Monday, June 04, 2007

New Tactic by RIAA: Trying to Force "Mass Settlement Conferences" Before Magistrate Levy

In a new tactic, the RIAA has attempted to "herd" three (3) unrelated cases to a joint settlement conference before Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy in Elektra v. Schwartz, Maverick v. Chowdhury, and Elektra v. Torres, all in Brooklyn, New York.

June 1, 2007, Letter of Richard Guida ("Joint" Settlement Conference Request)*
June 3, 2007, Letter of Ray Beckerman (Opposing "Joint" Settlement Conference Request)(Elektra v. Schwartz)*
June 3, 2007, Letter of Ray Beckerman (Opposing "Joint" Settlement Conference Request)(Maverick v. Chowdhury)*
June 3, 2007, Letter of Ray Beckerman (Opposing "Joint" Settlement Conference Request)(Elektra v. Torres)*
June 4, 2007, Letter of Richard Guida (Withdrawing Request for "Joint" Settlement Conference)(Elektra v. Schwartz)*

* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation

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

12 comments:

AMD FanBoi said...

This is OUTRAGEOUS!

There's nothing more to even be said after that.

Ray Beckerman said...

Dear Igor,

Sorry but I couldn't bring myself to publish your comment.

If you think about it, you will realize that the analogy you are drawing is exactly the one the RIAA wants us to draw. And it is a deeply, profoundly, false analogy.

Don't let them get into your brain.

mhoyes62 said...

This would seem to be a tatic to try to divide your attention between clients that may feel differently, and to also provide a chance of preasure being applied if they can get one to cave in, then the others would be more likely to as well.

The only commonality in this is that the same sort of actions are alleged. They don't combine all the traffic violations into one, or all the divorces into one, so why would you do that with this?

This does not appear to be for judicial economy, but more preasure tatics, and you should resist it.

meh

Igor said...

it's ok...I think I was being sarcastic.

AMD FanBoi said...

mhoyes: I think what you're saying is that this is more for Plaintiff Economy, than the judicial kind.

Somewhere along the line the RIAA must have estimated what their likely error rate (sue the wrong person) would be, and what percentage would choose to fight and incur tens of thousands in legal bills even if they won, verses those who would be coerced into a single digit thousand dollars settlements, signed admissions of guilt, and loss of reputation, with no real guarantees against more suits in the future over their now admitted crimes. They would use this to allocate their litigation resources.

One has to believe they estimated wrong, and are now trying to do everything possible to bring this mushrooming caseload back under their control.

And having them all come under a, so far, such agreeable Magistrate Judge would be the best thing for them.

Ray Beckerman said...

thanks for understanding, igor......

yes it's a tactic to give the impression to the defendants that the riaa has the court on its side.....

yes, amd, he has been very agreeable to the riaa... he has rendered rulings which i can't even explain to my client, such as (a) denying us the right to crossexamine mediasentry as to its contract with the riaa and (b) saying that gustave lindor is relevant to ms. lindor's liability....

Ray Beckerman said...

To those of you who are submitting attacks against Judge Levy, please remember: under our comment moderation policies, while it is fair game to criticize a judge's rulings, it is not fair game to make unsubstantiated attacks against his integrity.

mhoyes62 said...

AMD,

It may be called plaintiff economy, but seems more of a strong arm tatic.

Ray,

I actually feel sorry for the judge. This is a highly technical area, and without knowing a lot of the technical details, arguments can be made to sound very persuasive. It is very hard for people to understand just how loose the internet is and that even having an IP address, does not equate to a specific machine or user. At this point, it is sort of like saying a person has a particular blood type, so they must be guilty. In this day and age of wireless networks, it is even more difficult. Just in the country (rural setting), I can see 5 different wireless networks that are not secured at all. So, I could use their network, do whatever I wanted, and they would be none the wiser, and if the RIAA came knocking one day, what would they do. They wouldn't be able to say who might have done it, as they have never meet me, nor have any idea that I am using their network. I think the RIAA should be required to do more due diligence in confirming that the account they have been pointed to really is doing the infringing. It would also be worth checking the victims PC for spyware and viruses to make sure it hasn't been hijacked.

meh

Ray Beckerman said...

Don't feel sorry for the judge. Feel sorry for the victims.

mhoyes62 said...

Oh, I do feel sorry for the victims, and for the lawyers having to try to work through the judicial system, when there is an entity like the RIAA, with the money to try to twist that very same system. Looking at the news, I see where the Congress is threatening to lower funding of universities if they don't stop file sharing by the students. So here, the RIAA is using its power and money to try to influence the situation yet again.

On a personal note, I have not bought any music CDs in the last 8 years. So, the RIAA's high handed tactics are having an effect, and if more people started doing that, then maybe the artists and music stores would then tell the RIAA to change their ways. All it would take is for poeple to think about more than just themselves.

Mike said...

I'm sure like most others that read your blog, we tend to forget that not everyone is technically profficient, let alone an expert in Internet communications. One thing that I've found to help is to use car analogies.

In the filesharing cases, perhaps comparing an IP address to a license plate would help the judge understand better. It's very easy to take a picture and prove that a certain license plate was attached to a specific car at a specific time. However, the picture of the plate cannot prove that owner "John Doe" was driving the car at the time.

The same would apply to an IP address. Just because the IP address was in use at the time is no guarantee of the actual person behind the computer.

You could even take the license plate analogy one step further and ask what should be done when plates are used on unauthorized vehicles or stolen. That would be analogous to mhoyes62 example regarding unsecured wireless networks or IP address spoofing.

When dealing with technology novices, I have found the car often works well because it's something just about everyone can understand.

Ray Beckerman said...

Dear mike,

Your analogy is a false one.

A license plate is assigned to one particular car.

A dynamic IP address is assigned and reassigned, over and over again, to thousands of different accounts, sometimes to more than one account in a single second.