Class Action Against RIAA

So the RIAA may be subject to a class action suit in Oregon. As the folks at Recording Industry v. The People note the 109 page complaint begins by invoking the RIAA’s statement that it sometimes catches dolphins when fishing. It is a bold way to show the possible callousness of the RIAA and MediaSentry (the group that helps monitor and identify people to sue and which is also named in the class action suit) but seems a bit reliant on the “see they are evil” idea rather than solid causes of action. I have only scanned the complaint but the other claims could pose problems for the RIAA. The RICO claims and the trespass to chattels claim offer chatter fodder. If nothing else the chattels doctrine which has been questioned if not mocked may end up protecting individuals in these cases. Furthermore, the privacy claims seem to go to property ideas in that once the plaintiff thought something was on her computer (based on alleged acts by the defendants) she spent money to protect her property. With 109 pages there is more to think on but those alone catch attention.

The industry of course says these are old claims and that they will go away. But the AP report notes that much of the case parallels the Oregon Attorney General’s case. If so, the claims may have some legs. Plus if this one gets to discovery, the information about how the RIAA and MediaSentry conduct their business could harm their efforts. Most likely a flurry of trade secret and similar claims about “we can’t tell or our business will die” or “the bag guys will be tipped off” will be launched to obtain protective orders. And if the acts are somehow legal, the argument could have some merit. Last if the case proceeds one may wonder whether these details will come out or whether the plaintiffs will accept some sort of buy out offer the RIAA will likely make if the case starts to appear to be a loser for it.