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Twombly-izing RIAA

Andrea Foster at the Chron reports on a pair of law students who are defending fellow university students sued by RIAA. Though I know of great IP defense work by groups like EFF and EPIC, I don’t believe law school clinics generally have been too involved in this particular area. The students argue

[T]hat the suit against John Doe No. 16 and 18 should be dismissed because it is too nebulous and broad. As a result, enforcement of the subpoena should be put on hold, they say. In a court brief filed last month, the two cite a 2007 Supreme Court case, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, that said a complaint can be dismissed if it does not allege a specific and plausible claim of wrongdoing.

“The complaint lacks any facts—let alone proof of ‘substantial evidence’—to show the plausibility of plaintiffs’ allegation of copyright infringement,” the law students’ brief reads.

The article raises worries that “Lawmakers . . . have been attacking college officials for not doing enough to stop online swapping of music, even offering measures that would force colleges to buy software tools to curtail the activity. Having law students defend suspected copyright violators on campus might only exacerbate the criticism.” But the clinic is supposed to be educating students about cutting edge legal issues, and this seems like an appropriate learning opportunity (especially if the John Does can’t afford to defend themselves).

It looks like many more university students may be looking to law schools for help in the coming year, given this report. Don Reisenger is wondering, “why college students?“:

Don: How do you respond to the people who say you’re going after grandmothers and young children when you should be going after real criminals in gunships?

RIAA: I’d give them the facts and encourage them not to believe everything they read that aggressively villainizes the organization.

He also offers these insights:

In an environment where technology is changing by the minute, there are still some organizations that flounder in the past. Is piracy wrong? Yes. Should people pirate? No. But what the RIAA doesn’t understand is that its policy of lawsuits only enrages people and fails to bring about change.

Intriguingly, ArsTechnica reported on Friday that the recording industry has some doubts about the viability of the RIAA and at least one of the major labels–EMI–is considering pulling all of its funding by March 31, if major changes in policy and structure are not made. Regardless, there is no indication that we can expect a major shift going forward. And I, for one, am extremely saddened to hear that.

My plea to RIAA: listen to Trent Reznor!