Friday, July 13, 2007

RIAA Accepts Formal Offer of Judgment of $300 in North Carolina case, Capitol v. Frye

In a North Carolina case, Capitol v. Frye, the RIAA accepted a formal "Offer of Judgment" of $300.

Offer of Judgment and Notice of Acceptance*

* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation

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

11 comments:

Randall said...

Wow. That's probably less than it cost the RIAA to even file the suit, let alone any ongoing expenses they incurred.

Jadeic said...

Do we have any other details of this case? There must be something unique about it for the RIAA to accept this offer. It would be particularly interesting to see how many tracks were included on the short and long lists and from which we could derive just what dollar value is really placed on each track: evidentially nothing like the $150,000 threatened in the RIAA opening salvo at the John Doe stage of proceedings.

Russell said...

Regardless of the amount won, it was a victory for RIAA.

Sure to be cited in future cases

Ray Beckerman said...

Russell, I beg to differ.

1. It's not a legal precedent.

2. No way is the RIAA going to brag about dropping a case for $300.

3. They probably spent tens of thousands of dollars to get that $300. If you think that's something they're proud of..... you're wrong.

Ray Beckerman said...

jadeic

It was just like every other cookie cutter, boilerplate, case that they have. Please don't make extra homework for me. I can't waste my time collecting garden variety, repetitive junk. If you want it, go to PACER and get all the legal documents you want.

StephenH said...

I beleive that the reason they took only $300 was because one of the following is true:

1) The person they sued is very low income or owns nothing, perhaps unemployed, and they might have realized that this is the persons collection potential. I might be better for them to take the $300 than pursue costly, ineffective collection techniques.

2) It is possible that the person could be a minor and they did not want another publicity outrage.

3) It is possible the number of songs being shared was very small.

4) It is possible that they knew the person would fight very hard, and had forensic evidence against the RIAA, and they did not want to deal with another person like Marie Lindor or Tanya Andersen, so they settled for a low amount.

These are my theories why RIAA would settle so low, but I could be wrong.

Jadeic said...

Thanks for the slap Ray. I have now paid my dues to PACER and have the court papers to hand. In this instance there do appear to be several interesting kinks to the progress of the case.

stephenh is partially right in his analysis:

Yes - Terri Frye has precious little to her name and would be totally unable to meet any voracious demand from the RIAA.

No - she is not a minor but is a single mother living on state and federal assistance and in state-assisted housing which I guess in RIAA terms is equally bad publicity.

No - although the specimen List A comprises only 9 tracks the List B runs to 37 pages.

Yes - there is some indication that she would have been prepared to fight a 'frivolous' case.


So why then did both parties strike a deal?

Because she was able (and it seems willing) to identify the person most likely to be responsible for the alleged copyright infringement.

Interestingly, however, the plaintiffs were advised by letter as early as December 2005 that the third party was aware of the RIAA interest in the internet account and had already deleted said files. Given that by February 2007 Terri Frye had yet to identify the third party to the plaintiff I imagine that any trace of alleged misdeeds would have long since disappeared. Nonetheless, a deal seems do have been done on this basis and it will be interesting to see what action the RIAA now take against their new target. There is an interesting proviso in the correspondence between the defendant and plaintiff: that 'upon her identification of such person, if such person is not the responsible party, your clients will have one year to re-file suit against Ms. Frye'. That too would be an interesting case to watch.

Lastly, again drawn from the correspondence, in what appears to be a pre-litigation letter to Ms. Frye, the plaintiff's lawyer states 'Making copyrighted recordings available for others to download by putting those recordings into your so-called "shared" folder is copyright infringement under the Copyright Act'. We know the RIAA would love this to be true but I am surprised to see such a bald untruth peddled in what is now a public domain document. In the context of the letter this seems close to a threat.

Braced for the next slap,

Dave

Ray Beckerman said...

Dave, you'll get no slap from me, except a pat on the back for a research job well done! Thanks for illuminating all of us.

Ray Beckerman said...

PS.

Dave, if you (or any of my other readers) do come up with pdf's that are interesting and not just repetitive junk, and think they should be published, send it along.... you'll be doing a public service. My email address is rbeckerman@vanfeliu.com

Best regards

Ray

AMD FanBoi said...

They have got to be kidding!!! This doesn't even include a stern talking to by your father to never infringe copyrights again!!!

Seems to me that this just could put the RIAA into a difficult position. Either they sued the wrong person and still made them pay $300 for the privilege of being wrongly sued,

OR

They sued the right person and admit that the true cost of the alleged infringement is ONLY $300.

Either the RIAA admits that they are suing the wrong people, or they admit that the actual value of the infringement at this level is $300, -- a figure for which many sued people might actually settle at.

I would love to see this settlement cited in other cases, and see just what the RIAA does to distinguish this case from all the other boilerplate cases.

Inoyun said...

I can see the new and improved RIAA and MPAA commercial in theaters NOW:

(Cue Music..Danananananana)...you wouldn't start with a 250,000 per infringement lawsuit against an alleged copywrite infringer and end up settling for $300 would you?