p2pnet news | RIAA News:- Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG and their RIAA hold their customers and artists in supreme contempt, heaping outrage upon outrage on them as they push forward with a warped sue ‘em all campaign designed to force people into buying Big 4 ‘product’.
Students across America have been singled out for special treatment as the carefully orchestrated scheme moves into its fifth year.
RIAA president Cary Sherman calls the bitter attacks “tough love“.
But the tide is turning, inexorably, with major universities deciding students’ interests must come before those of the corporate music industry.
Now the University of San Francisco Internet/Intellectual Property Justice Clinic has taken the unprecedented step of assigning students to a New York law firm, Vandenberg & Feliu, to help them defend clients under attack by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).
Ray Beckerman, a partner at Vandenberg & Feliu, runs Recording Industry vs The People, the only comprehensive online archive of legal documents centering on the numerous RIAA cases.
But he’s also a practicing lawyer defending RIAA victims such as Marie Lindor, the Brooklyn home health aide who knows as much about computers and she does about flying a 747 but who’s nonetheless accused of being a massive online distributor of copyrighted corporate music, and Rae-Jay Schwartz, a New York mother bound to her wheelchair by multiple sclerosis, the deadly disease of the central nervous system, and who’s used a computer but hadn’t heard of file sharing until the RIAA came after her.
The University of San Francisco move will add muscle to Beckerman’s efforts, enabling him to significantly boost his ability to handle the huge amount of paperwork, research, discovery and other time- and resource-consuming tasks associated with the defence and every victim.
‘Pre-litigation extortion notices’
Harvard already stands out as the only Ivy League university to escape RIAA attacks and recently, Charles Nesson, William F. Weld professor of law, Harvard Law School, and founder and faculty co-director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, decided Big 4 attempts to pillory their own customers provided perfect classroom material.
Harvard and other universities bombarded by RIAA sent pre-litigation extortion notices described by RIAA misinformation officer Cara Duckworth as “cool new legal services,” ought to, “take strong, direct action,” said Nesson and John Palfrey, clinical professor of law and executive director, the Berkman Center.
“Universities should have no part in this extraordinary process.”
In Maine, in another world’s first, Hannah Ames and Lisa Chmelecki at the University of Maine School of Law’s Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic are now officially representing two Maine students, guided by clinic director and U of M associate professor Deirdre Smith.
And in Oregon, in yet another first, state attorney general Hardy Myers has locked in solidly behind the University of Oregon, telling the Big 4 to either put up or shut up.
He also says the RIAA may be illegally spying on UO students and ferreting out data they`re not entitled to.
‘Brilliant, enthusiastic law students’
Of this new University of San Francisco effort to halt the RIAA and Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG assault against music lovers, “This is not the kind of news the RIAA wants to hear,” Beckerman told p2pnet, adding:
The RIAA is a schoolyard bully who likes to pick on defenseless people, and then engage in tactics that make it prohibitively expensive for them to defend themselves. If you give those victims top flight legal assistance – for free – the equation changes dramatically, and all the fun is taken out of it for the RIAA.
Now they can spend all they want, and they’re still going to lose.”
For universities to jump into the picture, as the University of Oregon, the University of Maine, and the University of San Francisco have done, is like the cavalry coming to the rescue. If this trend continues, the RIAA won’t be able to cope. Their lawyers are already having trouble dealing with the work they have, and except for ex parte proceedings, default proceedings, and pro se proceedings – ie, the easy pickings — are having very little success anywhere else.
They’ve gotten slammed for attorneys’ fees in Capitol v Foster, and in Atlantic v. Andersen.
In the one contested case they won, the defendant’s lawyer had asked to be let out of the case, and his request had been denied by the judge, so the lawyer was defending the case against his will, and when the judge asked him about the highly distinguishable Hotaling case, instead of distinguishing it, he said he had nothing to say about it.
The RIAA will have no such luck with the university law school’s clinical legal programs where brilliant, enthusiastic law students, working under the supervision of some of our finest law professors, are dying to get into this epic struggle over the scope of United States copyright law in the digital age, and to be fighting the bad guys.”
Those schools who’ve reacted to the RIAA threat by appeasement will learn the lesson they ought to know already, which is —- appeasement doesn’t work with bullies; standing up to them does. Harvard’s law professors spoke out and the RIAA has steered a wide berth around Harvard. Other schools should have figured it out already, that the way to get the RIAA off their back is to fight back.”
If the present trend continues, and other universities and law schools follow the lead of the University of Oregon, the University of Maine, and the University of San Francisco, the RIAA’s war against colleges and universities is going to be over, and soon.
The university’s Internet/Intellectual Property Justice Clinic provides legal services to parties who need assistance with a variety of intellectual property matters. The legal work is performed by students under the direction of full-time faculty members assisted by adjunct professors.
It’s also a partner of the EFF (Electric Frontier Foundation), assisting in domain name disputes in ICANN online dispute resolution proceedings, and helps with copyright infringement notifications and counter notifications under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, as well as with other trademark and copyright matters.
The Project is a partner in Chilling Effects, a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and law school clinics at Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and Maine, designed to aid the public in understanding protections the First Amendment and intellectual property laws provide for online activities.
Definitely stay tuned.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
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