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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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  • Good to see (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:39PM (#21412999)
    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.
  • Re:Bad idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:40PM (#21413003) Homepage
    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.
  • Donate (Score:5, Informative)

    by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Monday November 19, 2007 @05:41PM (#21413021)
    Donate! [fsf.org]
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday November 19, 2007 @06:03PM (#21413245)

    But hard to do anything about it. You have a complaint - do you have a solution? Who would you suggest if not Mr. Beckerman?

    He's passionate about the topic, a lawyer, and has (IMHO) the correct views on the problem.

    this money wont go to help the average Joe fighting the RIAA, it will go to whichever Ray thinks will hit the RIAA the hardest

    That's called preventative medicine, and is further proof that his heart is in the right place on the issue. If all he wanted was to get paid, he could endlessly represent vanilla RIAA cases until retirement. He's actually trying to solve the problem.

    Disclaimer: Not associated with Mr. Beckerman, just a fan. Go Ray!

  • Re:Not good. (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 19, 2007 @06:48PM (#21413809) Journal

    The FSF doesn't develop any software.
    The Free Software Foundation develops the GNU operating system. Anyone who contributes to these project (including myself) signs a copyright assignment form granting the FSF the rights to their code and occasionally the Foundation employs people to work on some of the important parts that no one is doing voluntarily.
  • 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:Bad idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by autophile (640621) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:24PM (#21414169)

    The FSF has ALWAYS been the software equivalent of the ACLU.

    I thought the EFF was the software equivalent of the ACLU?

    --Rob

  • There have been many trials which have gone very poorly for the individual...
    this is simply not so. There has been only one trial.
  • Re:Go FSF! (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:44PM (#21414399) Journal

    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 create value. It has to come from some resource. The IP's value comes from the hard work that someone put into creating it. If everyone could make an alternative, then it would normally be worthless. Without copyright, that's exactly what would happen. In that case, the value would be shared overwhelmingly in favour of the pirated copies, because charging for the original would always be the inferior option for the consumer.

    Real property is owned in perpetuity. Most types of "IP" expire, or in other words, revert back to their true "owner:" the Public Domain.
    Public domain lends artists the building blocks to create artworks, and the artists eventually have to pay the public domain back so it can profit from it. Sure the public domain are the owners of what helps create artworks, but they don't have any ownership rights over it until the artist has had his share.

    "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!
    It's never been a legal term, but more a category or a concept. The main members of the category are all legally sanctioned. Just because it's not legally defined, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    Any other ridiculous assertions to make?
  • 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.

  • Re:And what about? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:56PM (#21415041)
    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.
  • Re:Not good. (Score:5, Informative)

    There is no legal terminology "making available". That is something the RIAA lawyers made up. They can cite no part of the Copyright Act that refers to it, and they have themselves stopped using it [blogspot.com] in their complaints, realizing it was indefensible.
  • Re:Not good. (Score:4, Informative)

    There is in fact no law against 'downloading' or 'uploading'. There is a law against making copies without authorization. And there is a law against distributing copies to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by license, lease, or lending without authorization. The RIAA is trying to rewrite the copyright law. Don't help them.

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