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The Courts

RIAA Gives Up In Atlantic Recording v. Brennan 230

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Atlantic Recording v. Brennan, the landmark Connecticut case in which the first decision rejecting the RIAA's 'making available' theory was handed down, the RIAA has finally thrown in the towel and dismissed its own case. Mr. Brennan never appeared in the case at all. In February, 2008, the RIAA's motion for a default judgment was rejected for a number of reasons, including the Court's ruling (PDF) that there is no claim for 'making available for distribution' under the US Copyright Act. The RIAA moved for reconsideration; that motion was denied. Then, in December, the RIAA's second motion for default judgment was rejected. Finally the RIAA filed a 'notice of dismissal' ending the case."
The Courts

Collegiate Resistance To RIAA In Michigan 175

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "There are now at least three complaints being investigated in Michigan against the RIAA's unlicensed investigator, SafeNet a/k/a MediaSentry, one of which was filed by Central Michigan University itself. Two other complaints have been filed by students, one from Northern Michigan University and one from University of Michigan. This appears to be part of the growing sense of exasperation colleges and universities are feeling over the RIAA's harassment."

Investors, "Beware" of Record Companies 301

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The Motley Fool investment Web site warns investors to beware of 'Sony, BMG, Warner Music Group, Vivendi Universal, and EMI.' In an article entitled 'We're All Thieves to the RIAA,' a Motley Fool columnist, referring to the RIAA's pronouncement in early December in Atlantic v. Howell, that the copies which Mr. Howell had ripped from his CDs to MP3s in a shared files folder on his computer were 'unauthorized,' writer Alyce Lomax said 'a good sign of a dying industry that investors might want to avoid is when it would rather litigate than innovate, signaling a potential destroyer of value.'"

RIAA Not Suing Over CD Ripping, Still Calling Rips 'Unauthorized' 175

An Engadget article notes that the Washington Post RIAA article we discussed earlier today may have been poorly phrased. The original article implied that the Association's suit stemmed from the music ripping. As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for placing files in a shared directory. Engadget notes that the difference here is that the RIAA is deliberately describing ripped MP3 backups as 'unauthorized copies' ... "something it's been doing quietly for a while, but now it looks like the gloves are off. While there's a pretty good argument for the legality of ripping under the market factor of fair use, it's never actually been ruled as such by a judge -- so paradoxically, the RIAA might be shooting itself in the foot here."
The Courts

RIAA Backs Down On "Unlicensed Investigator" 191

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Texas grandmother Rhonda Crain got the RIAA to drop its monetary claims against her after she filed counterclaims against the record companies for using an investigator, MediaSentry, which is not licensed to conduct investigations in the State of Texas. The RIAA elected to drop its claims rather than wait for the Judge to decide the validity of Ms. Crain's charges (PDF) that the plaintiff record companies were 'aware that the... private investigations company was unlicensed to conduct investigations in the State of Texas specifically, and in other states as well... and understood that unlicensed and unlawful investigations would take place in order to provide evidence for this lawsuit, as well as thousands of others as part of a mass litigation campaign.' Similar questions about MediaSentry's unlicensed investigations were raised recently by the State Attorney General of Oregon in Arista v. Does 1-17"

BSA Software Piracy Fight Smacks of RIAA Crackdown 282

Ron Paul Dennis Kucinich writes "A Business Software Alliance raid on musical-instrument maker Ernie Ball Inc. cost the company $90,000 in a settlement. Soon after, Microsoft sent other businesses in the region around Ball's a flyer offering discounts on software licenses, along with a reminder not to wind up like Ernie Ball. Enraged, CEO Sterling Ball vowed never to use Microsoft software again, even if 'we have to buy 10,000 abacuses.' Similar BSA raids around the country have been provoking strong reactions from put-upon business owners, echoing similar reactions to music-lovers targeted by the RIAA."
The Courts

FSF Reaches Out to RIAA Victims 329

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In what has been termed the ''RIAA's worst nightmare', the Free Software Foundation has announced that it is coming to the aid of the victims of RIAA lawsuits, by establishing an Expert Witness Defense Fund to assist defendants in RIAA cases. The purpose of the fund is 'to help provide computer expert witnesses to combat RIAA's ongoing lawsuits, and to defend against the RIAA's attempt to redefine copyright law.' The funds will be used to pay fees and/or expenses of technical expert witnesses, forensic examiners, and other technical consultants assisting individuals named as defendants in non-commercial, peer-to-peer file sharing cases brought by the RIAA, EMI, SONY BMG, Vivendi Universal, and Warner Bros. Records, and their affiliated companies, such as Interscope, Arista, UMG, Fonovisa, Motown, Atlantic, Priority, and others."
The Courts

RIAA College Litigations Getting A Bumpy Ride 270

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA's juggernaut against colleges, started in February of this year, seems to be having a bumpier and bumpier ride. The normal game is to call for a subpoena, to get the name and address of the students or staff who might have used a certain IP address. The normal game seems to be getting disrupted here and there. A Virginia judge threw the RIAA's motion out the window, saying that it was not entitled to such discovery, in a case against students at the College of William & Mary. A New Mexico judge denied the application on the ground that there was no reason for it to be so secretive, in a case involving University of New Mexico students. He ultimately required the RIAA to serve a full set of all of the underlying papers, for each 'John Doe' named, and to give the students 40 days in which to review the papers with counsel, and make a motion to quash if they chose to do so. In a stunning development, the Attorney General of the State of Oregon made a motion to quash the RIAA's subpoena on behalf of the University of Oregon, on grounds which are fully applicable to every case the RIAA has brought to date: the lack of scientific validity to the RIAA's "identification" evidence. The motion is pending as of this writing. Students have themselves made motions to vacate the RIAA's ex parte orders and/or quash subpoenas in over half a dozen cases. Much combat remains, but the RIAA's campaign is no longer a hot knife cutting through butter on the nation's campuses."

Bill Would Tie Financial Aid To Anti-Piracy Plans 425

theodp writes "The MPAA is applauding top Democratic politicians for introducing an anti-piracy bill that threatens the nation's colleges with the loss of a $100B a year in federal financial aid should they fail to have a technology plan to combat illegal file sharing. The proposal, which is embedded in a 747-page bill, has alarmed university officials. 'Such an extraordinarily inappropriate and punitive outcome would result in all students on that campus losing their federal financial aid — including Pell grants and student loans that are essential to their ability to attend college, advance their education, and acquire the skills necessary to compete in the 21st-century economy,' said university officials in a letter to Congress. 'Lower-income students, those most in need of federal financial aid, would be harmed most under the entertainment industry's proposal.'"
The Courts

U.of Oregon Says No to RIAA 241

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The University of Oregon has filed a motion to quash the RIAA's subpoena for information on student identities in what is believed to be the first such motion made by a university with support from the state Attorney General. The motion (pdf) explains that it is impossible to identify the alleged infringers from the information the RIAA has presented: 'Five of the seventeen John Does accessed the content in question from double occupancy dorm rooms at the University. With regard to these Does, the University is able to identify only the room where the content was accessed and whether or not the computer used was a Macintosh or a PC ... The University cannot determine whether the content in question accessed by one occupant as opposed to another, or whether it was accessed instead by a visitor.' The AG's motion further argues (pdf) that "Plaintiffs' subpoena is unduly burdensome and overbroad. It seeks information that the University does not readily possess. In order to attempt to comply with the subpoena, the University would be forced to undertake an investigation to create discovery for Plaintiffs — an obligation not imposed by Rule 45. As the University is unable to identify the alleged infringers with any accuracy, it cannot comply with its federal obligation to notify students potentially affected by the subpoena. One commentator has likened the AG's argument to saying, in effect, that the RIAA's evidence is 'rubbish'."
The Courts

Class Action Initiated Against RIAA 315

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Ever since the RIAA's litigation campaign began in 2003, many people have been suggesting a class action against the RIAA. Tanya Andersen, in Oregon, has taken them up on it. The RIAA's case against this disabled single mother, Atlantic v. Andersen, has received attention in the past, for her counterclaims against the RIAA including claims under Oregon's RICO statute, the RIAA's hounding of her young daughter for a face-to-face deposition, the RIAA's eventual dropping of the case 'with prejudice,' and her lawsuit against the RIAA for malicious prosecution, captioned Andersen v. Atlantic. Now she's turned that lawsuit into a class action. The amended complaint seeking class action status (PDF) sues for negligence, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, federal and state RICO, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, trespass, invasion of privacy, libel and slander, deceptive business practices, misuse of copyright law, and civil conspiracy."
The Courts

RIAA Short on Funds? Fails to Pay Attorney Fees 341

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Can it be that the RIAA, or the "Big 4" record companies it represents, are short on funds? It turns out that despite the Judge's order, entered a month ago, telling them to pay Debbie Foster $68,685.23 in attorneys fees, in Capitol v. Foster, they have failed to make payment. Ms. Foster has now had to ask the Court to enter Judgment, so that she can commence 'post judgment collection proceedings'. According to Ms. Foster's motion papers (pdf), her attorneys received no response to their email inquiry about payment. Perhaps the RIAA should ask their lawyers for a loan?"
The Courts

RIAA Adds 23 Colleges to Hit List, Avoids Harvard 282

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA has added 23 new colleges and universities to its hit list, but deliberately omitted Harvard, apparently afraid of the reaction it's likely to get there, having been told by 2 Harvard law professors to take a hike. 'Under the new scheme, the RIAA sends out what it calls 'pre-litigation' settlement letters. Actually, they're self-incrimination documents and they're designed to extort preset amounts of around $3,000 from students with the empty promise that by paying up, they'll remove the threat of being hauled into court on charges of copyright infringement. In reality, all the students are doing is providing the RIAA with personal and private information which can conceivably be used against them ...'"

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