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That RICO lawsuit is looking more justified every day.
October 6, 2005 5:48 AM   Subscribe

Now that they're being sued on racketeering grounds, the RIAA says "to hell with appearances" and files suit against a 14-year-old girl. Candy Chan might have succeeded in getting charges against her dismissed, but in claiming victory, she probably didn't have much of an idea that the music cartel would proceed to file suit against her 14-year-old daughter specifically requesting that the court appoint a "legal guardian" for her. Whatever happens in this case, it'll probably be less embarassing than some of their previous cock-ups.
posted by clevershark (77 comments total)

 
I don't see how filing suit against the proper party qualifies as racketeering.
posted by oaf at 5:56 AM on October 6, 2005


The racketeering case is a separate matter that came up earlier in the week, although strangely enough it doesn't seem to have been discussed here.
posted by clevershark at 6:03 AM on October 6, 2005


Isn't legal harrassment like this a form of barratry? Not that this is the worst the industry could do, of course. I suspect that if this case gets thrown out, the RIAA's next step will be to simply kill and eat the girl whole and unboned.
posted by boo_radley at 6:09 AM on October 6, 2005


Ah, thank you. I was looking for the racketeering stuff.

From what I can see, the RIAA is taking the tack that they get to define reality by pretending that precedent and the law are as they would want them to be, and not as they are. It's analogous to the fact that major print publishers never acknowledge "fair use" in any of their legal documents, even though it's a basic part of US copyright law. Lysenkoism for fun and profit, as it were. They only way to really prevent them from getting what they want is to deny their premise. If that means using RICO to attack their tactics, so be it.
posted by lodurr at 6:09 AM on October 6, 2005


Post-preview: Isn't it pretty hard to get a judgement on barratry?
posted by lodurr at 6:10 AM on October 6, 2005


Industry controls the marketplace, pricing, distribution. They then use their leverage and clout to maintain it by blocking marketplace innovation, fair use, and free markets.

Just look at the anagram for RICO:
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (legislation)

For some examples, see their arguments with Microsoft and Apple regarding pricing, creative accounting, the price-fixing settlement w/the Fed, as well as renewed claims of payola. I'd say it's not a stretch to invoke RICO.
posted by rzklkng at 6:13 AM on October 6, 2005


lodurr writes "Isn't it pretty hard to get a judgement on barratry?"

Very much so... that's why it's become so fashionable to file frivolous lawsuits -- most defendants would rather settle than go through an ordeal which can last months and/or years and cost tens of thousands of dollars in representation, no matter the actual merits of the case. One of the earlier RIAA lawsuits was against a student and sought almost *one hundred billion dollars* in damages (yes, that's "billions", with a B), and settled for $15k. The object is to overwhelm the defendant and subject him/her to such pressures that there is little choice but to settle.
posted by clevershark at 6:17 AM on October 6, 2005


just what in the world do they think they're going to accomplish by this? ... perhaps a lawyer here would be good enough to explain to us what one can actually get from suing a 14 year old girl with no income ... for example, is this an obligation that will follow her into adulthood?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:34 AM on October 6, 2005


Pyramid - I think you're incorrectly thinking they expect to accomplish anything against this girl. They're really attempting to scare the bejesus out of other folks.
posted by phearlez at 6:38 AM on October 6, 2005


While I understand (note I didn't necessarily say agree) with the legal arguments the RIAA makes in these claims, I'm even more in agreement with the racketeering charges, and I'd be very surprised to see how the RIAA can refute them. By their own practice they acknowledge that their intentions aren't to seek reparations from the people who "stole" from them but to terrorize others into complying with their financial standpoint. They are without question using resources available only through their position of wealth and power to compel specific actions from others.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:48 AM on October 6, 2005


I haven't purchased anything from the RIAA for years! ....I'd like to be able to say that in protest, but unfortunately I can't - I just don't buy music period (nor d/l mp3s for that matter).
posted by tomplus2 at 7:11 AM on October 6, 2005


This is why I steal music.
posted by wakko at 7:14 AM on October 6, 2005


This is why I'm a music snob who buys the music of artists the RIAA couldn't give a shit about.

Oh and sometimes I steal it. But then I buy it. JESUS COMMANDS THEE!
posted by basicchannel at 7:23 AM on October 6, 2005


Did anyone else get a RIAA settlement check? I got $13, IIRC. RIAA has been successfully prosecuted under RICO before, for price fixing.

Also, according to the article, the mother testified that the daughter told her that she did trade music. If the mother doesn't take responsibility, who else are they supposed to go after?
posted by delmoi at 7:25 AM on October 6, 2005


This seems pretty insane to me, but I'd like to get dios' opinion.
posted by Ryvar at 7:25 AM on October 6, 2005


This is why I steal music.

Dude, it's not stealing, it's sharing!
posted by delmoi at 7:25 AM on October 6, 2005


I don't think downloading is a crime, because since fair use exists who is to say I didn't download it to use fairly.

The RIAA lawsuits usually include uploading the music to other people.

So if you turn off sharing, you are in the clear?
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:36 AM on October 6, 2005


I guess there is going to be another uproar about this everytime there is a new twist to the ongoing saga of big, bad, RIAA against the poor, weak, music starved consumer..

For god's sake, people, let's just admit that we steal the music without permission, knowing darn well what the possibilities are, and let's acknowledge that some of us are gonna get our hands slapped.

But, in all honesty, I'm getting tired of going to the deli to buy more cheese everytime this particular "whine" gets poured...

and, is it really worth another fpp, not really anything new here....
posted by HuronBob at 7:37 AM on October 6, 2005


> By their own practice they acknowledge that their intentions
> aren't to seek reparations from the people who "stole" from
> them but to terrorize others into complying with their
> financial standpoint.

The RIAA are a bunch of scum-sucking bottom feeders, but I
don't see how this particular point makes them vulnerable to
a RICO suit. Deterrence is a feature of most aspects of law
enforcement. Presumably, they're only seeking to deter (or
terrorize if you will) people who happen to be breaching
the law by wrongfully distributing material that they don't
have any right to distribute?

According to this principle, you could sue the cops as a RICO
organization because they deter me from selling crack
outside of the local school gates...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:39 AM on October 6, 2005


For god's sake, people, let's just admit that we steal the music without permission, knowing darn well what the possibilities are, and let's acknowledge that some of us are gonna get our hands slapped.

No. Nobody is going to admit to "stealing" the music, because copyright infringement is not theft. Nothing is being stolen. Maybe we'll admit to infringing copyright with full knowledge of potential consequences, but there's no way in hell that anyone is going to do that until people like you stop trying to conflate two completely different things.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:44 AM on October 6, 2005


The RIAA are a bunch of scum-sucking bottom feeders, but I don't see how this particular point makes them vulnerable to a RICO suit. Deterrence is a feature of most aspects of law enforcement. Presumably, they're only seeking to deter (or terrorize if you will) people who happen to be breaching the law by wrongfully distributing material that they don't have any right to distribute?

Because they have no desire to follow up with a suit. Every time they file a lawsuit they then offer to "settle" for a decimal fraction of their claims for damages. The demands for hundreds of millions from a single person is never carried out and instead used to compel a "settlement" of a few grand. It's extortion via use of overwhelming power.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:45 AM on October 6, 2005


A PC's like a crowbar, it's only a tool
And music flows like water from a big public pool
But I wanna get paid for my work, but I'm a fool
Because trading and sharing's so awesome and cool

I don't mean to be flip, I don't want to be pat
Those Metallica guy are all getting too fat.
Free information, yeah, what's wrong with that?
Something for nothing, that's where it's at

And those moguls run labels and you call them all crooks
Because they crunch the numbers and they cook the books
But I signed that contract and I got my hand shook
Shaking hands with the devil, it's not as bad as it looks


Loudon Wainwright III
posted by twistedonion at 7:46 AM on October 6, 2005


> So if you turn off sharing, you are in the clear?

*shrug*

If everyone did it, what would we download? And most peer to peer apps insist that you also share *while* you download, so unless you're downloading from an FTP site, you're almost certainly sharing at some point, whatever you download.

More interesting, to me at least, is at what point does your share change from bits and bytes and into a copyright violation? If I upload say, a third of an MP3, thats indecipherable as a song, so is *that* a violation as well?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:46 AM on October 6, 2005


> Because they have no desire to follow up with a suit.

What makes you say that? The Candy Chan case above is a pretty clear example of them following up with a suit despite the fact that the case has already been dismissed once.

And of course, the vast majority of civil cases *are* settled out of court.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:52 AM on October 6, 2005


RIAA

1) Sue kids
2) ?????
3) Profit!!
posted by nofundy at 7:53 AM on October 6, 2005


For god's sake, people, let's just admit that we steal the music without permission, knowing darn well what the possibilities are, and let's acknowledge that some of us are gonna get our hands slapped.

What's at issue here is not guilt or innocence, but how punishment is being meted out by the supposedly offended. They're killing flies with a sledgehammer, and it's wrong for two reasons: ruining people in order to "send a message" is wrong, and it's the job of the courts, not big-dollar plaintiffs, to issue sentences to criminals. Are we supposed to accept that the RIAA is REALLY losing millions (or billions) as a result of the actions of a SINGLE filesharer?

This is wrong the same way Israel lobbing missiles into apartment buildings to kill a single Hamas leader is wrong. Too much force, too much collateral damage.
posted by ToasT at 7:56 AM on October 6, 2005


Opponents say the fans are wrong, that bootlegs are no joke,
A perfect copy of a song means artists will go broke,
But studies show the Napster fans buy albums of their favorite bands,
And if a singer feels the Muse, he sings -- and if he’s broke, it’s Blues --

I want my music on Napster,
I want the people to hear,
Some say I’m taking chances,
Like I’ve got something to fear.

Somebody get me there faster,
I want to finally arrive,
You want your big-time cash cow,
And I just wanna survive.

It costs a buck to make a major label CD, and they sell it for about fifteen,
Another two-fifty goes to the artists, the profit margin’s just obscene.
Metallica’s worried they’re missing the prize, what’s the real problem, boys?
Are you afraid fans’ll listen, and realize that your stuff is awful noise?


Tom Smith
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:58 AM on October 6, 2005


delmoi writes "Dude, it's not stealing, it's sharing!"
And
HuronBob writes "let's just admit that we steal the music without permission,"

Geez it's not stealing, it's infringing copyright. When was the last time someone stole the only masters for a piece of music? If anything it's the RIAA, MPAA and all their buddies who are "stealing" from the public domain by lobbying for perpetual copyrights.
posted by Mitheral at 8:00 AM on October 6, 2005


I'll admit that I once hummed a tune without paying royalties.
posted by drezdn at 8:04 AM on October 6, 2005


Deterrence is a feature of most aspects of law
enforcement. Presumably, they're only seeking to deter (or
terrorize if you will) people who happen to be breaching
the law by wrongfully distributing material that they don't
have any right to distribute?

According to this principle, you could sue the cops as a RICO
organization because they deter me from selling crack
outside of the local school gates...

What's at issue here is not guilt or innocence, but how punishment is being meted out by the supposedly offended.


The key point here is the RIAA is acting in effect, as police, judge, jury, and executioner.

The cops cannot be sued as a RICO for pursuing what they, unlike the RIAA, are constituted to do: law enforcement.
posted by scheptech at 8:10 AM on October 6, 2005


basicchannel: I only steal RIAA music. I buy plenty of other music (and plenty of non-independent music too, unfortunately). I just wish there were a way to tell the RIAA exactly what I've taken from them, and maybe put it on a website somewhere, like some sort of twisted National Debt clock.
posted by wakko at 8:11 AM on October 6, 2005


Lodurr--

I am above the law!
posted by adamrice at 8:26 AM on October 6, 2005


The Tanya Andersen case -- filed this week -- is a very interesting case:

Disabled Mother Takes on RIAA
"A disabled single mother from Oregon has filed a countersuit against the US record industry after it accused her of file sharing and demanded compensation.

Forty-two year old Tanya Anderson claims that she has absolutely no interest whatsoever in the gangster rap she was alleged to have downloaded. Her countersuit accuses the Recording Industry Association of America of several crimes including fraud, deceptive business practices and racketeering.

Anderson claims that RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) lawyers admitted to illegally infiltrating her computer to gain evidence and even admitted that in all likelihood she is innocent.

'Despite knowing that infringing activity was not observed, the record companies used the threat of expensive and intrusive litigation as a tool to coerce Ms Andersen to pay many thousands of dollars for an obligation she did not owe,' the countersuit states, 'The record companies pursued their collection activities and this lawsuit for the primary purpose of threatening Ms Andersen (and many others) as part of its public relations campaign targeting electronic file sharing.'

Anderson even offered to hand over her computer for inspection after which the original lawsuit against her was dismissed only for the record companies to file a new one.

'The continuing victimisation of Ms Anderson and the unwillingness of the record companies to conduct even the most basic investigation before turning her life upside down betrays the total lack of concern they have for any concepts of fairness, due process and the rights of the individuals who they have wrongfully targeted,' her lawyer, Lorry Lybeck, told p2pnet.

'Copyright infringement is wrong,' he added. 'Thug-like threats by multi-national, multi-billion dollar businesses against people who cannot afford to speak or even explain their innocence is a much greater wrong.'

Anderson's refusal to give in to the RIAA highlights the fact that, to date, no-one in the US has actually been found guilty of illegally sharing copyrighted music, or for that matter movie, files. The overwhelming majority have simply accepted the lawyers' at their word and paid up.

The same is true in the UK, where five alleged sharers face court action after refusing to settle with the BPI.

The RIAA declined to comment.
For background info on the Andersen case and others check out this website .

FYI, the First Annual Peer-to-Peer Litigation Summit -- at Northwestern University Law School (Chicago, IL) -- will be held on November 3, 2005.
posted by ericb at 8:28 AM on October 6, 2005


"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the RIAA building." - weretable coulter

okay so it wasn't funny.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:49 AM on October 6, 2005


Things that work on preview do not always work when posted. I forget this.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:51 AM on October 6, 2005


Stealing music. Bah.

Folks, if you're going to use hyperbole, use it! Why not call it 'murdering the artists', 'rape' or some other tripe which, while also factually incorrect, is at least more impressive?

Personally, I never shoplift and have never stolen music.
posted by mullingitover at 8:54 AM on October 6, 2005


For all of those that objected to my "steal" comment...please go back and replace the word steal with "copyright infringement"... my error...

Copyright infringement is against the law, people break the law, people get sued.... cripe...what is so difficult to understand about that...

methinks thou doest protest too much, eh?
posted by HuronBob at 8:54 AM on October 6, 2005


It's bad to use div tags in a comment...
posted by clevershark at 9:05 AM on October 6, 2005


That do it?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2005

crap. Still broken. Admin please hope us
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2005



posted by twistedonion at 9:30 AM on October 6, 2005


seeing as how everyone's having a bit of hacking fun till admin shows up, see if this'll work
posted by twistedonion at 9:32 AM on October 6, 2005


nope
posted by twistedonion at 9:33 AM on October 6, 2005


Who broke the Internet?
posted by Peter H at 9:33 AM on October 6, 2005


test
posted by Peter H at 9:35 AM on October 6, 2005


I have successed!
posted by Peter H at 9:36 AM on October 6, 2005


No, the problem is that someone prematurely closed the div tag that contained the comments section...
posted by clevershark at 9:39 AM on October 6, 2005


Who broke the Internet?

The **AA.
posted by wah at 9:43 AM on October 6, 2005


Because they have no desire to follow up with a suit. Every time they file a lawsuit they then offer to "settle" for a decimal fraction of their claims for damages. The demands for hundreds of millions from a single person is never carried out and instead used to compel a "settlement" of a few grand. It's extortion via use of overwhelming power. - XQUZYPHYR

It's pretty clear that you're right about that. Read the article clevershark linked to - they sued a guy for $97 BILLION then settled for $15,000. Clearly they knew they weren't going to get $97 Billion from this university student. What could they have hoped to accomplish?

For a little bit of perspective - that amount is about equal to the entire US 2005 budget for both the Iraqi & Afghan wars (Source). Or - even more galling - the amount they sued him for is three times the annual music sales of the whole world (Source).

But of course they're being reasonable. Right? Right. *cough*
posted by raedyn at 9:49 AM on October 6, 2005




Did that fix it?
posted by 5MeoCMP at 9:51 AM on October 6, 2005


The actual cost of getting access to the 'universal jukebox' is right about $15/mo.

Right, new Napster?

Suing for any more than that is a crime.
posted by wah at 9:51 AM on October 6, 2005


Formatting issues sent to MeTa
posted by 5MeoCMP at 9:58 AM on October 6, 2005


Copyright infringement is against the law, people break the law, people get sued.... cripe...what is so difficult to understand about that...

So...if you break the law, it's the responsibility of someone to sue you? Not for the police to arrest you?

That's what I (and most other people 'round here, it looks like) take issue with, HuronBob--RIAA is using the defense that something is "illegal" to extort money out of people.

They have been regularly suing college students for about six months now (including people I know)--since when do college students have tons of money up for grabs? College students, children, and the disabled...I bet their PR department cries themselves to sleep.
posted by scarymonsterrrr at 10:12 AM on October 6, 2005


Now, I realize that aside from Oaf, no one's really tried to take the RIAA stand here (probably because it is the internet), but I'd like to rail against a strawman for a second.
Every single person who gruffly declares that copyright violators get what's coming to them through these lawsuits, I better not hear you sing "Happy Birthday" around me. The composition is copywritten, and you're depriving the legal rightsholders of their income by not buying a legitimate copy of the song and playing the recording. So be ready for the thugs to kick down the door the next time your kid has a birthday party, you goddamned fascists.
There we go, I think I've beaten the straw out of that one...
posted by klangklangston at 10:21 AM on October 6, 2005


weretable just took a dump in the living room and threw a lamp threw a window to clean it up. jeez.

currently, Brittany Chan is dancing her blues away. at least i think that's what that emoticon means.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2005


this is why you only steal music at work
posted by mrgrimm at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2005



posted by IronLizard at 10:39 AM on October 6, 2005


Copyright infringement is against the law, people break the law, people get sued.... cripe...what is so difficult to understand about that...

It's not illegal in Canada. It's not illegal in a number of other countries and jurisdictions. It shouldn't be illegal in the US. Hopefully, the laws will change.

Hopefully, the laws won't change in Canada to be more restrictive. But that's why I just wrote my LSAT.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:40 AM on October 6, 2005


Klang, cut down on the hyperbole.... You can sing happy birthday at home, record it on your camcorder, and watch it all you want. Just don't ask the waitstaff at Chuck E Cheese's to sing it for you, don't play that home video in public, and don't sell copies of it....
posted by nomisxid at 10:42 AM on October 6, 2005


Happy Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary, klangklangston!
posted by Cyrano at 10:42 AM on October 6, 2005



posted by IronLizard at 10:43 AM on October 6, 2005

Hollywood calls it quits

This is one of those Onion articles I wish would come true some day.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:43 AM on October 6, 2005


Copyright infringement is against the law, people break the law, people get sued.... cripe...what is so difficult to understand about that...

So...if you break the law, it's the responsibility of someone to sue you? Not for the police to arrest you?


The police don't pursue copyright violations on their own initiative. It's always been up to the copyright owner to initiate lawsuits to protect their IP.
posted by rocket88 at 10:44 AM on October 6, 2005


The police don't pursue copyright violations on their own initiative. It's always been up to the copyright owner to initiate lawsuits to protect their IP.

Which, in and of itself, should be adequate proof that copyright infringement and theft are two different and incomparable acts.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:01 AM on October 6, 2005


Geez, you people. There.
posted by ToasT at 11:01 AM on October 6, 2005


test
posted by atomicmedia at 11:13 AM on October 6, 2005


this isn't going to work
posted by IronLizard at 12:18 PM on October 6, 2005


Theft would mean actually depriving some entity of something (and I don't mean profit). Copying produces, well COPIES. Nothing is physically taken from it's owner.
posted by IronLizard at 12:20 PM on October 6, 2005


Funny how those who have little regard for ethical business practices are the first ones to jump up and yell "THIEF THIEF" when they think someone is trying to put one over on them.
posted by Todd Lokken at 12:30 PM on October 6, 2005


Uhhh, what about "theft of services"?
posted by Edible Energy at 12:35 PM on October 6, 2005


nomisxid: Did you miss the part where I said I was beating a straw man? That was the point of the hyperbole.
Edible Energy: In every instance cited in the "theft of services" there's a direct relationship between your action and their not being able to provide services for someone else (or to get just recompense for their services), whether that's because they can't serve the same meal twice, or because the cable company laid out the money to send the cable to your house.
I do think it's the best point brought up by someone to relate theft to music swapping, but (and this is probably at least partly my own bias) I don't find it convincing yet. Maybe after I think about it more.
posted by klangklangston at 1:22 PM on October 6, 2005


What fun. The actual content of this thread is negligible compared to the novelty of having your comment touch the left side of the browser window.

That being said: The RIAA is quickly approaching self-parody.
posted by gramschmidt at 1:26 PM on October 6, 2005




I don't download any music, legally or illegally. I own over 200 CD's... so I have no exposure to these lawsuits, and not only that, but as a musician and a legal purchaser of music, I should be the closest thing to an ally the music industry has.

Except that the industry is pushing crappy music, seeking to decrease my value in their product through Digital Rights Mangling, and generally being a bunch of lousy-arse weasels.

What's wrong with this picture?
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:04 PM on October 6, 2005


Over 200? Heh. Maybe the reason that I don't feel so bad about it is that I own about 5-600 albums and have had at least 1000 more that I've owned at some point and sold.
And now, thanks to teh intarweb, I get about one new album a day. For free.
posted by klangklangston at 5:07 PM on October 6, 2005



I don't download any music, legally or illegally.

Correction; I do download free, legal music. I don't download music I don't have the legal right to download or music I have to pay for; if I'm going to fork over cash, I want a non-crippled, non-lossy-encoded copy.
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:08 PM on October 6, 2005


testing
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:12 PM on October 6, 2005


Can I sue the labels that sold me CDs that went south and became unreadable through no abuse other than playing them occasionally? Or for the handwritten liner notes I couldn't read, because what once spanned multiple pages, in an earlier edition, had obviously been reduced to fit on just one? Can I get money back because their crappy jewel case design "facilitated" several cases breaking in the mail when I ordered CDs?

Can I get a CD copy or set of AAC files for each old tape I own because, technically, it's intellectual property I'm still licensing?

Price fixing is only worth $13 per person in the class action suit? I want to use the same calculator that they used to sue a college kid for billions next time around.
posted by evil holiday magic at 12:16 AM on October 10, 2005


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