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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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  • Finally, sanity prevails. I wonder if this is going to the beginning of the end for RIAA suing its own customers, or if they still have more in the pipeline.
    • Re:finally, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:38PM (#31000820) Journal

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

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by jgagnon (1663075)

        There's always civil court...

      • Re:finally, (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@be[ ]rmanlegal.com ['cke' in gap]> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:47PM (#31000954) Homepage Journal

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

        Yes.

        • Even if RIAA has to fork over some money,
          the actions of MediaSentry would remain hidden away.

          • Re:finally, (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @05:48PM (#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.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by cgenman (325138)

              They spend money on artists? I thought the big costs were promotion and producers. Unless, of course, you had meant the marketing artists and the audio producers who keep adding autotune to everything.

            • by StrongAxe (713301)
              More importantly, it would mean the defendant wouldn't have to pay those obscene legal fees

              No. It only means that they don't have to pay the RIAA's obscene legal fees. They will still have to pay any legal fees to their own lawyers. And since the case is dismissed without prejudice, the RIAA is free to bring it again, costing even MORE legal fees.
              • I think you missed the key word "would".

                I'm responding to the hypothetical that even if the RIAA were forced to fork over more money, it wouldn't do anything, because MediaSentry would somehow be shielded -- the point I'm making is that if the RIAA were forced to pay the defense's legal fees, maybe even a fine, it would at the very least force them to change how they approach the legal system.

        • Re:finally, (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bmo (77928) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @05:48PM (#31001632)

          It's nice to know that a judge can stick you for doing your job.

          What the fuck is "unduly contentious"? Shouldn't a lawyer work harder when up against a more formidable foe than "Joe's Garage and Automobile Recycling?"

          "You successfully wore down the representatives of a large monopoly. We can't have that. You and your client must be punished"

          --
          BMO

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Dhalka226 (559740)

            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?"

          • Re:finally, (Score:4, Interesting)

            by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@be[ ]rmanlegal.com ['cke' in gap]> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:51PM (#31003656) Homepage Journal

            What the fuck is "unduly contentious"?

            The judge doesn't say, does he? That's because he doesn't know of any instance in which I was "unduly contentious". Because there wasn't any.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by AK Marc (707885)
              The judge doesn't say, does he?

              Are the fee awards simply at the judges discretion (as in he could deny them if you wore a purple tie and he didn't like purple), or is there some legal basis that, in the absence of actual contentious behavior, would allow for an appeal on the grounds that the judge committed a procedural error?
      • No fees is sanity? Shouldn't the RIAA have to pay for bringing what seems to be an essentially frivolous lawsuit?

        Indeed. With a "victory" like this, they'll never need to actually win.

      • Re:finally, (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:38PM (#31002818) Journal

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

        Worse: dismissed without prejudice.

        In other words the RIAA can rinse and repeat... B-b

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Pojut (1027544)

      Short answer? More in the pipeline.

    • Re:finally, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Mattern (191822) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:46PM (#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...

      • Re:finally, (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 2obvious4u (871996) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:50PM (#31000998)
        Can they counter sue? I mean they did ruin this guys life for the past couple of years...
        • by Machtyn (759119)
          It was dismissed without prejudice, which means (I think) that they can bring another suit against Lindor. In which case, they would hope to get a more favorable judge. However, I think, the judge is able to see the result of the previous case if (s)he so chooses.
        • Yes, they definitely can. But: Will they win?
          And are they willing to live another couple of years in court?

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      sanity on the riaa side? Marginally. Meanwhile attorney fees and the RIAA avoiding precedent are things which are still to be dealt with. Essentially they want to sweep this under the rug, and it's not going to happen.

  • Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adambomb (118938) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:32PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 Adambomb (118938)

        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.

        • Re:Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@be[ ]rmanlegal.com ['cke' in gap]> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:53PM (#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.

          • 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" pric

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Kreigaffe (765218)

              uhm, correct me if i'm wrong but i believe the recording industry has been paddled *twice* over price-fixing in regards to compact discs. TWICE. I don't recall prices dropping all that much either time. I think they sent out $1 coupons if you wrote them a letter or some stupid shit like that. Probably not. That's just a guess and assumption that sounds about right, it's most likely not what happened. The price fixing thing should be spot on, though.

              • racketeering (Score:2, Interesting)

                by zogger (617870)

                That's why we need " corporate death penalties" [usatoday.com] for this sort of behavior. And payola [wikipedia.org] is/was common, which shows ongoing behavior, or racketeering. And nothing really happens even when they get busted.

                Just being able to pay a joke fine, that is just passed on to their next customers, for criminal actions isn't working with these big corporations very well. They need to lose their charters and their stock made worthless. Shareholders are not doing their due diligence and oversight as owners ove

    • Re:Great. (Score:5, Informative)

      by kbob88 (951258) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @05:18PM (#31001322)

      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.

      Sounds like the judge was pretty annoyed, and is taking his ball and going home.

      • Re:Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wigaloo (897600) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:02PM (#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?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Rich0 (548339)

          And that would be why Europe uses the loser-pays system, with security of costs for out-of-jurisdiction claimants.

          • sadly unclear (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Weezul (52464)

            Yes, loser-pays works wonderfully in Europe. Their nationalized health care works well too. ;)

            I'd support both loser-pays and nationalized health care, but they're both tricky social constructs that must be developed carefully. In particular, the Republicans have clearly pushed a version of loser-pays that discourages lawsuits against companies, vastly different form the European implementation.

            Also, European nations have far stronger laws protecting employees and the environment, placing the state more o

      • To me, that sounds like the Judge talking to Lindor, and going “Well, you should just have caved in and payed up! Look, everyone else does it too. Would have been easier.”

        What a dick.

  • by mcgrew (92797) *

    I wish you'd crosspost your blogs in a slashdot journal; I open slashdot while on break, and they have you firewalled off. I'd love to read them but will have to wait until I get home.

  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:36PM (#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!

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:38PM (#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: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You win, you owe money. You lose, you owe money. And, even if you "don't play the game" (i.e. violate copyright), you can still be sued by the RIAA and taken to court.

      Here's one. The RIAA brings suit, but 'you are actually innocent' (never have violated copyright), but you still need a lawyer, which costs money. Case gets thrown out, but you still have to pay the lawyer. Turns out the lawyer works for a firm, quietly owned by RIAA membership. They still win!

      Does it smell like RICO in here yet?

  • RIAA (Score:1, Troll)

    by gooman (709147)

    Quitters.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:48PM (#31000976)

    I'm really surprised that with all this potential wrecking of lives, no otherwise-innocent person has simply arranged for a meeting with the accusing attorneys and shot them to death.

    I'm not advocating this, but I'm surprised that no one has snapped in that manner.

    • by oldhack (1037484)
      Nothing new I suspect - they're in the record business.
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      While that might be a successful tactic if an individual sues you, it does you no good at all if a corporation sues you. Oposing attorneys are cheap, plentiful, and easily replaced; the corporation itself is immortal. Many people also seem to consider murder unethical... go figure.
    • by micheas (231635) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @05:12PM (#31001232) Homepage Journal

      The recent history has been to shoot the family of the Judge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Lefkow [wikipedia.org] .

      There is starting to be a realization that civil court is basically out of the reach of the lower 70% of the US citizenry. and this is starting to strain the fabric of society.

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by gknoy (899301)

        I'm sure this is redundant, obvious, etc, but ... what a tragedy.

        • by micheas (231635)

          I'm sure this is redundant, obvious, etc, but ... what a tragedy.

          For all involved.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        When justice is not seen to be available to the common people, you can expect revolts.
    • Then they would simply be charged with murder as well as their current charge, and the RIAA et all would simply hire a new attorney. (While the person has to deal with the trial while being held in jail.)

      • by gknoy (899301)

        When someone is suing you for a life-destroying amount of money, I could imagine someone (who doesn't believe in an afterlife where suicide or murder are punished) deciding that it was financially better for their loved ones and offspring to:

        - Divorce oneself from one's family legally
        - Murder-Suicide.

        What are they going to do, stick your children with the bill?

        I mean, on the one hand it's completely ethically bankrupt. On the other, it discourages potential counsel for the life-destroying corporation, prot

    • they knew they would be arrested by the grammar police.
  • The RIAA's boilerplate says "detected an individual", but they never have any evidence identifying a specific person. Same thing happened here. My condolences to Ms. Lindor for the hell she was put through by the RIAA. Too bad she can't get attorneys fees from the b*stards!
  • by mykos (1627575) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:57PM (#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.

    • 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.

      It's called a Phyrric victory [wikipedia.org]

    • And right after that we'll boycott all the Chevron stations for 3 days.
  • Weird (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jwinster (1620555)

    Reading the judge's decision, he blames most of the court costs on the fact that the Lindors may have had a houseguest in 2004, and that she sold her computers sometime between 2004 and 2008, which was a loss of evidence for the RIAA. If they had disclosed their houseguest then a lot of this could have been averted, according to the judge. Talk about overcompensation for a small discrepancy, you effectively ruin a family because they didn't disclose a houseguest they had for an unknown amount of time.

    • Re:Weird (Score:5, Informative)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@be[ ]rmanlegal.com ['cke' in gap]> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:42PM (#31002242) Homepage Journal

      Reading the judge's decision, he blames most of the court costs on the fact that the Lindors may have had a houseguest in 2004, and that she sold her computers sometime between 2004 and 2008, which was a loss of evidence for the RIAA. If they had disclosed their houseguest then a lot of this could have been averted, according to the judge. Talk about overcompensation for a small discrepancy, you effectively ruin a family because they didn't disclose a houseguest they had for an unknown amount of time. I am not a lawyer, but that seems like a pretty large case of overkill.

      The judge's decision seems to be based entirely upon his having accepted as gospel the first version of Ms. Yanick Raymond-Wright's testimony, and totally ignored the second version contained in her errata sheet. At her deposition she testified that she spent a considerable amount of time at Ms. Lindor's house during the Summer of 2004. Thereafter, Ms. Raymond-Wright consulted her records and realized that she was in school in the Summer of 2004, so that it was another Summer, not the Summer of 2004. The trier of fact, at the trial, would have been permitted to determine which of the two versions to accept. Judge Trager was not the trier of fact, since this was a jury case. So the judge -- without even observing the demeanor of witnesses -- made a decision which it was beyond his authority to make.

      • by jwinster (1620555)
        Please mod up! Thanks for the informative post.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bzipitidoo (647217)

        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

      • by app13b0y (767720)

        Judge Trager was not the trier of fact, since this was a jury case. So the judge -- without even observing the demeanor of witnesses -- made a decision which it was beyond his authority to make.

        If that is the case, can you appeal Trager's decision to still try to collect lawyer fees? or is that a final decision

  • Hrmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by chazzf (188092) <cfulton.deepthought@org> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:14PM (#31001928) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps someone with better knowledge of the case could comment on the substance of the judge's order, which concerns the apparently incorrect testimony given by the defendant. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think you can recover fees when your own client makes material misrepresentations. I'm surprised that the RIAA's own request for sanctions was denied under the circumstances.
  • by Xelios (822510) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:17PM (#31001982)

    "The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here - it is slow and cold, and it is theirs. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide out from under with a wink and a grin."

    -Quellcrist Falconer

  • Fraud (Score:4, Insightful)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:26PM (#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.

  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:58AM (#31005922)
    link [zeropaid.com]:

    Judges note, among other things, that record labels didn't dramatically lower their prices for online music as compared to physical CDs despite the fact that they "experienced dramatic cost reductions in producing" it.

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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