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The Almighty Buck The Courts Your Rights Online

Charles Nesson Ruled Jointly Liable To Pay RIAA 207

Posted by timothy
from the that-limb-looks-awfully-thin-professor dept.
eldavojohn writes "The highly anticipated Joel Tenenbaum trial ended in a disaster for Tenenbaum. But worse for his highly publicized lawyer, Charles Nesson, they are both liable for payment of the court's decision to the RIAA. Nesson's pro bono agreement with Tenenbaum may turn out to be a seriously expensive experiment for the Harvard Law Professor." As the Ars story points out, though, it's "some fees incurred by the RIAA during the trial" for which he'd be liable, not the whole judgment amount.
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Charles Nesson Ruled Jointly Liable To Pay RIAA

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  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:21PM (#31364528)

    Nesson's conduct isn't justifiable. But that's not really my point.

    I can't see how his behavior helps Mr. Tennenbaum. The lawyer is supposed to help his client, not grab attention for himself with patently improper tactics. Nesson looks like he's putting his own interests ahead of his client's interests.

    Nesson hasn't demonstrated any technical legal tactics in this case. Nor has he provided any insightful new ways to approach the copyright law.

    He's just dancing around on the stage like a really old Ziggy Stardust.

    He'd garner more respect if he spent more time working for Mr. Tenenbaum.

    • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:32PM (#31364694)

      Mr Tenenbaum got what he paid for. You take a prominent lawyer/law person as a pro bono lawyer they come with an agenda. This can be good for you if their agenda is similar, but you do need to take it into account.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:51PM (#31364920)

        ...a pro bono lawyer they come with an agenda.

        He's trying to HELP the RIAA; that way kids will stop downloading that BOOM BOOM music with all those FILTHY lyrics and he'll finally get SOME SLEEP!

        NOW GET OFF HIS LAWN!

      • Mr Tenenbaum got what he paid for.

        ..which sums up the problem with this, and most every other case in a western legal system.
        By and large, those who can pay - win.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:44PM (#31364840) Journal

      I can't see how his behavior helps Mr. Tennenbaum.

      I pondered this as well. Perhaps by hosting audio of the court case and distributing it, he was hoping the RIAA would complain and consider it copyrighted material--which they did. He then would hope the judge would rule in favor of Nesson and deny the RIAA the "motion to compel" or whatever they used to try to make him take it down--the judge did not, of course. But had the judge ruled in favor of Nesson regarding that motion, Nesson might have the judge in a very unusual position where the judge must now find Tenenbaum free of all charges on the exact same principle as the court audio that the RIAA said was copyrighted. It would be similar enough to get your foot in the door.

      This tactic, as we now see, unfortunately failed. That's about as much as I could see in that move but I'm not a lawyer.

      He's just dancing around on the stage like a really old Ziggy Stardust.

      Well, great, now you've put this in my head: Charles Nesson [arstechnica.com] + Ziggy Stardust [wordpress.com] = Donald Pleasence in The Puma Man [photobucket.com]

    • Nessun completely bungle this trial, still, its an odd judgment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fnkmaster (89084)

      Charlie Nesson is widely known among Harvard Law School students for being fucking brilliant, and being something of a proponent of and enjoying the use of cannabis (and the occasional hit of acid too). I think he also married a student of his, but hey, can't really blame a man for that.

      Allow me to suggest that perhaps all that marijuana and acid doesn't do such wonderful things for one's ability to put together a cogent defense for a court.

      I knew there was a reason I gave that shit up in college.

  • Nesson did what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grapeape (137008) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:21PM (#31364532) Homepage

    Wow! wonderful strategy there. According to the article Neeson not only repeated the same offense that Tenenbaum was accused of but then linked to it on his blog. Then after the RIAA files a motion to compel, Nesson doesnt even file a response? What in the heck was he trying to do here, did he just suddenly loose his sanity? I realize the guy was working pro-bono but in this case it seems worse than representing yourself.

  • Oh c'mon... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:23PM (#31364572)

    He isn't jointly liable for anything, he got sanctioned by the court. Maybe read the actual article before choosing how to word the headline?

    • by ArcadeNut (85398)

      Maybe read the actual article before choosing how to word the headline?

      You must be new here...

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:44PM (#31364844) Homepage Journal
    ... seek out a practicing attorney, rather than a full-time law professor.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by oldhack (1037484)

      Yeah. See how Obama turned out.

      What?

    • by hey! (33014)

      I tell you what. Meet me at the county courthouse. You bring your lawyer, I bring my pick of the Harvard Law (not Nesson obviously. Maybe Dershowitz). First guy who's lawyer calls for his momma owes the other a case of beer.

  • by Corporate Drone (316880) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:56PM (#31364974)

    He isn't liable to pay the amount of the court's decision -- just the costs of discovery for one motion to compel.

    Really, given all the grandstanding, and improper behavior, if I were Tenenbaum, I'd look into appealing on the basis that Nesson did not provide a proper defense...

  • Nesson did a lot of stupid, antagonistic things that were more in line with amateur hour or self-promoting than with representing the true interests of his client:

    The defense team inexplicably posted the very songs at issue in the case to the Internet, and Nesson posted a public link on his blog for anyone to download them.

    This behavior prompted a discovery request from the record labels, which wanted to know more about why the defense was now doing the very thing it had been accused of doing in the lawsuit. Nesson didn't want to tell them. The labels then filed a "motion to compel" the information.The judge sums it all up:

    [Nesson's] terse response to plaintiffs' motion to compel merely stated that, in his personal opinion, the plaintiffs' requests were not relevant to this litigation. As indicated in this Court's June 16, 2009, order, plaintiffs' request for information relating to the defense's unauthorized distribution of the very copyrighted works on which plaintiffs' claims were based was clearly relevant to such issues as the willfulness of the defendant's conduct and the amount of damages to be awarded by the jury.

    The Court's indulgence is at an end. Too often, as described below, the important issues in this case have been overshadowed by the tactics of defense counsel: taping opposing counsel without permission (and in violation of the law), posting recordings of court communications and e-mails with potential experts (who have rejected the positions counsel asserts) on the Internet, and now allegedly replicating the acts that are the subject of this lawsuit, namely uploading the copyrighted songs that the Defendant is accused of file-sharing.

    Nesson didn't oppose the motion because there were no grounds to oppose it - except maybe the Peyote defense ("Heyheyhey, I waz stoned, Judge") or maybe insanity ("Would a sane person do the things I did - in a COURTROOM?" The facts speak for themselves - I'm nuts, judge").

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @07:46PM (#31365460)

    Nesson claimed that the songs he uploaded and linked to on his blog were irrelevant to the Tennenbaum case that he was the lawyer for. Is it possible that Nesson is right? Suppose that Tennenbaum had been accused of bank robbery and then suppose that Nesson goes out and robs a different bank on his own time. Is that new crime relevant to his client's case? The judge granted the RIAA Motion to Compel and now the same judge has ordered Nesson to pay the RIAA expenses but...maybe...Nesson's got a better case on appeal...and maybe the judgments and punishments will be used to support his central argument that the punishment is out of proportion to the damages for a civil case.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thinboy00 (1190815)

      ...or maybe he's a fucking moron and/or paid off by the RIAA.

    • by snowgirl (978879)

      Nesson claimed that the songs he uploaded and linked to on his blog were irrelevant to the Tennenbaum case that he was the lawyer for. Is it possible that Nesson is right? Suppose that Tennenbaum had been accused of bank robbery and then suppose that Nesson goes out and robs a different bank on his own time. Is that new crime relevant to his client's case? The judge granted the RIAA Motion to Compel and now the same judge has ordered Nesson to pay the RIAA expenses but...maybe...Nesson's got a better case on appeal...and maybe the judgments and punishments will be used to support his central argument that the punishment is out of proportion to the damages for a civil case.

      I think he's just crazy... I mean, ok, in your example, no the lawyer's crime is not relevant to the defendant that he's representing... it would likely be an ethical violation which could have him disbarred though.

      But really, if a lawyer is out there talking about his case in public, and pulls something THIS boneheaded... then it's totally relevant. He's communicating about the case, and thus it has relevance.

    • but...maybe...Nesson's got a better case on appeal...and maybe the judgments and punishments will be used to support his central argument that the punishment is out of proportion to the damages for a civil case.

      and maybe the appellate court judges will be thinking about the miseries inflicted on one of their own. the cavalier attitude the defendant displayed in court.

      statutory damages exist precisely because some folks think they are above the law. it wouldn't be the first time the geek has been tripped up

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