Monday, September 11, 2006

The RIAA turn out to have no evidence

If you've been following the court cases the RIAA have been launching against individuals, you'll remember they start out by saying "we have evdience that you have been stealing our music, if you don't settle, we'll take you to court."

People tend to be scared by this, and pay up.

Not so Mr. Wilke. He has asked for a court to provide a summary judgement, on the grounds that he's not the person the RIAA seem to think he is, he's never had one set of the songs on his computer, and the second set of songs he did have, but because he'd ripped them from his own CD collection.

The RIAA has filed a motion for "expedited recovery" to allow it to gather evidence.

Gather evidence?

Yes, that's right - although the RIAA sent a letter to Mr. Wilkes claiming to have proof that he'd been illegally downloading evidence, when given a chance to provide it to the court, they have to ask for time to start looking for that evidence:

"Plaintiffs cannot at this time, without an opportunity for
full discovery present by affidavit facts essential to justify their opposition to Defendant's motion"

It's not known if all the lawyers in the music industry turn up packed into one car, which then falls apart as they emerge from it, but there is something of the comedy outsize shoe about these proceedings. Once again, the RIAA has been caught launching speculative court cases without any proper evidence to back them up, in the hope that those they target will just cave in and pay up. We're sure this is totally different from blackmail in lots of ways.


Anonymous said...

Well, it really ISN'T blackmail.

I'm no friend of the RIAA, but under current laws they DO have a right to sue for damages.

Blackmail would be "pay up or we'll tell everybody about X"

This is "we know you did X, we have proof, pay this much now or go to court and pay more"

You don't need to actually have proof in order to do this. Anyone can sue anyone, therefore anyone can threaten to sue anyone.

What you think they're doing is perhaps more acurately described as bluffing.

HOWEVER, it also seems likely that they DO have records of some sort (since they got the names from somewhere - they aren't sending these letters out randomly) - they may simply need time to revisit their records and pull only the relevant stuff together into usable form - actually quite reasonable (why compile a nice neat dossier for each case up front - first see how many cave under just the threat, then compile the dossier for each court case).

I would not even conclude that they are bluffing at this point - they just aren't preparing cases until they need to - efficient and sensible.

Of course, if they have the wrong guy, they may realize this and drop the suit.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it is the very definition of blackmail:

black?mail? /?blæk?me?l/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[blak-meyl] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

–noun 1. any payment extorted by intimidation, as by threats of injurious revelations or accusations.
2. the extortion of such payment: He confessed rather than suffer the dishonor of blackmail.
3. a tribute formerly exacted in the north of England and in Scotland by freebooting chiefs for protection from pillage.
–verb (used with object) 4. to extort money from (a person) by the use of threats.
5. to force or coerce into a particular action, statement, etc.: The strikers claimed they were blackmailed into signing the new contract.

Captain said...

I agree. It's blackmail, although it's probably more accurate to label it as extortion, since it's not a direct threat to the individual but rather a threat of risk-taking. But to label it "bluffing" is not that far off either, since the RIAA is gambling that an individual will weigh the risk of paying for council and losing against the cost of simply paying off RIAA (since it's a lawsuit, there's no real damage beyond losing the money, unlike a criminal case in which their official record would be besmirched). This is why people have to be willing to countersue an organization like RIAA, such that RIAA becomes culpable (as they rightly should) for attorney's fees once a ruling in favor of the defendant gets the suit thrown out. Of course, it would all be so much simpler if they wrote it into the law that if you sue someone, and lose, you automatically have to pay that person's legal fees. Unless of course they're richer than you.

Anonymous said...

Just so everyone knows, we can all thank DirecTV for this as they started the extorsion in this manner.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Anonymous #1

If they had the paperwork and just needed to pull it together, they'd be able to do that in - what, an afternoon?

And it's not true that "anyone can sue anyone" - if I elected to bring a legal action against Tony Blair on account of his stealing my slippers, I'd be leaving myself open to charges of pursuing vexatious litigation, for example. What does seem to be true is that RIAA is setting out to sue everyone.

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