RIAA Sues Ray Beckerman for Blogging

Is blogging a crime if you hold a certain opinion? Apparently so according to the RIAA who plans on litigating the famed lawyer.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Some may disagree with his opinions, but very few dispute the fact that Ray Beckerman has maintained the biggest and most valuable resource regarding litigation brought on by the copyright industry. According to fresh reports released this evening, the Recording Industry Association of America took issue with his stance on the copyright debates and decided that litigation was warranted.

From the report:

The Recording Industry Association of America is declaring attorney-blogger Ray Beckerman a “vexatious” litigator and is seeking unspecified monetary sanctions to punish him in his defense of a New York woman accused of making copyrighted music available on the Kazaa file sharing system.

The RIAA said Beckerman, one of the nation’s few attorneys who defends accused file sharers, “has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass plaintiffs,” the RIAA wrote (.pdf) in court briefs. “Such vexatious conduct demeans the integrity of these judicial proceedings and warrants this imposition of sanctions.”

Beckerman, whose blog is Recording Industry vs The People, said in an interview the allegations were “frivolous and irresponsible.”

There’s two issues being raised here. Is he being sued for defending p2p defendants or is he being sued for compiling information and offering opinions on his blog. From the looks of things, it’s more likely the latter as there is a direct quote from the RIAA saying this.

For the more likely reason, this case raises serious concerns with free speech online. Such debates have been mainly restricted to things like racism for the most part, but for the first time in the United States, it appears to be for opposing the stance of the copyright industry.

The case may not be heard for a while since the papers were only recently filed, but one possible result in all of this is the appearance of intimidation for anyone who opposes the copyright industry’s view on the copyright debates. It might never be known how many, if any, would voluntarily give up blogging about the copyright debates – or reporting for that matter – would back away from the subject as a result of this litigation.

Observers would very likely note that this is pretty much an open and shut case for free speech since most, if not, all of Beckermans information comes from public sources to begin with. Either way, it’s going to land the lawyer in a large spot-light where even more people will be watching than before.

[hat tip: BoingBoing]

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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