Judge admonishes the RIAA about ethics

A federal judge in Boston openly chided the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), after reminding the RIAA’s lawyers they have ethical obligations that must be fulfilled.

In a court hearing in Judge Nancy Gertner’s courtroom, where only RIAA lawyers were present, she said the following:

“Counsel representing the record companies have an ethical obligation to fully understand that they are fighting people without lawyers… to understand that the formalities of this are basically bankrupting people, and it’s terribly critical that you stop it,” she warned.

“There is a huge imbalance in these cases. The record companies are represented by large law firms with substantial resources.”

“Sometimes they (file sharers) answer and get counsel, and because the law is so overwhelmingly on the side of the record companies, there’s a negotiated settlement.”

Defendants were in the courtroom at the time Judge Gertner spoke with the RIAA’s attorneys, but none of the defendants had legal representation. Something that makes me overly curious about this case is that Judge Gertner consolidated all of the cases, which could negatively impact the defendants’ chances of a fair court case in the future.

The full transcript (PDF) of the June 17 conference can be found by clicking here.

The judge’s statements likely won’t have a significant impact on the current case, but it’s interesting to hear a federal judge voice the same thoughts many of you have stated in the past.

The RIAA has filed thousands of John Doe lawsuits in the United States, in an effort to learn more about a file sharer based on an IP address. Once a person’s identity has been discovered, the RIAA often attempts to settle out of court for a few thousand dollars, or go to court where the penalties drastically increased.

Regardless of the overall effectiveness of the lawsuits, the RIAA is expected to continue to file lawsuits against alleged file sharers who are caught sharing copyrighted music.

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