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The Courts Music

UMG v. Lindor Ends, No Fees, No Sanctions 113

Posted by kdawson
from the attempting-graceful-extrication dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The 5-year-old case of UMG Recordings v. Lindor (which we've discussed all those years) has come to a close in Brooklyn, without ever reaching the deposition and document production of MediaSentry. The District Judge denied the RIAA's motions for discovery sanctions but granted the RIAA's motion for voluntary dismissal without prejudice and without attorneys fees, adopting the report and recommendation of the Magistrate Judge."
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UMG v. Lindor Ends, No Fees, No Sanctions

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  • Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adambomb (118938) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:32PM (#31000696) Journal

    So the case is dropped without requiring attorneys fees, adding to the impression that it may be cheaper to pay the recording industry a settlement than have years of legal battle for nothing beyond not having been required to pay the ridiculous punitive damages.

    a clear win for the RIAA gameplan, if not the widest possible margin.

  • Re:Lindor (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bahamut_Omega (811064) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:33PM (#31000714)
    Likely you mean Lindt. On the other hand, the Teflon mafiaa "dons" get away scotch free.
  • Re:Lindor (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drachenfyre (550754) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:35PM (#31000742) Homepage

    grr Lindor *IS* a brand name of Lindt.

  • Re:Great. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:35PM (#31000748)

    Exactly, the difference between $100,000 of attourney's fees or $100,000 fees + $100,000 penalties isn't exactly a big one for your average joe. If it scares more people into capitulating with the RIAA and settling bogus lawsuits out of court, then it's a big win for the record industry.

  • by mmell (832646) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:36PM (#31000766)
    Perhaps I'm missing something. Doesn't this mean:

    The RIAA can refile if they wish (no prejudice), and

    Lindor has to pay for his own attorney, UMG is totally off the hook ("no harm, no foul")

    They were right: government of the people, by the people and for the people - but in the court system, big business rulez!

  • Re:Lindor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Adambomb (118938) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:37PM (#31000790) Journal

    Actually, they probably have lots of expensive scotch.

    and that ruling probably called for a few rounds.

  • Re:Lindor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:38PM (#31000814) Journal

    Likely you mean Lindt. On the other hand, the Teflon mafiaa "dons" get away scotch free.

    Likely you meant scot free [wikipedia.org] ;)

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:38PM (#31000818) Homepage

    Other than an attorney bill that you need to sell your kidney for.

    Yeah, that's going to teach the RIAA not to scare people. :/

  • Re:finally, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:38PM (#31000820) Journal

    No fees is sanity? Shouldn't the RIAA have to pay for bringing what seems to be an essentially frivolous lawsuit?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:40PM (#31000830)

    corporations are people too!!!11

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:43PM (#31000888) Journal

    Exactly. This case shows pretty clearly that if you're a big company with enough money, you can trample all over the rights of the public, break the law flagrantly, and still get off scot-free. This was anything but a win for the rule of law. At best, it was a draw.

  • Re:finally, (Score:1, Insightful)

    by jgagnon (1663075) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:45PM (#31000914)

    There's always civil court...

  • Re:finally, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern (191822) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:46PM (#31000932)

    Let's see here: The RIAA has demonstrated that they can roast you slowly in court for years, costing you many thousands in lawyer's fees, and get a dismissal which costs them nothing and allows them to sue you for the exact same thing all over again! Yep, they're in trouble now...

  • by Pharmboy (216950) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:47PM (#31000946) Journal

    But some people are more equal than others.

  • Re:finally, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:47PM (#31000954) Homepage Journal

    Shouldn't the RIAA have to pay for bringing what seems to be an essentially frivolous lawsuit?

    Yes.

  • Re:Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:53PM (#31001030) Homepage Journal

    if its not considered terribly bad form, i wonder if Mr. Beckerman wouldnt mind telling us the ballpark figure this case cost Mrs Lindor. Or failing that, just the total number of billable hours and a general idea of other costs, monitary or opportunity, that she incurred. If only for a sense of proportion.

    Suffice it to say, it was a terrible hardship on Ms. Lindor and her entire family.

  • by mykos (1627575) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:57PM (#31001070)

    It seems that a person who couldn't math the virtually infinite funding of the RIAA would lose even if they win, having to defend endlessly against such suits.

  • Re:finally, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:48PM (#31001634) Journal

    Well, true, but MediaSentry doesn't exist in a vacuum. More money paid to lawsuits means either less money to actually spend on artists (and thus, artists leaving to form indie labels), or less money to spend on MediaSentry. Either one is a good thing in the long run.

    More importantly, it would mean the defendant wouldn't have to pay those obscene legal fees, they'd just have to waste a ton of time. So it's not quite a win for the defendant, but it isn't quite what it is now, where a defendant is likely to settle just because their legal fees may well outweigh any possible settlement.

    Finally, if it set a precedent, it would break this habit the RIAA has of simply suing everyone and asking questions later. Right now, it's actually profitable for them to do so, because occasionally they do get a settlement. If it cost them that much more each time they failed, they might pay a little more attention to who they sue in the first place.

  • by Svartalf (2997) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:56PM (#31001734) Homepage

    It's been reeking of RICO for a while now, actually.

  • Re:Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wigaloo (897600) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @05:02PM (#31001804)

    Regarding attorney's fees, from the decision:

    In addition to the defendant's delayed disclosures, Beckerman, defendant's counsel, adopted an unduly contentious approach throughout this litigation (albeit the same can be said of plaintiff's counsel). For that reason alone, his request for attorney's fees and costs is not only denied but is also inappropriate.

    Why inappropriate? What does Mr. Beckerman's approach have to do with whether or not his attourney's fees -- presumably to be paid by Ms. Lindor -- are to be covered? Surely whether or not the fees are to be paid is a matter of law, and not at the personal discretion of the judge. That the judge is taking out his frustrations with Mr. Beckerman on Ms. Lindor seems wholly inappropriate to me. What the hell is it with the legal system that results in a defendant having to pay when the incorporated plaintiff requests dismissal of the case?

  • Fraud (Score:4, Insightful)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @05:26PM (#31002078) Homepage

    (abridged version)

    RIAA: I sue you for $xx,xxx,xxx

    Lindor: Ok, here's my attorney. En garde!

    (many years and several thousand dollars later)

    RIAA: Ok, I was kidding all along. I didn't really mean to sue you, especially since I have no hope of ever winning. Let's call the whole thing off. No hard feelings ?

    Judge: Yeah, Beckerman, quit being such an feisty little prick. Oh, and btw you can both go fuck yourselves.

    Now I'm not all that well-versed in the letter of the law, but that reeks of fraud. A frivolous lawsuit gone unpunished is what this is. I'd dare accuse the judge of collusion.

  • Re:Ray... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrCawfee (13910) <mrcawfee @ y a h o o .com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:10PM (#31002516) Homepage

    No it is because the guys in the IT department want to read slashdot.

  • Re:Weird (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:54PM (#31003030) Journal

    I don't like this precedent that such a sloppy, unlicensed investigation can still provide enough grounds to drag someone into court, cost them big $, and then the plaintiffs get to drop the whole thing and walk away. The judge writes of 5 criteria he used to determine whether the plaintiffs should pay for this mess.

    First is diligence. Clearly, Media Sentry was incompetent. And they didn't have any sort of sanction such as a PI license. The so called expert witness also lacked competence. I'd say the plaintiff was not diligent. The judge seems to think they were.

    Second is vexatiousness. In the document the judge says "the question ... is whether the plaintiff acted for purposes of harassing ... the defendant." I would say the answer to that one is "no", but that question does not go far enough. The RIAA is obviously acting for purposes of terrorizing the public. They're not interested in Ms. Lindor personally, they're interested in getting another big headline, in having another broken torture victim to show off to the public, and they don't care whether the victim is really guilty. They're the Copyright Inquisition. That's hugely vexatious. Consider that anyone could have been caught in this dragnet. They didn't go after some pirate publisher who is cranking out bootleg CDs, they targeted an ordinary citizen. The judge totally missed that.

    3, 4 and 5 have to do with, call it "pushiness". The judge is being a fence sitter on this one, blaming both sides for refusing to back off. On 5, so what if the plaintiff really tried to dismiss the case within a few weeks? I bet they'd already cost the defendant a lot of time and money by then. Perhaps the defendant was beat down so hugely just from what happened in the first few weeks, was left with so little to lose that she felt obliged to go for broke. The judge seems to have overlooked that. It is by definition the plaintiff that started the whole mess, and if the defendant was made desperate, it is the plaintiff's fault. 4 is really incredible. The RIAA would like to have to option to go after Lindor again?! However, why not let the RIAA have that option, but make them pay the defendant's legal costs anyway? Is that against the rules?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:15PM (#31003254)

    Everyone generalizes from a single data point. At least, I do.

  • Re:finally, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dhalka226 (559740) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:33PM (#31003464)

    I agree that the decision is dumb, if for no other reason than it punishes the wrong person.

    However, you're spinning "unduly contentious" an awful lot. There's a difference between saying "you're wrong" and "you fucking scrub motherfucker, how can you be so fucking stupid?!@" even if both ultimately say the same thing. In other words, you can do your job to the exact same degree and still have multiple possible ways to have conducted yourself.

    What, exactly, did NYCL do that was "unduly contentious?" I don't know. I do know it has nothing to do with "working harder" or "successfully [wearing] down the representatives of a large monopoly" like you suggest. It has something to do with the way he went about his business. Maybe the decision goes into specifics (I really don't care enough to bother reading it) or maybe you'd have to delve through all of the filings yourself to get a clue, but there was one party who was there the whole time and heard it all: The judge.

    Stupid decision? Yes. Some sort of anti-individual, pro-monopolistic corporation perversion of the legal system conspiracy? No.

  • Re:finally, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:54PM (#31003696) Homepage Journal

    What, exactly, did NYCL do that was "unduly contentious?" I don't know.

    Neither do I. Neither did Judge Trager. Neither did Judge Levy.

    Stupid decision? Yes.

    Let us say an "incorrect" decisions.

    Some sort of anti-individual, pro-monopolistic corporation perversion of the legal system conspiracy? No.

    Let me put it this way: undue deference have been paid to the corporate plaintiffs on numerous occasions during this litigation.

  • by zogger (617870) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:16PM (#31003850) Homepage Journal

    the best defense is a good offense.

    I am wondering when something like a private, mass numbers of people, class action RICO (or similar, anything possible by non governmental folks)** suit is filed, for price fixing and collusion.

    What all these places are charging for "legitimate" download songs, for a few megs of transfer, is *ridiculous*. They are out of the ballbark artificially high..way high. If it was any tangibles products out there with such high across the board and across alleged "competitors" prices, compared to costs of making copies of this or that for sale, the howls would be loud and all sorts of prosecutors would be on it.

      But tens of thousands of percent markup seem to just fly with no worries in the digital products realm. I am wondering why this is? The only answer I can come up with is collusion, with perhaps a tad of governmental interference in there with "laws" if ya get my point I am "lobbying" for here.

    I think if there wasn't collusion and price fixing, and perhaps some other more serious crimes, that we would be seeing five cent download songs today. And even at five cents it would be a hefty markup.

    **seems to be the government is in no hurry to look at the prices of digital download "products" and why they seem to be so "coincidentally" high across the various music sites and official purchasing places. That's why I am wondering what possible private civil suits could be brought, an offensive strategy rather than defensive, and I am aware that under some circumstances, private RICO suits can be brought.

    I've been so annoyed at that I have never purchased one single download song (nor pirated any, I just don't), I just have been boycotting. I'll byy a used CD for 50 cents or a dollar max, or listen to the radio, that's it. I was a loyal music purchaser from LPs and singles starting in the 50s, going to 8 track, then to cassette, then started getting seriously annoyed with the lack of price drops with cheap plastic disks, only bought a few new then quit, and when it hit download and it was near the same price..which I knew was jacked up outtasite...heck with it, started boycotting. It's tremendous price gouging, and across the industry. Smacks of collusion.

    Jacked up RAM prices...feds on it. Jacked up LCD screen prices..they are on it. Jacked up digital products pricing, jacked up to the moon levels pricing...freekin *crickets*, like it isn't even happening.

  • by jeffrey.endres (1630883) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:31PM (#31005152)
    When justice is not seen to be available to the common people, you can expect revolts.

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated. -- Poul Anderson

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