the law... tough.

    Anyone who knows me knows exactly where I stand on this issue, and where I am coming from, so no one is misled by my bias.

    On my blog [blogspot.com] on a daily basis, sometimes many times a day, I present the actual underlying litigation documents, from both sides, so people can make up their own minds about how they feel, or about whether I'm making this stuff up.

    As for me, I know how I feel. I am in favor of the rule of law. And I am against bullies.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"