RIAA faces possible class action over suing the innocent

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Cornholio, Aug 20, 2007.

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  1. Cornholio

    Cornholio Are you threatening me? Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    The scene at RIAA headquarters this week must have been fascinating. The group yesterday announced that it has finished sending out a new batch of 503 "pre-litigation letters" to 58 different universities around the US, generously offering to let students settle copyright infringement claims "at a discounted rate" before those claims go to trial. The letters blanketed the country, going everywhere from the University of Hawaii to Swarthmore, from Boston College to Tulane, from Emory to Chico State. And then the RIAA learned that its aggressive litigation tactics have placed it on the receiving end of a class action lawsuit.

    Single mom Tanya Andersen, a defendant in a previous lawsuit brought by the RIAA, was one of the first to have her case dismissed with prejudice (it cannot be refiled at a later date). Throughout the court battle, she maintained her total innocence, a claim given even more plausibility by the fact that she was charged with downloading numerous gangsta rap tracks.

    After the case was dismissed, Andersen then sued the RIAA for malicious prosecution, and her attorney filed court documents in an Oregon federal court on Wednesday that seek to elevate the case to class action status.

    The development, first reported by p2pnet, hopes to make a class out of those "who were sued or were threatened with sued by Defendants for file-sharing, downloading or other similar activities, who have not actually engaged in actual copyright infringement." In other words, a class of the innocent. In the complaint, Andersen alleges that the RIAA "has engaged in a coordinated enterprise to pursue a scheme of threatening and intimidating litigation in an attempt to maintain its music distribution monopoly."

    Andersen is also going after the RIAA's investigative arm, SafeNet, formerly known as MediaSentry. This group allegedly "conducts illegal, flawed and negligent investigations for the RIAA and its controlled member companies" and has also featured in past complaints.

    Some of Andersen's claims against the RIAA have been tried by other defendants who chose to fight back, but this is the first time that a judge has been asked to consolidate such lawsuits into a class action.

    Proving many of these charges will be difficult. Andersen alleges that the RIAA has violated the RICO racketeering act, but we have previously discussed why this will be hard to prove. The charge of malicious prosecution could be a bit easier, though Andersen (and other defendants, if the class is certified) will have to show a pattern of willful behavior by the RIAA, something that could be very difficult without having an insider from the organization "flip."

    Should the case eventually be certified as a class action, it would bring a whole new kind of negative attention to the RIAA's legal campaign. The fact that the class specifically includes only those who have not committed copyright infringement will certainly go a long way toward making this look like David v. Goliath redux. Whether deserved or not, these sort of cases are giving the RIAA a reputation for suing innocent people, a perception that a class action suit would only heighten. Expect a vigorous defense from the association.

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070817-riaa-faces-first-class-action-suit.html
     
  2. ec461

    ec461 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Somewhere
    If anyone is interested, lawyer Ray Beckerman usually does some pretty solid reporting on his website.

    He's fighting the good fight!
     
  3. ec461

    ec461 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Somewhere
    Seriously, at this point, who in their right mind likes the RIAA? They sue disabled mothers, homeless people and even dead people. What's next - plants and animals? They've killed all the guitar tab sites like OLGA and they probably have their lawyers working on lawsuits against anyone who has ever sung/played a song around a campfire.
     
  4. LeeS

    LeeS Music Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Great to see people fighting back. :agree:
     
  5. Mister Charlie

    Mister Charlie "Music Is The Doctor Of My Soul " - Doobie Bros.

    Location:
    Aromas, CA USA
    Well, if they charge for campers to attend the camp and they use RIAA music for the campfire, then legally they ARE supposed to pay. Yeah, I know. But so long as the camp makes money, part of the camp experience is the music and therefore....
     
  6. Bahax

    Bahax New Member

    Location:
    San Francisco
    ^
    Wouldn't that be ASCAP/BMI?

    I'm sure they have their people lurking behind the bushes, ready to pounce.
     
  7. Joey Self

    Joey Self Red Forman's Sensitivity Guru

    Being familiar with the Biblical story of David and Goliath, I'm always amused at seeing that used in a context like this. This was never a fair fight, as David had divine power on his side. Goliath didn't stand a chance. I'm not sure either party in an American lawsuit can claim such an advantage. :)


    JcS
     
  8. ricks

    ricks Custom Title Revoked

    Location:
    NYS
    "Andersen alleges that the RIAA has violated the RICO racketeering act"

    A court getting the chance, maybe, to decide this is a good thing.
     
  9. Mister Charlie

    Mister Charlie "Music Is The Doctor Of My Soul " - Doobie Bros.

    Location:
    Aromas, CA USA
    The burden of proof for the RICO will be too high. But a class action suit does benefit those innocently caught up in it. And it does make the RIAA look like overreaching meanies.
     
  10. il pleut

    il pleut New Member

    it couldn't happen to a nicer group of dinosaurs.
     
  11. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    Location:
    United States
    This is great! I love it!
     
  12. jkauff

    jkauff Senior Member

    Location:
    Akron, OH
    With all the music companies' profits going south, the RIAA's funding will probably dry up as well.
     
  13. Cymbaline

    Cymbaline Shiny Dog

    Location:
    Buda, TX
    Well, if anyone in this suit had divine power on their side, I guarantee ya it would NOT be the RIAA.
     
  14. jstraw

    jstraw Forum Resident

    What's the rationale for stopping the spread of tablature?
     
  15. Mellenhead

    Mellenhead Active Member

    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    To make you go out and buy the tab book or sheet music or buy it online somehow. If it is a more obscure song or album it might be easier said than done.
     
  16. jstraw

    jstraw Forum Resident


    Fewer kids learning to play guitar...the RIAA, left to it's own devices, would burn music to the ground, turn the soil and salt the ground.
     
  17. visprashyana

    visprashyana New Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    The earlier post is correct, the RIAA has nothing to do with the mechanical licenses that should be issued for this type of situation. If stores, bars, and restaurants have to pay a licensing fee to use someone's work product, why would an outdoor camp not have to? I feel like we have Robin Hoods everyone and they enjoy giving away other peoples' art.

    "God knows Neil Young has enough money and he doesn't need any more."

    It's always easier to take someone else's money out of their pocket instead of taking it out of your own.
     
  18. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Maybe because the camp site isn't putting bands on perse. They are just allowing people to camp and the people sit around the camp fire and then play some music. Its a bit different than a store broadcasting the music.

    Anyway we're discussing something that hasn't even happened.

    To be honest the way these guys behave it makes me want to file share. Luckily I can't be arsed and would rather have the physical product!

    Eddie
     
  19. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Location:
    Nashville, TN, USA
    I'm a little offended at the remarks about BMI lurking in the bushes. BMI pays their songwriters for public performances of the music they created and own. The RIAA does nothing of the sort. The RIAA works for the record companies. Songwriters make very little from record companies (RIAA). They make their income from concert sales, if they are the performer, but mostly make their money from their PRO of choice (BMI, ASCAP or SESAC). I am a BMI songwriter, and they look out for my rights concerning my creative works.

    Frank R.
     
  20. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Location:
    Nashville, TN, USA
    I have to add that I am not defending the RIAA. What they have done is crazy in many cases.

    Frank R.
     
  21. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Location:
    Nashville, TN, USA
    Oh yeah...there is a blanket license that campgrounds must get from BMI and ASCAP if they use music on said campgrounds. It's considered a public performance.

    Frank R.
     
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