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First RIAA Lawsuit to Head to Trial 616

mamer-retrogamer writes "Out of 14,800 lawsuits the RIAA has filed in the past two years, none have gone to court - until now. Patricia Santangelo, a divorced mother of five living in Wappingers Falls, New York, found herself the target of an RIAA lawsuit and vows to contest it. Santangelo claims that she knows nothing about downloading music online and the likely culprit is not her but a friend's child who used her computer. The RIAA disagrees."
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First RIAA Lawsuit to Head to Trial

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  • by gasmonso ( 929871 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:44PM (#14163003) Homepage

    No jury in the world would come down on a person for downloading a few songs when the corporation suing is insanely rich and greedy. Even if she were guilty, I would give her a slap on the wrist at most. Go after the people selling the pirated music!

    gasmonso []
    • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:45PM (#14163012)
      Sure they would. Just not on a female mother of five. If she were a male, they definitely would screw him over.
      • Just not on a female mother of five. If she were a male, they definitely would screw him over.

        A male mother of five has bigger problems than the RIAA.
      • Sure they would. Just not on a female mother of five. If she were a male, they definitely would screw him over.

        <cynic mode>You mean a white female, mother of five.</cynic mode>

        Actually, the corruption of the justice system has more to do with money then race. But even given that disadvantage I have a hard time buying that a jury would stick it to an individual who downloaded/shared a few songs. And isn't the burden of proof on RIAA to prove that it was actually her that did it? How the he

        • by E8086 ( 698978 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:43AM (#14164066)
          "How the hell are they going to do that based on an IP address?"

          First thing to do is challenge how they got the IP, oh wait, it's IPA now, they're trying to hijack the use of "IP". We all know they're not doing any of the work themselves, they're just hiring "agents" who secretly enter people's computers to search for music files. If another company said it's true, then it must be true because large corporations and their contractors would *never* ever even think of saying anything that isn't true or do anything moraly questionable, like . It's possible they're borrowing the server IP logs of some RIAA bashing message boards, adding a couple songs, file sizes and time stamps and suddenly it goes from "you said something bad about our cartel" to "you're stealing sound". Ok, so it may not happen that way, but does snyone really know how the RIAA gets that information? People are challenging breathalizers because the firmware use closed source. It's all about the money, places in Vegas used, possibly still try, to rig slot machines to pay out fewer jackpots resulting in fewer payouts and more PROFIT. It may be unlikely, but still slightly possible.

          And the claims of lost billions due to what they call "piracy". I'd like to see some proof of that too. Yes, there are people who borrow audio files using the Internets, but does anyone really know how many and how much revenuse is lost because of it? I know people with large music collections they didn't buy, but I know more people with hundreds of pounds of records and CDs. My favorite stats are $250billion lost and 3% of sales lost. That's like claiming 3% of their sales is $250billion, do a little math and see that those "stats" are very questionable, they may be large corporations, but I don't think they're worth that much.

          They make up stats of lost PROFITs and inflate claims of "piracy" and like to pull a SCO and sue people to offset lower sales due to poor quality products. Their cases need to be thrown out until they produce some real proof.

          As for a jury deciding for defendant, not everyone reads /. and thinks poorly of the RIAA. It's possible the jury will be stacked with people with hundreds of records who will want to fry anyone who hasn't spent half as much as they have on music or believe some RIAA claims that "piracy"(ARRRG!!!) *not* price fixing is the cause of high CD prices.
          • Apparently there have been some serious studies concerning this "loss of revenue" of course the results always depend upon whos paying for the studies. But most of the independant studies show that loss of revenue is mainly due to economic trends, then secondly due to less new albums being produced. I read somewhere how in one year the industry released X% less albums that year than normal and had a less than X% sales loss (this was in a year of stable economic trends) and actually had a slight gain in the
            • disclaimer: IAAE (i am an economist) (god i hate acronyms)

              I actually did a study like this, and though i doubt it was one of the ones you read, i did indeed examine the relationship between sales and new album releases. in fact, my final model found three statistically significant variables that accounted for most of the variation in record sales (at the 95% confidence level).

              those three variables were %change in GDP (year on year), Personal Consumption Expenditures (which helps account for peopl
        • by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:51PM (#14167613) Homepage Journal
          Imagine a non-technical jury trying to follow this:

          This woman stole our IP.

          How do you know?

          Because her ISP gave us her IP.
    • Not necessarily true. I worry about the courts these days - more and more, they show they are on the side of corporations over people (emminent domain, anyone?) Who really knows what the outcome of this will be, but it's gonna be a stunner, and I would imagine have some relatively broad consequences. No?
    • by vsavatar ( 196370 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:57PM (#14163091)
      This is a civil case, not a criminal one. If the RIAA loses, they will simply appeal. Then it doesn't go to a jury. It goes to a judge. Furthermore, it's highly likely it will go to a judge the first time around. Judges have no problems coming down on mothers of five because they truthfully don't care. I hope she wins on the merits of her case. I would love to see someone stick it to the RIAA. The sad thing is though, she will probably spend upwards for $200,000 litigating this. It's sad when citizens can't afford to defend themselves against large corporations.
      • by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:03PM (#14163117) Homepage
        (Obligatory IANAL) They (the RIAA) can appeal the a jury's decision only if they can find an error of law in the case (e.g, the judge has to make a reversable error). Furthermore, the appealant court cannot make a determination of facts in the case (under the 7th ammendment to the constitution, this right is resevered to juries in cases of more than $20 unless both parties wave their trial-by-jury right) - judges can only rule on matters of law.
        • by vsavatar ( 196370 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:05PM (#14163136)
          That's the beauty of law. You can always find SOMETHING to contest. The jury is purely a finder of fact, but if the judge does not allow them to consider something they shouldn't have, or if he does allow them to consider something they shouldn't have, that alone is basis for appeal. There are tons of other reasons to file appearls, but the RIAA has enough time and enough money to litigate that woman into bankruptcy 500 times over.
          • Except that if they do it enough times, they'll find themselves involved in a SLAPP lawsuit. That's the real beauty. The RIAA gets one chance to win and maybe an appeal or two but after that, it will appear that they are appealling to bankrupt the defendant by continuous appeals (rather than appealling because there was a real error) and will be sued for SLAPP violations, which they will lose. And then the RIAA will be out real money and the woman will be very rich. That's why they won't appeal but once to
          • There are tons of other reasons to file appearls, but the RIAA has enough time and enough money to litigate that woman into bankruptcy 500 times over.

            Two words: pro bono. There are tons of lawyers out there itching like mad to take this case. And lawyers are supposed to spend a certain percentage of their hours working for free, in order to 'give back to the community'. Seriously [].

          • by mrsbrisby ( 60242 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @12:06PM (#14166179) Homepage
            The jury is purely a finder of fact,

            No [] they're [] not [].

            This is one of the biggest lies that Judges and Lawyers to this day try and convince jurors.

            Jurors not only have the right, they have the duty to decide whether the Judge is being a cockhead, the law is stupid, or that dumb slut had it coming.

            Next time you think Jurors are required to decide on facts, or don't have the ability to rewrite law from the box, I urge you to pay attention at the next Michael Jackson molostation case, or if ever OJ Simpson decides to remarry.
    • by daigu ( 111684 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:13PM (#14163181) Journal

      Have you been selected to jury duty? I remember being screened for a jury in a trial where one of the lawyers asked the jury whether they would pass a guilty verdict for battery if a defendent had touched the toe of someone that had asked them not to touch it. Everyone, but me, said they would. Felony conviction for touching someone's toe. I think you grossly overestimate the free thinking capabilities of your fellow citizens.

    • That she's a mother of five is inadmissible as evidence and will never be heard by the jury.

      It's usual for the judge to instruct the jury "if you believe beyond a reasonable doubt the defendent downloaded these songs .... you must find her guilty otherwise you must find her innocent."

      This might sound a bit far out but I have a remote suspicion the reason none of these cases has ever gone to court is because an anonymous person steps in to pay the usual $3000 fine and the defendant, having been threate
    • by MarkByers ( 770551 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:48AM (#14164229) Homepage Journal
      Go after the people selling the pirated music!

      Just because its ridiculously expensive doesn't mean that you can call it 'pirated music'. Jeez, people these days call anything at all 'piracy'.

      The correct term for this crime is 'price-fixing'.
  • by jimmyhat3939 ( 931746 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:44PM (#14163007) Homepage
    I think, perhaps, the criminal authorities should be pursuing this poor woman, for her choices of music to download:

    • Lit "Happy"
    • Incubus "Nowhere fast"
    • Third Eye Blind "Semi-Charmed Life"
    • UB40 "Can't Help Falling in Love"
    • Godsmack "Whatever"
    • Foo Fighters "Breakout"

    What? No Limp Bizkit? No Britney Spears? No Kanye West?

  • by Rabbi T. White ( 826997 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:44PM (#14163009)
    When you're in the buisness of fear-mongering, backing down from things - even when it's completely irrational - just isn't an option. They'll keep repeating their truth until everyone believes it.
  • by merc ( 115854 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:46PM (#14163014) Homepage
    Would this lawsuit set any type of precedent, or is it unique in any way?
    • by ZachPruckowski ( 918562 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:52PM (#14163063)
      I'm not legal savvy, but it'll set a big unoffical precedent. If this woman loses, it's all the more reason for someone to settle with the RIAA if/when they come knocking. If she or anyone else gets off, then there will be more people willing to fight the RIAA suits. As I see it, the RIAA will lose if it has to cover thousands of trials and the associated legal fees. They have lots of lawyers and money, but hopefully we can get pro bono lawyers for the defendants. And even if they win most of the trials, the people are too poor to pay the judgements, and the trials will be a financial loss for the RIAA, since whatever they get off the average person will be less than their total legal fees.
    • by wile_e_wonka ( 934864 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @12:27AM (#14163529)
      IANAL, but I am a law student.

      The case would set precedent. The strength of the precedent, however, depends on how far the case goes. If the district court says "X," then it needs to be consistant with "X" in the future (unless it has a darn good reason not to be). But the case might get appealed. The court of appeals sets precedent for itself and all courts lower that are in the same circuit. The Supreme Court sets precedent for all circuit and districts courts.

      This is how it would work in application: The district court rules "X" regarding the case. If "X" is favorable to the RIAA then it will bring future cases to the same district court. If "X" is not favorable to the RIAA then it will bring the next case to a different court that does not need to pay attention to the decision of the first court, or the RIAA may appeal the decision of the district court.

      If there is an appeal, the the same scenario as above applies. If the decision on appeal is favorable to the RIAA then the RIAA will bring future cases to any district court in that same circuit because all of the district courts are bound by the precedent set by the court of appeals.

      If the court of appeals decision is not favorable to the RIAA then it will bring future cases in an entirely different district because all of the district courts must follow that same unfavorable holding. Or, alternatively, the RIAA may appeal the unfavorable court of appeals decision to the Supreme Court.

      The courts of appeals and the Supreme Court all have the choice as to whether or not to hear arguments on the district court cases. The vast majority of cases never make it past a district court.

      Really it's all more complex than this, but that's the basics.
  • I don't believe that a jury would convict a divorced mother of five on the crime of downloading pirated media. If she wins this trial, it'll be a black eye for the RIAA: They're first trial fails to hold water. What would then happen?
    • by dsci ( 658278 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:00PM (#14163102) Homepage
      I don't believe that a jury would convict a divorced mother of five on the crime of downloading pirated media.

      Why? Does being a divorced mother of five make you immune from having to obey the law?

      I'm not saying that I agree with the RIAA on this issue, but the burden of proof in civil court is "preponderance of the evidence," and has nothing to do with

      1. being a parent
      2. being a parent of a given sex
      3. having kids
      4. having a certain number of kids

      Jury nullification notwithstanding, the jury must decide for the plaintiff or defense based on the evidence presented in court, not the ideology, for or against, pertaining to downloading music on the Internet.

      My two cents, and IANAL, but I have spend a LOT of time on the witness stand as an expert witness.
      • You're missing the point. A divorce mother of five likely would be way to busy working and taking care of her kids to figure out how to download music in the first place. Contrast that with say a computer science college student who would likely know how and would be likely to keep their computer locked down from others. If downloading were traced to their computer, what is the chances that they were the one downloading versus a mother of five working 40 to 80 hours a week at work, taking care of her kids a
      • by Thing 1 ( 178996 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @12:02AM (#14163422) Journal
        An AC beat me to the meat of the reply, which is that the jurors are supposed to vote their conscience.

        However, I do have something to add: a link to FIJA, [] the Fully Informed Juror Association.

        Basically, if you disagree with the law, as a juror, you do not have to decide based on the law. You can say "not guilty" even though the prosecutor has pictures of the accused taking a toke from a bong.

  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johndierks ( 784521 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:47PM (#14163025)
    This should be very interesting. Finally the RIAA's methods of targeting and suing their customers is really going to be called into question. If nothing else, finally it will actually start costing the RIAA cold hard cash to prove their cases, and maybe they'll start to understand the costs of willy-nilly litigation.

    From TFA:

    And as for those who claim they didn't download any music, the RIAA says that if defendants got a letter in the mail saying they or someone in their house illegally downloaded music, chances are it is true.

    "The chances of it not being the right person or someone in that household are slim," said Stanley Pierre-Louis, senior vice president for legal affairs at the RIAA. "Let's face it, what we're doing is on the right side here. What these users are doing is violating the copyright laws."

    I call bullshit.

    This is exactly why I have a second unsecured access point in my apartment piped to the internet. Plausible denyabilty. Who know who's using it? My modem's IP address could be connected to any one of the 50 apartments in my building.

    • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:06PM (#14163143)
      Gotta love the logic on that one.

      "You infringed on our copyright!"

      "It wasn't me, just somebody who used my computer."

      "It was probably you because, let's face it, copyright infringement is illegal!"
    • Re:It's about time (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ucblockhead ( 63650 )
      You lose the plausible deniability if you admit that you intentionally did something for plausible deniability. Next time, post AC.
    • This is exactly why I have a second unsecured access point in my apartment piped to the internet. Plausible denyabilty

      You DO realize that, when you have to explain why you have this "plausible deniability", twelve random people grabbed out of a pool screened for experts in computer science*, you'll only look like a theif, right?

      *: Yes, having expert knowledge of a case can get you excluded from a jury. Experts should be on the witness stand and on the record, not in the jury box and the back door.
      • No no no. I live in an average neighborhood, and I have found over 14 open access points. Those little $50 wireless routers are everywhere, lots of people on juries have them, and so they can more easily put themselves in the defendants shoes. They won't be thinking the defendant is a thief, they'll be thinking, "Holy shit, I think I have one of those at home, err... Judge, may I be excused for a bit?"
  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sirgallihad ( 846850 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:48PM (#14163026) Homepage
    Why do they always seem to pick on the "little guy"? A divorced mother of 5? How can they possibly make themselves look good by doing this? They would probably be more liked if they were to sue the 20-year-olds with gigs of music instead of the divorced parents trying to make ends meet, or the old granny. It looks as if they are trying to play the "Big mean bad guy", though I can only see this hurting them, am I wrong?
    • Why? Because bullies always pick on the little guy. Sure, they'll take on a divorced mom of 5! It beats admitting that their whole system is based on flawed logic, bad technology, and an outmoded system of copyrighting. Of course, now they'll be forced to admit most of this in open court, on the record. It should be interesting to see how their paid legal hacks try and discredit her.

  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:48PM (#14163032) Homepage Journal
    You, the voter.

    The voters elected a Congress with no concern for their enumerated and severely powers. Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Independents are equally evil.

    The voters continue to vote, robbing everyone of their basic rights. The crazy majority has given their power away to a government more concerned with growing its power.

    Don't confuse the RIAA with evil. You, the voter, are evil. They just followed the letter of the laws you wanted.
    • Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tony ( 765 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:56PM (#14163084) Journal
      Don't confuse the RIAA with evil. You, the voter, are evil. They just followed the letter of the laws you wanted.

      Uhm, no. They are following the letter of the laws they purchased through a Free Market Government.

      "Evil" is not in elections, or anything else. Evil is the willingness to fuck over someone for your own gain. Pure evil is when that gain is just for your own enjoyment.

      The folks at the RIAA are willing to fuck over as many people as they can to ensure their own position in the distribution of music, a very profitable position. File sharing is dangerous, not just because people can download the latest lame Metallica song, but because it will allow people to distribute their own music. Yes, there's a lot of really, really bad stuff out there for free (some of it worse than Metallica's recent stuff), but as review sites progress, and the truly independent music scene evolves, people will be able to find the music they like, and the RIAA is cut out completely.

      Independent music is doing to the RIAA what free software is doing to Microsoft-- making them stay up at night, even if it doesn't appear to be a real threat at the moment. P2P is essential for a solid independent music scene. The RIAA is trying not just to eliminate file sharing of copyrighted works (which is wrong, no matter how heavy-handed the bad guys are), but to paint all file sharing as evil.

      If they can do that, they can destroy the truly independed music scene before it even gets started.
      • Re:Evil (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dada21 ( 163177 ) *
        Uhm, no. They are following the letter of the laws they purchased through a Free Market Government.

        Nice try. Free markets abhor the use of force. Government laws are legal uses of force, and not free markets.

        Evil is the willingness to fuck over someone for your own gain. Pure evil is when that gain is just for your own enjoyment.

        I agree. The teachers unions force me to pay their salaries. The army forces me to pay for wars. The RIAA doesn't force me to buy jack. Voters support teachers and soldiers.

        • Re:Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @12:10AM (#14163455)

          The RIAA sees no threat there. They see a threat from people breaking the laws that VOTERS SUPPORTED.

          I don't recall a referendum on the DMCA, just a bunch of Senators, so what you really mean is that Congress supported it. I rather doubt a majority of people would support the law if they knew its implications.

    • What, are you nuts? Ever watched The Daily Show? Or wonder why "politician" is almost synonymous with "corruption?"

      Unless this is meant as some sort of satire, which I hope to GOD it is and I sincerely apologize for missing the sarcasm you probably meant to inflect, this is hardly the fault of the masses. If the actions of the masses defined ANY law at all, 65+ MILLION people trading songs would set a precedent saying trading was just fine.

      Slashdot spends almost half of its time posting stories rega
    • by KarmaOverDogma ( 681451 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:16PM (#14163207) Homepage Journal
      Not all voters are evil or ignorant, as you claim they are. Some of us actually monitor what our politicians do, where they get their funding from and vote accordingly.

      Your attempts to put every voter, party and politician in the "stupid" basket is an insult to those who fight this kind of nonsense.

      Instead of blaming others (a very immature tactic) consider the things you might actually do to fight this:

      * Join the EFF
      * Write your congressperson/senators when they do something you really like or don't like
      * Tell other people how you feel outside of slashdot
      * dont buy RIAA/MPAA labels, borrow them from the library if you must have them
      * Join the ACLU

      Dont confuse us, the intelligent and active, with lame and lazy who complain and do little, or nothing, else.

      What have *you* done lately?
  • I'd like to sue her for downloading that music as well.

    My god. It is like going to a Rolls Royce dealer to steal a car and taking the Geo Metro from the Used lot.

    Seriously, I'd take RIAA a bit more seriously if they placed value on the song based on market value like the judge did in the My Sweet Lord case [].

  • by ( 142825 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:50PM (#14163049) Homepage
    In litigating with spammers [] the first response is, "it is not us." I had one spammer try blame it on competitors and anti-spammers, but there was no offer of proof. Though this is different since liability for spam is not only on the person who presses "send" but also on the advertised site.

    The "somebody else did it" defense is common. But, what proof has been presented to support it?

    Here, we have not seen what evidence has been presented (in a summary judgment motion or motion to dismiss).
  • Support her (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:50PM (#14163053)
    Where's the paypal button to her defense fund?
  • by Potato Battery ( 872080 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:51PM (#14163057)

    I love the RIAA lawyer's quote, "Let's face it, what we're doing is on the right side here."

    We're back in that universe where shaking down divorced moms with five kids for $3,000 - $4,000 or the threat of tens of thousands in court fees and damages, all as punishment for the heinous crime of the download of six songs, is "the right side." It's even more fun when you consider the possibility it wasn't even her who did it. I don't know, how popular is Godsmack among that demographic?

    The RIAA interoffice memos on these cases must read like tobacco company internal communications.

    • I don't know, how popular is Godsmack among that demographic?

      I am not a divorced mother of five, but I am a 40 yo married father of two. And I happen to like Godsmack. OT, I know, but it is possible for her to have been interested in those songs.
  • I agree with her. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imstanny ( 722685 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:52PM (#14163067)
    The burden of proof is on the RIAA. They are the ones that are accusing her of downloading music illegally. Now, just because it's her computer doesn't matter; It's like accusing someone getting killed by a gun. Simply showing ownership of who the gun belongs to is not enough to show who done it.

    Those are my 2 cents, and they're free.

  • 14,800 lawsuits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sckeener ( 137243 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:59PM (#14163100)
    1 out of 14,800 lawsuits.

    Gosh that sounds like organized crime....RIAA shaking down 14,800 people for money...extortion is what it sounds like to me...sounds like the RIAA should be concerned about The RICO ACT []
    • Re:14,800 lawsuits (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fwitness ( 195565 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @12:07AM (#14163441)
      My god I had to scroll forever to find someone that brought up this point. How can *any* single entity file that many lawsuits and not be considered as abusing the system? Doing simple math, that's like 20 lawsuits a day!!!

      No wonder it takes two years for a murder suspect to stand trial, 23 months to deal with the paperwork of RIAA lawsuits, one month to pick a date everyone can agree on that ain't a holiday.

      I love America, but baby, sometimes you make my blood boil.
    • Re:14,800 lawsuits (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AstrumPreliator ( 708436 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @01:28AM (#14163775)
      This is mostly guess work on my part so if you have any corrections please tell me.
      As far as I know the average settlement cost is $3,000. After 14,800 lawsuits that's $44.4 million. I don't really know the law in this area but is that $44.4 million even taxed? Or did they just make $44.4m sans some minor legal fees? And if they did just make this huge sum of money, how much of it is going to the artist who was 'starving to death' because of 'piracy'? $44.4m over 2 years would be about $61,000 a day, or about $2,500 an hour, that's a crazy $0.70 per second.
      I could be totally wrong though.
      • that's a crazy $0.70 per second

        You gotta admit it's a lot more profitable shakedown, er, business plan, than selling SCO licenses to Linux users.

      • Actually, to quote the referenced ArsTechnica article:

        To date, more than three thousand people have coughed up.

        I guess the other 14,000+ lawsuits are still under negotiation, though possibly some have been dropped, such as the one against the dead grandmother... That's still $9M, though. Hmm, d'you think anyone from the IRS reads SlashDot??

  • by EzInKy ( 115248 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:05PM (#14163135)
    If the record industry loses the case then they will have no legitimacy, if they win parents will pressure their representatives to change the laws that give them legitimacy. Copyright protection is a legislated right, not an inalienable one.
  • by KarmaOverDogma ( 681451 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:06PM (#14163137) Homepage Journal
    In addition to saying "It wasn't me," she should challenge the constitutionality of the law which allows the RIAA to obtain her identity and examine her (allged) bandwith use habits WITHOUT A COURT WARRANT; illegal search and seizure is inadmissable in a court of law and the constitution is supposed to protect us against this sort of thing.

    She could ask the ACLU to defend her on that basis and they might very well jump at the idea.

    I've always hated that provision of the law (DMCA), which allows them to just bypass the courts and hire the cheapest lawyer/firm on the block to use their very deep lawyer funds chest to threaten the average joe with massive suits and see them capitulate, regardless of whether or not they are guilty.

    You can't use a badly formulated law to punish the unjust and expect complete compliance from the masses.

    Further, when copyright (copywrong?) can be extended to insane lengths of time far beyond what was intended (e.g. steamboat willie) and fair use takes a back seat to corporate profits, can we be very surprised at the disrespect/disobediance thses laws are receiving?
  • by gwait ( 179005 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:15PM (#14163194)
    Dear Mr. RIAA,
    I have an excellent idea for you: Borrow Sony's DRM trojanware, (the trojan-net is already up and running) have it illegally download songs on selected people's computers, then fly in with a juicy lawsuit!
    I'm sure a few scripts could even mail out the summons automatically, with a quick link to a Paypal account in case they would prefer to settle out of court!
  • Pete Ashdown (Score:3, Informative)

    by Weezul ( 52464 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:15PM (#14163196)
    See, this is why we need more people like Pete Ashdown [] running for office. He has a policy & strategy page with some comments about raising a stink over the RIAA's lawsuits.
  • by EMIce ( 30092 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:22PM (#14163237) Homepage
    There could very well be people getting into trouble who did nothing wrong. I service lots of residential machines and their loaded not just with spyware, but trojans and viruses that make their way into these machines through remote and browser exploits. Some these machines need complete re-installation even though I clean up all local machine and user specific startup entries.

    These I suspect have been root-kitted to act as zombies or proxies. These people have no idea what kinds of traffic is running through their machines and connection. It sounds as if such people are getting sued in some instances, but probably don't the know well enough to realize what is happening.

    It doesn't seem to me that a list of bittorrent peers associated with a copyrighted file proves guilt. The environment is too insecure to guarantee who the actual source is. It seems to me the RIAA should have to prove a couple things:

    1) That they downloaded the file with the copyrighted name and verified that the content is actually the copyrighted material.

    2) That the activity from the IP address of the peer being charged actually represents the activity of a particular machine's owner. They would probably need to confiscate the machine for this - is this feesible? Just charging the owner of a connection seems unreliable, many machines can sit on a home or business network. Can one be held responsible for hijacked traffic running through their pipe?

    Where this is headed it seems is a battle over regulating net communication. The RIAA will begin to push technical mandates through congress to make the internet more "secure," which will be difficult at best without implementing lots of centralized control and monitoring. How long till we have sign our packets with keys? Then how long till "sponsored" packets become free, while others cost?

    A recent slashdot story featuring Doc Searl's opinion piece, Saving the Net from the pipeholders" [] sum's up this position very well. It's kind of long, but but offers an insightful view of what's ahead, and is worth reading for anyone with interest in the future net as a decentralized, unprejudiced peer to peer medium.
  • by harvey the nerd ( 582806 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:32PM (#14163292)
    RIAA et al have seen the general tech trend issue coming since the 1970-80s. It's real solution is educational, market and only slightly technically based. Instead of solving and making the changes to accomodate natural desires of public they have sought to abuse and systematically exploit it. Based on my observations in other countries, I think this kind of officially sanctioned hooliganism and cronyism will end very badly.

    RIAA for shame. Crows about "rights" while fueling the festering problems. 30+ yrs is enough, put up or shut up and get out. The current regime is simply an obnoxious, parasitic force begging to be slapped down hard by an angry public. I am kind of morbidly curious to see the public reaction if and when the court system fails again.

  • Assistance (Score:4, Informative)

    by cffrost ( 885375 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:46PM (#14163351) Homepage
    In p2pnet's interview with Patricia Santangelo, [] she said she's "stressed" about funds for her defenses, but doesn't have an account for donations.

    However, Santangelo is listed, [] in case anyone wants to snail-mail her some help.

    Santangelo lives about ten minutes from me. I'm going to try to round up some friends to picket and toss eggs and CDs at the RIAA scumbags on her day in court!

  • by Hohlraum ( 135212 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:55PM (#14163388) Homepage
    that she doesn't use the dreaded Chewbacca defense.

            Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, Chef's attorney would certainly want you to believe that his client wrote "Stinky Britches" ten years ago. And they make a good case. Hell, I almost felt pity myself!

            But ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider: Ladies and gentlemen, this [pointing to a picture of Chewbacca] is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk, but Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now, think about that. THAT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE! (Background: Damnit! What? He's using the Chewbacca defense!) Why would a Wookiee -- an eight foot tall Wookiee -- want to live on Endor with a bunch of two foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense!

            But more important, you have to ask yourself, what does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense.

            Look at me, I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca. Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense. None of this makes sense!

            And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberating and conjugating the Emancipation Proclamation... Does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense.

            If Chewbacca lived on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests. [] (actually it was only on a google cache version)
  • The M$ defence... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spock the Baptist ( 455355 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:59PM (#14163412) Journal
    Your Honor, Ladies, and Gentlemen of the Jury,

    My client's computer uses a M$ OS. It was taken over by a hacker via BackOrifice. She did not download any music files. The defense holds that the hacker that installed BackOrifice use my client's computer as screen to download the files for his/her use.

    Most folks, as my client, are not computer scientist, nerds, programers, etc.. They do not have the expertise to be able to deal with the clever manipulations of OS that hackers do. Do you really want to convict a person on the basis of the charges leveled by the RIAA. They need to explain, in detail, just how they ***know*** that my client was the one download the files that they allege that my client downloaded. Further they need to prove that my client did not at the time of the downloads that they allege, already legally possess the right to the music that the alleged files contained.
  • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @12:24AM (#14163515) Homepage
    Let's assume the RIAA is 100% right, and the defendant has done everything they are accused of. The concept of damages will be interesting. I seriously doubt that the defendant made songs available for download that were not already available via P2P. The "lost" revenue is really just the money the defendant would have paid, IF they chose to buy the songs. Yahoo music service is what, $5/month? So if she paid Yahoo $5/month, she could have downloaded all of these songs (and the P2P underworld would have had all of the same songs anyway). I'd love to know how the RIAA thinks they can prove damages in excess of $5/month.
    • Damages (Score:4, Informative)

      by bezuwork's friend ( 589226 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @01:42AM (#14163826)
      Actually, the copyright law allows for statutory damages. That is, in lieu of actual damages, the statute sets forth set damage ranges per work infringed. The RIAA is most certainly suing under statutory damages.

      The RIAA can sue for ... wait for it (it'll make you sick) ... $750 to 30K per song. That's without proving willful (intentional) action. If the RIAA can prove intent, the statutory limit is $150K per song.

      That doesn't mean they'll get the maximum, but that's the values given in the US Code. See 17 USC 504 [].

      That's why I think people cave, the possibility is out there that they will lose everything they own.

      Outrageous? Absolutely. Thank our past congresscritters and Presidents for that one. Oh, and the likes of Disney and the heirs of Gerschwin, for that matter.

  • by TV_Slug ( 911583 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:53AM (#14164086)
    I'd really hope the defendant's lawyers do a good job during the discovery process. They should be able to request all the records the RIAA has concerning their various investigations into alleged infringements, not just the cases they have been prosecuting. When they produce a list of corporate infringing IPs, it's going to seem odd that the RIAA is only going after shallow-pocketed individuals. If I remember correctly, to enforce copyright you are required to pursue all known violations in order to maintain the copyright. Maybe this case will force the RIAA to start filing many, many more lawsuits, including going after large companies as well. What happens once a Microsoft, Google, or .gov IP shows up on their hit list?
    • If I remember correctly, to enforce copyright you are required to pursue all known violations in order to maintain the copyright.

      You do not remember correctly. You can enforce copyright as selectively as you wish, and not lose any rights. You are thinking of that other pillar of "intellectual property" known as trademarks.


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