Saturday, October 27, 2007

Judge Holds RIAA Evidence Insufficient in Rochester, NY, default judgment case, Atlantic v. Dangler; No ID; No details...No Judgment

In a Rochester, New York, case, Atlantic v. Dangler, Judge David G. Larimer has denied the RIAA's request for a default judgment, on the ground that the evidence the RIAA presented (a) failed to include any details of any distribution or downloading, and (b) failed to prove that the defendant was properly identified as the individual who had operated the file sharing program:

[T]here are significant issues of fact regarding the identification of the defendant from his alleged “online media distribution system” username, an issue not addressed by the record. See Van Limburg Stirum v. Whalen, 1993 WL 241464, at *4 (N.D.N.Y.1993)(“A ‘default is not treated as an absolute confession by the defendant of his liability and of the plaintiff’s right to recover.’”)(quoting Nishimatsu Const. Co., Ltd. v. Houston Nat’l. Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir.1975)).

Clearly, plaintiffs are entitled to relief if Dangler downloaded and distributed the Copyrighted Recordings without plaintiffs’ consent. The question this Court must decide is whether plaintiffs have proven that those circumstances exist here. Although the complaint establishes that someone using the “KaZaA” online peer-to-peer file sharing service uploaded the Copyrighted Recordings, or otherwise offered them for distribution, the complaint does not identify details such as the time period during which the violations allegedly took place, or explain how that user, dentified only by the username heavyjeffmc@KaZaA, was determined to be the defendant.
Two months earlier a similar RIAA default judgment application was rejected by Judge Rudi Brewster in San Diego, California, in Interscope v. Rodriguez, on the ground that the complaint failed to allege specific factual details of the type whose absence was noted here by Judge Larimer.

October 23, 2007, Decision, Denying RIAA Motion for Default Judgment* (--- F.Supp.2d ----, 2007 WL 3084728)

* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation

Commentary & discussion:

Hard OCP
Ars Technica

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


StephenH said...

I think that this is a blow to the RIAA. This judge clearly stated that RIAA has to now prove its case. Now, they need to really indentify the defendant, and provide forensic proof that that individual commited the infringement. Clearly IP address logs and KaZaa user names don't prove who was really in front of that computer!

raybeckerman said...

I agree, Stephen. We have Interscope v. Rodriguez saying the complaint is insufficient, and Atlantic v. Dangler saying the evidence is insufficient. This is good.

Anonymous said...

Clearly RIAA has pushed too far with their law suits against single mothers and teenage kids who download music for one simple reason that they cannot afford to pay for every single track. I fully support the judge's decision to reject the claim as RIAA is just trying to squeeze money out of anyone and anything it can. It is no longer protecting the artists but rather satisfying its greed for money. Evidence that none of the proceedings from previous law suits reached the artists but somehow got lost in deep RIAA's pockets is yet another witness to that.

raybeckerman said...

Comment rejected. Offtopic.

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