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RIAA Loses DMCA Subpoena Case Against Charter 372

Posted by timothy
from the sorry-fellas dept.
BrynM writes "According to an opinion published today (PDF), the RIAA has lost its case against Charter Communications regarding subpoenas for the cable ISP's users to be identified for copyright infringement in the Eastern District of Missouri. You may remember that Charter Communications filed a motion to block the RIAA's subpoena back in late 2003. Now Charter has prevailed. Here's the blurb from the Court 'Civil case - Digital Millennium Copyright Act. District court erred in issuing subpoenas on internet providers to obtain personal information about the providers' subscribers who were alleged to be transmitting copyrighted works via the internet through peer-to-peer programs; the internet providers' function was limited to acting as a conduit for the allegedly copyrighted material, and Section 512(h) of the Act does not authorize subpoenas in such circumstances; case remanded with directions. Dissent by Judge Murphy. [PUBLISHED] [Bye, Author, with Murphy and Bright, Circuit Judges]'"
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RIAA Loses DMCA Subpoena Case Against Charter

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  • I am safe! (Score:5, Funny)

    by XaviorPenguin (789745) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:07PM (#11259369) Homepage Journal
    I am in St. Louis, MO and use Charter. I have been following this for a while and I am glad that this is over. I won't be getting caught! :D
    • by eSims (723865) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:14PM (#11259443) Homepage
      XaviorPenguin!

      Stop reading slashdot and stand in the middle of the room!

      Yes, you!

      We've had our eye on you for a while and our agents will be there shortly to aprehend you for your criminal acts, and yes, Room 101 is waiting!

      /obscure "1984" reference

      • ...eS-I-ms1234, while your Friend, the Computer, does appreciate your efforts to apprehend the Treasonous Purple Security Clearance Citizen, Xavior-P-Enguin123, it is worth noting that impersonating a Troubleshooter assigned to security is a Treason Offense.

        Please report to the nearest self-incrimination center for summary Trial-And-Execution immediately.

        Have a Happy Day and remember that The Computer is your Friend!
    • So who are you and where do you live? ...

      Serious. I'm in Ballwin. :OP
  • by krudler (836743) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:07PM (#11259376)
    Let's just hope we can continue to win against the man like this. Respecting privacy is an important thing to me. Companies that will fight to respect your privacy are nice to have around. Even verizon (whom i can't stand), is good about privacy.

    Stick it to the man!
    • I am totally on board with your enthusiasm for privacy, but companies like Verizon recognize that the turning over of that information would have a huge negative impact on their public image, and with communications companies duking it our for any number of markets (wireless, broadband, cable, phone, ultra secret death rays) they can make a play for undecided customers by saying they will protect them from the big bad man.

      It ain't the rights they care about, it's your cash.
      • That's fine by me. I'll pay a little extra to know that my privacy is insured. I'd rather support a company that follows my value system than a company that wants to sell me out. It's all worth it in my mind.
      • You're right, of course, but is there anything wrong with that? That's the beauty of a free market. As long as people realize there's a choice, companies can be very considerate. The parent of your post has the right idea to support the companies that at least pretend to care about their customers.
        • And how exactly does a corperation, a legal entity have compasion? And who says it should? Other then "anarchists" and "communists"? I'll tell you exactly what such an entity should do. Act in the _intrest_ of it's consumers in order to stay alive. But there's not pretending to be done, it doesn't make any sense to say Verizon care, or even pretends to care. And I know there are people behind the corperation, but that is entirely irrelevent. Free market, as you said, is a beautiful thing. And will work itse
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @09:02PM (#11259808)
      We're a little ISP "good guy" - have stood up for our customers when DMCA threats come. Often the offending party is a minor in a residential household, or a small business with an infected Windows server that some rogue has converted into a filesharing server without their knowledge or consent.

      We receive threats from the law firms of content owners, such as the publisher of the Harry Potter series. Their demands are not only unethical, but are clearly not consistent with the provisions under the DMCA (we have a registered agent, for instance, yet they refuse to go through it).

      Here's what the Harry Potter publishers like to do:

      1. send you a demand that you shut off the alleged offending party immediately. I stress "alleged" because they provide no evidence other than an IP address.

      2. send your upstream provider a threat that if you don't permenantly cut off the alleged party, they will send their attorneys on the upstream as well. Our upstream (a large national NSP) is occasionally competent, but unfortunately has low-level clerical hacks that deal with DMCA complaints. They have no legal training, are unaware of the registered agent process, and make representations regarding the alleged party that an attorney could easily construe as defamation (one must *always* be careful what one accuses another party of; god forbid the other party can afford competent counsel and wants to rub your nose in your errors). Threats of litigation are also in this dangerous category; one must not threaten unless one has the will and means to follow it up, as well as bear the legal and financial consequence of having a big mouth.

      We have a polite but legal response to these content owners, reminding them of their responsibilities under DMCA. In most cases they go away, looking for other easy targets. Once they're aware that the recepient ISP is not unaware of the law, they're off to easier hunting. Because people like me rarely mention their unethical and potentially illegal actions, they believe they have no consequence. Harry Potter's publisher certainly has no financial consequence - who is going to boycott them? Heck, they could propose and contribute money to genocide, sacrifice babies and exterminate little old ladies and they'd still have record sales.

      Perhaps it's sufficient to patronize competent service providers...

      • I work for an ISP and I get the abuse mail. When I get one of these emails from RIAA/MPAA agents it is usually filled with US LAW references (they point to where the rules are but don't cite the rules themselves). They usually list the offending files , such as Shrek2 - Vid CAM CD1.mpg (75MB), and give me an IP address, but no timeframe. Then they go on to explain that they want this activity to halt immediately so that it can benefit the whole internet community blah blah blah. I explain to them that
  • Alright! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KaSkA101 (692931) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:07PM (#11259378) Homepage
    A win for the American Public's Rights.
    • Re:Alright! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mtrisk (770081) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:22PM (#11259497) Journal
      Look at this, from the opinion:

      The fourth safe harbor, under section 512(d), protects an ISP when it merely links users to online locations containing infringing material.

      So, under the DMCA, ISPs are immune from being sued for linking to copyrighted material. IANAL, but with the recent bittorrent suits, it would seem that this would help. It also seems that if an ISP runs a tracker or a torrent website, they can't be sued under the DMCA...interesting, very interesting.
      • If an ISP maintains a directory, or a web page, with links to offending material, that could be contributory infringement.

        Link here means relaying information by providing the physical link to the end user - I send a request from my computer destined for a remote computer, the ISP is not liable if they merely forward my request, and/or return the reply.

        That's different than "Here's a list of copywritten stuff you can download without the owner's permission!"
  • Finally (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arbac (775768) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:08PM (#11259384)
    Hopefully this will start a trend that pushes the laws in a more user friendly direction. Take that RIAA!
    • It's never an easy battle going up against a technical company. RIAA, being mostly lawyers going up against Charter with a legit group of engineers is not going to work. Just TCP/IP alone can spawn a million different ways to prove or disprove a case.

  • what's next? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the arbiter (696473) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:08PM (#11259389)
    I'm hoping that this can't be appealed...if so, it's really good news.

    If it can, then it's not really news at all, is it?

    Regardless of the outcome, kudos to Charter for realizing that they, and their users, actually have rights.
    • Re:what's next? (Score:5, Informative)

      by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:14PM (#11259444)
      I'm hoping that this can't be appealed...if so, it's really good news.

      It can be appealed twice more yet: to the Circuit Court sitting en banc and to the United States Supreme Court. The Circuit can decline to hear the case en banc and the Supreme Court can refuse certiorari, but the right of appeal is still there.

    • Re:what's next? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PornMaster (749461) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:31PM (#11259571) Homepage
      It's nice to see a corporation using its lawyers to defend its customers when giving in would have very little effect on their bottom line, and perhaps smaller than the legal fees.
      • Re:what's next? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Geekenstein (199041) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @09:21PM (#11259975)
        I'd say it would have a very large affect on their bottom line. Comcast is a corporation, with obligations to its stockholders. Considering you don't need all that much bandwidth to download your standard webpage in a reasonable amount of time, and your average broadband commercial mentions "downloading music and movies in high speed!", it is reasonable to assume that a large portion of their subscriber base is using the service to download media files over P2P services.

        Now, say Comcast is seen as ratting out their customers to the [MP|RI]AA, and suddenly those users decide downloading those files isn't worth the risk anymore, and by the by, they no longer need broadband. Big impact on Comcast.

        That's not to say this isn't a good thing for them to do, but it isn't out of the kindness of their hearts. They did the math.
      • If you are trading files will you use a service that would turn you in or one that won't. For that matter if you are trading something with a filename similar to a work such as an mp3 of bells tolling called for Whom the Bells Toll (it's even better since it isn't a perfect match) would you trade your ahem performance art on an internet service that would turn you in or on one that wouldn't.
  • ...welcome our new DMCA overlords...err...wait
  • Judges Rule! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WarlockD (623872)
    I can say, that we might have a corrupt political system and laws drafted by conglomerates, but at least we have Judges that can't be (mostly) bought.

    What gets me, though, is that he cited the DCMA on why they CAN'T subpoena.
    • Re:Judges Rule! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aneurysm9 (723000) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:33PM (#11259592)
      What gets me, though, is that he cited the DCMA on why they CAN'T subpoena.

      Well, duh! The DMCA (and all of the Copyright Act for that matter) are just like the U.S. Constitution, they grant limited rights and powers. If a power is not explicitly granted by the statute, it is not available. Obviously, you must look to the DMCA to see if the DMCA grants the right to subpoena common carriers.

  • by deemzzzz_k (826129) * on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:12PM (#11259421)
    While this seems like a real win I am quite curious when we'll see the first "voluntary cooperation" from ISPs. Why would the ISPs cooperate when they could lose clients? File sharing, especially those who run servers with large video files are bandwidth hogs. By voluntarily complying not only are they getting a good nod from RIAA/MPAA (which they will need once they all start selling PVRs) but also eliminating their bandwidth hogs.
    • by femto (459605) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:35PM (#11259606) Homepage
      But the cost of bandwidth is falling. ISPs who dob on bandwidth 'hogs' might see short term gains but suffer long term pain.

      In addition, once an ISP gets a reputation for cooperating against their customers, it will lose far more customers than just the 'hogs'.

      • This is one example where capitalism actually works. Just as long as said company actually has competition, that is.

        I think Charter is scared of looking like they're customer-unfriendly in the face of possible "future" competition. Future competition could mean a proliferation of companies (like SBC) which offer things like 3mbps DSL service in the same area (in my city) as, say, Comcast (my ISP).

        Then again Charter's motivation could be nothing more than corporate sovereignty (or: "How dare they tell us w
        • There are other possibilties as well.

          Charter may be afraid that by not siding with their customers they may end up encouraging additional government regulation into their monopoly. While I'm sure they're grateful for the regulations that keep their monopoly safe in those areas, most companies would do nearly anything to avoid more because they usually just end up raising the price to do business.

          Another option is that they're looking to protect their customers from entities other than the RIAA/MPAA. I

      • I think that is true. No one wants everything they do on the internet available due to voluntary cooperation. Some of the stats you see on pr0n as an example. Almost everyone has looked at it, but most people don't want it ever being known. If an ISP gets a rep as giving out info, to the public that would mean, it could be them.
    • Most (all) ISPs have a blurb about not disclosing personally identifiable information in their service contract. If that's there, they can't really in good faith cooperate voluntarily like you describe, unless the user agrees to an amended contract.
    • by JamieF (16832) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:52PM (#11259729) Homepage
      >also eliminating their bandwidth hogs.

      Hellooooo.... ISPs sell bandwidth. DSL costs more than dialup. A T3 costs more than DSL. Don't take my word for it - check with your ISP. It's actually true.

      You might as well say that a gas station owner would do well to ban trucks and SUVs becuase they're fuel hogs.

      • by deemzzzz_k (826129) * on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @09:28PM (#11260020)
        Actually that doesn't make much sense. An ISP makes money on accounts - not on bandwidth sold. It is far more profitable to have tons of customers who underutilize their bandwidth. Underutilization, especially with cable where bandwidth is shared, means lower expenses.

        I agree with the guy who said that most broadband subscribers are folks who check their email daily and won't want to wait for cnn.com to load. It has also gotten to the price point where dial up over a dedicated phone line doesn't make economic sense. From personal experiences, a lot of people just don't want the mess of a second phone line, connect times and having to "dial in."
  • Power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Boronx (228853) <evonreis@mohr-e[ ... m ['ngi' in gap]> on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:13PM (#11259432) Homepage Journal
    This about fits with my experience. The only way to prevail against the might of a major corporation is to have another major corporation in your corner.
  • Freedom (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mboverload (657893)
    Wow, a judicial body who knows that freedom is important. Don't see this in the Executive or Legislative branch.

    Why? The Judicial branch is mostly the only form of government that is not corrupted. They don't take bribes like Senators and the Executive branches do. This allows them to speak sense without restriction. This is a rare example of how the United States is supposed to function; it is a little glimpse into our great paste. Savor in this moment people, for it is rare.

    • Re:Freedom (Score:5, Funny)

      by MaineCoon (12585) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:23PM (#11259505) Homepage
      little glimpse into our great paste

      Even though it has at times been a sticky paste.
    • > Why? The Judicial branch is mostly the only form of government that is not corrupted. They don't take bribes like Senators and the Executive branches do.

      Give us time, we're still charging people by the 8.5"x14" double-spaced printed page for court transcripts!

    • Re:Freedom (Score:3, Informative)

      by cshark (673578)

      Why? The Judicial branch is mostly the only form of government that is not corrupted. They don't take bribes like Senators and the Executive branches do. This allows them to speak sense without restriction. This is a rare example of how the United States is supposed to function; it is a little glimpse into our great paste. Savor in this moment people, for it is rare.

      You're generally right, except for judges in states where they need to be elected. There is growing concern in the judicial community tha

  • Time and effort (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adennis (846411) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:14PM (#11259442)
    It's pretty admirable that all these companies (Charter included) are actually taking the time and cost required to fight against the subpoenas.
    I'm sure this trend could have very easily gone the other way.
    • Re:Time and effort (Score:3, Informative)

      by rewt66 (738525)
      It isn't purely from the goodness of their hearts. Complying with the subpoenas takes time and money, too.

      Still, I'll take a win that keeps the corporations from usurping law enforcement's role, regardless of the motive that brought it to us...

  • Enemies List (Score:5, Informative)

    by the arbiter (696473) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:18PM (#11259477)
    Those who filed "Amici" on behalf of Charter...in other words, those who were willing to go on record supporting this lawsuit.

    Lotta folks on this here fishin' trip:

    MPAA
    Association of American Publishers
    Association for Independent Music
    AFM (U.S. and Canada)
    AFMA
    American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
    American Society of Media Photographers
    The Author's Guild, Inc.
    Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
    Business Software Alliance (BSA) - (Is there anything these assholes won't stick their noses in?)
    The Church Music Publishers Association
    Director's Guild of America
    Entertainment Artists
    Graphic Artists Guild, Inc.
    Office of the Commisioner of Baseball (wtf?)
    Professional Photographers of America
    Recording Artists Coalition
    Screen Actors Guild, Inc. (SAG)
    SESAC, Inc.
    Songwriters Guild of America
    Software and Information Industry Association
    Writer's Guild of America
    West, Inc.
  • Three Words... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chrontius (654879)
    About Damn Time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:22PM (#11259496)
    The RIAA/MPAA have already changed to John/Jane Doe lawsuits rather than filing subpoenas.

    In fact that very method is suggested in this decision as an alternative.
  • Charter (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mboverload (657893)
    Charter is owned by Paul Allen, maybe this had something to do with it. Alen has loads of cash to back Charter up, he might of even been the person to say "no"
  • Armegeddon? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr. Cancelled (572486) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:29PM (#11259559)
    We've got Bush getting re-elected [geocities.com] (and nutcases putting up webpages about it), biblical-sized disasters [foxnews.com] occuring, and now someone made a sensible decision in a case involving the RIAA???

    Dunno 'bout you, but I'm going to start stockin' up on canned food and shotgun shells.
    • by SunFan (845761)
      Dunno 'bout you, but I'm going to start stockin' up on canned food and shotgun shells.

      Do it properly by first coating your cans in wax, boxing them up into crates, and burying them 10 feet down in your back yard with metal mixed into the fill dirt to confuse treasure hunters. Bury the shovel you used on the cans elsewhere with more metal in the fill dirt. Also, learn how to live in a nice tree. The looters will find you in your house. Oh, and don't forget your copy of Klingon dictionary. You will b
  • by crimethinker (721591) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:30PM (#11259564)
    Charter lost a few emergency motions to quash the subpoenas, and had to turn over the first batch of names in late 2003, so those people are already within the RIAA's grasp.

    What is noteworthy here is that Charter is appealing the case (and racking up legal fees) even after it already had to hand over the goods; the battle (not the war, yet) was lost, but Charter is now saying that the court should have stayed the order. If they're fighting on principle, I say good for them. Maybe they just want to set a precedent so that the next request (maybe for 20,000 names) won't go through.

    Most of the posts I see right now say that it's great they care about their subscribers' privacy, to which I say bollocks. Charter, like every cable company cares about one thing: money. Think about it: with all the extra digital channels, what do they have? At least 20 channels of pay-per-view and another 10 or so of home-shopping. Most of the rest of the channels are pretty craptastic, too. And no, they won't sell you just the few channels you want to watch; buy a package for an inflated price, or suck eggs.

    Anyway, Charter stands to lose money by having to hire people (PLURAL!) full-time to handle all the DMCA subpoenas, and they stand to lose subscribers (money) if they just roll over to the RIAA, as subscribers will opt for DSL in the hopes that the phone company won't roll over so easily.

    -paul

    • by BrynM (217883) * on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:40PM (#11259632) Homepage Journal
      Anyway, Charter stands to lose money by having to hire people (PLURAL!) full-time to handle all the DMCA subpoenas, and they stand to lose subscribers (money) if they just roll over to the RIAA, as subscribers will opt for DSL in the hopes that the phone company won't roll over so easily.
      This is an example of "speaking with your pocketbook". Companies take note: if you betray us, you lose us as customers. This bodes well for consumers in my opinion as it gives us at least some power in the matter.
    • Maybe, maybe not. The process is far to complex for me - not a lawyer - to understand, but in some cases the courts will not throw out all cases brought as a result of these subpoenas. With the case also goes evidence gathered as a result of them.

      However this does not cover all cases. As a result of too many loopholes that were getting criminals off, this does not apply universally. However if you are one of those who's name was given, you have some hope on these lines.

      • by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @09:26PM (#11260011) Journal
        Actualy, the judges addressed this. From the decision (With a bit of re-formatting):

        This matter is hereby remanded so the district court may:
        (1) Order the RIAA to return to Charter any and all information obtained from the subpoenas;
        (2) Order the RIAA to maintain no record of information derived from the subpoenas;
        (3) Order the RIAA to make no further use of the subscriber data obtained via the subpoenas; and
        (d) Grant such other relief not inconsistent with this order the district court deems appropriate in these circumstances.


        Basically, from the way I read that the RIAA has to give all of the information back, and cannot keep a copy, or act on it. What would be fun is, if they do act on it, or continue action on it, they might end up violating a court order and get smacked down by the courts. But, I'm guessing that won't happen, the RIAA people are scum, but they aren't stupid.

  • by humuhumunukunukuapu' (678704) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:31PM (#11259577)
    ...but when the RIAA et. al. get Congress to legislate what they cannot acheive in court they will win the war.

    I have no hope for any sort of just or fair resolution to this situation.

    Well, that and filesharing -is- wrong, IMO. But that isn't really the issue...To me this is more an issue of the inescapable march towards total corporate rule.

  • by Sheepdot (211478) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:35PM (#11259611) Journal
    While this is a great case, there are now P2P technologies that furthur complicate matters for the RIAA. Like the technology that powers MUTE [sourceforge.net]

    This method, however, does slow the rate at which files are obtained. But for a lot of users, the extra security is worth the extra couple of hours.
  • by karate_mime (626514) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:40PM (#11259634)
    The case only stopps the RIAA from using one tactic against file sharing. The footnote on page 6 of the decision explains:
    "This case has wide-reaching ramifications, because as a practical matter, copyright owners cannot deter unlawful peer-to-peer file transfers unless they can learn the identities of persons engaged in that activity. However, organizations such as the RIAA can also employ alternative avenues to seek this information, such as "John Doe" lawsuits. In such lawsuits, many of which are now pending in district courts across the country, organizations such as the RIAA can file a John Doe suit, along with a motion for third-party discovery of the identity of the otherwise ananymouse "John Doe" defendant."
    This is a win for Charter not the people.

    ./k
    • >This is a win for Charter not the people.

      as it should be - Charter only wants itself cleared. i doubt they are wanting to either support or denounce copyright infringers using their network for p2p. they just want to stay away and have nothing to do with it.

    • ananymouse??? is that a way of saying an "unidentified web surfer who uses his mouse to infringe copyright"?
  • I'm wondering how this is going to effect other industries. If this ruling ends up standing through the other courts, could it have an impact on, say, BitTorrent file sharing sites? I mean, suprnova was just a conduit, too, providing an information passing service somewhat like an ISP does. If an ISP can't be held liable for the packets it sends, and can't be subpoenaed for the names of the people sending and receiving those packets...
  • so what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by memfrob (157990) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @08:45PM (#11259678) Homepage
    The judgement merely states that they can't go on their previous fishing expeditions. It doesn't say they can't submit John Doe subpoenas; as a matter of fact, they've been doing just that for the past 6 months. If you RTFO, you'll see that it even suggests just that. This just protects the ISP...
    • Yes and no... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Svartalf (2997)
      If they can't subpoena the IP lists, a John Doe filing is pretty useless- because it doesn't identify a specific Defendant.

      You can't have an action held against you unless they have good reasoning to do so, they can have sanctions handed down to them if they do attempt it without backing, and you can countersue the Hell out of them for trying.

      It may protect the ISP, but it makes it pure Hell for them to get at you because they can't identify you specifically. Now, I'm not one that does the fileswapping B
  • Now they'll start with the "it was never about winning money, it was about raising consciousness" song and dance routine. Like suing thousands of customers was some educational project they started out of the goodness of their hearts.

    Scumbags.

  • by SunFan (845761)
    "Section 512(h) of the Act does not authorize subpoenas in such circumstances"

    Don't provoke Congress...they'll just come back with Section 512(h) VERSION 2.0.

  • by tdhillman (839276) * on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @09:18PM (#11259952)
    ...than this simple court decision. Rightfuly so, the court said that Charter is under no obligation to reveal information about "alleged" subscribers. That's not necessarily the best news in the world. Yes, the RIAA cannot go after just anybody, but if they can prove in a court that someone is actually distributing copyrighted material, it should be another story.

    I've little time for the RIAA and they way that they function, but the others who signed on represent a number of creative people that I work with. I am still troubled by the amount of copyright infringement that goes on in the world.

    It's one thing when you are getting material, it's another altogether when your material is used without permission. On one occasion, I had a school ask if they could make 500 copies of one chapter in a book I wrote for distributiuon to their students. They had no desire, or intent, to compensate me for my work.

    The artists are the ones who get screwed in this- they deserve just compensation for their work and should be given such. When you can't pay the bills with your craft, you change to another craft. How many decent artists does that deny us the pleasure of seeing or hearing?

    It's always about the money, but in the case of a number of industries, it's about keeping the money coming in for those who did the work. I've paid a bar tab with a royalty check- and I needed the drink. How many of us will pay the tab for artists?
  • [...] providers' function was limited to acting as a conduit [...] and [...] the Act does not authorize subpoenas in such circumstances

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but given that interpretation it's basically impossible to use the subpoena power of the DMCA against anyone other than a web hosting company. Not that I'm complaining, but I doubt that's what was intended in the law, and I can definitely see that either being reversed higher up or ammended if necessary.

    On the other hand, it basically leaves the

  • by potpie (706881) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @10:02PM (#11260228) Journal
    The way I understand this, people won't pirate nearly as much if the prices of CD's go down.

    From what I've learned in economics, the price level should be determined by where supply and demand meet. Therefore, any price should yield similar profits, just from more or fewer people paying it. But the recording industry is attempting to operate as a monopoly (price fixing, etc.), which changes the model. Since it has no competition, it probably bases it's pricing not on where demand and supply meet, but at the most efficient point of the production possibilities curve, which guarantees the most money for the cheapest product. However, the price it fixes at is higher than what most people want to pay, so many people would rather pirate the stuff. The correct decision in a free market economy would just be to lower the price, but the industry is instead trying to take out piracy (using very shady tactics) so it can keep pricing music without regard to supply and demand.

    The way I see it, the only way to lower the prices on CD's and reduce piracy and make everybody happy is to keep the music industry from operating as a single entity.

    So the only logical answer I can think of to end all this suing and gestapo-like behavior is to get something truly done about the RIAA's monopolistic actions (attacking them for price fixing is good).
  • The process of law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tsstahl (812393) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @10:14PM (#11260306)
    All this ruling does is preserve due process in achieving RIAA's legal ends. This is not a victory for the people. The people we are talking about really _ARE_ infringing on copyrights in most cases.

    What this ruling does do is make pursuing the actual infringers more expensive and annoying for RIAA and the like. Instead of getting blanket subpoenas en masse from a court a jillion miles away, they have been told to hire local council, file a John Doe lawsuit, and then file a subpoena for the information. Judicial oversite of the process is preserved, and a bunch of local lawyers will make more than the average amount collected from the alleged infringer for each suit filed.
    • It's legal due process. DMCA tends to try to do away with most of it in favor of the rightsholders- which is the rights of the few getting in the way of the rights of the many.
    • by MacWiz (665750) <gzieman54@ g m a i l .com> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:02AM (#11261389) Journal
      Did you read the ruling?

      "The dispute arose when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) requested the clerk of the district court to issue subpoenas under 512(h) to Charter Communications, Inc. (Charter),1 in its capacity as an ISP, requiring Charter to turn over the identities of persons believed to be engaging in unlawful copyright infringement. The district court issued the subpoenas and denied Charter's motion to quash. We reverse."

      This was not a blanket subpoena. Plural. Multiple subpoenas.

      This Circuit has never determined whether music downloaded from P2P systems violates the copyright owner's rights or is a fair use. The RIAA, to our knowledge, has never prevailed in any infringement actions brought against individual downloaders.

      Sounds more like the courts think that maybe, after filing a mere 7,000 or so civil cases, the RIAA ought to have to prove, oh, one of them.
  • Not for long (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by PingXao (153057)
    The vast majority of the general public doesn not care about the DMCA and Congress has been bought and paid for by the entertainment industry. What will come out of this ruling is that "Section 512(h) of the Act does not authorize subpoenas in such circumstances" will be ammended tout de suite.
  • an analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by supernova87a (532540) <kepler1@hotm a i l . c om> on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @10:39PM (#11260475)
    it's difficult to say which side to join with here (putting aside my personal desire to download free music). Consider this analogy:

    A private courier company, FedUPS, carries packages all across the country. It has come to the point where, say, 75% of its packages contain illegal narcotics. Drugs have been identified as harmful to people, and it is a legitimate interest of the government to stop the flow of drugs. Is it not reasonable to require FedUPS to provide the addresses of those packages intercepted and known to contain drugs?

    of course, in this RIAA case, it is a civil matter, and this story is about how the DCMA explicity protects ISPs from being targeted for traffic they cannot control. Plus, reasonable people are disagreeing over how illegal/unethical it is to copy pirated music. But the structure of the problem is similar, right? If we decide to make copying copyrighted music illegal and we declare it is a problem, what are we going to do about the conduits of that illegal traffic?

    perhaps it's a signal to lawmakers that we have two very different competing interests both attempting to use the laws to advance their ends...
  • momentum (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:42AM (#11261294) Homepage Journal
    Now we need the Supreme Court to decide not to overturn the sensible "Grokster" decision (during their current session), and these copyright profiteers will have to make money by producing new products people want, rather than just extorting money every time the change the format or anything else they control.

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