The RIAA vs ... well, everybody

What's the recording industry up to now? Trying to silence one of its fiercest critics. Cringely has the scoop on yet more dirty deeds by the RIAA.

Most sane humans would greet a law suit from the RIAA the way you'd welcome a surprise audit from the IRS. Not Ray Beckerman. He says, "Bring it on, bubba."

Beckerman is a New York-based attorney who's defended several clients in lawsuits brought by the recording industry. He also relentlessly chronicles the absurd activities of a certain rapacious, morally bankrupt trade association on his blog, Recording Industry vs The People.

Now he's got to defend himself against what he terms "frivolous and irresponsible" sanctions demanded by the RIAA. And what is Beckerman accused of? Among other things, maintaining a blog that hurts the RIAA's feelings. Per the recording industry's motion pdf:

... Defendant's counsel has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass Plaintiffs. Such vexatious conduct demeans the integrity of these judicial proceedings and warrants this imposition of sanctions.

Mind you, this is coming from folks who have no qualms about impersonating the grandmother of a 10-year-old girl in order to extract information from her school about her mother, extorting money out of college students, or suing dead people. So much for demeaning "the Integrity of judicial proceedings."

Maybe it's because Beckerman is one of the few attorneys in this country with the cojones to defend subjects of RIAA suits, most of whom are too broke to hire an attorney. Or maybe it's because he's winning.

Last year he forced the recording industry to drop its suit against Tanya Andersen (mother of that 10-year old girl), who then turned around and sued the RIAA under federal racketeering statutes. The sanctions the recording industry is requesting against Beckerman come in the same motion where they've offered to drop the suit against another of his clients.

Ironically, this month marks the fifth anniversary of the RIAA's 'sue em all' campaign, as noted by the P2Pnet blog. All tolled, the Big Four record companies have sued between 30,000 and 40,000 people (or alleged people -- many of these suits are filed against "John Doe" because all the RIAA has to go on is an IP address). What have they accomplished?

File swapping? More popular than ever.

The recording industry? More despised than ever.

Imagine what the industry could have done with the millions it has wasted on attorneys fees. They could have developed a voluntary file sharing licensing model, as the Boycott-RIAA site and others have suggested. They could have built their own online music service to compete with iTunes. Or they could have fed poor people. Any of those would be better options.

Instead? They file one more "frivolous and irresponsible" motion against the guy who's made them look bad. At least they're consistent.

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Robert X. Cringely

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