Thursday, March 29, 2007

George Ziemann of AzOz Music Advises College Students: Don't be a "Chump"

Interesting opinion piece on AzOz:

Before You Pay the RIAA...

By George Ziemann -- March 24, 2007

There's a reason the RIAA is offering a "discount" on this year's series of extortion demands from college students. They want to get as many chumps as possible to roll over and fork up cash and they need for you to do it right away because their window of opportunity is closing. The jig is almost up.

A couple of days ago, there were two Slashdot articles which appeared, concerning two separate cases wherein the RIAA is about to be spanked -- Deborah Foster and Patti Santangelo. If you follow the links, pay particular attention to the comments by NewYorkCountryLawyer, which is Ray Beckerman.

Foster already "won" her case in the sense that the RIAA gave up. Foster wasn't going to roll over and she was close to having a trial. Since the RIAA really had no evidence in the first place, they dismissed the case to avoid trying to convince a jury their flimsy version of reality. It was dismissed with prejudice, which means the RIAA failed to prove its case and they can't come back and accuse her of the same offense later.

The judge also ruled that the RIAA had to pay Foster's attorney's fees. When the RIAA saw the bill, they said it was too high. The judge said something to the effect of, "Oh really? How much did you spend?" To this query, the RIAA has responded by a) ignoring it for a while, b) telling the judge he made a mistake in awarding attorney fees in the first place, and c) offered their billing records as long as the court agrees they're top secret and no one can look at them.

Complete article.

Commentary & discussion:

Law.Com Legal Blog Watch

Keywords: digital copyright online download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs

Add to Technorati Favorites


AMD FanBoi said...

This is truly looking to be the banner week of the tide turning against the RIAA.

Ema said...

"Don't be a dumbass. Make them try and prove it. They can't."

Yeah, their evidence is weak, but don't get too cocky. You still have to testify that you didn't do it, or face an adverse inference if you take the 5th!

Alter_Fritz said...

if you are a pirate you might of course be better off if you settle with them or you can of course try to use the unconstitutionality of $750 per song as defense if you are a pirate and still want to fight.

"They can't" referes to evidence only based on IP adresses I guess. If you as a pirate mess with your HDD after preservation notice or you lie in your depositon, then you will be in real big trouble!
Don't do that as a student!

Igor said... can chose NOT to testify then you don't need to invoke or lie if you in fact violated DMCA.

Plus, I don't think any trial would get that far. I just don't see the plaintiffs getting the current packet logs into evidence. As far as I can tell, the guy who generated them was not a n expert and did not devise the process. So he just pressed a few buttons or followed some script and the logs/screenshots were generated. If they try to introduce them I can't see them getting past foundation/relevance objection on them (granted I'm not a lawyer). For example: Foundation: nothing is known about this proprietary process. It's not peer reviewed nor normally relied upon by experts in the networking field. Furthermore, the logs they've produced in cases so far are not original digital copies but rather altered printouts. Third of all if their fact witness from Media Sentry only pressed a few buttons and knows nothing about the process but can authenticate the printouts as those his black box of a system produced these logs are still irrelevant since we don't know anything about the system and for all we know he presses a button and randomly generates an IP/username (or maybe even not randomly but not accurately) and prints it out. Making these logs irrelevant since there's no proof they connected to the defendant's IP instead of just a random string of numbers.

Also the RIAA's only other real witness is their expert who relied on these documents. If they can't establish the authenticity or accuracy of these documents then his conclusion is worthless.

Though again, I may be wrong in my understanding of the way evidence/objections work in real cases.

I agree with alter_fritz that after students have been served they should not destroy evidence or lie. However, I suspect that they can do whatever they please up until they get a court summons (which means if they get the pre-law suit letter they are still free to erase whatever they went without fear of punishment)...again not a lawyer so I may be wrong and they should probably consult with one before doing that.

Igor said...

actually I take the part about deleting stuff back. A friend of mine in Law School sent me a west law article on this pointed out that it maybe prohibited. Plaintiff maybe able to sue if they can show:
"(1) existence of a potential lawsuit; (2) the defendant's knowledge of the potential lawsuit; (3) destruction of evidence; (4) intent�if the act of interference is unlawful in itself, intent is presumed; in other cases the actual intent is required;[FN7] (5) a causal relationship between the act of destruction and the inability to prove the lawsuit; and (6) damage."

Though then I don't know this is different from any non threatened downloader who knows that RIAA is suing people but deletes files anyway.

ryan said...

Well I agree with the article here because I don't see it as being too long a time before these cases are cracked wide open and the whole plan falls apart. That being said it's taken 2 years to get this far, if BOTH sides decide they want to delay things, well I think some resolution will happen before you have to do too much :)

All right I know it's expensive to get that far, but I am perverse to see it as a good shot of burning up lots of RIAA monies that when it's found they never had reasonable cause to file suit in the first place (frivolous officially by a judge) then getting your money back will be easier :). I assume it would be VERY bad for them if their 20k defendants could point to one judge finding it so.

note: I do not actually recommend you do this, I’m fairly certain they would contest the fees of any ‘delay’ tactics even more than they do the real time spent (re Foster) on a case. Depending on the Judge I doubt you would get said cash back