Lawsuit Against the Recording Industry Association of America
Finally. After spending five years extorting millions of dollars from music listeners, the RIAA is being taken to court. The RIAA has been using the court system as their own personal bludgeon (with deafening silence from the same conservatives who are always blathering about “too much litigation” and “activist judges”), and now they’re about to get clubbed with their own weapon.
The recording industry has been using the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 as the legal basis for their shakedowns. And now a Harvard law professor, Charles Nesson, has filed suit saying that law is unconstitutional.
His reasoning is that this law allows a private organization — in this case the RIAA — to carry out enforcement of a criminal law. He also says the recording industry abuses the legal process by extorting huge out-of-court payments from their victims, under the threat of an even larger fine and/or prison sentence.
In my own non-expert un-lawyerly opinion, the RIAA has been violating the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution — unless you know of somebody who got a $500,000 fine for stealing a CD from Wal-Mart.
Charles Nesson is the founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. He says his goal is to “turn the courts away from allowing themselves to be used like a low-grade collection agency.”
Nesson’s résumé is pretty impressive. He defended Daniel Ellsberg against the Nixon Administration in the Pentagon Papers case. He was also a consultant in a major case against chemical companies, which was portrayed in the movie “A Civil Action.”
His upcoming battle with the RIAA thugs might be his biggest challenge yet. Godspeed.
cross-posted at Bring It On