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FSF Reaches Out to RIAA Victims 329

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the armor-for-the-little-guy dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In what has been termed the ''RIAA's worst nightmare', the Free Software Foundation has announced that it is coming to the aid of the victims of RIAA lawsuits, by establishing an Expert Witness Defense Fund to assist defendants in RIAA cases. The purpose of the fund is 'to help provide computer expert witnesses to combat RIAA's ongoing lawsuits, and to defend against the RIAA's attempt to redefine copyright law.' The funds will be used to pay fees and/or expenses of technical expert witnesses, forensic examiners, and other technical consultants assisting individuals named as defendants in non-commercial, peer-to-peer file sharing cases brought by the RIAA, EMI, SONY BMG, Vivendi Universal, and Warner Bros. Records, and their affiliated companies, such as Interscope, Arista, UMG, Fonovisa, Motown, Atlantic, Priority, and others."
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FSF Reaches Out to RIAA Victims

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  • Too late (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cthulu_mt (1124113) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:24PM (#21412789)
    I like the FSF but where were they with this a few months ago.
  • And what about? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jackharrer (972403) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:25PM (#21412799)
    Lawyers. Who's going to pay for them? Cost of technical examiners is nothing comparing to what they charge.
    Do it as in Europe - losing side pays for everything, and they will stop pretty quick.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by swb311 (1165753)
      The losing parties liability for court costs is one idea we could definitely learn from here in the US.
      • Re:And what about? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) * on Monday November 19, 2007 @06:23PM (#21413511) Journal

        The losing parties liability for court costs is one idea we could definitely learn from here in the US.

        Yes, because when Grandma needs to seek justice against some large corporation that wronged her, she should definitely have to worry about paying their legal fees if she loses.

        • Re:And what about? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 19, 2007 @06:35PM (#21413631) Journal
          Easy to fix. The loser pays the winner the loser's legal fees. If you only spend a small amount then your risk is small. If Grandma sues MegaCorp with a single lawyer and looses then it only costs her twice whatever her lawyer charges. If MegaCorp loses then Grandma gets all of her fees paid as well as whatever damages are awarded.
          • Re:And what about? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by evanbd (210358) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:16PM (#21414089)

            That's done to an extent already. Legal fee awards in cases are normally capped to "reasonable" levels. When trying to determine what is reasonable, the opposing side's legal fees are considered directly relevant. If I'm asking for 50k in legal fees, you're going to have trouble complaining that my legal fees are unreasonable when you spent 100k on the same case. This was the direct cause of the interesting legal wrangling over whether or not the RIAA's legal billings would be revealed as part of the Foster case -- she was seeking legal fees, and the RIAA was contesting her fees as too high.

            I'd much prefer to see it codified in a loser-pays system as you and the GP are suggesting, though.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Shakrai (717556) *

            If Grandma sues MegaCorp with a single lawyer and looses then it only costs her twice whatever her lawyer charges.

            Which is still more then many people can afford. I'm somewhat leery of doing anything that makes it harder to use the legal system. And how would your idea account for people whose lawyers take the cases on contingecy?

            Perhaps what we need is some sort of public defender type system for people without the resources to defend themselves in civil court. Your idea of 'loser pays' does nothing to help the person facing the RIAA lawsuit if they don't already have the money they need to defend themselves.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ricebowl (999467)

      Hmm, that sounds great in theory. The problem comes when the better-represented party, rather than the party in the right, wins. Not that I disagree that an organisation pursuing frivolous lawsuits should foot the cost of those lawsuits when they're found wanting for whatever reason, but neither system is perfect.

      On the other hand the only trial of multinational-vs-regular folks I could think of, outside the RIAA/MPAA/IFPI etc sphere, was the 'McLibel [mcspotlight.org]' case. In which the defendants won. Despite the litigio

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Per your own link, the judge ruled that the pair had libeled McDonalds, and they were ordered to pay a non-trivial sum. In a loser-pays system, they would be responsible for paying for legal fees.
    • by jedidiah (1196)
      You really don't know what you're talking about do you?

      Expert witnesses bill out at a kilobuck per hour.

      Your own experts are not cheap by any metric.

      Even if you get your lawyers to work for free, your experts won't.
    • Re:And what about? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:38PM (#21412983)
      I agree with the sentiment, but what happens in Europe when the losing side was the side that was correct? Does it actually cut down on bad law suits, or does it encourage a larger spending in the hopes of winning the case anyway?

      How would one of those being sued in this case come up with the money if they lost? Being innocent of the charges isn't always enough to ensure that one wins the case. All that would do in these cases would be to encourage the RIAA to pay more and represent a larger incentive to settle out of court.

      When it comes to the cost of lawyers, often times people with a strong case can gain an attorney on a contingency basis, meaning that they lawyer takes a larger slice of the award in exchange for potentially working for free if they lose the case.

      Other times an attorney will do the work pro bono publico, although the practice can at times be shady, as sometimes the attorney will seek an award in addition to what the complainant is asking for anyways.

      What I would like to see is for the court expenses be limited to what the less wealthy side can afford, and if the wealthier side wants to spend more, require them to cover the difference whether they win or lose. With the Judge in the case ruling whether the sums of money involved are reasonable.
      • Re:And what about? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Splab (574204) on Monday November 19, 2007 @06:03PM (#21413237)
        Frivolous lawsuits are not happening here. There was a brief time where we had (in Denmark) something like RIAA trying to extort people, but quickly people decided to fight back and I haven't heard of any new tries at this (one case made it all the way to court and the defendant won that afair).
      • Re:And what about? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by garett_spencley (193892) on Monday November 19, 2007 @06:05PM (#21413279) Journal
        What I would like to see is for the court expenses be limited to what the less wealthy side can afford, and if the wealthier side wants to spend more, require them to cover the difference whether they win or lose.

        So when a single mother of 4 who works double shifts at walmart and can barely make ends meet gets sued by the RIAA the court costs become $0 ?

        Sounds like a great way to screw the lawyers (and the RIAA).

        Where do I sign up ?
        • Re:And what about? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Shakrai (717556) * on Monday November 19, 2007 @06:30PM (#21413569) Journal

          Sounds like a great way to screw the lawyers

          Ya know, my karma will probably get beat all to hell for this, but not all lawyers are bad.

          Get charged with a crime you didn't commit and then tell me how you feel about defense attorneys. Get injured by someone whose insurance company refuses to pay for your treatment and tell me how you feel about them.

          Do you have a negative opinion of the lawyers working for the FSF? How about the ACLU lawyers fighting for your civil liberties? How about this guy [wikipedia.org] or this guy [wikipedia.org], both of whom were lawyers.

          Lawyers represent their clients. You'd be doing better to direct your anger at the RIAA for the lawsuits and not their lawyers.

          • "Get charged with a crime you didn't commit and then tell me how you feel about defense attorneys."

            I can, easily. They stink. Mine rolled over and started pandering to the prosecution until I finally was tired of hearing his whiny ass tell me that my defense would do no good; after 2 months *MY* motions to dismiss, etc. had caused the prosecution to approach me with a plea bargain that was less than 1% of what I had been charged with initially. I imagine I'd still be in prison if I'd bothered to listen t
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Toonol (1057698)
          That's pretty much what I've been advocating. "Loser Pays", with the variant that the loser must pay the winner's legal fees up to the amount equal to the minimum of the two side's spending.

          Rich corp spends $50,000 suing poor single mom, who spends $1,000 defending herself. They win, she pays $1,000 of their expenses. They lose, they pay $1,000 of the mom's expenses.

          Two Rich cops sue each other: They each spend $1,000,000. Loser pays full amount.

          I think this would have the effect of making pen
          • But what about... (Score:2, Insightful)

            by ClayJar (126217)
            Rich corp sues single mom. She spends $100k defending herself through a long, pitched legal battle. She finally wins.

            Meanwhile, the corp has only spent $50k on the baseless accusations, as they get a bulk rate on their worthless experts and they used staff lawyers paid far less than partners (or some associates). After all, they didn't really care if they won *every* case, just some of them.

            Anyway, the single mom is exonerated, but she is only paid $50k of her legal fees. The other $50k is her expense.
      • by ultranova (717540)

        How would one of those being sued in this case come up with the money if they lost? Being innocent of the charges isn't always enough to ensure that one wins the case. All that would do in these cases would be to encourage the RIAA to pay more and represent a larger incentive to settle out of court.

        Have the state pay for everything - every last penny spent on the case. Anything else means that the citizens are not equal before law, which only serves to bring all law into contempt.

        Not that that'll ever

    • Hm, how much does it cost to get someone to say:

      "Yes, the evidence establishes that the defendant's IP address was used to download a Britney Spears album on a P2P network. However, it still allows for the possibility that the *person* who downloaded it was a catburglar who snuck in at night without the defendant knowing, downloaded the files, and left. Therefore, IP logs should have no probative value in computer crime cases."
      • Getting someone to say it costs very little. Getting someone with the right credentials, who is capable of withstanding cross-examination, to say it costs a fair bit more. You need someone assertive enough not to be bullied by either barrister who not only knows the material well (and has qualifications to back that up), but can present it in a way that is understandable by a dozen idiots (or ignorant but intelligent members of the general public if you are incredibly lucky).
    • I'd like to take this a step further.
      Losing side pays for everything and owes the defendant the amount initially requested by plaintiff.
      You want to sue for excessive and crazy amounts? You lose you pay the same.
  • Not good. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:25PM (#21412805)
    The FSF needs to remain focused on developing free as in libre software. There's no reason
    for them to get involved in intellectual property disputes of this nature (I specify because
    I could see reason to become involved in software patent IP issues). The last thing the free
    software community needs is to be identified with people downloading illegally from the pirate's
    bay, *nova, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There's no reason for them to get involved in intellectual property disputes of this nature (I specify because
      I could see reason to become involved in software patent IP issues).
      If the RIAA succeeds in redefining copyright law, there might not be any free as in libre software.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      You assume P2P's only use is "illegal downloads"*. BitTorrent is the perfect way to distribute free software, but its very existance is threatened by the record companies' war againsg ANY file sharing. Share a perfectly legal song that its writer/performer WANTS shared (and there are likely more legal than illegal) with the same name as an RIAA song, and you risk a lawsuit. Even naming your software "master of puppets" or "Penny Lane" may get you sued. So the FSF is indeed in the middle of this already.

      -mcg
      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        *Why do they keep talking about "illegal downloads" when it's UPLOADING that is illegal?

        Maybe because no one uploads in P2P. There is no push (upload); there is only pull (download). Serving and uploading are not the same thing.

        The person making the copy is the one doing something illegal. Someone who downloads from a server is making the copy. If someone else was uploading to a server, that would be making a copy.

        Something which is legal to possess isn't made illegal by making its location accessible to the public. It's a pie cooling on a windowsill.

        Having something on a server makes no

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:26PM (#21412821) Homepage Journal
    Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of NewYorkCountryLawyers?
  • Bad idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlowHole666 (1152399) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:28PM (#21412849)
    Will people now associate free software with illegal activities or supporting illegal activities? I know that is not what they are doing they are helping innocent (sometimes) people from getting corn holed by the RIAA. But could the RIAA, Microsoft or other non free software people put a spin on this and say this foundation supports law breaking and if you support this foundation you also support breaking the law? I just say this because sometimes people do not get the full story before making up their mind about software, an organization, business etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jedidiah (1196)
      The FSF has ALWAYS been the software equivalent of the ACLU. This is nothing
      new. This is nothing that companies like Microsoft haven't already created
      FUD about. This is pretty much business as normal.

      Who "supports the FSF" anyways?

      Companies buy support contracts from Novell or Redhat.

      They may not even be aware of the whole "GNU/Linux" thing.
    • "supporting illegal activities?"
      If people were concerned about who's doing illegal activities they may wonder about RIAA's activities against college students.
      For example, a student at a local college got a nice letter from RIAA to settle with them for $3000 for the 87 songs she "illegally" downloaded, or go to court.
      Now, if it hurts them tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per each song, why are they willing to settle for a measly $3000?
      How is that form of extortion legal?

      People of the US. don't give
    • if you support this foundation you also support breaking the law?

      That needs to read "changing the law". FSF needs to get the message out loudly and clearly that they support sane laws and are working to get them.

      I smoked pot once. But I DID NOT inhale. Will you hire me?

      Interestingly on-topic. See, laws are only enforceable when the governed allow them to be. People are coming around to the idea that they don't want pot smoking to be a felony, even if they don't want to do it themselves. You yourself are coming out pro-sanity without being pro-lawbreaking. Well, the FSF needs to do the same.

    • Will people now associate free software with illegal activities or supporting illegal activities?
      No, I think they will associate it with helping the Courts get it right about technology, instead of being subjected to a snow job of unrebutted 'junk science' by the RIAA's fake experts.
  • by geggam (777689) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:28PM (#21412857)
    I am still waiting for someone to point out that everything digital is really nothing but a 0 or a 1.

    Everyone is copying everything.
    • by Splab (574204)
      Uhh that just gave me an idea.

      If I remember correctly it has been determined that _ANY_ small part of a composed music number used in another number constitutes infringement. Even resampled at different speeds.

      So if music is digital the smallest part of a number would be a 0 or a 1 - just get hold of whoever made the first binary program and get him/her to sue everybody in the music industry.
  • Go FSF! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:30PM (#21412867) Journal
    While I believe the RIAA is doing the right thing defending their IP, I must say I applaud the FSF for helping keep the judicial process fair and even. It's high time for this kind of intervention. I respect that the RIAA can't exactly fight full, drawn out battles against everyone, but this kind of abuse of the court system simply isn't justified. Sorry.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      While I believe the RIAA is doing the right thing defending their IP

      Thank you for using the acronym for "imaginary property" rather than pretending that anything that's only in your head bears any resemblance to actual, real, concrete property.

      -mcgrew
      • Thank you for using the acronym for "imaginary property" rather than pretending that anything that's only in your head bears any resemblance to actual, real, concrete property.

        How exactly doesn't intellectual property resemble "real" property? Certainly not legally, certainly not in terms of value and how it's traded, certainly not in terms of how it's earned (i.e. through working for it). So, how do they not resemble? Is it some reincarnation of the outdated "If I ain't able teh feel it, it don't exist" ar

        • Re:Go FSF! (Score:5, Informative)

          by mrchaotica (681592) * on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:04PM (#21413955)

          How exactly doesn't intellectual property resemble "real" property?
          • If I steal your piece of real property, you don't have it anymore. If I "steal" your so-called "IP," you still have it.
          • If you give me your real property, the total value remains constant (because you don't have it anymore). If you give me your "IP," total value doubles because we both have it, and are thus twice as likely to create derivative works. Sharing is synergistic.
          • Real property is owned in perpetuity. Most types of "IP" expire, or in other words, revert back to their true "owner:" the Public Domain.
          • "IP" really is "imaginary." Legally speaking, there is no such thing. There are copyrights and patents and trademarks, but they are not similar enough to be spoken about under one umbrella term with any semblence of accuracy!

          Any other questions?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            If I steal your piece of real property, you don't have it anymore. If I "steal" your so-called "IP," you still have it.

            Yes, but it's devalued. You have it for free, I worked hard to create it. You can also steal from my bank account. I still have my bank account, it's just been devalued.

            If you give me your "IP," total value doubles because we both have it, and are thus twice as likely to create derivative works. Sharing is synergistic.

            No, the value is shared. Look it up. In economics, you simply can't creat

      • Thank you for using the acronym for "imaginary property" rather than pretending that anything that's only in your head bears any resemblance to actual, real, concrete property.

        The whole concept of property is imaginary. What's your point? The only reason the idea of property exists at all is because society set up a system of rules to decide what belongs to whom. By the same token, society can decide exactly what can be owned as well.

  • I wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markov_chain (202465) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:30PM (#21412875) Homepage
    if Stallman has been reading xkcd lately ;)
  • by kcornia (152859) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:32PM (#21412893) Journal
    While on the surface it may seem odd for FSF to come to the aid of P2P defendants, I think what they're really trying to guard against are future frivolous claims that could be made against open source software and the like.

    If the RIAA is able to effectively take advantage of non-tech savvy courts, it's not too much of a stretch for other IP related companies to start filing claims, infringement suits, etc. against open source applications that compete with theirs.

    Maybe I'm off base, but that's a possible reason for the FSF to be taking this course. It's more of a message to the business community at large that you're not going to have it that easy strong arming the technology world.

    What do I know though, I was a history major..
  • HARK! (Score:5, Funny)

    by mpgalvin (207975) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:33PM (#21412899)
    Stallman! [xkcd.com]
  • Now I'm just a simple hyper chicken from a backwoods asteroid but does it seem right to call people who are being tried under the justice system in a public court "victims"?
    • by nuzak (959558)
      They don't want to be in court and they're being bled dry regardless of their guilt or innocence, so yes, I'd say "victim" is about right.

      But hey, I guess good old fashioned gumption, bootstrap-pulling, and moral fiber are all people need. Maybe there's a culture of victimhood because people are constantly getting fucked over with nothing they're legally allowed to do about it except whine.

      I suppose we all get the system we deserve. Unfortunately, I also get the system we deserve. Add me to the victims.
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      People who are sued by the RIAA ARE VICTIMS of an organization that abuses the justice system for its own gain. Justice is never served in these cases. The RIAA NEVER PROVES WHO DOWNLOADED THE CONTENT!!! So unless you call accidental convictions of guilty people justice, then justice is never served. Besides, the RIAA is asking for obsurd amounts of money for the infringements.
  • by nweaver (113078) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:34PM (#21412921) Homepage
    The problem is, by the standards of a civil suit (preponderence of the evidence), the RIAA is able to kick butt on the forensics.

    Its sloppy, its crappy, but when you have "Identify user's ip, user name, and the same username used on a bunch of legitimate sites", it becomes hard to contest the evidence sufficiently to establish nonresponsibility.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kcornia (152859)
      You mean without equivalent experts on your side to appropriately and properly point out, to a non-technical jury, the giant holes in their evidence.

      That's the way I interpret FSF's involvement. They're not arguing innocence or guilt, they're just making sure both sides have appropriate technical representation vs. the ridiculously one-sided "Grandma Jones and her AOL account vs. RIAA's team of electrical engineering PhDs".
      • by nomadic (141991)
        You mean without equivalent experts on your side to appropriately and properly point out, to a non-technical jury, the giant holes in their evidence.

        The problem is most of these people are guilty. And when they're put on the stand and asked, "did you download this music" they have two choices: tell the truth and admit liability, or lie and commit perjury.
        • by kcornia (152859)
          But this would be true whether the FSF were there or not. Like I said before, I don't think FSF is fighting for these people's innocence or guilt, I think they're fighting for fair representation on both sides with regard to technical issues. Letting the RIAA run rough shod over non-technical juries starts setting precedents that could seep out to other areas, namely open source programming vs. IP vultures.
    • by vux984 (928602)
      Yes, but there was never really much doubt in anyones eyes whether -that- woman convicted in -that- case was guilty in my eyes at least. And I doubt the FSF thinks she should have gotten off. (The only real dispute there is how high her damages should be - and $220,000 is stupid/absurd/injust no matter how you look at it.)

      But expert testimony at the right stage about the right point might force the rest of the evidence to become inadmissible, or create justification for a solid countersuit against the RIAA
  • by physicsboy500 (645835) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:35PM (#21412935)
    Yes, the RIAA is trying to modify copyright law a bit to squeeze more money out of music they "own" at the expense of the creator of the music, and while that is a problem, most of the time it is not the issue that comes to the front when individuals are confronted with copyright infringement lawsuits.

    The big issue that has come into play is the RIAA's tactics in gathering evidence. Many times an IP address was proxied and the wrong person ends up on trial. The RIAA's biggest misstep comes into play when they search/seize without proof that the questionable internet activity came from the household they are searching.

    There have been many trials which have gone very poorly for the individual even though the RIAA gathered evidence at an incorrect location and *happened* to stumble upon something questionable.

    Don't get me wrong, it's still great that an individual has more resources when fighting an RIAA lawsuit, but many problems come up not because of the RIAA's loose definition of copyright, but because the individual defending them self doesn't know their rights.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      There have been many trials which have gone very poorly for the individual...
      this is simply not so. There has been only one trial.
  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by moderators_are_w*nke (571920) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:36PM (#21412945) Journal
    In all honesty, why? Admittedly, the FSF is more of a political organisation than a technical one, but why are they interested in defending file sharers? They should be promoting free software development with that money, not attempting to get people off (the admittedly ridiculous) fines imposed by the US courts the got because they were too lazy and / or tight to go down the record store and pay money for the (admittedly overpriced) music.

    I quote "The Free Software Foundation (FSF), established in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs.". Thats computer programs, not MP3z. FFS, people donate money to the FSF for their work, if I had and found out they were spending it on this I'm be pretty miffed.

    Right, tin hat on...
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:58PM (#21413185) Homepage

      I'm a card carrying FSF member, and I fully support this sort of behavior on their part. The issue of file sharing is already threatening software freedom - if they can help to make it clear that the RIAA are just jerks trying to abuse the legal system, the RIAA will have less power to try to outlaw software. That's what this is really about - whether software that allows people to share arbitrary data with each other should be considered to be evidence of criminal activity.

      • I'm an FSF member too (although I don't want to scratch my mini-CD by carrying it around with me ;) ) I but I have to wonder if this sort of thing isn't more appropriate for the EFF instead (of which I'm also a member). Don't get me wrong: I'm glad this sort of thing is getting done. I'm just not sure if the division of labor is quite right.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tom (822)
      Because the FSF is first and foremost about Freedom, and very much against any kind of DRM-like crap.

      The RIAA, on the other hand, is one of the primary promoters of DRM.

      Their lawsuit circus is mostly for show. One, they use it to create ammo for their lobbyists ("look how many evil people are out there, we're suing in the thousands but we simply can't get them all, we need new laws, give us new laws, btw. how's the wife? how about a nice holiday with her to fix things up again? or a nice willing young lady
      • by mungtor (306258)

        Because the FSF is first and foremost about Freedom, and very much against any kind of DRM-like crap.

        While that's true, it's totally irrelevant to the central point. The RIAA has evidence of people engaged in an illegal activity. They are taking legal action against those people (or the people they identify). They are protecting their rights, whether you believe they should have those rights or not is not relevant. You can support independent music or buy things without DRM in an effort to drive th

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by compro01 (777531)
      yes but the RIAA trials are creating interesting/dangerous precidents/opinions on IP law, which the FSF does rely upon, as copyright is nessesary to use copyleft. suitable changes/interpretations could render the creation of Free software extremely difficult, if not impossible.

      it is very much in their interest to get involved with this before it starts to have direct effect on them, as by then it has gathered inertia and will be that much harder to reverse.
    • by jgoemat (565882)

      FFS, people donate money to the FSF for their work, if I had and found out they were spending it on this I'm be pretty miffed.

      Well, it doesn't sound like you donate to the FSF, so you don't have any right to be miffed. We all benefit from their work. You wouldn't have any reason to be miffed anyway, this is a separate fund created by the FSF and you donate money to.

    • Why, indeed?

      Why convict defendants in your posts when they haven't even been through trial?

      It ought to be clear from RTFA that the FSF may not have much of a free software culture left to serve if a whole body of cases with twisted re-interpretations of copyright law become established precedent. That impacts redistribution of software ever so much, so they are rightfully against letting the technical misrepresentations themselves to stand irregardless of whether the defendants are innocent or guilty.

      Right, tin hat on...

      How f

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by gillbates (106458) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:50PM (#21414473) Homepage Journal

      Because they are promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs, that's why. They see the connection between the shoddy evidence gathering of the RIAA and the possibility that merely possessing certain software programs will be considered as evidence of infringement.

      The FSF has a policy against using proprietary software; it's not as if they are defending the illegal downloading of copyrighted material. Rather, it seems they are concerned, and rightly so, that a judicial precedent may establish the mere possession of file sharing programs as a de facto evidence of guilt, regardless of whether or not any infringement actually occurred.

      Think about that for a moment. The whole Web is just one large, distributed, filesharing program. Imagine the consequences if everything was outlawed because of what it could be used for, rather than outlawing the specific act it might be used for. Even though the RIAA cases deal with copyright, it is more of a war on technology than anything else, and it has far-reaching implications for even those who do not infringe copyright. The real problem that the RIAA is fighting is filesharing itself - it could completely supplant them as the arbiter of music; their very survival depends on keeping individuals from sharing music - copyrighted or not - amongst themselves. The RIAA knows very well that once musicians discover publishing via filesharing, their stranglehold on the industry is over.

      So what does the RIAA want? That's right - to control your computer, and dictate which software you are allowed to run. That's the only way to protect their content monopoly, and you can bet their going to try any means possible to accomplish it, consumer rights notwithstanding.

  • Good to see (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    While I'm sure the RIAA and friends will try to spin this as the FSF supporting piracy, that is just not the case. This is providing knowledge to the cases. This way someone with a hacked/cracked machine, wireless router or one of the other brazillion different ways that something can happen and gets unfairly brought up on charges can fight back.
    • Well when the RIAA can spin it that sharing and downloading around 20 songs equals thousands of dollars to be given to them, they can spin anything. When the *IAA can mislead congress to passing the DMCA and similar acts they can spin it. What the FSF needs to do, is to have people running for congress, with some of the people who get elected they will probably have an easy time getting in and if they can stop the next DMCA from getting passed, its a win for freedom. Without some good senators and represent
  • Donate (Score:5, Informative)

    by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:41PM (#21413021)
    Donate! [fsf.org]
  • by pwnies (1034518) <j@jjcm.org> on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:44PM (#21413039) Homepage Journal
    our children won't be watching cartoons like Captain Planet, which reflects the hippy nature of the 70's. Rather they'll be watching something subtly using themes of the goodness of sharing, and the evils of the RIAA. "Linus Torvalds with the power of Open Source!" *cut scene to Linus and a team of ninja penguins stopping a kid from cracking a program and giving him an open source alternative* "Mark Shuttleworth with the power of Benevolence!" *cut to Mark in a space shuttle signing a contract to pour money into a new open source development* "Bram Cohen with the power of File Sharing Protocols!" *Just show him solving one of his many rubiks cubes. It's awesome enough.* FSF with the power of Legal Aid! *Show a personified version of FSF smacking down a court order against an innocent mother* By their powers combined, they form internet's greatest hero! Captain 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0! Kickass.
  • by NaCh0 (6124) on Monday November 19, 2007 @06:37PM (#21413657)
    Which will happen first?

    The end of digital restrictions or the dominance of GNU HURD?

  • The right answer is to starve the beast. As much as I love music, I will not buy another CD as long as the music industry persists in these law suites. I will only buy music when I can buy it directly from the artist, without a music company in the middle and then only from artists that do not support suing their fans. Nor, will I go out and p2p music, I will simply go without. If artists with contracts with the record labels want to make money from me, they will have to do it the old fashion way. Come
  • I would have thought the EFF [eff.org] ("Defending Freedom in the Digital Age") would be the more appropriate NGO to address this issue. I thought the FSF was just an organization promoting the GPL?

    --Rob

  • by viking80 (697716) on Monday November 19, 2007 @10:07PM (#21415583) Journal
    I would like to suggest that this fund auction off "Lunch with Ray Beckerman" once a month. Maybe other celebrities will donate their lunches to the fund as well. That could generate both revenue and keep the fund in the news.

    How about it Ray?

Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature. -- Rich Kulawiec

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