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UK Record Companies Suing File Sharers 265

Posted by Zonk
from the now-they-can-share-in-the-fun dept.
WebHostingGuy writes "As reported by MSNBC, the first lawsuits were filed in the UK against file sharers trading songs." These are the first suits, after many others settled out of court. From the article: "Music fans are increasingly tuning into legal download sites for the choice, value and convenience they offer...But we cannot let illegal file sharers off the hook. They are undermining the legal services, they are damaging music and they are breaking the law"
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UK Record Companies Suing File Sharers

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  • No, that comment was not "from the article". It was "from the Peter Jamieson, the BPI Chairman. Let's not go crediting MSNBC for writing incorrect articles.

    Also, here's a link that works in Firefox (MSNBC didn't load for me w/ Firefox): http://www.out-law.com/page-5967 [out-law.com]
  • Music fans are increasingly tuning into legal download sites . . .

    When you can't beat 'em, turn into 'em.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday August 02, 2005 @04:36PM (#13225798)
    I for one would like to see how the "open access point" defense holds up in court, e.g. claiming that you internet connection was through an unencrypted wireless router, therefore ANY of your neighbors could have been sharing those files! If somebody taps into your phone line and then uses it to threaten the Prime Minister, should they come and arrest you, just because you're the one paying for the phone line?
    • Can and will. A great practical joke is while visiting a friends house with kids. Pick up their phone and dial 911, imitate a childs voice and say, "help me my dads touching me in a bad way again." Ohh man it's a hoot. Took them like $6000 and several visits to a court house to get their kids back from CPS.

    • I wouldn't want to be the one testing this theory. Sure, it might work, but there's a good chance that certain judges would think it's bunk and hold the owner of the access point responsible. If nothing else, they could say that if you had reason to believe it wasn't secure and still kept it on that you were negligent.

      If drug dealers were using your front porch and you didn't seem to mind, you would be an accessory to the crime. It would be a different story if you were out of town the entire time.

      Even if t
      • Even if the "open access point" defense does work, the access point owner will go through a lot more trouble than it's worth to prove themselves innocent.

        But that's just it, isn't it? Although it's starting to look a little tattered around the edges, most western democracies still subscribe to the "innocent until proven guilty" line. Plus, as the Michael Jackson trial showed, if there is a single shred of reasonable doubt then the judge/jury is supposed to return a verdict of not guilty. In theory, th

        • Plus, as the Michael Jackson trial showed, if there is a single shred of reasonable doubt then the judge/jury is supposed to return a verdict of not guilty. In theory, this is even supposed to apply even if your personal belief is that the accused is guilty as sin, although perhaps not in practice.

          But the record companies are suing, which means this is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. Of course, in a criminal matter (in the U.S., at least), you need to prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt," as you
    • One question that I haven't seen answered in any of the articles about suits against file sharers is where is the proof?

      If the ISP's are merely handing over names and addresses to match IP's then where is the proof that these people downloaded copyrighted material? Is it a session from a computer at the record companies premises? I don't see how this constitues a legal proof, surely it is just an unsubstantiated claim. As TCP/IP is an un-authenticated protocol, how can they show that a computer on the netwo
      • how can a jury find 'beyond a reasonable doubt'?

        "Proof beyond a reasonable doubt" is the standard for conviction in a criminal trial. In civil cases, you only need to show that "the weight of the evidence" is on your side.

        That said, the simplest and most plausible explanation is the one a jury is most likely to accept.

    • The burden of proof in Civil law is on the balance of probabilities, not beyond a reasonable doubt, so I wouldn't like to be the one fronting the legal fees to try it.
    • It is a civil case, so you need to show more than reasonable doubt. You must show that it is likely that you didn't do it. Hypothetically:

      1. Make sure there's no damn trace of any illegal music on your HDD. Wipe, not delete. There's a good possibility your PC will be confiscated as evidence if you play hardball. Not a total wipe, it needs to be a plausible "clean" computer showing use (access times etc.) since before the complaint.

      2. Get a wireless router, or reset your own. Default password, no encryption
  • I have heard the "damaging music", "hurts the artists", "blah blah blah" arguments from the record companies for what, six years now?

    Regardless of whether you think downloading music is right or wrong, I don't see any evidence of all this "damage". So, if you are suing for damages, but there aren't any, then what should the fine really be?
    • "Regardless of whether you think downloading music is right or wrong, I don't see any evidence of all this "damage"."

      Check out the earnings reports from some of the publicly-traded record companies some day, or google on "record company layoffs." It's been pretty ugly. The record companies are blaming a lot of this on piracy.

      • I have seen a variety of earnings reports. Some show increases and some show decreases. I tend to believe the reports you are citing are political more than reality. I don't know though.

        I know I don't buy music anymore because the music is crap and it is far too expensive for what you get.

        If there really are losses, it could be because:
        a) Today's music is crap
        b) People have already "upgraded" their collections from tape/record to CD and aren't buying anymore
        c) People aren't buying because of high prices
  • Damaging music?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday August 02, 2005 @04:42PM (#13225865)
    How could file downloads be any more damaging to music than radio airplay, which the record companies appear to beleive increases record sales, otherwise they wouldn't spend so much money paying for airplay! Here these people are providing an equivalent service free of charge, and they are claiming it is "damaging music"? The only way it could damage music is if they use a compression scheme that is too lossy!
    • When you listen to the radio, you get to hear a song once in awhile. Not on demand. And it's not a file that you're keeping. Sure you could record off the radio to tape, but the quality would be truly dreadful. So radio, by and large, can function as a marketing channel for labels. If you hear something you like on the radio, the betting is that you'll run out to buy a copy to keep.

      With file sharing, you are downloading a copy of the file that you keep. You can listen to the song whenever you want. A
    • Generally speaking, radio airplay encourages sales -- it's how many people learn about music. Piracy discourages sales -- once people have an MP3 of a song that they can listen to as many times as they want, there's little need to go buy another copy.

      More importantly, each time a song is played on the radio, the artist gets a bit of money (and this is handled in a way that entirely sidesteps the record company). Downloading a song from a P2P site to avoid paying for it does not make any money for the ar

      • once people have an MP3 of a song that they can listen to as many times as they want, there's little need to go buy another copy. Unless, of course, they want to listen something a little higher quality than the crappy lossy-compressed files generally available on the web... this used to be called "try before you buy", where the record store would provide turntables and let you listen to a record before you actually payed for it. If you know of any places I can get CD-quality files for free, I'd appreciate
      • Generally speaking, radio airplay encourages sales -- it's how many people learn about music. Piracy discourages sales -- once people have an MP3 of a song that they can listen to as many times as they want, there's little need to go buy another copy.

        However, an MP3 can also encourage people to buy CDs or attend concerts. Especially the latter, as you can't really download the full club experience with today's technology. This has happened to me a number of times.

  • I bought it and donated it to the library.
    • I don't know who this Harry Potter person is and how you can buy him, but I am sure he is not very happy that he was 'donated' to the library and will now be shared by every greasy finger library user!

  • legality.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rwven (663186) on Tuesday August 02, 2005 @04:43PM (#13225880)
    Legally, they're right to sue. Morally, i'm not so sure anyone should be charing for music in the first place... It's kinda like making a business selling air.... Something that has always been around and something that isn't ever going away and somewhere someone had an idea to make a profit selling something that should be free...

    This is my opinion of course. :-)
    • This is my opinion of course. :-)

      And it's wrong. Music takes people time and effort to produce; while they're doing that, they're not using their time for anything else - earning money, building a career, spending time with friends and family, watching paint dry, whatever. That investment of time and talent deserves to be compensated (assuming someone likes their music enough to want to listen to it, of course).

      Air is a natural resource that requires no investment of time or money to produce.

      Other than that
      • Except that 99.99% of the bands/artists in the world DON'T live from music. Most of them have jobs.
        And yes, the ARTISTS deserve to be paid. Why do I have to pay a RECORD COMPANY for something they didn't do, but rather the artists?
        Not only that, but most bands WANT publicity and want their music to be shared, at least until they get rich and cocky. Metallica, before they became so popular, actually motivated people to share their stuff with their friends, for free. Then they saw it's a cashcow that can be m


        • The artists who sign with the record companies are not forced to do so at gunpoint. They sign those contract willingly. If they don't like the contract, they should figure out how to produce, market and distribute their music on their own.

          The artists signed the contracts -- presumabely they felt they were better off with the record company than without the record company. Who are you to interfere with the artist's right to contract with the record company and decide for yourself who should get what money
          • presumabely they felt they were better off with the record company than without the record company.

            Because that's the only way they know, and they practically get tricked into it. Indie labels can usually get them much better deals.
            • and they practically get tricked into it.

              Please -- most bands practically trip over themselves to sign with a major label. Everyone thinks that with major label backing, they'll be the next Madonna\Mariah\Britney\whatever. They only get "tricked" because they let the $$$ signs blind them to the realities of the contract.

              But that goes back to my statement -- they obviously feel that signing with the major label is the best thing for them, that's why they do it. Maybe if they were better educated as to ind
        • "Why do I have to pay a RECORD COMPANY for something they didn't do, but rather the artists?"

          95% of the work that goes into getting a CD into your hands was performed by people who are not the artist.

          If you're a musician and you have the time, talent and means to find a good producer, rent a studio, hire session musicians, design your cover art, have thousands of CDs produced, sell them into distribution, manage a co-op ad program with thousands of record stores, deal with product returns, produce a m

          • 95% of the work that goes into getting a CD into your hands was performed by people who are not the artist.

            And this work is usually already paid for before the album even starts recording.
            Maybe except for the advertising and pushing to radio stations bits, which are really an expensive part. But why to even mess with it? Do like 99% of the artists and just spread the word, gaining publicity by word of mouth and by performing gigs.

            I've heard many stories of small bands who sign up to indie labels, make great
        • " Except that 99.99% of the bands/artists in the world DON'T live from music. Most of them have jobs.
          And yes, the ARTISTS deserve to be paid. Why do I have to pay a RECORD COMPANY for something they didn't do, but rather the artists?"

          The record company invested in the band and gave them the resources needed to make it big. They deserve a return on their investment.
    • It's kinda like making a business selling air.... Something that has always been around and something that isn't ever going away and somewhere someone had an idea to make a profit selling something that should be free...

      Wow, selling air. What a concept. Before you know it they'll be selling water too -- and at prices higher than gasoline.

  • That the situation has been allowed to degenerate to such an extent here in .uk. I mean, suing filesharers has had no effect on stemming the rising tide of music sharing in the US and now the UK companies want to go headlong down the same path.

    A couple of months ago I did manage to get a (heavily edited) letter published in The Times newspaper here in the UK. Although they wanted hard references for many of my points, which I was caught off guard and not able to supply them with over the phone (such as

    • But half of me thinks he is, in his own way, still living in the 20th century.

      Not to be an ass, but wasn't the 20th century only like 5 years ago?

      In summary, music isn't scarce any more and it CAN be copied easily.

      Music isn't scarce? Then why is everyone always complaining that there isn't any good music out there? Music as a whole may not be scarce, but I suspect that the amount of music worth listening to is a pretty small fraction of the music out there. Shouldn't those who produce something worth lis
      • Wouldn't it be MORE likely that the record companies would invest MORE money and effort into better and stronger DRM and other non-copying technology, since they can would no longer be able to rely on the courts to help them make a buck?

        Indeed they would - and this is _precisely_ how a free market would (and should) work without the distorting effects of copyright.

        Why does everyone automatically think the the RIAA and others would just throw in the towel if copyright went away?

        They wouldn't - but music

    • Half of me thinks this guy is right and that he does deserve to be paid for the performance of his compositions (but EVERY time - insert credit card into CD player before pressing play?) But half of me thinks he is, in his own way, still living in the 20th century.

      All of me thinks he's full of shit. The vast majority of people do not get paid repeatedly for work already performed. They get paid once. The guy who built my car doesn't expect to get paid every time I drive it. The guy who built my washer does
  • I've not bought a new CD since the Napster decision. When I was downloading songs off Napster I was buying 3 or 4 CDs a week from artists I would have never heard of without Napster.

    Now I just go to the used CD shop, buy a CD, rip it, archive it, and then sell it back to the used CD shop.

    I gotta think that's eating into the profit margin somehow. The absolute dumbest thing the music industry ever did was to criminalize thier fanbase....
    • On the flip side. I've purchased some 160 individual tracks from iTunes on the past year. The prior year, I bought maybe 3 CDs. That has to be beefing up their margins somehow, and the smartest thing they ever did was to start selling "singles" again...
  • "...they are damaging music..."

    From what I can tell, the music industry is doing it all by themselves. I turn on the radio these days just to make sure it still sucks (and it does) and ClearChannel is still playing the same damn songs they were 2 years ago. It all sounds the same, lacks innovation, and gives no one compelling reasons to purchase it. I have no idea how pirating the one good song they play on the radio is "damaging music". Aren't they worried that suing their potential customers is only

    • The problem is that they're not just producing junk.

      If all of it were junk, not worth listening to, and had no value, then hundreds of thousands of people would not spend the time needed to find it, copy it, and listen to it.

      Since they do...

    • From what I can tell, the music industry is doing it all by themselves. I turn on the radio these days just to make sure it still sucks (and it does) and ClearChannel is still playing the same damn songs they were 2 years ago.

      Man, you said it. In 1998 I drove cross country in a car with only a radio and man, did the music suck. Recently my car CD player crapped out and I've been forced to listen to the radio. They're playing the same fucking shit songs they were 7 years ago! OK, about half of what they pl

  • My library, for example has thousands and thousands of CDs, with an especially rich collection of jazz and blues but with plenty of fairly recent pop music as well.

    You've already paid for access to your library's resources, so you might as well use them. Plus, considering that the American Library Association is willing to stand up to the Feds when it comes to snooping at people's library records, I don't think the RIAA has much chance to see what I've borrowed, and even less chance to prove that I've ri

  • The real proof will be getting an actual conviction. Proving that it was more than just an IP address sharing the files. Finding the actual computers (diskwipe anybody). Proving that files were actually downloaded by another person (this is going to be tricky). Proving what losses you've actually suffered because of this. Proving that the files weren't already available elsewhere (where did these alleged file sharers get them). Proving it wasn't somebody else breaking in over you know highly insecure
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday August 02, 2005 @05:41PM (#13226322)
    It isn't the music that's being stolen.

    What's being stolen is the Public Domain. It is being stolen by ever increasing lengths of copyright durations that far exceed the -- in the USA at least -- expressed intent of encouraging the creation of the performing arts.

    The moment something is created, the copyright in effect at that moment was clearly sufficient for its creation. Extending it afterwards only steals from the public at large to benefit -- not the individual artist to any great extent, who may already be dead -- but the giant publishing corporations who have sought to own all creative works in perpetuity for centuries now. The American Constitution specifies secure for a limited period exactly because European publishing houses of the time had been able to lock up copyrights forever.

    Now we've become them!

  • I don't seen any independent artists selling in iTMS at a discount to the $.99 being funneled to the big companies. It might bring Big Music down if you could buy better stuff for less money. And wasn't Apple always about bringing down Big Everything to benefit the Common Man?
    • If you mean artists who are on indie labels, there's a ton of that on iTMS -- in fact, most of the content is from non-RIAA labels.

      If you mean unsigned artists, they're on iTMS as well. It's similar to the fact that many good record stores carry CDs by unsigned artists, but the majority of their inventory is from labels. If you're an unsigned musician you generally have to go through a third party to get your stuff sold on the big online stores. I believe CDBaby [cdbaby.com] used to provide an encoding service for

  • they are damaging music...

    Are they dropping it on the floor and breaking it? Running it into a tree? Spraying grafiti on it? Where do these guys get these statements?

    And how in the hell do you "damage music" any worse than Britney Spears does when she sings?

  • But I remember the days when companies tried to get my dollar by offering me quality and service. Now it seems we get handed BS, and threats. Gone are the days when loyalty mattered. Now. Screw you if you aren't new.
  • A number of artists have twigged that the distribution of illegal copies can have a positive effect on their album sales.

    I'm waiting for one of them to sue their record company for artificially depressing their sales by prosecuting illegal distributors ...

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