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RIAA Wants to Depose Dead Defendant's Children 560

Exchange writes "In Michigan, in Warner Bros. v. Scantlebury, after learning that the defendant had passed away, the RIAA made a motion to stay the case for 60 days in order to allow the family time to "grieve", after which time they want to start taking depositions of the late Mr. Scantlebury's children. Recording Industry vs The People have more details"
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RIAA Wants to Depose Dead Defendant's Children

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  • by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Monday August 14, 2006 @02:48AM (#15901048) Homepage Journal
    Are their lawyers salaried so that they can afford to go after the estate of a dead victim?

    There ought to be a law against that. (Salaried lawyers, that is. There's already laws against extortion.)
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xiroth ( 917768 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @03:13AM (#15901121)
    Because they just can't resist any opportunity to drag their reputation through the mud. It does seem, however, that in this case they've decided to take it one step further and have moved on to dragging it through low-grade manure.
  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @03:17AM (#15901126) Journal
    Representing the their pockets is their full time job.
    I fixed your typo for you.
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday August 14, 2006 @03:20AM (#15901133) Homepage Journal

    It's an industry association. It seems their strategy is to go after their targets as aggressively as possible, in order to send out the clear message that they can and will sue regular folks like you and me. They are effectively the "bad cop" while the individual record companies play the "good cop" giving the people the Brittany Spears and Korn they so desperately need.

    You can argue that filesharing is on the rise, or that the RIAA's enforcement actions have cut filesharing, depending on whose facts you use and how you slice them. But in the end the strategy of using the industry association to attack customers, while individual labels try to pretend they play no part in it, probably won't work. In a world where alternatives to label-centric distribution are nonexistent, the labels would be able to make this good cop, bad cop strategy work. But the irony here is that the tighter they squeeze, the more systems will slip through their fingers (apologies to G. Lucas). Sure, there are no "good" big labels to defect to, but there is much more incentive to escape the entire label system altogether.

    I keep waiting for one of the major labels to break ranks and start acting intelligent, giving customers fewer restrictions and defecting from the RIAA. It seems though, that none of them has the guts to do it, so they'll all keep pushing on consumers as hard as they can. The end result of the crackdown will eventually lead to a new business model in which the labels play a small or nonexistent role. Ironic, isn't it?

  • Re:Yuck... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Don_dumb ( 927108 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @03:32AM (#15901167)
    the fact that actual people make these decisions
    That's what amazes me all the time I hear of terrible acts, particularly corporate ones and you think to yourself "someone must have actually decided to do this", even worse a group of 'respected' people must have agreed on this. Perhaps it is just my middle-class upbringing but I always struggle to believe that actually at some point a director just says "I know, lets extract millions from the pension fund" or like today "The guy died but his death shouldn't stop us, he should have life insurance".
    And yet somehow the outrage only seems to be restricted to certain areas like /. I know there is a war going on but I have just looked at the BBC website and cant see the story yet. Just like the Sony Rookit scandal, I cant help thinking that the opposition to the RIAA/MPAA has to start using more effective propaganda campaigns to get public awareness.
  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14, 2006 @03:53AM (#15901213)
    Please ignore my posting as an AC. Please don't give in to a knee-jerk reaction that this proposision is borne of naievite' or ignorance. Just give it a fair consideration.

    This particular /. story is but one of many in the continuating iteration of the erosion of the principles that we as a people both hold dear and see as a bulwark and/or foundation of our country's core values and identity.

    Given our collective/shared outrage, why has no one provided a web site that is a central repository of similar issues where we could visit and through the magic of the internet (tubes) be provided a unified method of response. While there are individual, different political venues/web sites devoted to specicic causes, they're generally myopic to their own specific cause and often difficult to use.

    With no more ID problem than Yahoo, Excite or Gmail presents, current socio-political issues could be posted (to a centralized site) with a "Yay or Nay" button choice that when clicked would deliver ones opinion to their local political representitives and/or other principals in any given story.

    We read these stories here and vent our spleen.

    Alone in the glow of our displays.

    Who really cares. (And why should they?)

      How does it (really) effect change. (Without which our complaints are merely self-agrandizing whining.)

    Imagine if we could also in the course of a mouse click or two actually deliver our opinion to a relevant nexus.

    It ain't hard, it would work. It just hasn't been done.


    P.S. Given the recent description of the internet as a series of tubes, the ol' figure of speech "Going down the "Tubes" has a whole new meaning now!?!?

  • by Anyd ( 625939 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @04:42AM (#15901290)
    I live about 30 seconds away from the RIAA Lawyer's office. Ann Arbor is a very progressive city, maybe I should go protest (but getting sued would suck.) Any suggestions for signs? "Dead people can't steal music" has a good ring to it.
  • Re:Yuck... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by atrocious cowpat ( 850512 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:11AM (#15901354)
    Yep, a constant source of wonder for me, too.

    Who are these people? At one point or another they must have started as "regular" citizens (fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, neighbours -- consumers). When did they change? And why?

    A comparative study on criminal and corporate behaviour would probably be rather interesting... especially regarding the point when either subject decided that the interest of their immediate environment was not theirs anymore.

    I do not want to insinuate that all corporate lawyers/executives are criminals, far from it. However I'd really like to know at what point (and why) people start making descisions which they would -- perceiveing themselves at the recieving end of -- in all likelyhood reject.

    Has this been done? Does anyone have mor information on this subject? I'd be grateful.
  • by stud9920 ( 236753 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:59AM (#15901468)
    I am not a constitutionalist, but is picking one in 10.000 law breakers an unconstitutional -because unusual- punishment ? Isn't it actually also cruel to anihilate someone's future (which is basically what you do when you fine them $1m or more) for copying some data ?

    With this interpretation of the constitution, punishment on other crimes is still OK, because nearly all discovered crimes are punished, making the punishment usual, and arguably also not cruel, because there is no $1m damage.
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:30AM (#15901519) Journal
    Any suggestions for signs? "Dead people can't steal music" has a good ring to it.

    I can just see it. Next thing you know, the RIAA hires hitmen instead of lawyers.
  • by Yaotzin ( 827566 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:45AM (#15901554)
    Still, I'd prefer being screwed by the goverment rather than a company.
  • Re:Grieving Time? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Analogy Man ( 601298 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:27AM (#15901648)
    Heck, they let Ken Lay rest in peace while there are thousands out there that would have rather he rest in pieces. Granted on the civil side the cases march on...but that's about money not justice.
  • Re:Yuck... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mjm1231 ( 751545 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:37AM (#15901665)
    There is a story in the book "Freakonomics" that may be informative to this point.

    A man ran a bagel delivery service, wherein he would deliver bagels, cream cheese, butter, etc. to customers each morning. Payments were on the honor system, and a box was placed next to the bagels for this purpose. On average, people shorted him by a small percentage, but not enough that the system didn't work.

    One business that used this service was a bit unusual. It was a three story building, with the top management on the top floor, middle management and such on the second, and regular working stiffs on the first. Seperate bagel drop offs were made to each floor. Without fail, the third floor's payments were always short by the largest percentage.

    There is something inherently wrong with the system when those who rise to the top are more likely to be dishonest than the general population.

  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:37AM (#15901668)
    I live about 30 seconds away from the RIAA Lawyer's office. Ann Arbor is a very progressive city, maybe I should go protest (but getting sued would suck.) Any suggestions for signs? "Dead people can't steal music" has a good ring to it.

    [risking karma for this redundent statement]

    Puting out the nuttyness of sueing dead people seems to be an excelent angle. Not that such things are unreasonable in cases where there is an estate and there are acutal damages.

    An image of a man with ipod plugs in his ears, in a casket with "RIAA" top and "We sue dead people" at the bottom.
    "RIAA - we sue the unGreatful Dead" "RIAA - We act like scum so artists don't have to". Perhaps you can be more kind in your signage "We are not scum, we only represent scum", as we are talking the laywers here.

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:57AM (#15901705) Journal

    Ohn his tombstone - "Over my dead body!!!"

    The RIAA is going to have a problem with this. Not just an image problem - a legal problem.

    The survivors just have to say "I don't know for sure. You'll have to ask him. Anything else is just speculation, and I'm not under oath to speculate."

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    With no more ID problem than Yahoo, Excite or Gmail presents, current socio-political issues could be posted (to a centralized site) with a "Yay or Nay" button choice that when clicked would deliver ones opinion to their local political representitives and/or other principals in any given story

    There is such a site [vote.com]. The problem is that electronically delivered form-letters, petitions, or other such pleas fall on deaf ears -- and I can't blame the politicians for that. First, consider the normal volume of spam that one will receive from having a public email address in. Add to that the fact that any fool with a computer can send hundreds of emails, enter hundreds of electronic signatures, or cast hundreds of votes -- all pretending to be from a different person. That adds up to thousands of messages per day in your inbox; would you read them? Would you take them seriously?

    I'd give the e-petitions about as much consideration as V 1 A G R 4 4 F R E E ! ! !

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14, 2006 @08:39AM (#15901842)
    It's time for a revolution. Seriously, the RIAA is a cold, heartless institution that embodies all that is sleazy in the corporate world. I picture the boardroom, wall to wall with spray-on tans, cheap suits, butterfly collars and gold-on-a-roll chains mingling with chest hair. Aviator style sunglasses, greasy slicked back hair, alligator shoes, the whole nine yards. What's it going to take to shut these guys down? A mass anti-RIAA demonstration? A mass boycott of music for months? I mean really, does anyone 'have to' buy new cds? Or can you just listen to the radio and wait for the vultures to starve...
  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Monday August 14, 2006 @09:15AM (#15902014)
    The RIAA is lawyers. Representing the recording industry is their full time job.

    And, as any conspiracy theorist would ask one to do in a situation like this. Follow the money.

    The RIAA is paid by the recording companies, and the recording companies are paid for by people like you and me who buy their products.

    Seriously, at this point in the game, there is no need for them. People are more than willing and have the capabilities to distribute recorded music via bittorent, IRC, FTP, HTTP, USENET, and purchasing used music. There are excellent artists who have consciously made the decision to not go with the RIAA sanctioned labels for this reason.

    At this point in time, it seems clear that the proper decision is to boycott these people. I really didn't think I was doing anything that wrong but I bought my first RIAA album in years because I wanted it, but I'm done now. The only legal means of buying music today that I will do is from the used CD store, but otherwise, I'm going to "pirate" and do whatever it takes to not directly support these people anymore.

    WIth the new highdef DVDs not playing legal content and it is getting to the point that its practically a crime to pay for music and movies, I believe it is simply time to stop doing so.

  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @09:37AM (#15902149) Homepage

    With one simple change to our legal system. Don't let trade groups sue on behalf of members. Make the companies themselves stand up and be the bad guy. Like Monsanto, many of them will do it anyway. But you won't see Sony suing dead people or threatening their relatives. You will find a greater push to open source if MSFT and IBM have to step up and sue companies for license violations.

    Sometimes litigation is warranted, but if it tarnishes the image of the company they're going to be a little more circumspect about releasing the legal hounds. As long as member companies can distance themselves from getting their hands dirty by the action of enforcement entities it's going to keep happening.

    Hey, you right wingers. If you're so hopped up about abusive litigation, why are our fearless Republican defenders of the people stepping up to put a stop to things like this? Maybe because you're hypocrites? Just a thought.

  • by kalirion ( 728907 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @09:53AM (#15902249)
    How did the guy die? Anyway this can be turned into a wrongful death suit against the RIAA?
  • by ben there... ( 946946 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @10:17AM (#15902390) Journal
    Moreover, every single one of you who's going to go home tonight and tell your friends about the big, bad, RIAA, is doing exactly what they hope you'll do. The Slashdot editor who posted this submission is doing exactly what the RIAA hoped he'd do. The Slashbot who submitted the article is doing exactly what the RIAA hoped he'd do. You... quite honestly, the RIAA doesn't give a crap whether you think they're greedy or not, but they are glad you're commenting on the case, and they are very glad you're suggesting they're ruthless.

    It's a matter of getting the right publicity. When you're trying to stop ordinary people from doing something that hurts you, and you've reached a point that you have no options left but to create penalties for doing it, the wrong publicity is the right publicity.

    Did you forget that their primary business is selling music? It's not to prevent me and you from committing a crime. If the publicity that they acheive from this lawsuit is bad enough to make Joe Downloader never want to give them money again, they hurt their primary business by focusing too much on their...erm...secondary business.

    Of course, that's assuming people are smart enough not to buy from businesses they don't support. But maybe that's giving them too much credit.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday August 14, 2006 @02:12PM (#15904347)
    Copyright infringement is NOT theft.
    I've seen that argument so many times, but let me present you with this scenario. If you come up with an idea that is unique, and some schmuck takes that idea and beats you to the USPTO with it, don't you consider that idea stolen? Of course you do. But why? You haven't lost the idea.

    Alright, here's the (hopefully definitive) solution to this argument.

    The problem here is semantics: we're trying to use the words "stolen" and "theft" in three different ways. They have a legal definition, a colloquial definition, and an emotional connotation.

    The GP is correct: the legal definition of "theft" is not the same as the legal definition of "copyright infringment.

    You're correct: people often use the word "stolen" to describe a wide variety of property-related wrongs done to them, regardless of whether it fits the legal definition or not.

    So, both of you are correct... yet you're contradicting each other. How can that be?

    Well, that rests with the third (emotive) use of the word. The GP insists that copyright infringment is not theft because he feels that theft of real property is a greater moral offense than copying of "intellectual property," and therefore to equate the two is unfair. You say the opposite, because (apparently) you feel that copying of "intellectual property" is equally morally wrong as theft of real property. Thus the disagreement.

    Now, here's where my bias comes in: we need to break the tie.

    First of all, I agree with the GP: I say that copyright infringment is not only not as morally wrong as theft, but that in many cases it isn't morally wrong at all. I say this because copyright was never about protecting "intellectual property" to begin with. Instead, it is a social contract that exists for the purpose of maximizing the benefit to society. Therefore, when considering the merits of copyright, the effect it has on society as a whole is the only thing that matters, and that monopoly consideration afforded to individual artists is irrelevant. In fact, the artist never had any property rights to begin with: when a work is created it automatically becomes Public Domain but is then leased back to the artist, with the payment having been the original creation of it.

    Second, you don't have to take my word on this; the writings of the guy who created the copyright clause in the Constitution (i.e., Thomas Jefferson) make his position quite clear. See: 1 [uchicago.edu], 2 [kuro5hin.org].

  • by Lothar+0 ( 444996 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @03:13PM (#15904945) Homepage
    Yes, you've said that. What I am asking is, have they not thought of the increasing odds of violent retribution as the number of people they sue increases? Do they not care that eventually they will sue someone who might kill them, that's what my concern is.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant