Commentary

RIAA Nemesis Defends Blog

Ray Beckerman has been such a thorn in the side of the RIAA that the organization recently asked a court to sanction him for "vexatious" conduct in defending people the group has sued.

Beckerman's blog, Recording Industry vs. The People--where he posts publicly available motions in lawsuits involving the organization--especially troubled the RIAA. "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," the group wrote in its motion for sanctions.

Today, Beckerman fired back with an answer charging the RIAA with attempting to keep its litigation efforts as secretive as possible. "Plaintiffs' counsel are not candid about their real problem with the blog, which is that its existence interferes with their tactic of attempting to conceal the litigation events and prior inconsistent statements that they don't want others to know about from judges, litigants and law enforcement authorities."

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The RIAA has sued or threatened to sue nearly 30,000 individuals for file-sharing. Many agreed to pay around $3,000-$5,000 to settle the allegations rather than risk a potentially ruinous lawsuit. Others chose to fight the charges but without counsel.

Beckerman's blog about the various lawsuits has helped rally an overworked defense bar. By posting information about legal tactics in one central location, Beckerman has made it easier for lawyers across the country to fight accusations of piracy--some of which have turned out to be unfounded.

With his blog, he's performed a valuable public service--one that would have been far more difficult even 10 years ago, before the Web 2.0 revolution made it easy for anyone to self-publish online. That the RIAA would think it's okay to ask for sanctions based on a blog shows just how reactionary the record industry has become.

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