Tuesday, October 16, 2007

RIAA's Worst Nightmare: 7 NC State Students Band Together to Vacate Ex Parte Order in LaFace v. Does 1-38

Seven (7) North Carolina State University students named as "John Does" have joined together, in LaFace v. Does 1-38, in Raleigh, North Carolina, to make a motion to vacate the ex parte discovery order that was entered without their knowledge, to quash the subpoena served pursuant to that order, and to dismiss the case altogether due to improper joinder.

This is the fifth such motion of which we are aware, but the first in which such a large group of students joined together to fight the RIAA.

All seven students are represented by Robertson, Medlin & Blocker, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Brief in Support of Motion by 7 "John Does" to vacate ex parte discovery order, quash subpoena, and dismiss complaint for improper joinder*
Declaration of Thomas Swanton*

[Ed. Note: it is an extremely important development that seven students have joined forces here. This makes it possible for the students to pool their limited financial resources. Large groups of students pooling their resources will be the RIAA's worst nightmare. - R.B.]

* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation

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6 comments:

Marc W. Bourgeois said...

Does anyone have a copy of the Declaration of Tom Swanton referenced by footnote 23 on page 10? I don't have PACER access at the moment, but would like to see it.

Matthew said...

Go Wolfpack!

What's really annoying is that the lawyers that are hired out of student fees paid by NCSU students won't help with defense against RIAA suits.

Ray Beckerman said...

matthew, this is a time for rejoicing.... 7 students joining forces and pooling their resources?... if this happens across the country, riaa watch out!!!

Marc W. Bourgeois said...

I got a copy of the declaration, nothing particularly special in it.

Ghost coins said...

Matthew,

I recently wrote an article for my University's paper on the issue of student downloading and the process used by the university to issue the letters to those "caught" by the RIAA.
In my travels, I had to speak to the legal representatives for the university. The lawyers at the schools, those paid by the student fees, are hired to provide legal advice to the school only.
In Virgina, for example, they are appointed by the Attorney General but paid by student fees tucked away in the tuition costs, and are there for the sole purpose of being legal counsel to the school.
The students are left out in the cold since the legal protection extends only to the school itself as an entity (even teachers must get their own legal representation if the issue does not involve the school directly).
Economically speaking, if a school were to have lawyers on hand for student use, student fees could skyrocket in response to the number of legal matters that would be brought to the lawyers' attention.
I am very curious about how the students found each other on campus. I can assume that they were all called into a student judicial review or something similar at the same time, but that is just geusswork.
If the method of collaboration can be duplicated at other colleges across the nation, a stronger legal presence can be brought against the RIAA by students, and might very well put a kink in the shotgun-letter process they seem so fond of.

Steve Robertson said...

Here is how many students were recruited:

We were approached by 1. We decided this was a cause we were going to get behind, whether we got paid or not. At NC State there are 2 offices of counsel - 1 for the students (a kind of legal aid office) and the other, the attorney for the university (he's the guy with the subpoena in his hand). I contacted the "legal aid" lawyer and told her we were going to help Doe #31 push back. She said great, and immediately put the word out to all the other students who had contacted her that we were filing a motion, and they could join. BUT, she did not have a full list, and could only get to those who came to her. I asked the guy with subpoena - who is the only guy in the world that knows who all the Does are - to send out word to ALL of the Does, that we were filing a motion. He refused saying that would be an endorsement, and "the university can't be viewed as endorsing your (my) law firm." That's just crap, because he could issue a disclaimer with the information that our firm was working for 1 or some students. The other thing we did - without giving specific numbers here - is send an engagement letter to all students who came to us through the student legal aid office asking for a reasonable sum of money in advance, offer to split all other fees and costs among all who joined, and cap everybody's individual amount. I still don't know how many of the Does are aware of our offer, but agree with Ray that it is good that 8 joined. I also wrote to the student newspaper, the NC State Technician, who posted my letter to the editor and an article today. I suggested in it that all students should contribute to a defense fund because the Does are just unlucky, and it could be any of the students at NC State.

Finally, the guy with the subpoena is personally, really behind the students. But these people are between a rock and a hard place because the industry wants to know what they are doing to curb downloading (read spy on their students), the universities don't want to do that. When the brief was filed, he sent a list serve note to university counsel offices around the country. I have heard from several. They are getting fed up.