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Tenenbaum Lawyers Now Passing the Hat 388

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Just when you think this case couldn't get any stranger, it now appears that the defendant's 'legal team' in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum is passing the hat, taking up a collection. Only the reason for the collection isn't to defray costs and expenses of further defending the action, but to pay the RIAA the amount of the judgment so that their client won't have to declare bankruptcy. I would suggest there might have been a much better way of avoiding bankruptcy. It's called 'handling the case competently.'"
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Tenenbaum Lawyers Now Passing the Hat

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  • I have a question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_eX9 ( 800448 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:04AM (#28914347) Homepage
    Why does it seem that everybody involved in these cases is an idiot? The RIAA lawyers, the defendants and their representation, the judges, the juries...they all sound like total stooges. How has everything gone so completely wrong?
  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:07AM (#28914367) Journal

    Well if you could do better, go try :)

  • by Boogaroo ( 604901 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:11AM (#28914381) Homepage

    Instead of pushing for a reasonable fine, they expect sympathy from the public?
    I'm afraid they're getting neither in this case.

  • Another way (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:17AM (#28914395)

    I know it's asking for a "troll" but another option to avoid the bankruptcy would have been to avoid downloading. The music companies are being dicks and the settlements are laughable but it's kind of like complaining about the price of a speeding ticket. It's steep to stop people from speeding. Granted he was caught doing 60 in a 55 zone and they are treating it as though he was nailed for topping 200 mph in a school zone.

  • by mr exploiter ( 1452969 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:20AM (#28914415)

    The money is going directly to the RIAA pockets. Be a man, declare bankruptcy and fuck the RIAA.

  • by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:27AM (#28914443)

    Where did NYCL get his law degree? I would like to know where these "good" law schools are in America.

    They're everywhere. It's not the school that matters so much, it's the lawyer. The top third in the class from any law school will be very smart, very sharp thinkers, and excellent game players. The bottom third in the class will not know how to think like a lawyer, will not have a solid grasp of the fundamentals, and will be easily outmaneuvered by opposing counsel. The quality of the students in the middle will vary, as will the capability of the top students when matched against best from other institutions - that's where the school's reputation comes into play. Of course, a good lawyer on a losing case will still probably lose, no matter what his GPA or which his alma mater.

  • by siloko ( 1133863 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:31AM (#28914453)

    Be a man, declare bankruptcy

    The world's gone wierd again - where's my urban dictionary!?

  • by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:36AM (#28914471)

    The first problem here is his legal representation was a bunch of idiots. The second problem here is he admitted under oath that he did it, he did it repeatedly, he continued doing it after being warned not to, lied about it under oath, and said all this in front of the jury. And what his clown collection representation should be doing now is asking the RIAA if they could belatedly negotiate a more reasonable settlement, which is what the RIAA offered to do after the fact in the Jammie Dumbbitch case.

    This case should have never gone to trial. He should have settled for a few thousand right at the start and called it a day and lesson learned.

    And the community as a whole has made a mistake in two cases now. It rallies to the support of people who really did what they were accused by the RIAA of doing. Instead of finding a way to back those being attacked by the RIAA who are in fact completely innocent, everyone and their mother throws themselves behind the guilty ones. Neither of these cases was ever "fighting the good fight".

  • $20 is too much (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mistlefoot ( 636417 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:38AM (#28914483)
    $20 is too much for a CD of sub par music. Now you want me to pay the same people who already rip me off, and get nothing?

    You want people to donate $600,000 to the RIAA?

    Is this from the Onion?
  • by tacarat ( 696339 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:40AM (#28914489) Journal
    If bankruptcy is declared will he be off the hook for the defense lawyer fees? It may be an effort to pay that bill with free "sympathy money" from the community so that their fees can still be met. Maybe the defense team figures he can afford either/or, but not both bills at the end of this.
  • by number11 ( 129686 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:40AM (#28914493)

    What's gone on in the 2 cases that have gone to trial is like one long, bad dream. The root problem is economics. The defendants can't afford to go out and hire a competent lawyer, and lawyers can't afford to do these cases without getting paid. A good lawyer would have either prevented the outlandish things that occurred, or developed an impervious record for an appeal.

    I have to admit, IANAL even though I read Groklaw, and I haven't been following this case closely. But I saw that the judge's rationale was that plaintiffs had asked the defendant "are you liable" and he said "yes". It seems to me that when that question was asked, all of the defense lawyers should have levitated out of their seats screaming "Objection!" Perhaps I just don't understand the routine, or maybe reflex time is the difference between academic lawyers and lawyers who actually spend their time in the courtroom.

  • plaintiffs had asked the defendant "are you liable" and he said "yes". It seems to me that when that question was asked, all of the defense lawyers should have levitated out of their seats screaming "Objection!"

    You are 100% right.

  • by pieterh ( 196118 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:07AM (#28914599) Homepage

    Is there any scenario in which losing this case incompetently and ending up with an outlandish fine actually works against the RIAA? They do in the end need to win over public support and judgements like this one tell people, "piracy is dangerous but the recording industry are massively evil."

    It swings the argument away from "piracy is theft and you'll be punished" to "piracy is an act of resistance against a fascist state and you'll be crucified".

    The point being that there is no shortage of young guys willing to take the risk of getting figuratively killed if it potentially brings them the great glory of attacking an evil regime.

    IMO the motivation of the PirateBay Three was fame and glory more than anything else.

    Such judgements thus make it inevitable that the sharing of copyrighted music, movies, and TV will intensify.

  • Not a bad school, not an astoundingly big name either. If you graduate with honors, you probably know what you're doing.

    It is an excellent law school in terms of the quality of the education. It has much less prestige than Harvard Law School, however.

    As to 'knowing what you're doing', my experience has been that this correlates neither to what law school one went to, nor to one's grades in law school.

  • by Keeper Of Keys ( 928206 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:32AM (#28914683) Homepage

    If you buy music from one of the "big four" labels, you pay the RIAA to be able to conduct these ridiculous lawsuits, wether you want it or not.

    Fixed that for you. Not every record label is an evil extortionist.

  • by number11 ( 129686 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:46AM (#28914721)

    Wouldn't the defendant have been able to refuse to answer, or at least raise concerns, regarding that sort of questioning as well?

    Of course. But you can't really fault the defendant for not understanding how suicidal saying "yes" was going to be, he's not a lawyer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:50AM (#28914731)

    Tenenbaum would have been wise to remember a scene from Miracle on 34th Street. The prosecutor asks Kris Kringle where he resides and he responds "That's what this hearing will determine." That should have been his answer to the question in the first place.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:53AM (#28914749)

    Because with a competent defense, they have an almost unwinnable case. There are just so many areas to slam them on. One of the biggest I'd go for is proof of harm. While I wouldn't have the defense admit to anything, I'd slam them on the fact they have no proof of any harm. Currently, there's only been one scientific, peer reviewed study done on file sharing. It was done by UNC and Harvard ( The result? File sharing has no statistically significant effect on sharing. Ok so you get that in to evidence. You can keep all their studies out on account of they paid for them (thus there's bias), there is no peer review, proper scientific method wasn't followed and so on.

    At this point, the only piece of evidence on the harm of sharing, shows that there is none. So now you argue that it isn't even relevant if the sharing took place as it caused no harm. That wouldn't be your only argument, but would be a major one.

    Another major one would be to attack the means of getting the information on what was shared and who shared it. There are so many problems with this, not the least of which that Media Sentry, the company that does the dirty work, is unlicensed as an investigator. So you can hammer them on their methods too.

    In the end, what you'd likely have is no proof your client did it, just wild ass speculations, no proof of any harm, even if they did, and so on.

    The defense was just amazingly incompetent. I mean they did stupid shit like wait too long to apply to have an expert witness speak, and thus got them excluded. That is pure amateur shit right that. "Oh duh we forgot there was a deadline." You aren't in high school, morons, you'd better be more competent than that.

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:58AM (#28914777)

    The people of the USA elected representatives who passed these stupid laws. It's not the "RIAA lawyers, the defendants and their representation, the judges, the juries . . .." It's the American People who don't give enough of a damn to participate in government and save us from the stooges of the moneyed interests.

    The underlying problem is the draconian punishments imposed by the copyright law. The outcome of these stupid trials are foreordained by the law.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:16AM (#28914825)

    Is there any scenario in which losing this case incompetently and ending up with an outlandish fine actually works against the RIAA?

    In one word:


    Jamie Thomas took her case twice to a jury and was twice hammered into the ground.

    Tenenbaum admits to every element of the plaintiff's case. He admits to lying under oath in his depositions.

    He also gets hammered into the ground.

    Three juries. Three verdicts. Not the faintest breath of sympathy for the geek taking the stand.

    That ought to tell you something.

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:18AM (#28914833)

    I don't know how Louis Nizer could have kept Mr. Tennenbaum from being found liable for copyright violation! Do you? Seriously . . .
    Tennenbaum admitted to the copyright violation. A good lawyer can't undo that!

    A good lawyer can advocate for mercy (like Clarence Darrow did for Leopold and Loeb), but it's gotta be hard when your client gets the RIAA warning letter and continues with his merry downloading or when your client is believed by the jury to be flat-out lying his/her ass off.

    Sorry, but I don't get your "a good lawyer would have made a difference" point. I think that kind of rhetoric has the unfortunate effect of jacking up the Slashdot crowd into believing that there is a real chance of beating these copyright cases (hand-picked by the RIAA to go to trial) on the merits with the law as it stands now.

    Your statement regarding an "impervious record for an appeal" suggests that there is a sure-fire winner buried somewhere in the case, but that only a "good lawyer" can preserve it so that the appeals court will ultimately save the day. The only meaningful appellate argument that I can see centers around the extreme punishment inflicted in these two cases. I'm unwilling to conclude, based on the record I've seen, that the lawyers have screwed THAT up. I expect that the Courts of Appeals will ultimately decide whether or not that argument has merit.

    What other arguments did these lawyers miss that a "good lawyer" wouldn't have missed? None that would be outcome-determinative, as far as I can see.

  • by cliffski ( 65094 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:33AM (#28914873) Homepage

    But the guy *was* guilty. he clearly obviously and without any doubt DID share those songs, DID download copyrighted material, and DID know what he was doing was illegal. This wasn't a single track, he had shared hundreds of songs over a long period.
    You waffle on about how "the case should have been handled better", but that's because you are a lawyer who wants his fee.
    If this guy was a friend of mine, my advice would be "dude, your guilty as fuck. Settle out of court and get on with your life".
    Only a friend who was a lawyer or an anti-copyright zealot would advise any differently.

  • by cliffski ( 65094 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:38AM (#28914893) Homepage

    If I steal from the local corner shop, the shop shouldn't have to get peer-reviewed studies to prove that it impacted their business. The law defines theft, or in this case copyright infringement, and he was guilty as fuck.

    This guy didn't 'deliberately get caught breaking an unjust law to bring down the system'
    He got caught downloading music. Warned, did it again, and knowingly broke the law.
    I have fuck-all sympathy, apart from the fact that he has clearly been talked into fighting an unwinnable court case by the kind of people who post about the RIAA being a 'fascist state'.

    Feel free to go fight fascism. Don't pretend downloading mp3s is doing that though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:57AM (#28914927)

    One of the biggest I'd go for is proof of harm.

    Oh, cut it out. When will you bozos understand that there's no need to prove harm? That's why it's called "statutory damages". Like statutory rape. You don't have to prove harm -- both parties may have been blissful as hell over the act, but it's still "statutory" rape. It means, in effect "by law".

    All the **AA needs is to prove that "the act" (in this case, mucking illegally with files) actually occurred. They don't have to go any farther than that to win the case. And their "damages".

  • by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @05:16AM (#28914997) Journal

    Can we have a list of names of the people on "the legal team" for the defendant?

    From what we've seen it appears to that it may be prudent to avoid their legal counsel in the future.
    You know... the way you might want to avoid a leper colony of HIV positive fans with gonorrhea who also happen to have both avian and swine flu.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @05:19AM (#28915013) Journal

    >>>This wasn't a single track, he had shared hundreds of songs over a long period.

    30 songs. The rest is conjectural and not proven, and therefore not relevant to this case.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @05:31AM (#28915061) Journal

    >>> It's the American People who don't give enough of a damn to participate in government

    That's not the problem. Even if everyone voted, it's the lobbyists who hold the real power to control Congress, and these lobbyists are supported by trillions of corporate dollars. It's just like Thomas Jefferson predicted in the 1790s - the corporations will exert power over the government and no longer hear the voice of the people.

  • by mr exploiter ( 1452969 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @05:31AM (#28915063)
    No, I'm assuming he doesn't have 600k lying around. If he doesn't have it and nobody will give him the money then he won't be able to pay.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @06:00AM (#28915179)

    What is your problem with Eastern Europe? You think that we are worse because we used to be commie states? We did not want communism in our countries, the Yalta conference decisions forced us into soviet hands. And who made the Yalta treaty? Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. They have decided about us, without us. If someone is guilty for lower development level of Easter Europe, comparing to western, it's the big three. Western Europe received the Marshall plan help, while Soviets forced us to refuse this help. Commie days were in fact Soviet occupation, allowed by western states during the Yalta conference.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @06:25AM (#28915261) Journal

    Maybe the guy who is suing Amazon for damages will win a couple thusand dollars, and then he can donate that money to pay-off RIAA. That would be perfect symmetry - one jackass corporation paying-off another jackass corperation.

    Sometimes I think we are mere ants walking in the midst of giants.

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @06:26AM (#28915265) Homepage Journal

    excuse me. but there is NO other way of putting this. the reason for this shit is precisely american legal system's favoring the rich. got money ? you can outsue everyone even if you are higway bandits like riaa.

    i know a lot of you americans will be bullshitting about how good a legal system it is because you people generally dont think a world outside usa-uk-australia axis exists. but, it isnt. actually you are being screwed over because more money means more rights in america. just because you embrace the philosophy with four arms. american dream is full of promises. yet i bet not even 1% of you reading this have 'made' it as to be as rich as any patron of riaa. yet you STILL keep hugging it despite there are people screwing you through it.

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @08:41AM (#28915971)
    So he knows what to say to pretty much every question the other side is going to ask. The defendant shouldn't be thinking, he should just be repeating whatever pat answers his lawyer has worked with him to be the "proper" answer. (I'm not saying perjury but you can prep people to say stuff that wouldn't be that damaging while not actually lying.)
  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:42AM (#28916441) Journal

    A record company is first and for most a marketing agency, public opinion is everything to them. Which is why we need to make sure the head lines always LABEL who they really are, dont let them hide behind the RIAA. The headline should be the, RIAA representing Sony BMG, has filed suit against....

  • by maharb ( 1534501 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:00AM (#28916575)

    Don't buy from these labels. The only way to fight back is with our purchasing power. These companies are in with the government, never expect the law to help.

    Then, someday we could have reasonably priced music with reasonable rights to copy what we purchased to multiple devices without being treated like criminals.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:43AM (#28916887) Journal


    I'm just annoyed at NYCL's rude summary comments - "incompetent-apparently they don't teach [competence] at Harvard law school." I don't care if NYCL is the foremost authority on copyright cases, because I still consider it unprofessional. And juvenile. Just like I said in my first post.

    We're not going to win anything if the anti-RIAA, pro-public domain lawyers fight amongst themselves like immature teenagers.

  • by The Only Druid ( 587299 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:54AM (#28916979)
    (a) The whole "life sentence" concept isn't valid. By that reasoning, poor people should just commit massive financial damages against people, because they wouldn't be subject to paying those damages.
    (b) He's going to just declare bankruptcy anyway, so it's rather silly as an aside.
    (c) Separately, his lawyers appear to be grossly unable to handle the case; their "fair use" defense was beyond laughable, and they failed to preserve the easiest possible appeal (which would have, at least, probably allowed a retrial).
  • funny.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by SuperDre ( 982372 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:59AM (#28917023) Homepage
    It's funny to read all those law-experts here at Slashdot who think they are better at knowing/practising law... It's hard to defend someone if what he did is actually against the law.. You may not agree with it because of your own personal reasons (being that if they start going after fileshares in a big way you will be screwed too), but that doesn't mean all those people (judges and lawyers) are idiots, they know more about law than any of you..
  • by cetialphav ( 246516 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:03AM (#28917073)

    That ought to tell you something.

    Yes, it tells us that copyright is taking pretty seriously by most people. It tells us that you are highly unlikely to find a jury that is sympathetic to the infringment of the rights of others. It tells us that no matter how despicable the RIAA may be, they are still legally correct. It tells us that the fantasy legal arguments often waved about on Slashdot are fantasies that hold no weight in a courtroom.

  • by cetialphav ( 246516 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:15AM (#28917157)

    Oh please, this has nothing to do with lobbyists having more power that the people. The voters clearly do not care about this issue. During this last presidential election process, did anyone at any campaign event or town hall ever ask about eliminating or reducing the penalties for copyright infringement? No. People just do see this as a problem.

    If you are able to wake up the voters and get them to care about this, then all the lobbying in the world won't help the RIAA. People just don't appreciate how responsive congressmen can actually be when the electorate gets stirred up about something. The voice of the people isn't being drowned out because there is not even a squeak coming out of their voice on this issue.

  • by st0rmshad0w ( 412661 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:20AM (#28917191)

    Well, the problem is multifold. Part of it is that people who scream rant and rave about "keeping the government out of Medicare" without the mental ability to understand that it is a Federal program (or any one of hundreds of other examples, that's just the one making my brain bleed right now) have the exact same voting value as someone who researches issues and educates themselves on the candidates. Another part of the problem is that law has become too much of its own realm, and needs to be destroyed and reworked.

    I'm certain that you have heard the quote "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". I argue that it is in fact an excuse, and quite a valid one. The man that coined that phrase was right to do so because he had EVERY law permanently posted in a public forum in language the citizens could understand, so there was in fact, no excuse for anyone not to know the laws. They were right there in front of them in simple language.

    Law today is so massively and totally complicated that each and every one of us would have needed a lawyer issued to us on our date of birth to get anywhere NEAR a point where ignorance wasn't a valid excuse.

    The complete lack of balance in fines and punishments is another huge issue, you could physically steal an entire tractor trailer of RIAA label music and not get anywhere near the punishment that has been levied in these infringement cases. I find it curious that the RIAA scream at the top of their lungs that file sharing is theft right up until they get to the punishment phase when it magically becomes infringement.

  • Yeah. I raised an eyebrow when I saw this in the newspaper. Tenenbaum says, "I'm disappointed, but I'm thankful it wasn't millions. To me it sends a message of 'We considered your side with some legitimacy.'"

    He's *thankful*??

    I've never heard of a defendant who was this much of a douchebag. It makes me wonder if there's some way he could have taken a dive.

    Yes I was surprised by that remark, and by others he's made.

    The part of me that wants to believe the best in people, will attribute those to exhaustion.

  • by Golddess ( 1361003 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:45AM (#28917407)

    such that I need not fear RIAA.

    Again, you completely miss the point. You are basically saying "I'm innocent so have nothing to fear from the RIAA" which implies that you believe that the RIAA only goes after the guilty, and that [] just [] isn't [] true [].

  • If the people that are opposed to the RIAA's egregious behavior give him money for this, isn't this more or less the same thing as donating money to the RIAA?


    It's not "more or less the same thing".

    It's exactly the same thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @01:21PM (#28918129)

    It tells me that if you are relying upon a defence based in statute or a natural law reading of equity and proportionality you should waive your federal right to a jury.

    I think it is much less likely that a U.S. District Judge would agree to damages so unproportional as to be outright unjust.

    Judge Roulette seems less risky for a defendant than a jury.

  • Interesting that the pro-RIAA people are the ones so 'offended' by my 'inconsiderate' commentary on defendant's lawyers' work.
  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:34PM (#28921729) Journal

    >>>(a) The whole "life sentence" concept isn't valid. By that reasoning, poor people should just commit massive financial damages against people, because they wouldn't be subject to paying those damages.

    Damages you incur yourself like setting-fire to a neighbor's car (and later must pay back) is not the same as a legislative fine of $150,000 per song. That's Congress issuing punishment, and as such is limited by the Constitution. It's akin to telling someone they owe $150,000 for every mile over the speed limit, and IMHO should be considered "cruel and unusual".

  • by idlemachine ( 732136 ) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:00AM (#28923799)

    Yes, it tells us that copyright is taking pretty seriously by most people.

    Yes, but so is Jesus. Popularity doesn't make IP any less of a fictitious belief.

  • Re:$20 is too much (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Monday August 03, 2009 @08:01PM (#28934809) Homepage Journal

    I have suddenly realized you are a fucking moron. This is obvious now that you have said someone elses work, effort, speech is your to do with as you will because it is your speech.

    You, on the other hand, seem to think my speech is yours to "do with as you will" if it happens to include a series of words that you spoke previously. I guess we're both fucking morons.

    That was your logic now cough up the info or admit you are lying hypocrite.

    I would like to see a demonstration of your copying technology before inviting you onto my property, as you seem like a hostile sort that might have nefarious intent.

    I will gladly meet you at Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington, where you can demonstrate your good faith and capability by creating a duplicate of the historic Looff Carrousel [] without disturbing or damaging the original or incurring any costs for any unwilling participants. You may invite members of the media and scientific community as well. Once you've demonstrated this, I'll gladly allow you onto my property where you can do the same to my possessions.

    I have to wonder, though: if you really intend for this to be analogous to file sharing, why do you need my address at all? I don't need to know where Britney Spears lives (or even where she keeps the master tapes) in order to copy her works. If you can't copy my possessions from afar, without my knowledge, then perhaps it isn't as analogous as you think.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine