Saturday, September 08, 2007

RIAA Complaint Dismissed in California in Interscope v. Rodriguez. Judge Says Complaint is just "boilerplate listing"

In a default judgment case in Southern California, Interscope v. Rodriguez, 2007 WL 2408484, a judge has dismissed the RIAA's "boilerplate" complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

I.e., the decision is in agreement with the defendants' arguments in Elektra v. Barker and Warner v. Cassin.

Ironically, the case cited by the Court as support for its view that a complaint must be more than just conclusory boilerplate, was Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955 (2007), the very same case cited by the RIAA recently in UMG v. Lindor in support of the RIAA's motion to dismiss Ms. Lindor's 4th affirmative defense.

The RIAA have known about the Interscope decision since August 17, 2007, but never disclosed its existence to Judge Robinson or to Judge Karas, the presiding judges in Cassin and in Barker.

In Interscope v. Rodriguez, Judge Rudi M. Brewster held as follows:

The recent Supreme Court case, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, ---U.S. ----, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), sets forth a "plausibility" standard which a complaint must meet to sufficiently state a claim. "[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-1965 (2007). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.

As such, Plaintiff here must present at least some facts to show the plausibility of their allegations of copyright infringement against the Defendant. However, other than the bare conclusory statement that on "information and belief" Defendant has downloaded, distributed and/or made available for distribution to the public copyrighted works, Plaintiffs have presented no facts that would indicate that this allegation is anything more than speculation. The complaint is simply a boilerplate listing of the elements of copyright infringement without any facts pertaining specifically to the instant Defendant. The Court therefore finds that the complaint fails to sufficiently state a claim upon which relief can be granted and entry of default judgment is not warranted.
August 17, 2007, Order and Decision Denying Default Judgment Application and Dismissing Complaint for Failure to State a Claim for Relief* (Westlaw cite: 2007 WL 2408484)

* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation

Commentary & discussion on Interscope v. Rodriguez:
Ars Technica
The Inquirer
Tec Channel (German)
Daily Tech
Caracalla Blogja (Hungarian)

Commentary and Discussion on Bell Atlantic v. Twombly

Drug and Device Law


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


Alter_Fritz said...

The RIAA have known about the Interscope decision since August 17, 2007, but never disclosed its existence to Judge Robinson or to Judge Karas, the presiding judges in Cassin and in Barker

While all regular readers of your blog in the meantime are probably well aware that such a behaviour by the "well-known and respected recordcompanies" and their lawyers is not unusual; are there any FRCP rules that they were obliged to inform Judges Karas and Robinson that such a ruling exist that is good for copyrightlaw and bad for their boilerplate sheme?

Alter_Fritz said...

Judge Brewster’s clerks speak of their clerkship as additional training in both legal process and high professional standards and lawyers appearing before him know that he does not tolerate incivility or shoddy case preparation. ( )
A judge well awake!

Unknown said...

Wow... this is huge. Unless I am misreading the document, there was no opposition to the default, and the judge sua sponte decided to crack RIAA.

Matt Fitzpatrick said...

Southern District of California? Then this is good news for all Internet users, but it's especially good news for Shawn Hogan, and those at San Diego State University. Hope they know about this!

Anyone want to guess what's next? My crystal ball predicts: RIAA re-files with an even bigger exhibit of MediaSentry mumbo jumbo, but still nothing connecting actual copyright infringement to an actual human being. Judge Brewster is still not amused.

raybeckerman said...


You've got it.

This is huge.

You're not misreading anything.

Pat said...

I'm guessing that the judges in Cassin and Baker have already been informed (or will be informed as soon as the documents can be drawn up)? How did you stumble across this in the first place? It seems like this should have been found within days (of course the RIAA could have done the honest thing and informed someone of a relevent precedent instead of twitting their thumbs hoping to get a conflicting decision).

AMD FanBoi said...


raybeckerman said...'re cruel. without "shoddy case preparation" the riaa would have no "case preparation" at all......

matt....let's hope judge brewster continues to be "not amused"....

patrick....sorry i can't tell you how i "stumbled across this"...don't want "riaa richard" -- my biggest reader -- to know how i did it....

amd... "yeah" indeed....

StephenH said...

I read it and it looks as if the judge gave the RIAA a chance to refile a different complaint if they choose. I commend the judge for dismissing though. I am not sure what the RIAA will do here.

Tom L. said...

For the briefest second i actually teared up while reading the judges decision. Thank God there are still sparks of rational thought left in this world.

Unknown said...

The proper filing would have been a General Demurrer. The defendant is lucky that the judge in this case picked up on this and decided to toss the case for failing to allege relevant facts.

This will have the effect of tightening up RIAA's pleadings. These lawsuits won't go away until the RIAA is financially bankrupt (they are already morally bankrupt, so no help there).