Monday, June 08, 2009

RIAA's motion to bar Jammie Thomas-Rasset from objecting to copyright registrations denied in Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset

In Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset, the RIAA's motion to preclude defendant from objecting to copyright registrations was denied.

Judge Michael J. Davis held as follows:

The Court’s Order granting a new trial in this matter granted an entirely new trial on all issues. The fact that Defendant did not object to Plaintiffs’ evidence of registration in the First Trial does not preclude Defendant from putting Plaintiffs to their burden of proof on this issue in the retrial.
Judge Davis rejected the RIAA's argument that the Court could take "judicial notice" of the registrations:
Defendant vigorously challenges the authenticity of the registrations and Plaintiffs’ ownership and registration of the copyrights at issue, so judicial notice is inappropriate. See Fed. R. Evid. 201(b) (“A judicially noticed fact must be one not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is either (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.”); Int’l Star Class Yacht Racing Ass’n v. Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A., Inc., 146 F.3d 66, 70 (2d Cir. 1998) (“Because the effect of judicial notice is to deprive a party of the opportunity to use rebuttal evidence, cross‐examination, and argument to attack contrary evidence, caution must be used in determining that a fact is beyond controversy under Rule 201(b).”) (citations omitted).

June 8, 2009, Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Preclude Defendant from Making Objections

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


Anonymous said...

5 for 10 the plaintiffs ask for a continuance they were so adamant Jammie would not get when she had to switch attorneys.

Btw: what does this mean in laymans terms exactly? Does this mean the plaintiffs have to find another way to prove ownership of the 24 alleged infringed songs?

Nohwhere Man said...

Anon 1: I think what it means is that the plaintiff will have to show a complete chain-of-ownership from the actual creator to the actual plaintiff. I would also assume this would include all agreements and rights assignments along the way. If they can't show that the rights to a particular song were actually properly assigned/conveyed to them, then they don't have standing to sue. And, no standing, no suit.

Interested said...

@Anonymous: to expand on what Nowhere Man said, Jammie's lawyer is going to argue that the RIAA can't prove ownership of certain songs, because the documents that they presented to the court are uncertified copies.

In order to present physical evidence, you need to "authenticate" that it really it was it purports to be. You can do this by putting a witness on the stand who can identify the document. That can be easy for simple things like a picture you took of your dog, but can be difficult for companies that produce thousands of documents, so there are certain procedures that can make proving a case more efficient.

Copyright registration simplifies this process, because if you have your papers in order, you only need to present one piece of government-certified evidence, instead of calling several witnesses to authenticate several documents.

Practically speaking, the RIAA doesn't want to spend several hours arguing over whether they have their papers in order, or if they even own the songs. It's boring testimony and can be confusing for jurors. And if they don't have the registration documents in order, it's possible that they might not have other chain of ownership documents in order, either.

raybeckerman said...

You guys might want to think about how this plays into my practice tip.

Anonymous said...

This man finds it absolutely lovely that it's now the Plaintiffs complaining that they can't possibly be ready for trial on the current schedule.

{The Common Man Smiling}

raybeckerman said...

Their whole motion was ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Hypothetically speaking, if Thomas started using KaZaA before some of the copyrights were registered, then those songs are relegated to actual damage, not statutory. Which is quite interesting.

Can the RIAA simply drop those songs from its suit? Or, will it have some burden of trying to show actual damages? I imagine the RIAA would want to avoid any discussion of actual damages.