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LimeWire Sues RIAA for Antitrust Violations 406

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the everyone-seems-to-know-except-the-lawmakers dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes to tell us that in a recent court battle, Arista v. LimeWire, LimeWire has filed counterclaims against the RIAA for 'antitrust violations, consumer fraud, and other misconduct.' From the article: "LimeWire alleged that the RIAA's 'goal was simple: to destroy any online music distribution service they did not own or control, or force such services to do business with them on exclusive and/or other anticompetitive terms so as to limit and ultimately control the distribution and pricing of digital music, all to the detriment of consumers.'"
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LimeWire Sues RIAA for Antitrust Violations

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  • Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) will quickly dispose of this.
    • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:34AM (#16195427)
      Still, it's the P2P services pushing back. The P2P services don't offer music, they offer files.

      It's high time that a P2P service fight back in a meaningful way.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iriefrank (41550)
        I'm just not sure a borderline-frivolous lawsuit is a "meaningful way" of pushing back.
        • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:37AM (#16195459)
          Given the number of frivolous lawsuits that the RIAA puts out?
        • by urbanriot (924981) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:37AM (#16195461)
          ... a borderline-frivolous lawsuit in your humble opinion. Obviously not for some lawyers representing Limewire.
          • by BeeBeard (999187) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:09AM (#16195641)
            Yes, IAAL: It's hard to gauge frivolity without knowing more about the case, and about any evidence that Limewire may have that could prove out their claims. If their claims have no basis in existing law or lack any evidentiary support (i.e. are frivolous), then the lawyers, their firm, or even Limewire could be sanctioned under Rule 11.

            Now that I think about it, I suspect that Limewire's counterclaims are not as frivolous as we think. Few lawyers go out and just take a piss when it comes to filing motions. There is too much at stake. Sadly, it's only the frivolous suits or the cases involving plaintiffs who receive big judgments from what at first blush seem like frivolous suits that the public really cares to hear about.
            • by aussie_a (778472) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:53AM (#16196215) Journal
              Now that I think about it, I suspect that Limewire's counterclaims are not as frivolous as we think

              IANAL, and while in law terms it might be frivolous, in simple common sense terms, the counter claim isn't frivolous, it's just stating the plain facts. IMO that IS the RIAA's game. The fact they're able to target people who are breaking laws that the RIAA have helped buy merely allows them to have some aura of legitimacy. If these people were using p2p legally, they'd find other ways to try to crush p2p.
            • IAALs unite (Score:5, Informative)

              by caitsith01 (606117) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:44AM (#16196407) Journal
              IAAL too, and I tend to agree that despite common perceptions, it would be unusual for any serious law firm to advise its client to file a totally frivolous claim just as a stunt - apart from anything else the lawyers themselves would be exposed to a follow up suit from their clients. Looking at the circumstances, it's obvious that this will be high profile, the RIAA will come down on it as hard as possible, and the potential costs are huge, all of which suggest that it wouldn't happen without careful consideration of the consequences.

              As such I wouldn't be surprised if there was some merit in it too.

              In addition, I tend to regard the question of 'frivolity' as somewhat irrelevant for all but the most obviously stupid claims. It is an unfortunate consequence of the adversarial legal system that once you get over a certain fairly low bar in terms of merit, money, quality of representation, luck, and tactics all have a great deal to do with your prospects of success (as the RIAA know very well). As such it would be pretty surprising if Limewire didn't at least get over that minimum bar.
        • by stevesliva (648202) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:38AM (#16195471) Journal
          I'm just not sure a borderline-frivolous lawsuit is a "meaningful way" of pushing back.
          There's no such thing as a frivilous counterclaim once you've been sued. It's defensive. Lime wire didn't bring this suit... they only need the jury to consider their side of any part of the issue when it comes to damages.
          • by iriefrank (41550) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:42AM (#16195487) Homepage
            You can certainly get FRCP 11 sanctions on a counterclaim on the grounds that its frivolous. So, yeah, you can have a frivolous counterclaim.

            (b) Representations to Court.

            By presenting to the court (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances,--

            (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation;

            (2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law;
            • (b) Representations to Court.

              By presenting to the court (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances,--

              (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation;

              (2) the claims, defe

              • That explanation basically places subjective authority entirely in a judges hands.

                Well no kidding, that's exactly the kind of determination that a judge should be trusted to make. News flash! Judges can also determine the outcome of court cases as well! It's kind of their job!

                (Incidentally, you might want to cite all of FRCP Rule 11 instead of just the parts that appear to be most "subjective" to you.) Plus, I'm not sure I even understand your point. Determining whether or not a suit is frivolous is ju

                • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                  by plasmacutter (901737)
                  not really, a judge's duties are to interpret existing laws and weigh evidence to determine the guilt or innocence of a party.

                  That should involve examining the evidence backing up a claim and rendering a judgment, not simply dismissing the claim because the judge thinks the defendant should be granted the priviledge of not having a trial.

                  if this rule applied to murder.. you'd have a judge saying

                  "you know.. that OJ is just such a good football player and such a beloved public figure.. i just don't believe he
                  • by BeeBeard (999187) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:50AM (#16195919)
                    not really, a judge's duties are to interpret existing laws and weigh evidence to determine the guilt or innocence of a party.


                    Now I'm just going to tell you this and then retreat from this argument, because I can tell you're not familiar with this subject. I don't think you've ever heard of heresay rules, for example, where judges determine whether evidence is admissable or not in a court of law (this is not "weighing the evidence, by the way--that is something different). Like most of what a judge does, it is a purely administrative function that has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of a party, but instead provides a kind of constructive legal environment in which that determination can be made. In fairness, I didn't know that either until I went to law school. Cheers.

                    P.S. These are rules of civil procedure (i.e. they work great for civil cases, you know...lawsuits). Murder cases use a supplemental set of rules that prevent exactly the situation you described.
                  • "you know.. that OJ is just such a good football player and such a beloved public figure.. i just don't believe he could have murdered anyone.. therefore I'm tossing out the prosecution's case without even scrutinizing the facts" ...if a member of the jury decided to act thusly.

                    I was on a jury in a drug case.

                    Even if I did not have a personal policy of "no guilty verdict" in any drug case, I still would have had reservations regarding the lead detective. At the risk of sounding trite - he just didn't sound b
                  • not really, a judge's duties are to interpret existing laws and weigh evidence to determine the guilt or innocence of a party.
                    FYI, the court rules are created by the court (although there may be procedural rules enacted by the legislature as well). So for example, a State Supreme Court might promulgate rules of procedure to ensure a fair process, and local courts will all have their own special local rules (e.g., attach X cover page to Y motion, Motion Z are heard every Tuesday at 1:30, etc. etc. so long as they don't conflict with the generally applicable rules -- the Feds do the same thing essentially). It is very non-astonoshing that a court would then interpret rules it created, and FWIW, when a court interprets it's own rules, it is not engaging in the practice known as "legislating from the bench".

                    The purpose of Rule 11 is to prevent parties from engaging in abusive litigation. In the most general terms, Rule 11 means that if a party brings a suit, they need a minimal basis for that suit. Rule 11 is a court adopted rule and as such, it should be expected that courts will be responsible for interpreting and applying it. Remember, court procedure is merely about creating a fair forum so that a fact finder (judge or jury) can decide the ultimate issues. Shotgunning the court with baseless claims is detrimental to a fair process. Because it is the court's duty to provide a fair process, it must be able to step in when things get out of hand.
                    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                      by plasmacutter (901737)
                      well.. then for tens of thousands of citizens of this country.. rule 11 has failed to protect them from abusive RIAA litigation ^^
                    • Not quite: "abusive" means without a basis in existing law or fact, or that there are no reasonable arguments to extend existing law. A law is not "abusive" just because one dislikes it. So for example, if a person violates another's copyright, the content-owner may sue the infringing-user for damages.

                      An example of abusive litigation would be if the RIAA intentionally sued someone when it absolutely knew he/she had not violtaed their copyrights. It is not likely to be considered abusive for the RIAA to sue someone if they have a reasonable factual basis to believe a violation took place. Note, a "reasonable factual basis" is not the same as an "ironclad case". So linking an IP address "owner" with shared music files is probably a strong enough basis to start a case. Other facts might change this during the discovery process but at least intially, it certainly wouldn't be "abusive" in the sense used here. For example, if in discovery it came out that the IP address "owner" didn't actually buy the network service, but someone else did after stealing his credit card, the RIAA would really need to drop the suit.
                    • The idea that a single person can cause a multibillion dollar industry "damages" is most definitely unreasonable.

                      This multibillion dollar industry turning around and bankrupting a single person for said alleged "damage" is abusive any way you slice it.
            • Yes, but, what's the harm in it? If it's frivilous beyond all doubt the judges will throw it out, but it doesn't hurt to try, right? IANAL and all that, but over-reaching on counterclaims can't possibly be all that harmful.
              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by iriefrank (41550)
                It hurts to try because if you make a frivolous claim the attorney, law firm, or party may be subject to sanctions.
            • by rtb61 (674572)
              How can the suit be frivolous, when theose companies that form the RIAA have a record of criminal penalties against them for doing exactly what lime wire are claiming in the civil counter suit.

              The counter suit could form a effective means by which lime wire can garner support from other new players, as well as independent musicians, in the fight against companies who can not adapt to the leaner and far more comptetitive content publishing and distribution system of the 21st century. Musicians will be prod

            • LimeWire's lawyers are exactly right. Read the claim -- they cite an RIAA conspiracy "to destroy any online music distribution service they did not own or control, or force such services to do business with them on exclusive and/or other anticompetitive terms so as to limit and ultimately control the distribution and pricing of digital music, all to the detriment of consumers." That's pretty much what happened and continues to happen; you can complain that nobody forced LimeWire to break the law, but that
              • by Stonehand (71085)
                The whole point of copyright is temporary exclusivity. To prove that the RIAA is going further than the law specifically allows, would essentially require proving that the RIAA is going after music services which are not actually involving music owned by the RIAA's members... or that the RIAA compelled LimeWire to use RIAA music. If LimeWire can't prove either point, their suit should probably be tossed out, since it's a case of copyright being used precisely as designed.
                • by bit01 (644603) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:13AM (#16196049)

                  The whole point of copyright is temporary exclusivity.

                  There is a world of difference between temporary exclusivity on a single piece of music and ongoing long term exclusivity on a controlling percentage of the market.

                  If the law doesn't recognise that then the law is an ass.

                  ---

                  Don't be fooled, slashdot has many lying astroturfers [wikipedia.org] fraudulently misrepresenting company propaganda as third party opinion. FUD [wikipedia.org] too.

                • by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:13AM (#16196061)
                  "The whole point of copyright is temporary exclusivity"

                  It's temporary in the sense that Earth is temporary - we're gonna get swallowed by the sun or "Big Crush"ed or something, but the fact is that there's no real reason to believe, given current trends, that copyrights are gonna expire, just like there's no reason to believe the sun won't rise tomorrow. Copyrights have been extended so many times now that it's silly to believe that they'll end without massive changes in Congress.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by westlake (615356)
        The P2P services don't offer music, they offer files.

        This sort of logic-chopping will earn you a humiliating put-down in the classroom. Here it gets modded up to +5.

        You cannot communicate any information between individuals distant in time or space without first converting it into a "file" -- a form -- that can be conveniently stored and transmitted.

        Shouted into the air. Scratched into a clay tablet. Mechanically cut into a wax cylinder.

    • How about a quick explanation?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      "Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted"? I'm fairly sure that the RIAA quitting its frivolous and overbroad lawsuits would be granting much-needed relief.
      • by Americano (920576)
        Um... the dismissal is caused by failing to state a claim which constitutes grounds for providing the relief of a dismissal.

        It doesn't mean that Limewire can't identify how it would relieve them (that's a no-brainer), it means that they have shaky (perhaps no) legal grounds for seeking that relief.
  • by pjwalen (546460) <pjwalen&pezdispenser,net> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:37AM (#16195463) Homepage
    stay off my side? I agree with that LimeWire is saying, and I like LimeWire, but their business model is based off illegally downloading music, for the most part. I don't feel like I want this business model fighting fo rour rights. It doesn't give legitimacy to our side.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
      Not really. "the enemy of my enemy is my firend" aside, you have to remember that there aren't many cases being brought against RIAA; most people just fold up and pay up. Sure, we'd like to sue the bastards for being rapacious money grubbing assholes and using questionable legal tactics, but unfortunately, that's not an actionable offense - it describes most companies to one extent or another. The only way for the RIAA to lose is to actually get into a fight, so I'm all for anybody who wants to fight them.
      • by Tim C (15259)
        "the enemy of my enemy is my firend" aside

        An AC has already said it, but I think it bears repeating by someone a little more visible - the enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy, and nothing more. There's no guarantee that they're not also my enemy, and fully prepared tp and capable of fighting on two fronts.

        In this case, there's no guarantee that being associated with Lime Wire and other, similar services won't damage the case of those of us who fall somewhere between the two extremes (of the RIAA's "lock i
    • by plasmacutter (901737) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:46AM (#16195901)
      You do understand that our forefathers were traitors by definition of english law, that civil rights protestors were breaking jim crow laws, union men during the time of rockafeller were breaking laws, and finally anyone who drank during prohibition was breaking the law.

      When the law is wrong people will fight for their right to do what is criminal. that said.. what is criminal is not necessarily morally wrong.

      • by aussie_a (778472)
        When the law is wrong people will fight for their right to do what is criminal. that said.. what is criminal is not necessarily morally wrong.

        Actually 1 of those things isn't the same as the other (possibly the union men as well, haven't heard of them). Namely the drinking of alcohol during prohibition. They weren't fighting anything. They were just getting drunk and hope they wouldn't get caught.
        • Actually, prohibition was a prime example that you can't enforce a law that the people aren't willing to obey.

          The proponents of that law were in the extreme minority with little to gain by the population obeying it. For a law to succeed there has to be some resulting benefit desireable by the majority of the population. Murder is illegal because the majority of us desire to live in peace and without fear.

          The RIAA on the other hand has a lot to gain and more resources to effectively make a dent in the enforc
    • by mpapet (761907) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:46AM (#16195905) Homepage
      Whatever they claim just doesn't sound right because, you know... That whole Napster thing... And, you know, those napster users were probably smoking teh pot too. Criminals. All of them.

      The judge is thinking there's no way files can be legitimately shared... Who makes their own music? Why would they want to give it away? Smells like some kind of crazy thing my weird liberal parents might have done.

      Let's not forget the judge has a windows desktop using totally proprietary software with antivirus and antispyware and anti-this and anti-that run by a system administrator who babysits the judge when the computer has a hic-up.

      The judge experiences it all as working and working well, so where's the crime here?

      End of LimeWire.
      • Let's not forget the judge has a windows desktop using totally proprietary software with antivirus and antispyware and anti-this and anti-that run by a system administrator who babysits the judge when the computer has a hic-up.


        Also let the judge in on a dark and dirty secret. His computer has file sharing software built in! If P-P goes down, then MS folder shareing and MS explorer are at risk. Ask the judge if he would like the ability to e-mail a perfect copy of a photo or document which may or may not
    • by moochfish (822730)
      Their legitimacy (or lack there of) doesn't make their counter claims any less legitimate.
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      It's only illegal when you consider the fact that the RIAA and companies like it have bought extensions. Whilever they continue in such behaviour, and their previous extensions exist, I have a difficult time feeling sorry for them when people abuse their copyright.
    • by Rix (54095)
      My side says that libraries, whoever and however they are created, shouldn't be illegal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by brianosaurus (48471)
      You're too quick to dismiss downloading as illegal. I don't believe that has been determined yet, but I'm not a lawyer.

      Downloading music is a great way to try before you buy, so you don't get suckered into blowing your allowance on some one-hit-wonder crap band's whole album. Its a great way to explore different music and discover new bands, other than the "top 40" you might hear on the radio. If you had to buy every new CD that came out in order to hear new music, no one could afford it (maybe if you we
    • but their business model is based off illegally downloading music, for the most part.

      Read the complaint and countersuit. Their intended business model was to compete with the other online stores, sell DRM protected content and filter the copyrighted files by using hash signatures of the cartel's catalog. However the Monopoly Cartel was not interested at providing price competition in the market and did everyting to make Limewire simply go away by depriving them of a revenue model (no product to sell at an
  • FRCivP 12(6)(b) (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Every defense, in law or fact, to a claim for relief in any pleading, whether a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, shall be asserted in the responsive pleading thereto if one is required, except that the following defenses may at the option of the pleader be made by motion: (6) to dismiss for failure of the pleading to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, matters outside the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summar
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:37AM (#16195829) Journal
    At least as I see things. That is the hope that in the 'exploitation' of this countersuit, the judge sees some evidence of wrong-doing by the RIAA, and that judge, in some way, agrees they are using anticompetative practices. If that is all that is firmly established in this court case, it is enough to let other lawyers build upon, or I hope that it is.

    One thing is sure, as my grandpa used to say, there is no smoke without fire. The trouble is often seeing through the smoke to find the fire. I for one hope that Limewire and their lawyers at least make it more than slightly noticable to John Q. Public that the RIAA is anti-competative and anti-consumer. I hope they are able to blow aside the smoke so we all can see the smoldering fire of the RIAA's business model.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``the judge sees some evidence of wrong-doing by the RIAA, and that judge, in some way, agrees they are using anticompetative practices.''

      I don't know what the status of the RIAA is, but in many European countries, there is a single organization tasked with finding and prosecuting copyright violations. In other words, competition is prohibited by law. If the same is true of the RIAA, I don't see how they can be accused of anticompetitive practices.

      ``One thing is sure, as my grandpa used to say, there is no
  • by RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:02AM (#16195989) Homepage Journal
    As much as I wish someone other than a file sharing software maker was running the ball on this play, it's still a big deal for someone to be bringing up antitrust issues as a plaintiff against the RIAA - even if it's only as a "counter plaintiff".

    For the time being, I say forget who LimeWire is and what the majority of their users do; get behind them in this. Whether LimeWire prevails in their defense pales in significance compared to the importance of these counterclaims.

    IANAL of course.
  • by bigskank (748551) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:03AM (#16196001)
    First, IANAL, but I am in law school and have at least a basic knowledge of counterclaims, the FRCP, etc...

    I'm glad to see someone finally attempting to take the RIAA to the mat on this one. There probably is some substance to the allegations, and it certianly would do a good job of airing the RIAA's dirty laundry, since this counter claim will entitle LimeWire to all sorts of discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

    Unfortunately....

    This is a very poorly written counterclaim. It reads like a junior-high anti-RIAA manifesto, not a pleading appropriate for a federal lawsuit. For example (this is all taken from the counterclaim):

    "27. Counter-Defendants' latest attack on such 'disruptive' technology is not new, for history shows that when new technology is invented that potentially disrupts the exclusive distribution channels content owners are accustomed to and profit from, they usally attack such technology with a vengance"

    "28. This case is but one part of a much larger modern conspiracy to destroy all innovation that content owners cannot control and that disrupts their historical business models."

    Now, I know allegations set forth in a pleading do not require specifics (that what discovery and trial are for...to prove facts), but c'mon. These are extraordiarily sweeping generalizations. Further, LimeWire may have problems actually proving the RIAA is attempting to destory "all innovation", as allegation 28 claims. I imagine that they are attempting to use this pleading as some kind of a manifesto, but that is not appropriate for a court of law, and virtually ensures limewire will not survive RIAA's motion for summary judgment on the counterclaim.

    Fortunately, pleadings can be easily amended, and I hope LimeWire will amend them so the legitimate issues can actually have a chance to be litigated. Such sweeping allegations do little to set precedent, even with a summary judgment motion (as a smarter litigator would lay out more specific claims, largely precluding any precedental effect); nonetheless, it makes the anti-RIAA cause seem childish and devoid of intellegent argument against the RIAA's monopolistic practices.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Technician (215283)
      "28. This case is but one part of a much larger modern conspiracy to destroy all innovation that content owners cannot control and that disrupts their historical business models."

      Now, I know allegations set forth in a pleading do not require specifics (that what discovery and trial are for...to prove facts),


      You mean specifics that are spelled out including the introduction of the Player Piano and piano rolls, The introduction of the Radio, The introduction of the Betamax VCR, the Introduction of the Rio MP3
  • I don't download tunage. I go to a friend's house with my hard drive. Plug it in, and click and drag and click and drag....

    The RIAA will have a hard time beating an MP3 LAN party....

    RS

    • I don't download tunage. I go to a friend's house with my hard drive. Plug it in, and click and drag and click and drag....

      Replace "hard drive" with "I-Pod" or "thumb drive" and you are much closer. No LAN party needed, just a few social visits among friends.
  • ...and artists!

    Thanks!
    rhY
  • by dparnass (1004755)
    The RIAA is running scared. Thier stranglehold om the music industry is about end. THis is good. Not becasue the RIAA is EVIL, but becasue it is in my opinion Stagnant. The best artists it seem never get a good break as oftwen as it seems. THe interent is just beginning to open the floodgate on what is available in Music. The RIAA does not have control over what people are listening to any more and the music industry will change for the better. The people who take adavantage of the internet will profit for
  • The eventual plan (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dirtside (91468) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @10:10AM (#16198757) Journal
    I figured this out the other day.

    The eventual plan of the copyright cartels is this: First, continually lobby Congress for longer and longer copyright protections. That way, nothing ever falls out of copyright.

    As time goes on, the cartels will buy up all the copyrighted content they can, from individual content producers. Not all content producers will be willing to sell to the cartels, but many will.

    As the amount of copyrighted material piles up, it'll be harder and harder to produce something which doesn't resemble other copyrighted material, most of which will be owned by the cartels.

    So the cartels will sue (or threaten to sue) the individual content producers for violating their copyrights -- and the deal they'll offer is either to buy the content for a pittance (and drop the lawsuit), or to take it all in the lawsuit (which they will have little trouble winning, most of the time).

    The end result is that the cartels will control almost all copyrightable content. The only material they don't control will be the content that's been produced so recently that they haven't had time to sue the creator yet.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing for money.

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