Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Judge Denies RIAA Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim for Declaratory Judgment of Non-Infringement in Warner v. Stubbs in Oklahoma

In an Oklahoma case, Warner v. Stubbs, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange has permitted the RIAA to withdraw its case without prejudice, but denied the RIAA's motion to dismiss Ms. Stubbs's Counterclaim for a Declaratory Judgment of Non-Infringement:

March 13, 2007, Order, Granting So Much of Plaintiffs' Motion as Sought Dismissal of Their Complaint Without Prejudice, Denying So Much of Plaintiff's Motion as Sought Dismissal of Defendant's Counterclaim for a Declaratory Judgment*

This is the case in which the RIAA made its motion to withdraw the day after receiving Ms. Stubbs's answer and counterclaim.

Ms. Stubbs is represented by Marilyn Barringer-Thomson of Oklahoma City.

* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation

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6 comments:

StephenH said...

The RIAA takes a blow here. I think now they realize that a defendant may possibly win, or possibly will demand a lot of info from them, to countersue them. If this person wins, it could mean that spy bots are useless.

AMD FanBoi said...

It's outright disgusting that the court can decide so easily that the defendant hasn't been harmed enough yet for dismissal with prejudice, and the awarding of fees for such an unwarranted and unproven suit in the first place.

The defendant certainly has spent hundreds, if not thousands, of unnecessary dollars just to watch the RIAA cut and run! And maybe people like lawyers and judges who spend their working days immersed in the legal system don't find it intimidating or stressful, but I can assure you that the general public is very stressed out when sued for outrageous amounts of money by a well-funded legal adversary.

Just disgusting!

Alter_Fritz said...

AMD you get it a bit wrong if i understand the procedure correctly.

The RIAA isn't yet off the hook from paying money since the counterclaim is still valid.

dismissing without prejudice (1 day after the answer) isn't something that is considered so bad.
The judge explains it with better english in her order.
So don't be mad with her ;-)

as always i guess ray will correct me if i'm seriously wrong :-)

AMD FanBoi said...

Alter_Fritz, I don't at all question your feel for this issue, and I should undoubtedly preface every one of my posts with IANAL, nor to I play one on TV (I do love Boston Legal, however).

Reading the other decision that was dismissed prejudice included not only the fact that the RIAA couldn't sue on those same grounds a second time, but it also made the defendant the prevailing party. In essence, They Won!! This seems to be an essential element of then collecting your lawyer fees and other expenses, which are not possible otherwise. So even though the counterclaim is in effect as of this moment, the defendant has yet to win anything here. The RIAA is essentially saying, "We're losing, but now that it's dismissed, we didn't lose -- and hey, that guy's still out a lot of money. See, he should have just settled in the first place."

To me, that's a hollow victory.

Ray Beckerman said...

alter_fritz is right.

amd you're misinterpreting.

stephen is right that this is a "blow" to the RIAA.

Their whole strategy against innocent people is to keep the case going, then withdraw it when it suits them. The ruling in this case says "OK RIAA, you want to drop your case fine. But the defendant is entitled to continue her lawsuit against you to proclaim her innocence. And she just may be entitled to her attorneys fees in doing so." This is a very, very important ruling. From now on every defendant's attorney should include a counterclaim for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement and for attorneys fees.

Ray Beckerman said...

The court had no reason not to let the RIAA drop its case without prejudice. This is not a case like Elektra v. Santangelo where the case has been going on for 2 years, full pretrial discovery, on the trial calendar, etc. This is the case where the day they received the answer and counterclaim and realized their foe was Marilyn Barringer-Thomson, they immediately tried to drop the case. So Ms. Stubbs was not subjected to years of insanity like Ms. Santangelo and Ms. Foster.