p2pnet.net News Special:- Since the Big Four record label cartel started its sue ‘em all marketing campaign, several victims have said they`d stand up to its RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). So far, none of them has due, primarily, to their lack of financial and, hence, legal resources. But this may change with New York`s Patricia Santangelo.
The Big Four are using their now-standard Pay us or Else tactic, threatening her with civil court unless she can somehow come up with $7,500 to buy them off.
The lawsuits are a PR blitz custom-designed to indelibly mark men, women and children who share music and other files with each other online as vicious, hardened criminals out to deliberately bilk the honest, but beleagured, entertainment industry and its hard-pressed workers.
However, just as music industry claims that there’s a thriving, reasonably priced online business are false, accusations that file sharing is causing terrible financial losses to the industry and awful hardship to its workers are equally disingenuous.
Meanwhile, none of the estimated 13,500 very ordinary Americans pilloried by the labels has been found guilty of anything because not one of them has ever appeared before a judge. As one of the first victims, Lorraine Sullivan told p2pnet.
“If I knew the rest of my life wouldn’t be ruined and that I wouldn’t have this huge financial thing hanging over my head, I’d stand up to them. But I can’t take the risk.”
It’s clearly impossible for an ordinary person with ordinary resources to take on the multi-billion-dollar industry with its bottomless pockets and legions of highly paid lawyers. Not that this stops RIAA spinsters from implying thousands of people have been found `guilty` of the crime of sharing music with each other, an assertion faithfully repeat by the mainstream media as though it comes from credible sources. And the time-honoured maxim Innocent until proven Guilty goes by the board.
But Patricia Santangelo plans to fight and backing her is the New York law firm of Beldock Levine & Hoffman with Ray Beckerman in the front ranks.
Read on >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
p2pnet: About how much will cost to mount and maintain Patricia Santangelo’s defense?
Beckerman: We have no idea what the total cost will be in the long run. We do not expect it to be wildly expensive, because (i) we are charging drastically reduced fees (e.g. my personal rate is half my standard rate) and (ii) we expect the case to be dismissed, based upon the motion to dismiss, which has been briefed, submitted, and argued, and is now awaiting decision. If the motion is granted, there will be no pretrial discovery, and no trial.
p2pnet: Where will the money to pay for it come from?
Beckerman: We expect Ms Santangelo’s costs to be picked up by the RIAA, since (a) the copyright statute permits the Court to shift the attorneys fees to the losing party, (b) these cases were clearly frivolous and brought in bad faith, and (c) it is a matter of public interest that the RIAA be deterred from bringing more such meritless cases.
p2pnet: Record label financial, political and legal resources are immense. Will you be able to fight to the end matched against this kind of weight?
Beckerman: We will fight to the end. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t take on something unless I am prepared to fight to the end. Also, anyone who knows me knows that the one thing I can’t stand is a bully. The RIAA will give up long before we do, because sooner or later it will dawn upon them that their attorneys are taking them for a ride.
p2pnet: You say on your site, “we and our firm have undertaken to represent people in our area who have been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)”. Are you representing anyone other than Patricia Santangelo?
Beckerman: Yes we have other people we have represented, however only one other matter is actually in litigation. We just entered that case a week ago, and have nothing yet to report.
p2pnet: If there are other people near you who want to be represented, will there a limit to their numbers?
Beckerman: As far as I am concerned there should be no limit to how many people we can represent. If we have too many cases we can hire more lawyers.
p2pnet: Could you summarize your defense platform?
Beckerman: There is no such thing as a “defense platform”, the way I practice law. Although I am fully aware that there are important societal issues at stake, I am an old fashioned “country lawyer” (regardless of the fact that my office is in the most cosmopolitan of places, Manhattan). I represent people. And I represent them one person at a time. So I cannot represent people on a cookie cutter basis. My style of practice is to make my client a partner in decision making. In each case I do what is in the best interests of that particular client, and what that particular client wants me to do (with certain exceptions, such as professional courtesies, which is something a lawyer has to take responsibility for on his own). I can say that in Elektra v Santangelo, the basis for our motion to dismiss complaint was that the complaint failed to allege any specific acts of infringement. In response plaintiff disagreed, arguing that its vague complaint did satisfy the pleading standards, since it alleged that a Kazaa account attached to Ms. Santangelo’s IP address had a “shared files folder”. Our reply papers reminded the Court that that alone would not make out a claim for copyright infringement, and that the Courts have consistently required specific acts of copying, and the dates and times of those acts. A fully set of the motion papers is now online. In the unlikely event that our motion is not granted, there are numerous other issues that would come into play later on in the case.
p2pnet: On a scale of one to 10, where do you place your chances of winning?
Beckerman: I think our chances of winning the Santangelo case are a 10. Our motion was based on black letter law. The plaintiff’s ‘opposition’ papers were weak, digressive, and nonsensical. I believe they will be laughed out of court.
p2pnet: Have you yet heard from the RIAA? If so, from whom and what did they say?
Beckerman: The only people I speak to, or can speak to, are their attorneys. All the attorneys I have spoken to are junior attorneys, who are doing what they are told, and who have not exercised and are not authorized to exercise any decision-making authority. It will be an interesting conversation when and if I get to talk to whoever has managed to convince the gullible people in charge of the RIAA that their terrorism is helping them.
p2pnet: Would you be prepared to collaborate with other lawyers/law firms in the US to help other people in the same situation as Patricia Santangelo?
Beckerman: Absolutely. I am thrilled to help the other lawyers and I know they’ll help me as well. That is why I have made the litigation documents available online. So that any attorney who is representing victims of the RIAA onslaught will have the benefit of knowing what we did, and what the RIAA’s lame arguments are.
p2pnet: The record label cartel is using its IFPI, BPI, and so on, to attack people in other parts of the world. Would you share any knowledge you may acquire through this case with law firms/victims outside of the US?
Beckerman: I don’t know who those organizations are, that you mentioned, but my documents are available online, so they are more than welcome to use them.
p2pnet: You’re a lawyer defending a client, but do you have any personal feelings about file sharing and file sharers?
Beckerman: Personally, from what little I know of it, I don’t think mere file sharing is a copyright violation. If someone can share a copyrighted cd without violating the copyright laws, why couldn’t they share a digital song without violating the copyright laws? But of course, you asked for a personal opinion, and this is my personal opinion. In the current climate, I certainly couldn’t advise someone legally whether it is or isn’t a copyright violation, the law is unsettled, and the RIAA is on the warpath. So until the issue has been played out in the courts, we won’t know the answer to that one.
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