Monday, September 10, 2007

RIAA Trying to Avoid Jury Trial in Duluth, Minnesota, in Virgin v. Thomas

Now that another case has come down to a jury trial, this one in Duluth, Minnesota, the RIAA is seeking to avoid a jury trial, this time by making a motion for summary adjudication of the facts.

The defendant in Virgin v. Thomas opposes the motion, and seeks a jury trial.

RIAA Memorandum in Support of Motion for summary adjudication*
Defendant's Memorandum in Opposition to RIAA Memorandum in Support of Motion for summary adjudication*

Defendant is represented by Brian Toder, of Chestnut & Cambronne, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation

Commentary & discussion:

Ars Technica
The Inquirer

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


AMD FanBoi said...

Is there a jury in this world that would actually rule in favor of the RIAA once this went to court?

And how can the RIAA claim with a straight face that there is no genuine issue of material fact in dispute here? Especially when all well-pleaded defenses and/or counterclaims must be construed in the light most favorable to the moving party – the Defendant in this case?

Let's break this down. Plaintiffs CLAIM they only need prove the following:

In order to prevail in a copyright action under the Copyright Act, a plaintiff must show: (1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) unauthorized copying or distribution of the copyrighted work.

They assert they have proven this by the following:

.1. Plaintiffs Own The Copyrights To The Sound Recordings At Issue.

Probably true.

2. Plaintiffs Properly Registered The Copyrights In The Sound Recordings At

Probably true as well, although seeing the paperwork is absolutely a good idea.

3. Plaintiffs Never Granted Defendant Any Authorization To Copy Or
Distribute Plaintiffs’ Sound Recordings.

Certainly they'd remember it if they had. (Always get these things in writing.)


HEY, WAIT A MINUTE! I think we're missing #4 here. That this Defendant actually violated this distribution right. That it's even POSSIBLE to violate this distribution right with a P2P system. Distribution isn't proven at all here yet, let alone illegal distribution. Nor proper identification of the Defendant as the probably distributor. (They're not even claiming downloading or infringing here.) There is a huge leap here by the Plaintiffs from what we have – copyright registrations – right over what we don't have – actual evidence that any song was ever distributed – hoping to land on the Go Directly to Jail card. It ain't there!

Pat said...

AMD, I think that is what the RIAA is trying to claim. They are asking for a "summary adjudication of the facts" not for a summary judgment. This means that they are asking the judge to declare that those 3 things listed are true, and that neither party disputes these facts. They aren't saying that those facts prove infringement, just that the jury doesn't get to consider if those facts are true.

The defense says that this motion is nothing more then a stalling tactic. They then go on to say that they would dispute some of those "facts" and that the RIAA is only filling this because they either want to slip these "facts" in (because a full consideration of the facts would push back the schedule on the jury trial) or that the defendants would contest these "facts" and the scheduling of a full preceding into the issue would push back the already scheduled jury trial (and they point out that the RIAA could have filed this long ago).

So while it may not be as nefarious as going for a summary judgment (but something makes me think that if they get this order, a motion for summary judgment will be following soon after) but is instead the usual stall tactic (and as a bonus, if they win this suit and get the "making available = distribution" thing to go there way, they would have a much easer case).

At least that is how I read the whole thing.

Travis said...

Pardon if this is a dumb question but why is everyone convinced that the RIAA would lose a jury trial?

Also if just getting a jury to hear your case makes it more likely for a defendant to win then why does it seem like this if the first case to reach that point. Wouldn't lawyers for the defense be doing everything possible to move it to a jury trial immediately?

Finally if it is so obvious that the RIAA would lose a jury trial then how could any judge, with clear conscious, grant them any kind of summary judgement on any of these cases?

Art said...

Is it very common for copyright ownership to be complex and convoluted to the point that it would be difficult for the plaintiffs to show they actually own the works they are suing over? The defendant in this case surely wasn't convinced based on the documents provided by the plaintiffs.

Also, could an argument be made that the plaintiffs don't fully own the copyright unless the royalties are properly accounted for and have been fully paid out to the artists?

mhoyes62 said...

Looking at the Memorandum in Support of this motion, makes me realize that the RIAA does have humans working for them. In it, they have "Plaintiffs are not seeing summary judgment against Defendant on the issue of Defendant’s liability for the infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights in the Sound Recordings." But I think they actually meant that they were not seeking.

Does this come about by having too many irons in the fire, so to speak?

tereastarr said...

FYI: This motion goes to a hearing tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for me. ;)

raybeckerman said...

We're with you!!!