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The Courts

Appeals Court Says RIAA Hearing Can't Be Streamed 208

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has overturned a lower court order permitting webcast of an oral argument in an RIAA case, SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, in Boston. As one commentator put it, the decision gives the RIAA permission to 'cower behind the same legal system they're using to pillory innocent people.' Ironically, the appeals court's own hearing had been webcast, via an mp3 file. The court admitted that this was not an appropriate case for a 'prerogative writ' of 'mandamus,' but claimed to have authority to issue a writ of 'advisory mandamus.' The opinion came as a bit of a surprise to me because the judges appeared, during the oral argument, to have a handle on the issues. The decision gave me no such impression. From where I sit, the decision was wrong in a number of respects, among them: (a) it contradicted the plain wording of the district court rule, (b) it ignored the First Amendment implications, and (c) there is no such thing as 'advisory' mandamus or 'advisory' anything — our federal courts are specifically precluded from giving advisory opinions."

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