Judge To RIAA: Students Must Be Allowed To Respond To John Doe Lawsuits

The RIAA’s tactic of filing John Doe lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers was dealt a blow by a New Mexican judge, according to Ars Technica:

The RIAA has argued that it would suffer irreparable harm unless immediate discovery was allowed, but Judge Garcia didn’t find that argument convincing. “While the Court does not dispute that infringement of a copyright results in harm, it requires a Coleridgian ‘suspension of disbelief’ to accept that the harm is irreparable, especially when monetary damages can cure any alleged violation,” wrote the judge. “On the other hand, the harm related to disclosure of confidential information in a student or faculty member’s Internet files can be equally harmful.”

Judge Garcia also notes that there is “no reasonable way” to ensure that prospective defendants are made aware of the lawsuits and requests for disclosure–which is exactly how the RIAA wants it. He wants to ensure that the John Does are notified and “are given a reasonable opportunity to intervene in order to stop the disclosure of sensitive information.”

This is bad news for the RIAA, because as Ars Technica puts it “the problem with the approach is that it allows the RIAA to do an end-run around the legal process, as the would-be defendant never gets an opportunity to answer during the John Doe lawsuits and fight the RIAA’s subpoenas.” This ruling should make the litigation process more expensive for the RIAA, as the targets would be able to participate in the legal process from the beginning, instead of having to wait until it was over and they were mailed a settlement letter. —MEGHANN MARCO

Judge deals blow to RIAA, says students can respond to John Doe lawsuit [Ars Technica]


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    If I understand that right, the RIAA is trying to bypass Habeus Corpus. They should take a cue from the President and call the defendants terrorists.

  2. tedyc03 says:

    So if I understand this right, if a school or college refuses to pass along the RIAA’s lawsuit, the RIAA can never enter discovery, and thus never screw anybody?

    Sounds good to me…

  3. Starfury says:

    Brings new meaning to: Prove it.

  4. JulesWinnfield says:

    Notice and an opportunity to be heard: It’s called DUE PROCESS. Suck on that, RIAA.

  5. Ikki says:

    One step closer to getting rid of these assclowns. Thank goodness, I say.

  6. enm4r says:

    Does this mean they have to shift their business model back to sueing grandparents?

  7. danieldavis says:

    That and young children :D

  8. TVarmy says:


    We’re fighting a different kind of war. These aren’t Romanian hackers selling songs for $0.05 a piece. These are young men and women unified under nothing more than school colors and high tuition. Thus, the Geneva Convention does not apply!

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s not ONLY school colors and dizzying tuition, TV.

    It’s also binge drinking, experimental sex and nakkid dancing in front of vidcams.

    Sigh… Long pause as I lovingly reminesce… Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  10. MeOhMy says:

    RIAA goon:
    “Due Process? No no no, that’s the process used to determine when things are due. You have a right to be told when your paper is due. That’s due process. Stupid smartass college kid – you don’t know what you’re talking about. Now pay us the $5000 or we’ll come break your legs. If you think that’s extortion, we will remind you how far off the mark you were in your understanding of due process. Your understanding of extortion is no exception.”

  11. jeffislouie says:

    Thank you to the judge.
    The RIAA has had its way on what amounts to a frivolous lawsuit for far too long.
    Back in the day, we used to dub tapes with and for friends.
    I’ve made hundreds of mix tapes for girls and best friends.
    RIAA didn’t care about it then because there was no evidence of the tapes and what was on them.
    Now that we have digital music, they CAN see that it is being done and have inflated the ‘damages’ done to try and sue their customers until they are no longer customers.
    The entire concept is insane to begin with.
    They don’t make much on album sales to begin with. The cash cow in the music business is tours. Recorded music nets them little profit, if any at all. But the tours? HUGE dollars. Record sales are down because purchasing legal music by the track saves the public from the old equation of buying an album because they liked one or two songs, only to find out that the rest of the album is fluff (crap fluff at that).
    Careful, RIAA, you are on the verge of losing your cash cow.
    One day, us slackers are going to get organized and stop showing up and paying for tickets to big label concerts. Before you know it, these morons wont have a business.
    A great example of this used to be Phish. Phish never did too much in terms of album sales, but their concert tours would bring in big piles of money.
    Shame of you RIAA.
    It’s about damn time that a judge slapped them around a bit.

  12. agent2600 says:

    haha YAY! this story makes me smile, I also read that if you get an attempted lawsuit from the RIAA and/or the MPAA you reply, I have a wireless router, it must have been hacked (or it is a open network) and I do not know who was downloading these files, and they drop the lawsuit

  13. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Oh yeah? You’re going to come break my legs? Bring it on! Break my legs and I’ll countersue the shit out of you for assault and harassment. Oh yeah, did I mention I’m going to hire the most expensive law firm in the world to defend me? And I’m going to charter a jet for me to fly to the Mayo Clinic in Boston, stay at the Ritz Carlton, and hire myself a limo? And the best thing is, you’re going to have to pay for it, PLUS millions in damages. Suck on that RIAA. Ass.

  14. Moosehawk says:

    @jeffislouie: I believe it’s the RIAA that makes big profits on record sales, and the band that makes profits on tours.

    I wouldn’t go as far to say we’re going to boycott concerts though. I for one, love music and would still gladly pay $150 for the QOTSA/RATM tour coming around the Midwest right now. I don’t care where the money goes, as long as I’m there to enjoy it.

  15. LionelEHutz says:

    @Moosehawk: You’re correct moosehawk. There are two books out there that I’ve read that explain the whole BS record contract business “Confessions of a Record Producer” and “Secrets of Negotiating a Record Contract” both penned by an insider under the pseudonym Moses Avalon. The only artists out there (signed by the major recording companies) that make any money from CD/Mp3/Vinyl/Cassette/etc… sales are the big name artists who have been around for a while.

  16. Trick says:

    So I guess the RIAA is now starting to doubt the “great idea of sue those easily scared college students”, huh?

    A bunch of eggheads, full of arrogance now that they completed Law 101 and lots of time to figure out ways to screw the RIAA…