Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Judge Gertner admonishes RIAA lawyers to stop 'bankrupting' pro se defendants with 'formalities' in Boston consolidated cases

Thanks to a friend of our blog, who sent me this transcript.

In the massive consolidated Boston case, termed London-Sire v. Does 1-4, where Judge Nancy Gertner has been presiding over 5 years worth of default judgments and forced settlements, we have learned that the Judge held a conference on June 17th covering a number of the cases.

The RIAA lawyers were present.

No lawyers were present for any of the defendants.

A few of the defendants were in the courtroom, but without lawyers representing them.

Among the remarks made by Judge Gertner:

-"There is a huge imbalance in these cases. The record companies are represented by large law firms with substantial resources." page 8

-"The law is ... overwhelmingly on their [the record companies'] side." page 8

-"Sometimes they answer and get counsel, and because the law is so overwhelmingly on the side of the record companies, there's a negotiated settlement..." page 9

-"It simply doesn't make sense to fight them as an individual, [pro] se..." page 9

-"...counsel representing the record companies have an ethical obligation to fully understand that they are fighting people without lawyers... to understand that the formalities of this are basically bankrupting people, and it's terribly critical that you stop it...." page 11

Transcript of June 17, 2008, conference attended by RIAA lawyers and pro se defendants

[Ed. Note. While it is heartening to see Judge Gertner show some recognition of the unfairness in the way these cases are being handled, it is unclear how she can say that the law is overwhelmingly on the side of the record companies when she recognizes that for the past 5 years she's only been hearing one side of the argument. It is also disheartening that she evidences no recognition of how she has herself contributed to the "imbalance" by consolidating all of the cases, thus (a) providing the record companies with massive economies of scale not available to the defendants, (b) providing virtually untrammeled ex parte access to the Court on all common legal issues, and (c) creating a one-sided atmosphere in the courthouse that causes all defendants to abandon hope. How can Judge Gertner conclude that the settlements have come about because the law is on the record companies' side, when she knows full well that the reason the settlements have come about is that there is no economically viable way for defendants to defend themselves? -R.B.]

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Anonymous said...

Finally a judge who calls the RIAA to the mat. Now we all know the RIAA will just shrug it off if there are no penalties associated with ignoring this judge, but at least ONE judge out of how many is starting to see the light and is pointing out the legal garbage that they are pulling.

Now only if we can get a judge to actually sanction these legal paRIAAhs . . .

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

I think we're up to one or two dozen such judges now. But it's not going to help until they stop talking and start punishing the RIAA and their lawyers for their actions.

Anonymous said...

This man agrees with the first two posters. Until the RIAA is actually punished in proportion to their size such that it actually hurts them, the rest is all talk and they will just continue to seek out new venues to continue what they've already been doing for five years now.

{The Common Man Speaking}

Unknown said...

A good first step but I agree about needing concrete consequences.

What good does it do to tell someone with no ethics that they are acting unethically?

None, because they have no ethics. This is like trying to guilt the KKK into not being racists by calling them out as being discriminatory.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but wonder if you clearly understooed her statement
about the law being on the side of the RIAA.

Perhaps when she said law, she meant the law governing civil procedure not the law governing copyright.

The procedural law in this case severely favoring the RIAA taking action, instead of the defendents.

Anonymous said...

joe, in itself it does no good, but there is a growing number of judges with whom the RIAA is on shaky ground. Eventually, if they continue as they have been, some of these judges will stop giving the RIAA the benefit of the doubt.