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RIAA Sues 261 Major P2P Offenders 1076

circletimessquare writes "Yahoo!/Washington Post is reporting that the RIAA is suing 261 fileswappers whom they consider to be 'major offenders' in illegally trading music online. Remember to visit the EFF when full lawsuit details are released, and see if you're one of the unlucky few." Details of the amnesty program reported last week were also released, with the RIAA announcing it "...would require file sharers to admit in writing that they illegally traded music online and vow in a legally binding, notarized document, never to do it again."
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RIAA Sues 261 Major P2P Offenders

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  • My theory... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bloggins02 ( 468782 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:22PM (#6901290)
    Since they know they can't stop downloaders, they figure if they make it a point to go after the biggest file sharers people will become paranoid and turn file sharing off. They'll become leachers.

    Of course we know what happens to a P2P system with all leachers and no sharers...

  • I think (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:23PM (#6901297) Homepage Journal
    the EFF needs you donations more then ever. Remember, you don't have to do anything wrong to find yourselves in a position to prove your inocense. Yes, under these circumstances, you have to prove your inocense, simple disgusting.
  • Why the vow? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adamwright ( 536224 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:23PM (#6901298) Homepage
    "...and vow in a legally binding, notarized document, never to do it again."

    If P2P trading of Copyrighted music is illegal (and we know that it is), why require this? Is it purely a move to allow easy prosecution should they offend again? Or do they think that prosecuting under copyright law might not work in some cases?
  • by PovRayMan ( 31900 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:25PM (#6901337) Homepage
    I myself just got back into my dorm and seeing this article made me think. Many thousands if not millions of students are going off their dialup/cable/dsl home connections and back to the fat pipes the universities have. As much, I would expect P2P usage to rise again, but how much more with RIAA lawsuits?

  • Rate the article (Score:2, Interesting)

    by glenrm ( 640773 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:26PM (#6901355) Homepage Journal
    You can rate this article if you have a Yahoo! account...
  • by Robert Hayden ( 58313 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:26PM (#6901362) Homepage
    Filing for RIAA amnesty may immunize you from civil litigation, however that affidavit becomes excellent fodder for your prosecution under CRIMINAL statues. Certainly RIAA owns one or two over-eager district attorneys wanting to make a name for themselves.

    The you're off to a lovely federal pound-you-in-the-ass prison, or forking up hoards of fines.
  • "File Sharing" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Slime-dogg ( 120473 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:28PM (#6901384) Journal

    Every time I see this "Vow not to share files" or references to "Illegal P2P applications," I start wondering if the wording is such that the victim will not be able to share any files whatsoever, legally or public domain. I can see these huge corporations not really understanding the difference between serving copyrighted music and serving a distribution of GNU/Linux over KaZaa. I'm sure that they would like neither to take place.

  • by Sajma ( 78337 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:29PM (#6901399) Homepage
    Entering your username or IP address into the subpoena query page seems to be a great way to make sure the RIAA checks out your username or IP address.
  • by ryants ( 310088 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:29PM (#6901401)
    A quick Google [] will pull up lots of other articles, I just picked one [].

    In short, a levy is paid on blank "audio" media (how they tell the different between blank "data" CDs and blank "audio" CDs is a bit beyond me). This levy gets dispersed to copyright holders in some magic way; in exchange Canadians are expressly allowed private copying, including peer-to-peer file sharing.

    Blame Canada.

  • by Accord MT ( 542922 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:30PM (#6901418)
    Boo Hoo! The artists are getting ripped off! Can we keep it real for a moment?

    The "Artist" doesn't deserve squat.

    There. I said it. You can go mod me down, call me Satan, whatever it is you do to those with opinions different than your own. Or you can grit your teeth and read on:

    Most "pop" media (music, movies, even books) churned out today is more a product of the producer/publisher than it is a work of art. Except in rare circumstances, the writers, musicians and actors are merely useful brand names, interchangable and of no consequence to the studio's bottom line. Listen to two supposedly different albums with similar production credits. You'll see! Those identical drum beats and background orchestras aren't coincidences. This canned art is inserted as production's way of applying a dose tried-and-true to that brand new artist. "Artists" rarely exert any creative control over the work that will eventually bear their names.

    Brittney Spears is hired for her ability to excite teenage boys (and some adult men) and her ability to sell Pepsi, and she is paid handsomely for it. Like most pop "artists" she is barely a part of the product upon which her brand name is stamped, and deserves little, if any, of the proceeds from record sales.
  • Re:Suing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stargoat ( 658863 ) <> on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:30PM (#6901424) Journal
    The RIAA will remain relevant as long as they have the money to do so. These bastards are going to get away with it for as long as we let them.

    It's really going to take grass roots effort to remove this RIAA threat. It's the only way to really combat a monetarily powerful organization.

    Speaking of grassroots, the Dean Campaign should take note of folks distrust of the RIAA. If they promise to do something about the RIAA, then they'll probably wind up with a few thousand more votes than they may have had. If nothing else, bringing this up in a fair political manner about it might put a stop to some of this insanity.

  • yes but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fuckfuck101 ( 699067 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:31PM (#6901435)
    What is their definition of 'major offenders', I wonder if that definition changes from 'case to case' so to speak.
  • Re:Why the vow? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:32PM (#6901457) Homepage
    Actually, if anything, it's a PR move. It's basically a way for the RIAA to look benevolent without looking like they're bending over and letting the pirates win. The only other options are to sue the pants off everyone and risk looking like bullies, or to stop pursuing P2P traders, which, of course, is impossible.
  • by tarnin ( 639523 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:33PM (#6901466)
    What time? They are not trying to send these people to jail, they are trying to squeeze money out of them. They know that if they actually had to bring up a real case agaisnt these people then they would, more than likely, lose. So instead, they sue which makes it harder on the defendant as THEY have to prove their innocence instead of the other way around.

    Lovely isnt it? Weither these people are guilty or not means nothing. They will be finiancly ruined by either paying out the absurd suit, a lawyer to defend them, or the RIAA's "Ok well just give us THIS much and we'll go away" deal.

    So ya, I think I will whine about this thank you very much.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:35PM (#6901503)
    The number of people using P2P services is huge -- more people in the US than voted for either Bush or Gore in the last election. The number of suits is comparatively very small, so your odds of getting hit are miniscule.

    Statistically speaking, kids who use P2P software probably have a substantially better chance of dying in a car accdident. That's more likely, the consequences are obviously much worse, and hardly anyone worries about that. So why worry about this?

    People do a bad job of evaluating risk. Fat people (like me) eat fast food meals, which put them at risk for heart diesease and diabetes, and worry about SARS or West Nile Diesease.

    Remember, if you're afraid, then the terrorists have won. :)

    (I'm posting this anonymously because I could see those mofo's suing people who speak out against them -- I don't want to affect my odds.)

  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:37PM (#6901537) Journal
    That's not true. Paying the levy doesnt mean you have a right to violate copyrights, its an admission that people will violate copyrights, and as a good socialist country, it's up to society to pick up the tab for their losses.

    Think of it as a publicly funded insurance policy for the music biz. Nowhere in canadian law does it make it "legal" to copy music or software.

    Tax dollars go to drug rehab programs too, but it doesnt mean using heroin is legal.

    BTW, they make no distinction between data and audio CDs, because there really is no distinction. It's like ladies razors vs mens razors - the ladies Bic is pink, and thats the only real difference.
  • Re:I think (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FileNotFound ( 85933 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:39PM (#6901569) Homepage Journal
    Ah but the catch is that they don't know that you didn't own the CD. 1000 songs is very little when you think about it. You have ~15 songs per CD, so thats about 67 CDs. That not that many.

    More over, remember the people being sued are NOT being sued for dowloading but for sharing.

    The point is, the people being sued may not have stolen anything at all and not intended to help anyone steal. I have a fairly large CD collection, yet I'd say that at least 20% of my disks have scratches on them. I have copies of those disk that I downloaded of the web. Perfectly legal. I am too lazy to rip my CDs, I have too many CDs and not enough time. I download entire discographies from eMule. Once again, perfectly legal.

    Still in the eyes of the RIAA I'm a major pirate because I have a huge MP3 collection of which over 50% is downloaded despite owning the CD.

    Thats why I donated to EFF and thats why I urge others to.
  • Re:I think (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reggoh.gip'> on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:41PM (#6901604) Journal
    Sorry, no way. People who amass collections of in excess of 1,000 mp3s (of songs they do not posses on CD) are by no stretch of the imagination "victims".
    Like hell. Were I live [], I have more than 3000 MP3s, most of which LEGALLY MADE from CDs I borrowed from the library. It is perfectly legal to make a copy for your own use.
  • by spamchang ( 302052 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:44PM (#6901655) Journal
    "The RIAA is the Recording Industry Association of America. It is not the Recording Industry and Artists Association of America. It says its concern is artists. That's true, in just the sense that a cattle rancher is concerned about its cattle."

    ?Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, in an online forum in which he and the RIAA's Matt Opennheim answered questions from readers about the legality of downloading, copying and sharing digital music files. .html []

  • by strike3 ( 178420 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:46PM (#6901681)
    The "amnesty" program appears to create a cause of action for breach of contract -- kind of a "backup" weapon against these egregious violators.

    At first blush this appears to also be a means of getting around the general un-enforceable nature of "shrinkwrap" or click-through licensing. The record labels would love to bind everyone who buys a CD to a contract promising not to illegally distribute its contents... with a liquidated damages clause specifying that should they catch you on Kazaa they get some huge, pre-defined sum.

    Such a contract would make their lawyers' lives much easier -- but there's no way to easily bind everyone who buys a CD in this way. The law generally requires people to know the terms of a contract for it to be enforceable, and the music industry does not want to cover the front of each CD with a dense batch of legalese. Putting the terms inside the CD wouldn't work either -- just look at the problems both companies and users have dealing with software licenses that require installing the software to view the license.

    Therefore, it appears the music industry is choosing to pursue a top-down approach, where the end users most statistically likely to pirate -- those who have already done so with a reckless disregard for the law -- are legally bound to not do so again. There is no way for these traders to claim they thought their actions were legal after signing this affidavit.

    The file-swapping "industry" follows the common model of a relatively few number of users are providing the vast majority of the content. The music industry, I believe, feels it can stem the tide of piracy by corralling these relative few.

    Also, since copyright violations are much harder to prove than breach of a (relatively) plain-language contract, the record companies are cutting to the chase, tilting the odds of a pro-RIAA judgment further in their favor.

    Look for this to become a trend.
  • Here's a clue (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Potent ( 47920 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:47PM (#6901688) Homepage
    Want to know how to avoid being sued by the RIAA? STOP SHARING THEIR MUSIC!!

    I'm not trying to be flamebait - I hate them as much as any of the rest of you - but get a clue, folks!

    The way to really do something about the whole 800 lb. gorilla that is the record industry is to STOP SHARING THE MUSIC.

    When everyone stops, and their record sales continue to plummet, they won't be able to blame the internet for their problems.

    "Gee, maybe it's not the internet! Maybe its the quality of our music and the money that we're charging for it."
  • 1,000 songs?! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cosmo_the_third ( 642177 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:47PM (#6901695) Homepage
    The cut-off for "major offender" is about 1,000 songs? Call me crazy, but I don't think I know anyone with less than that. I have 1,800+ (all legally obtained archival copies, of course), but was still less than almost everyone else on my hallway during Freshman year. Hell, even my boss has 1,500 on his computer at work. I don't know whether it's good or bad that the RIAA has so little comprehension of the amount of files people are sharing.
  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:48PM (#6901703) Homepage Journal
    I agree that if they've done it, they deserve a slap.

    But I'm not entirely sure that bankrupting someone is a reasonable punishment in all instances.

    I'm fed up with the pro-infringement people who will make any excuses they can to avoid paying artists for the work they've done, work the artists have done believing that, as the law says, people will pay in some way for using that work. Part of me is glad they're finally getting slapped.

    But at the same time, it's undeniable that current copyright law is extreme, and needs to be liberalised with specific rights given to content users; that it is extreme in certain areas (I can't watch a DVD *I* bought under Linux? I can't convert it to a different format? I can't back it up?) unfortunately goes some way to discrediting copyright in others, to the point that people seem to be more willing to engage in the blatent ripping off of artists.

    Thousands of dollars in fines per download is also doing nothing to improve the credibility of copyright law. It just promotes an "us vs them" attitude, which is very obvious in the average Slashdotter's blind, uncompromising, irrational, hatred of content producers.

    Things have to change.

  • Re:My theory... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TopShelf ( 92521 ) * on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:50PM (#6901742) Homepage Journal
    Now here's an interesting point - for firms that compete in the music biz, they generally want overall interest in music to increase, while not allowing their competitors to make more money than them. So what's to prevent someone outside the US, who has some stake in one of the firms (say as a shareholder) from scooping up material from the competitors, and making it available for download via P2P? There's an incentive there to freely distribute the competition's material, if you can get away with it...
  • Re:I think (Score:2, Interesting)

    by turnstyle ( 588788 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:55PM (#6901806) Homepage
    "Ah but the catch is that they don't know that you didn't own the CD."

    Oh, but they do.

    With Jane Doe, aka nycfashiongirl, they looked at the meta tags in her files, which included stuff like "ripped by l33t crew" and so on.

    Additionally, her MP3s identically matched checksums of files originally available on Napster and the chance of her ripping her own identical copies is vanishingly small.

    The evidence that these people have illegal coies is very good.

    btw, there's nothing I've ever seen that makes me believe that it's legal to download files that you own the CDs for. That's definitely not 'Fair Use.'

    But if you actually get targeted by the RIAA and can prove that you already owned all the CDs, I'd guess that they would drop that case anyway.

  • Re:Suing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cK-Gunslinger ( 443452 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:56PM (#6901826) Journal
    But why are they suing? Isn't copyright infringement a criminal activity? Why do they not just turn over the list of sharers to the FBI or whoever investigates and prosecutes theses cases? Being charged with a crime by the FBI and fined $150K+ seems to me to be infinitely more damaging/scary than being personally sued by a private organization.

    If the RIAA is truly interested in stopping copyright infringement, why are they suing instead of prosecuting? If someone steals my car, and I know who it is, I'm going to let the law handle the situation, not file a civil suit.
  • Re:I think (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The Old Burke ( 679901 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:02PM (#6901920)
    These people, if it goes to court, will have the same rights afforded to them as in any other legal case.
    Right on spot.
    If they are guilty, I assume they are since RIAA would not want to risk anything like going to court without having a bulletproof case, they will get their penalty. If the are not guilty, the court will find out.
    Too mee it looks like many people don't have any faith in our judicial system any more, which is pretty sad when you think about how important these things are.
    if these teenagers are innocent they could choose to fight in court and don't bend over like some easy prey for a legitimate organization like RIAA.
    If they can't afford decent legal protections against their crimes they should not have commitetd these acts that hurts legitimate bussiness and artist in such a way they end up broke on the streets.

  • Re:I think (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FileNotFound ( 85933 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:03PM (#6901936) Homepage Journal
    Yes and no. Did me sharing mp3s aid piracy? Yes.
    Was that my intention? No.
    Am I responsible for making sure that every person who downloads the song owns a copy? No.
    The person who shares the songs is doing so legaly as long as every person who downloads the songs owns a copy.
    The person who downloads the songs and has a copy is doing so legaly.
    The ONLY person breaking the law is the one dowloading the song and not owning the orignal CD.

    I don't see myself a guilty at all, I don't go about burning CDs and giving them out for people, I don't sell the music I download for money. This by the way is a HUGE business in Russia, any CD you want, $5, booklet and everything.

    The copyright laws were to prevent the above, not Joe Blow downloading something he heard on the radio to listen to it for 1 day and forget about it. He's no loss to the revenue anyway, he'd have never bought the CD.

    The laws are being abused in this case, don't tell me that it's reasonable to charge college kids 100k song. I KNOW people in Russia who make about 160k/year pirating CD/games, thats who the laws were meant for, not for the horribly broke college kids.
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:07PM (#6901990) Journal
    No, you can borrow a work and copy it. You may not copy and then distribute a work, however, which is what file sharing is. Ie; you can leech, but not share.

    Which is pretty much the way it is in the states, minus the levy. This is why the RIAA is targetting the sharers. If they could technically identify the leechers, they'd still have a tough time getting a judgement in court - at least not $150,000 a song type of stuff, the best they could get would be the retail value of the downloaded songs.

  • by dachang ( 258727 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:07PM (#6902001)
    I noticed eDonkey2000 is not among the list of P2Ps for which EFF advised turning off upload. Is it because donkey is too small or is it because it is immune from RIAA?
  • Re:I think (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dirk ( 87083 ) <> on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:08PM (#6902010) Homepage
    Repeat after me: Copyright infringment != Stealing.

    While I agree this is technically correct, may I point out that letting millions of people download perfect duplicates of your MP3, while you continue to have full use of your copy is not "sharing". If we are going to be rules lawyers about terminology, can we at least try and get all the terminology correct, not just that which helps the side we like.
  • by ( 184378 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:10PM (#6902052) Journal
    Has anyone written a FT/Kazaa client that generates fake download listings?

    For example, you search for "Metallica" and my Kazaa/FT client generates a fake listing (from some source list of Metallica songs I guess), and "offers" these songs to download. You try to download them, and you get added to the queue, but never successfully start the download. Thus the RIAA would try to prosecute you, but you have no actual files for share (although it would appear you have a large number of legitimate files available).

    So one could setup honeypots for the RIAA...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:13PM (#6902100)
    A while back (less than a year, not sure if they still do this) radio broadcast streaming mp3s of popular music that were saved into my temporary internet cache in mp3 format. I still have these files (renamed to my music folder)

    Are these legal copies of the music?
  • by Talez ( 468021 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:22PM (#6902207)
    Well, IANAL but if I was in your shoes I'd take the following road:

    1) Question the RIAA's copyright on the MP3 files. This can be fought using two arguments:

    a) Did the RIAA make the MP3 file? No.

    b) Should they inherit the copyright on the MP3 file? This should be a dispute between the person that originally encoded the file and the RIAA.

    c) Can a judge decide who owns the copyright on the MP3 file? Not really. This is where argument 2 comes in.

    2) MP3s are just random bitstreams.

    a) Until they are put through a specific algorithm, MP3s remain random bitstreams that could really be anything from Madonna's latest single to a recording of modem line noise.

    b) Whats to stop the RIAA from taking a sample from your hard drive, putting it through any algorithm it damn well feels like and then making it out to be copyright infringment?

    c) The bitstream may be a derivative of the original song and it may not. Whether this is merely co-incidence is up to the person that created the MP3 file in the first place. This is where the argument from 1c comes into play. How can the judge declare that you're violating copyright when only the person who originally created the bitstream knows how it was created.

    While none of those have been tested in court, I wonder if they would work.

    Now to prevention. Use the overly broad DMCA against them. Before starting a transmission for a file include this message in clear ASCII:

    "This file and any contents within have been encoded. This file is intended to be received and decoded by any member of the public wishing to use these files. However, these files may not be decoded if the person's intent is litigation. Any attempt to decode this file will be in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act."

    Sure its a long shot.

    Any lawyers care to comment?
  • How long??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OneFix at Work ( 684397 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:22PM (#6902208)
    How long until some out of country ISP (that doesn't have to comply with the RIAA) starts offering a P2P tunneling service?

    The only thing the RIAA will achieve in doing this is to make sure all of the big trader's IP numbers resolve to an off-shore ISP.
  • Re:In tonight's news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:22PM (#6902210) Homepage
    You're oversimplifying the situation. I'm about 40 and stopped buying music in about 1993. Ironically once alternative music broke into the mainstream, it became impossible to hear new good music.

    However, I started buying music again after Napster came out. Suddenly, I was exposed to tons of music that never made its way to radio.

    Whenever I hear about new music, I download a few samples, and buy what I like. I went from buying no music to about three CDs a month. Here's a great example, someone at /. mentioned the Japanese duo Puffy in their signature. I downloaded some songs, fell in love, and bought one of their CDs that night. Here's another example, I hear some Junior Brown in a Spongebob episode, download some of his stuff, and buy his first CD about a week later.

    Exactly how does me buying MORE music justify me also paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil fees and being placed in jail with murders?! Either I'm crazy or the law needs to be changed.

  • Re:I think (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:42PM (#6902467)
    How about this analogy:

    I am writing an application and I need a couple of functions. I download some GPL'ed source code and copy and paste some of it into my application. I don't think I should have to release my source code under the GPL because I was planning on writing the code for those functions anyway, so its not like the copyright holder is really losing anything.
  • Moby Says it Well (Score:1, Interesting)

    by billyradcliffe ( 698854 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:51PM (#6902578) Homepage
    While I don't necessarily like his music (I really don't), Moby definitely knows what he's talking about. He posted a really interesting write up on his thought about changing the music industry []. He makes some excellent points, and I think it's high time the industry starts looking to change rather than hanging on to their obsolete business model.
  • by MadCow42 ( 243108 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:11PM (#6902786) Homepage
    Dear RIAA:

    I swear under oath that in the last 12 months I have legally purchased at least 5 CD's of your artist's music. I further swear that I will permanently refrain from ever doing it again. I hope this meets with your satisfaction, as treating your customers as thieves can only have one intended result.

  • if you don't like it, *change it*!

    Have you EVER tried to contact someone of "importance"? I've attempted everything from writing intelligent, professional letters to degrading myself to sniveling begging to get the attention of one of my two senators. I've gotten:

    • A response telling me to sod off unless I was a contributor looking for a meeting.
    • A snide response telling me I was an idiot.
    • A response telling me that, basically, he didn't understand the issue and wasn't going to think about it.

    If YOU have a half million dollars to buy some time with a member of the United States government, please use it to do so. I can't afford to be heard by my *ahem* *cough*representatives*cough*. I've tried.

  • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:20PM (#6902881) Journal
    Mr. Senator,

    There is a phrase that has been a part of United States Government for the last 225+ years, and I'm sure you are familiar with it:

    "Innocent until proven guilty"

    There is a phrase that all of us should strive to live up to. Reversed, it resembles totalitarian regimes of the past, including Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. It is something that every American should strive to live up to in both their personal and professional lives.

    Unfortunately, the United States legal system appears to be moving away from that ideal.

    The RIAA is now sending subpoenas and notice of lawsuits to citizens throughout the United States, and these citizens will have to defend their innocence in a court of law, rather than the plaintiff backing up their accusations with incontrovertible evidence.

    Let me give an example:

    1. John Q. Wallet goes and Legally buys a CD from the local Fred Meyer / Best Buy / Circuit City, and takes it home.

    2. John has a slow computer, but an MP3 player and wants to listen to his music under Fair Use Rights, upheld through case law in the courts. "Ripping" said music takes longer than downloading it off his high-speed internet. He downloads the music he has a legal license for.

    3. John gets picked up on some type of scanner that the RIAA has on the Internet.

    4. John gets served with a copyright infringement lawsuit, ending up paying countless dollars in legal fees to prove that he had the CD, and the fair use rights to the intellectual property contained on the media.

    I have a real problem with this, and I hope you do too. Artists should be paid for their compositions and performances, but customers should be able to use their licenses for whatever they want within the law.

    Example 2: Sharing

    If I leave my car unlocked in a bad neighborhood, does that make me a felon if my car gets stolen?

    If I own a store, and someone shoplifts from me, does that make me the shoplifter?

    Are the cable and satellite TV companies getting sued when someone commits Theft of Service?

    Then why are the people hosting files on the Internet getting sued for having files available for download?

    As we speak, the "Filesharers" are being served with court notices. These are people that possibly aren't doing anything wrong, but the RIAA is sending their lawyers to work, without any hard evidence of wrongdoing. I'm sure you understand the law far better than me, but I see this as a criminal court -vs- civil court loophole:

    If you have evidence, take it to a judge and he'll sign the arrest warrant. If you don't have evidence, file a civil suit and bury them so far under paperwork that they will be ruined financially when they eventually file for bankruptcy.

    Innocent people filing for bankruptcy after being sued by a corporation with hundreds of lawyers and hundreds of millions of dollars. That is an America I would rather not see happen.
  • Re:Suing? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by enjo13 ( 444114 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:26PM (#6902941) Homepage
    it does not try cases based on those laws.

    Actually, it most certainly does try cases based on those laws. The executive branch of the government is responsible for enforcement of the laws created by the legislative branch. Which is why the Justice department and the Attorney General are both arms of that branch. In other words, it is up to the executive branch to decide what cases to try (when representing the people) and what means and remedies to pursue for the actions it does pursue. The Microsoft case is a classic example of how the policy of two different administrations (Clinton vs. W) can affect the enforcement of law.

    At a more pratical level, the President is very much involved in the creation of laws. The President, with his veto power and general position of the power wields influence over the legislative (and to a lesser extent) and judicial branches of government.

  • Antiquation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:30PM (#6902985) Homepage
    It seems like the music industry is dying because it has vastly overestimated the value of the product it sells.

    When CDs first came out, they were about the coolest way to spend money. There were no DVDs, movies came on cumbersome magnetic tapes which degraded quickly, and the software of the day just wasn't compelling to most people (and also came on cumbersome magnetic media).

    The prices for CDs have hardly fallen since.

    Today, you can spend $20 on a DVD. Technically, it's also just a piece of plastic, but it carries a couple of hours of data for the eyes as well as the ears. Or you can buy a video game for $35-$50 that lets you actively participate in the entertainment. Being non-linear, a video game could provide anywhere from 0 to thousands of hours of entertainment. Then there is cable TV, where for the price of a couple CDs a month, you get 24-hour access to lots of different crap.

    With a CD, you get about an hour worth of music (I've seen some go as low as 40 mintues), and even if you really like all the songs, it only engages your ears. Hence, on average, CDs are less entertaining.

    Nor is the CD a convenient format for anything but home use. Keep your CDs in your car, and they inevitably get ruined or stolen. So for your convenience you burn yourself a copy for your car, making it more valuable to you. But the industry isn't simply failing to increase the value of its product, it's trying to interfere with the ripping and burning that could make the content more convenient (and hence more valuable).

  • Re:My theory... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by madcow_ucsb ( 222054 ) <slashdot2 @ s a n k s .net> on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:32PM (#6903009)
    people will become paranoid and turn file sharing off. They'll become leachers.

    This has already happened. Truth is, most people I know used to share everything. Now I can quite honestly say I don't know a single person who leaves sharing enabled. In fact, making sure Kazaa has sharing disabled has become as important as making sure there's a virus scanner when any of us has to fix a friend's/relative's computer.

    I was talking with some friends about this the other day. While it sucks for the network users, it just comes down to the fact that you would have to be friggin INSANE to leave your computer sharing lots of files right now. Why not just put a sign up that says "Hey, RIAA! Come sue me!" No thank you.

    What /. tends to forget is that the VAST majority of p2p users ARE downloading copyrighted songs. And if we got sued, the vast majority of us would lose even if the RIAA had the most incompetent lawyers on the planet (which I'm sure they don't...) It takes someone who really didn't break the law to challenge these suits. For the rest of us, it's simply not worth the risk, so we'll just pull our machines off line and wait for a more secure way to do things. I can certainly do without the music for a while...
  • by mTor ( 18585 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:37PM (#6903060)
    DMCA has safe harbor provisions for ISPs. You can become an "ISP" if you share your internet connection using a wireless router.

    I already wrote about this in another thread: 918 []

  • Bzzzt. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Durindana ( 442090 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:50PM (#6903201)
    Sorry for the snark.

    Seriously, I don't believe that's correct. Regardless of any contract existing between you and the RIAA, prosecution for copyright violation and civil litigation for damages incurred should proceed along the usual lines.

    You cannot enforceably contract to forbear from illegal activity any more than you can contract to commit illegal activity. Or rather, you can do so but the promise is not binding. Such a promise, I believe, is contra bonos mores and unsupported by consideration.

    IANAL, but I play one on Slashdot.
  • one more thing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wmaker ( 701707 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:53PM (#6903219) Homepage
    an mp3 is not the original quality off the CD, mp3 is a loss language which (unlike .wav and .shn files) means... do they really have a copyright on that mp3 as it's a modified version of the song?
  • by DeepRedux ( 601768 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:36PM (#6903664)
    There is no "Fair Use" right to download and MP3 rip of a track, even if you have purchased a CD containing the track. This was decided in the case.

    From the decision []:

    ... although defendant seeks to portray its service as the "functional equivalent" of storing its subscribers' CDs, in actuality defendant is replaying for the subscribers converted versions of the recordings it copied, without authorization, from plaintiffs' copyrighted CDs. On its face, this makes out a presumptive case of infringement under the Copyright Act of 1976...
  • time to fight back (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frost22 ( 115958 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:52PM (#6903819) Homepage
    How often did you hear that ? Time to fight back ? Tired of that phrase ? Maybe you shouldn't - since nobody does it, right now.

    It is time to fight back. No, I don't mean to step up to protect your rights. To Speak out against the overreach of copyright law. "Getting involved" or some such nonsense.

    The problem is, all that is really defense. And defense, by definition, is war on the territory your enemy choses, at the time of your enemie's choice. You are doomed to loose.

    You ... are ... doomed ... to looose!

    It is now time to take the fight to the enemy. The RIAA, by suing ordinary citizens and publicly declaring its intent to instill fear in everyone's hearts, has officially declared war. War on You, The People. And still it is You The People who governs this land. Now this is personal, and this is everyone's fight. Stop begging for mercy from an overbearing oponent. Write off the those who get sued - that is Their War, and Their time. Those few are doomed anyway, soldiers who have fallen, if you want so.

    Now your target is the music industry itself. Destroy the music industry. Defeat them utterly ! Attack their livelyhood. Drive them to bankruptcy ! Identify their weaknesses, and attack them there.

    Destroy the music industry

    It is up to you! You The People. Pass laws that undermine their revenue. Pass laws that curb their marketing. Seize their IP assets for misuse. Pass taxes that reduce their profits, have DAs raid their coke snorting execs, destroy the careers of their political lackeys. Do whatever it takes.

    And, above all, be open with it. Cry out loud, that nothing will satisfy you than their utter defeat. Go and win the public debate. Dont appeal to politicians, appeal to the people. Be Creative to get your message out. Others have well developed tactics for that - use them.
    Drive them into defense. Get them into hiding. Make it so that music execs' children will hesitat to admit their parent's jobs. That churches exclude them from posts. Make them universally hated and feared. Make it that their execs cant even sleep at night any more because their fear of you, and of failure, is haunting their dreams.

    And then go out for the kill. And kill the beast, have no mercy! Dismantle the RIAA, RICO the Big five, put their execs to jail, and fire the rest.

    Someone should send the leading music indutry people a good book on the history of another large and powerful institution. An association of huge wealth and immense power, that grew arrogant and became so full of itself that it started to ignore and trample those who actually ruled the land.

    And when the last Templar Knights agonized towards their deaths on the fires on Paris streets, their once mighty order became all but a footnote of failure in history.

    Or a perpetual memento: "Such is the fate of those, who deem themselves above all others, and their power beyond limits"

  • Interesting tidbit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rihock ( 680776 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:57PM (#6903874)
    I see that RIAA has taken action against downloaders. What I find interesting is an article in the new Wired magazine about a company called champagne that collects download information and then sells it to the record companies so that they can use it for marketing research. Basically it'll tell them what cuts are hot off an album and how to select the next 'single.' The information can also be used to convince music stations to play certain songs due to the download popularity. So my point is--why are they suing on one hand, while using the services as a valuable marketing tool? It seems so counterintuitive.....
  • by kcornia ( 152859 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:59PM (#6903898) Journal
    Conversely, I could argue that sharing your competitors music could saturate the genre such that people get tired of it and move on.

    My claim is no more spurious than yours...
  • by JonSari ( 159879 ) * <jonsari@hotma i l . com> on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:08PM (#6904000)
    Simple: the Internet is more efficient than their corporations. They are fighting (and suing) to keep their inefficient distribution system in place because most of the money in the record industry pays for distribution (publishers, distributers, retailers).

    It is simple to set up a licensing scheme for music content, but they don't want it because the price would go way down if music simply shot over the network to those who wanted it. If consumers had real choice over which songs they wanted to pay for. If we found out about good music by hearing DJs spin who make the same amount of money as the rest of us.

    Ignore the smoke and mirrors of the current litigation and support systems like iTunes where you pay what songs are worth. Cut out the RIAA middlemen! Artists deserve to be paid for creating music. Copyright law was invented to incent artists. The RIAA has hijacked that system through its monopoly on distribution and now is the time to take it back from them!
  • Re:Suing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CrashPanic ( 704263 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:32PM (#6904255) Homepage
    Why doesen't someone copywrite/patent/whatever a method of encryption that can be used to mask IP's and users over the p2P network, license it to kazaa/morpheus/limewire/etc for free and then DARE the RIAA to crack it and bust users? Doesen't the DMCA prohibit this kind of activity?That way we can play one monster against the other! Either the DMCA will break the RIAA or vice versa. Either way its one less to deal with!
    Seriously why wouldn't this work?
  • by Matt Ownby ( 158633 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:45PM (#6904382) Homepage Journal
    I kind of thought that everyone was taking for granted that those being sued are probably guilty and that their antics have finally caught up with them. But this post of yours sounds as if you geniunely believe that these people are innocent. Do you believe that they are innocent and that the RIAA has unfairly targeted them? Or do you believe that they are guilty but that the RIAA is a greater offender and therefore should be thwarted at every turn?
  • by syukton ( 256348 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @07:25PM (#6905263)
    I've used this comparison before and I'm using it again now: If I leave my front door open one day and somebody waltzes in and walks off with my television, do the police arrest me (for leaving the door open) or the person who walked off with my tv (for stealing)? The latter, of course.

    So when I leave my files available for download, what law have I broken? I'm just leaving the front door open, letting people peruse. It's up to THEM to break the law and download the file. If I own every album that every MP3 I possess comes from, what law have I broken by *ALLOWING* others to download from me? I'm not encouraging it, I'm not endorsing it, but I'm allowing it to happen.

    So I'm lost. Why hasn't this issue been raised yet? Are we waiting until the first court case to bring up that leaving the front door open is not illegal? Having an open file share with no password on a Windows platform computer isn't illegal, so why should this be?
  • by ColaMan ( 37550 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @07:27PM (#6905274) Journal
    Something I've wondered about is the legalities of 'fuzzy' recordings.

    eg : you download a 160kbps MP3, the RIAA gives you a court order for copyright infringement. The copyright is for a song that they have the rights for.

    But is their copyright valid for the digital representation of the song? The RIAA'd argue yes , of course it is, after all CD's contain binary 16 bit samples of audio at 44.1kHz.

    But, even with your leet 160kbps mp3, you don't have an exact duplicate in it's entirety - not by a long shot. Could you argue that your MP3 is just a summary of the original work? It's 1/10th the size, isn't it? To draw (hah!) a parallel in the art world, does my rough sketch of monet's sunflowers constitute copyright infringement? Hardly.

    Take a leaf from the SCO debacle, and print out a copy of both the CD digital audio and your MP3 onto paper and politely ask the prosecutor to underline the offending parts of your data for you. Just the sheer difference in size of your printouts would go some way in convincing the court that they are not the same.

    If they pull the "for all intents and purposes" response, just wheel out the expert witnesses and the double-blind tests, and the sonographs of distortion. You should be able to prove that the audio that your collection of bits on your drive represent is completely different to the audio from the collection of bits on the CD.

    What am I missing here? Why is this defence not used?

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents