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RIAA Case Against Mother Dismissed 236

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the injecting-sanity dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Capitol Records v. Foster, in federal court in Oklahoma, a case against a mother -- whose only connection to the alleged filesharing was that she was the person who paid for the internet access -- has been dismissed with prejudice. Faced with the mother's motion for leave to file a summary judgment motion dismissing the case against her, and awarding her attorneys fees, the RIAA made its own motion for permission to withdraw its case. The Court granted the motion and let the RIAA drop its case. The Court went on to hold that the defendant, Ms. Foster, is the 'prevailing party' under the Copyright Act and is therefore eligible for an award of attorneys fees. The Court then indicated that it would decide the attorneys fees award question upon receipt of a motion for attorneys fees."
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RIAA Case Against Mother Dismissed

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  • BRAVO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimmyhat3939 (931746) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:50PM (#15716134) Homepage
    Seriously, bravo. Screw those RIAA guys. I hope she gets as much money as possible for attorney's fees.

    More people need to do this. They can't possibly mount lawsuits against all the people they target. If a sufficient percentage resist, they'll have to stop their campaign of terror.

    • Re:BRAVO (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sjs132 (631745)
      Seriously, bravo. Screw those RIAA guys. I hope she gets as much money as possible for attorney's fees.

      "SHE" shouldn't get dime one... except for maybe some time that she met with the attorney's.... THE LAWYERS will get LOTS of $$$$... So, Who really wins? (Except for haveing a precident, as stated below...) The Lawyers... Once again, the lawyers get lots of $$$ and we still are getting the shaft... Just like the Tobacco settlements... States burned most of that money... Lawyers were made multi-millionai
      • Then become your own lawyer (or find your lawyer buddies to defend you). I know, I know. Not everyone will have a lawyer friend. But those who do... bring it on RIAA!
      • Re:BRAVO (Score:2, Interesting)

        We still win because it cost the RIAA money. If they know it will cost them their own lawyer fees, plus their defendant's lawyer fees, and not even win the case, they will stop doing this crap.
      • Re:BRAVO (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) <rayNO@SPAMbeckermanlegal.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:17PM (#15716541) Homepage Journal
        If you are being sued, and a lawyer protects you from the lawsuit, and the lawyer gets his or her fees paid for having accomplished something good, why is that a bad thing? I don't get it.
        • Doesn't the lawyer get his fees paid whatever happens ?
          • Re:BRAVO (Score:2, Interesting)

            Not unless he's got a wealthy client who is willing to pay a lot of legal fees. Which is never the case in these cases. All the lawyers I know are doing it on a pro bono basis or on a drastically reduced fee basis. I myself have probably given away around $300,000 worth of legal services by doing the cases on a drastically reduced fee basis. But there is a limit to how much each of us can stand. If a single practitioner takes on one of these cases pro bono, he could wind up doing $100,000 worth of legal wo
            • Re:BRAVO (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Fred_A (10934)

              I myself have probably given away around $300,000 worth of legal services by doing the cases on a drastically reduced fee basis.

              While I'm not sure the legal fees are very realistic in the US (where lawyers, like doctors tend to tag zeroes at the end of their bills like they were playing some sort of crazy bingo) compared to most of the world, I reckon I didn't take that bit into account.

              There are several legal systems in which the loser pays the legal fees for the other party, I don't really know in what

        • Lawyers (Score:3, Insightful)

          by alexo (9335)

          > If you are being sued, and a lawyer protects you from the lawsuit,
          > and the lawyer gets his or her fees paid for having accomplished something good,
          > why is that a bad thing? I don't get it.


          I don't know the OP's reasons for resenting the lawyer's fees but I can give you mine.

          In no particular order:

          1) The compensation is disproportionate

          A lot of lawyers in such cases are not paid by the hour but rather get a (large) cut of the fine/settlement/etc amount.
          We, regular people who get paid for actual w
  • Attorney's Fees (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StarWreck (695075) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:51PM (#15716140) Homepage Journal
    That means the RIAA actually lost money on this one. Hopefully A LOT!
    • Re:Attorney's Fees (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Durrok (912509) <calltechsucks@NOspAm.gmail.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:54PM (#15716158) Homepage Journal
      Just a drop in the bucket. However if they started having to shell out attorney fees to every case they lost it could act as a great deterrent for their "fire and forget" type lawsuits.
    • Re:Attorney's Fees (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I imagine the fees are nothing compared to the amount of time/stress caused by the whole ordeal.
    • Re:Attorney's Fees (Score:3, Interesting)

      by apflwr3 (974301)
      That means the RIAA actually lost money on this one. Hopefully A LOT!>

      Considering they won a default judgement against the daughter (if you RTFA) I think the RIAA will still come out ahead.
      • Default judgments (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) <rayNO@SPAMbeckermanlegal.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:13PM (#15716526) Homepage Journal
        They have thousands of default judgments they haven't collected a nickel on, and never will collect a nickel on, and the default judgments cost them a lot of money to obtain. So don't think they're making money on the default judgments. They're only making money on the settlements.
        • by segfault_0 (181690)
          The value of the PR they get from "winning" default judgements is worth the money they wanted in the first place. To appear to be "right" and "winning" is all they are after from the little guy in the first place. Its not all about money - its about policy.
      • Re:Attorney's Fees (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Kongming (448396)
        It seems that a lot of people are talking as if the purpose of these lawsuits is for the music industry to make money from defendants. This notion seems unlikely, given that music is a multi-billion dollar (US) a year industry. The amount that they receive from these lawsuits is but the smallest fraction of their income. To me, it seems far more likely that the purpose is to instill fear of crippling lawsuits in individuals, thus dissuading them from illegally downloading music. The amount they receive dire
  • by hawks5999 (588198) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:53PM (#15716150)
    Just askin'...
  • by grolschie (610666) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:00PM (#15716198)
    Downloaders should be forced to keep the files and listen to them! Crappy manufactured, processed, RIAA generated McMusic!

    ;-)
  • Man bites dog! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:02PM (#15716201) Homepage Journal
    Wow! A clueful judge (even down to the deciding appropriate attorney's fees). Will wonders never cease?
    • Re:Man bites dog! (Score:3, Informative)

      by ScouseMouse (690083)
      To be fair, the RIAA didnt have a case.
      They must have known it.
      If they didnt, their lawyers shouldnt really be practicing law.
      However, i suspect this real reason this went as far as court was that they were trying to scare this woman into paying out, and it didnt work.
      It seems that rather than allowing the judge to issue a summary judgement, with all the embarrasment that is likely to cause for both the RIAA and the individual Lawyers involved, they just withdrew the case.

      It just shows the contem
  • by ThisIsForReal (897233) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:06PM (#15716218) Homepage
    Hopefully her lawyer wasn't Rep. Stevens' Lawyer.

    How Representative Stevens' lawyer would ask the judge for his fees to be compensated (if he were the defendent's lawyer in this particular case):

    Lawyer: You see, Judge, when I go to the local branch of my bank, I can't just drive up with a pile of cash on the bed of my truck. You see, they've got these TUBES, and the money has to fit in them, and , and, it's - well they're TUBES!

    Judge: I could give you a direct deposit.

    Lawyer: Well, here's the thing, Judge. I got a direct deposit sent by my staff person last Friday, and it didn't show up in my account until this morning. WHY?

    Judge: Banks are closed on weekends.


    And for you Simpsons fans (which would be everybody here, right?):

    Judge: This court fines you 1 million dollars

    Burns: Smithers, my wallet is in my back pocket. Oh, and I'll take that statue of justice, too.

    Judge (slamming gavel on podium): SOLD!
  • Solid ruling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tmittz (260795) <shivand&rocketmail,com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:07PM (#15716221)
    One particularly good thing about this ruling is that is seems to be very solid. The linkage of "prevailing party" under the FRCP and the allowance of attorney fee recovery under the Copyrights Act looks difficult to challenge. While this ruling is not binding on much of anyone (yay Western District of Oklahoma), I have no reason to assume the Cantrell case is a drastic departure from most other circuit's opinions on the FRCP. Not to mention the SCOTUS case they cite, which I haven't read but is probably still good law.

    While she has to specifically file for attorney's fees, I'm sure she will. Even though the bar is set fairly high in that the court shall not award fees "routinely or as a matter of course", the standard of review (almost certainly abuse of discretion) means that if the court awards them, it'll be almost impossible to overturn.
  • Sharks win (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElNonoMasa (820089) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:18PM (#15716268)
    At the end of the day, the attorney's fees will be paid with the
    protection money they received from those who settled.
    The only ones winning with all of this are the lawyers, as usual.
    • Re:Sharks win (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cheapy (809643)
      Whoo, nevermind the fact that an RIAA case was thrown out and even turned back at them, only the lawyers would ever benefit from that.

      Even if you miss my point, atleast the mother won. Far more than her lawyer atleast.
    • The only ones winning with all of this are the lawyers, as usual.

      Not quite. The more money the RIAA puts out to pay for lost cases like this one, the less they'll have available for paying their lawyers to file new ones. So, at least it's a good start. As the saying goes:

      Q: What do you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

      A: A good start.

  • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:18PM (#15716269) Journal
    IANAL, but I have read the judgement.

    RIAA initially sued the mother. When the mother said it was not her, but her daughter who had done the downloading, they sued the daughter instead *and won*. (by default - this was not defended.)

    This is just about tidying up the suit against the mother. The RIAA asked to be allowed to drop the suit, and was allowed to do so (with prejudice - i.e. they have lost). The court finds that the mother is "eligible" for costs, at the court's discretion, but "such eligibility does not equate to entitlement" and "attorney fees are not to be awarded routinely or as a matter of course." The court has not yet decided on fees, it has just not yet rejected the idea - the mother can apply for an award of fees, and the matter will be decided then.
    • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:21PM (#15716280) Journal
      Actually, rereading the story, it is accurate. It is the early /. comments which are seeing a victory where it does not exist. I have erred by placing blame for inaccuracy in the wrong place.
      • Thank you, Michael, for your careful reading of both the decision itself and my initial post. The important legal precedent in my view is that the judge has dispelled the RIAA's notion that by withdrawing its claim against an innocent party, after she'd incurred the expense of discovery and of preparing for a summary judgment motion, the RIAA had immunized itself from an attorneys fee award. From my experience in these cases, the RIAA won't drop cases even after they know the party they are suing is innoce
        • From the judgement:
          'Exceptional circumstances include such situations as where a plantiff makes a practice of repeatedly bringing claims and then dismissing with prejudice "after inflicting substantial litigation costs on the opposing party and the judicial system." In the instant action, there is no evidence that the plaintiffs have engaged in any practice that would constitute exceptional circumstances justifying an award of attorneys' fees under the provisions of Rule 41(a)(2).'

          So the court can and will
    • If only the daughter was a lawyer.

      Then the mom could have hired the daughter to defend her case, RIAA drops the case, is forced to pay legal fees, which then go to the daughter......... to pay back RIAA in a settlement.

      Follow that?
    • Mod parent up. This is exactly what happened.
  • Open WiFi (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mantrid42 (972953) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:39PM (#15716351)
    This actually sets a good precedent and counters one of the arguments against leaving your wifi connection open. Even if someone uses you're internet connection, you won't be charged with a crime simply because you are the owner of that connection. Which means that we no longer have to live in paranoid fear of the tiny, tiny chance that trying to do something nice for people will end up with being arrested for aiding terrorists or pedophiles.
    • Re:Open WiFi (Score:3, Informative)

      by IANAAC (692242)
      Which means that we no longer have to live in paranoid fear of the tiny, tiny chance that trying to do something nice for people will end up with being arrested for aiding terrorists or pedophiles.

      Unless the AUP expressly forbids wifi sharing. You might want to double check your TOS. MANY, many providers forbid sharing wifi connections.

      • True, but the worst that'll happen for violating the TOS is that your ISP account would be terminated. That's better than being sued by an organisation funded by multimillion-dollar mafia-like music companies for an offence that you didn't commit!
      • I'd rather be cut off by my ISP for sharing my connection without authorisation, than 'aiding and abetting terrorists, paedophiles and '.

        A far as I know, contravening an AUP doesn't lead to rendition :)

        Mark
    • This actually sets a good precedent and counters one of the arguments against leaving your wifi connection open. Even if someone uses you're internet connection, you won't be charged with a crime simply because you are the owner of that connection. Which means that we no longer have to live in paranoid fear of the tiny, tiny chance that trying to do something nice for people will end up with being arrested for aiding terrorists or pedophiles

      Or it could go like this. You are a content provider, providing c

      • Except that "my" constitutional right to free speech as a content provider trumps all the malarkey you're going on about.

        At least for the time being.
      • Re:Open WiFi (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656)
        Someone (the government, a religious group, etc) tries to get you shut down for providing this bad material to children. You counter that it is the parent's responsibility to control what their children do online. ...and that argument is shot down, because this decision is saying that the person who owns the method of access (the parent in this case) is NOT responsible for how their children use it (illegal filesharing in this case). For maximizing freedom, I think the decision we want is that parents ARE
    • You mean, you won't be charged with copyright infringement.

      Child pornography and terrorism are most definitely prosecuted under different laws, and in the latter case by different secret agencies, each one more secret than the last...

      Lionel Hutz: Don't worry, Homer. I have a foolproof strategy to get you out of here. Surprise witnesses, each more surprising than the last. The judge won't know what hit him.
      Guard: Pipe down in there Hutz!
  • by troll -1 (956834) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:45PM (#15716375)
    Sounds similar to the RIAA case against Candy Chan of Michigan, for the actions of her 13 year old daughter, Brittany Chan. The court ruled the mother could not be sued for the actions of her daughter.

    See Priority v. Chan [p2pnet.net]

    Basically it sounds like you have to sue the person who allegedly committed the offence. The RIAA needs to refile against the right person.

    If someone phones in a bomb threat, you prosecute the person who made the call, not the person who pays the phone bill, right?
  • OOOOOklahoma where we download free....
  • Mom walks ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RWarrior(fobw) (448405) * on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:36PM (#15716622)
    ... but the kid has a judgement hanging over her. They can't enforce against her until she turns 18, but after that they can make her life miserable.

    I'm amazed that the judge permitted a default judgment against a minor in the first place, but then in civil courts you don't have rights, you merely have privleges that you pay for.
  • by consoneo (442007) <consoneo@NosPAm.houston.rr.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:37PM (#15716624)
    Not only did the RIAA lose that case, but comically enough, there was a Free Music add placed in this story :)

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v226/consoneo/RI AAFreeMusicSlashdot.jpg [photobucket.com]
  • As the only other good post states, this is hardly a win.

    The Mother's case is more-or-less closed. RIAA members get to send the message (prepare for shouting) "WE'LL SUE YOU IF WE THINK YOU ARE STEALING MUSIC AND YOU ARE A THEIF" is the big stick message that pretty much everyone has gotten either through RIAA lawsuit activities or the dumb trailer in front of some movies.

    It is very disappointing to see so many "stick it to the RIAA" messages. The war is over and your freedom to legitimately copy the medi
  • by crusher-1 (302790) on Friday July 14, 2006 @01:12AM (#15716961)
    As I've posted before. I'm a musician that has opted to go the home studio route due to the level of development in the software and hardware available. Well, it seems that others are taking heed of the this trend and bringing the worst fears of the RIAA into reality. Many local (and regional/national) artist are taking advantage of other channels to promote and sell their wares. Case in point: Here in my home town (major U.S. city) a local radio station is perusing the local uploads on MySpace and playing their music on their radio program. Then they have votes by listeners as to which songs played were their favorites. None of these bands or musicians are "signed" by a label. The winner of the vote is slotted into the regular play rotation.

    This is a win for all involved and puts the RIAA affiliates in the light they deserve to be - Mind over matter. The radio station, listeners and musicians don't mind the RIAA dregs because it doesn't matter. These bands/musicians get the exposure they so desperately need and deserve and get a change to get signed by a indie label (or an RIAA label if they see fit to). Where the RIAA/labels are concerned they are dealing with musicians that have decidedly more leverage than they may have had without this exposure.

    I for one welcome and highly advocate this trend. Personally I may not get any airtime. But at least I have an even shot and the "listeners" will decide my musics' marketability, not some coked out narssicistic R&A rep. And if I don't fair well with the listeners, perhaps I'll get an objective critique, which is something I likely wouldn't get by and "industry" goon.

    This latest advent in court shows two things as far as I'm concerned. 1) they're getting desperate. 2) It just goes to show how out of touch these morons are - they just set precedenct. Unfortunately for themselves (the RIAA legal team) it's in the opposite direction they had intended. Next time some innocent gets randomly targeted by these clueless idiots their lawyer will have a tool to use against the RIAA - and all thanks to the RIAA's efforts. It's nice when the thugs hand you a gun! Bang! Bang! Baby!

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