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White House Lauds MN RIAA Win, Analysis of Victory 368

cnet-declan writes "The Bush administration's copyright czar says the RIAA's $222,000 recent jury verdict against a Minnesota woman shows copyright law is 'effective' and working as planned. C|Net's coverage has comments from Chris Israel, the U.S. Coordinator for International Intellectual Property Enforcement. Israel is formerly a senior Commerce Department official appointed by President Bush in July 2005 who previously worked for Time Warner's public policy arm (Warner Bros. Records is one of the plaintiffs in the RIAA case). The site also features an interview with Rep. Rick Boucher, no fan of the RIAA, on whether Congress will change the law, an analysis of why U.S. copyright law is broken, and four reasons why the RIAA won."
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White House Lauds MN RIAA Win, Analysis of Victory

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  • Par for the course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrCopilot ( 871878 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @05:13AM (#20877701) Homepage Journal
    Yep sounds like this White House. Corporations 1 Billion, Consumers/Citizens Who?

  • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @05:15AM (#20877707) Homepage
    Liberty and justice for all corporations!
  • by speedfreak_5 ( 546044 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @05:21AM (#20877731) Homepage Journal

    At this point, I kind of get a kick of seeing how the copyright system is thrown in favor of those who are responsible for most of the "content" (not worthy of the term "music" eh? :) that is put out there for your consumption. I can't wait for the pendulum to swing back hard. It's already showing some resistance (file sharing and what-not) to being in favor of one side heavily over the other with respect to the original idea of copyright. Some term extensions are fine with me. But the current system of life of the author + 70 years AND digital rights management is obscene and a kick to the crotch of the idea of copyright.
  • by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @05:24AM (#20877753)
    If a law is deemed working properly when it can destroy someones life for the sake of a few MP3's, I would say that what we have here is fascism.

    Well, neoconservatism, which as far as I can tell is the same thing, only with better suits.
  • by mastershake_phd ( 1050150 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @05:27AM (#20877773) Homepage
    Yep sounds like this White House. Corporations 1 Billion, Consumers/Citizens Who?

    Since when do they comment on this stuff? I'm surprised they didn't comment on the Vonage loss against that bullshit patent. Or everytime a bullshit patent is enforced. On second thought maybe they try to stay neutral in Corporation vs Corporation matters.
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @05:34AM (#20877791)
    I will be amazed if history does not label him the worst President we have ever had, along with the worst Presidential crew (cabinet and appointees) we have ever had.

    The guy and his friends, as a group, have been almost unbelievable. What is even worse, is that on the rebound, a lot of people might actually think that voting for Hillary is a good idea. (shudder)

    If you do not know who Ron Paul is, do yourself and others a favor and look him up. But if you really do not think honesty is important, go ahead and vote for any of the others.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @05:40AM (#20877821) Journal
    Not surprised that she lost. She was uploading music, that she had downloaded. So, it started out not hers and then she gave it away. Copyright laws EXPLICITLY prevent that. OTH, had she bought the CD, or simply borrowed from friends, and the only offered it to friends, then I believe this would have been an interesting case.

    It will create more siphons, but hopefully, the press will point out that this case was NOT about downloading, but about uploading to strangers.

    As to the white house, I only hope that the more that laud this ruling, the more that it comes to haunt them.
  • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @05:56AM (#20877893) Journal

    Here's a simple argument that her punishment was unjust - because it is being used as a stick to scare to the rest of society rather than an as an actual punishment, and is therefore out of proportion. How do we know that it is being used to scare society rather than as a fair punishment? Because millions of people do exactly the same as them and if everyone were prosecuted to such a degree, US civilisation would go bankrupt en masse. The penalty is inherently selective in targeting only example cases, because any consistent application of it would devastate the country. Punishments designed to scare people are not in proportion to the crime, because that is not their purpose. The interest is in creating the very greatest degree of punishment that is achievable.
  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @06:13AM (#20877947) Homepage Journal
    What's so great about Ron Paul? I mean unless you're a pro-lifer? One minute the guy tells us he things it's a state's right to allow or disallow abortion, and the next he says things like "In Congress, I have authored legislation that seeks to define life as beginning at conception, HR 1094." and "As an OB/GYN doctor, I've delivered over 4,000 babies. That experience has made me an unshakable foe of abortion." .. Which means it would be murder to perform abortion by his definition, and therefor outside of a state's right to regulate (they can only define the punishment for murder). And his stance does not seem to allow flexibility with regard to parents wishing to abort after tests for mental retardation, birth defects, etc. sorry, I really think it's a parents choice to bring a special needs child into this world, not a bureaucrat's choice (even if he was an OB/GYN).

    A vast majority of abortions are not done by loose women who get knocked up every few months, it's a choice that women choose carefully and rarely more than once. It's an extremely difficult decision that your average woman does not take lightly at all.

    Ron Paul is the best Republican on the field though, likely because he's not a sleezebag or neocon garbage. And I won't find myself voting for a Democrat until they have a massive change of heart and get back to their roots. (I never been registered as Democrat).

    If you do have interest in Ron Paul I urge you register as Republican so you may vote in the primaries. (you don't have much time left to re-register and switch from being independent, most of the primary elections are held January and February 2008, depending on state). I personally doubt Ron Paul will win the GOP primaries overall, but he might make a big impact in western states who lean far more towards Libertarianism.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) * on Saturday October 06, 2007 @06:32AM (#20878005) Homepage Journal

    I'm the last person to defend the Bush regime, but bear in mind the phrase "copyright law is effective and working as planned" means "we see no need to tighten copyright law and create yet more insane crap, like the DMCA, to help copyright owners defend their copyrights."

    If the industry had lost the case, given that P2P copying of music without the copyright holder's authorization is rampant, you can bet the fact would have been used in the intense lobbying to impose still more draconian copyright laws and penalties. That lobbying is going on now, the government is being told that existing laws are inadequate and need to be tightened. The music industry's win is an ironic defeat for that lobby. If the music industry can defend its copyrights using the existing legal tools, then there is little reason to provide them with more.

    The biggest argument for more draconian copyright laws is rampant copyright infringement. Unfortunately, many in the tech community do not see that and think that laws get over-turned when people ignore them: with few exceptions, that attitude flies in the face of history. Those promoting copyright infringement are doing those who want to see a free exchange of information and genuinely fair use of, and improved access to, everything else no favors whatsoever.

  • by smallfries ( 601545 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @06:35AM (#20878015) Homepage
    No it wasn't, and that is the problem a lot of people are having with this ruling. On this occasion I would recommend that you make an exception and RTFA. This case was not about uploading, the RIAA never proved that she uploading anything.

    Jury Instruction 15: The act of making available for download copyrighted material is in itself an act of copyright infringement with a fine of $750-$30000.

    Based on a screen-shot of kazaa showing some song names against her IP address they have fined her $220000. If you can't see why this is a travesty of justice then stop and think about it for a second. They have not shown that she violated copyright. Instead they have altered the law to say that "if it looks like you were going to violate copyright" then that is now a crime.

    Thank god I don't live in America, and the laws here are a little more sane.
  • by 15Bit ( 940730 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @06:35AM (#20878017)
    What you have here is a fundamentally malfunctioning legal system. A punishment should fit the crime committed, not the collective crimes of everyone else who breaks the same law. Being punished to "serve as an example to others" is a concept which should have been left behind in the middle ages.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2007 @06:43AM (#20878037)

    bear in mind the phrase "copyright law is effective and working as planned" means "we see no need to tighten copyright law and create yet more insane crap, like the DMCA, to help copyright owners defend their copyrights."
    That's the good half of the meaning. The bad half of the meaning is that it also means "we intended for courts to award damages of 100,000 times the cost of stolen goods, and for a single mom to be bankrupted for stealing 23 music tracks."

    Magna Carta, the first Constitution in the history of the common law on which our great Republic is built, stated that "every freeman shall be fined in proportion to his fault; and no fine shall be levied on him to his utter ruin." Sad to see that in Bush's America this apparently only applies to freemen, not single moms.
  • by aeschenkarnos ( 517917 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @06:46AM (#20878049)
    Just a question ... are Americans teaching their children that it is good to share, or that it is bad to share?
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @06:57AM (#20878105) Homepage Journal
    ...its about prolonging the inevitable death of the labels business.

    Remove the labels and replace them with a business model that understands the enormous cost savings of technology and the internet for production and distribution.

    It should be obvious, even from the court records.

    I very rarely buy music and when I do I try to buy directly from the artist, but this does not stop me from lisening to a great deal more music than I have purchased (not rented).

    I don't pirate but I have heard mixes others have done that remined me of plenty of songs and artists I liked years ago. But at about that time this RIAA crap started up and I figured I liked the artists and their works, not the contradictory business model of the labels as represented by the RIAA. So of course I dropped the idea of locating the music I heard on such mixes, that I might buy it.

    I mean since the Mix was illegal, I wasn't supposed to hear it and certainly in not hearing it I wouldn't be remined of ........ no sale.

    I don't Pirate nor do I support rabid dogs out to bite th hand that feeds them.

    The music industry labels has a history of questionable dealings such as Payola to get radio stations to play.... This sort of thing was determined to be illegal, unfair, etc... But the objective was that of getting coverage.

    Now that there is plenty of coverage.... they are complaining... Why? because they are not controlling it, its more open to public choice....

    Such controlling bias is not beneficial to but a few artists.

    So in the mean time I wake to music I don't pay for, drive to work and back with music I don't pay for and when I get an itch for irish music I tune into livelreland and I don't pay for that either.

    In fact I'd say on average over years, the music I listen to is better than 90% music I didn't pay for. And all without pirating. Most of which I wouldn't buy anyways, regardless of the fact that by the time the radio stations stop playing it, I'm sick and tired of it anyway and certainly won't have anything, and I certainly won't allow an illegal mix years later wrongly influence me to go out and buy....

    Why buy and why pirate when there is plenty free and legal.....

    If they shut down internet radio .. then I won't listen and won't know about artist I might just like enough to buy.

    Perhaps the Labels should just shut down all radio stations music playing..... That'll save them.
  • by Purity Of Essence ( 1007601 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @07:21AM (#20878201)
    RIAA wants to get $150,000 per infringement. If they nailed only 1/10th of the users on just the eMule network right now, each for a single infringement, they would net far more money than they normally make in a year. How can you seek damages so far removed from reality? RIAA wants us to believe that the $40 billion dollar music industry is the being victimized by eMule users to the tune of $600 billion worth of copyright infringement at any given moment.
  • by musicmaster ( 237156 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @07:28AM (#20878223) Homepage
    This "copyright czar" Chris Israel should better check his kids' (if he has any) pcs and ipods. The majority of the families in the US are at risk for a similar verdict.

    But then of course his risk is quite diminished: the Bush administration has an effective system for preventing that their friends are prosecuted. The time that justice was blind is behind us.
  • by Devir ( 671031 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @07:31AM (#20878241) Homepage
    Ok, this is years back in school. But I do believe there is an ammendment in our constitution stating that "Fines and penalties should be fair and affordable".

    Back then they saw the value of using a fine as a means of punishment. The thing is they also saw that you cant issue a fine of $220,000 against a person who makes $30,000 a year. It is unrealistic and unfair.

    Though for many politicians making these obscene laws, $220,000 fine to them is like $220 for us everyday people. Their problem is they cant see nor understand what life is like for the vast majority of people in this Earth.

    This country needs another Abe Lincoln. A poor man who worked his way up the political ladder. Too bad he'd be filtered out of the system before even starting.
  • Re:not the same (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @08:15AM (#20878475)

    Look, if I buy a CD and then share my music with a friend, and she rips it, then that is fair use. IOW, that person and myself have the RIGHT to do that.
    No, that pretty clearly is not fair use. You are fine lending the CD to anyone you please, but their ripping it is not really defensible as fair use because it violates most of the tests for fair use set out in title 17.

    OTH, if I rip a CD and then offer it you, then I am selling something (for nothing, but still selling since I do not know you).
    Uh, no. That's not "selling" it is unauthorized distribution and whether or not you "know" the person you are distributing to has nothing whatsoever to do with it.
  • by xelah ( 176252 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @08:23AM (#20878525)

    My country is no better , we also have draconian laws . May be someday , we all move to new planet , with our own happy laws :)

    They did that once. 'America', I think they called it.
  • Re: Neocon God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by muuh-gnu ( 894733 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @08:50AM (#20878647)
    > Breaking copyright is wrong,

    It isn't.

    > whatever your reasons are you have no right to break the law.

    If the law is unjust, it's not only wrong, but your obligation to break it. If the world worked by your logic, the civilisation would have never developed past the slavery, monarchies, colonialism, and so on, because every of those steps required breaking some kind of then effective, but unjust law. If you didnt ignore, fight and break unjust laws, you wouldnt even live in the US but would be a massively exploited british colony. If you happen to be black, you would still be prohibited from learning something and would have the lagal status of a "thing", could be sold, bought and auctioned, and if youre a woman, youd be prohibited from voting, studying, appearing on streets without a burqa and so on.

    FUCKING NOBODY who is not profiting from artificial, enforced scarcity, perceives either this judgement or the underlying copyright fascism as "just" or democratically approved, and without massive civil movements, there seems just to be no way to change the laws, because the persons in power simply "dont allow" the people to do it bacause they know that copyright, as we know it now, wouldnt survive a single night if people _really_ decided democratically about it.
  • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @08:57AM (#20878697)
    There's a third question:

    3. Does the law set proportionate punishment?

  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @09:19AM (#20878845)
    The people who wrote the GPL were trying to simulate a world without copyrights by using copyrights in an unusual way. In a world without copyrights, there would be no need for such a simulation.
  • by yincrash ( 854885 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @09:21AM (#20878855)
    Yet now all these people are considered free due to our own legal system, so your point seems moot.
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @09:31AM (#20878945) Homepage
    The problem is that she is a human being, who is probably going to pay for the rest of her life for the "copyright violation" of just making the stuff available, rather than a corporation, who could either afford it or just go out of business, while the corporate officers pocketed the money and go on to start up the next shady deal.

    I'm not recommending it, but it would illustrate her plight if she would commit "sepuku" in front of the RIAA offices for TV cameras, in exchange for her kid's safety, as this would illustrate the actual attitude of the RIAA (I like to think that the sight of a woman gutting her self like a fish all over their carpet might give some of them nightmares, but I don't really think it would.)

    Basically, she was a single individual going into a system designed for corporations to KILL each other.

    Now her life is ground meat. She'll spend her life paying for the mistakes on lost of peoples' parts.

    In old Imperial Japan, her head would have been separated from her body.

    Those ARE the stakes.
  • by gumpish ( 682245 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @09:38AM (#20878979) Journal
    I don't suppose there's a Civil Liberties Czar by any chance...
  • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @09:44AM (#20879023)
    Even those who think copyright law is paramount may have a sense of proportion. There's no reason to believe the woman acted with intent to harm, or achieved or attempted financial gain (beyond having posession of a lot of music she didn't pay for). She was fined far, far beyond any actual demonstrated damages.

    A just verdict would have been a fine of perhaps $2000, a requirement that all her internet activity be monitored for several years, and a warning that severe fines would be imposed upon discovery of similar misbehavior in the future. This is, after all, a first offense, and it was until this judgement a grey area in the law.

    The GPL analogy is not appropriate because GPL violations generally involve attempts at substancial financial gain for the violator.

  • Re:not the same (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @09:51AM (#20879061) Homepage
    Two things need to be attacked;
    The length of time of IP. That has become silly. In particular, America's pushing our version is the worst. Australia's was actually, pretty fair. Hopefully, more nations push back against US and push for something like Australia's was.
    DMCA WRT DVDs/Music. We bought the movie and/or music. It is our right to back it up and use it how we see fit. As long as we are not distributing it, then there should not be an issue.

    While I agree copyright is ocmpletely out of whack, do you think that'd restore balance to copyright? People today pirate the latest music, movies, tv and software. Yhat has extremely little to do with the length of copyright, do you think people would be happy if they could now watch the first season of Babylon 5, and in a few years could upgrade to Windows 95? That the 30 year olds can finally get the music they listened to in their early teens? That any of them would stop what they're doing and wait it out the next 14 years, even if we went all the way back to the copyright law of 1790? I think the general population would be as piss poor at keeping their end of a fair bargain as the RIAA/MPAA would be.

    The truth is that even though the DRM systems get broken quite often, they're effective against the "now now NOW!" generation. If a DRM system isn't broken for a few months, it's a boon to sales. Can't pirate Wii/xbox360/PS3 games (or requires some ugly hardware hack that might brick your system on the next update)? Of course that helps against piracy. The RIAA/MPAA so desperately want in on that, but only recently are they starting to see that it's just not possible. People want to take the music with them whereever and play on whatever devices they got, and the end-produce (i.e. the image and the sound) can always be captured, and everything else is gravy.
  • by phantomlord ( 38815 ) <slashdot AT krwtech DOT com> on Saturday October 06, 2007 @09:53AM (#20879081) Journal
    In a world without copyright, free software has no protections. Evilcorp can take your code, extend it, release it closed source and give you the finger because you have no claim of ownership over it. If that's the world the FSF wants to live in, they can convert the license on all their stuff to the BSDL and enjoy it now.

    A world without copyright doesn't mean that everyone includes the source for their programs... It will also raise the cost of software dramatically. Autocad might cost $300k because a large architecture firms will buy one copy to install on all of their computers. Yeah, they could get it third party for free but then they wouldn't have any support to go with it. You can say the free software community will just develop a competitor, but again, that's going to rely on coders putting in a ton of effort to be feature comparable to Autocad and anyone can take that code, extend and close it because nothing protects it. Even with the protections of copyright, there still isn't a viable FOSS 3D CAD application which competes with Autocad that I'm aware of.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @10:01AM (#20879141) Homepage Journal
    When the visibility is this high, and the corporation has bribed, eerrr lobbied, this hard its not surprising to see the government ( i wont say 'bush', this sort of nonsence is a government issue in general, not an administration issue ) comment on it.

    Sort of like the 'war on drugs', or 'war on big tobacco', ( and soon, 'big snack food' ) you can expect public comments.

    I say its time for us citizens to have a 'war on RIAA', and take no prisoners. Start with voting out anyone that in the least supports this. Show them we are displeased with their being purchased and no longer looking out for their constituents.
  • by CyberSnyder ( 8122 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @10:05AM (#20879179)
    Why is everything being prosecuted in civil trials rather than criminal court? Are they not breaking the law? Of course, the answer is easy. Burden of proof is much lower and corporations can keep top legal staff on their payroll where the average American cannot afford to hire a good lawyer or will be in the position of hiring a lawyer and winning in which case they lose $100k or more in legal fees. Or losing, paying $200k in damages *and* $100k in legal fees. The court system is just a tool that is stacked heavily in the favor of the corporations. "We the People" died sometime within the past generation or so. Fortunately, "We the People" can stop purchasing the CDs and MP3s and cut the corporations off at the knees. I think I'll stick with my current habit of purchasing used CDs and supporting local bands.
  • by ghostunit ( 868434 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @10:11AM (#20879219)
    In response to such outrageous abuses many propose "no-buying-cds" days and other utterly useless measures.

    But what would really hurt their pride and lessen their damage would be for the community to set a fund and help this person with her legal fees.

    This would really show that the people won't tolerate someone's life being ruined to set an "example" and instill fear in everyone else.

    (note: I'm not an American citizen, somebody please set it up instead)
  • by enjo13 ( 444114 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @10:14AM (#20879247) Homepage
    You'd be looking for William Jefferson Clinton. []

    Grew up quite modestly in Arkansas before breaking into higher education with earned scholarships.
  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @10:21AM (#20879305) Homepage
    Is anyone surprised?

    It's time to move on, people.

    Every last one of you better be at the f**king polls next year.
  • Scary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @10:28AM (#20879347)
    The $ amount is scary, but what is even more scary is the White House praising that a woman's life was destroyed, saying that this is how it was supposed to work, too. Mindboggling. Good thing I don't live there...

    Now, excuse me while I go and see what I can do to support local "EFF" organization, so that kind of crap won't ever go through here.
  • by sexybomber ( 740588 ) <> on Saturday October 06, 2007 @10:51AM (#20879481)

    "every freeman shall be fined in proportion to his fault; and no fine shall be levied on him to his utter ruin.

    The only "freemen" left in this country, the only people who can truly exercise freedom, are the CEOs. So yes, no fine shall be levied on our CEOs to their utter ruin. Can't have that. That would bring America to its knees. Look at all the shady, corrupt businessmen who proverbially get away with murder almost daily.

    But as for your typical American citizen, no, we're not free. We haven't been for some time now. So the punishments for ordinary citizens, the little cogs in the great machine, don't have to fit the crime. Sorry to burst your bubble, dude.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @10:56AM (#20879497)
    When a crooked, bought government says that laws need no tightening it only means they are already tightened way beyond sanity.
  • by dwandy ( 907337 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @11:06AM (#20879569) Homepage Journal
    sharing is not consuming.
    sharing is communism.

    I think it's pretty clear what is being taught.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @11:20AM (#20879703)
    Give it a few years and movies are where songs are today.

    About 20 years ago, making and recording a song was expensive. You needed some studio, good (==expensive) equipment, some way to market and distribute it, in short, you needed the aid of a studio. Today, this all vanished. You can create great music "at home", with rather low cost, your average monthly income will buy you whatever you need.

    Let technology grow a little and we got the same with movies. We are already today at the point where great FX are no longer a matter of multi million dollar hardware but rather one of skill and a decent but affordable FX program. Video cams getting better and cheaper every month. Professional editing software also dropped from many thousands to a few hundred bucks. In no more than 10 years, the movie studios will face the same problem the music studios have today: They become obsolete for the ambitioned creator.

    They don't "feel" the pressure yet from both sides, only from the customer side where movies are now being shared like songs have been for over 10 years now. Only recently (i.e. about 5 years now) bandwidth has been large enough that it becomes an issue. Now they react. Now it's too late.

    We'll see more laws about this. In 100 years, we'll look at those laws with the same chuckle we now feel when we see laws for the protection of horse drawn cabs, about a man waving a red flag in front of a car or similar crap, lobbied in by a dying business.

    Unlike them, the **AAs have a choice, though. They can turn from the middleman that tries to hold artists and customers in a stranglehold to a valuable marketing and PR tool for the former. They have all the necessary tools, knowledge and people to push your songs into the charts and make it a seller. They are, if anything, great at creating a hype. If they can change to this model and become an "advertising agency", they can survive.

    If they instead try to cling to a dead business model, they will perish.
  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Saturday October 06, 2007 @11:21AM (#20879711) Homepage Journal
    One of the problems that the current RIAA approach is that they are ignoring the large scale publishers by going after these petty criminals. And this Minnesota woman mentioned in the articles is just that. She is accused of opening up to some friends a couple of CDs worth of MP3s.

    I have seen some very large scale operations of blatant copyright violation in the past, including network sharing of copyrighted material. For crying out loud, I've had co-workers hand me nearly their entire CD collection compressed as MP3s on a couple of CDs.

    This is also completely missing the Chinese CD copy pirates that even have complete CD pressing facilities, print up scanned jacket inserts, and sell the CDs as the real thing when in fact that isn't the case at all. And don't tell me these CDs don't end up in the USA, as I know for a fact that they do. This kind of activity is blatant copyright violations and involves criminal activities where not only is the "criminal" making money off of the duplication of the content, but it also does real damage that can be measured in a genuine sense where some individuals are buying this content thinking it is the real thing, completely unaware that it was made through an illegal process and the artist gets absolutely nothing in return.

    I've also see websites... and they still do exists... that have hundreds or even thousands of CDs worth of data, and even hundreds of complete DVD movies available for download in blatant disregard for copyright laws. I know some of them have been shut down, but that just means they are avoiding to advertise on Google and other search engines, and you have to "go underground" to find these websites. If you search hard enough, you can still find them.

    What this woman did was the equivalent of a shoplifter taking some candy or other low-value merchandise from a store. Certainly it is illegal and perhaps needs to be prosecuted. But it doesn't need to become a national news story, nor draw the attention of multi-national corporations to fly their lawyers across the country in order to prosecute individuals who are for the most part clueless to begin with. Certainly the $300,000 fine+ court costs is way over the top.

    I would also like to ask this rather tough question to the RIAA: If any of this money is collected, will even a single penny of that money go into the hands of the artist you were representing?

    This is tragedy compounding the situation, as copyright law is really there to protect the content creator. These organizations like the RIAA do very little to help the plight of the ordinary musician, nor does a prosecution like this ultimately help out a journeyman musician. I'm not talking the grand masters that are at the peak of popular culture and earn their deservedly millions of dollars. They can usually negotiate reasonable recording contracts and keep most of their money. I'm talking the more ordinary folks who are getting screwed over by the RIAA, where a prosecution like this will result in that same Minnesota woman simply declaring bankruptcy to get out of the debt, and the RIAA will then claim what little was paid toward the fine as legal costs. The only people who "won" in this case was the RIAA lawyers themselves, and not their "clients" for whom they were supposedly representing.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @11:33AM (#20879845)
    That's what it boils down to, and that's also what made the communist countries fall. The people did not support the system that held them down. You cannot, at least in a democracy (or something resembling it) create laws that the majority of people either don't care about or oppose.

    Imagine you know a murderer. Would you go to the police and tell on him? Most likely. Even if he's your friend. He killed a person! Most people would certainly support a law against murder. NOt because they're directly affected, but because murder simply is something that does not appeal to us. Maybe it's part of our culture, maybe even religion, maybe just the fear that you could be next, but generally you'll at the very least consider turning him in.

    Now imagine you know a filesharer. Would you even ponder going to the police? Most likely not, because at the very least you don't care about copyright laws, and if you do, you'll more likely support your friend against those laws.

    Most people either don't understand copyright laws, don't understand their purpose or simply don't know something like this even exists. "Virtual property" is a quite artificial concept and hard to grasp. It's not one of the things that make sense immediately, and even when you grasp the idea intellectually, it still doesn't "feel" wrong to copy content. You didn't really "steal" anything, it's still there. That someone didn't get money who should've gotten money, or whatever reason is usually given, is something that doesn't immediately affect us.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:39PM (#20880357)
    >200,000 is not to ruin. Sorry. It's huge, but she can certainly pay it in a decade or two.

    I guess you make a lot more than the average American to have that view.

    Poverty level is generally accepted in the USA to be anything below $10,210. This is assumed to be the minimum required to survive without incurring further debt (students, as many might point out as making far less and surviving, are often incurring future debt in the USA). Obviously, no lender will lend to a woman in $200,000 debt.

    So, to pay the $200,000 in debt, plus statutory interest in MN (6% yearly), over one decade, she will need to make $271,735.90, to be repaid in yearly amounts of $27,173.59.

    The average wage in MN is $41,326 per year (2006 figure). Subtracting from this that she is a woman, and therefore earns a lower average wage (about 15% less, now only $35,127.10) and subtracting taxes (7.05% MN tax equalling $2,476.46, $4,220 base federal tax + $1,119.28 additional) leaving $27,311.36 remaining income. Subtracting the poverty line from this, this leaves $17,101.36 in disposable income.

    Assuming all disposable income is funneled to repaying her debt to society, on average, a woman in her situation will remain in absolute poverty for 21 years repaying the debt. She will repay a total sum of $357,019.11.

    So, in retrospect, you're right. It's only fair someone remain in conditions only marginally better than prison for about 1 year per song copied. Right? And you're also right, she will, on average, be able to repay it in two decades.

    Hopefully, though, she is also of average age for a Minnesotan (36). This will permit her, when she has repaid her debt (at age 57), to save for retirement (at age 65) for 8 years. This should mean she will die absolutely penniless and homeless, but able to not end up on any form of social assistance. Dying penniless is absolutely the right punishment for having "stolen" so much music.

    Of course, that's all assuming everything is average. Should she have children, she will need to go bankrupt, as at this point the poverty line increase is about $3,400 for each dependent, which, if she had an average amount of children (2) would cause the load to be unrepayable at statutory interest rates (calculate it yourself, if you like) as the payments would not cover interest on the loan itself. But, again, it's only fair FCS takes the children away from such an unfit mother that stole so much music. No woman deserves to have children if they pirate music. Ever.
  • Re: Neocon God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:44PM (#20880399) Homepage

    Just imagine what would happen if everybody unsatisfied with the current laws started their own "revolution", bringing your country into chaos.

    I'd imagine that there'd be a lot fewer laws, as only the ones that everyone could agree to would be on the books. I'd also imagine that, eventually people would get sick of all the rebellion and would form a government that'd be agreeable to all.

    I'm from Hungary (sorry for my English), and here some far-right groups tried to make a "revolution" and a "real political transformation" last year - of course they failed pathetically.

    That's because they didn't have any popular support. Without that kind of support any protest (for right or wrong) will fail. The monks protesting in Burma were crushed too. Does that make their protest wrong?

    Nevertheless, it would be terrible if everybody broke the laws they found unjust.

    So the mass campaigns of civil disobedience that led to independence for India, civil rights for African Americans in the US, and the end of apartheid in South Africa were terrible?

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:55PM (#20880469) Homepage Journal
    I wouldnt say NO ONE .. but i do agree the % is skewed towards the techies.

    I know several non techies that are terrified to download something ( if they even knew how they wouldnt ), completely due to RIAA marketing. Which will get one hell of a boost from this judgement.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:58PM (#20880501) Homepage Journal
    I hit post too fast, i also wanted to include the RIAA ( and to a lesser extent, the BSA and its friends ) marketing has also scared common people away from truly free stuff. be it music or software.

    "if its free, its gotta be stealng" " if its free software, its no good and full of viruses" " how do they get paid, it must not be legal" etc.. Its really hard to explain to people at times who are programmed by the spin. The TV is a powerful device to sway the public.
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @04:07PM (#20882005)
    As to 'proportion to his fault', seems reasonable. Convicted of violating the distribution rights for 24 songs, a reasonable fine was applied for each individual conviction.

    Reasonable compared to what exactly?

    And moreover, when committing the same crime multiple times simultaneously, multiplying the fine by that amount is unusual and stupid except in particularly nasty cases. If you steal a pack of cigarettes vs stealing a carton are you punished 20x the amount for the carton?

    If there are 24 songs or 2400 songs its the same single crime, the punishment for the larger folder should perhaps be higher, but not 100x times higher.

    If I ever get charged by the RIAA for sharing X number songs that they identified I'm going to start by immediately announcing to the jury that I'm actually guilty of sharing 150,000 songs in my shared folder that I've shared for no personal gain because I did not and still do not beleive that my actions are or should be illegal. (Yes I have a 10,000 CD & LP collection, mostly out of print.) and then insist that if they convict me of copyright infringement that they must award reasonable damages of 9250 per track or around 1.4 billion dollars. Because that price has been established previously, and its both reasonable and fair, and proportional to the harm I've caused.

    Nevermind that its orders of magnitude more than the courts awarded vicitims of Agent Orange testing, or to victims of human trafficking, who were forced into prostitution, and raped. Clearly I have caused the greater harm, and should be charged proportionally more.

    In fact, what we should REALLY be doing is come forward as a group of 30,000,000 p2p users and admit guilt collectively through a single lawyer, and demand that we also be charged 9250 per track.

    Betcha that would make news, "p2p community self assesses its guilt at 27 trillion dollars and wants to know where to drop off cheque?"

    (based on an average of 100 songs per user X 30 million users X 9250 per track = 27 trillion dollars)

    Of course, shortly after that, rather than actually pay them, we'd just take the 27 trillion, buy controlling interest in the member companies of the RIAA, disband them, and put the music into the public domain. We'd have money left over to tackle the MPAA, buy out Microsoft, establish a moon base, field a larger better funded military than the USA, and buy Canada outright.

    Oh forget canada, we could just buy the united states outright, and get the military as part of the bundle. With enough left over to give everyone health care.

    Does that drive the point home about how unreasonable this sum of money is for this crime? Indeed, does that drive how absurd criminalizing this is? When the 'damages' that would arise out of convicting everyone who is engaged in it right now are worth some 40% of the total gross domestic product of the entire planet.

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @04:37PM (#20882185) Homepage Journal
    Depends on who is winning the big money. Don't forget, this administration is really big on tort reform, limitations of damages, etc.

    The fundamental idea is that some defective product can kill you or disable you for life, and you'll get less than the record company will if you pirate a few of their songs.

    The administration has come out in favor of the "ownership society," remember. (By the by, "creators" are not necessarily "owners," either.)
  • by absoluteflatness ( 913952 ) <> on Saturday October 06, 2007 @04:51PM (#20882279)

    The fact that the labels pursuing these suits currently offer "nice" settlements to people has no bearing on the fact that the underlying laws are unfair. The high damages for distribution seem to be designed for an pre-digital era where someone engaged in distribution would have to spend, and therefore have, a large amount of money.

    Now, anyone with a computer can be a large-scale distributor, but the same laws and damages apply.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb