The RIAA has dropped its case against Chicagoan Paul Wilke, with the two parties moving to dismiss the case with prejudice in federal court late last week. Elektra v. Wilke was noteworthy in that the defendant vigorously contested all of the RIAA's allegations, moving for summary judgment against the record label last month.
Wilke had been accused of the usual malfeasance by the RIAA: sharing music over a P2P network. Instead of settling the suit as many others have done, Wilke denied any wrongdoing. He claimed that he was not the “Paule Wilke” named in the complaint, had never used any filesharing applications, and that he did not own any of the songs reportedly flagged by Media Sentry.
Wilke's argument that the RIAA did not have enough evidence for its lawsuit to go forward and subsequent motion for summary judgment apparently caught Elektra by surprise. The label responded with a motion for expedited discovery, indicating that it did not have enough evidence with which to fight the motion for summary judgment, and requested authorization for a search of Wilke's computer in an attempt to find “evidence of copyright infringement on the defendant's hard drive.”
Attorney Ray Beckerman, who runs the Recording Industry vs. The People blog, told Ars that the RIAA's evidence of a name, an IP address, and a list of songs in Elektra v. Wilke isn't enough to constitute “competent evidence sufficient to create a material issue of fact that can be used at trial.”
When asked if there had been a financial settlement, Wilke's attorneys told Beckerman that “plaintiffs, the RIAA, and SBC [Wilke's ISP] worked cooperatively and amicably to resolve this dispute.”
This appears to have been another in a long string of cases of mistaken identity by the RIAA. Instead of merely saying that the RIAA had the wrong guy, as other defendants have, Wilke and his attorneys decided instead to attack the record label's case, saying that the usual data the RIAA uses as the basis for its lawsuits is not sufficient to build a case on, let alone prove infringement.
Since the RIAA began filing lawsuits against suspected file sharers in 2003, not a single one has gone all the way to trial. In most cases, the defendants agree to write a four-figure check to the record labels to avoid a drawn-out court case. However, some of the accused are fighting back, and in some cases, it appears that the RIAA is dropping cases to avoid the possibility of losing. One case that bears watching is UMG v. Lindor, where the defendant accused the RIAA of using P2P networks and is expected to file a motion for summary judgment once the discovery period concludes at the end of the year. If that motion is denied, UMG v. Lindor may be headed for trial in 2007.
[thanks to arstechnica]