Legal Ease: RIAA Holds Court

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Last week, the RIAA quietly dismissed a famous case dealing with the criminality of making copyrighted works available over a P2P network. The dismissal was so unpublicized that, although the notice was submitted on May 27, sources are just now learning of its approval. Last week, the RIAA quietly dismissed a famous case dealing with the criminality of making copyrighted works available over a P2P network. The dismissal was so unpublicized that, although the notice was submitted on May 27, sources are just now learning of its approval.

In the case, Warner v. Cassin, filed in April 2006, Joan Cassin was indicted for copyright infringement because her KaZaA account made 406 music files available for download. The issue in question, enabling files for download, has since been discussed in subsequent cases; the earliest case (Elektra v. Barker) supported the RIAA, while the other two more recent cases (Atlantic v. Howel and an RIAA subpoena of Boston University), though both still pending outcomes, have tended to favor the defendants. In the BU case, the judge’s opinion went so far as to say, “Merely exposing music files to the Internet is not copyright infringement.” Faced with these rulings, which potentially affect Warner v. Cassin, the RIAA appears to have chosen to dismiss the suit rather than risk another possible loss.

Due to one tricky issue, however, Joan Cassin’s troubles may not yet be over. The RIAA dismissed the case without prejudice, which would normally allow the RIAA to refile the case one more time (for a maximum of two filings). The RIAA has, however, previously filed and dismissed a case against Cassin. RIAA used this first case to obtain Cassin’s identity, which they needed in order to file the second (but recently dismissed) suit against her. Due to this first suit and subsequent case dismissal, the RIAA’s second recent dismissal could possibly count as their last legal effort since, according to federal court rules, a second dismissal counts as “adjudication on the merits.”

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