RIAA lawyers bully witnesses into perjury

12/30/2005 1:35:16 PM, by Anders Bylund

If you're into reading legal proceedings verbatim, here's a doozy for you.
It gets even better if you like to see RIAA lawyers dragging themselves,
rather than their chosen targets, through the dirt. Let's get a feel for
what's going on here:

    In Motown v. Nelson, pending in federal court in Port Huron, Michigan
(Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division), the defendants -- Mr. and
Mrs. Nelson -- have made a motion for attorneys fees against the RIAA
attorneys, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1927 for unreasonable and vexatious
litigation and improperly interfering and/or obtaining false testimony from
a prospective witness.

Got all that? Good. For the rest of us, here's what it means. The RIAA sued
the Nelsons, who in turn are basically asking for the case to be dismissed
and their legal fees reimbursed, because the RIAA lawyers got the
testimonies they wanted from some witnesses through coercion and/or

The transcript of the deposition that followed this motion gives us a
glimpse into exactly how far the recording industry is willing to go to
justify their crusade against file sharing. It's also very long, so I'll
just give you a taste here:

        Q. What other areas do you feel that Mr. Krichbaum put words in your

        A. I don't remember any specifically. Just trying to get me to say
that Angie and Jim or I had ripped the music off.


        Q. It wasn't true. And you felt that Mr. Krichbaum was trying to get
you to say something that wasn't true?

        A. Yes.

        Q. And did he get you to say something that wasn't true?

        A. From the statement I read, yes.

    Ms. Granado went on to testify that Mr. Krichbaum had urged her to
provide false and inaccurate testimony with regard to the entire portion of
her original testimony implicating the Nelsons.

        Q. Did he tell you why he needed you to stick with your original
false story?

        A. Because he said he didn't have a case unless I did.

        Q. So, he told you that he didn't have a case unless you stuck with
the original false story?

        A. Yes.

This is a 15-year-old girl, telling the story of how lawyers of a major
industry group told her she had to commit perjury, just so they could win
their case. Some might call that racketeering, and it's most certainly a
highly illegal way to win a court case. The deposition strongly suggests
that the RIAA knew they didn't have a leg to stand on, and that they were
perfectly happy to do anything in their power to win anyway. Funny how
rather than open their own wallets to settle, they prefer breaking the law
themselves. (Cue Radiohead's Karma Police. On second thought, don't. I'll
get sued for not paying license fees.)

    In response, counsel for Mr. Nelson then asked Plaintiffs'
representative to provide a factual and legal basis for its position.
Plaintiffs' representative responded that 'It didn't matter, someone is
going to be responsible and someone is going to have to pay.' Plaintiffs'
representative further threatened that unless Mr. Nelson paid $4,000.00
immediately, his client authorized him to conduct extensive discovery which
would only increase the amount that he would eventually owe.

Nice. We've known all along that it's all thud and blunder, a wave of scare
tactics meant to force the small folks to settle in the face of bigwig
lawyers dropping of intimidating subpoenas. Sometimes they're obviously just
guessing, and all they're doing is forcing the actual file sharers further
underground where they're harder to find, which leads to the next round of
lawsuits hitting an even lower ratio of bad guys to innocent people. They're
way out of feet in which to shoot themselves, and if albums sales drop a
little, maybe it's because they're scaring away their own customers. Or,
more likely, they're simply proving time and time again at this is an
industry that doesn't deserve our business. 

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