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RIAA and file sharing

After all, it’s easier to grab text from someone else’s infringement letter than to write one again from scratch, no? [Ars Technica]


July 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 12, 2010

  • Kagan to senators: please don’t confuse my views with Mark Tushnet’s or Harold Koh’s [Constitutional Law Prof]
  • Too much like a Star Wars lightsaber? Lucasfilm sends a cease-and-desist to a laser pointer maker [Mystal, AtL]
  • Ottawa, Canada: family files complaint “against trendy wine bar that turned away dinner party because it included 3mo baby” [Drew Halfnight, National Post]
  • “House left Class Action Fairness Act alone in SPILL Act” [Wood/PoL, earlier]
  • Not so indie? Filmmaker doing anti-Dole documentary on Nicaraguan banana workers says he took cash from big plaintiff’s law firm Provost Umphrey [AP/WaPo, WSJLawBlog, Erik Gardner/THREsq., new plaintiffs' charges against Dole]
  • Will liability ruling result in closure of popular Connecticut recreational area? [Rick Green, Hartford Courant; earlier]
  • Class action lawyer Sean Coffey, running for New York attorney general, has many generous supporters [NYDN, more, WNYC (Sen. Al Franken headlines closed fundraiser at Yale Club)]
  • “Judge Reduces Damages Award by 90% in Boston Music Downloading Trial” [NLJ, earlier on Tenenbaum case]


“In the past five months, Virginia-based law firm Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver has filed suits against thousands of individuals accused of illegally downloading independent films—an operation that could yield the firm and its clients more than $19 million in damages.” Doing business as U.S. Copyright Group, the firm subpoenas ISPs to obtain IP addresses of illegal sharers “and threatens to sue each person for $150,000 unless they agree to a $1,500 to $2,500 settlement fee.” [ABA Journal] Earlier here, etc.

Under which the cost of improper song downloads from a single site exceeds all the money on the planet many times over. []

It’s rather…ambitious. [Esguerra/EFF, BoingBoing, h/t reader Keith D.]


From Computing (UK):

Law firm Tilly Bailey & Irvine (TBI) has stopped the bulk mailing of legal threats on behalf of rights holders to people accused of illegal file-sharing.

The move follows a campaign by consumer charity Which?, claiming the practice is unfair. It effectively reduces the number of UK law firms involved in bulk litigation against alleged file-sharers to one: London-based ACS Law Solicitors.

It makes a contrast with the situation in the U.S., where there seems to be no shortage of law firms eager to represent RIAA and other rights holders in mass litigation campaigns against consumers. Which? dubbed the mass demand letters “speculative invoices” and called them to bar regulators’ attention as a potential ethical violation.

Film biz follows RIAA path? “In what may be a sign of things to come, more than 20,000 individual movie torrent downloaders have been sued in the past few weeks in Washington D.C. federal court for copyright infringement. A handful of cases have already settled, and those that haven’t are creating some havoc for major ISPs.” [Eriq Gardner, THR Esq.]


David Post at Volokh Conspiracy sounds the alarm over the many bad provisions in a new intellectual property pact, the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement,” arrived at through a “truly outrageous bit of executive branch over-reaching on Hollywood’s behalf.” Margot Kaminski at Balkinization details how the measure if adopted would for the first time criminalize a wide swath of noncommercial personal copying behavior, mandate statutory damages that would grossly over-compensate many rights holders for infringements, and reduce de minimis thresholds under which border officers currently overlook small quantities of infringing material on travelers’ laptops and smartphones. And those are just a few highlights of a long and disturbing list of provisions. Earlier here.

P.S. Much more from Andrew Moshirnia at Citizen Media Law. And at the Mercatus Center’s Surprisingly Free, a podcast with Canadian ACTA critic Michael Geist.

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A reminder from Ken at Popehat: “Every time you hum to yourself, you’re taking bread from the mouths of musicians.”


January 30 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 30, 2010

  • Attention journalists: a trademark opposition and a trademark lawsuit are two different things [Legal Satyricon]
  • I explain (slightly rudely) why I think the Citizens United decision will probably help the Dems this cycle [National Journal blogger poll] Plus: no big effect on campaigns? [Ann Althouse] And it’s not as if Chuck Schumer has made up his mind or anything: he’s titled his hearing on Citizens United next week “Corporate America vs. the Voter” [PoL, yet more here and here]
  • Olson and Boies should realize these are not the days of the Warren Court [Dale Carpenter, Independent Gay Forum]
  • Motorists beware Tenaha, Texas: the legal sequel [WSJ Law Blog, earlier here, etc.]
  • “Detroit Lawyer Fined For Chasing Buffalo Air Crash Victims” [Turkewitz]
  • Symbolic venue? Administration chooses to unveil new press-lenders-to-serve-minorities campaign at Jesse Jackson event [N.Y.Times]
  • Remembering pinball prohibition [Popular Mechanics back in August, Radley Balko]
  • Judge cuts “shocking”, “monstrous” $2 million award to $54,000 in Jammie Thomas-Rasset music-download suit [AmLaw Litigation Daily, earlier] Naughty librarians: “Offline Book ‘Lending’ Costs US Publishers Nearly $1 Trillion” [Eric Hellman]


Judge Gertner blasts the defense handling of the Sony v. Tenenbaum (P2P file-sharing) case. [Nate Anderson, Ars Technica] More: Charles Nesson’s response [Legal Blog Watch].

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Coshocton pulls WiFi

by Walter Olson on November 24, 2009

An Ohio town discontinues its municipal WiFi network after MPAA lawyers rattle swords about a copyrighted movie that moved through the system. Andrew Moshirnia at Citizen Media Law explains. And (h/t reader CTrees) note that the town turned the system back on at Sony’s request, following a national outcry over the incident.

And at least somewhat relatedly: “Viacom’s top lawyer: suing P2P users ‘felt like terrorism'” [ArsTechnica]


November 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 6, 2009

  • Shop worker prevails in U.K.: no need to pay music royalty fees for singing while stacking shelves [BBC]
  • Word arrives that Eric Turkewitz has been named a New York Super Lawyer, but he manages to control his enthusiasm [New York Personal Injury]
  • In which a columnist criticizes a post-election Tweet of mine, labels me “socially liberal libertarian” [Carney, DC Examiner; Roger Simon, "The Strange Case of NY-23"]
  • Plaintiff’s lawyers may bag $28 million in Wal-Mart wage/hour class actions [ABA Journal]
  • Contestant’s million-dollar suit against California pageant ends abruptly after surfacing of too-racy-to-post video [TMZ; irony-fraught background at Brayton and Good As You]
  • News bulletin: lawyers shouldn’t trade on inside information [Cunningham, Concur Op]
  • Possession, not just wrongful use: “L.A. Halloween Silly String Ban” [Volokh]
  • Video of man who runs giant soda pop store in L.A., includes his thoughts on recycling law and the way regulation often works to big businesses’ advantage against small [Boing Boing]


August 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 18, 2009

  • Tiananmen Square events echo today in acrimonious defamation suit against filmmakers [Boston Globe]
  • Andrew Ferguson disrespectful toward David Kessler’s nanniferous book on obesity policy [Weekly Standard]
  • “Yes, People Dislike The RIAA Because Of Its Actions” [TechDirt]
  • The big difference race makes in medical school admissions [Discriminations, Mark Perry/Carpe Diem]
  • Texting, workplace flirtation and sexual harassment law [Forbes/MSNBC]
  • After real estate firm grabs and uses online pic, photographer finds satisfaction through small claims court [West Seattle Blog h/t @VBalasubramani]
  • Virginia: latest case seeking to open emotional-distress damages for death of pets gets help from former White House counsel Lanny Davis [WaPo, earlier]
  • Brazil police allege that host of true-crime TV series ordered killings to ensure good footage for the show [AP]


August 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 10, 2009

  • Annals of legal marketing: law firm says its flyers offering to sue landlords over sexual assault on premises were left indiscriminately on car windshields, and it didn’t mean to target the woman who found it on hers and assumed it referred to her case [New Jersey Law Journal, Legal Blog Watch, Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “The Bankruptcy Files: Inside Michael Vick’s ‘Excessive’ Legal Bills” [AmLaw Daily]
  • Panel spanks U. of Illinois law school for admitting students at behest of politicos, but goes easy on the pols themselves [Ribstein, more, earlier here, here, here]
  • Youths who obtained big settlement in San Francisco Zoo tiger attack are having more encounters with the law [SF Chronicle, earlier]
  • Czech Republic: Suit by communist professor against critical students still in progress after 18 years [Volokh]
  • More thoughts on Florida lawmakers’ criminalization of purported gang signals, on MySpace and elsewhere [Citizen Media Law, earlier]
  • RIAA case: does the Constitution restrain unreasonable statutory damages? [Kennerly]
  • Eager law grad hoping to make a career of suing foodmakers over obesity [six years ago on Overlawyered]

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For sharing 24 songs [earlier]. A range of reactions: Ray Beckerman (believes case is headed for third trial), Max Kennerly (absurdly high damage awards happen more often when jury distrusts truthfulness of defendant), Amy Alkon (“Stealing from really, really rich people is still stealing”), Ron Coleman and more (case should prompt a reexamination of issue of statutory damages).

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May 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 12, 2009

  • Florida: “Law firm is found liable for injuries to client who fell off a chair” [WPBF via Bernabe]
  • Monsanto, known for hardball litigation over its patented seeds, might regret taking on duPont [AmLaw Litigation Daily, earlier here and here]
  • Kenyan man sues women’s rights activists for leading sex boycott that his wife joined [Daily Nation]
  • Notice a “sign this EFCA petition” message in your Twitter stream, about the controversial card-check union bill? Better check out its bona fides [Point of Law]
  • RIAA said it was going to stop filing new cases against music downloaders, but that might depend on what the definition of new cases is [Ars Technica, AmLaw Litigation Daily]
  • EEOC guidance warns employers about violating ADA in trying to cope with H1N1 flu virus in workplace [Daniel Schwartz, Workplace Prof Blog; related, earlier]
  • Cluelessness, more than censor’s urge, might explain that ghastly bill filed by Rep. Linda Sanchez to combat “cyberbullying” by throttling online speech [Jacob Sullum; earlier here, etc.]
  • Buxom British gals claim victory after Marks & Spencer rescinds $3 surcharge on larger-size bras [AP/Idaho Statesman, The Sun via Amy Alkon]

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Well, good luck with that.