Defense Attorney Ray Beckerman

Defense Attorney Ray Beckerman

For the last few years Ray Beckerman, a commercial litigation attorney in New York City, has consistently blogged about his experiences in representing alleged music pirates on his blog, Recording Industry vs. The People. On his blog, Beckerman makes no qualms of expressing his disapproval of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and highlighting its “attempt to monopolize digital music and redefine copyright law.” As the previous quote demonstrates, Beckerman’s blog criticizes the RIAA’s 30,000+ lawsuits against computer users that are alleged to have obtained and distributed music illegally over peer-2-peer networks (such as Kazaa, Limewire, etc.). Beckerman lambasted the RIAA for these lawsuits, stating that “a small number of very large recording companies” against individuals that have only “paid for an internet access account.”

While Beckerman has been very outspoken against the RIAA, the RIAA recently took action against him directly. In its complaint, the RIAA alleges that Beckerman, along with his defendant, maliciously discarded and/or concealed the computer technology in question, as well as intentionally hid subpoenaed family members. It requested monetary sanctions against Beckerman himself, while Beckerman counterclaimed against the RIAA for abuse of process, arguing that request for monetary sanctions is “frivolous to the extreme.”

On Friday, October 9, a New York Magistrate Judge dismissed both the claim for monetary sanctions against Beckerman, and Beckerman’s own counterclaim for abuse of process. In the court order, the judge stated that while Beckerman might have been “less than forthcoming at times,” both parties bear the responsibility of “escalating hostilities.” As such, the court could not find the “clear evidence of bad faith” to warrant the imposition of monetary sanctions. The court also held that Beckerman’s blog could remain, stating that while it takes an “unusually aggressive stance” and “veers into hyperbole and gratuitous attacks on the recording industry as a whole,” it does not demonstrate bad faith on Beckerman’s part. While this sounds like a win for Beckerman, the court also dismissed the defendant’s counterclaim, holding that the plaintiffs are simply “vigorously pursuing their claim,” and do not demonstrate “vexatiousness” to warrant a claim for abuse of process.

Rylan Smith

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