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Ask Slashdot: Who Has Been Sued By the RIAA? 407

First time accepted submitter blackfrancis75 writes "We keep hearing different figures quoting the thousands of people who've been sued by RIAA for illegally downloading online music, but I don't know anyone personally to whom it's happened. In fact it seems no-one I know knows anyone to whom it happened. Do you know anyone who was sued for 'piracy', or were you sued yourself? What was your experience?"
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Ask Slashdot: Who Has Been Sued By the RIAA?

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  • Legal Threats (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:05PM (#39283477)
    I've been sent 2 or 3 legal threats from copyright holders and my ISP over the years. I ignored them and nothing ever happened.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:07PM (#39283493)

    My sister was sued by the RIAA for making files available on Kazaa. She ended up settling with them.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:11PM (#39283517)

    "We keep hearing different figures quoting the thousands of people who've been sued by RIAA "

    The people actually sued by the RIAA for file sharing is actually zero.



    Because they don't own the copyrights. It's the studios that do. These studios are members of the RIAA, but in the US, at least, to have standing to sue, you must have the actual copyright yourself. The press always confuses the RIAA with the studios, because the RIAA has the loudest mouth.

    We saw lack of standing with SCO. They kept insisting that they owned the copyrights to SysV, but the plain language of the APA didn't say they do, and in order for copyright to change hands (in that case from Novell to SCO) there has to be a positive statement *in writing on paper* that the copyright is transfered.

    The judge in the case and Novell eventually got SCO to fuck off, but it took 7 years.

    Similarly in these cases, it's not "The RIAA vs Joe Blough," it's "IRS Records vs Jane Sawless" because the RIAA does not own the copyright to "I Stabbed A Monkey" but IRS Records does.


  • I mean, other than to make a metacomment, such as this. At the time I'm posting this, the only posts that are admitting to this are AC.
  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:20PM (#39283571) Homepage

    At one point, I thought that the settlement that the RIAA pushed people to accept included clauses that prevented people from talking about the settlement. The RIAA, however, had no such restrictions. This way, the RIAA could say all they want about the "dirty, rotten pirate" they stopped but the sued individual couldn't provide their side. I'm not sure if this is still true, but could be part of the reason why we don't hear of many people on Slashdot who were sued.

  • Re:Legal Threats (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:22PM (#39283585)

    Same here. Tons of threats, no action.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:24PM (#39283595)

    That is exactly the issue. Happens all the time, especially in the medical field. You get a payout and are barred from saying anything to anyone. This leaves everyone else in the dark as to how bad things really are.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:29PM (#39283627)

    >No one has been sued for *downloading* music. You get sued for uploading/distributing/making available.

    Please note the actual word I used.

    Sharing, as in putting it in your share folder.

    Thank you and have a nice day.


  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:35PM (#39283663) Homepage Journal

    I wasn't sued, but I was one of the first to receive a cease and desist letter from them back in 1998. I was a student at Indiana University and ran a server [] there in my dorm room which hosted one of my friend's website who had copyrighted "top 40" mp3s on it. Other than the university lightly punishing me, nothing really came of it.

  • I was (sorta) (Score:5, Informative)

    by shift3 ( 911297 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:40PM (#39283693) Homepage
    I was USAF stationed in Germany. I wont lie.... I download a few things from Torrents... 99.9% of that was TV Shows since it was hard to watch 6 hours ahead (AFN is crap)... Right before i left Germany, i got a certified letter in the mail stating (in german) that i download Bens Fold Five or something. Anyone that knows me, knows i listen to metal.. and metal.. and mostly all metal... Also, they said i downloaded it around 8am on a sunday.... Again, anyone that knew me knows i dont even wake up till noon on sundays... The letter stated that i owed 6000 euro to some lawyer in Munchen. Well, since it came to me and not the base legal office, i ignored it... and left country a few months later (my tour was over)... So, i was never sued by the RIAA directly... but i was told i owed money for a song i allegedly downloaded.

    Disclaimer: I am not in the AF... I do not represent the AF.... I may or may not have had a few drinks... and i "CBF"ed to capitalize my "i"s or even use correct grammar... Get over it...
  • Not a lot (Score:5, Informative)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:40PM (#39283699)
    So I used to work in the part of an ISP that dealt with the copyright complaints and law enforcement requests. The large copyright owners (like record companies) were the only ones that really sent us anything. They hired companies that represented them, collected info off of torrent clients, file sharing programs and websites and then sent complaints to us. That I know of, no request ever came for actual customer records. None... ever. While I worked there, no requests ever came, no that worked there could remember it ever happening, and I'm still friends with people that work there and they still tell me they've never had a request. We got law enforcement requests... but even those we're pretty rare. Local police don't really seem all that interested in anything more than emergency requests revolving around hostage situations (typically crazy boyfriends locked himself in girlfriends house with a gun/knife) The FBI would send requests to us, but they were often very elaborate requests having to do with con-artists or embezzlement cases where they were just looking for billing records. Wire-taps are VERY rare.

    I'm not sure how many people get sued, but I serviced several million customers and none ever got anything more than a meaningless email from their ISP that likely went to a mailbox they hadn't used in years. I've believed for a while now that the lawsuits you hear about are more likely just scare tactics and there's really not that much legal action taken.
  • my bosses son (Score:3, Informative)

    by luther349 ( 645380 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:58PM (#39283789)
    my bosses son was sued by the riaa for downloading a bunch of mp3s. she had to foot the bill as well.
  • by Larryish ( 1215510 ) <> on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:59PM (#39283795)

    Got my cable cut off once over dling a movie still in the theaters.

    Stupid public tracker.

    One time I heard a fictional story about someone using a VPS in a foreign country, and transmission-daemon.

  • University Letters (Score:3, Informative)

    by j33px0r ( 722130 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @12:16AM (#39283885)

    My students who live on campus will receive disciplinary action for downloading music via torrent or whatever program they are using. They are required to attend a couple sessions on the illegal nature of their activities. The sessions including watching a few videos & sign some papers saying their sorry or some such nonsense. I've had 3 or 4 claim this has happened.

  • by Myopic ( 18616 ) * on Thursday March 08, 2012 @12:21AM (#39283901)

    Yeah. A couple years ago I got a cease and desist letter. It was hilarious. I lived in an apartment building and ran an intentionally open wireless network. (I had one private with password, one public with no password. I did this as an anonymous favor to my building mates.) One day I got a letter threatening action if I didn't stop downloading, or whatever, and the specific movie they were complaining about was "I Love You, Man".

    Now listen to me. Listen carefully. I would never, ever, not in a million years, be interested in "I Love You, Man". I certainly was downloading other things, but there is no way that I would have ever searched for that movie, let alone spent any effort to pirate it. Never.

    So, I just ignored the fucking letter. I didn't close my wireless, I didn't warn my neighbors, and I never got another letter. Fuck them. I wasn't very afraid of a lawsuit (because they are rare), and in the unlikely scenario of being sued, I could be another good example of why an IP address does not identify a human being. It would have been a ton of hassle, and I hate hassle, but I'm also just the right kind of asshole to push back against them, if it ever came to that.

    However, if they caught me downloading stuff that I actually did download, well then I'd probably push back a little, and then settle. You do the crime, you pay the dime.

  • by Glug ( 153153 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @01:17AM (#39284147)

    It's *you* who devolved into crude sexual comments about AC's sister. All you are is some crude and disgusting idiot with an obviously strong bias for attention-seeking who goes by the pseudonymous handle "djlowe" and keeps posting repeatedly about the same thing. I'll trust the veracity of an AC's statement over anything you say any day of the week. That's the W behind your WTF. Happy to have helped.

    Well, in the first place: A claim by an AC, about a sister, has no veracity: I can just as easily state this: My sister is a fucking slut. This, despite the fact that I have no sister. See how that works? In addition, despite the fact that I have a pseudonymous handle "djlowe"? I've been here for a VERY long time, under that handle: I'd tend to think that that has more weight than all of you AC's :)

    It's *you* who devolved into crude sexual comments about AC's sister

    That was intentional - to point out the fact that there's NO way for any of us to know whether or not the AC's sister even exists. Can you prove that she does? Can you disprove that she didn't give me the clap? Or that she was a bad lay?

    I'll trust the veracity of an AC's statement over anything you say any day of the week

    Says the next AC *grin* Why doesn't that surprise me? Tell you what - when you grow a pair, you come and post non-AC. Regards, dj

    Okay, here I am. Again, I'll trust the veracity of something an AC says, who has nothing to gain or lose, over an immature attention-seeking poster any day of the week. Now you know for a fact that it's true.

  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @01:54AM (#39284305) Homepage

    Both are illegal, as are a few other things besides. Well, actually, if one looks at the precise language of the statute, while distribution is illegal, uploading doesn't meet the definition of distribution, so it either has to be something else that is illegal (my money would be on some form of secondary liability, where in essence the assistance that the uploader provides the downloader for the downloader's offense makes the uploader liable too) or it is perfectly okay. There's a case underway where someone is finally making that argument, but I doubt that the courts looking at it are ever going to side with pirates merely because of the actual language of the law. Justice could stand to be blinder.

    Anyway, you can see a list of the major types of copyright infringement at 17 USC 106 (definitions are helpfully provided at 17 USC 101 -- n.b. that definitions provided in the statute override ordinary dictionary definitions).

    And, since all else being equal, they are just forms of the same offense -- infringement -- the remedies are the same for both: Actual damages and profits, and perhaps costs, fees, an injunction, even the destruction of copies and copying equipment (though I don't think I've heard of a court ordering the destruction of anyone's computer in this sort of case -- I wonder why the other side has neglected such a mean tactic). And, if the work is eligible (it usually will be for anything you'd get in copyright trouble for downloading), statutory damages, if the plaintiff so opts. Civil remedies for copyright infringement may be found at 17 USC 502-505. Section 504 is the major bit.

    There's no real distinction for civil damages as to whether one acted in a saintly or fiendish fashion with regard to infringement. It won't matter for actual damages and profits. But statutory damages simply must fall within a particular range between a minimum and a maximum in the statute. In practice, if you've gotten to the point where you're being sued in a case like this, the minimum can't be lowered, and the maximum can be relied upon to be raised as high as it'll go. The actual number in that range is picked by the jury, who may do so for entirely inscrutable reasons, and may then be reduced by the judge to as low as the minimum, as the judge sees fit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2012 @04:17AM (#39285009)

    Disclaimer - This post is made with the US centric viewpoint of the copyright shakedowns currently sweeping the country. For other countries the rules are different but the scam remains the same.

    Copyright Trolls will almost NEVER take someone to court unless that person contacts them and admits fault or knowledge of the event and then refuses to pay the settlement.

    AC #1 - You should have gotten a notice from your ISP prior to any contact from a troll that they were seeking your information. For the ISP to randomly forward on a notice seems off in the current troll landscape. It appears from a quick look that your troll might be lying to you. I believe the cases for New Sensations are being handled by Ira Siegel and I think all of those cases have been tossed by the courts. Check for information on your case. Trolls often like to get the subscriber information and then dismiss the case, then work down the list threatening to sue... but rarely follow through. Sophisticated Jane Doe has much history in this area, and does her best to keep up to date on all of the cases.

    AC #2 - Sadly you would not have to have gone to TX to defend the case, unless you were in the jurisdiction of the court which is unlikely. They sued you in the court convenient for them, not where the alleged infringement occurred or where you reside. Federal Rules say they can't force you to court across the country.
    Texas suggests your troll was Evan Stone (the bad lawyer not the porn star). He is working his way towards getting disbarred. The lawyer you sought help from screwed you. A summary judgement only occurs if you refuse to answer the summons to appear in court, not if you tell the troll to go to hell.

    Actually it does matter who downloaded the file, while some lawyers like to claim that because you pay for the account it is your fault this novel idea has never been tested in court. A good analogy would be someone stole your car and then robbed a bank, you should not be facing charges yourself for robbing the bank.
    The "tech" used to identify IP addresses has never been vetted as reliable, and an IP Address =! a person. Most of the copyright troll cases have "experts" from a tracking firm... a majority of them appear to be different names for the same company (an effort to keep all of their cases from getting tossed if 1 fails) Guardaley . Guardaley had their evidence thrown out by a German court and was sued by a partner lawfirm because they covered up their tech is flawed.
    They now provide data for a large portion of the US version of the copyright trolls.

    You will need to make your own decision, but I highly suggest the trip to to get more information and education on how these scams work.

    I remain...

  • Re:Legal Threats (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArsenneLupin ( 766289 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @05:06AM (#39285315)
    I was one of the "John Doe's" during the DeCSS [] episode. Eventually, the school where I had hosted my DeCSS mirror got a letter from the MAFIAA. We had a meeting (including school director, a couple of teachers, etc.), and together we decided to do nothing, and to just ignore it. Nothing ever followed, the site stayed up for years after this, until it fell into obsolescence.

    More recently, I posted a video on Facebook to mock the Costa Concordia disaster: a photo of captain Schettino with "Alles im Griff auf dem sinkenden Schiff" ("everything under control on the sinking ship") by Udo Jürgens as the sound track. Predictably the automated system pulled the video, and sent me a take-down notice giving me the option to file a counter notice. Which I did: the video went back online, is still online, and this act never had any consequences.

    But maybe it helps that I don't live in the US...

    In general, if I get legal threats from abroad I ignore them. If I get legal threats from a local lawyer, I remove the offending item but never respond to or acknowledge the letter, nor pay any fines or whatever additional thing they ask for. So far, I've never got a problem from this approach.

  • by Captain Hook ( 923766 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:29AM (#39285955)
    Opening credits to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    The credits were run in English with Swedish Translations. After a while the Swedish Translator got bored and starting writing various off-topic comments including "A Moose Once bit my sister"

    Holy Grail Opening Sequence []
  • by muindaur ( 925372 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:55AM (#39286367) Journal

    At most they can file a motion for discovery, and then a motion to compel. The rules vary by state, but you could be held in contempt: worse yet have a default judgement against you.

    Source to back it up: []


    I'm not a lawyer (accounting students must take business law), and this is not legal advice, nor should this be construed as such.

  • Re:Legal Threats (Score:4, Informative)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover ( 1679530 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @03:12PM (#39291697)

    Look, guys, you can't take someone else's work and put your name to it like you created it! You can't understand WHY what you did was way out of bounds? How could someone so dumbb ever pass a college entrance exam?

    Actually, half the time that's plagiarism, which isn't the same thing as copyright violation. The other half it's not plagiarism because it's done with permission, which still isn't the same thing as copyright violation but is usually also not copyright violation. Plagiarism has to do with credit. Copyright has to do with the right to copy.

    For example, judicial opinions are usually written by clerks, but the credit goes to the judges. If that were done without permission, it would be copyright violation. (At least in any other field in the world--judicial opinions may be a special case.) It would also be plagiarism.

    One guy I know had his stuff used by a major network. They got his permission to use it, I'm sure he did a blanket rights agreement, and they pretended a bunch of stuff was their work. That was morally plagiarism but legally probably fine.

    One article I know was submitted to an academic journal with the same material as another already published article--even the graph. That was plagiarism and copyright violation.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.