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SBC Fights RIAA Over DMCA Subpoenas 455

Posted by michael
from the unprincipled-stance dept.
NaDrew writes "SFGate.com is running an AP article about Pac Bell's Internet arm suing music industry over file-sharer IDs. 'The suit also called to question some sections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the federal law the RIAA contends supports its latest legal actions. A spokesman for SBC said the RIAA's use of the DMCA in its legal quest for online song-sharers butts up against the privacy rights of SBC's customers. "The action taken by SBC Internet Services is intended to protect the privacy of our customers," said SBC spokesman Larry Meyer.'" So SBC, like Verizon, is concerned about the cost/hassle of complying with all the subpoenas it has been receiving.
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SBC Fights RIAA Over DMCA Subpoenas

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  • by mjmalone (677326) * on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:12AM (#6579048) Homepage
    I am totally against the DMCA, but how much of a chance do you think SBC has of winning? It looks like they are basically saying that by following the DMCA they will be breaking a contractual agreement with their costumers, but this will not hold up in court (or will it?) I suppose the arguement that the RIAA did not follow procedure could work, but one would assume that would just lead to the RIAA re-filing using proper procedure. In any case, it is nice that some people are still fighting this and not just bending over for the RIAA like some companies (comcast).
    • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:17AM (#6579085) Journal
      They can probably get the subpoenas thrown out on a technicality quite easily. The rest of the arguments are a little trickier. Declaring laws unconstitutional can always be a problem.
    • by lordvdr (682194) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:56AM (#6579403)
      Well, SBC is a REALLY BIG company. Actually, some quick research:
      SBC Revenue for 2002: 34B+- change
      RIAA reports total retail value of shipped CDs in 2002: 12B+-

      That gives SBC a much bigger chance. And you noones going to say that SBC doesn't have lobbyists. :)

      And suppose that SBC does win (or some other company for that matter) and even that particular portion of the DMCA (subpoenas w/o judges) gets killed. Yes, RIAA will reissue following proper procedure. But that's much more expensive, much more time consuming, and much more frowned upon (CA has a litigous company law, and TX just don't put up w/ that sh.t.). The RIAA's 75/day stat I heard somewhere would probably drop to something like 75/mo. In the end, RIAA loses, the DMCA loses, and Kazaa will continue. -lv

    • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:42AM (#6579902) Journal
      I am totally against the DMCA, but how much of a chance do you think SBC has of winning?

      Suppose they don't have any chance of winning. Which do you think is a better PR move -- simply rolling over, as some ISPs did, or dragging their heels in favor of their customers publically every step of the way?

      If you like trading music and are about to get broadband, which company would *you* sign up with?
  • It was inevitable. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by James A. A. Joyce (681634) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:18AM (#6579090) Journal
    "Pacific Bell Internet Services jumped into the contentious music-downloading fray late Wednesday, filing a lawsuit against the recording industry and questioning the constitutionality of the industry's effort to track down online music sharers." (emphasis mine)

    Joyce's Law [faqs.org]: As a US lawsuit goes on longer, the probability of its constitutionality being challenged approaches one. :-)
  • by ayeco (301053) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:18AM (#6579093)
    In what way does your internet connection link you to the data that travels over your connection?

    How many people share connections with other people in a household? How can the riaa sue you for something your 12 year old daughter did? or your wife?
    • by Troed (102527) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:24AM (#6579140) Homepage Journal
      You're legally responsible for the actions taken place using the ISP connection you've signed yourself as responsible for.


      AFAIK - check your contract with your ISP.

      • by tybalt44 (176219) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:51AM (#6579356) Journal
        You may be responsible _to your ISP_ for acts using your connection, but you can't be responsible to other parties through signing a contract with your ISP; that's just nutty.

        It may be that you indemnify your ISP against actions taken against it by third parties due to acts using your connection. That is not the same as taking some sort of "legal responsibility" for acts using your ISP.

        A contract *only* affects your rights vis-a-vis the other parties to the contract. It *cannot* affect your rights vis-a-vis third parties. This is a fundamental principle of contract law.
    • Can they sue you for something your wife did...no, your children... YES. Your wife is over 18, one would HOPE, so she is legally responsible for her own actions. However, if you have children under 18 then you, being their legal guardian are responsible for their actions. It's your job as a PARENT to make sure they do what is right and not break any laws. They cannot be prosecuted in many cases until they turn 18, but you can and will be for their actions.
      • by tybalt44 (176219) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:00AM (#6579443) Journal
        This is not correct. In most places, parents are not generally held liable for the torts of their children unless they consented to, or directed the act.

        Some U.S. states (actually except NH and NY appaerntly) have changed this by statute. Illinois is one... parents there are liable for intentional torts only, and the limit of liability is $1000. The average over all states is $4100 maximum liability.

        Of course, these aren't torts exactly, so I'm not sure whether DMCA-type violations would be caught under these "paerntal responsibility" laws.
    • Ok, so they sue your wife and she's found liable for $100k. You're still screwed. Or, they sue your 12 year old daughter -- wait, she's under age. Oh yeah, you, as the parent, are responsible for making sure that your children don't break any laws; so, you're held liable (contributing to the delinquency of a minor or the like...)

      one way or another, you're screwed.

  • Great, if only... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ruiner13 (527499) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:18AM (#6579094) Homepage
    Now if only SBC, Verizon, and all the other major ISPs got together in one big court case the RIAA might get frightened. I don't see why they are filing all these lawsuits separately, I'm sure the more evil lawyers they throw at this issue at once, the more the courts might agree with them (or at least get the media to pick up on this story a bit more, instead of just having an AP wire somewhere on the back pages of their websites).

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Just the big ISPs? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:20AM (#6579107)
    Whenever we hear about this dragnet of P2P users, it's always the big players -- SBC, Verizon, etc. Has there been any "hits" on P2P users on smaller dialup and/or regional ISPs?


    I know the RIAA is playing this close to the vest so they won't tip their hand, but it would be nice to have a hint that "smaller (and dial-up) is better."

  • postive light? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xpulsar87x (305131)
    Anyone else worried about misenterpreting these standsups from Verizon and SBC as being pro-filesharing? Though the article talks about them trying to protect their users, the overall picture seems to be painted as evil RIAA vs. good ISPs, which is really not the whole picture.

    Why exactly are the ISPs so concerned with the user privacy? As an end user I'm certainly concerned with it, but you'd think that ISPs wouldn't really care that much. Fighting the RIAA will cost them money, just to protect privacy
    • Re:postive light? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by leerpm (570963) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:27AM (#6579170)
      Because when the ISP fails to protect it's users privacy, their customers will no longer trust them. They will move to another provider.

      All of the ISP's know what is happening on their networks. Especially those providing broadband services, know that if the RIAA is successful in shutting down the P2P networks, it will remove a lot of the incentive for customers to pay for broadband. The cost of complying is probably minor compared to the cost of lost revenue from customers leaving those services.
      • Re:postive light? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:30AM (#6579774)
        Not only does the ISP lose incentive, it also has to essentially pay for "RIAA employees." If the RIAA continually submits subpeonas for 75 people a day, somebody on the ISP payroll has to be trudging around digging up IP addresses and sending them to the RIAA.

        I know that's not a huge cost, but it could be a long term expendature. Not to mention it would just plain suck to have to hire an employee to go through your own records and tattle on your customers to a bully corporation.

        I would be so pissed if I had to pay for that employee!

        • Re:postive light? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by fubar1971 (641721)
          ...Not to mention, if the RIAA can force an ISP to cough up these records. How long do you think before the MPAA or major software vendors, will begin doing it? According to the article there are businesses out their that do nothing more than track this information for copyright holders. Hell even Micro$haft has records of illegally installed software. Right now it is only the RIAA, but if this campaign by the RIAA becomes successful, then lookout, because the flood gates will be open and your ISP's wil
        • I would be so pissed if I had to pay for that employee!

          You won't have to. It can be automated with the following simple program:

          while (customer)
          {
          subpenoa(customer);
          }

          After all, all broadband users are obviously thieves and all P2P networks are obviously evil.

        • Re:postive light? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lord_Dweomer (648696)
          I believe I read in the RIAA article earlier today that they RIAA is paying for the employees at ISPs to handle the subpoenas. Sorry, too lazy to look it up now.

    • Re:postive light? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:28AM (#6579171)
      What have they to gain from that?

      Think about it. The ISPs who are challenging are mostly broadband providers. Do people need broadband to check email or surf the web a bit? Nope. People need broadband for filesharing. If filesharing is completely shutdown the need for higher bandwidth comes into question. I have known average users who say things like "$40/month for broadband isn't too bad b/c I can get free music."
      • Re:postive light? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by garcia (6573) *
        hahahhahahaah.

        You think that ISPs want to let their users suck 100% of their bandwith 100% of the day on P2P? Why do you think that quite a few Universities have gone to throttling/closing those ports?

        Do you think that download caps and per MB charges over that cap are not to curb people from using P2P?
        • Re:postive light? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:51AM (#6579358)
          You think that ISPs want to let their users suck 100% of their bandwith 100% of the day on P2P?

          Yes and no. Why get broadband at all if I can't use the bandwidth? ISPs aren't stupid. They know one of the main drivers of Joe Blow getting broadband is p2p. If you remove that driver, then why should the average consumer buy broadband?

          Why do you think that quite a few Universities have gone to throttling/closing those ports?

          This has nothing to do with pay/month ISPs. Most college broadband is wrapped up in the tuition costs. My guess is that the tuition is not covering all the bandwidth that students were using.

          Do you think that download caps and per MB charges over that cap are not to curb people from using P2P?

          No it is not to curb people from using it, but to make more money on people using it. To the guy downloading it is still a good deal for him to pay $1/100MB(or whatever they charge) and get free songs for that price. ISPs in essence become a quasi-distributor of music without having to pay for the rights. They are making tons of money off people who p2p and don't want it to go away.
          • Re:postive light? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by WCMI92 (592436) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:33AM (#6579810) Homepage
            "Yes and no. Why get broadband at all if I can't use the bandwidth? ISPs aren't stupid. They know one of the main drivers of Joe Blow getting broadband is p2p. If you remove that driver, then why should the average consumer buy broadband?"

            When I signed up for Adelphia PowerLink, they ADVERTISED fast music downloads...

            The ISP almost HAS to stick up for their clients, at least show some resistance. They could face class action suits based on their advertisements.

            P2P is the "killer" app that sells broadband at home as something Joe Blow wants...

            Otherwise, broadband customers would mostly be techies like us, who love being able to apt-get quickly...

          • Re:postive light? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by arkane1234 (457605)
            No, the reason I have bandwidth (and quite a few others I'd imagine) is to be able to download perfectly legitimate things from the net that are HUGE.

            Try downloading Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, or Army Operations on a dialup :)

            Not to mention doing an "emerge rsync && emerge -u world" would take 2-3 times longer than the actual life of what you are downloading in the first place...

        • Re:postive light? (Score:2, Informative)

          by PyromanFO (319002)

          You think that ISPs want to let their users suck 100% of their bandwith 100% of the day on P2P? Why do you think that quite a few Universities have gone to throttling/closing those ports?

          Universities have begun throttling thier ports because they don't make money off of you using thier network. Furthermore, most Universities offer you access with much greater upload and download capacity than your standard DSL/Cable modem. The killer app for broadband is p2p, and the universities don't care because they'

        • Re:postive light? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Zocalo (252965) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:55AM (#6579394) Homepage
          Do you think that download caps and per MB charges over that cap are not to curb people from using P2P?

          No, download caps and per MB charges are to maximise profits at the ISP. It basically boils down to:

          1. Get users hooked on P2P
          2. Get users onto a $/MB billing scheme
          3. Profit!!!
          Despite all the initial moaning about swamped bandwidth, once the ISPs realised that "???" could be replaced with "$/MB" P2P became the best thing since sliced bread.
      • Maybe. (Score:3, Funny)

        by OS24Ever (245667) *
        But I remember the reason I got broadband was for the free pr0n, not the free music.

        But then that was ISDN in 1996.
      • Re:postive light? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WildFire42 (262051)
        $40/month for broadband isn't too bad b/c I can get free music.

        Apparently, I'm the only one who says $40/month for broadband isn't too bad b/c I can get free pr0n.

        Seriously, though, the reason why I got broadband was not because of free music or even pr0n. I got it because I game, I work from home occassionally, and I like having a reliable, stable, fast connection. As a matter of fact, I just recommended broadband to a friend of mine (a newbie user even) because he wanted something faster, always-on, an
      • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:49AM (#6579978) Journal
        If filesharing is completely shutdown the need for higher bandwidth comes into question. I have known average users who say things like "$40/month for broadband isn't too bad b/c I can get free music."

        Incidently, while P2P may produce losses for the music industry (seems pretty reasonable to assume so), I'm not entirely certain that as an absolute value, it's not causing people to spend more, if on other industries. It drove the broadband revolution -- a massive change in the telcos. It produced a huge boom in demand for storage -- Maxtor and WD enjoyed a massive surge in demand for hard drives. CD burners, which had seen only lackluster appeal (and high prices) before P2P sold like hotcakes. I remember walking into Office Depot and seeing fully half of the computer peripheral section being CDR-related.

        Of course, while people may be spending less per album going to the music industry, they're listening to a lot more -- the average P2P sharer has far more music than in the old days.
    • Re:postive light? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tanguyr (468371) <tanguyr+slashdot@gmail.com> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:30AM (#6579194) Homepage
      Why exactly are the ISPs so concerned with the user privacy? [snip] Fighting the RIAA will cost them money, just to protect privacy? What have they to gain from that?

      One of two things:
      1) It costs them money to comply with the RIAA demands. They need to have staff looking up ip addresses, cross referencing them with billing records, etc etc. If the RIAA starts tacking more and more requests into a single envelope that starts to get expensive.
      2) Marketing. If you have a lot of broadband customers and the money to play legal games, then this is a great way to get some good publicity amongst a very attractive target demographic.

      I guess i should throw in a third option:
      3) They're doing it out of the goodness of their hearts and their belief that a consumer's rights to privacy outweigh a company's *right* to profit. /t
      • Re:postive light? (Score:2, Informative)

        by utmecheng (682922)
        (1)- Please. The cost of complying, even with hunderds of requests is close to nothing. To think that they dont have a good way to reference customer by IP is ridiculus. The government all but requires them to do so already, irrelevant of the RIAA. (2) The marketing advantage that they get is really, as other posts pointed out is in the fact that file-sharing is what motivates broadband anyways. (3) go smoke something else. they would only be concerned about it if it were profitable to them for some rea
    • Re:postive light? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cobratek (14456)
      *snip* Fighting the RIAA will cost them money, just to protect privacy? What have they to gain from that? */snip*

      How about respect and loyalty from customers.
    • Re:postive light? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rogerborg (306625)

      A subpoena is a demand for information prior to going to court. It's trivially easy to obtain one (they're not vetted by judges) but failing to comply with a properly filed subpoena is an offence in itself.

      Care to bet how long it would take me to write a script to generate a list of every IP address in an ISP's netblock, along with a couple of copyrighted track names for each one? Then you just prepend the DMCA incantation, get it rubberstamped by a clerk, and the ISP is obliged to hand over details for

      • Re:postive light? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WCMI92 (592436)
        "A subpoena is a demand for information prior to going to court. It's trivially easy to obtain one (they're not vetted by judges) but failing to comply with a properly filed subpoena is an offence in itself. "

        Sure, but it's issued in reference to a LAWSUIT. The DMCA allows the RIAA to issue them without going through the expense (and delay) of filing a suit to get to discovery.
    • Re:postive light? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by HutchGeek (597438) <hutchdm@coWELTYmcast.net minus author> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:39AM (#6579877) Journal
      Why exactly are the ISPs so concerned with the user privacy? As an end user I'm certainly concerned with it, but you'd think that ISPs wouldn't really care that much. Fighting the RIAA will cost them money, just to protect privacy? What have they to gain from that?

      Look at it in a slightly different light - and ignore RIAA for the moment. If RIAA manages to coerce the bigger ISPs into turning over records of their customers, the smaller ISP's are going to follow suit. Why? Legal Precedence.

      Now, assume RIAA has pulled this off, and sues the hell out of all the P2P filesharers in the USA. (Hey Pres. Bush - RIAA is out to really screw up your economy - there suing 25% of the US population into poverty.) By getting the information from the ISP's under the DMCA, you can bet it wont be long thereafter until other companies start tossing out subpoenas for other "violations." SCO? Microsoft? The way is paved, thanks to RIAA.

      Then, it gets worse. The government starts, and other businesses get involved to. And soon - an individuals right to privacy is gone, and the ISP's of the US have become nothing expect a research faciltity at the mercy of courts and lawsuits.

      I helped build an ISP some years back. We did it for 2 reasons - money (of course) and to give the people in the area which we lived access to information on the Internet, anonymously if they wanted. And I suspect a fair number of the smaller ISPs out there were started by people who remember back when the net was anonymous and you didnt get your life poked and prodded by marketing agencies, sales companies, RIAA, and who knows who else, because you felt like finding a tip on how to set up Slackware!

  • Bad dog! Play dead. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by technix4beos (471838) <cs@cshaiku.com> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:23AM (#6579129) Homepage Journal
    From the article:
    The recording industry disagreed late Wednesday, in statement given to The Associated Press.

    "We are disappointed that Pac Bell has chosen to fight this, unlike every other ISP which has complied with their obligations under the law. We had previously reached out to SBC to discuss this matter but had been rebuked," the statement read.

    (emphasis mine, added.)

    Right. More like, "We are disappointed that Pac Bell has a spine, and didn't roll over as asked."

    Why is it that when a (smaller) corporation decides to stand up for their customers' rights against a (larger) corporation, it's always spun as being unlawful?

    It's time the DMCA was given a hard look at by the people who have a clue in the legal community, and who have the power to affect change.

    That's wishful thinking perhaps.

    • by garcia (6573) * on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:35AM (#6579241) Homepage
      because under CURRENT LEGISLATION (also known as THE LAW), the RIAA has every right (from what we can gather) to do what they are doing.

      Now, SBC is fighting that (which is not unlawful) but they still do have "obligations under the law" to turn that information over.

      The fact that we don't agree with the law has absolutely nothing to do with this.
      • by technix4beos (471838) <cs@cshaiku.com> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:47AM (#6579326) Homepage Journal
        Just because a law is in existance does not mean that no one has the right to challenge it's constitutionality, a practice that for decades has served well to overturn even the most ardunt of laws.

        Without people to stand up to such pathetic excuses of legal bindings, where would the United States be today?

        I can only imagine the very faint glimmer of hope trapped in the minds of the people enslaved in that future society. But alas, that "future" is not yet here, and we can all rest easy. Perhaps.

        The DMCA and its ilk are tools driven to bring about a reality that no one wants to live in. If no one challenges the various aspects pertinent to how broadly the DMCA reaches into society, then there is no point in even discussing it here in this forum at all. Might as well just enjoy your coffee, shuffle along with the crowd to your nine-to-five job, and clock in another boring day.

        Innovation? Deliberation? Thought? These concepts are unknown to most of the corporate figureheads who control the very media we rely on. Why play into their hands?

        I want to provide a relevant url for anyone interested in seeing how a media system should act like:

        http://www.indymedia.org/ [indymedia.org]

        Food for thought. Have a nice day. ;)
        • by WCMI92 (592436) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:29AM (#6579759) Homepage
          GREAT points.

          Until the DMCA has been ruled on by the US Supreme Court, it's Constitutionality is still open for question.

          So far, no DMCA case has made it past the low levels of the Federal court system.

          Now, don't be TOO optimistic... This court upheld the Sonny Bono Perpetual Copyright Act. BUT, that perpetual copyright coupled with the insane powers the DMCA grats a copyright holder may sway them...

          IMHO, I wouldn't have that big a problem with the DMCA if copyright terms were short (say 10-20 years). The way I see it, the LONGER they extend the terms, the more liberal the terms would have to be in order to meet the Constitution's requirement for limits on copyrights...

          One method of attack here would be a "due process" argument, that the DMCA's subpoena power violates the Constitution's prohibition of search and seizure, without "due process".

          If the RIAA had to file actual lawsuits to get to discovery, before they could subpoena, that would stop this thing cold, as it would increase the hassle and expense 1,000x.

          AFAIK, the DMCA has to be the only, if not one of very VERY few laws that allows a PRIVATE entity to curcumvent the requirement to go through courts in a lawsuit to get subpoenas... I don't think the Constitution allows for this.

          Subpoena power is very scary. It should be supervised by a court.
          • by gilroy (155262) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @10:35AM (#6580389) Homepage Journal
            Blockquoth the poster:

            IMHO, I wouldn't have that big a problem with the DMCA if copyright terms were short (say 10-20 years)

            The DMCA would be a terrible law even if copyright lasted only one day. Here's the issue: the DMCA criminalizes "circumvention devices" -- things designed to break past copy protection or access restrictions. Selling, trading, donating, or even talking about such is considered "trafficking". And this provision does not expire.


            Thus, even if a work is in public domain, if someone has put it behind any sort of access control -- say, a dumb ROT13 password scheme -- it is illegal to access the mateial (despite your legal right to copy it). Under the DMCA, copyright has been superseded by something far more insidious and far more immortal. This is of course the wet dream of both magecorporations and totalitarians.

    • by tarius8105 (683929) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:54AM (#6579392)
      Right. More like, "We are disappointed that Pac Bell has a spine, and didn't roll over as asked."

      I'm surprised some corporation hasnt pulled out some patent or copyright and hit the RIAA with stipulations of the DMCA. It can be done easily, I'm sure an audit of their computers would reveal that they have "pirated" software.

      Why is it that when a (smaller) corporation decides to stand up for their customers' rights against a (larger) corporation, it's always spun as being unlawful?

      Remember, Pac Bell is one company and its not small compared to other baby bells. RIAA is multiple record companies.

      It's time the DMCA was given a hard look at by the people who have a clue in the legal community, and who have the power to affect change.

      Yes but those politicians love their campaign funds. They dont want to give up those donations just to repel a questionable law.

      What really irks me a lot is they are using a generic term as "pirate" to describe file sharers. Last time I checked no one wears an eye patch, has a parrot on their shoulder, privateer, and says "Walk the plank!".
  • by spiritgreywolf (683532) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:26AM (#6579153) Homepage Journal
    Whether they win or not, the thing to remember is that they (Telco ISP's), at least have the resources to throw around to tie it up in the courts for sometime. Whether it's about compliance or not, the fact that SBC says they wish to protect their customers privacy is a nice "we're for the little guy" selling point.

    I would personally like to see the first ISP who refuses to actually keep records of email addresses or IP numbers tied to user accounts, e.g. assign a "token" for the purposes of billing, but don't track IP's, etc, based on that token. Sell service plans that are all or nothing where everyone is throttled the same.

    I can just imagine where the RIAA would be if they issued subpoenas for records that don't actually exist, or the ISP can prove they have no idea who these people are.

    As long as you maintain a dynamic IP that changes each and every day, and they (ISP) don't maintain any route lists for billing purposes, how do they get you?
    • yeah, and when there is a problem (i.e. cable modem uncapping, IP theft, abuse, etc) it will be so easy to find these offenders.
    • I have to wonder if any of the lawsuits would actually hold up in court. It seems like there would just be too many ways to show that while a particular IP could have been assigned to one of your computers at a particular time, it could also have been someone elses. Someone could have been using your wireless access point without your knowledge, or you let someone else use your computer, or you didn't configure your filesharing software correctly and someone uploaded those files to your system without your
  • What about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:26AM (#6579157)


    Friday, December 3, 1999

    In its first major ruling on privacy and defamation in
    cyberspace, the Court of Appeals on Thursday held that an
    Internet Service Provider (ISP) is merely a conduit for
    information, as opposed to a publisher, and consequently
    is no more responsible than a telephone company for
    defamatory materials transmitted over its lines.

    The Court unanimously upheld an Appellate Division,
    Second Department, decision that dismissed a defamation
    lawsuit brought against Prodigy Services Co., by the
    father of a Boy Scout whose identity was usurped by an
    unknown imposter. The imposter posted vulgar messages in
    the boy's name on an electronic bulletin board and e-
    mailed abusive, threatening and sexually explicit
    messages, also in the name of the boy, to the local
    scoutmaster.


    If they aren't responsible for defamation, why file sharing?
    • Re:What about (Score:5, Informative)

      by enjo13 (444114) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:45AM (#6579935) Homepage
      They are not responsible for file sharing.. Under this decision, they can not be held responsible for the actions of their users. This insulates them from lawsuits from the RIAA because their users are sharing files across their network.

      That's not the issue here. The issue being fought by SBC is that the RIAA currently has the power to force them to turn over the identity of users for a given IP address without a court mandate.

      Right now the RIAA can send a list of IP's and times those IP's where logged to a ISP and force the ISP to reveal the contact information for the user who owned that IP at that particular point in time. They can do all of this without any intervention from the courts.

      SBC is fighting that... so the case that you reference has no relevance at all.
  • by Bruha (412869) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:27AM (#6579163) Homepage Journal
    How is it that the RIAA can see what songs you're sharing. Since all the information is located on your PC then them coming inside it to see what you have or do not have in iteself tresspassing. Also since they're not law enforcement acting on a judge signed search warrant they they're doubly breaking the law.

    Breaking the law to catch law breakers does not make it right.

    Another thing of note.. The RIAA claims filesharing is hurting their cd sales..

    Well for the % of sales they've lost they've also released many times less the amount of cd's 4 years ago when this hubbub all started out. They've created their own sales problems not the filesharers.. I have friends who download songs they hear on the radio.. then get a few more the radio would never play so they get a idea if the cd is worth buying.. then they usually go out and buy the CD.
    • by mcp33p4n75 (684632) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:30AM (#6579197)
      Your P2P app posts a list of songs you have to the public. They look at the public list. It's no different than setting up a bootleg cd market in the middle of town square, at least privacy-wise ;)
      • Yep, this is one of the reasons I still use IRC and I don't use bots. I force anyone that wants anything from me to actually log into my server, where there is a legal disclaimer stating that only people with written permission may access my server and that it's express purpose is to act as a way for me to get files from work, home, friends' places, computer lab, etc ... easily. Any unauthorized access is considered tresspass and downloading anything that you do not own the rights to is copyright infringe
    • by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:41AM (#6579283) Homepage Journal
      I have friends who download songs they hear on the radio.. then get a few more the radio would never play so they get a idea if the cd is worth buying.. then they usually go out and buy the CD.

      Actually, this is the real reason the RIAA is scared of P2P. What your friends REALLY do, is listen to some of the other songs on the album, which are never played on the radio. When they figure out there's only one good song on the CD, then they don't buy it.

      The RIAA survives by tricking people into buying 15 songs, of which only one is worth having.
    • They can see what songs you're sharing the same way anyone else can; posing as a user of the p2p system. People freely allow others to view what's in their shared folders. Why would it be illegal for representatives from the RIAA to view them just like any other user can?
    • > How is it that the RIAA can see what songs you're sharing.

      The classic game netrek [netrek.org] had a lovely feature called a "cluecheck" where on some servers, you had to answer simple multiple choice questions using the in-game messenging system before being allowed to play. Can I suggest something similar for Slashdot. Here's one to get us started:

      If you choose to run a P2P client/server that works by serving content to anyone who asks for it, should you expect it to know that it's the RIAA asking, and to


      • If you choose to run a P2P client/server that works by serving content to anyone who asks for it, should you expect it to know that it's the RIAA asking, and to refuse to talk to them?


        Anonymous FTP servers are a perfect example of giving content to anyone asking for it, without knowing who is doing the asking (other than maybe keeping logs of the IPs, of course).

        The correct answer is "no."

  • 1) Allow users to use p2p on your net.
    2) Charge users for using the net.
    4) More users want to access p2p stuff, pay for network
    3) PROFIT !!!
    4) RIAA sues users
    5) Users stop using net
    6) NO PROFIT!!!
    7) ISPs oppose RIAA
    8) RIAA stops suing users.
    9) Users safely use p2p again
    10) PROFIT AGAIN!!!

    Yes, Long, but without the tricky "???" part.
  • This is logical (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:27AM (#6579167)
    ISPs are afraid of losing customers. It's easier to delay the RIAA, pay some lawer fees and look like the good guys trying to protect their subscriber's anonymity than the guys who blow the whistle immediately.

    Somehow though, I suspect ISPs would rather disclose the names of the P2P users the minute they get subpoenaed, and not be hassled by the RIAA, if they could get away with it ...
    • Re:This is logical (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TephX (54484) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:36AM (#6579244) Homepage
      Somehow though, I suspect ISPs would rather disclose the names of the P2P users the minute they get subpoenaed, and not be hassled by the RIAA, if they could get away with it ...

      Are you paranoid? This and the following quote from the story writeup:

      So SBC, like Verizon, is concerned about the cost/hassle of complying with all the subpoenas it has been receiving.

      really make me wonder about people. These P2P users are paying customers. Sure, they may take up a decent chunk of bandwidth (and the worst of them the ISPs probably do want to kick off, but they can do that or throttle them without the RIAA's help), but if there's any legal way an ISP can get away with not disclosing this information to the RIAA, they're going to do it. I mean, their goal is to make a profit, and this is a significant selling point. If you want to use KaZaA or whatever, would you rather go with an ISP that rolls over when the RIAA even breathes in their direction, or one that will fight as hard as they reasonably can to not have to tell the RIAA who you are?

  • DMCA VS PRIVACY (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Crashmarik (635988) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:34AM (#6579230)
    The supreme court has allready ruled that there are broad rights to privacy in your own home. Int the last case I believe it was found that those rights applied even when someone might intrude through casual means.

    Now the question becomes will they hold that copyright holders have, the ability to gain the equivalent of search warrants without the usual certification by a judge that there is cause ? Heres to hoping that the supremes hold true
  • by BenjyD (316700) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:34AM (#6579231)
    Damn I hate the way the RIAA works. If they want to increase CD sales revenues, stop the pirate witch-hunt and use the money instead to:

    1)Charge less per album
    -> more people prepared to buy albums to see if they like it
    2)Pay the artists more
    -> more artists -> more choice -> better music

    • My question is, what happens to CD prices after the RIAA wins all these lawsuits, as they surely will?

      Let's face the music (pun = intended) - distributing copyrighted works IS illegal, and if the RIAA gets its day in court to prove it, some users will lose. And, presumably, file sharing apps will go the way of the dodo.

      However, what happens next? Personally, I think the RIAA will realize that they once again have a captive audience, and they'll raise prices to ungodly levels once again...simply becaus

    • Damn I hate the way the RIAA works. If they want to increase CD sales revenues, stop the pirate witch-hunt and use the money instead to:...

      Sad reality: It is unlikely that charging less per album or paying artists more will do anything to affect the problem of "piracy" because there are plenty of people who will copy music for free just because they can. Ergo RIAA literally has no choice but to pursue infringers if they hope to preserve their business.

      It just occured to me that the problem RIAA faces wi

  • So SBC, like Verizon, is concerned about the cost/hassle of complying with all the subpoenas it has been receiving.

    No no no, you've got it all wrong--*surely* these giant corporations are doing this out of a deep desire to help their customers. :-)
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reggoh.gip'> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:36AM (#6579252) Journal
    No wonder they say the subpoenas are "too broad":
    All your IPs are belong to us.

    - RIAA
  • Hmm!~ (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I don't know if anyone else noticed, but on the list of the songs which *might* get you into some trouble, there is one particular artist listed which I find... ironic.

    None other than: Dave Matthews Band

    Promoted by Napster, allowed to be freely downloaded (with permission) by Napster users and now is suing the people who made it what it is today. Hows that for a thank you?
  • I don't think it's fair to say, "here have this system of subpoena's to follow and do all the detective work for us". I think that the RIAA should have to actually hunt these people down themselves, it's too insane to think that companies like SBC are just going to sit back and take extra work to hurt their business. I say subpoena the screennames and if no one owns up to them, then I guess the RIAA is screwed out of their money.

    If someone breaks my car window, I can't subpoena everyone who owned a came

    • If someone breaks my car window, I can't subpoena everyone who owned a camera in the area to show me all the photos they took that day, then why on earth can I go to an ISP and say, check your logs for a user at this IP and give me their name/address.

      This is entirely different. Those people who owned a camera in the area weren't *providers* for you. They weren't giving you a service.

      If you were parked in a pay lot that had camera & someone broke into your car, you *could* subpoena the video to find o
  • by Stone316 (629009) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:47AM (#6579321) Journal
    Its interesting to see that they are standing up to the RIAA, especially since Verizon lost.

    Maybe, after examining the Verizon lawsuit, they found a loophole?

  • Dude... (Score:4, Funny)

    by xtermz (234073) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:49AM (#6579343) Homepage Journal
    ...thats just way too many acronyms in a title, this early in the morning....
  • As reported by the SFG, the DMCA is not AOK with the SBC, and they're taking on the RIAA ASAP. AFAIK, this is not a LOL matter, but be warned, IANAL

    TTYL

    -- james
  • RIAA vs. The World (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ransak (548582) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:54AM (#6579390) Homepage Journal

    The concept of the RIAA is brilliant. Alot of people dislike them for their heavy handed litigation, but they have little fear of customer backlash since they actually don't sell anything to anyone.

    The way to approach this problem would be to publicly embarrass the labels [riaa.com] that fund them.

    If, for example, RCA Records [rcarecords.com] were to be pointed out in the media for being a member of a lobbying group that has made a concerted effort to behave like legal vigilantes, restrict technology irregardless of it's use, and act like all around asshats, then I bet their support for the RIAA would drop quickly.

    A concerted effort needs to be made to tie the labels publicly to the RIAA's actions. Until that happens, the RIAA will continue to try to do as much damage as they can to piracy, irregardless of the collateral damage to the Internet, technology, and the constitution.
  • RIAA Radar improved (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:12AM (#6579567) Homepage Journal
    You can now get a top 100 non-RIAA list [magnetbox.com] from the RIAA Radar [magnetbox.com] site.
  • by OS24Ever (245667) * <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:37AM (#6579853) Homepage Journal
    This is still something that has not been explained to me without it coming down to 'i like to steal music because it's easy and free' not 'i like to preview my music before I run out and buy the CD'

    p2p in itself is an awesome technology. BitTorrent is one of my favorites, it solves that problem of things like Fileplanet that make yous sit through 70 ads for 30 min while you wait to download the latest 50MB patch to fix a game you like that wasn't released finished, but half finished because the hype machine kept it going for 2 years before it was ready (1.5 before it was released)

    but Kazaa, Napster, Grokster, and any other method of distributing music that was taken from a CD that was distributed as a copyrighted material is just as bad as the guys that scan in the playboy centerfolds and post them to usenet. It's theft of property/right to make money.

    Just because we think RIAA is screwing the artists, and RIAA is keeping CD prices artifically high, or whatever justification of the week is tossed out, you're still stealing the music.

    It's not like Napster/Kazaa negotiated contracts with the artists that allowed you the user to download music seperate and outside the distribution structure. Its not like the artists are fighting RIAA by not signing contracts for music, heck they're jumping at the chance for a record deal with 'the industry' and are happy they get the $0.08 per CD or whatever measly amount it is.

    When you download a song off of kazaa or whatever the p2p du jour is, you're stealing. There isn't a justification for this other than some made up BS. You aren't 'fighting the man' because 'the man' is someone that is out to make a buck. they're not 'trampling your rights' in an attempt to enforce their valid and legal copyrights.

    If half the energy was put into going after our lawmakers to get things like Copyright lenghts, patents, and all the things that have been legally approved by our legally elected representatives and making them change this, we'd get something done.

    Instead we're going to make a bunch of lawyers rich, a bunch of parents whos 12 year old kids are downloading and hosting millions of songs turn off the internet because it corrupted poor johnn and jane, and we're going to get it so that anything outside of port 80 requests to certified websites will be reported as piracy activity and they'll use the PATRIOT act to hunt us down.

    73 iTunes Music Store songs purchased and counting.

    • by iso (87585) <slash@@@warpzero...info> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @10:33AM (#6580370) Homepage

      When you download a song off of kazaa ... you're stealing

      You are right in your reasoning, but while this is off-topic, I do have a problem with the word "stealing." As we know, "stealing" bits is a lot different than "stealing" a physical CD from HMV. To avoid confusion, I'd like to use the phrase "using an unlicensed copy," (or something like it) as that is more accurately representative of what is happening. So, your phrase might look like:

      When you download a song off of kazaa or whatever the p2p du jour is, you're
      copying a song that you have not licensed!

      Other than that it looks great.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2003 @10:47AM (#6580499)
      "This is still something that has not been explained to me without it coming down to 'i like to steal music because it's easy and free'"

      I agree with you. But the whole situation is very much a result of the record companies themselves. Overcharging for CDs creates the demand for other business models.

      I was directly exposed to their marketing strategies during the 90's. Remember those CD clubs where you'd get the first 5 CDs for a dollar. Most people thought they made their profit off of the other CDs you were obligated to purchase. The truth was that without the costs of shipping, they often made a profit from the 5 CDs for $1. You can guess from there how much made it back to the artist.

      Now that iTunes has finally had a chance to set an example, perhaps the record companies will relax. But it has taken almost a decade to get them to do this. I personally know people who were working on almost a business model nearly identical to iTunes beginning in the early 90's. ZERO record companies went for it because they had their profits locked up already via overpriced CDs.

      "73 iTunes Music Store songs purchased and counting."

      If it weren't for the pressure generated by fileswapping, your iTunes store would not exist.

      What it comes down to is most people (like you apparently) are willing go with "easy and cheap". But they've effectively had two choices up till now: expensive or free.
    • Refreshing honesty (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DesScorp (410532)
      Very well put comments. Thank you for posting them. A little more honesty like this around here would do this crowd some good.

      I've posted before that I'm tired of all of the justifications that people use for piracy. They usually fall into one of two areas.....downloading this music is my right (because it's all about me)or, the record
      companies are corrupt (the civil disobidience for fun and profit motive).

      Let's get something straight here. NOBODY likes the record companies. Not the consumers. Not the Art
      • by DickBreath (207180) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @12:30PM (#6581548) Homepage
        Let's get something straight here. NOBODY likes the record companies. Not the consumers. Not the Artists. Not the middlemen. But I don't like car dealers either, and you don't see me hotwiring cars off of their lot because I think they're in a corrupt business. The point is that THEIR corruption doesn't justify MY corrupt actions. Or as your mother undoubtedly told you, two wrongs doesn't make a right.

        Let's suppose that car dealers, the middlemen, screwed the car manufacturers and also screwed the consumers. Suppose they charged a very high price for a car, and also severely squeezed the car manufacturer at the same time.

        In this case, you very well might see people stealing cars off the lot. In large numbers.

        When the dictators of Romania were overthrown, people invaded the palace and looted everything. Ditto in Iraq. For what reason did people feel some right, or at least enraged enough, to do this?

        But, I'll agree in principal about piracy. It is wrong. Just like looting is wrong. But are what these regimes did okay? Is it okay that the RIAA is trying to own all of our culture? Forever?

        As for two wrongs don't make a right, I would say this. Sometimes, you have no other choice. You can just lay down and take it, or you can do something about it. Is it right to kick a bully in the balls? No, I suppose not.

        Back to your car dealer example. Having cars, at least in the US, is almost necessary. (I also should have mentioned earlier, let's suppose that the car dealers have a cartel or a monopoly arrangement to artificially control supply and prices.) Would people begin to feel justified in stealing cars. As the prices and control got ever worse, would larger segments of the popoulation feel this way? Would this seem analogy apply to software and piracy?
      • "And you people complaing about the use of the word "steal".....that's what it is. When you take something that isn't yours, whether it's physical or bits of data over the internet, that's stealing, folks. Saying otherwise is just splitting hairs, the Slashdot equivilant of "I did not have sexual relations with that woman". It may be legally called copyright infringment, but deep down, you KNOW what you're doing."

        What you have to realize though is that semantics are entirely relevant with this issue. You

    • OK, I'll try to argue this, without using the 'fight the man' argument, at least not blindly. Fundamentally I agree with you (which is why I have over 500 purchased CDs, and less than 15 downloaded songs)

      My goal is to buy music that I like, and support the artist. Unfortunately under the current system, if I buy music from the major labels I'm not supporting the artist substantially more than if I downloaded (stole, yes I agree that it's morally stealing) the song. Consider that out of the roughly ten thou
    • I used to agree with you.

      Then the Sony-Bono copyright extension act was passed.

      Then the DMCA was passed.

      Now I consider it moral to do practically anything that helps to put the RIAA & MPAA out of business. I consider it less moral to buy their wares than to steal them.

      I also consider it quite unwise to do any business of any sort with them. I don't buy Sony products of any sort. I don't buy CDs. I don't buy videos. And I argue against doing so to those who will listen.

      Those who (further) corru
    • It's theft of property/right to make money.

      This is a right granted by the people in exchange for something. It's not a "natural right". The people have a natural right to use any and all ideas and information as they see fit, but they made a deal with the people making and compiling the ideas. That deal is, sure, you can "profit" from your ideas and information, but only for a limited amout of time, and then you have to give it us, the "true" owners of the information.

      The RIAA is breaking that deal.
  • Broadband Bad! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rassleholic (591097) <rassleholic@gmail.com> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:42AM (#6579898) Homepage
    These media conglomerates are so paranoid about what illegal downloading will do to their bottom lines, they have a great incentive to kill what they perceive as the primary means of obtaining illegally downloaded material (high bandwidth). They are also denying themselves a revenue stream potentially worth billions because they cannot think beyond the next quarter.
  • by andy1307 (656570) * on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:47AM (#6579959)
    Never thought i would be rooting for a baby bell or IBM.
  • by Psyx (619571) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:49AM (#6579981)
    I'm sure there's a hundred holes in this but here goes:

    Is there anyway that one could apply copy-protection/encryption to the network itself so that anyone who isn't part of the network would have to break the DCMA in order to find the files in the first place?

    Then just create a restrictive license that keeps businesses and their agents (like the RIAA) off of the network.
  • Due process (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:58AM (#6580038) Homepage

    I don't think PBIS will get anywhere with the privacy argument as they're putting it forward. They might get somewhere with the jurisdictional argument, but on privacy they're going to flop. People breaking the law have no right to have that illegal activity kept private.

    PBIS would have better luck arguing that that provision of the DMCA violates the constitutional right to due process. The RIAA hasn't provided any proof beyond merely their word to any judicial authority that copyright infringement has in fact occurred, and PBIS could argue that the Constitution's due-process clause trumps the provision of the DMCA that allows this and that if the RIAA wants to force release of private information then they should be required to provide at least proof that the downloaded file in fact contained a song on which they hold copyright and a legal evidence chain showing that that file in fact came from the computer for which they are requesting the subscriber's private information. It would help also if PBIS could present a subpoena from the RIAA where the file they're claiming infringes provably doesn't infringe (eg. it contains an original work not owned by the RIAA which was shared either by the actual copyright owner or with his explicit authorization).

  • by lobsterGun (415085) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @10:53AM (#6580565)

    The DMCA has no penalties for making an unfounded accusation. As a copyright holder I can accuse anyone I want of pirating my wares. Here are some ways it can be abused.

    1 ) I get into a flame war with some bastard and go batshit crazy. I get his IP. I send a letter to his provider accusing him of piracy and demand his contact information. In accordance with their obligations under the law, SBC complies and sends me his address. I then call John Ashcroft and give him the name and address of a known AlQuaida sympathiser. Mere moments later a Homeland security SWAT team servs a no-knock search warant on his ass and shoots him for threatening them with a plastic cup. SBC doesn't particularly care about this one.

    2) I am a competitor to SBC. I get a list of the IP addresses served by SBC. I send the list if IP addrressed attached to SBC and attach a letter accusing the people on that list of pirating my wares. In accordance with their obligations under the law, SBC complies and sends me all of the contact information for it's customers. I add that contact information to my list of people to send my new Ultra Low Priced Broadband advertisement. SBC is concerned about this, but it's so brazen that they can stop it in court.

    2) In a variation of scenario 2 I simply buy the contact info from third parties as they persue claims against SBD clients. I then sell the compiled list to mass marketers and deprive SBC of the ability to do so. I also sell the list to SBC competitors for direct marketing compaigns. SBC is concerned about this.

    4) I and a billion other copyright holders innundate SBC with accusations that their customers are pirates and demand contact info. SBC has to open a whole new department of people to answer these accusations. They spend a fortune attempting to comply with their obligations under the law. SBC is really concerned about this.

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