Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tenenbaum: a courtroom is not a classroom

Howard Knopf, in the wake of the Tenenbaum p2p verdict, is very critical of Charles Nesson's litigation strategy.
"It's not clear from all the tweet and blog reports that there was much if any evidence led by Nesson or elicited on cross examination that could have helped Joel with respect to such obvious issues as:

A fair use defense, however unlikely it would have been to succeed. In fact, the defense was thrown out by the Judge before the trial because of a complete lack of evidence that might have somehow supported it. Prof. Oberholzer-Gee, also at Harvard, was the obvious expert witness who might have helped Joel on this front. His study is or ought to be known to everyone familiar with the P2P debate. If fair use was the Hail Mary pass that Prof. Nesson was counting on, he was told by Lessig, Fisher, Seltzer etc. etc. that it was a loser of an argument. Nesson notoriously published many of the emails from his colleagues confirming that the argument was hopeless. Although he persisted with it, he marshalled no relevant evidence in the Jude’s mind even to give it a chance of getting heard. Apparently, no attempt was made to use Oberholzer-Gee until about a week before the trial, which was least three months too late. If Oberholzer-Gee was not available, there were others (i.e. Andersen/Frenz 2008) who could have countered Stan Liebowitz - the able economist and very experienced expert witness called by the RIAA.
A constitutional argument about statutory minimum damages that range from $750 to $150,000 per work for much less than a dollar’s worth of actual damage. Again, Oberholzer-Gee might also have been useful here to argue that P2P sharing does no overall harm to the music industry; and,
Whether there was any actual distribution of each of the songs to anyone other than the Media Sentry investigator...
Not having taught at Harvard, I’m perhaps not qualified to give Prof. Nesson a lesson. But, as any practising lawyer knows, a court room is not a class room.

Given the litany of problems in the defense of Tenenbaum, the result is hardly a surprise. However, given the stature of Prof. Nesson, HLS, and the Berkman Center, the nature of the defense was very surprising. Nor is it surprising that HLS has been apparently been taking actions that might suggest that it is trying hard to distance itself this as the outcome was becoming apparent."
And Ray Beckerman doesn't believe any of the key issues have been tested in the case.
"Here are what I felt should be the central issues at this trial, in which the defendant had admitted using Kazaa file sharing software to download song copies:
1. If the plaintiffs wish to prove distribution, they should have to prove:
(a) dissemination of copies
(b) to the public
(c) by sale, other transfer of ownership, rental, lease, or lending. See 17 USC 106(3).

2. If the plaintiffs wish to claim statutory damages, they should have to prove as to each work allegedly infringed that its copyright registration effective date preceded the date on which defendant allegedly began using the "online media distribution system" in question...

3. Plaintiffs' lawyers should be prohibited from making any reference in the presence of the jury to any copyright infringement by anyone other than defendant or to their business problems or anything else unrelated to a copyright infringement by this defendant.

4. If the plaintiffs have proved a basis for seeking statutory damages, the jury should not be allowed to award statutory damages of more than $750 per infringed work, absent proof of actual damages of hundreds of dollars per infringed work. (There is long standing case law under the Copyright Act that statutory damages should bear a reasonable relationship to actual damages, and that even in commercial cases the usual multiple is from 2:1 to 4:1...

5. If plaintiffs' counsel claim that defendant "could have disseminated" a great number of copies "to the public" they should be required to prove that technically, rather than assuming it to be true, and they should be required to prove then that it actually did happen, rather than be permitted to speculate that it might have.

6. Plaintiffs should be required to prove that the downloaded song file copies were played and listened to, and their contents verified, by a person qualified to make such determination. See Deposition of President of MediaSentry in BMG v. Doe.

7. Testimony from MediaSentry and Jacobson should be barred under Daubert:
(a) Under Fed. R. Civ. P. and Fed. R. Evid., MediaSentry is an expert (see USA v. Ganier, 468 F.3d 920 (6th Cir. 2006); therefore its testimony should be barred for failure to provide expert witness disclosure;
(b) Alternatively, MediaSentry documents and testimony should be barred for failure to satisfy Daubert and Fed. R. Evid. 702;
(3) Jacobson testimony should be barred for failure to satisfy Daubert and Fed. R. Evid. 702

8. In the event that there are multiple mp3's from one album, the jury should be instructed that the album constitutes a single “work”."

No comments: