Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Practice Tip: Inquire into Role of Matthew Oppenheim

Today in a telephone conference, a voice intervened which was not that of any of the participating attorneys. It was that of the RIAA's "mystery man", Matthew Oppenheim, who was secretly lurking, unannounced, in the background. (One obvious practice tip: ask the RIAA's lawyer who is participating in the phone call. You may not get an honest answer, but at least you will have asked the question.)

This rather sleazy incident, some might even consider it sharp practice, reminded me of the importance -- to those of you who are interposing copyright misuse as a defense or counterclaim, or who are interposing antitrust counterclaims, based on the plaintiffs' collusive, cartel-like, copyright pooling arrangement -- of getting discovery into Matthew Oppenheim's role in all of this, because it seems clear to me that he is the person controlling all of these cases.

The plaintiffs, 4 large record companies, are supposedly competitors, and yet they have pooled their copyrights, and have authorized one person to speak for all of them, and that is Mr. Oppenheim.

He has been introduced in various mysterious ways, as a 'representative of the industry', as 'the client', as 'the clients' representative', as a member of the "Oppenheim Group" (a "group" of which he may be the only "member"). In Arista v. Does 1-19, the District of Columbia case targeting George Washington University students, he appears as a single practitioner attorney representing the RIAA plaintiffs.

It is fundamental that he is the key to the collusive conduct among these 4 competitors. And it is apparent that the RIAA's lawyers are very nervous about letting us know precisely what Mr. Oppenheim's role is.

In today's conference call Mr. Gabriel refused to identify him other than as "the client". Magistrate Judge Levy accepted that characterization, and over my objection allowed Oppenheim to continue in the telephone conference.

I strongly suggest that any discovery relating to the collusive conduct among the plaintiffs needs to get to the bottom of this issue. Oppenheim every day gives Richard Gabriel his marching orders; who is giving Oppenheim his marching orders? Just exactly who is he working for?

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


Anonymous said...

In the last 2 days it has been pointed out that if you use a computer at all, then you have no real privacy on the web - and should have no expectation of it. Chances are good that this mysterious Mathew Oppenheim, unless that's an alias, has much said about him on the web already. And if it's there, it will come out!

Anonymous said...

I found this on the Wikipedia site while looking around the Internet with regards to Matt Oppenheim:

Correctly noted that "[t]he Fourth Amendment does not apply to (the RIAA)" in regard to the lawsuits filed by the RIAA against filesharing. By definition, the Bill of Rights (including the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure) does not apply to private parties such as the RIAA, but at the beginning of the RIAA lawsuits against filesharers in 2003, many found that statement controversial.

I don't understand. If the fourth amendment doesn't apply to private parties, doesn't that mean that if private parties search and seize, it is illegal entry and/or theft committed against another private party? What am I missing here?

Also, did the judge give you some reason why it was ok to simply refer to him as "the client" rather than requiring his identity?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...sure does seem odd that Gabriel should refer to Oppenheim as "**the** client"--in the singular-- when supposedly the case involves multiple plaintiffs...

Jadeic said...

Hmm... if MO is 'the client' should this mean that the copyrights have been transferred to him - if so can he prove it?

Anonymous said...

There is surpisingly little about Mr Oppenheim on the web. The best that can be discovered so far seems to be that he has a long history on involvement with the RIAA and anti-piracy cases in particular.

In 2001 he was "Secretary The SDMI Foundation". and wrote a letter to Professor Edward Felton Department of Computer Science Princeton University. In the letter he suggested that the Prof. and his staff may be subject to the DMCA as a result of his and his colleagues intention to publish material relating to a public contest inteded to test the strength of the Secure Digital Music Initiatives file protechtion technology names "The Verence Watermark"

This appears to have developed into a full court case Civil Action No. CV-01-2669 (GEB)with Prof. Felton et al as Plaintiffs.

In 2003 he was listed as Sr. Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs Recording Industry Association of America in a debate on The Politics of Digital Copyright at Cornell Universirty.

He was still representing the RIAA as of 2004 but at some point left them to join the law firm of Jenner and Block. Although their website references his name as a partner on several of the other partners Bio.'s his name is the only one not given a link to a biography of his own, suggesting that he is no longer working for them. Wikipedia suggests he left them in 2006 and P2Pnet quotes Ray as saying he left them in December 2006 but those are the only readily available references.

There appears to be no further information on the web about Mr. Oppenheim after he left Jenner and Block.

Or at least none that I can find with limited time and resources.

Anonymous said...

Following up on my previous post here is one for the conspiracy nuts.

On the last page of a google search for "matthew oppenheim riaa" you will come accross this.

'In response to a complaint we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 2 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at ChillingEffects.org.'

If you follow the link given it takes you to the ChillingEffects website where you are told that:

'Notice Unavailable
DMCA (Copyright) Complaint to Google
The notice is not available.'

Anyone want to speculate on just what was in the complaint?

Igor said...

Watch him debate file sharing here:


qazwiz said...

linkedln.com aparently has two, one an archetect (NY) and another a lawyer (D.C.)

I will assume he is a lawyer whm we are talking about, and post this from their profile on him....

Currently: Owner at Oppenheim Group

Past: Senior Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs at RIAA; Senior Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs at Recording Industry Association of America

Education: ; Walt Whitman High School

So since when has Walt Whitman High School been a school giving out law degrees????

Anonymous said...

Instead of inquiring" as to his role, why not clarify it by naming him as a counter-defendant? He certainly seems to be part of the conspiracy that's been alluded to in some of the counter-claims discussed here.

-Devil's Advocate