Lawsuit could force American recording industry body to reveal investigation techniques

The hunted becomes the hunter in a US legal case

A US woman whose lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was thrown out by a federal judge last month plans to file an amended complaint in a move that could finally force the industry group to share details about its controversial techniques for investigating alleged file sharers.

The closely watched case involves Tanya Andersen, a disabled single mother who in June 2005 was accused by the RIAA of illegally downloading and distributing copyrighted music files. The case (Atlantic Recording v Andersen) was voluntary dropped by the RIAA in August 2007 amid a flurry of counter-claims by Andersen, who accused the organization of malicious prosecution, libel, negligence, invasion of privacy, electronic trespass and fraud.

After the lawsuit was dropped by the RIAA, Andersen was allowed by the court to drop her counter-claims and file them instead as a direct legal action against the RIAA. That lawsuit was filed in August 2007 and charged the RIAA and five music labels with a string of misdeeds. Andersen's lawsuit included charges that the recording labels had used unlicensed investigators to illegally gather evidence against her and that the RIAA had violated the US Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Andersen's suit was dismissed on February 19 by US District Court Judge Anna Brown. In her ruling, Brown said that Andersen had failed to adequately state her claims for relief and gave her until March 14 to file an amended complaint clearly identifying the legal basis for each of her claims. The judge also noted that the court would not permit any more motions to dismiss the case by the RIAA.

That means if Andersen's amended complaint passes muster, the RIAA will be forced, for the first time in its pursuit of illegal music sharers, to disclose its investigative technique, according to Lory Lybeck, the US-based attorney for Andersen.

"We are going to have discovery," Lybeck said. "That's important because [the RIAA] has spent three years actively refusing to provide any discovery of any significance in the growing number of cases," that it is pursuing, he said. "It is very important for them to operate in secrecy because once their methodology is revealed it will be obvious they committed a crime," he said.

According to Lybeck, the amended complaint will ask the RIAA to provide details on a variety of issues including how exactly Media Sentry goes about collecting its evidence against alleged copyright infringers, when the RIAA first engaged Media Sentry to carry out such investigations, and how it decides which file sharers to sue.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?