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RIAA Countersued Under Racketeering Laws 893

Negadin writes "According to CNET News, a New Jersey woman, one of the hundreds of people accused of copyright infringement by the Recording Industry Association of America, has countersued the big record labels, charging them with extortion and violations of the federal antiracketeering act." The woman's attornies are arguing that " suing file-swappers for copyright infringement, and then offering to settle instead of pursuing a case where liability could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the RIAA is violating the same laws that are more typically applied to gangsters and organized crime."
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RIAA Countersued Under Racketeering Laws

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  • Probably won't stick (Score:5, Interesting)

    by steve's nose is blee ( 636466 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:19PM (#8322775) Homepage Journal
    It probably won't stick, but Bravo! I'm tired of watching the RIAA offer to settle with people regardless of guilt. By agreeing to settle many people look guilty and add fuel to the RIAA's fires.

    Stick it to the Man!
  • Start a Trend (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 36526542DD ( 456961 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:20PM (#8322786)
    Now if everyone who got sued by the RIAA counter-sued with similar charges, you'd see these lawsuits go away entirely, for two reasons:

    1) The RIAA can't stand up to intense public scrutiny, without shooting themselves (and their industry) in the foot.

    2) Being sued by over 1,000 people becomes cost prohibitive very quickly, particularly considering it will be in 100's of different courtrooms spread across America.

    I'm not a big fan of lawsuits, but I say good for her.
  • Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BenSpinSpace ( 683543 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:21PM (#8322793)
    Someone's suing the RIAA! Good things are going to happen, good things are going to happen.

    (Of course, this will end when the RIAA then settles with the woman herself, paying her to shut up.)

    In fact, whether the woman wins or loses, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
  • RIAA getting sued... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Parhelion Poser ( 715324 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:21PM (#8322796)
    Does anyone else feel this took way too long? I seriously can't believe any of the others haven't had the balls (or money) to stand up to them yet.
  • Double-Edged Sword (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fembots ( 753724 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:22PM (#8322803) Homepage
    In a way this is a good sign as this will deter companies which like to send out legal threats to "poorer" folks, who can't afford to prepare the case and surrender before the war begins.

    On the other hand, this might actually push companies which like to send out legal threats to "poorer" folks to actually go to the court, in defence of being countersued.
  • by holy_smoke ( 694875 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:24PM (#8322818)
    "It's probably not the first time that record company executives have been likened to Al Capone, but this time a judge might have to agree or disagree."

    I sincerely hope that we get a good judge on this one. A precedence ruling in favor of the alleged file swappers would be a nice help.

    Every RIAA executive weenie's nightmare:


    Her lawyers should do this pro-bono for all the attention they will get from this case.
  • huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jim Starx ( 752545 ) <> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:25PM (#8322828)
    According to the RIAA, which filed its latest round of lawsuits against 531 as-yet-anonymous individuals on Tuesday, it has settled with 381 people, including some who had not yet actually had suits filed against them yet.

    How's that work.....??

  • Re:Great... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HBI ( 604924 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:26PM (#8322834) Journal
    Let them get some huge judgements and watch how fast the laws are amended in the public's favor.

    Nothing like a few citizens getting their ass reamed to foster change in government.
  • 899lb Gorilla (Score:4, Interesting)

    by erick99 ( 743982 ) * <> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:26PM (#8322835)
    It's a bit of a stretch, but, there *is* something to be said about the RIAA basically bullying people into settling through what amounts to intimidation. What a judge has to decide is if this is okay when the RIAA is essentially legally "in the right" to begin with. But, there is something to be said for the average defendant not feeling like that have a chance in hell against the RIAA's formidable resources.

    Happy Trails


  • by The Z Master ( 234139 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:27PM (#8322849)
    Why is it that the police will arrest individuals, but corporations seem to need to be sued? If someone sent in a tip to the police that the RIAA were racketeering, nothing would happen, but if the same tip were applied to an individual or gang, there would be an investigation. These days, big businesses seem much more powerful because they can hide behind lawyers and deep pockets.
  • by NSash ( 711724 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:32PM (#8322896) Journal
    This seems like the racketeering suit filed against DirecTV [], which was tossed out of court. Still, I'm glad that someone is taking a stand. Even if this suits and others like it are not successful, the RIAA may change tactics as they begin to meet resistance.
  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:33PM (#8322904)

    I liked this part of the article:

    "Maalouf's attorneys noted that downloading through Kazaa was openly discussed at Maalouf's daughter's school by teachers, and they downloaded songs used in classes. That should be a protected fair use of the music, the attorneys said."

    First, I really wonder if the teacher said "now, put thousands of songs in your Kazaa share directory." They got nailed for apparently sharing lots and lots of copyrighted material with Internet users at large without authorization, not for downloading a song or two at the behest of a teacher.

    At any rate, helping yourself to a copy of Photoshop because you need it for a class project isn't "protected fair use" (although, sensibly, Adobe and many other software companies do often take steps for students to legally get software at less than retail cost), and neither is downloading a song. Did the teacher mislead them into thinking that massive music piracy was legal? Fine; sue the teacher. But it's no excuse to break the law.

    There are plenty of legitimate ways to fight back against the recording industry (as the main subject of the article is doing), but this defense is just plain silly.

  • by ImpTech ( 549794 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:35PM (#8322924)
    I'm not so sure a jury's going to be especially moved listening to the RIAA's "poor us" routine, which presumably factored into their thinking when they decided not to take these cases to court in the first place. Plus there's always the outside chance things don't go their way. If that happens, they'll be barraged by copycat suits in no time flat.
  • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Unregistered ( 584479 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:36PM (#8322937)
    Of course, if the RIAA settles, then everyone'll sue them on racketeering charges and bye bye lawsuit buisness. Hopefully more people will sue the RIAA. This should get interesting.
  • YOU GO GIRL!!! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:38PM (#8322957)
    This lady has my respect. For everybody else click on the following link for a great resource for defending your freedom in the digital world: Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • by PortWineBoy ( 587071 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:41PM (#8322981)
    Well, maybe not. RICO has been used before [] for reasons other than prosecuting the Mafia.

    IANL obviously.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:42PM (#8322992)
    Sssssshhhhhh, you've just stumbled upon the big secret of US-style capitalism. Corporations are allowed massively more moral leeway in a rather shocking array of areas when compared to individuals.

    If an individual accidentally kills a few people, it's a few counts of manslaughter and considerable jail time. If a corporation does it, it's a lawsuit and some cash.
  • Re:Start a Trend (Score:2, Interesting)

    by abertoll ( 460221 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:50PM (#8323047) Homepage Journal
    Yes but... in this case, they could just stop offering to settle.

    I don't know how good this is going to hold up. Settling out of court is a completely viable option for two parties, and a preferred one often because it means not tying up the courts.
  • Possible defense? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:54PM (#8323089) Journal
    IANAL, and am just thinking out loud, but couldn't those that have been singled out by the RIAA claim some sort of discrimination? More specifically, there are hundreds of thousands of people the RIAA could pursue for sharing music. What is the chance of convincing a court to force the RIAA to attempt to identify and prosecute every single user of Kazaa that distribute RIAA music?

    Not only would it cost the RIAA a fortune (as well as create logistical impossibilities), but as soon as the children of a few politicians, celebrities, executives, etc, are fingered by the RIAA we would see some fireworks fly.

    Dan East
  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:54PM (#8323094) Homepage Journal
    Everyone downloading is CRYSTAL CLEAR

    everyone UPLOADING is breaking the law.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:56PM (#8323102)
    it's not a bad post, i guess... but in world kind of world is that worthy of a 4 Insightful?
  • by Stallmanite ( 752733 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:57PM (#8323113) Homepage
    RIAA = bad
    PS2 and iTunes = good

    Vote with your wallet.
  • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:57PM (#8323115)
    CRIA named the IPs and nicknames of the Kazaa users it intends to sue.

    details here: B2&file =viewtopic&t=24
  • Re:She has a case (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:58PM (#8323118)
    She has a problem. RICO requires a criminal act: usam/title9/110mcrm.htm#9-110.010 []

    She may be able to get a criminal act by a violation of the Sherman Antitrust act: []

    Section 1959 (18 USC 1959, on the first link) spells out that just racketeering won't do it, you need a criminal act in support of this. Now, a successful argument that the RIAA is an illegal monopoly, would be the criminal act that brings massive awards and possible injunctions, but that is a big hump.

    I'm not a lawyer, this isn't legal advice

  • Re:About time! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:58PM (#8323121) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, let's hope she wins! Then those RIAA bastards will have to stop settling their cases, and instead they'll be forced to sue for the full amount, and bankrupt those 12 year old uploaders and their families leaving them with millions of dollars of debt and... wait, hold on. Is this what we really everyone wants?


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:04AM (#8323169)
    Why the lending?

    Someone takes $10 from you, they said they didn't do it, you tell them that you will have them arrested, you offer them a chance to give you back the money plus a small penalty before it has to come to that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:04AM (#8323170)
    Since when do judges in the U.S. define the meaning of words in a language?
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:04AM (#8323172)
    We are not discussing fair, we are discussing law.

    If one pleads guilty to a capital crime that one knows one did not commit in order to obtain a sentence of 20 years and avoid the risk of death penalty at trial that is not fair.

    You are, nonetheless, a convicted murderer with no presumption of innocence and the Supreme Court has ruled that it is your right to accept such a plea bargain and thus waive your own civil rights in the matter if you think that is a better legal tactic.

    You are thinking in terms of justice.

    Silly boy. That can get you fried.

  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:08AM (#8323194) Homepage Journal
    MOST of the time? These people are suing for $150,000 (the maximum copyright penalty) per download as often as they can. Under something like that, I can't afford to even take the RISK I might lose, even if I'm absolutely sure I'm in the clear. And that's for one download. We all know they sue for more than one, and have in the past made incredibly ludicrous claims like multiplying the damages by the speed of one's CD burner.

    The US courts consider us CRIMINALS. Unless there's an uprising, that's how it's going to stay.

    (If the CRIA sues me, I figure I'll shred my hdd and say I never downloaded noooothing)
  • by entropy123 ( 660150 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:09AM (#8323200)
    Well, someday someone will do a study and find that corporations could screw over 1000 Americans before running into one with the wherewithal to sue.

    Now, at what point over 1000 do the poor civilians start shooting back?

    Civil liberties are dead.

  • Re:huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:13AM (#8323234)
    Pretty simple. Before people sue you for copyright, their legal team sends you a letter. Now, usually this is like 'hey, take this off your site bla bla bla'. With the RIAA it's likely 'Hi, we're going to sue you for 98 million for sharing files. Would you like to settle for 10000 or go to court?'

    Obviously people freak and they settle. Then the RIAA wins because it looks like people are backing down.
  • Well that's Texas (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Trigun ( 685027 ) <evil@evilempire[ ] ['.at' in gap]> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:25AM (#8323335)
    They'd give orphans the chair!

    Texas is fucked up. How will this fare in the real world?
  • Defense fund? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:29AM (#8323363) Homepage Journal
    Is there a defense fund that we can contribute to? This is a worry cause in my humble eyes.
  • Re:She has a case (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:38AM (#8323415)
    You sir are confused. If music is property then if you download it you are somehow magically stealing it. If it is not, then you are not. Simple as that.

    What you are describing is a result of decades of unscrupulous brainwashing by various "information industries".

    Let me explain:

    The musicians are only entitled to pay for their labour. That, in their case means performances. LIVE performances. You charge at the gate and no issue with "stealing". Why? Simple. Beecause if they are using a recording of a performance they in effect are using someone's elses playback device (fully paid for by the listener) playing data from a media disk (also fully paid for). The performance is done by the machine not the musician. As such the entire industry system is based on a single performance and then a stream of endless payments for not performing it again is totally unrealistic.

    Sure you can try and bend and twist laws and technology to stop the obvious results of this insane idea but it will fail sooner or later. Same problem applies to DVDs, Sattellite TV and a myriad of other related "products".

    The entire mis-understanding comes from the fact that what you think is "art" is in fact consumer abuse. "Artists" only create art from the need to express themselves and not for money. Sure they need to live on something and so we have concerts, exhibitions, wealthy patrons and government grants. You see none of this copyright-based McMusic industry was around back in the days of Plato, Shakespeare, Mozart, Bethoven, DaVinci and so according to the current set of demagogues these people never produced anything art-like.

    You must snap out of this miserable state of being a tool for the "information" industry.

  • Re:About time! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gandy909 ( 222251 ) <> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:40AM (#8323428) Homepage Journal
    Ahh, but when I transfer your bits of money to my account, you no longer have it, and that is the difference.
  • What if... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spock the Baptist ( 455355 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:47AM (#8323465) Journal
    A person that is targeted by the RIAA simply decides not to hire a lawyer, and simply represents his self in court. Not in the expectation he'll win, but rather with the expectation that the RIAA will win. What happens when the dog in fact catches the car? What is the dog going to do with the car? If the person sued here is not in any way wealthy will the RIAA demand blood? I don't think so.

    Let the RIAA run into this situation, and they'll end up cutting off their collective nose in spite of their face.
  • by ameoba ( 173803 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:48AM (#8323474)
    in most cases, it's trivial to run file-sharing apps without sharing and/or share files with recieving.
  • Re:Start a Trend (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:57AM (#8323528) Homepage Journal
    I think a more significant response would be to put pressure on the DoJ to file criminal charges against the RIAA for their tactics. If this woman's case has any merits, and voters seem to care enough to make it an campaign issue in the presidential race, it's possible. At that point, the RIAA would clearly quit, because they're practically certain to have their civil cases dismissed with contempt of court if those cases are the subject of criminal charges, and they wouldn't be able to get any lawyers (a.k.a. co-conspirators, who lose privilege) for the cases anyway.

    Sure, it's not as fitting an end to the RIAA as being gunned down by a rival street gang in LA (or arrested by the LAPD), but it's something. I wonder if they're due for an audit...
  • Re:She has a case (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:00AM (#8323541) Journal
    You see many people (I think a growing number) are starting to realize that music is not property. To be fair, no information can be "property".

    Oh well, there goes my chance to mod any posts in this thread. I had to respond .. (silly me)
    I think people should realize that music is not "information" either. It's not a law of physics or mathematics, it's not "data" other than in the sense that it's a digital file, in the context of internet swapping.
    Music is Art. If a musician gives away his or her copyrights and publishing, that is his/her perogative, but I don't believe that all artistic works should automatically be treated as public domain, any more than you'd demand that all fiction authors give away their works and novels, or at least allow the public to freely swap them. Taking this scenario to the extreme, only one single copy of any given book would ever have to be purchased, and that would form a pool from which any trade or swap could be conducted by simply copying the work.
    Speaking as a musician myself, but one who has made not a dime from publishing or original works (at least not yet :-), I can attest to the long hours, weeks, and years of practice, training, writing, recording, for which some financial return is not unwarranted.
    Then, there is the matter of the expenditure on equipment. It's still a little hard to believe that a Gibson Les Paul Standard is well over $2000 these days, to me.
    Having said all this, I don't particularly sympathize with the RIAA, because they're not really looking out for the musicians, they're just looking out for themselves. Sure, it costs a lot (millions!) to promote, produce, and distribute musical works but the percentages that the bands get per track are not commensurate with the much larger contribution artists make to the song itself, without which, of course, there would be nothing to promote, produce, or distribute in the first place.

  • by bfree ( 113420 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:01AM (#8323544)
    My understanding of Irish law is quite simply that, if a company is guilty of a criminal act then the directors (and even large shareholders) can be held liable. Are you really telling me I can set up a corporation in the USA, employ a bunch of people to setup a protection racket and not be liable for anything because I set up a corporation to do it? Can I setup a hitman service, child porn? If that isn't garbage then my view of the US system just managed to go even lower!
  • by Ieshan ( 409693 ) <> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:04AM (#8323556) Homepage Journal
    It's also a particularly difficult one to get through.

    --> Further, the Criminal Division will not approve "imaginative" prosecutions under RICO which are far afield from the congressional purpose of the RICO statute. A RICO count which merely duplicates the elements of proof of traditional Hobbs Act, Travel Act, mail fraud, wire fraud, gambling or controlled substances cases, will not be approved unless it serves some special RICO purpose. Only in exceptional circumstances will approval be granted when RICO is sought merely to serve some evidentiary purpose.

    However, it seems as though this is basically the purpose of RICO, if worded carefully enough: "The decision to institute a federal criminal prosecution involves balancing society's interest in effective law enforcement against the consequences for the accused." In other words, the implication seems to be that RICO serves to protect citizens from litigation which they cannot pursue due to legal fees and great personal damages (i.e., grossly misproportioned punishments) by groups or individuals who can offer "settlements" which deprive the courts of their function.

    In other OTHER words, the point seems to be: if something is truly illegal, a full case in the courts should be seen as a neccessary requirement by BOTH parties in order to gain proper compensation for the illegal act. OTHERWISE, individuals who have power over the state or a market can abuse the system by creating lawsuits that others can't win but offer bribes out of them for personal gain.

    But of course, IANAL. I just read some random legislation and made an interpretation out of it.
  • by schmiddy ( 599730 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:04AM (#8323557) Homepage Journal
    If this case is successful, the changes it brings about could be simply monumental. Look at the state of file-sharing right now. So many kids out there growing up on p2p but also instilled with a fear of sharing that puts a damper on the growth of p2p.

    If this case is won, and the RIAA lawsuits are stopped in their tracks, I predict an overnight explosion in filesharing. Seriously, people in the U.S. right now are downright scared of sharing on p2p. I know I am, especially after getting a DMCA notice. I'm not saying that essentially unlimited p2p would necessarily spell the death of the RIAA and insane prices for music CDs but I think it would be a pretty clear mandate to the RIAA that they need to change their business plan fast.
  • Give it up RIAA (Score:1, Interesting)

    by SphericalCrusher ( 739397 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:06AM (#8323572) Journal
    I think the fate of the music industry doesn't lie within how quick the RIAA can sue and pad their pockets, but for which bands truly love music enough to just let it go. I'm sure I'll get a lot of negative comments for this, but if the music industry did go down... do you think we would still see as much rap as we do now? Of course not -- it's all about the benjamins, remember?

    Still; the rock genre has been here longer than any other music genre.. and I believe that in the end, it will outlast everyone else. Not because there are more "sub genres" within it, but because the majority of the artists in this group care more about music than getting paid. Sure, making money is the key to their success... but really.. don't they make enough as it is? They can cut down on a few condos and expensive cars for awhile...
  • Crack the shell... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arrow ( 9545 ) <mike AT damm DOT com> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:06AM (#8323575) Homepage Journal
    Something I haven't seen anyone else touch on is the fact that even if every man woman and child in the US wins a billion dollar lawsuit aginst the RIAA, it's just an association.

    The reason associations are started on behalf of member companies is even if there is a huge backlash, the member companies are completely protected. Much in the way a business you started can be sued into oblivion without having any real affect on you or your family.

    If this lady does actualy win, everything the RIAA has in the bank will go for legal fees, she won't get a dime, and the record industry will form some other orginization to take the RIAAs place.

    What we need to be doing is suing the labels themselfs for racketeering!
  • by Funkeriffic Toad ( 518830 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:07AM (#8323578)
    I've never understood just how "the evidence is quite clear" in anti-piracy lawsuits. All the RIAA has to show are a bunch of logs saying these bits were shared by this IP address at time X. What gives such records any legal weight? After all, the industry goons are probably quite capable of faking any records they like.

    In the same way, what's to stop me from suing my next door neighbor for copyright violation of, say, my Great American Novel (part I) that is on my open WAN in an unprotected folder. Supposing that I actually had a registered copyright, how could my neighbor defend him- or herself? Surely whether or not the file is on their machine is irrelevant ... they could simply have deleted it after learning of my intent to sue.

    IANAL, but it seems to me that any "evidence" produced by the RIAA is suspect merely because of its financial stake in the outcomes of these lawsuits. Similarly, any ISP that provides logs of IP addresses, etc., could easily be colluding with the Record Industry. The question really goes beyond music piracy to intellectually property suits in general in this era of massive amounts of digital content. Certainly, there are ways of authenticating data with encryption or whatever (I presume; I am no expert here), but why would an organization like the RIAA willingly utilize such methods, when they can more easily keep simple, fakable records of alleged-pirates' nefarious doings?
  • Re:She has a case (Score:1, Interesting)

    by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:14AM (#8323628)
    Music is Art.

    True but music also is information. The very fact that you can encode it into computer data with 100% accuracy is a dead giveway.

    Taking this scenario to the extreme, only one single copy of any given book would ever have to be purchased, and that would form a pool from which any trade or swap could be conducted by simply copying the work.

    Exactly. The author gets paid by a wealthy patron, art foundation, etc. We all are enriched by his art. Why else write books? Out of greed? You really think all those inane paperback novels are art?!

    If you are truly a musician, you compose and perform. You can get huge crowds to your concerts. Lots of money there. And internet downloading is your friend!. It advertises for you! Free! Alternatively you compose only and expect the same art-sponsoring foundations to sponsor your creativity. What is wrong with that? Well except not being able to create some perverted hype and marketing induced monstrous cash cows like Britney...

  • by Samrobb ( 12731 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:22AM (#8323673) Homepage Journal
    The DMCA, of all laws, changed the definition of "commercial gain" to include "the receipt, or expectation of receipt" of copyrighted material.

    Hmmm. "...receipt, or expectation of receipt", eh?

    Sounds good to me... just write an article on the issue of the DMCA and copyright law. Duly register it with the Library of Congress, or whoever it is that you need to go to in order to formally register a copyright.

    Then mail a copy to each and every member of congress, and each and every high-level executive of the RIAA and MPAA.

    Finally, haul them all into court for violating the DMCA, as they are in receipt of your copyrighted work.

    If there's a problem here because it's your copyrighted work (i.e., you have permission to distribute copies of it), then perhaps you could make use of some other copyrighted work. It should be a short bit of work to find something that has a registered copyright, but where the actual owner of the copyright can't be located.

    If that won't work (say, becuase only the copyright holder can press charges under the DMCA), then perhaps you could use a copyrighted work that was created by someone morally opposed to the DMCA - RMS, for example. Let him know that you're violating his copyright, and point out that under the DMCA, not only you but everyone you sent a copy to can be taken to court and fined up to $150,000 each.

    Someone smarter than I will point out exactly why this wouldn't work, I'm sure. But I like the idea of turning the legal system back upon itself, like the worm Ouroboros...

  • Re:Mod UP? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jhoger ( 519683 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:42AM (#8323780) Homepage
    Yeah just mentioning jury nullification though is a sure way to get kicked off a jury.

    Works every time. Little unnerving though when the judge asks me if in all cases I can follow the law as he describes it to me: my answer is "No. I am a strong proponent of jury nullification."

    Dismissed immediately, three times in a row... and it happens to be the truth!

    If the jury was always expected to follow the law as the judge describes it we wouldn't need juries. Jury nullification is why we're there, IMHO.

  • Jury nullification (Score:5, Interesting)

    by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:52AM (#8323841) Homepage
    And despite what judges and lawyers will tell you, this is a legal right, which pre-dates the constitution, and was not overrulled by it.

    The prinicple is called "jury nullification." Judges are so scared of the idea of juries deciding for themselves what the law should be that lawyers are forbidden to mention the possibility in their arguments to the jury.

  • Re:Mod UP? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mamba-mamba ( 445365 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @02:24AM (#8324021)
    In principle, I agree with you. But there were some pretty famous cases in the US, prior to the civil rights movement, where white defendants who were clearly guilty of murdering black victims were acquitted of murder by all-white juries. This abuse of the right to acquit is part of what has led to an effort at cracking down on that right.

    Still, it is true that a jury can always acquit, even if it believes the defendant factually guilty. There are no legaly sanctioned repercussions for the jurors.

  • Re:She has a case (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tehdaemon ( 753808 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @02:51AM (#8324130)
    No, and here is why.

    Take the song idea you used. What if I worte the song with the intention of enjoying it, and not making money on it? would I still be pissed off? Should I still demand compensation? (I ask this as more of a philosophical question as opposed to a legal one.) What did I lose? Nothing. I enjoyed the song, that is what I intended to do. The fact that thousands of other people also enjoyed it, and some people made money providing that service, does not change that.

    So, what if I had intended to make money on it? Two points. First, all that I lost is the money that I thought I could perhaps have gotten if by chance someone had wanted to give it to me in exchange for the service that I provided them in the form of a CD that they would enjoy listening to. (I did not shorten that to 'money I could have made' on purpose.) Second, why did the Eagles make so much money off it while I did not? I was not prevented from doing so, and people were not prevented from buying from me, why? Well the Eagles must have provided a better service than I did, or I did a poor job of advertising my services. Or I charged too much, etc. Basically I did a poor job of running my business of selling music CD's.* Is there any reason that I should expect to earn money when I can't run a proper business? I do not think so.

    The trouble with your whole argument is this. People have for years been able to make money, due to the priveledge that the government grants to you of being the only person that can copy something. So people have come to think that they have the right to take away owners rights, under threat of government power, to do with their property (copies of stuff in this case) whatever they deem fit, for the sole purpose of enriching themselves. This is wrong. (well, I define 'wrong' here as, things which end up with people losing their liberty)

    *There can be a valid use of copyrights. If the Eagles, in this instance, owned most, if not all of the equipment for making CD's, or most if not all of the means to transport CD's, or for any other reasons had an effective monopoly on making and selling music, and won't help me, but only take my songs, then I an effectivly prevented from making money on my CD. Not because I ran a crappy business, but because I am prevented from doing so by unfair business practices. If I am trying to make money, I will not write music in this case, because I can't. (through no fault of my own) This is not good for society as a whole, because more music is better. Copyrights in this case make more music for society, by giving me some money if I write music. That is what the founders wanted.

    Unfortunately, copyright law has been twisted 180 degrees, so now it is the thing that is supporting the very thing that it was meant to prevent, namely, an unatural monopoly that exploits society for its own gain. (they now exploit the buyers of music as well as the artists) I can support Copyrights in general, but not what we have now.

    If there is still something wrong with this argument, I want to hear it.

  • by read-only ( 35561 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @02:54AM (#8324137)
    I hate to mention SCO since many /. readers are tired of hearing about it, but...

    To quote a web source, a "racket is an act based on the blackmail, the intimidation and the fear, to get the money or the goods of others".

    Sounds like SCO to me. Maybe someone will countersue SCO for racketeering?

    Just a thought. I'm no expert on these sorts of things, but it seems (on the surface) to be applicable.

  • RIAA and morality? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by utlemming ( 654269 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @03:29AM (#8324241) Homepage
    This is most likely off topic, but I was thinking about it the other day -- isn't it interesting that RIAA is stating that theft of music is wrong? If you just happen to look at the artists that RIAA represents you have to wonder about the legitimacy of RIAA preaching morality. In the music that is pedaled by RIAA you get everything from sex, drugs, murder, all manner of crime and theft. I guess my confusion is why does RIAA expect the customer base to follow a different moral and ethical standard than that of the music that is being sold? I am not saying that all of the music represented by RIAA is immoral or amoral, just that the subject matter of some is.

    Just a thought...

    (Now the question: offtopic, troll or flamebait. These things are so unpredictable)

  • by Darth23 ( 720385 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @03:47AM (#8324321) Journal
    If you watch Law and Order, they seem to bring up the issue of Jury Nullification a lot. They try to make it seem like it's not legal/acceptable/allowed in this country.

    If I ever get sued, just give me a jury with some college students on it. That's all I ask. And maybe a few baby-boomers who have bouht the same albums over and over again in vinyl, cassette and CD.

  • Re:She has a case (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SiggyRadiation ( 628651 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @04:00AM (#8324382) Homepage Journal
    1. Live performances cost a lot. You need lighting, PA, extra musicians, security, etc. etc. etc.
    2. The consumers *want* to here a live performance every now and then
    3. So in order to be able to perform (and make a profit) the music-industry thinks of a way to "make this work": charge for tickets.

    Now onto pre-recorded music:

    1. Recording music costs a lot. You need equipment, studio-musicians, technicians, etc. etc. etc.
    2. The consumers *want* to hear studio-music. They are the consumers, so they make the decisions.
    3. The music-industry thinks of ways to make it work:
    a. Put it on the radio/tv and let the commercials provide some revenu
    b. Put it on a media and charge for that media

    b. might not be the perfect sollution in your eyes, but it's what everyone wants: we want pre-recorded music and so (it should follow) we want to participate in the revenue-generation.

    You are presenting this discussion as a fundamental discussion: is information free? You argue: Yes, you cannot charge for information and the right to reproduce that information for yourself only. I am not arguing about that; It might be true, it might nog be true. What I'm arguing is that we, the consumers, -IF FREEDOM-OF-INFORMATION AT ALL EXISTS- voluntarily wave our rights to certain specific information-freedoms because we realise that otherwise we would not be able to listen to that music at all.

    To make this work we need a way, a set of rules, to govern the relationship between music-producer and music-consumer (or: information-producer and information-consumer). What rights are we willing to give up in what conditions? It's the contract between us, the consumers and them, the producers. That contract is of course a virtual contract. It is hidden in all the rules of the laws of copyright, trademarks, DMCA etc. etc. etc.

    It's like state-theory. First, there was absolute freedom and everyone could do as (s)he damn well pleased. Then societies started to evolve in which people waived certain rights in order for the society as a whole to function. The contract-theory states that there is a virtual contract between the people and the society in which the specifics of the rights and duties for the people and the society/state are layed down.

    What we have now is a dispute between the consumers and the producers over the virtual contract. We should rethink that contract (read: rethink the law). There could be other ways to make it work. Think communism: just let the government pay the artists, transfer all ownership to the state and let everyone enjoy it... might not be what you envisioned, but there may be yet other ways.

    Abolishing the virtual-contracts is not in our mutual interrest: they want to produce music, we want to listen to it. If we abolish the contract altogether, a lot of information-production would not be possible anymore.

  • by Polarism ( 736984 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @04:20AM (#8324455)
    Nothing is about morals or ethics anymore, it's all about money. Money, money, money, money. Who cares if Jack is fit to be a father or not, let's rip custody away from Sue and give the kids to Jack because if he has them our state gets that much more money because of school and all kinds of other programs.

    Why do you think so many people spend hours and hours each day on the internet nowadays? The internet is not as corrupted as "the real world" is yet, corrupted by government, laws, media, people who shouldn't have the power to screw things up so badly.

    Stealing is wrong, sure. If you steal music you deserve to be reprimanded for it just like if you stole a pack of cigarettes out of a convenience store, but not like this. The way it's happening right now.. is ludicrous. The RIAA is acting like a bunch of terrorists going around shooting offenders in the head, before asking questions.

  • Re:The difference (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Inda ( 580031 ) <> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @05:52AM (#8324709) Journal
    Do people in the USA honestly flee to Mexico when they are bankrupt? Do people in the USA go to jail when they fail to pay money they own?

    This doesn't happen in the UK. I am curious.
  • Re:Mod UP? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by James Lewis ( 641198 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @08:00AM (#8325058)
    Well, since the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a judge can dismiss a juror if there is evidence of them advocating jury nullification, letting the judge know up front saves you the time of getting kicked off the jury latter. If the judge agrees with jury nullification, it shouldn't get you dismissed.
  • You missed the point (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:45AM (#8325484)
    You can't buy what you can't pay for.

    Normally that is a problem because if you can't pay for it, you have to deprive someone else of an object in order to 'have' it.

    But with copyrighted works, if you can't afford it, you can still copy it. You are not depriving anyone, because you couldn't have paid them in the first place.
  • by herrvinny ( 698679 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:29AM (#8325870)
    Yup, you're absolutely right. Does the RIAA even look at the lyrics to it's songs? Probably not. I'm surprised the RIAA hasn't been sued over it, or at least individual labels.
  • by celimage ( 719446 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:10AM (#8326412)
    I am a musician and it seems in this battle our voices have been muted. The RIAA claims to represent copyrighted music. My music is copyrighted but I am not recieving any benefit from them. They seem to believe that the only copyrighted music that exists is owned by record labels and Independent artists seem to be ignored. I have had my music on the net since 1999 and thru downloads, file sharing and audio streaming I have been heard by thousands. Having an internet presence has also increased my commercial value. Initially I was against file sharing until I found out that I was being shared, which now is the newest definition of fame. People dont share things that are bad and they certainly dont risk prosecution for things they percieve as awful. While I would prefer people buying my music it is more important to me as a musician to be heard. I think people should realize that the independent musician is not supported or promoted by a label. When they email a band or musician he will probably read it. The caveat here is that while downloading the music and sharing it is okay the piper still must be paid. If you cant afford to buy a CD but you enjoy the artist buy some merchandise or at least pass the url and word on to some friends. If you dont support Indie artists that share their music then you are empowering the labels and RIAA to control your musical values and how you use the internet. Dennis Jennings Celestial Image
  • by BigBadBri ( 595126 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @12:32PM (#8327496)
    But now that the idea has been floated, surely every Congresscritter should now have 'an expectation of receipt' (in the sense that they've got to expect someone to try this for a laugh), and are thus already in breach of the DMCA, without anyone having to do anything!

    Such is the logic inspired by vague and badly worded law...

  • The logical response (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hyphz ( 179185 ) * on Thursday February 19, 2004 @01:07PM (#8327929)
    1 - Find out how much the RIAA pay their lawyers, call that amount X

    2 - Hire a lawyer yourself

    3 - Use the lawyer to sue the RIAA for copyright infringement claiming X*(9/10) damages but offer settlement of X*(5/10)

    4 - Put all the legal papers on the internet for download

    5 - Let anyone download the papers, fill in their names in appropriate places, and submit them with only the filing fee to pay

    6 - Have them all sue the RIAA at once, for a whole bundle of lawsuits, all of which it is more economical to concede on than defend

    7 - If it does concede any of them, and if anyone opposes one of the RIAA's later lawsuits, have them invoke the doctrine of unclean hands on the grounds that the RIAA has settled in a whole bunch of copyright infringement cases

    8 - Laugh
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @06:02PM (#8332644)
    Seems like common sense to me. After all, doesn't threatening to sue end users for violating a copyright that THEY didn't violate (the distro vendor would be the one guilty of this) in order to apparently coerce them into paying a fee (kinda like protection money) for a product that the company doing the threatening might not even OWN (THey may only own a right to distribute) all sound a little bit like ...uhm... dare I say, extortion?!?!?!?

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.