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Journal Journal: EFF travels to Arizona to argue Howell case

Although based in San Francisco, and only an amicus curiae in the Phoenix, Arizona, case of Atlantic v. Howell, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is sending its senior intellectual property lawyer Fred Von Lohmann to Phoenix to argue the Howell case, on behalf of the defendant, who is not represented by counsel. Due to the RIAA's attempt to take advantage of Mr. Howell's being undefended to try to convince the judge that merely 'making files available for distribution' -- i.e., just having them on one's computer in a manner that is accessible to sharing -- and that copying files from one's cd onto one's computer in mp3 format is itself "unlawful", EFF filed an amicus brief in January. Now it's taking the unusual step of actually sending someone to the courthouse to orally argue the motion.
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Journal Journal: Should RIAA's investigator have to disclose backup? 12

A technology battle is raging in UMG v. Lindor in Brooklyn over whether the RIAA's investigator, SafeNet (formerly known as MediaSentry), which has produced certain *txt printouts, now needs to disclose its digital files, validation methodology, testing procedures, failure rates, software manuals, protocols, packet logs, source code, and other materials, so that the validity of its methods can be evaluated by the other side. SafeNet and the RIAA say no, the information is "proprietary and confidential". Ms. Lindor says yes, if you're going to testify in federal court the other side has a right to test your evidence. A list of what is being sought is here (pdf). MediaSentry has produced 'none of the above'. "Put up or shut up" says one commentator to MediaSentry. What do you say?
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Journal Journal: Connecticut Judge rejects RIAA 'making available' theory 3

A federal judge in Connecticut has rejected the RIAA's "making available" theory, which is the basis of all of the RIAA's peer to peer file sharing cases. In Atlantic v. Brennan, in a 9-page opinion (pdf), Judge Janet Bond Arterton held that the RIAA needs to prove "actual distribution of copies", and cannot rely -- as it was permitted to do in Capitol v. Thomas -- upon the mere fact that there are song files on the defendant's computer and that they were "available". This is the same issue that has been the subject of extensive briefing in two contested cases in New York, Elektra v. Barker and Warner v. Cassin. Judge Arterton also held that the defendant had other possible defenses, such as the unconstitutionality of the RIAA's damages theory and possible copyright misuse flowing from the record companies' anticompetitive behavior.
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Journal Journal: U. of Maine legal clinic fights RIAA; first in country

"A student law clinic is about to cause a revolution" says p2pnet. For the first time in the history of the RIAA's ex parte litigation campaign against college students, a university law school's legal aid clinic has taken up the fight against the RIAA in defense of the university's college students. Student attorneys at the University of Maine School of Law's Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, under the supervision of law school prof Deirdre M. Smith, have moved to dismiss the RIAA's complaint in a Portland, Maine, case, Arista v. Does 1-27, on behalf of 2 University of Maine undergrads. Their recently filed reply brief (pdf) points to the US Supreme Court decision in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, and the subsequent California decision following Twombly, Interscope v. Rodriguez, which dismissed the RIAA's "making available" complaint as mere "conclusory", "boilerplate" "speculation". The 2 students represented by Cumberland join the 8 students represented by a prominent Portland law firm, bringing to 10 the number of University of Maine students fighting back in this case.
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Journal Journal: RIAA objects to Oregon AG's request for information 2

The RIAA is apparently having an allergic reaction to the request by the State Attorney General of Oregon for information about the RIAA's investigative tactics, in Arista v. Does 1-17, the Portland, Oregon, case targeting students at the University of Oregon. See The Oregonian, December 1, 2007 ("UO suspects music industry of spying") and p2pnet, November 29, 2007 ("RIAA may be spying on students: Oregon AG"). Not only are the record companies opposing the request (pdf), they're asking the Judge not to even read it. (pdf) Commentary: "RIAA scorns Oregon University request".
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Journal Journal: RIAA targets 7 out of 8 Ivies; steers clear of Harvard 7

The RIAA's latest anti-college round of "early settlement" letters targets 7 out of 8 Ivy League schools, but continues to give Harvard University a wide berth. This is perhaps the most astonishing display of cowardice exhibited to date by the multinational cartel of SONY BMG, Warner Bros. Records, EMI, and Vivendi/Universal (the "Big Four" record companies, which are rapidly become less "big"). The lesson which other colleges and universities should draw from this latest of many acts of cowardice: "All bullies are cowards. Appeasement of bullies doesn't work. Standing up to bullies and fighting back has a much higher success rate."
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Journal Journal: Ohio U. Gets RIAA off its back by paying $60k + $16k a year 6

Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, has found the key to getting the RIAA to stop inundating it and its students with "settlement" letters. According to the university's student online publication, the university paid $60,000, plus $16,000 per year "maintenance", to Audible Magic, the business partner of the RIAA's all-purpose expert witness Dr. Doug Jacobson, for its "CopySense" filtering software. Once it made the payments, the letters stopped. This of course raises a lot of questions as to the 'disinterestedness' of Dr. Jacobson, whose deposition in the UMG v. Lindor case was the subject of interesting Slashdot commentary.
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Journal Journal: Rochester Judge Holds RIAA Evidence Insufficient 7

Judge David G. Larimer, presiding in Rochester, New York, has denied an RIAA application for default judgment on the ground that the RIAA's evidence was insufficient, in that it contained no details of actual downloads or distributions, and no sufficient evidence that defendant was in fact Kazaa user "heavyjeffmc@KaZaA". The decision (pdf) concluded that "there are significant issues of fact regarding the identification of the defendant from his alleged "online media distribution system" username". (In case you're unfamiliar with the term "online media distribution system", that's because it is a term the RIAA coined 4 years ago to describe p2p file sharing accounts in its lawsuits; the term is not known to have been used by anyone else anywhere else.) In August a similar RIAA default judgment motion was denied on the ground that the pleadings failed to allege sufficient factual details supporting a claim of copyright infringement, in a San Diego, California, case, Interscope v. Rodriguez.
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Journal Journal: What Data &/or documents to request from MediaSentry? 5

The Slashdot and Groklaw communities were so helpful in preparing for the deposition of the RIAA's "expert" witness, Dr. Doug Jacobson, we thought we'd come back and ask for your thoughts on what documents and/or data to request from the RIAA's 'investigator', MediaSentry, Inc. The documents we have so far are just printouts, which were used at Dr. Jacobson's deposition, specifically exhibits 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. Of course we have some ideas of our own about what to demand, but we want to leave no stone unturned. For the technical minded among you, this is your chance to be a part of bringing the RIAA's litigation campaign down.
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Journal Journal: Defendants Move to Dismiss RIAA Complaints 2

The Interscope v. Rodriguez decision dismissing the RIAA's boilerplate complaint, and the $9250-per-song-file verdict in Capitol v. Thomas, have inspired some new dismissal motions in RIAA cases. In Charleston, South Carolina, Catherine Njuguna has moved to dismiss on the basis of the legal insufficiency of the RIAA's complaint and on constitutional grounds due to the excessive damages sought by the RIAA, while in Brooklyn, New York, MS victim Rae J Schwartz has moved to dismiss based solely on the complaint's failure to state a claim under Rodriguez and the Supreme Court decision, Bell Atlantic v. Twombly.
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Journal Journal: Motion filed to set aside RIAA's $222k verdict 13

Jammie Thomas has filed a motion to set aside the $222,000 verdict obtained against her by the RIAA, based on allegations she infringed $23.76 worth of song files. Her motion papers (pdf) argue that the verdict is excessive and in violation of the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution, and should be reduced to $150 or less, or a new trial ordered. (See, e.g. UMG v. Lindor). It has been reported that the RIAA issued a statement that "Thomas [is] not taking responsibility for her actions, and .... they want to resolve the case in a "fair and reasonable" fashion. It is unfortunate that the defendant continues to avoid responsibility for her actions....". In my experience that is RIAA-speak for "after the verdict we have tried to make a settlement with her, but she wouldn't meet our terms".
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Journal Journal: Announcing the release of my new book 22

This feels like a mega-spam entry, and I'm very self conscious about posting it, but I'm excited about this and I wanted to share . . .

I just published my third book, The Happiest Days of Our Lives. I mention it here because it's all about growing up in the 70s, and coming of age in the 80s as part of the D&D/BBS/video game/Star Wars figures generation, and I think a lot of Slashdot readers will relate to the stories in it.

I published a few of the stories on my blog, including Blue Light Special. It's about the greatest challenge a ten year-old could face in 1982: save his allowance, or buy Star Wars figures?

After our corduroy pants and collared shirts and Trapper Keepers and economy packs of pencils and wide-ruled paper were piled up in our cart, our mom took our three year-old sister with her to the make-up department to get shampoo and whatever moms buy in the make-up department, and my brother and I were allowed to go to the toy department.

"Can I spend my allowance?" I said.

"If that's what you want to do," my mom said, another entry in a long string of unsuccessful passive/aggressive attempts to encourage me to save my money for . . . things you save money for, I guess. It was a concept that was entirely alien to me at nine years old.

"Keep an eye on Jeremy," she said.

"Okay," I said. As long as Jeremy stood right at my side and didn't bother me while I shopped, and as long as he didn't want to look at anything of his own, it wouldn't be a problem.

I held my brother's hand as we tried to walk, but ended up running, across the store, past a flashing blue light special, to the toy department. Once there, we wove our way past the bicycles and board games until we got to the best aisle in the world: the one with the Star Wars figures.

I'm really proud of this book, and the initial feedback on it has been overwhelmingly positive. I've been reluctant to mention it here, because of the spam issue, but I honestly do think my stories will appeal to Slashdotters.

After the disaster with O'Reilly on Just A Geek, I've decided to try this one entirely on my own, so I'm responsible for the publicity, the marketing, the shipping, and . . . well, everything. If this one fails, it will be because of me, not because a marketing department insisted on marketing it as something it's not.

Of course, I hope I can claim the same responsibility if (when?) it finds its audience . . . which would be awesome.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Counterclaims Upheld in UMG v. Del Cid 2

A federal judge in Tampa, Florida, has ruled that an RIAA defendant's counterclaim against the record companies for conspiracy to use unlicensed investigators, access private computer records without permission, and commit extortion, may move forward. The Court also sustained claims for violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as well as a claim under Florida law for deceptive and unfair trade practices. The decision (pdf) by Judge Richard A. Lazzara in UMG v. DelCid rejected, in its entirety, the RIAA's assertion of "Noerr Pennington" immunity, since that defense does not apply to "sham litigations", and Ms. Del Cid alleges that the RIAA's cases are "sham".
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Journal Journal: First Post-InterscopeDismissal Motion Against RIAA Complaint 2

Several weeks ago it was discovered that a California federal judge, in rejecting an RIAA application for default judgment, had dismissed the RIAA's standard complaint for failure to state a claim, calling it "conclusory" "boilerplate" "speculation" in Interscope v. Rodriguez. In the wake of that decision, a Queens, New York, woman being sued in Brooklyn federal court, Rae J Schwartz, has told the Court that she is making a motion to dismiss the complaint in her case, Elektra v. Schwartz. This is the first post-Interscope challenge to the RIAA's boilerplate, of which we are aware. This is the same case in which the RIAA had sent a letter to the Judge falsely indicating that AOL had "confirmed that defendant owned an internet access account through which copyrighted sound recordings were downloaded and distributed". Ms. Schwartz suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and has never engaged in file sharing, but the RIAA has pressed the case against her.

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