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Location: Sitting inside a TV truck, Somewhere, more then likely in the Southeastern region, United States

I am a grouchy, bald headed old fart filled with opinions and not the least bit shy about sharing them.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Legal pit bull sends the RIAA running with their collective tails between their legs

Ft. Myers, FL - The odds were against the RIAA from the beginning. It was bound to happen. Now it has. The RIAA sued someone with enough money to have a team of legal pit bulls on retainer.

Enjoy the following clippings from the letter that brought the RIAA to it's knees:
Your client take the position that my middle-aged, conservative clients should speculate regarding the identity of persons your clients' claim used their AOL account to download pornographic-lyric gangsta raptracks as predicate to possible case resolution. In an age of Wintel-virus created bot-farms, spoofs, and easily cracked WEP encrypted wireless home networks (among other easy hacks), the only tech-savvy response to such a request is, "You've got to be kidding."The extensive press that has been generated over computer security (and the insecurity of Windows XP and its predecessors) underscores the complete absence of facts on which probable cause to sue my clients could be established and your clients' willingness (even insistence)that others be implicated in Big Music's speculative, "drift net"litigation tactics. Sorry: Mr. Merchant cannot and will not expose himself to still more litigation by speculating.
Recording Industry vs. The People: RIAA Backs Down After Receiving Letter from Defendant's Lawyer Threatening Malicious Prosecution; Voluntarily Dismisses Case
Your reminder about preservation of evidence, of course, cuts both ways. Since my client's hard drive completely exculpates him, functionally compels dismissal, and opens the door to substantial recovery, he is doing everything in his power to preserve and protect his evidence. In our part of the world, that is a mid-six to low seven figure piece of computer gear.

Procedurally, we need to address how best to move the case to the Fresno Branch so you can enjoy our new Courthouse and avoid Judge Levi's wrath for filing in the wrong court. (Senior Judge Bob Coyle was responsible for building both our new facility and the District Court building in Sacramento; and, although neither building is as grand as Judge Manny Real's showpiece in Santa Ana, the Fresno Court is not only nicer than Sacramento but also one of the top three court facilities ever I've enjoyed practicing in.) Handling the issue by stipulation and order would probably be the most simple way to move the file. We do that routinely in PACA litigation although I am open to suggestions if you prefer to handle it differently

Once the case is moved to the Fresno Branch, your clients should consider cleaning up their complaint. The FRCP and collateral estoppel from other RIAA law and motion matters require much greater specificity in pleading than your clients provided in the complaint I reviewed. Dates of the alleged downloads, which plaintiff (or affiliate) holds which copyright to which track, etc. must be specifically pleaded and proven. You are as familiar as I am with the results in other cases where RIAA's general allegations have been challenged. Let's get over that hurdle without unnecessary law and motion practice.

Recording Industry vs. The People: RIAA Backs Down After Receiving Letter from Defendant's Lawyer Threatening Malicious Prosecution; Voluntarily Dismisses Case
I hope that was as good for you as it was for me. Merl Ledford III is my new hero.

The entire brilliantly written letter responding to an RIAA law suit is on the page linked above. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that letter and highly recommend it. If nothing the shear joy of picturing the receiving lawyers face and knowing it made the RIAA fold within hours of receiving the letter.

I particularly liked the part about sending the airplane to pick up the RIAA experts to expedite the examination of his client's hard drive.

This was not a complete surrender on the RIAA's part. The voluntary dismissal filing is without prejudice. That means the RIAA can come back again anytime within the statute of limitations. Too bad Mr. Ledford said he would agree to a confidentiality clause on the settlement.

A tip of the hat to Ray Beckman and The Recording Industry vs. The People Blog for keeping the rest of the world up to date on these cases.


Litigation: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
- Ambrose Bierce


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