Thursday, April 23, 2009

Appeals court issues stay of RIAA proceeding targeting SUNY Albany students, Arista Records v. Does 1-16

In Arista Records v. Does 1-16, a "John Doe" case targeting students at the State University of New York at Albany, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has issued a stay of the RIAA subpoena and all proceedings during the pendency of John Doe #3's appeal.

This is a case in which several John Does had moved to quash the subpoena, vacate the ex parte discovery order, and dismiss the complaint.

The motion to vacate, quash, and dismiss, was based on a number of grounds, including the defendant's constitutional rights, the insufficiency of the complaint, the lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendants, improper misjoinder of the defendants, the absence of competent evidence, and the RIAA's illegal procurement of what "evidence" it did have through the use of an unlicensed investigator, MediaSentry. Additionally, the "John Does" had requested that they be awarded their attorneys fees.

The Magistrate Judge denied the motion in its entirety. The District Court Judge affirmed the Magistrate Judge's decision 3 days later, before the RIAA had even filed papers responding to the students' objections.

John Doe #3 filed an appeal, made a motion for a stay pending appeal, and requested an interim stay during the pendency of the motion for stay pending the appeal.

Today the motion for stay pending the determination of the appeal was granted.

April 23, 2009, Order of 2nd Circuit, granting stay pending appeal

Background documents:

Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Quash Subpoena
Defendants' Amended Memorandum of Law
Plaintiffs' Opposition
Defendants' reply memorandum of law
Supplemental Declaration of Richard A. Altman
February 18, 2009, Decision of Magistrate Judge
Declaration of Richard A. Altman and Objections
Decision affirming Magistrate Judge's decision
Declaration in support of motion for stay
March 10, 2009, order granting interim stay
Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition to motion for stay pending appeal
Defendant's reply memorandum in support of motion for stay pending appeal

[Ed. note. This will be the very first time that there has been appellate scrutiny of the RIAA's ex parte "John Doe" procedure during the 5 years it's been in place. The last thing the RIAA wants is for an appeals court to take a close look at this sordid, star-chamber process, based on hearsay opinion testimony by a lawyer who has no knowledge of the facts, scientifically worthless 'printouts' by a crooked unlicensed investigator, deliberate misjoinder of unrelated parties in violation of both a rule and a court order, legally insufficient pleadings, and other shenanigans. -R.B.]

Commentary & discussion:

Keywords: lawyer digital copyright law online internet 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 intellectual property portable music player


Alter_Fritz said...

OK, I admit, I have no knowledge about what is considered "guter Ton" (bon ton(?)) when you write papers addressing Appeals Court Judges.

But isn't it at least extremely arrogant when you claim (like Mr. Timothy Reynolds from the law firm Holme Roberts & Owen just did!) that something "has no chance of success" when the judges have not even heard any arguments regarding the case itself so far?

Given the lengthy submissions from him even up so far, it seems he have mistaken the stage of proceedings and overlooked that the appeal argument has not even took place so far.

Anonymous said...

You are being too kind in your descriptive terms of these legal parasites that work for the RIAA Pirates.
Pirates who prey on the people that travel the seas of the internet, by any other name, are still pirates.

Oldphart in Kansas

Anonymous said...

I only dearly hope that the appeals court shuts this crap down. I mean it has been going on for 5+ years now?

Please, please, please Mr./Mrs. Appeals Court Judge stop this and bring some common sense back.

Anonymous said...

The Magistrate Judge denied the motion in its entirety.This man denies the Magistrate Judge in his entirety as clearly unfit to properly judge these cases.

{The Common Man Speaking}

raybeckerman said...

Well I have a hunch the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit may not be seeing eye to eye with the Magistrate Judge either.

Another Kevin said...

Ray, I hope you're right.

My jaundiced guess is that the court of appeals will hold something like: injunctive relief against the use of unlicensed private investigators is possible, and the State Attorney General can pursue them on whatever criminal charges are appropriate, but the fruit of the poisoned tree can be eaten. The arguably improper joinder is defensible in the interest of judicial efficiency, or else Doe No. 3 can be severed and the cases with and without Doe No. 3 can be allowed to move forward. The personal jurisdiction was established by the allegation that the offending files were available for download in the State and District where suit was brought. And the sufficiency of the complaint is for the trier of fact to determine and can be revisited after discovery by a motion in limine.

Cynical, ain't I? The courts have stacked the equities that way so far, with only a handful of exceptions. I think we run a serious risk that the Second Circuit will continue doing so. said...

Will there finally be some actual "justice"?

Anonymous said...

Another Kevin:

"And the sufficiency of the complaint is for the trier of fact to determine and can be revisited after discovery by a motion in limine."

If your prediction is accurate, the appeals court will have totally ignored the First Amendment issue. Once Doe loses anonymity, it cannot possibly be restored. So there are some matters of the case that must be addressed properly before that happens.

As for severing all but Doe No. 3. Such an action would invariably make innocent defendants less inclined to litigate. Will the courts recognize this and act accordingly?


Anonymous said...

Another Kevin:

To do that, the court would have to ignore the First Amendment issue that is so totally relevant. Will they?


Try using <i>justice</i> or <b>justice</b> instead of quotation marks. When you use quotes like that it doesn't mean what you think it means.