Friday, August 31, 2007

Variety and Associated Press Note Significance of Andersen v. Atlantic Class Action

Recent reports by Variety and by the Associated Press underscore the potential importance of the class action brought by Tanya Andersen against the RIAA, the record companies, Media Sentry and others, Andersen v. Atlantic.

Variety reports:

RIAA faces serious piracy lawsuit
Music org's stern policy in jeopardy
By WILLIAM TRIPLETT

A lawsuit recently filed against the Recording Industry Assn. of America could ultimately force the org to drop or dramatically change the way it uses its principal weapon in the fight against online piracy, according to experts and observers.

The case -- filed in Oregon and asserting claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act -- details the RIAA's alleged use of "illegal and flawed" methods when investigating people for downloading or swapping copyrighted songs without paying for them.

The plaintiff in the case, disabled single mother Tanya Andersen, claims the RIAA was aware of the faulty methods but has nonetheless filed lawsuits against innocent people in some cases.

Andersen claims she is not the only victim of such tactics and is therefore seeking class-action status for her suit. If the court grants that status, the RIAA could be facing a losing proposition because class-action suits can be extremely risky for defendants, in this case creating the potential for a big payout by the music labels.

"If class action is certified, it's more likely that the record companies would settle," said Ronnie London, an attorney versed in class-action law with the firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, which specializes in communications law.

Settlement could also lead to less aggressive legal tactics in pursuit of online pirates.
Complete Variety article

The Associated Press (via Forbes.com) reports as follows:
Woman Targets RIAA With Lawsuit
By WILLIAM McCALL 08.29.07, 4:05 PM ET

PORTLAND, Ore. -

An Oregon woman has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America, accusing it of illegal spying and intimidation against thousands of people across the nation to crack down on music pirating.

The lawsuit by Tanya J. Andersen claims the association and a company called MediaSentry "conspired to develop a massive threat and litigation enterprise targeting private citizens across the United States."

The lawsuit also accuses the association of violating state and federal racketeering laws.

The complaint filed August 15 in U.S. District Court in Portland claims that MediaSentry has admitted it has misidentified people suspected of illegally downloading music.
Complete Associated Press (via Forbes.com) article


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3 comments:

AMD FanBoi said...

While I'd love to see Ms. Andersen succeed, and believe she's right in everything she's contending, I see a huge up-hill battle here. It will be a major victory here if this ever gets certified as a class action, or actually sees a courtroom and jury.

Btw, just what is the RIAA up to these days? All I'm hearing about are more college/university suits each month. Are they still going after non-university alleged infringes as actively as before, or is their focus changed once again?

Schwammo said...

The best parallel I can see to this case is the private securities class actions perfected by the now pseudo-defunct Millberg Weiss firm. While Ms. Anderson certainly has a bone to pick with the RIAA, this seems like the kind of action where the lawyers will take a more active role than the named plaintiff.

Maybe I'm dreaming, but unlike the securities suits I sincerely hope this action goes all the way to a verdict. A big settlement from the RIAA isn't necessarily going to change the way they do business. That's why I'm hoping that the lawyers involved are of the EFF activist-type and that Ms. Anderson realizes that this is bigger then her and the other class members individually. Perhaps the class could seek an injunction to stop suing or sending "settlement letters" to innocent parties. I would likely never be granted, but at least it's a goal that would keep the class from settling for a bundle of money and abandoning the suit.

Ray Beckerman said...

I don't really get your point, schwammo.

In every class action lawsuit -- indeed in every lawsuit of any kind -- the lawyers take a much more active role than the plaintiff.

Have a great Labor Day weekend.