Business - Written by Derek Pokora on Thursday, June 21, 2007 16:16 - 1 Comment
Judge in New Mexico stands up to RIAA and protects privacy rights
In a ruling issued last month but disclosed yesterday by file-sharing attorney Ray Beckerman, The RIAA’s ex parte motion to compel the University of New Mexico to disclose the identities of its students has been denied, in the District Court of New Mexico, by Magistrate Judge Lorenzo F. Garcia, in Capitol v. Does 1-16.
At the same time, a University of Boston student is challenging the RIAA’s system of filing John Doe lawsuits in order to discover the names connected to IP addresses uncovered by the music industry’s investigators. This methodology is one that the RIAA is quite familiar with: file John Doe lawsuits, file ex parte applications for discovery, serve the resulting subpoenas on the alleged file-sharer’s ISP to discover the identity of the person to whom the IP address was assigned, and then offer the person identified by the ISP a chance to settle the copyright infringement claims without a lawsuit. In other words, the RIAA attempts to circumvent the judicial process while blackmailing individual parties in order to make their point. The would-be defendant never has the opportunity to answer during a John Doe lawsuit and rebutt the subpeona issued to them.
The RIAA has argued that it would suffer irreparable harm unless immediate discovery was allowed. Despite the fact that harm is caused due to copyright infringement, the harm related to disclosure of confidential information in a student or faculty member’s Internet files can be equally harmful.
“While the Court does not dispute that infringement of a copyright results in harm, it requires a Coleridgian ‘suspension of disbelief’ to accept that the harm is irreparable, especially when monetary damages can cure any alleged violation.”
The remainder of the ruling can be downloaded here.
With precedent now set, the RIAA may now have a more difficult time with this type of case. The litigation process could be much more expensive and time-consuming. Those suspected of file-sharing may now be better informed from the beginning of the legal process instead of simply being notified with a settlement letter.
If the RIAA really wants to make an example out of someone, why don’t they just go after Jenna and Barbara Bush?
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