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RIAA Countersued Under Racketeering Laws 893

Posted by simoniker
from the prohibition-is-on dept.
Negadin writes "According to CNET News, a New Jersey woman, one of the hundreds of people accused of copyright infringement by the Recording Industry Association of America, has countersued the big record labels, charging them with extortion and violations of the federal antiracketeering act." The woman's attornies are arguing that "...by suing file-swappers for copyright infringement, and then offering to settle instead of pursuing a case where liability could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the RIAA is violating the same laws that are more typically applied to gangsters and organized crime."
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RIAA Countersued Under Racketeering Laws

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  • About time! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by StarWreck (695075) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:18PM (#8322770) Homepage Journal
    Good for her! Its about time someone took on the illegal monopoly that is the RIAA. Take 'em down! I'll join!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:19PM (#8322777)
    ...but fine.

    That is if you have a clever attorney.
  • Great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sancho (17056) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:21PM (#8322797) Homepage
    Now they'll start suing everyone for hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of offering to settle. And they've got the perfect excuse--the US government made them do it.
  • The difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:21PM (#8322798) Homepage Journal
    The Mafia doesn't offer you your day in court if you would rather not pay your protection money.

    The RIAA is suing those whom they think are guilty of file sharing. If you are not guilty, you have the absolute right to demand your day in court.

    I'm not trying to absolve the RIAA for their heinous practices, but there is nothing illegal about what they are doing.
  • She'll lose (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samsmithnz (702471) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:22PM (#8322805) Homepage
    She'll never win, she won't have the cashflow. Even if she were, by some miricle to 'win', she'd probably be bankrupt. Its about as useless as me suing IBM or Microsoft 'just for fun'
  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:23PM (#8322811) Homepage
    So if convicted, the RIAA can either:

    a) Do nothing, and seem ineffective at stopping P2P (which they already are, but it's a different thing to give up the PR battle) or
    b) Drive every court case home. The evidence is quite clear, the possible damages huge. The courts might award them considerably higher fines than any settlement.

    Somehow I think this will push them to b), and I sure wouldn't want to be on the recieving end of the next $97 billion lawsuit... $97 million, billion, trillion, kazillion is kinda irrelevant at that point anyway.

    Kjella
  • She has a case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alcoholocaust (717580) <abuttler@umn.edu> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:27PM (#8322845) Homepage
    Section 1964 of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act not only provides for civil remedies in cases like this, but also automatically triples the damages and covers court costs and lawyers' fees. Personally, I'd like to see a massive class-action lawsuit against these dirtbags. If it can be won, surely the damages would be enough to curb their malicious behavior.
  • Make the RIAA pay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jettoblack (683831) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:30PM (#8322874)
    The RIAA companies probably make a small profit when someone settles with them for a few grand. Lawyers take their cut, but a settlement contract isn't all that expensive or time consuming for the RIAA.

    But unless they win HUGE punitive damages (and the loser actually has the money to pay and doesn't declare bankruptcy) they probably lose money when it comes down to a lawsuit. And that takes a long time and involves a lot of up-front legal expenses, for questionable return.

    If enough people start counter-suing the RIAA, or at least going to court instead of settling, then the lawsuits will soon become a huge financial burden on the RIAA, even when they win.
  • Re:She has a case (Score:1, Insightful)

    by StarWreck (695075) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:31PM (#8322881) Homepage Journal
    We just have to pray that it makes it to a Jury (that the RIAA is unable to pay off). I don't think there are very many Jury's in the world that would side with the RIAA... regardless of the facts.
  • by kfg (145172) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:32PM (#8322897)
    In fact, even in today's legal climate I doubt it will survive the priliminary hearing. If the RIAA had any legitimate cause they the right to bring action. They also had the right to settle, as did anyone they brought action against.

    If you lend someone ten bucks, they say they can't pay, you sue them, and you both agree to settle the matter for a fiver there is no extortion.

    In fact the courts do everything they can to encourage such a resolution and avoid a trial.

    If she felt the RIAA did not have grounds she had the opportunity to have her day in court.

    Settling and then demanding your day in court, plus damages, well, that's a wee bit of a stretch, even against the RIAA.

    The people who have been hustled by the RIAA "cops" would stand a much better chance with this sort of action.

    KFG
  • Re:The difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barc0001 (173002) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:33PM (#8322901)
    They're "Offering a day in court"?

    Please.

    They're saying "Pay this small fine of several thousand dollars, or when we take you to court we'll ensure that you and all of your immediate family are destitute for the next 3 generations"

    They're banking (no pun intended) on the fact that most people see that it will cost at least as much as the proposed fine to hire a lawyer and fight, and by fighting there is no guarantee they will win, so they just pay the fine rather than take the risk.

    Sounds at least a bit like extortion to me...
  • Re:She has a case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somethinghollow (530478) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:34PM (#8322918) Homepage Journal
    Look for Howard Berman [house.gov], et al, to start introducing rackateering-exempt bills that would protect organizations such as members of the RIAA and MPAA.
  • by 2000 Britneys (549923) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:35PM (#8322920)
    Why ? because the RIAA has the legal system paid off

    It sux but in a country where the "big" business has more to say than the people living there odds are way against such action.

    Don't get me wrong I would love to see this suite go forward and have her on the winning side, but on the other side of the spectrum I am a pessimist and all i can see is the dark clouds of RIAA

    And what's worse they are coming to my country - Canadians - don't let them win
  • RIAA == Dead! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:35PM (#8322923)
    Where they'll get the RIAA is with their setlement terms. Paying them off does not protect you from being sued. Plus you have to admit guilt. That runs counter to the definition of setlement.
  • Re:The difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StarWreck (695075) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:35PM (#8322931) Homepage Journal
    The RIAA dosen't offer you a day in court either. They have so much financial resources that they can just force any case that goes to court to stretch out so long that you will simply go bankrupt and try to flee to Mexico. They know that there is hardly a Jury on earth that would side with a corrupt monopoly that sues 12 year olds, so they just force you to spend tens-of-thousands of dollars in the preliminaries before you even get to Jury selection.
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:36PM (#8322941) Homepage
    Uhm...let me see if I understand this. They sue people for whom they basically have an open and shut case, and then offer to settle for much less, and she is upset?

    Would she be happier if they withdraw the settlement offers, and sue her and each and every other defendent into bankruptcy?

  • by KarmaOverDogma (681451) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:37PM (#8322948) Homepage Journal
    Doubltless under what you propose some people may get financially mowed down, but you are leaving out a few factors wich could be very good for the masses:

    1) Children age 12, Grandmothers, and People without actual computers being sued in court. Wonderfully bad publicity RIAA
    2) Sympathetic Jury Nullification. More wonderfully bad publicity for RIAA
    3) A Hung Jury or a simple Not Guilty Verdict. Not only bad for RIAA but it sets a track record. This is one of the things they absolutely DO NOT want.
    4) A wealthy defendent who hires an Attorney who can go the distance. This would also be very bad for the RIAA.

    So yes, if convicted the RIAA may just take cases to court en masse, but they could also become a classic David vs. Goliath story as well.

    .
  • corporate lobbying (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:38PM (#8322956)
    because it's corporations paying for the laws, not individuals.
  • Re:Great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ender81b (520454) <billdNO@SPAMinebraska.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:40PM (#8322969) Homepage Journal
    yes, obviously, because unfair punishment laws like "three strikes and your out" and all the war on drugs stuff has caused an enormous backlash...
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:41PM (#8322975)
    If you are not guilty, you have the absolute right to demand your day in court.

    You would not be nearly so smug if they sued you, even by accident. Not only can anything happen in a court room, but you'll spend hundreds to throusands of your own dollars to prove your innocence -- of which you won't get a penny back if you do win.

    Next time think of the real situation before you post.

  • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:41PM (#8322980) Homepage Journal
    In my opinion, this has never looked good for the RIAA. First, they helped create laws that would impose very large fines for relatively minor offenses. Then they make deals with alleged copyright violators to settle at a fraction of the fine.

    One has to ask two questions. First, if they are willing to settle for such a small amount, why are the fines so high to begin with. Wouldn't it be more efficient to set fines at a appropriate level in the first place? It is very arguable that such high fines were created to allow extortion.

    Second, why do they want to settle so badly? It seems like they would want some percentage of the cases to go to court to establish that these people actually violated copyright. As it stands, it would be very reasonable to assert that they are randomly choosing people, and then extorting money from them.

    So, with the current tactics, extortion and fear seems to be their game. It is like those old shows where a gang would go into a business and demand protection money. There are legal ways to extort this kind of money, the MPAA and BSA does it. The RIAA does not seem to care about the law.

    I really don't understand why the RIAA does not get an independent arbitrator to look at each case, assign a dollar value to the damages, and then send a letter to the alleged violators. Further legal proceedings might occur if the money is not paid, but at least then we would have some confidence that the RIAA is not just harassing innocent people.

  • Re:Start a Trend (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MoneyT (548795) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:42PM (#8322987) Journal
    On point 1, we've seen many corporations (SCO, Microsoft et al) shoot themselves in the foot many times and still blindly suge ahead.
  • Re:She has a case (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sirsnork (530512) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:42PM (#8322990)
    Hold the phone here, while I don't agree with the methods they are using to get information they are doing what they have a legal right to do in respect to protecting their property. Yes it is their property, without going into how they got it and if their contracts with musicians are screwing the musicians. Also forgetting that they would rather litigate than release a simple way to pay for the music online without only being able to listen to it once.

    They own it, everyone downloading it is pirating it under the law, they have every right to take legal action and they are. This should be no surprise, they are simply using the laws we have allowed to be created. End of story
  • by e4e6 (694966) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:44PM (#8323003)
    Occasionally drinking brings about lucidity... more ofthen then not, a drunken rant...
    While I've been following these events for a while, I've had a thought...
    I recall the days of yore when I would record a radio program on a crapy tape recorder. I highly doubt the recording industry suffered any loses due to that.
    So assuming I download digital quality music off the internet- and lets also assume a round number of 100 songs- and assume an average cd has 10 songs and is priced at $15, that adds up to $150 dollars worth of songs I've downloaded.
    If the RIAA were to come after me for that, what gives them the right to violate my 8th Amendment rights?
    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  • by Bingo Foo (179380) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:48PM (#8323033)
    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it's pretty likely that the p2p users the RIAA chose to sue were actually violating the law. You can't possibly think that suing less than a fraction of a percent of p2p abusing copyright violators somehow makes more people look guilty than actually are?

    After writing that, I realized that I can probably agree completely with the plaintiffs in this RICO suit, but I will get called all kinds of names for calling your sorry post an overreaction.
  • Re:Start a Trend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by santos_douglas (633335) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:49PM (#8323037) Journal
    That's a great point. In fact, the quick settlement of the early suits not only emboldened the RIAA, but in the eyes of the general population it probably seemed like a signal that the RIAA was right all along and those nasty song swappers settled quick because they knew they were wrong. Legally a settlement is neutral, but in the eyes of the public, it says guilty for someone. With someone fighting back, suddenly it starts to turn the other way, with lone individuals taking a stand against a big record industry - people love that!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:49PM (#8323039)

    What I don't like is that they come after you saying they are going to sue you for x or you can settle for y. So you can settle and pay y, or fight them and pay z in legal fees.

    Now, most of the time x > z > y, so the cheapest way out of it is to pay y and settle.

    It's my understanding that you have to pay legal fees regardless if you win/lose, so from a financial standpoint the only smart move is to just settle.

    Is it me or is this just unfair?

  • by XorNand (517466) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:49PM (#8323042)

    Uh... not that I'm any fan of the RIAA, but this is hardly "exactly the same thing". The RIAA is pursuing those who they believe have wronged them (and have the legal precedents and legislative support backing them--the most important pieces of this game). Is the RIAA strong-arming people. Probably. But this isn't a clear cut extortion case; the law is very specific as to the definition of 'extortion'.

  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:51PM (#8323056) Homepage
    If they all counter-sued and dried up RIAA's resources, it would be like the legal equivalent of a Slashdotting!
  • Re:She has a case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:52PM (#8323062) Journal
    They may already started down that route with the HMO's. I can't remember if that "HMO Protection Act" has passed or not. It might just be slipped in with some sort of tort reform thing. Either way, the gov't will do what it can to protect its main propaganda machine.Taken to the extreme, they could be assimilated into the federal gov't, making them immune to all lawsuits. I know that's silly, but worse things have happened.
  • fine its offtopic (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:52PM (#8323077)
    I know whats up with that??
    seems to be getting more frequent. i get a few hours of that a week now... and i dont even browse slashdot religiously


    why doesnt slashdot post and article on it, are they being ddos'd? someone tripping over cables? drunken editors? if 911 lines went down i bet they would sure as hell explain it eventually!

  • Oh whatever (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hobobo (231526) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:55PM (#8323098)
    Hopefully this won't get modded down as a troll, but we'll see.

    I am sick of people who think the RIAA is doing something illegal by suing individuals who download music from the internet. This isn't very complicated but I will enumerate my thinking:

    1. The corporations that make up the RIAA pay money produce a product (music).
    2. These corporations sell their product for money. You have a choice as to whether you want to buy it or not.
    3. Some people do not want to buy the product, however they still want to use it, so they download it from the Internet.
    4. The product that these corporations created is being used without their permission; obviously they want to stop this. They have a few options I suppose:
    a. Wait for law enforcement officials (Dept. of Justice?) to crack down on this.
    b. Sue the individuals who are using their product without permission.

    They chose option b. They are operating fully within the laws of the United States (or at least they should, and it is not impossible in principle for them to do so--I am referring to the way they obtained IP addresses). Additionally, the laws of the US allow them to sue for large amounts of money. And now for some reason people get angry when they sue for less money?

    I am not saying that from a PR standpoint this was the best way to deal with the problem, and there are many better ways that the RIAA could have taken advantage of online music instead of resisting it. But they are still taking justified and legal action.
  • by yoho_jones (626889) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:56PM (#8323101)
    There's always the poker face. They expect everyone to roll over and pay. You can argue *practically* anything in court these days. Temporary Insanity? The Menendez Brothers hung the jury first time around. Time to make the law work for the *good* *normal* people as opposed to the psychos. Yoho
  • by shark72 (702619) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:56PM (#8323104)

    "First, if they are willing to settle for such a small amount, why are the fines so high to begin with. Wouldn't it be more efficient to set fines at a appropriate level in the first place? It is very arguable that such high fines were created to allow extortion."

    It's extremely common practice to sue for the maximum amount that the law allows. Even individuals, in addition to entities like the RIAA, regularly do this. Suing for a lesser amount opens you up to some risks: the court might find that the damages are even less than the reduced amount, and it sets a precedent. If you sue ten people for five thousand bucks and sue the eleventh guy for a half a million bucks for doing approximately the same thing, your position is weakened.

    "Second, why do they want to settle so badly? It seems like they would want some percentage of the cases to go to court to establish that these people actually violated copyright. As it stands, it would be very reasonable to assert that they are randomly choosing people, and then extorting money from them."

    I'm not sure we would want it otherwise. If the plaintiffs don't offer a settlement and instead force the defendants into litigation, then it can get much, much worse for the defendant, and even more of a PR issue for the record companies. Many defendants do have a few thousand bucks lying around for a settlement. Most do not have the tens of thousands of dollars that litigation might cost.

    Offering to settle does not prevent a defendant from taking it to court if they so desire. Either way it's entirely the defendant's choice. Beating the defendant in litigation where the defendant chose to litigate has the same net result, and the RIAA's image is perhaps tainted a bit less than if they hadn't offered a settlement.

  • Re:She has a case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:56PM (#8323107)
    Actually no. You see many people (I think a growing number) are starting to realize that music is not property. To be fair, no information can be "property". The only reason we stick to this flawed paradigm is because all of the legal mechanisms of our societies are geared toward handling physical "private property" and are unable to cope with attempts at using information as "property".

    I recommend this [isanet.org] analysis of the fallacies of treating information that way. The RIAA/MPAA and the current USPO maddness are only tips of the iceberg. Think someone else's "ownership" of your DNA and patenting/copyrights on large integer numbers.

  • by Hao Wu (652581) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:58PM (#8323124) Homepage
    President Bush could earn some quick-and-easy votes if he would pardon everyone being sued by the RIAA. I'm not a huge fan of the man, but I'd vote for him if he did this for music-likers.
  • Re:The difference (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kris_J (10111) * on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:58PM (#8323125) Journal
    For many people, financial ruin and death aren't much to choose between.

    While I'm here, explain to me why someone should be able to be completely ruined for making copies of, say, the top 20 musical albums of 2000. Obviously the financial penalties for individuals is grossly out of proportion to the level of malicious intent required and actual provable damange caused.

  • by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity@@@sbcglobal...net> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:00PM (#8323134) Homepage Journal
    Artists have known for years that they were racketeers.

    Proving that in court? That's somewhat more difficult.
  • by viware (680138) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:00PM (#8323139)
    To go with this analogy:
    It's more like if you lend someone $10, they say they can't pay, you sue them for $1000 but offer a settlement of $100. Sounds like racketeering to me.
  • Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:02PM (#8323156) Journal
    How dare they compare the Scum of the RIAA to such upstanding citizens. Such as: Al Capone, Tony Montana, and Don Corleone

    Why not? The "content" industry has had major mob ties since it arose from the jukebox protection rackets.
  • Re:Oh whatever (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yoho_jones (626889) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:02PM (#8323157)
    I'm not sure if copyright covers fair use or monopoly. I'm no law expert, but I work as an IT in a law office, but I refuse to pay full cd price for one good song I hear... I also refuse to pay a company, that promotes the song, more money than the people who made the song. Yoho
  • Re:The difference (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shark72 (702619) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:07PM (#8323187)

    You can place anybody else in the roles of plaintiff and defendant and it would still work the same.

    Say, for example, somebody wrongs you in some way that causes you financial harm. Pick any example you like. Perhaps they built your house incorrectly. Perhaps they destroyed your car. For whatever reason, you feel that it is your moral imperative to them.

    You don't want to go through a lengthy court process, but you do feel that you should be compensated in some way, so you can at least have a moral victory. So you offer to settle for less than what you feel you are legally owed.

    If you feel that this, too, is extortion even when you're the plaintiff, fair enough -- but this is how things work.

  • by DaMeatGrinder (565296) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:09PM (#8323205) Homepage
    "I'll take you to court..." is not a threat the court will acknowledge. The court exists to settle disputes. The court prefers people settle their disputes without court involvement. The court does not like to settle disputes.

    I don't think the courts see their high cost as a bad thing. If courts were cheap, we'd see every school-yard dispute landing in front of a judge.

  • by wo1verin3 (473094) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:11PM (#8323212) Homepage
    >> Since when do judges in the U.S. define the
    >> meaning of words in a language?

    Judges anywhere can tell lawyers to stop using one term to describe another. If I call a person who was shoplifting a murderer, that can influence the audience, media, and jury, any anyone else involved in a case. I imagine most people see a huge difference between shoplifting and killing, but I'm not alone in seeing a huge difference between piracy and file sharing.
  • Re:She has a case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loki_1929 (550940) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:11PM (#8323215) Journal
    " they are doing what they have a legal right to do in respect to protecting their property. "

    Actually, this lawsuit alleges that they are, in fact, doing what they do not have a legal right to do. We shall see. Furthermore, previous tactics (such as mass-suing individuals from one location regardless of where the alleged infringement took place) has already been ruled illegal. Thus, a whole bunch of subpoenas were ruled invalid.

    "Yes it is their property, without going into how they got it and if their contracts with musicians are screwing the musicians. Also forgetting that they would rather litigate than release a simple way to pay for the music online without only being able to listen to it once."

    Actually, this has RICO and anti-trust implications. If the RIAA, (and thus member companies) are guilty of RICO and anti-trust violations, it may very well not be their intellectual property at all. In any event, it would be highly doubtful that they would be able to continue enforcing their IP rights.

    " everyone downloading it is pirating it under the law,"

    Really? Pirating? That's rather ... absurd. Legally speaking, by making unauthorized copies of the music to which the RIAA holds copyrights, they're committing 'copyright infringement'. Copyright infringement is about the legal equivalent of tresspassing, only the draconian laws surrounding it have set the possible damages per infringement absurdly high to discourage commercial copyright infringement.

    "This should be no surprise, they are simply using the laws we have allowed to be created. "

    There's a woman in New Jersey who, along with her lawyers, not only believes differently, but is willing to put her 'rear end' on the line to prove it. Should she succeed, or even get a foot in the door, I think you'll see a whole lot more suits like her's. Do you think the RIAA can afford to engage, say 10,000 people, in long, involved lawsuits?

    Ah yes, P2P lawsuits - the new face of law.

  • by The Mad Hawk (16167) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:11PM (#8323216) Homepage
    It would be really neat if it actually worked this way. It doesn't. The civil courts are less and less about who's in the right and more and more about who can afford to play the game. The math works in the RIAA's favor here. If I'm going to have to lawyer up to the tune of ten grand I don't have and waste a year of my hairline to defend my name, or pay two grand that I can spread out on credit cards, how is that so different from "pay us 30% out of the register, or maybe have an electrical fire?"

    As for open and shut cases, do you really trust an organization that's suing a list of IP addresses because they can't actually go to the trouble of finding actual defendants? Given that a significant percentage of the last batch of addresses aren't even in the United States (the jurisdiction of the court in which the suits were filed), do we trust their investigative prowess so much as to call the cases open and shut? If you're truly concerned about harm to your business, you do the research. If you can't even be bothered to
    for ip in `cat ip-addresses.txt`; do whois -h whois.arin.net $ip | grep 'Country:' | grep -i us | wc ; done
    before you trot your ass down to the courtroom, you look a little less than honest in your plaintive wails of "stop the evil file sharers from starving our artists!"

    If you happen to know the plaintiff in the RICO countersuit, and you know she is guilty, then my apologies for my tone. Otherwise, I'll keep an open mind as to who the real extortionist is.
  • by Jadecristal (135389) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:12PM (#8323225)

    Ok, fine. So they'll win. Let's do some fun math, and look at the practical results of such a suit...

    You get sued, and refuse to settle. The RIAA takes their $100/hour lawyers (probably quite low) to court, and make an example out of you. You were sharing, oh... say, 500 songs. Now, the maximum statutory penalty for willful copyright infringement would be 250,000 USD TIMES 500 songs. 125 MILLION dollars. Lets say that the really nice RIAA lawyers, in making an example out of you, decide to recommend to the judge that you only be fined... 10,000 USD per infringement. <sarcasm>After all, that's much better than 250,000 USD.</sarcasm> Willful infringement would likely be really hard to prove, but infringement is easy if you were really infringing and they have proof.

    Moving on, at 10,000 USD/song, we now have a much more reasonable number of only 5 million USD. RIAA presents proof, IP addresses, whatever. BAM goes the gavel, and a judgement against you is entered for 5M USD. Ignoring court costs.

    You have a really good job, where you make 50,000/year. Their chances of ever seeing anything out of you? Nominal. The chance that they've just fscked your life (if you had much of a filesystem left in the first place after they raid you)? Pretty good.

    And thus we again have a semi-sane, though probably twisted, example of why copyright is messed up.

    Disclaimer, as usual: IANAL. This is not intended to constitute legal advice, if it could be taken in such manner under any interpretation. If you're in the process of being 0wn3d by the Racketeering In America Association [msn.com], please contact a REAL lawyer.

  • by burris (122191) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:12PM (#8323226)
    I think making counterfit CD's or CHARGING for some one elses work IS piracy, but I really am not sure file sharing for free is...

    I won't disagree with you but Congress already has. The DMCA, of all laws, changed the definition of "commercial gain" to include "the receipt, or expectation of receipt" of copyrighted material. In other words, Congress specifically made mere trading illegal. People running P2P clients are making infringing material available because they expect to download other infringing material.

    burris
  • Re:Great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nosilA (8112) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:13PM (#8323230)
    'Three Strikes' laws are actually quite popular among the citizens because they are perceived to protect the law obiding majority from the violent criminals. Likewise, nearly every instance of unfair punishment in the war on drugs has been against a poor minority, and the majority thinks "this won't happen to me."

    In contrast, most people do not perceive sharing music as a crime. In fact, it's pretty hard to explain to most people what is wrong with it. Seeing people get sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars for sharing a few digital music files is far more likely to evoke a reaction.

    I can't predict how the public will react, and I'm especially unsure that people will care enough to do anything about it, but this is quite a different case from those you cited.
  • Mod UP? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zen Programmer (518532) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:15PM (#8323247)
    ...regardless of the facts.

    That's definitely what we want. We don't want rational justice if it doesn't serve our purposes.

    In my limited understanding of the case, I would side with the woman. However, I believe this can be solved with the facts.

  • Re:She has a case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajd1474 (558490) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:15PM (#8323254)
    Music (or software) Piracy is not about stealing some sort of physical property, and never has been. If I "steal" a song via Kazaa, the RIAA isn't short one copy. However, by copying or distributing copyrighted works you are, in effect, depriving the original author of that work income (lets just pretend the artist usually gets the money).

    It's not about whether you would or wouldn't have purchased a copy if it were cheaper or easier either. The fact is that you have taken something for free, which the owner has asked payment for. Just as a service isn't property, but you are still required to pay for your phone, your cable, your Doctor etc.

    The law does not see music as property, just as it doesnt see a service as property, it is somewhere in between. The flaw isn't in the way the RIAA treats music, the flaw is in those who somehow feel right in taking something which they should rightly be required to pay for. It costs a lot of money to produce and promote an album, and those who pay for that are entitled to due payment for you using it.

    If you are SERIOUS about supporting artists, and SERIOUS about screwing the RIAA. Go out and support your local unsigned artists by turning up to their gigs and buying their CD's, but dont take something you aren't entitled to just because you think music shouldn't be owned by anyone.
  • by Nakito (702386) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:18PM (#8323275)
    This sounds similar to the approach taken by Mitsubishi regarding the Lemelson machine vision patents. I believe Mitsubishi argued that the Lemelson foundation had deliberately embarked on a practice of bringing weak patent claims nationwide because it knew that most defendants could not afford protracted litigation, and then would "settle" by requiring each defendant to purchase a license that cost less than the cost of defense. So virtually every defendant was forced to settle even though they believed the patents had no merit (and, ultimately, those patents were invalidated). My recollection is that the RICO claim did not work, but I am sure that counsel in the RIAA case has review the arguments pretty carefully.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:18PM (#8323279)
    Well if he did that then corperations would start hating him and then who does he have on his side?

    thats like saying you'd vote for hitler if he gave some people a pardon from getting gassed. I think thats one of the most un intelligent comments i've read today. All it takes is a little grease on your hand and you'll vote for whoevers greasing it? I guess i shouldnt be surprised when he wins the election. You deserve to have him as a president.
  • Re:She has a case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gordguide (307383) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:19PM (#8323282)
    You are correct; it's illegal and the RIAA have a right to defend the unauthorized use of their member's property.

    To me the issue is the level of penalty; $125,000 per incident (not per song; per each time someone accessed the song).
    I think that was meant to dissuade commerical copying, but the RIAA are using it against individuals, and only individuals, some of whom the public would be very sympathetic towards.

    A 12-year old kid (to use the now-cliche'd defendant) could easily find themselves facing hundreds of millions in penalties; all the RIAA has to prove is that 10 people shared a copy of one Brittany Spears song on the kid's Kazza folder and it's already $ 1.25 million. Some of the people they're going after probably are looking at a bill of about a half-billion dollars (5000 songs, shared just once each) or 10 times that (each song shared 10 times) or even more.

    You can run a war for a day or three on that kind of money. Which citizen has that kind of scratch? Or how about $4.83 Billion? That's Sony Music's annual revenue (2003). Given that I'd be pleased as punch with a 10% profit margin (Sony is bleeding red ink from every aspect of it's operations, not just music), am I supposed to believe that a fine levied against one prolific music sharer can equal the potential net profit of a huge music company? Why print the CDs at all?

    I'd just leave the damn masters laying around the studios at night and wait for some sucker to upload 'em to Kazza. Sure beats all that manufacturing and advertising bullshit, and I'm guaranteed a profit? Count me in.

    When the punishment does not fit the crime, and the RIAA uses the threat of onerous punishment to elict a quick settlement, it raises some questions that I think should be answered.

    If answering them requires a lawsuit, so be it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:24PM (#8323328)
    The president can only pardon people for criminal offenses. He can protect people from criminal prosecution. However, what the RIAA is doing is a civil matter, and a presidential pardon won't protect anyone.
  • Re:Oh whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by another_twilight (585366) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:29PM (#8323361)
    And I am sick of people who think that the objection to actions like this by the RIAA are based on legality alone.

    People who focus solely on what is and is not legal (like the RIAA and yourself) are missing the point. Sure what the RIAA is doing is legal. But it is also ludicrous.

    By (ab)using the legal system in this fashion, the law must be made ever more stringent, new exceptions and modifications must be introduced and so it grows more complex and (from observation) less flexible.

    All that this sort of legalism encourages is
    a) pressure by special interest groups to change laws to be more favourable or to leave in place laws that have long past their intended purpose to the detriment of the community at large;
    b) business models based more on litigation than real value;
    c) an increasingly complex legal structure that becomes less and less a codification of the will of the people and more an artifact to protect those who can best manipulate it.

    The law is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. It should be (and again I own to idealism) a means of defining the desires of those who elected the people making those laws.

    Take a step back. The law under a democratic system should be a tool for everyone and usable by everyone, and examples like this are making it increasingly apparent it is not.
  • by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:31PM (#8323376) Homepage

    In fact, even in today's legal climate I doubt it will survive the priliminary hearing. If the RIAA had any legitimate cause they [had] the right to bring action. They also had the right to settle, as did anyone they brought action against.

    If you lend someone ten bucks, they say they can't pay, you sue them, and you both agree to settle the matter for a fiver there is no extortion.


    In this case though, they're accusing you of stealing $10, they threaten to sue you sue you for $250,000 and offer to settle for $1000.

    If you're innocent, your choices are;
    Pay them the $1,000.
    Pay a lawyer $10,000 and waste a year of your life fighting the case.

    Sure if you're guilty it's a generous offer on their part.
    But if you're innocent, it's extortion.

    It might be legal extortion, but it's still extortion.

    -- this is not a .sig
  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:32PM (#8323381) Journal
    You have a really good job, where you make 50,000/year. Their chances of ever seeing anything out of you? Nominal. The chance that they've just fscked your life (if you had much of a filesystem left in the first place after they raid you)? Pretty good.

    I would drain my bank accounts and max out my credit cards (assuming I hadn't already done this to pay my lawyers) once it became apparent that I'd lose the case and write a big fat check to my favorite charity shortly before filing Chapter 7.

    Failing that, there's always the option of withdrawing all your money as cash and setting it on fire -- then filing Chapter 7.

    Either option is better then giving those RIAA bastards a dime. I'd file Chapter 7 before I'd settle with them -- fuck 'em I don't have any assets they can take anyway.

  • Re:The difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Custard (587661) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:38PM (#8323414) Homepage Journal
    They're saying "Pay this small fine of several thousand dollars, or when we take you to court we'll ensure that you and all of your immediate family are destitute for the next 3 generations"

    You're absolutely right.

    The core problem is that the law allows for ridiculously high monetary penalties for violating a copyright. It seems to have been written to deter those who would make millions off bootlegged distribution. But it's being applied to people who violated copyright for no financial gain, and typically they weren't even aware they were sharing files (they only thought they were downloading for themselves).

    I mean, imagine that a law was passed to penalize big businesses from dumping garbage in rivers, and it would cost them $100,000 per incident. But since "incident" was so vaguely defined, even dropping a gum wrapper off a canoe would mean you violated the law. So the gov't could sue you for $100,000, but they offer to settle for $3,000. A lawyer would cost you $3,000 anyway, so what the hell do you do? You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

    I think the best that could come out of this is that the law will be declared unconstitutional on the basis of "penalty doesn't fit the crime" (via cruel/unusual punishment). If the RIAA successfully prosecuted everyone they've contacted for one song each (over 2000 by my count so far?) and got the maximum penalty of $30,000, they would have been awarded $60,000,000 dollars! WTF? Were they really damaged $60,000,000 by the sharing of 2000 songs? Those 2,000 people could have been sharing the same single song to at least 10 people, so even if the RIAA lost $20 worth of missed-album purchases, they'd still be only be $40,000 in the hole. And that's not even considering that the record companies pocket just a percentage of each album's sticker price.

    From http://www.arizona.edu/home/p2p-programs.shtml [arizona.edu]

    I wish one of our legislators would read this and realize how ridiculous it is:

    What the Law Says:

    The distribution of copyrighted materials over the Internet for which the distributor (any server - including your computer) does not have permission can be a violation of federal criminal law, a law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). Most of the music, games or videos downloaded through file-sharing programs like Morpheus or KaZaA lack permission of the copyright owner. And, those very programs that you use to download material, automatically open file-sharing services from your computer. So, without your knowing it explicitly, by downloading the program and the files your computer is programmed to share files back out into the international Internet community. You are therefore liable to be in violation of the DMCA, even if all you did was download a single song. Each criminal offense carries with it a minimum fine of $30,000 and a potential jail sentence.
  • Re:She has a case (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheLinuxSRC (683475) <slashdot&pagewash,com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:41PM (#8323433) Homepage
    The fact is that you have taken something for free, which the owner has asked payment for.

    I don't agree. Follow this analogy:
    I go to a customers site as a computer consultant. As I am fixing whatever is wrong, the IT people are there taking notes of everything that I do. Now, I am no longer called when that problem arises. Have they "stolen" something from me or made my services any less valuable? Short answer, no.

    I do think that under most circumstances you should pay for your music though.
  • Re:Oh whatever (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hobobo (231526) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:42PM (#8323440)
    a) pressure by special interest groups to change laws to be more favourable or to leave in place laws that have long past their intended purpose to the detriment of the community at large;

    Ok fine, but you haven't said which laws (in general or specific) the RIAA has imposed upon the populace that are so detrimental. I personally like property rights.

    b) business models based more on litigation than real value;

    They are using litigation to scare people into paying for music rather than download it from the internet.

    c) an increasingly complex legal structure that becomes less and less a codification of the will of the people and more an artifact to protect those who can best manipulate it.

    This is a general statement and you have not made it relevant to the discussion.
  • Re:She has a case (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:56PM (#8323523)
    Have they "stolen" something from me or made my services any less valuable?

    If you peak at my reply to the post above, you will see that you are entitled to payment for you labour and nothing more, and that is precisely what is happening in this case.

    Same applies to the musicians but when you are downloading the music they are not performing for you, Internet and your PC are. Ergo no money for them.

    If you were to pay them, that would in your example be directly equivalent to the dude who took the notes being expected to pay you each time he photocopies his notebook. Ridiculous idea, but that is precisely what the McMusic industry has people brainwashed into believing.

  • by dmaxwell (43234) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:58PM (#8323533)
    Doubtless this lady did violate the law. I also don't doubt that the racketeering angle won't stick. Come to think of it, the RIAA is going to legally win this one one way or another. The thing is, the RIAA has been fighting a PR war as well as a legal one. Most people could see a downloader having to pay for the tracks and maybe even a (reasonable) fine on top as additional discouragement. That level of punishment fits the crime. There is compensation and nominal punitive damages. I don't see anyone blinking at the price of several Britney CDs and few hundred dollars thrown on top for good measure.

    The RIAA's problem is they will lose that level of sympathy if they drop too many million dollar shithammers on Joe Sixpack. It just doesn't sound good on the six o'clock news. If they take it too far, reining in the entertainment cartels could become political gold instead of political suicide. It's all about public perception. Right now, Joe Sixpack doesn't even know what the RIAA is. It's just the record company people going after someone who's been been naughty on that intarweb. A few of his buddies get ruined and hauled off the jail and it becomes "someone oughta do something about those RIAA guys".

    Their current model of several thousand dollar settlements or get ruined in court will work just fine until too many people get uppity like this woman. A few token downloaders being publically shamed and hit with a $5000 ticket won't trigger the PR disaster. But it only works if those Budweiser swilling consumers don't actually go to court like they're supposed to.
  • Re:Oh whatever (Score:2, Insightful)

    by another_twilight (585366) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:04AM (#8323561)
    I will admit, now, that I am speaking generally as my knowledge of the US legal system is observational and not participatory, but in fairness and response

    a) that they are citing property laws to cover copright violations is a warping of that law's intent (usual disclaimers, IANAL etc.). The fact that property laws have been expanded to cover file sharing, that damages have been awarded in line with property loss and not copyright violation are examples of laws that have been changed or added by the RIAA themselves. The DMCA is a similar example (as I was speaking generally).

    b) and you see no problem with using the threat of inappropriate legal action to force people to their preferred business model? This is the gist of my argument. Yes, it is legal for them to do this. No, it is not a useful or even suitable use of the law.

    c) property law exists to regulate the movement of property. defintions such as 'theft' become problematic when what is actualyl happening is a dilution of value due to copying. You have to really work hard to make that equal theft in the strict definition. So the law is modified, excepted, re-defined. It grows more complex. Complexity removes it from being readily understood and accessible. When ignorance of the law is not a defence then complexity is hypocritical.
  • by DiveX (322721) <slashdotcontact@oasisofficepark.com> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:05AM (#8323568) Homepage
    I have brought about suits against telemarketers under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. Part of the process before filing is attempting to reach settlement because going through court takes a lot of time, effort, and finances for both parties. More often than not, when I send a demand letter, I hear terms like 'extortion' or 'cottage industry' etc. It is not extortion. When I can get up to $1500 for each violation of the law, I state that I may be willing to settle for a lesser amount. I do not say 'pay me or I will sue' and simply state 'the statutory damages are $1500, I am willing though to settle for less than tha amount'.


    I do not see the case against the RIAA going very far. Extortion is typically a criminal offense and I know not of any civil rights where one can sue. I simply cannot sue someone that I witness throwing trash on the highway, the government has not given me that right. There are several laws though that do provide a private right of action, like the TCPA, where one can become a personal attorney general.

  • by MP3Chuck (652277) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:07AM (#8323577) Homepage Journal
    "but I really am not sure file sharing for free is..."

    Blatant copyright violation?
  • Why not SCO..? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bishiraver (707931) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:07AM (#8323579) Homepage
    Under the same concept, couldn't SCO be considered to be violating these gang laws? Their demands of people licensing Linux to them before the lawsuit is complete ammounts to extortion.
  • by praksys (246544) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:08AM (#8323583) Homepage
    I think the problem is the "open and shut case" part. There is seldom any such thing in IP law, and there are good reasons to think that the RIAA might lose if they actually went to court with a case like this. In the past the courts have often been unwilling to enforce IP rights against private non-comercial uses, and it could easily happen in these cases as well.

    What the RIAA should have done is sued someone, taken it all the way to court, established that they actually had the rights they were claiming, and then tried to gain settlements with other people (that is the way things have gone in the past). What they actually did was to skip the first step and proceed directly to obtaining settlements. The question then arises as to why they skipped the first step. A reasonable guess is that at some point their lawyers said "going to court with this is a risky proposition - better to force settlements". But that raises the RICO problem. If the RIAA was not sure that they had the rights they were claiming then their behavior starts to look like extortion.
  • by RancidBeef (412397) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:09AM (#8323589) Homepage

    So what is it when someone listens to a song on the radio? Does having a copy of the song so you can listen to it when you want make it theft? What if you record it off the radio?

    I'm not saying I think file sharing is not theft, I'm just playing "what if".

    I was thinking about "piracy" the other day. If I break into your house and take your TV, it is obviously theft because I have obtained the TV without paying for it and you have suffer the loss of your TV. If, however I make a copy of your copyrighted song, I have still gotten something without paying, but you are not out anything except the money you theoretically would have received for my copy.

    When I was a kid, I used to make "unauthorized copies" of lots of programs for my Commodore 64 (I don't do that anymore... I mostly use Free Software or buy the few things I can't get as Open Source). Anyway, the software industry was not really deprived of the money they would have gotten from me purchasing all those games because I never could have afforded them anyway.

    To put it another way, if you work minimum wage at Burger King and you download $200,000 worth of music, have you really deprived the music industry of $200,000? No. That's why I find the numbers they spread around about the cost of "piracy" to be misleading.

  • Re:Oh whatever (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hobobo (231526) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:10AM (#8323602)
    well, the radio may pay royalties and tv stations may pay appearance fees, but to the end user it makes no difference

    I'll be blunt: The RIAA doesn't give a shit about it's end user. They care about their bottom line like any good coporation, so the reason they allow this is the very thing you pointed out: they get royalities from the radio/TV stations who play their songs. They don't get royalties when you download music from Kazaa.
  • by black mariah (654971) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:11AM (#8323607)
    I have a ton of Japanese language songs but I don't speak a damn bit of Japanese. Want to make a better point? ;)
  • Re:She has a case (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ajd1474 (558490) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:14AM (#8323627)
    I can see where you are coming from, and I agree to a certain extent, and the way you put it certainly has merit.

    Let's imagine that I am a musician who holds a concert, and for some reason people come see me and pay their hard-earned to see me and i make $$$. That's great, that seems to work. Let's imagine that i don't create any CD's because i believe i should just be paid for the work i've done, as you suggest.

    However, one of my audience members did make a recording, and three weeks later he is performing my music down the road, and now people dont come and see me they go to see him... cos well.. he has a better voice.

    By your logic, its just a bit of bad luck. Music isnt property, he's not somehow magically stealing it. I am entitled to payment for my labour only, and therefore him copying me is fine, because now he is doing the labour. Problem is, every time i write a new song this other guy performs it, and i eventually go broke and give up. Do my ideas have no value at all? Is it only the performance of those ideas that have value? You say that music isn't something you can steal, and yet i've had my means of survival taken from me. I would indeed be in a miserable state.

    You're right. Someone cant steal music and make it disappear, but by replicating that work you are STILL depriving the original artist of income, regardless of whether the artist had originally recorded the music for profit or not. Copyright isnt about protecting property, it is about protecting the rights of someone to earn income from their artistic work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:24AM (#8323681)
    Disclaimer: 1)I am not trolling, I think this is fully valid. Think before you judge please. 2) I AM fully aware that laws are abused by large companies, small companies, other individuals. 3) I hate the RIAA/MPAA, their gouging, their tactics, and their apparent lack of common decency as much as anyone 4) I Am Not A Lawyer

    I don't know that this kind of a lawsuit is all that great a thing. For one thing, as stated in the subject, this law is largely a holdover from anti-gangster legislation. It's intent is not what it is being used for in this case. This is one of those cases when the letter of the law is being twisted and misinterpreted from the spirit of the law. Personally I find it equally morally apprehensive that the law is being twisted against a large company as I would that a large company would abuse the legal system to get their way. People do not cheer, nor get rated +5 for such simplistic statements as "Go her!" when DMCA is abused do they? Thats sort of getting away from my real point here. The RIAA is using these lawsuits to scare people, not to make money and not to collect million dollar fines. They settle for a few thousand dollars because they can't just let people go. It would be totally ineffective then wouldn't it? They could sue for millions and probably win. Destroying peoples lives. They probably aren't, largely for publicity purposes, but probably also they understand that's not what THOSE laws are for EITHER. So what would you have them do? Should they go ahead and go for the millions the law apparently could entitle them to? Because that is one of only two options I can think of. The other being not starting suits to begin with. (I don't think that would be the outcome however)
    Face facts people.. This is not a moral or social right.. This is not a championing lawyer fighting for truth justice and so on.. This person would probably kill to work for the RIAA right now.. This person stands to make quite a bit of cash and in all truth probably approached the woman plaintiff.. This is just another example of why our legal system is screwed up and just because it has potential to cause MINOR inconvenience to an organization we really don't like is no real reason to think it's a good thing.. Since the RIAA probably wont stop the suits until they WANT to the only probable outcome is stiffer penalties for those who get sued later, a few measly bucks for each person in the class action, and ONE MORE FILTHY STINKING RICH LAWER. Not something to cheer about I think.
  • Re:Coincidence???? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slamb (119285) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:26AM (#8323689) Homepage
    Did you get a 503 unavailable? I've seen that error on and off a few times in the last week. Twice it gave me a main page, but all the links were redirects back to the home page. I think the slashcode is weakening.....

    The redirects back to the front page are what happens when the MySQL database backend goes down. I'm surprised you've never noticed it before; it seems to happen regularly.

    I always find it funny because whenever a MySQL vs. PostgreSQL argument starts, a MySQL person always says "Slashdot uses MySQL, so it must be reliable." Ummm, no. If they really wanted to say slashdot proves MySQL was more reliable, they should lie and say it uses PostgreSQL.

  • Re:She has a case (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:26AM (#8323692)
    Problem is, every time i write a new song this other guy performs it...

    That is when you stop performing and revert to composing. You make the dude sponsor you for that work. He can sing better, you can compose better. I dont understand you point. If you were to be somehow protected for your inferior performances we are again facing attempts to put the information genie back into the bottle. No, instead you use your business common sense and cut him off from the source until he pays up.

  • Imbalanced laws (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Artifakt (700173) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:33AM (#8323731)
    The RIAA has been threatening prosecution under a law (the DMCA), that gives them a 30,00 dollar penalty at base, or 5 times that (150,000 per incident) if they can prove willfullness. They are being taken to court under RICO, a law aimed at organized crime, yet that law only allows 3x damages, and requires proving criminal intent, which seems to be a lot higher standard than willfulness. It's a good thing for the RIAA that the "cruel and unusual" clause doesn't automaticly apply to civil suits, or that very fact would shoot down the DMCA.
    Why do they have a special law that lets them come down harder on file sharers than victims of the mob can fight back against mobsters? Do we really need a law that is tougher on copyright violators than the law is allowed to get on Drug Kingpins, Murder for Hire rings, or general Racketeers?
  • Re:She has a case (Score:3, Insightful)

    by innocent_white_lamb (151825) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:38AM (#8323761)
    I am entitled to payment for my labour only, and therefore him copying me is fine, because now he is doing the labour. Problem is, every time i write a new song this other guy performs it, and i eventually go broke and give up. Do my ideas have no value at all?

    I open a restaurant and serve reasonably decent food and folks come to eat at my restaurant. Someone else notices this and says, "Gosh, that corner must be a good location for a restaurant business" and he proceeds to open a restaurant across the street from mine. All of the customers move across the street and nobody comes to my restaurant any more because he serves better food.

    Does my hard work in creating and building my restaurant have no value at all?

    See the parallel? And see the problem with your argument?
  • Re:She has a case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by enjo13 (444114) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:40AM (#8323768) Homepage
    I couldn't disagree with this more.

    I work in software. I write software for a living, and I expect to get paid for it. I provide valuable expertise that I use to build (hopefully) a very valuable product.

    Yet my work is 'performed' only once (when I code it) and yet is run on a playback device (that others already paid for) over and over again. By your logic, I should only be able to sell one copy of any software that I write.

    After all, I'm asking for a 'stream of endless payments' for not doing anything but making copies of what I already have.

    That is completely ludicrous. The fact of the matter is that the value of my software is not in it's creation, but in the continuing value it provides. You may open it 1000000 times, and everytime it is likely to prove useful to you (otherwise why would you use it?). When you are buying the software you are really buying the hours and hours of hard work that I put into building it.

    It's the same exact thing here. Sure, you can make money on live performances. However, creating copies of performances and providing on demand playback of those performances is EXTREMELY valuable as well. It entertains people, it passes time, it comforts.. recorded music has many functions. When you buy a CD your aren't buying a bucket of bits, but rather you are paying for the hard work and talent that went into producing those copies. You listen to music because it's valuable, but it's value lies not in it's physical qualities but in it's end result.

    Artists do not only create art from the need to express themselves. Artists are motivated by many many things, and money is one of them. Many of the greatest painters throughout history worked almost solely on comission after all. You'll find that 'starving artists' starve not because they are true artists but because people do not find their works particularly valuable. The value of art has more to do with it's age and fame of the artist (often not gained until well after death) then the quality of the painting itself.

    So I fail to see the problem. It sounds to me like you want a free lunch. You want to enjoy the VALUE provided by this music, without having to give anything in return. I would find it hard to beleive that you would expect someone to cut your hair (something presumably valuable) and yet not pay for it when you leave. Why is a recording different? Just because it's easy to copy it doesn't make it right.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:43AM (#8323783)
    The law itself is not valid. The US has a principle of supercedence of law. The higher a levels of law override the lower ones. So A city can't make something legal that is illegal on a federal level, for example. Works the other way too, the right to freedom of speech can't be nulled in a given state, it's at a higher level. Specifically, it's at the HIGHEST level. The constitution overrides all other levels of law. Hence why the supreme court is so concerned with the constutionality of a given law or legal action. Their job is to intrepret teh supreme law of the land, that being the constituion.

    Well, one of the ammendments states: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." The key here being the cruel and unusal punishments. The intent and interpretation of this law is that the punishment must fit the crime. You cannot execut someone for anything less than a murder (and a premeditated one at that) because it wouldn't fit the crime.

    Well, as you noted, the statutory punishment for copyright infringment is TOTALLY out of line with the crime. If 20 people download a song worth $1 the makimum you can posibly claim it cost you is $20. Theoretically, if those 20 people intended to spend the money on your song, but elected not to because they got it for free, you would have not gotten $20 in sales. Of course, this is all theoretical. Some of those that downloaded may decide to but the song anyhow, and some may not have been willing to pay regardless of if they could not get it for free.

    Regardless, it is quite clear that the statutority damages are totally out of line with the crime. Thus the law is invalid, it is a cruel and unusal punishment and in violation of the constituion.

    I see this BS copyright "damages" the same as if they decided to charge people $10,000 for each mile per hour over the speed limit they went for tickets. The crime is just as (if not more) harmeless and thus should be in the same class of punsihment (small fine, not billions of dollars).
  • It IS theft (Score:-1, Insightful)

    by KalvinB (205500) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:06AM (#8323917) Homepage
    it's a FORM of theft.

    Copyright infringement is a FORM of theft.

    Calling it theft is therefore perfectly valid.

    The only distinction is in the courtroom since the damages have be considered differently than when something is physically stolen.

    Stealing is stealing. It doesn't matter whether it's physical or not. Giving it "nice" terms makes it no less wrong.

    Ben
  • HEY! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pb (1020) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:09AM (#8323933)
    We need our three strikes laws, so that harsh crimes like... stealing videotapes... send a message to.... aw fuck it.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:09AM (#8323941)
    If by chance you are sued and you stand up to them, you could be part of a watershed court case that results in the laws being changed. Hell, I can see it going up to the Supreme Court.

    You clearly have no concept how much money it takes to bring a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. It's like having your wallet Slashdotted for years!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:13AM (#8323961)
    "It's theft."

    Not it's not.

    "It's acquiring and enjoying the value inherent in the song that you listen to ..."

    Oh, I see, it's theft because I'm stealing the value inherent in the song. Give me a break. Well, isn't it really murder because I'm surely killing RIAA profits. Are you sure you're not a lawyer (or spin doctor)?

    It's not about the stealing the value of the song, it's about the copy. I don't so much listen to "the song" as much as I listen to a copy of it. Sometimes an imperfect, unauthorised copy. That's the issue and it's called copyright infringment, not theft.

    "there needs to be some means of protection in place, and very clear recognition (from a legal standpoint) that it is wrong, and that there are remedies (including consequences)."

    The "means of protection" (particularly for the wealthy) is already in place. It's called the legal system. The "very clear recognition (from a legal standpoint) that it is wrong" is called copyright law and all laws have consequences for breaking them.

    I guess what you're really lobbying for is more draconian laws, more of them, and harsher penalties. No thanks bub. The problem here is that most people percieve many existing laws, such as copyright law, to be already too biased towards the wealthy and not exactly fair for the majority. People want to share.

    I wouldn't have thought you'd get much support here but I guess if you sound like you know what you're talking about, and you're careful about how you say it, you're bound to get modded up sometimes.
  • Re:It IS theft (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RockClimbingFool (692426) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:20AM (#8324008)

    No, it IS NOT THEFT. It is what it is and it is NOT THEFT. It is copy right infringement. It is not the same thing as stealing and cannot be given the same penalty.

    There is a reason it has its own phrase to describe it. The legal system does not invent phrases to be more descriptive of a particular crime. It tries to be as straight forward as possible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:34AM (#8324062)
    Oh, please!! This woman should get a jail sentence! She admittedly has broken the law, and should pay whatever the judge says she should and STFU. What, you don't like that? Well, tough shit. Your worthless asses are at fault, for every time you've not voted, not protested in the streets, not written your congresscritters, not gone into the streets and burned down the *IAA's HQ building, or lynched their asses, if that's what it takes. When you act like sheep, why the hell are you surprised when you get treated like cattle? You won't win in court, the deck has already, by *design*, been stacked against you.
    Freedom is *NOT* "free", it requires blood from time to time to keep those freedoms, despite all the sunshine that's been blown up all our asses about how "civilised" people let the courts handle and determine what freedoms we are "entitled" to..we are "entitled" to precisely as much freedom and justice as we, *personally*, are prepared to kill and die for..no more, no less. I'd be willing to bet that if the *IAA execs and their lawyers started showing up floating face-down in the river, this shit would come to an abrupt halt.
  • Re:Oh whatever (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:50AM (#8324126) Journal
    Ok fine, but you haven't said which laws (in general or specific) the RIAA has imposed upon the populace that are so detrimental. I personally like property rights.

    Simple example...

    How much does it save you to download a song from Kazaa, compared with buying the song? $5 for a single? $20 for an exceedingly rare import?

    Now, for that generous estimate of $20, the RIAA can sue for $150,000 dollars. You have "hurt" them in a way that wouldn't even pay the bar tab for one executive's lunch, and they can win so much from you that you will literally never recover. They can completely deprive you of any semblance of a life, even any hope for the future, in exchage for $20 in arguable damages.

    Think about that, as "reasonable" damages... Life vs $20? Would you say that your life has a value of only $20?, even with some allowance for "punative" fines? Hell, I'd say even $10k would ruin most people's 5-year plan. For reference, at minimum wage, the $150k violation for a single song would, even assuming no other expenses (like food and shelter), take over 10 years to pay off.

    THAT, we see, as so amazingly unfair and biased toward copyright owners, as to justify saying "screw them, if they can do this and not break the law, the law has it wrong".
  • by sheapshearer (746106) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @02:36AM (#8324267)
    Britney Spears may be a millionaire, but thats not from music alone.

    And whatever she has, I'm sure the recording company has much much much more $$$$$.
  • by solprovider (628033) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @03:09AM (#8324414) Homepage
    I already posted in this thread [slashdot.org] with some ideas relevant here.

    I do not want to "give away my copyrights." I want to profit when someone uses my work for profit. If the Eagles record a performance of my song, then they pay me as the songwriter. Why would I want to stop them from using my work? I will probably sell more copies of my own performance because people are interested in hearing the "original".
    - If someone uses a sample of my performance, then I get money for my performance. Due to our weird laws, if they did not negotiate with me before using it, then they may owe me more than they made from using the sample. Usually it would be in my interest to encourage them to use my music since then I make some money. Forcing the album to be pulled, or charging so much that they will stop selling it does not generate income for me.

    Music equipment is expensive. (My new Schecter guitar was $700, but I also want an all-rosewood PRS guitar that costs ~$2400.) The ability to make music that people want to hear is rare. Both deserve to be compensated when music is played for profit. But music file-sharing is free advertising, and does not directly generate profits. Claiming "lost" sales for an action where no money is involved seems ridiculous. The hardest part of the music industry is getting people to know your music exists. More advertising = more money. Period. Discouraging people from hearing your music is self-destructive.

    ---
    there goes my chance to mod any posts in this thread
    I just received my 4th set of mod points since Friday, and have completely forgotten which threads I have modded. I wish Slashdot had a mark letting me know I modded a thread so I wouldn't post later. And no, I have not been able to use all the points before I get another set.
  • by Blkdeath (530393) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @04:14AM (#8324617) Homepage
    To put it another way, if you work minimum wage at Burger King and you download $200,000 worth of music, have you really deprived the music industry of $200,000? No. That's why I find the numbers they spread around about the cost of "piracy" to be misleading.

    That's not entirely correct. You have something you didn't pay for. The logic here, as is the logic behind all capitalistic intentions, is "I made it, you pay for it or you don't get to enjoy it."

    The problem here is the gray area caused by the non-physical nature of digital file sharing. If I could find a way to make a perfect replica of a Sony television without ever removing the original from the store, I'd still be sued because they designed the technology. Well, an artist composed the lyrics and music to the songs so many of us have on our hard drives.

    The RIAA discussing this issue as theft, piracy, et al. is causing problems in that it's got even us confused. We can't justify ourselves except to point at the dictionary and say "We didn't do that!"

    We are, however, illigitimately enjoying the non-free works of artists (and Britney Spears). So what, rock superstars don't get their third Porsche while we drive beaters that are in the shop more than out. Boo-hoo, right?

    It was put better in the movie "Rock Star" than I could put it, so I'll try to approximate;

    [You] aren't selling music, you're selling an image. Young girls want to have sex with you and young boys want to be you.

    In reality, a lot of the drive that makes popular music is the rock star image and life style. Overdoses are still news. DUI, drunk and disorderly conduct, loud parties, fast cars and hot women (or vice-versa) are all part of the image we buy into and part of the phenom that allows the newest BigBand tune to play on the radio for weeks on end. Scamming agents are also a well-known part of the music industry. Going back to the first days of marketted music we can find examples of agents who screw artists out of as much money as (in)humanly possible. The RIAA is just the modern, mega-conglomerate version of the slick, greasy back-room dwelling agent.

    So by not giving money to these celiebrities and citing freedom you're attempting to change the face of not only the basis of our economy (capitalism), but the basis of the music industry as we know it.

  • -1 troll (Score:2, Insightful)

    by t1m0r4n (310230) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @04:19AM (#8324626) Homepage Journal
    I frequently read that spammers are guilty of theft; they steal my bandwidth, my cpu cycles, my hd. But, when it comes to music sharing, I hear the record label isn't out anything 'cause I wasn't going to buy it anyway, so it's not theft. Well, heck, you weren't using that bandwidth etc at the time, so... Oh, whatever, it's late, I'm going to bed.

    p.s. I hate all spam AND file sharing of, shall we say, questionable ethics BUT that's just because I'm a grumpy old man
  • Re:Mod UP? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jhoger (519683) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @04:40AM (#8324674) Homepage
    Well, yeah I am proud of telling the truth even though the judge gives me a hard time about it.

    In fact, you're right, I don't want to be there... in the end most people with important stuff to do get excused and the juries end up being made solely of little old ladies and public servants.

    And I feel guilty/lucky in some way that I have a legitimate way out.

    But if I didn't have the out I wouldn't lie or make up some lame excuse like some do.

    It's the judge that gets rid of me every time, and the reason is that they don't like jury nullification, even though it's probably the only reason we're there. I say that since the judge could make a better determination of law than a group of little old ladies and bureaucrats. All I do is answer the lawyers' and judge's questions to the best of my knowledge.
  • by Deliveranc3 (629997) <deliverance@le[ ]4.org ['vel' in gap]> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @05:08AM (#8324759) Journal
    You don't seem to understand the problems involved with your use of jury nullification. What you don't understand is that all government is broken into administrative and political branches.

    You are mistaking your role as a juror for an aspect of the political branch when really it's an aspect of the administrative (all judicial rulings below the supreme court are considered administrative).

    Now the reason for laws is to define which behaviors society wants it's citizens to follow. (I assume you live in a "democracy") it's basically the guidelines that everyone is expected to follow so we can all get along, these are set at diffrent times but they are not changed often because the government is concerned over the avarice [reference.com] of people. (ex. Everyone wants a new tv so tuesday they decide stealing tv's should be legal).

    They don't have you in the jury box in order to decide policy, they have you in the jury box to decide whether the accused is guilty of a crime (law says a, accused did a = guilty a,b!=guilty). Emotions get in the way of factual judgements, whether they impact your understanding of what the law says or bias your opinion of what the accused did.

    So why are you there? Well first there are twelve of you, this is to hopefully weed out an individual's emotional issues regarding an issue. Second it is so the government can't cover up crimes. Twelve people will have seen what the government is doing and be able to speak out against it.

    In conclusion don't take advantage of your role as an administrator to accomplish political goals. History has shown that a society can rush to judgement (60 war/anti-war, 30's America almost went communist,45 America wanted Japan destroyed, ). Democracy's slow march has prevented as many disasters as it has caused. I am a firm believer that almost all information should be available for free. Know your rights, know how to be politically active, and if you have the majority behind you and the government doesn't listen, well there's always the second ammendment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @05:21AM (#8324805)
    I'm sure their method of finding the violators isn't as simple as finding getting the ip of the violator. I'm sure they port scan as well, and more than likely do a little searching to see just how much 'copyright' material that user has on his or her machine to make it worth their while.
    Anybody have information on this?
    Also, do these so called 'ip' blockers work?
  • by Blue Stone (582566) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @06:18AM (#8324959) Homepage Journal
    "They don't have you in the jury box in order to decide policy, they have you in the jury box to decide whether the accused is guilty of a crime (law says a, accused did a = guilty a,b!=guilty)." And here was me thinking that "I was just following orders" wasn't a valid defence. /sarcasm
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @06:24AM (#8324975)
    Wrong, the sole reason that we need a jury is jury nullification. The ability for common people to say that the representative were wrong, and were not acting in the best interest of the people when they enacted a piece of legisaltion

    After all, a judge is much better at deciding maters of fact and law than any juror is.
  • Re:It IS theft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blue Stone (582566) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @06:45AM (#8325033) Homepage Journal
    Saying it's "a form of theft" is no more valid than saying it's "theft".
    Copyright infringement is not a FORM of theft.
    Calling it theft "therefore" is not even vaguely valid.

    Since your premise is faulty your house of cards falls down. Repeating your statement in capital letters does not make your point any more valid than talking slowly does.

    Copyright infringement is closer to an "infringement of a prohibition" [against copying and distribution] than it is to theft, stealing, larceny, pilfering or light-fingered-ness.
    It's closer to the breaking of an exclusivity contract [and one in which you have no right to negotiate].

    Using politically motivated, inflamatory language ["theft"; "piracy"] does not make it any worse an act in reality.

  • by Dashing Leech (688077) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @07:43AM (#8325178)
    They don't have you in the jury box in order to decide policy

    If that were true it still doesn't invalidate jury nullification. Laws are created for a purpose. But language is imperfect, and legislators don't alway have the foresight to understand all possible situations that may meet the wording of the law. (Just look at some of the DMCA cases.) There are cases where the defendent may have technically violated the wording of the law but not the original intent. People should not be punished because of imperfection in language and lack of foresight.

    But even beyond that, juries are there to decide the guilt of a person, not whether they violated a law. Whether a person violated the law is not something that a layperson is very good at. Experts are much better at that. Whether the person deserves to be pushished is what citizen decide.

  • by dillon_rinker (17944) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @07:47AM (#8325197) Homepage
    3) Her lawyers are well-informed and know they can't win but will take her money anyway.
  • Re:Mod UP? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theonetruekeebler (60888) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @08:04AM (#8325267) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps your answer should have been "Yes. I am a strong proponent of jury nullification. My obligation is not merely to determine whether the defendant violated the law, but whether he or she committed a crime." You'll probably wind up on the jury pool's equivalent of a no-call list.

    Here in Fulton County (Georgia, U.S.), the jurors waiting room has brochures everywhere from some legal foundation or another, describing jury nullification. It would be nice if somebody read the damned things.

  • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @08:14AM (#8325304)
    . . . for any of the accused file-sharers, and I doubt it'll happen, either. The RIAA takes a huge gamble when they take that step. If they lose, it sets a precedent, and then all bets are off.

    I still want to know how they will combat the "wide-open wireless access point in an apartment complex" defense.
  • by acomj (20611) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @08:47AM (#8325506) Homepage
    I've be sort of following this. People aren't thinking. Of course the RIAA is suing pirates, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    There seems to be a lot of scapegoating. First it was Napster isn't bad, its the people pirating on napster that are the problem. Now its the boogieman RIAA for defending its members (record companies) from obvious copyright infringement and going after individual pirates on P2P networks instead of the networks.

    If the GPL was being violated wouldn't you want the violators to get whats coming to them from the copywrite holders? Hows that different from someone who writes a song and wants to make money at it, but they're not making as much as they could because people are pirating it? (yeah I know people will pirate stuff they wouldn't pay for, but I've seen people stop buying because its available for free)
    They give the enforcement to the RIAA so the artist don't look bad. Metalica didn't want to give away there music and everyone started screamming.

    If you create something shouldn't it be your right on how its used for a time (copyright). If you want to give it away free go nuts, if you want to sell it to a company that charges for it, thats you right too.

    Should the RIAA just turn a blind eye to these people republishing "pirating" works they've paid for?

    Whats right is right.
  • Re:Mod UP? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CreatureComfort (741652) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @08:57AM (#8325572)

    And I feel guilty/lucky in some way that I have a legitimate way out.


    You shouldn't feel guilty. You answer is not "a legitimate way out." It is honest and truthful. It is an indication of the corruption of the legal system that saying it turns out to get you dismissed. If the legal system were as honest and fair as they claim to be, your comment would be answered by the judge with, "I and the attorneys for both sides respect that. A thoughtful, intelligent, well read, honest person is exactly the type we want on the jury." Instead, your dismissal just proves that the judge and attorneys on both sides want weak minded sheep with as little knowledge and common sense as they can find.

  • by mwood (25379) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:22AM (#8325768)
    Well, hooray for that judge. When the Navy finds a record-company's ship adrift or scuttled, with its crew murdered and the holds emptied of CDs, the RIAA can call *that* "piracy", but I don't see how anyone could do that through a wire. (Okay, maybe with robots....)
  • by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:31AM (#8326586)
    "They don't have you in the jury box in order to decide policy, they have you in the jury box to decide whether the accused is guilty of a crime"

    Which is precisely why people should declare the defendant not guilty if they don't believe they've committed a crime. This is particularly true when a law is unconstitutional, which is true of probably at least 95% of Federal laws these days.

    The reason politicos hate jury nullification is precisely because it makes idiotic laws like prohibition unenforcable. They're scared stiff of having their power destroyed by the people.
  • Re:The difference (Score:3, Insightful)

    by po8 (187055) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:25AM (#8327384)

    Maybe on your planet. Name a recent case where it has actually happened in the case of a major deep-pockets corporation vs a random middle-class citizen. The same factors that allow the corp to prolong (and eventually win, if necessary) the suit make the corp de facto immune to this result.

    In any case, it's no big risk for the corp: citizen's lawyer fees are peanuts (and the subject of further legal argument), and getting the case thrown out is no worse than if they'd never brought it...

    As long as lawyers are the lawmakers, don't expect to see any laws that will make it harder for them to wield power.

  • Re:Mod UP? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SillySlashdotName (466702) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:27AM (#8327421)
    So you are saying the parent poster should lie to the judge?

    I agree they sound pleased that they did not have to serve on the jury, but if they are not lying, then not serving on the jury is a decision the JUDGE is making, not the potential juror.

    Your statement about "you'd rather not do your civic duty" is totally off base - nothing was said by the parent poster about not wanting to be on the jury(ies), only about their belief in the juries being able to act in a legal manor that is inconvenient to the legal system.

    "[A]nd would rather get off without serving." is also without merit. The parent poster did not say they were responding to the judge in that manor to "get off without serving" - notice the part that says " "No, I am a strong proponent of jury nullification"...and it happens to be the truth!"

    I find it disturbing that you seem to think 1) that stating the truth about your feelings or beliefs is wrong, 2) lying in court is acceptable, and 3) you have any business passing judgement on others in a public forum.
  • by jxs2151 (554138) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:23PM (#8328954) Homepage
    ...it's called "Animal Cruelty" and people do go to jail for it

    Yep, you can get more time for beating a dog than a child. Sad state of affairs when a society treats its children like animals and its animals like children.

  • by gentlewizard (300741) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @07:08PM (#8334114)
    Regardless what you think about the RIAA, the fact that the defendants are trying to use the RICO Act to countersue just shows what a danger RICO may be as an instrument of harrassment. As described in this essay [thirdamendment.com] it has never met a full constitutional challenge. It appears to be broad enough that many activist organizations could be seen falling under its guidelines. The threat of RICO prosecution could have a chilling effect on both freedom of speech and of association.
  • But they're guilty (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekee (591277) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:55PM (#8336153)
    "...by suing file-swappers for copyright infringement, and then offering to settle instead of pursuing a case where liability could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the RIAA is violating the same laws that are more typically applied to gangsters and organized crime."

    The file swappers are guilty. The day you can't settle a case against someone who is guilty of a crime without being accused of a crime is the day I lose faith in the US as a country that upholds individual rights, and must conclude that majority opinion outweighs individual rights.

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