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The RIAA's days of getting guilty verdicts rubber stamped is at an end.  (Source: images.jupiterimages.com)
The RIAA loses a precedent-setting case, Interscope v. Rodriguez, in Southern California.

A judge in Southern California made no friends in the RIAA when she handed down a precedent-setting verdict that cleared the defendant all charges in the case Interscope v. Rodriguez.

Since the early days of P2P file-sharing the RIAA has made a questionable name for itself as a legal bulldog, issuing thousands of lawsuits against individuals each year. 

Typically the RIAA accused these individuals of downloading and/or distributing copyrighted works.  These statements often were followed by little evidence and sometimes came against people that had no apparent access to a computer.

One such case occurred in 2005 when the RIAA took up a case against 83-year-old deceased great-grandmother in West Virginia.  The RIAA was unaware that the woman had passed away in December, 2004.  Ironically, her daughter testified that her mother did not ever own a computer, and had no access to one.

After the case gained national attention, the RIAA issued the foot-in-mouth reply, "Our evidence gathering and our subsequent legal actions all were initiated weeks and even months ago.  We will now, of course, obviously dismiss this case."

Since then the RIAA has continued to take individuals to court, many of whom settled out of court privately, for thousands of dollars.

The Interscope v. Rodriguez was considered a typical RIAA case “boilerplate” complaint.  The RIAA accused the defendant, Yolanda Rodriguez, of downloading and distributing copyrighted works, but did not offer any specific evidence or proof of its claims.

As the defendant did not present himself in court, a default judgment ruling was held.  The presiding judge, Judge Brewster, shocked the RIAA by not only denying a default monetary judgment, but also completing dismissing the case for failure to state a claim.

Judge Brewster is on record as stating:
"Plaintiff here must present at least some facts to show the plausibility of their allegations of copyright infringement against the Defendant.
However, other than the bare conclusory statement that on “information and belief” defendant has downloaded, distributed and/or made available for distribution to the public copyrighted works, plaintiffs have presented no facts that would indicate this allegation is anything more than speculation.

The complaint is simply a boilerplate listing of the elements of copyright infringement without any facts pertaining specifically to the instant Defendant.

The Court therefore finds that the complaint fails to sufficiently state a claim upon which relief can be granted and entry of default judgment is not warranted."
This is a landmark ruling, as new defendants will now have some legal precedent and successful framework to challenge the RIAA in court.

The RIAA has made a name for itself by continually coming up with creative new ways of trying to make money of music listeners, via litigation and marketing gimmicks.  It has tried everything from lawsuits, to "ringles" its new ringtone-single campaign, to make up for falling record sales.


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RE: Umm NO!
By A5un on 9/14/2007 4:13:33 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I think today if RIAA came knocking on my door (not that they would I think) with a law suit, all I gatta do is compare my situation to this guy's. If conditions are similar, I don't see how other judges can make a different decision. Won't I just cite what happend here, which constitutes basically lack of evidence?


RE: Umm NO!
By bhieb on 9/14/2007 5:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
From my very limited understanding, that is now what happened here. The guy did not even show up so instead of giving them a judgement, the case was dismissed. So if the RIAA came knocking, you could not show up and hope the judge throws it out, but if you showed up default judgement would not be an option anyway. Now you may be able to use this as an example to make sure they have proof, but at this point you are already in a trial and now the attorney fees will probably be higher than a settlement.


RE: Umm NO!
By borismkv on 9/15/2007 2:27:37 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, Plantiff is the person who is making the charges. The Defendant was there, at least, according to the article. Don't know if that was worded accurately. But the RIAA didn't show up to court and the default judgment was given, which was a big "F U!" to RIAA.


RE: Umm NO!
By tcsenter on 9/15/2007 9:06:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If conditions are similar, I don't see how other judges can make a different decision. Won't I just cite what happend here, which constitutes basically lack of evidence?
No, because there was no "decision" or "ruling" here. Judge Brewster did what judges do 100x more often than issue decisions or rulings, he issued a judicial "order" in response to a motion. Wow!

And in other equally-meaningful news...judges sometimes fart under their robes. Stop the press!


RE: Umm NO!
By sxr7171 on 9/15/2007 10:54:17 AM , Rating: 1
No you are wrong. This is a landmark "decision" wherein the RIAA can never take anyone to court again. We are all free to pirate music with impunity now. This "decision" will now be looked upon by every court in the nation and pending cases will be dismissed. Everyone rejoice!

Then again, why believe anything from a writer who can't even get the difference between a plaintiff and a defendant straight?


"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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