Next moves in the convoluted story of Warner v. Cassin

The RIAA decided to refile its John Doe complaint from Warner v. Cassin late last week, after suddenly and mysteriously dropping the case late last May.

The new case, titled Warner v. Does 1-4 (PDF) seeks to restart the John Doe process that previously named Cassin as a defendant, and opens with a motion for discovery (PDF) to discover the identity behind the person who used the KaZaA account "omc@KaZaA" to distribute 349 music files over the internet.

Critics accused the RIAA of forum shopping, noting that the industry's complaint against Joan Cassin had already been settled twice (once as a previously dropped John Doe complaint, and once again in Warner v. Cassin), and that Warner v. Does 1-4 was filed in a way that leaves out official references to previous litigation,supposedly so that it can be assigned to a new judge.

"It is evident that [Warner v. Does 1-4] is a 'related case,' which plaintiffs omitted to disclose, hence the assignment to Your Honor rather than to [Warner v. Cassin] Judge Robinson," reads a letter (PDF) from RIAA critic and attorney Ray Beckerman, whose firm is representing Cassin. "We are writing to request ... referral back to Judge Robinson, at which time we will move to dismiss based on res judicata (the complaint was already decided)."

The RIAA denies these claims, and says that while it has accepted Cassin's proclamations of innocence, it is interested in finding whoever was responsible for downloading music to her IP address -- and to that end, it has since filed an expedited motion for discovery (PDF) in order to do so.

"Ms. Cassin is wrong when she argues that, by filing this lawsuit, Plaintiffs are somehow engaged in forum or judge shopping," reads the RIAA attorneys' response (PDF) to Beckerman's letters. "Plaintiffs originally brought the Cassin case against Ms. Cassin because she was identified by her Internet Service Provider ... as the person responsible for the [IP address] through which the alleged infringement of Plaintiff's copyrights occurred."

"Plaintiffs learned, from their own continued investigation, that other individuals resided in Ms. Cassin's household, including an individual with initials that match the username at issue, 'omc@KaZaA.' ... plaintiffs decided that the appropriate course of action was to dismiss the Cassin case voluntarily ... and to file this Doe lawsuit to determine the identity of the true infringer."

The letter goes on to say that the Cassin's defense of res judicata is only valid in a case filed a third time against the same person, and that the Does named are likely other residents of Cassin's household, and not Joan Cassin herself.

Wired's Threat Level notes that Beckerman declined to comment on the RIAA's response.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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