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Judge Won't Punish Lawyer For Anti-RIAA Blogging 160

Posted by kdawson
from the out-of-the-kitchen-with-you dept.
xander_zone_xxx writes with news that Ray Beckerman, known around here as NewYorkCountryLawyer, was not a "vexatious" litigant, as the RIAA claimed. In the same ruling the judge dismissed Beckerman's counter-claims against the RIAA. (We discussed the claims and counters a year back.) "An attorney defending against a music-piracy lawsuit didn't cross ethical bounds by filing motions broadly attacking the recording industry and posting them on his blog, a magistrate judge has ruled, rejecting demands from the RIAA for monetary sanctions. Attorney Ray Beckerman was 'less than forthcoming at times' in defending a client against an RIAA lawsuit, but the music industry's concerns were 'largely overstated,' New York Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy wrote Friday."
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Judge Won't Punish Lawyer For Anti-RIAA Blogging

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  • Yay for Ray (Score:3, Informative)

    by gavron (1300111) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @01:59PM (#29734465)
    He knows his stuff. In the long run truth will prevail!

    Way To Go Ray!

    E

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      Mr. Beckerman is my 3rd favorite lwayer, right after the lady who handled my divorce and the gentleman who handled my bankrupcy.

      My fourth favorite lawyer is Lawrence Lessig. Too bad he lost that Eldred case, or most songs would be legal to share. But at least he tried.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by omega_dk (1090143)

        Methinks you either greatly overestimate the number of songs that were prevented from being entered into the public domain, underestimated the number of songs in the public domain/that would still be under copyright had he won, or completely misunderstand the Eldred case.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Methinks you either greatly overestimate the number of songs that were prevented from being entered into the public domain, underestimated the number of songs in the public domain/that would still be under copyright had he won, or completely misunderstand the Eldred case

          There is NO recorded music I know of in the public domain except songs that were placed there by their copyright holders. However, even with a still excessive 50 year copyright term, almost half of all recorded music would be in the public d

      • My favorite lawyer is Judge Napolitano.

        I love his daily show and how he explains the laws - http://freedomwatchonfox.com/ [freedomwatchonfox.com]

      • I can't believe they would bring a case like this. Or that they send-out fear-inducing "Pay us $5000 or we'll drag you to court for millions in fines" extortionate letters.

        RIAA's CEO deserves the same fate as Mussolini of Italy, or King Louis of France, or Emperor Nero of Rome - all tyrants - all meeting the same fate.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Well, as much as I hate the RIAA scum, they heven't exactly killed anybody. However, I'd like to have these folks asking me if I wanted fries with that.

        • by russotto (537200)

          RIAA's CEO deserves the same fate as Mussolini of Italy, or King Louis of France, or Emperor Nero of Rome - all tyrants - all meeting the same fate.

          Wouldn't matter. You could shoot him and abuse his body, guillotine him, or drive him to suicide with his letter opener, and the next RIAA CEO would continue in the same vein (only with better security). It's the organization which needs to be destroyed, not any individual head of it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Schmorgluck (1293264)

          I'm happy they lost, but a lawyer commenting on a judicial process they're involved in as counsel has both special leniencies and special limitations to what he's allowed to say, compared to an ordinary citizen. I'm not shocked the courts found it worth examination.

          Since you mention Louis of France, and assuming you mean Louis XVI, it's a bit excessive to call him a tyrant. He held far less power than his predecessors, and genuinely attempted to reform France but failed mostly because of his lack of authori

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:01PM (#29734497)
    the music industry's concerns were 'largely overstated,' What?!? RIAA lawyers exagerating? That is certainly a first!
    • by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:05PM (#29734571)

      I'm interesting in that statement because it suggests that their complaints had some merit. The comment about him being "less than forthcoming" also makes me wonder. I haven't actually read really anything about the case background, so I wonder what those complaints are and whether the magistrate's recognition is one of "bad but not bad enough" or just "true but nothing to feel admonished about."

      Anyone got some more info on their claims and the merits behind them?

      • Well, via Wired's PDF of their claims [wired.com]:

        Here, Defendant’s counsel should be sanctioned for forcing Plaintiffs to take many unnecessary steps to obtain basic information, for making misleading statements, and for making baseless discovery objections and frivolous motions which he posted on his anti-recording industry blog. Specifically, as demonstrated above, Defendant’s counsel consistently forced Plaintiffs to seek Court intervention for routine discovery requests and engaged in a pattern of filing frivolous motions. For example, Plaintiffs were forced to seek the Court’s assistance to inspect Defendant’s computer, to serve deposition subpoenas on basic fact witnesses like Woody Raymond, Junior Lindor, and Yannick Raymond-Wright, and to compel Defendant and her son to produce the missing hard drive. As the Court held, each of these requests was a good faith effort to uncover evidence of copyright infringement. Similarly, Defendant’s counsel filed frivolous motions seeking, among other things, to preclude evidence (Doc. No. 69), to exclude Plaintiffs’ expert’s testimony (Doc. No. 165), and to compel production of a proprietary contract with MediaSentry (Doc. Nos. 62 and 201). Defendant’s counsel’s refusal to cooperate in good faith and repeated frivolous motions designed to thwart Plaintiffs’ discovery resulted in an unreasonable multiplication of these proceedings. Defendant’s counsel also made misleading statements to Plaintiffs. His assertions that there was no computer in the home at the time of infringement and that Defendant had no way of contacting her nephew Junior Lindor were both false, and both materially prolonged and complicated these proceedings unnecessarily. Finally, as this Court is aware, Defendant’s counsel has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass Plaintiffs. Such vexatious conduct demeans the integrity of these judicial proceedings and warrants this imposition of sanctions. See Galonsky, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19570, at *18-19.

        Now I can't find the court case cited here (Galonsky v. Williams in 1997?) because my judicial system here likes to be the only ones able to speak latin so I rely on them to tell me what's been established and what hasn't. Otherwise, I'd give you my honest opinion of their claims from a non-lawyer perspective, of course.

        Essentially they seem to be upset with him discussing this case on his blog ... if you read Slashdot regularly you'd be familiar with Ray's abilit

        • by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:44PM (#29735031) Journal

          So I'm guessing what Ray did was vexatious but apparently being vexatious isn't illegal (maybe being 'overly vexatious' is?).

          If I remember right, vexatious means intending to harass. I think the proper interpretation of what the judge meant was that the effects of actions do not indicate the purpose or intent of the actions. RIAA's lawyers attempted to make the connection from what some would consider due diligence and the blog as harassment and then attempted to infer the intention. If the judge saw the connections as informative sort of like news reporting or as you mentioned posturing for political campaigns, then while the effect of the actions could have been harassment, no "intent to harass" was found and the extent of harassment was exaggerated.

          That would clear up the distinctions between "vexatious" and 'overly vexatious' because without the intent, it doesn't really exist.

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:45PM (#29735867) Journal

          Whatever.

          It just sounds like RIAA's lawyers are whining like babies. I read about a similar case where a private individual created a "fan website" for a local mall that was being built. It included preliminary maps, list of future stores, et cetera. When the mall was finished the owners demanded the fan website be yanked, and the ISP complied. The mall's lawyers acted in a manner that I certainly consider "vexatious" such as providing *thousands* of pages in documents, when the individual simply asked for ONE piece of paper during the discovery phase of the trial. He was forced to try to sort through all this trash, and eventually turned to the ACLU for help.

          The case eventually reached the SCOTUS who sided with the fan's right to free speech and owning a personal fan website. They also ordered the mall's lawyers to pay the bills incurred.

          To this day they still haven't paid.

          Why? They claim since the ACLU represented the individual he has no costs (which is flat wrong - he incurred about $1000 prior to the ACLU arrivng to help). This is the way lawyers act - like toadies - not even bothering to follow a clear directive from the Supreme Court. RIAA's whining is nothing more than two-year-olds throwing temper tantrums. What NYCL did was represent his plaintiff, as he's *required* to do per the law, and he acted no differently than how RIAA's own lawyers act in their vigorous defenses of copyright for their clients (including mailing-out vexatious "Pay us $5000 or else" letter to citizens).

          • by Quothz (683368)

            The case eventually reached the SCOTUS who sided with the fan's right to free speech and owning a personal fan website. They also ordered the mall's lawyers to pay the bills incurred. To this day they still haven't paid.

            I have trouble believing this story; it's relatively easy to collect a judgment, especially from a company, if they have enough to pay it. You don't really need their cooperation to collect, although it makes it easier. An award for costs of litigation will always be for a specific amount, so unless they've appealed it there's simply no argument to be made about what costs are involved. I don't see anything about the story from a bit of Googlery, either. I think you, or whomever you heard it from, got the d

            • All the info is on http://www.taubmansucks.com/ [taubmansucks.com] or google "Henry Mishkoff" or watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ITE7ITSR6M [youtube.com].

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Quothz (683368)
                I see; thanks. As I suspected, the story given here was pretty much wrong in every detail. The ACLU didn't represent the guy (Friend Citizen did so; the ACLU filed a friend of the court brief). The case never reached SCOTUS. And his costs judgment was paid:

                Curiously enough, we now find ourselves at the satisfying point where Taubman has paid us a grand total of $1,349.98 – which not only is $84.25 more than the amount that we originally requested, it's also $349.98 more than they could have paid me to settle this entire matter nearly two years ago!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Essentially they seem to be upset with him discussing this case on his blog

          I don't think that was necessarily their primary source of upset.

          It's worth reading some of Ray's discussions on RIAA strategy - you'll pick up just how the RIAA was bundling up dozens of John Doe discovery sessions in a fishing expedition, then throwing them at the court in a lump and engineering things such that individual defendants didn't have time to respond in court. Kind of like a class action suit in reverse, I think. Anyway you can't do that, and should't be allowed to get away with that. They

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bane2571 (1024309)
          Wow, from reading that the "vexatious" actions Ray was taking was demanding that a court order be issued before the RIAA seized a private citizen's property and that a court appointed obseerver be present before the RIAA access said property. Curse him for forcing good manners upon the poor RIAA.
          Jeez, he also tried to exclude evidence that may have been false and get further information proving said evidence's falibility. Is there no end to Ray's depravity.

          Did this kind of BS from the RIAA even have a cha
      • by dangitman (862676)

        I'm interesting...

        Not as much as you think you are.

      • The comment about him being "less than forthcoming" also makes me wonder

        Heh... Translation: They haven't found anything in his background they could use for blackmail.

  • who's vexatious? (Score:4, Informative)

    by quercus.aeternam (1174283) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:04PM (#29734533) Homepage

    Levy also ruled that the RIAA, which has sued 30,000 individuals, was not a vexatious litigant, shooting down Beckerman’s counter-complaint against his courtroom opponents.

    As is not unusual, the editors seem to have missed the fact that NewYorkCountryLawyer is not a litigant - though they are correct in stating that the complaints against him have been dropped.

    • Re:who's vexatious? (Score:4, Informative)

      by quercus.aeternam (1174283) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:08PM (#29734601) Homepage

      For those who dared not taint their eyes with a quote from TFA, I will further clarify: NewYorkCountryLawyer was not accused of being vexatious.

      Also, my statement that the complaints against him were dropped is not entirely accurate, as the judge dismissed both sides' complaints.

      • Re:who's vexatious? (Score:5, Informative)

        by RIAAShill (1599481) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:22PM (#29734799)

        For those who dared not taint their eyes with a quote from TFA, I will further clarify: NewYorkCountryLawyer was not accused of being vexatious.

        The decision [beckermanlegal.com] said that, "[a]ccording to plaintiffs . . . counsel 'intentionally provided false information, attempted to misdirect Plaintiffs as to relevant facts and events, and concealed critical information and evidence regarding the infringement at issue,' unreasonably and vexatiously multiplying this litigation and severely prejudicing plaintiffs' ability to learn the critical facts." The complaint sought monetary sanctions under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1927 [cornell.edu], which only allows for sanctions if the accused attorney "multiplies the proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously ."

        • Oh, going and doing some independent research, huh? Well, umm... thanks ;)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by RIAAShill (1599481)

            Oh, going and doing some independent research, huh? Well, umm... thanks ;)

            Well, not that independent. The decision was the first link in the article. Instead of reading the article, I just read the decision. When I saw your post, I went back to it and searched for vexatious to see if you what you said was accurate.

            It seems like a decent opinion. The decision to levy sanctions should not be taken lightly. Neither plaintiffs nor defendants should be discouraged from exercising their legal rights.

      • by bughunter (10093)

        Interesting. According to Wired, motion to sanction was filed a year ago [wired.com] and has been awaiting a decision the entire time.

        The last line of the linked article reads, "Expect a ruling on the RIAA's motion for sanctions soon."

        OK. [checks watch] For future reference, Soon = 11 months in legalese.

        • Still, that's faster than a Soon(tm) from Blizzard.

        • by micheas (231635)

          In California there seem to be three judges assigned to most civil cases.

          The Trial judge that will issue the ruling about the case and so on.

          The Law and motion judge that will make rulings on most of the motions filed by the parties.

          And a third judge that has the sole job of trying to keep the case moving forward and eventually leaving litigation.

          • by nomadic (141991)
            Huh?? I've never heard that. Frequently, in a federal trial, you have a trial judge but also a magistrate judge who handles low-level disputes and keeps the case moving on; sort of a subordinate judge. Obviously the trial judge has ultimate authority. There is no third judge involved, though.

            Or are you thinking of three judge panels that make rulings at the appellate level?
      • the judge dismissed both sides' complaints

        Not so. The Magistrate Judge recommended denial of the RIAA's motion for "discovery sanctions". He did not rule on Ms. Lindor's Rule 11 motion for sanctions against the RIAA lawyers. That motion is still pending.

  • Kettle/Pot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StormReaver (59959) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:04PM (#29734545)

    The RIAA claimed that Lindor, her family and Beckerman "intentionally provided false information, attempted to misdirect plaintiffs as to relevant facts and events, and concealed critical information and evidence regarding the infringement at issue."

    In other words, the RIAA accuses an opposing attorney of doing the very things that the RIAA does all the time. Shocking.

    • Re:Kettle/Pot (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bughunter (10093) <bughunter@earthlink. n e t> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:32PM (#29734909) Journal

      FTfA: New York Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy wrote, "Although defendant's counsel took an unusually aggressive stance and, at times, veered into hyperbole and gratuitous attacks on the recording industry as a whole, I do not find clear evidence of bad faith on counsel's part."

      But yet,

      Marie Lindor, Beckerman's client, ...was accused of making copyrighted music available on the Kazaa file sharing program. After five depositions and three years of legal maneuvering, the RIAA has dropped the case against the woman whom Beckerman said has "never turned on a computer.

      Let me get this straight. Who's providing "false information," "misdirecting... relevant facts and events," and concealing "critical information and evidence regarding the infringement at issue" again?

      JFC. The arrogance and hypocrisy is mind-boggling.

      • by jd (1658)

        To me, part of the problem is the US legal system itself. Both sides sought to be obstructive, in their own ways. Both sides were guilty of mud-slinging. Both sides made it hard for the judge to make any kind of reasoned decision.

        But I cannot blame the lawyers for this, because this is how the system itself is set up. There is little interest in the truth, especially when a favorable lie could get you so much more. The lawyers, by mistreating reality and harassing their opponents merely did what they were p

      • Marie Lindor, Beckerman's client, ...was accused of making copyrighted music available on the Kazaa file sharing program. After five depositions and three years of legal maneuvering, the RIAA has dropped the case against the woman whom Beckerman said has "never turned on a computer.

        Let me get this straight. Who's providing "false information," "misdirecting... relevant facts and events," and concealing "critical information and evidence regarding the infringement at issue" again?

        Look, with all due respect to NYCL, he is her lawyer. Do you really think the other side should drop a law suit just because her lawyer says she didn't do it? Really?

        If they thought they had a case then it was within their right to go to court. That is what the courts are for: to resolve legal disputes. Now, if they just sued because they thought she would cave in and pay despite not having done anything wrong, then that would be an abuse of the legal system. But you'd have to prove that. And simply asserti

    • In psychology, that's called "projection". It's a sign that the person itself can not let any thought of his own failure into his mind, despite him knowing and hating it, for fear of breakdown of the own reality. So he/she/it starts to project his repressed self-hatred onto others, to be able to let it out.

      Basically they are beyond the point of no return where they hate their own stupid decision, far into the land of fear of total breakdown on confrontation, where all you can do is run with it until the bit

  • Keep it cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:04PM (#29734555)

    Yay for him, but may he beware of being too passionate and involved into what he defends/attacks. Lawyering is best served cold.

    • by TheSpoom (715771) *

      Meh. As long as he's not slandering or libeling anyone, or breaking case confidentiality, I say freedom of speech is more important.

      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        It's not about freedom of speech, it's about being dispassionate, pragmatic and cool-headed vs. getting heated up and doing things that don't best serve your cause/case.

        If your ranting on a blog serves your cause, then good, but if you do that only because you're pissed, frustrated and you need to vent and rant, then it does you no good and you need to cool off.

    • Re:Keep it cool (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:14PM (#29734691)

      I disagree. This is not a single case, but rather a rash of cases that affects nearly everyone age 12-30, and many that are older as well. It's going to be changing laws and attitudes, and Ray is making sure the information is out there to everyone who will listen.

      He is going far beyond the duties of a simple lawyer and is actively working to make this a better country.

      Whether or not you believe he is making it a better country isn't the issue, either... -He- believes that (and so do many others) and he's working on his beliefs.

      That's an admirable thing.

      • Hrmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

        by commodoresloat (172735) * on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:47PM (#29735889)

        Whether or not you believe he is making it a better country isn't the issue, either... -He- believes that (and so do many others) and he's working on his beliefs.

        That's an admirable thing.

        So you're saying he's kinda like Jack Thompson?

        • by Carthag (643047)

          Whether or not you believe he is making it a better country isn't the issue, either... -He- believes that (and so do many others) and he's working on his beliefs.

          That's an admirable thing.

          So you're saying he's kinda like Jack Thompson?

          If he was grossly unprofessional to the point of disbarment, yeah maybe.

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          So you're saying he's kinda like Jack Thompson?

          A troll's methods are entirely separate from their goals and/or their beliefs.

          Over a very extended period of time involving a number of totally unrelated cases and individuals, [Jack Thompson] has demonstrated a pattern of conduct to strike out harshly, extensively, repeatedly and willfully to simply try to bring as much difficulty, distraction and anguish to those he considers in opposition to his causes. He does not proceed within the guidelines of appropriate professional behavior, but rather uses other means available to intimidate, harass, or bring public disrepute to those whom he perceives oppose him.

    • by chill (34294)

      Uh, what? Are you a lawyer? More specifically, have you argued cases in front of juries? I'll bet that class of lawyers would have a difference of opinion on the use of passion, rhetoric and emotional appeal.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        I think the parents point was more along the lines of why a lawyer generally doesn't represent himself as well as he could others not that there is no place for passion.

        It's difficult to convey a complete thought when you are heavily invested in the outcome. What happens a lot of times is that key facts get over looked because emotions either already assume that others know it or you place emphasis on the effects without clearly demonstrating the causes.

        It happens quite often even here when people start get

      • by 4D6963 (933028)
        None of these things require to actually feel them. It's just an act, and something a good lawyer has to master. Let me guess, you probably think that Keith Olbermann is always genuinely as outraged as he acts?
    • by WiiVault (1039946)

      Lawyering is best served cold.

      Sorry but that is exactly the line of thought that is letting (most of) the lawyers destroy our society. Take the RIAA, if their lawyers had souls and weren't just cold bastards they would refuse to sue grannies for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Wouldn't society be better without these moral-free lawyers? It can be an honorable job as Ray proves, but lets not forget that he is the minority in his profession from what I can tell.

      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        Lawyers are instruments, unilateral protagonists of the justice system. They're not the moral guardians of society, very far from that. You need to look at professionals not as humans but by their functions. Lawyers are mercenaries of justice, and by opposing two sides of lawyers and letting a judge be the referee you're supposed to get justice. And lawyers are just more efficient and less error-prone when they stay dispassionate and cool-headed.

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      I think his focus has been all of the bad evidence, illegal third party investigators, and continuing to prosecute when the evidence suggests they are wrong.

      Beckerman's job seems to be defense, not prosecutorial. So if a client comes to him with court action in progress, I'd sure as hell prefer someone who has been watching the cases and knows what dirty tricks to expect. Also, which cases have come before and how they turned out.

      Better to watch copyright cases than be an ambulance chaser, or advertise "h

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:05PM (#29734577)

    I must have missed this one. The RIAA really requested monetary sanctions for a piracy defense lawyer who blogged about disliking the RIAA?

    Holy shit, recording industry, this is getting out of control. You're supposed to be evil but it's supposed to be Disney evil or James Bond villain evil. This is closer to frothing tyrannical dictator evil.

  • by NoYob (1630681) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:10PM (#29734645)
    FTFA:

    “I’m gratified that the motion was denied. It was based on gross misstatements of fact. I would have preferred for the judge’s language to be stronger. But the result is the same,” Beckerman said during a brief telephone interview.

    I see. So in layman's terms, "gross misstatements of fact" means - "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hal_Porter (817932)

      In the UK if you said "liar, liar, pants on fire" to an RIAA like organisation they could sue you for libel unless you could prove that every single employee had burning pants. OK, I'm exaggerating but UK libel law absolutely sucks. It basically allows the rich and powerful to stop the poor and powerless from criticizing them. And of course that is exactly what it is designed for.

      In fact Singapore only need to take UK libel law and ignore the unwritten rule that the government won't sue the opposition for l

      • In the UK if you said "liar, liar, pants on fire" to an RIAA like organisation they could sue you for libel unless you could prove that every single employee had burning pants.

        Nothing that couldn't be accomplished with enough kerosene, matches, or spontaneous combustion.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:14PM (#29734693) Homepage

    The RIAA claimed that Lindor, her family and Beckerman "intentionally provided false information, attempted to misdirect plaintiffs as to relevant facts and events, and concealed critical information and evidence regarding the infringement at issue."

    In other words, NYCL has delivered information as required but in the way that was the most advantageous to the interests of the defendant he faithfully represents. NYCL does exactly what the plaintiff's attorneys do by being less than forthcoming with evidence that might harm their case and by characterising their evidence in ways that are not consistent with the facts in the case. (I'm sure NYCL might have exception to this assertion, but when it comes to lawyers, I have a presumption of guilt until proven innocent. [smirk])

    In essence, the plaintiff's lawyers complain that NYCL is fighting fire with fire, or in their case, bullshit with bullshit and they can't handle it.

    Frankly, I can't believe the plaintiff attorneys can perform this "pot calling the kettle black" act with a straight face. Given that most judges were lawyers themselves, I find it unimaginable that they don't already see through the bullshit.

    • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:26PM (#29734857) Homepage Journal
      Frankly, I can't believe the plaintiff attorneys can perform this "pot calling the kettle black" act with a straight face. Given that most judges were lawyers themselves, I find it unimaginable that they don't already see through the bullshit.

      It seems fairly clear that the judge did see through the BS. Just because someone files a silly complaint and the judge doesn't shoot it down outright doesn't mean they are 'buying' the BS.

      I would imagine that many judges are inclined to hear out both side's arguments fully, in order to give the case a fair shake. This probably involves listening to a lot of stupid blathering over the course of a career as a judge. If you just dismiss everything outright, I would think that would make the case more likely to be appealed.

      Also, there is an old saying about giving someone enough rope to hang themselves...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ubercam (1025540)

        I would imagine that many judges are inclined to hear out both side's arguments fully, in order to give the case a fair shake. This probably involves listening to a lot of stupid blathering over the course of a career as a judge. If you just dismiss everything outright, I would think that would make the case more likely to be appealed.

        I'd be inclined to agree with that. On the TV shows like Judge Judy and the like, the judge actually listens to what both parties have to say, every time, no matter how ridiculous the stories or how batshit insane the people are... they kind of have to don't they? The legal system wouldn't make sense otherwise. You might as well just toss a coin if that were the case.

        Many people in the Slashdot universe also seem to forget or ignore the fact that they're biased as hell against the MAFIAA (even calling it th

  • WTF (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:20PM (#29734763)
    Excuse me IANAL, but isn't the truth never libelous? Even opinion is supposed to receive the utmost protection. Libel is reserved for those know knowingly lie simply to inflict harm. I mean sure the RIAA doesn't agree with Ray's angle, but since when is well stated opinion backed by dozens of sources, and agreed upon by pretty much everybody who isn't a RIAA fascist suddenly become illegal to share? Thank god the judge dismissed it, but the fact that he didn't slap them in hard for trying to silence a critic makes me understand why in the eyes of the law, we the people are fucked.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zerth (26112)

      In the US it's not, in the UK the truth can be libelous.

    • Excuse me IANAL, but isn't the truth never libelous? Even opinion is supposed to receive the utmost protection. Libel is reserved for those know knowingly lie simply to inflict harm. I mean sure the RIAA doesn't agree with Ray's angle, but since when is well stated opinion backed by dozens of sources, and agreed upon by pretty much everybody who isn't a RIAA fascist suddenly become illegal to share? Thank god the judge dismissed it, but the fact that he didn't slap them in hard for trying to silence a critic makes me understand why in the eyes of the law, we the people are fucked.

      Part of the reason that the judge didn't slap the RIAA hard is because Ray was (is?) in court opposing the RIAA. When one is in litigation (whether as one of the litigants or as one of their lawyers) there are legal limits about what one is allowed to say about the case. Those limits vary from case to case.

    • Because there is no such thing as "absolute truth" in a legal courtroom. (See also: justice, fairness, equality, and common sense.)
    • by debrain (29228)

      Excuse me IANAL, but isn't the truth never libelous? Even opinion is supposed to receive the utmost protection. Libel is reserved for those know knowingly lie simply to inflict harm. I mean sure the RIAA doesn't agree with Ray's angle, but since when is well stated opinion backed by dozens of sources, and agreed upon by pretty much everybody who isn't a RIAA fascist suddenly become illegal to share? Thank god the judge dismissed it, but the fact that he didn't slap them in hard for trying to silence a critic makes me understand why in the eyes of the law, we the people are fucked.

      I recall there being a number of philosophical thoughts on the relationship between libel and truth. The first I recall is that in general libel is any written statement that causes harm. You can claim for damages from libel anyone who makes a statement that causes harm. However, if the written statement was true, that is a complete defence to claims for libel.

      The second school of thought I recall is that libel is any untrue statement that causes harm. Therefore you can only claim for damages where the writ

  • Good Luck. Nice to see those that take on the evil and can win at least a battle (hopefully, the war).
  • Let me just add (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamstar7 (694492) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:44PM (#29735025)
    ... my congratulations to Ray. It's not every day that somebody has the courage to descend into the belly of The Beast and beard them in their own den.

    Ray is one of those 2% of lawyers that the other 98% make things bad for.

  • by twmcneil (942300) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:48PM (#29735073)

    "The question is not whether the court approves of the plaintiff's litigation tactics, but whether the plaintiff acted for the purpose of harassing or annoying the defendant."... "Plaintiffs have doggedly pursued their copyright infringement claim, but I find no evidence of undue vexatiousness or ill motive on their part."

    Hello! That's exactly what they are doing. Chasing after other family members not a party to the action and trying over and over to find the existence some magical external drive.

    Summary sucks as usual but I think NYCL got a bit of the shaft on this one.

    Keep up the good work Ray.

  • About Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:01PM (#29735237)

    Ray Beckman has been fighting an uphill battle against the recording industry for years, and it's past time he got a bit more recognition for his efforts. A lot of people don't appreciate that every time one of the RIAA's outrageous tactics receives even limited support in a court of law, that tactic will inevitably make its way into normal corporate practice.

    This struggle is about a lot more than alleged theft of music. It's about abuse of the legal system by corporations and individuals with deep pockets as they enforce their will on average people by threatening to bankrupt them in court if they dare to fight back against blatantly unfair practices.

    I have great respect for Ray Beckman. We need a thousand more like him.

    • Re:About Time (Score:4, Interesting)

      Ray Beck[er]man has been fighting an uphill battle against the recording industry for years, and it's past time he got a bit more recognition for his efforts. A lot of people don't appreciate that every time one of the RIAA's outrageous tactics receives even limited support in a court of law, that tactic will inevitably make its way into normal corporate practice. This struggle is about a lot more than alleged theft of music. It's about abuse of the legal system by corporations and individuals with deep pockets as they enforce their will on average people by threatening to bankrupt them in court if they dare to fight back against blatantly unfair practices. I have great respect for Ray Beck[er]man. We need a thousand more like him.

      Thank you, hyades1. Much appreciated. You are so right about this being an "abuse of the legal system by corporations... with deep pockets". I wrote an article for the ABA's Judges Journal, last year, about that very subject : "Large Recording Companies vs. The Defenseless : Some Common Sense Solutions to the Challenges of the RIAA Litigations" [blogspot.com]. I am so grateful for the fine lawyers who have joined me in this struggle, fighting for principle.

      • I'm not convinced it's "just" corporations abusing the system. The rot starts at the top. When politicians dial back reasonable rights, accountability, transparency, privacy and the separation between state and justice, companies generally follow in that wake and abuse as much as they can. Companies are there to make money, and ethics won't come into this unless they become a route to revenue.

        Granted, the RIAA has been very creative (and is IMHO *preventing* revenue - different debate) but the likes of E

      • by hyades1 (1149581)

        Jeez...sorry about the missing "er", Mr. BeckERman. I'm normally smarter than that. I plead the pressure of other open tabs and two concurrent conversations, Your Honour.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      What we need even more is to remove the notion that you can file a frivolous lawsuit and simply win it by outspending the defendant.

      Moving the US to a loser pays system would give the hapless and helpless "we the people" incentive to stand and fight instead of rolling over.

      As it stands now, corporations are kings. They know that if you do something they don't like, all they have to do is squash you like a bug under a big fat lawsuit, and the law be damned. The only reason they don't treat EACH OTHER like

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I am curious what NYCL thinks about "loser pays" though.

        I'm not in favor of it. I think it ups the ante, and therefore makes it even harder for people without lots of money to have access to the courts. Copyright law in the US does, however, have a modified "loser pays" rule; the prevailing party may be entitled to attorneys fees.

  • by Paracelcus (151056) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:26PM (#29736453) Journal

    We've lost Habeas corpus, free assembly, freedom of association, freedom of speech, keep & bear arms. Look around, listen to public and "free speech" radio, talk to your more erudite friends about the post 911 expansion of government powers and see if it's not true.

  • I don't understand the statement that some "counterclaim" was dismissed. The defendant did not have any counterclaims. She did make a Rule 11 motion for sanctions against the RIAA's attorneys. That motion is still pending.
  • For a more accurate and detailed article on the Magistrate Judge's decision I recommend my own Slashdot submission from last Friday, which Slashdot rejected: "RIAA's "Sanctions" Motion in Lindor Denied" [slashdot.org]
    • Slashdot generated quote at the end of this page was "Between grand theft and a legal fee, there only stands a law degree."

      Laugh till cry.

    • by Barny (103770)

      The request to impose sanctions reminds me too much of scooby-do:

      "we would have won too if it wasn't for those meddling kids!"

      Forget that it was evidence grounded in fact, that they themselves would have happily used a bias (were one to exist) and that they themselves have created such bias in the past with "expert" witnesses and creative information gathering (yeah, I read the full transcripts posted way-back-when of so called expert witnesses).

      Good luck with future cases.

  • Praise for NYCL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whuffo (1043790) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @06:16PM (#29738213) Homepage Journal
    He's a competent attorney, and knows better than any of the laymen here what the risks are of the choices he makes. But there's something very special happening here; knowing the risks and facing a huge and implacable enemy he's sticking fairly closely to the path of truth - even though it may be expensive or uncomfortable to him.

    He can see the true outlines of the questions being decided - and they're much more important than many of the commentators here may imagine. It's not solely about protecting some pirate from having to pay for their downloads - it's also about the music cartel and if they should be allowed to exert total control over the production and distribution of music. While we've been snoozing they've carved out a legal niche where they crouch and work out ways to take even more control for themselves.

    Those cartel members are full of self-importance and those stories you hear about "pay per play" or putting independent outlets out of business aren't bedtime stories - these are things the cartel wants and they'll get them and more if nobody stands up to oppose them. Those who think that downloading a few more tunes will make a difference are fooling themselves; they're playing the cartel's game.

    It's OK if most of the folks stick to their nice soft beds and don't get involved in important social problems like this one. But we need a few who will - NYCL is one, who else will stand up and fight for the truth?

    • He's a competent attorney, and knows better than any of the laymen here what the risks are of the choices he makes. But there's something very special happening here; knowing the risks and facing a huge and implacable enemy he's sticking fairly closely to the path of truth - even though it may be expensive or uncomfortable to him. He can see the true outlines of the questions being decided - and they're much more important than many of the commentators here may imagine. It's not solely about protecting some pirate from having to pay for their downloads - it's also about the music cartel and if they should be allowed to exert total control over the production and distribution of music. While we've been snoozing they've carved out a legal niche where they crouch and work out ways to take even more control for themselves. Those cartel members are full of self-importance and those stories you hear about "pay per play" or putting independent outlets out of business aren't bedtime stories - these are things the cartel wants and they'll get them and more if nobody stands up to oppose them. Those who think that downloading a few more tunes will make a difference are fooling themselves; they're playing the cartel's game. It's OK if most of the folks stick to their nice soft beds and don't get involved in important social problems like this one. But we need a few who will - NYCL is one, who else will stand up and fight for the truth?

      Thanks, Whuffo. Very much appreciated.

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