Thursday, October 04, 2007

Update on Matthew Oppenheim

Earlier today we published the following report from Ars Technica, which mentioned Matthew Oppenheim:

Ars Technica reports that the RIAA succeeded in convincing the trial judge in Virgin v. Thomas to change his jury instruction to accept the RIAA's "making available" theory.

According to Ars, the judge's instruction, which was handed out to counsel last night, initially said

"The mere act of making copyrighted sound recordings available for electronic distribution on a peer-to-peer network without license from copyright owners does not violate the copyright owners' exclusive right to distribution. An actual transfer must take place."
But the Judge this morning, accepting Richard Gabriel's argument, changed it:
Gabriel cited Perfect 10 v. and the original Napster case to support the RIAA's view that making a file available for distribution over a peer-to-peer network was a violation of the Copyright Act. "If there's an index and something behind it, that's distribution," argued Gabriel.

The judge seemed particularly interested in UMG v. Lindor, and while that particular case was being discussed, Matt Oppenheim of the RIAA was consulting the "anti-RIAA blog" The Recording Industry vs The People. Gabriel noted that he was lead counsel in that case as well and that the decision cited in the case wasn't applicable to the matter at hand.

Toder disagreed, but at the end, Judge Davis amended the instruction to say that the "act of making available for electronic distribution... violates the copyright owner's exclusive copyright." That decision should make it easier for the jury to find Thomas liable.

Complete article
Thereafter, we received an unconfirmed phone message from someone identifying himself as Matt Oppenheim, who indicated that the above report was incorrect as he is not "of the RIAA".

The caller did not give a phone number or indicate who Matt Oppenheim is affiliated with.

We do note that we have seen reports in other media that Matt Oppenheim is affiliated with the "Oppenheim Group". However, we looked at a website of the "Oppenheim Group" and were not able to confirm that.

Matthew Oppenheim has been, on several occasions, in court appearances, introduced to the Court as being "the client" or as being a representative of "the industry", and Mr. Gabriel has refused to confirm to me who Matt Oppenheim is in fact affiliated with. So we do not credit the phone call.

If Mr. Oppenheim calls us again, can verify he is who he says he is, gives me contact information, and gives me details of who he is affiliated with and what his role is in these litigations, I will be pleased to report same on my blog.

All we know and can corroborate at this time about Matthew Oppenheim is that he was a lawyer at Jenner & Block until December 31, 2006, and that prior to that he was in house counsel at the RIAA. To me, Mr. Oppenheim is a mystery figure, whose shadowy role in these cases is quite problematic, and not at all clear, especially in view of the collusive and cartel-like behavior of the Big 4 record companies hiding behind the RIAA shell.

Mr. Oppenheim did not suggest that we had misquoted Ars Technica in any way.


Commentary & discussion:

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...

Art said...

Here's a link to a nice summary of Matt Oppenheim:

Unfortunately there's no info past 2006, but it lists him as a VP at RIAA.


raybeckerman said...

when putting links in you need to create a link, otherwise i can't read the url....

raybeckerman said...

i'm only interested in post 12/31/06....