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  • RIAA suffers major setback

    For those of you who are following the ongoing war with the RIAA...
    Source
    By JOHN BORLAND
    Staff Writer, CNET News.com

    A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday handed a major setback to the record industry's legal strategy of tracking down and suing alleged file swappers.

    Reversing a series of decisions in favour of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Washington, DC, court said copyright law did not allow the group to send out subpoenas asking Internet service providers for the identity of file swappers on their networks. The ruling came in favour of Verizon Communications, the first ISP to challenge the recording industry's actions.

    "We are not unsympathetic either to the RIAA's concern regarding the widespread infringement of its members' copyrights, or to the need for legal tools to protect those rights," the court wrote. "It is not the province of the courts, however, to rewrite [copyright law] in order to make it fit a new and unforeseen Internet architecture, no matter how damaging that development has been to the music industry."

    While it is a blow to the recording industry, Friday's decision might not derail the RIAA's ongoing lawsuits against hundreds of individual file swappers.

    The ruling focuses only on the unconventional subpoena power that the trade group had claimed so it could seek the identities of ISP subscribers. It does not deal with the legality of the lawsuits that have already been filed against hundreds of individual computer users.

    Even if the court's decision is ultimately upheld against appeals, the RIAA will still have the power to identify and sue file swappers. The process it could use instead, which would involve filing "John Doe" lawsuits against the anonymous individuals, would simply be more labour-intensive and time-consuming.

    The RIAA said that replacement process would be more intrusive for individuals, not less, since the group would no longer be able to contact the potential targets of a lawsuit and settle with them before an official filing. For several months, it has been sending letters to suspected file swappers after obtaining their identities from ISPs and offering a settlement instead of going to court.

    "This decision is inconsistent with both the views of Congress and the findings of the district court," RIAA president Cary Sherman said in a statement. "It unfortunately means we can no longer notify illegal file sharers before we file lawsuits against them to offer the opportunity to settle outside of litigation. Verizon is solely responsible for a legal process that will now be less sensitive to the interests of its subscribers who engage in illegal activity."

    The appeals court's decision comes after the RIAA sued 382 individuals alleged to have offered copyrighted music for download through file-swapping services such as Kazaa, and settled with 220 people for amounts averaging about $3,000 apiece. Many of those settlements had been made before suits were filed, the organization has said.

    Most of the legal challenges to the RIAA's strategy have focused on the subpoena process used to obtain identities, rather than on the copyright lawsuits themselves.

    Since the beginning of last year, the RIAA has cited provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as the legal basis of its subpoena strategy. The subpoenas were used to get ISPs to reveal the identities of anonymous subscribers who, the RIAA alleged, were infringing copyrights by swapping files over peer-to-peer networks.

    Unlike traditional subpoenas issued by law enforcement organizations, these were requested by a private group and were not attached to an ongoing lawsuit — factors that immediately drew criticism from civil rights groups.

    Verizon, the first ISP to receive several such subpoenas, challenged them immediately, saying they were unconstitutional. A lower court ruled in favour of the RIAA earlier this year, setting the stage for the hundreds of lawsuits it subsequently filed. SBC Communications, Charter Communications and the American Civil Liberties Union have also filed their own, separate challenges to the procedure.

    Verizon welcomed Friday's court decision, saying it would help protect the privacy of people on the Internet.

    "Today's ruling is an important victory for Internet users and all consumers," Sarah Deutsch, a Verizon associate general counsel, said in a statement. "The court has knocked down a dangerous procedure that threatens Americans' traditional legal guarantees and violates their constitutional rights."

    The appeals court did not talk about constitutionality or privacy in its decision Friday, but said only that Congress had not drafted the DMCA to apply to peer-to-peer networks.

    The 1998 law came out of a bitter Congressional battle between copyright holders and telecommunications companies over liability for on-line infringement. The conflict ended in a compromise, which said that ISPs would not be held liable for communications that simply passed through their infrastructure, as opposed to stored on their servers or networks.

    Using similar reasoning, the court said the law's subpoena provisions did not apply to peer-to-peer networks, since the copyrighted material was never stored on an ISP's network, but was transferred directly between users' computers.

    "This certainly underscores what ISPs have said from the beginning," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group that has been critical of the RIAA's strategy. "This was not the deal that was struck in the DMCA. Peer-to-peer [networks] did not exist when the DMCA was being drafted, and Congress did not have this kind of subpoena factory in mind."

    The decision is likely to spark a new round of political skirmishing over copyright policy, although the RIAA did not say whether it would lobby Congress for a change in the law. Indeed, in its decision Friday, the court said Congress may want to revisit the issue with the new technology in mind.

    "The stakes are large for the music, motion picture, and software industries and their role in fostering technological innovation and our popular culture" the court wrote. "It is not surprising, therefore, that even as this case was being argued, committees of the Congress were considering how best to deal with the threat to copyrights posed by P2P file-sharing schemes."

    Of course the victory is temporary. The wimps at the RIAA are a bunch of sore loosers who will stop at nothing to force consumers to pay $20 for CDs that are worth less than 50% of that. They could appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. However, the best strategy would be pimp Congress. Forget the British Invasion. Expect a wave of politician's relatives invading the airway with their "sudden talent." Bush's daughter will probably be the first. She fits the ideal of punk rocker; drunk, stupid, and spoiled.
    "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

  • #2
    My Dad mentioned to me that he heard that this kind of thing was just starting up here in Canada. Can anyone give me some detailed info on that?
    "When I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the Government of my country. I make up for lost time when I am at home."

    Winston Churchill

    Comment


    • #3
      LoL...there are only a few things that I've seen that consistently ruffles Deltapooh's feathers, and the RIAA is one of them...

      Bringing up Bush's daughter is just blatant political hate speech (funny how the Rep's are so PC these days)...but, since you've done it, let's come up with names for her punk rock band. How about...

      Tit for Tat. The band could be good little media wh*res and tattoo corporate logos on their breasts, exercising their "right to free commercial speech" during every show. Guaranteed to send the pimply faced young Republican Fratboys into TiVo marathons behind closed doors. Increased hand lotion and tissue sales would drive the next round of consumer spending economic recovery.

      ...or...

      Quid(m?) Pro Quo. News Corp's latest media acquisitions are all billed as the exclusive carriers of the Bushettes' 24 hour music video station, playing Christian Punk Rock, and other oxymoronic genres.
      I have no problem at all with being proved wrong. Especially when being proved wrong leaves the world a better place, than being proved right...

      Comment


      • #4
        Let me play devils advocate for a moment....
        Yes we all agree the RIAA members have a flawed business model, they are seriously overcharging(Of course peopel still pay it...)

        But isn't the RIAA in the right to track these people down and sue them? I mean they ARE stealing copyrighted material.

        Now I agree the process the article discusses was wrong, and I'm glad to see it get thrown out(Less work for me also). But the overall practice of tracking down and suing people who share? Makes sense to me....
        "Have you forgotten the face of your father?"

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tim McBride
          Let me play devils advocate for a moment....
          Yes we all agree the RIAA members have a flawed business model, they are seriously overcharging(Of course peopel still pay it...)

          But isn't the RIAA in the right to track these people down and sue them? I mean they ARE stealing copyrighted material.

          Now I agree the process the article discusses was wrong, and I'm glad to see it get thrown out(Less work for me also). But the overall practice of tracking down and suing people who share? Makes sense to me....
          Agreed.

          Which is what the article states the lawsuits are against RIAA's method of tracking down such people rather than challenging the legality of violated copyright lawsuits themselves.

          But at the same time, why RIAA must go against the teenagers or 12-years old kids who downloaded the music from Kazaa? Somehow, I suspect it's overkill at the best, and RIAA deliberately going against such people, because they can't afford fighting RIAA at the worst.

          Where is 3,000 dollars paid on average in a lawsuit going? In RIAA's pockets or RIAA's lawyers' fees?

          I feel if RIAA really wants to go after them, then it should simply collect the people's names and addresses in order to name all of them in a single large lawsuit, thus settling with the defendants' representative. That would send a powerful message and on average, the settlements would be much lower than what we see right now. It sure looks like RIAA is really going for jugalur.

          It's just that I smell something fishy going on.

          Dan
          Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

          "Aim small, miss small."

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mantis
            My Dad mentioned to me that he heard that this kind of thing was just starting up here in Canada. Can anyone give me some detailed info on that?
            Yes. I've heard that also.

            I think the Canadian version is going about things a little differently.
            AFAIK, they are trying to get a tax imposed based on downloads. The more you download; the more you pay. Can't really see as to how that could be done though.
            Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tigersqn
              Yes. I've heard that also.

              I think the Canadian version is going about things a little differently.
              AFAIK, they are trying to get a tax imposed based on downloads. The more you download; the more you pay. Can't really see as to how that could be done though.
              Hello,

              Could this be the sign that the world is going to try and regulate the traffic on Internet.

              The Canadian and American versions both are setting a very bad percedent. I just don't like it. Everything about it is really absurd to start with. I understand RIAA wants something to be done about the copyright violations, but does RIAA have to be such a hard-ass?

              RIAA is just begging for bad public relations.

              Dan
              Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

              "Aim small, miss small."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tim McBride
                Let me play devils advocate for a moment....
                Yes we all agree the RIAA members have a flawed business model, they are seriously overcharging(Of course peopel still pay it...)

                But isn't the RIAA in the right to track these people down and sue them? I mean they ARE stealing copyrighted material.

                Now I agree the process the article discusses was wrong, and I'm glad to see it get thrown out(Less work for me also). But the overall practice of tracking down and suing people who share? Makes sense to me....
                The objective of the RIAA is not to protect copyrighted material. They want to sue the consumer into paying for overpriced CDs, and remove the threat P2P and online swapping pose to their power over artists. The Internet cuts out the middle-man. No longer do consumers have to pay for shipping and handling, store employees, website maintenance, etc. Many of these companies had interest in stores and other elements of distribution. All that has been rendered obsolete.

                The best way to protect copyrighted material adopt consumer-friendly TTPs. The Recording industry has already settled for a small tax on CD-R/RW drives and CD-Rs. This decision met consumer demand, while protecting interest (to some extent). Now the RIAA/MPAA should seek a similar resolution to the current issue. Instead of turning millions of people into criminals, they should be made into paying consumers. A tax collected by ISPs is the best remedy I've heard of. While there are tremendous logistical problems; it is not the duty of the consumer to work that out. This way, everyone becomes a customer. If the artist and industry don't like the profit lost, tough. Everyone has suffered from the digital age. They are not special.

                Litigation is not a solution, particularly for this kind of issue. People are smarter than businesses. P2P sharing was convenient, but not the only solution. People are already returning to the days of the index and websites (which are covered in the DMCA). They're using foriegn servers, anonymous proxies, and encryption technology to share files safely. People are not running to stores to by albums. I recall an article in the Yankee claiming record sales continued to fall even with the RIAA offensive. While P2P file transfer have declined by 15 or 20%, it is hardly much to cheer about when you have something like 60 million file swappers.

                As a political analysts, I would strongly advise the RIAA to seek peace. Its image with the American public is horrible to say the least. Because of that, any politician who affiliates himself/herself with the organization is taking a risk. You can never tell what or when voters will make something an important campaign issue. Sherman's tough attitude might please business executives, but it continues to alienate the RIAA. This will make supporting their efforts on capitol hill more expensive, if not impossible.

                The RIAA can either choose to spend billions of dollars trying to sue thousands of consumers, or accept reality and figure out a reasonable win-win situation. At some point, someone will screw around and tick voters off, and then the RIAA will have to settle for even less.

                Originally posted by JAMiAM
                LoL...there are only a few things that I've seen that consistently ruffles Deltapooh's feathers, and the RIAA is one of them...
                The RIAA labels me a thief because I am willing to share music I purchased with some friends. As a kid, I recall saving my lunch money to go out and buy the latest CD. As an adult, I spent alot of money collecting the old songs I enjoy. After all that, Sherman labels me a criminal. I took it personally.

                My greatest concern is that the RIAA will establish a new marketing strategy, opening the flood gates for lawsuits. I was once advised that using spellcheck in MS Word to edit an article could be seen as a violation of copyright laws. Everyone wanting to make a quick buck will be chasing people into court. The RIAA violated civil liberties, and even tried to get copyright infringement passed as part of the Patroit Act, if I recall correctly. All this because a bunch a guys who have stolen from us for decades are ticked off their pockets are feeling a little light.

                Originally posted by JAMiAM
                Bringing up Bush's daughter is just blatant political hate speech (funny how the Rep's are so PC these days)...but, since you've done it, let's come up with names for her punk rock band. How about...
                If Bush were on her band, they could be called the Alcoholics. Then again, I believe that name was taken by a rap band.
                "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Deltapooh
                  The objective of the RIAA is not to protect copyrighted material. They want to sue the consumer into paying for overpriced CDs, and remove the threat P2P and online swapping pose to their power over artists. The Internet cuts out the middle-man. No longer do consumers have to pay for shipping and handling, store employees, website maintenance, etc. Many of these companies had interest in stores and other elements of distribution. All that has been rendered obsolete.
                  Hum, I agree with you that the old business model is obselete, but sharing music is still a violation of copyright laws. People are not paying for the music they are downloading.
                  The best way to protect copyrighted material adopt consumer-friendly TTPs. The Recording industry has already settled for a small tax on CD-R/RW drives and CD-Rs. This decision met consumer demand, while protecting interest (to some extent). Now the RIAA/MPAA should seek a similar resolution to the current issue. Instead of turning millions of people into criminals, they should be made into paying consumers. A tax collected by ISPs is the best remedy I've heard of. While there are tremendous logistical problems; it is not the duty of the consumer to work that out. This way, everyone becomes a customer. If the artist and industry don't like the profit lost, tough. Everyone has suffered from the digital age. They are not special.
                  Oh jesus christ allmighty. NO! ISPs are not going to start collecting some internet tax; how are you going to prove who is sharing and who isn't? 80yr old grandmothers who use the internet for email don't want to pay for music downloads! Its fairly simple to me, if you wan the music PAY FOR IT. Or refuse to buy it and force a change in the business model.

                  Litigation is not a solution, particularly for this kind of issue. People are smarter than businesses. P2P sharing was convenient, but not the only solution. People are already returning to the days of the index and websites (which are covered in the DMCA). They're using foriegn servers, anonymous proxies, and encryption technology to share files safely. People are not running to stores to by albums. I recall an article in the Yankee claiming record sales continued to fall even with the RIAA offensive. While P2P file transfer have declined by 15 or 20%, it is hardly much to cheer about when you have something like 60 million file swappers.
                  The DMCA sucks balls, the MPAA and RIAA are not the bad guys to the consumer in it. ISPs are forced to play the bad cop or get sued into oblivion. I'd liek to see the DMCA go away or change.
                  As a political analysts, I would strongly advise the RIAA to seek peace. Its image with the American public is horrible to say the least. Because of that, any politician who affiliates himself/herself with the organization is taking a risk. You can never tell what or when voters will make something an important campaign issue. Sherman's tough attitude might please business executives, but it continues to alienate the RIAA. This will make supporting their efforts on capitol hill more expensive, if not impossible.

                  The RIAA can either choose to spend billions of dollars trying to sue thousands of consumers, or accept reality and figure out a reasonable win-win situation. At some point, someone will screw around and tick voters off, and then the RIAA will have to settle for even less.


                  The RIAA labels me a thief because I am willing to share music I purchased with some friends. As a kid, I recall saving my lunch money to go out and buy the latest CD. As an adult, I spent alot of money collecting the old songs I enjoy. After all that, Sherman labels me a criminal. I took it personally.
                  Um, if you are sharing music, and then people download it without paying for it you are a thief or a fence. I mean can we just cut all the bullcrap here and admit that sharing and downloading of copyrighted material is THEFT. You are taking something you didn't pay for....

                  My greatest concern is that the RIAA will establish a new marketing strategy, opening the flood gates for lawsuits. I was once advised that using spellcheck in MS Word to edit an article could be seen as a violation of copyright laws. Everyone wanting to make a quick buck will be chasing people into court. The RIAA violated civil liberties, and even tried to get copyright infringement passed as part of the Patroit Act, if I recall correctly. All this because a bunch a guys who have stolen from us for decades are ticked off their pockets are feeling a little light.
                  Lets cut the ****, were have the RIAA stolen from you? Overcharged? Sure, but you were willing to pay it. Now people are truly stealing from them, they have a right to be upset. There is no free lunch.

                  I work at an ISP as a senior tech so I actually have to deal with the end result of the RIAA, MPAA, DMCA, etc all day. So I apolgize for coming off like such an ass, but I hear all the excuses all the time; but when it comes down to theft is theft no matter what you want to call it.
                  We are fairly nice to our customers, we give you three chances before your Internet service is cut off for good. (Normally when I give someone the three strikes speach to a ex-customer; I end up getting called all sorts of names....)

                  _Tim
                  Last edited by Tim McBride; 20 Dec 03, 01:39.
                  "Have you forgotten the face of your father?"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tim McBride
                    Oh jesus christ allmighty. NO! ISPs are not going to start collecting some internet tax; how are you going to prove who is sharing and who isn't? 80yr old grandmothers who use the internet for email don't want to pay for music downloads!
                    Well if that 80yr old grandmother wants to burn photos of her grandchildren onto a CD-R, she has to pay a $2.00 surcharge and some extra change because of the AHRA. Her CD has nothing to do with music, but yet she is paying a royality fee.

                    Originally posted by Tim McBride
                    Its fairly simple to me, if you wan the music PAY FOR IT. Or refuse to buy it and force a change in the business model.
                    To me the message is equally clear, but in contrast to your own. Either the recording industry accept reality and establish a reasonable price, which meets consumer demands, or suffer the consequences.

                    Originally posted by Tim McBride
                    The DMCA sucks balls, the MPAA and RIAA are not the bad guys to the consumer in it. ISPs are forced to play the bad cop or get sued into oblivion. I'd liek to see the DMCA go away or change.
                    The RIAA/MPAA who are using the DMCA to dismiss consumer demand. The DMCA should not be abolished, but does need reformation, without RIAA lobbyists running amuk.

                    Originally posted by Tim McBride
                    Um, if you are sharing music, and then people download it without paying for it you are a thief or a fence. I mean can we just cut all the bullcrap here and admit that sharing and downloading of copyrighted material is THEFT. You are taking something you didn't pay for....
                    In that case, you had best charge people for that Turkey dinner you might be having. Don't let a friend borrow a CD, or piece of clothing from you. You'd best right Levi's before you give that old pair of pants to the Salvation Army. People are allowed to share stuff. That's human nature. Even the RIAA admits that switching files between a few friends is not a serious offense. Yet based on the DMCA, it is.

                    Originally posted by Tim McBride
                    Lets cut the ****, were have the RIAA stolen from you? Overcharged? Sure, but you were willing to pay it. Now people are truly stealing from them, they have a right to be upset. There is no free lunch.
                    Yeah I was because I had no choice. I do now. Today, I don't have to pay a dime because 1.) I have all the songs I want, 2.) I have more than 30 music channels for those times when I want to hear something different, 3.) Because I won't bankroll the RIAA's terror tactics.

                    Those people who choose to offer thousands of files to millions of people are doing wrong. However, I don't see how litigation will change things. If anything, it has spawn a sophisicated network, which will likely be idolized by kiddi-porn freaks. I say the RIAA and MPAA make a deal turning close to 60 million people from what they see as a life of crime to paying consumers.
                    "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Delta, I geuss you and I just don't agree on this one. I have heard all the agruements and they just ring a bit false or not well thought out. Personally I won't debate this any farther do to the fact that tommorow when I go to work I'll get all the debate on it I want....

                      I would, however, like to see the tactics and laws change to be more fair to both sides.

                      _Tim
                      Last edited by Tim McBride; 20 Dec 03, 09:41.
                      "Have you forgotten the face of your father?"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree, a change in copyright laws in sorely in order. To be fair, both sides are currently exploiting flaws in it. I just want whatever change that is enacted to uphold the right and powers of the consumer, while protecting the interest of the artists, and not business execs.

                        Originally posted by Tim McBride
                        . Personally I won't debate this any farther do to the fact that tommorow when I go to work I'll get all the debate on it I want...
                        I understand. This debate will be in addition to complaints from customers who are pissed off their connection slowed for an hour last night, which should have required you to get up at 0300 and run to the office to fix the problem.
                        "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          isn't the right to download music from Kazaa and other programs like that protected under the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992? It says that you can't be prosecuted if you copy music or movies for your own consumption, only if you sell them. Is that the correct interpretation, and if so, doesn't it mean something today?
                          "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

                          – George W. Bush

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The AHRA protects companies that make CD-R/RW drives and blank CDs from being held liable for the inappropriate use of their product. It does give the consumer rights to back-up copyrighted material. Like the DMCA, AHRA was passed before P2P services and broadband became so popular. The same is true for current copyright laws.

                            I believe the RIAA and groups like the EFF should be pushing for new laws that recognize the difference between consumers and businesses, establish somekind of copyright expiration system, and establishes a means to allow P2P sharing legally.

                            A settlement similar to AHRA offers the only true hope for deterring online piracy. I don't think you can sue people to iTunes or any of the other services. Furthermore, there is serious strife between recording companies, which continues to prevent a large catalog.

                            $5 or $10 per month in tax fees is not unreasonable. This coupled with some kind of means to limit the number of songs one could upload or download should satisfy all parties involved. Should people elect to violate new consumer-friendly laws, they can't cry wolf.

                            Two realities must be accepted:

                            1. The recording industry must accept a decline in profits.
                            2. The consumer must understand they can't pay nothing for something.

                            The AHRA appears to establish such realization. Everyone knew the risk people will burn copyrighted material. The industry didn't try to turn back the clocks. They accepted the situation, and figured out a way to make some money off it. The same would be appropriate now.
                            "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              When I have to buy a CD for 5000Ft (general price in Hungary about 20-25 USD) to find only one song is good on that. Sometimes I feel the record company steals money from me, as I am not allowed to bring back the CD to the shop.

                              I am sad then I see some young group with good music starves, but they don't have access to the market because the record company did not see big money in them.

                              I accept a good song writer and performer can earn big money for their performance.

                              But record company (and distributor) earning really big money and profit makes me angry. Reasonable profit acceptable, but they are only channels and and have good lawyers and the help of the copyright law to prevent others selling the same product.
                              a brain cell

                              Comment

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