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Piracy The Courts

Court Grants RIAA Summary Judgment Motions vs. Limewire 170

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-the-man dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "District Court Judge Kimba Wood has granted some of the RIAA's key summary judgment motions in Arista Records v. Lime Group. In her 59-page decision (PDF), she found Lime Group itself, as well as its CEO and a separate company, liable for intentionally inducing Limewire users to infringe plaintiffs' copyrights. The decision was not a final judgment, so it is not appealable. Additionally, it denied summary judgment on certain issues, and did not address any possible damages."
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Court Grants RIAA Summary Judgment Motions vs. Limewire

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  • In Summary (Score:2, Informative)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @12:14AM (#32189486) Journal
    In summary, it is illegal to download copyrighted material (without permission), or to encourage others to do so. Go ahead and do it, but realize you are doing so at your own peril.
  • by NewsWatcher (450241) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @12:29AM (#32189544)

    And so the good ole Gnutella network will find another platform so the masses can file share, just like it has been doing since it was released in 2000.

    All the legal arguments and judgements in the world won't make a spit of difference. If people want to trade files online, the chances of anything happening to them are remote, so they will continue.

    Remember how shutting down KaZaa was supposed to deal a huge blow to filesharing, as were the lawsuits against a host of others?

    Wasn't the lawsuit that saw the Pirate Bay founders jailed supposed to send a message the law enforcement was tough on piracy?

    Forgive my scepticism, but I look at this news and wonder, does it really matter to anyone save those directly employed by Lime.

  • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @12:36AM (#32189568)

    > The decision was not a final judgment, so it is not appealable.

    Not immediately appealable, anyway.

    For the nonlawyers in the room, summary judgment means basically that somebody wins their argument, or parts of their argument, because even if everything the other guy said was true, the other guy still loses. Like if you ask a kid "Did you throw a rock at Timmy?" And the kid says "I did, but I like throwing rocks!" or "It was a horseshoe, not a rock."

    In this case, even if everything Limewire said was true, they still lose. (At least, they still lose everything they lost here.)

    The decision can usually be appealed, but only after the trial ends or in rare cases with special permission. Since it influences the outcome of settlement proceedings, and most things settle, they are rarely but not never appealed.

  • Re:In Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by westlake (615356) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @01:44AM (#32189814)

    Since I really don't want to bother reading 59 pages just to get the answer to this question, does it address how Limewire "encouraged" people to download copyrighted material

    From the LA Times:

    Relying on the Supreme Court's ruling in MGM v Grokster, Wood held that the defendants deliberately induced LimeWire users to violate copyrights, and that it profited from the infringements. Here's a snippet from the ruling (Wood refers to the company LimeWire by the initials LW):

    [T]he following factors, taken together, establish that LW intended to encourage infringement by distributing LimeWire: (1) LW's awareness of substantial infringement by users; (2) LW's efforts to attract infringing users; (3) LW's efforts to enable and assist users to commit infringement; (4) LW's dependence on infringing use for the success of its business; and (5) LW's failure to mitigate infringing activities.

    Most of those factors are non-controversial applications of the Grokster principle that folks who encourage piracy in order to profit from it are liable for infringement. Wood cited internal documents to show that LimeWire executives knew most of its users were downloading songs illegally, and that they sought out such users through, among other things, "press campaigns on college campuses relating to 'file-sharing and getting free MP3's.' " The company aids would-be infringers, Wood wrote, by enabling them to search by categories (such as Classic Rock and Top 40) that "inevitably guide users to copyrighted recordings." She also noted that the more users it attracts, the more revenue it collects from advertisers and consumers who buy the ad-free version of the software.

    Wood's fifth factor, however, suggests that liability might ensue merely from the way a technology is designed and used. According to Wood, LimeWire built a filter into the software that could block copyrighted works from being downloaded, but left it inoperative unless users turned it on. A separate filter, however, barred users from sharing the songs they bought from the LimeWire store.

    This selective filtering further demonstrates LW's knowledge of infringement-mitigating technologies and the company's intentional decision not to employ any such technologies in a way that meaningfully deters LimeWire users' infringing activities....

    Failure to utilize existing technology to create meaningful barriers against infringement is a strong indicator of intent to foster infringement.

    As for former CEO Gorton, Wood cited precedents that held company executives liable for infringements when they had the ability to supervise them and they benefited from them. She went on to note:

    Gorton directed and approved many aspects of LimeWire's design and development. Gorton admits that he conceived of LimeWire and decided that the program should be decentralized and should use P2P technology.... Gorton oversaw the development of LimeWire's filtering system, and decided that the filter should be turned "off" by default.... This evidence, taken together, also establishes that Gorton knew about the infringement being committed through LimeWire.


    Another win for the RIAA [latimes.com]

  • Re:Huh? What? Who? (Score:4, Informative)

    by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@@@beckermanlegal...com> on Thursday May 13, 2010 @01:49AM (#32189842) Homepage Journal

    New York Lawyer, my good man, thanks 10,000 times for your work and effort, but as a non-lawyer I have NO IDEA what your post means. It must be bad, but really I don't know what it means. Can you tell me, a non-lawyer, what it means other than "You're screwed" or some such thing? I just don't know...

    Sure.

    It means Lime Wire might be screwed.

  • Re:In Summary (Score:3, Informative)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @01:50AM (#32189844) Journal

    Actually - it IS NOT illegal to download anything

    Sure, keep telling yourself that. Meanwhile, back in reality, we are under US copyright law [copyright.gov] (in the US, obviously).

    We also have case law showing [wikipedia.org] that your argument does not stand up in court. From the judgement by the appellate court, we have this lovely quote:

    As [the defendant] tells the tale, downloading on a try-before-you-buy basis is good advertising for copyright proprietors, expanding the value of their inventory. The Supreme Court thought otherwise in Grokster, with considerable empirical support.

    I'm not talking about morality here, I'm talking about the legality of the matter. You can feel free to try that defense if you ever end up in court over this, but you will lose. Get it?

  • Re:In Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @02:34AM (#32189980) Homepage Journal

    Misconception? Maybe in the US.
    GP post states this is common in most countries. I can confirm some. The four fair use clauses are US-specific. Other countries have very different rules, and often "personal use" is perfectly legal. So, the misconception may be only common with US file sharers. With the others, it's not a misconception.

  • Re:In Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alsee (515537) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @06:42AM (#32190982) Homepage

    Both distribution and creating copies fall under infringement. That would be Title 17 section 106 of US law, and that's the same across the globe. Downloading is creating a copy. Uploading and downloading are essentially equivalent under copyright law.

    if you were responsible for downloads, every time you open a webpage, you would open yourself up to liability

    Correct.
    Unbelievable, but essentially correct.

    If someone were actually to sue you in court in such a situation, you would pretty much two avenues of defense under U.S. law. Either a Fair Use defense or an Innocent Infringer defense. Note that in either case the law starts from an assumption of guilt and then places the burden upon you to prove your defense.

    A Fair Use defense could probably work under these circumstances, and if it does your liability is zero. However the concept of Fair use is a somewhat peculiar fit for these circumstances. Fair Use is not really intended to fix this kind of problem. Innocent Infringer status is actually the "correct" defense to fit this situation. The circumstances you described would give you an instant slam-dunk win on claiming Innocent Infringer status.

    And guess how fucked up copyright law is? Under the law an an Innocent Infringer is someone who, through no fault of his own, has technically committed copyright infringement. No fault, no guilt, just an ordinary innocent person who was lied to or given infringing material by some other guilty party. And under US law that means you technically did infringe on someone's copyright. You admitted to this when you laid out the situation. And under those circumstances, IF you prove yourself to be an Innocent Infringer, US law states that the judge is permitted to lower the statutory liability from the standard $750 minimum to a $200 minimum.

    US LAW, TITLE 17, CHAPTER 5, SECTION 504, SUBSECTION C, PARAGRAPH 2 [cornell.edu]

    And if you think it's insane for you to be liable for $200 damages in your example after proving your Innocent Infringer status, just be glad your example wasn't P2P. If you engage in multiple infringements on P2P you are going to fall under the NET Act. And the NET Act was literally written by copyright industry lawyers, and they slipped in a trick-clause to redefine P2P as "financial gain". And that shoves you under the statutory category originally intended to deal with commercial copyright infringement enterprises. And this commercial infringement statute is a criminal infringement statute. It is a felony infringement statute. If you engage in multiple P2P infringements you technically fall under criminal copyright infringement imposing up to 1, 3, or 5 years in prison depending largely on the number of files involved. Ah, and the sentence is generally doubled on a second offense, up to 10 years in prison.

    Here's a link to the Net Act [ucla.edu]. Pay particular attention to the clause that redefines "financial gain". Note how virtually anyone who has ever touched P2P gets magically swept into the commercial-infringement category.

    -

"Love may fail, but courtesy will previal." -- A Kurt Vonnegut fan

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