Mon Oct 30 22:48:16 UTC 2006
"It was reported last week that at the July 13th status conference in
Elektra v. Santangelo II, the default judgment taken by the RIAA
against Patti Santangelo's daughter, Michelle, was vacated by Judge
Stephen C. Robinson. This has now been confirmed in papers filed by
the RIAA's lawyers in which they indicated that the Judge vacated the
default judgment because he prefers cases to be decided on their
merits, rather than by default (pdf). The papers sought $513 in
attorneys fees for (a) procuring the default judgment and (b)
preparing judgment enforcement documents. Patti Santangelo is the
first RIAA defendant known to have moved to dismiss the RIAA
complaint. After two years of litigation, the RIAA dropped its case
against Patti Santangelo, leaving open only the question of whether
the RIAA will be ordered to pay her attorneys fees."
Now what does this mean? In essence, it means that judges must be
becoming aware of the abuses of the RIAA. In many instances the RIAA
has gotten default judgments in the lawsuits they bring. This ruling
basically says that the judge recognized that this is wrong and the
case needs to be heard. This is a clear signal of a change in the way
the courts are looking at these cases.
This also sends a very clear warning shot across the bow of the RIAA.
In one week they have:
1. Lost a very public case in which they persecuted a single mom.
2. Been ordered to pay her court costs to the tune of $68,000.
3. Been told in no uncertain terms that the days of uncontested
judgments are over.
4. Faced the prospect of being forced to pay a defendants court costs
again - also very publicly. (small amount, but that's not the point)
Here is my next prediction:
In the next 6 to 12 months someone with a lot of money, a lot of legal
resources, or just someone who is extremely mean and stubborn will be
sued by the RIAA for a large sum with little or no evidence. This
person will not only defeat them in court, but will counter-sue to the
tune of several million dollars in punitive damages. It might take
years to resolve, but the lawsuit will become very public and very
ugly for the RIAA. It will actually become lead news on the big 3
networks for weeks. The resulting publicity will spark public outrage
and a lot of calls to congress. The result will be legislation to
protect consumers from malicious prosecution by patent/copyright
holders. This will be enacted swiftly, like the national "Do Not Call"
registry. Politicians will push this through despite massive lobbying
by the RIAA. (Don't forget, the companies who do phone marketing etc
have a very powerfull lobby in Washington, but the public outcry over
their tactics triggered a backlash that overwhelmed them.)
I predict this legislation will exist by 2011. Combined with market
pressures to eliminate DRM, it will cause the RIAA to abandon
copyright enforcement and DRM or die.
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