This is an article explaining the tactics used by the RIAA in obtaining information and evidence on illegal file-sharing, from information given by an RIAA worker himself. The RIAA hires a third party company, MediaSentry, to track down illegal file-sharers. That company then runs different peer-to-peer file-sharing programs and searches for songs specifically owned by the RIAA. They are then able to track down the specific IP address and the ISP from which the songs they find came from. They do not actually download the song however, using a digital handshake instead to let them know that the song is available for download. This complicates the matter because it is hard for me to believe that the RIAA can use a so called "digital handshake" as their main evidence when no actual download occurred. The fact that the file was in a shared folder and was ready to download does not mean the person themselves shared the file. The court case Atlantic v. Howell is a great example of this situation in which the court rule that "If the owner of the shared folder simply provides a member of the public with access to the work and the means to make an unauthorized copy, the owner is not liable as a primary infringer of the distribution right, but rather is potentially liable as a secondary infringer of the reproduction right." Also in that case the judge stated, "Unless a copy of the work changes hands in one of the designated ways, a "distribution" under ... 106(3) has not taken place," thereby negating the RIAA's claim. However, not all cases are even taken to court, and the RIAA is able to slip by with this lack of evidence by presenting it like it is their primary proof of infringement.
The article then goes on to talk about cases of a more serious nature and how the RIAA deals with it. They start off with the digital handshake but then MediaSentry personnel actually do download the songs in question. This to me seems backwards and wrong that the RIAA downloads the same songs, in the same manner, from the same programs, as the pirates they are trying to catch.
tagged copyright dmca file-sharing industry intimidation media music riaa sentrycopyright by willlly ...on 26-NOV-08
This source is a court document from the Atlantic Records v. Tanya Andersen court case. More specifically it is the complaint from the defendant Andersen, and the part that interests me is where it talks about the questionable legality of MediaSentry's investigations. Tanya Andersen is another person who had enough courage to stand up to the RIAA, and like Ms. Santangelo, she is a single mother. However, Ms. Andersen is also disabled and has a young daughter. This is another instance that shows the type of people targeted in these lawsuits by the RIAA and why they are usually so successful in settling cases out of court. They are transforming the way copyright law works into cases that mostly do not make it to court in order to make a lot of money and pretend like their way of justice is bringing awareness to the public about copyright infringement.
The focus of this source is to show the tendency of MediaSentry's investigations to be intrusive and invasive of privacy. By doing so, this also shows that the RIAA are also cutting corners but then try put the blame on MediaSentry when caught. For example, the complaint provides detail about MediaSentry's investigations explaining that without authorization and under the false pretext of being a peer user, they are able to hack into someone's computer and gather information illegally. They then sell the person's IP address to RIAA, therefore allowing the RIAA to claim they did not do anything illegal themselves. This illegal practice has become known over the past months and as a result, some states require private investigators to have licenses and to be registered. This is true in the state that Ms. Andersen calls home and for that reason MediaSentry's investigation is illegal and so are all their findings. This evidence of illegal investigations by a well known partner of the RIAA contributes to the belief that they are trying to transform copyright law to fit what they want, whether it be through legal or illegal ways.
tagged copyright file-sharing industry intimidation media music riaa sentryindustry by willlly ...on 26-NOV-08
This paper titled “The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales” is a strong argument opposing the beliefs of the RIAA. The RIAA believe that illegal file-sharing is causing the downfall of the music industry, and that these illegal downloads are causing tremendous losses for artists in America. The reason that record sales are declining, they say, is due to the amount of illegal downloading occurring, so if they stop illegal downloading the music industry will thrive once again. However the RIAA polices file-sharing in a way that results in the person possibly never sharing music again. Their method severely restricts the flow of information, especially because there are instances in which the people they sue are not infringing upon anything yet will not share music again.
This paper maintains that file-sharing in fact helps the recording industry and that file-sharing is not the reason for the decline in record sales. Their argument makes sense to me, mostly because I have thought about it at times before as I am sure others have. They argue that people download songs to see if they like the artist they are listening to and they will be more inclined to buy the whole album if they like what they hear. People do not want to waste their money on an overpriced CD which they have never heard before. But if they download a song off the album and like what they hear, they are more inclined to buy it. If the person does not like the music, they are not going to pay for it anyways, no matter if they downloaded a song or not. People share files, and then discuss the music in chat rooms and servers which enhances the flow of information. Discussion leads to either the person buying the music or not buying the music, but either way information is being passed along. The RIAA is trying to stop this and instill fear in every file-sharer to never do it again or else they will go bankrupt due to all of the legal fees and fines they will incur. In essence they are trying to stop the flow of information as well as convince the world that there are no positive outcomes from file-sharing.
This paper provides evidence through surveys of file-sharers which points to file-sharing being beneficial towards record sales. It also brings up the idea that the reason for record sales declining is not due to file sharing, but due to the lack of popular music. Music produced during those years was not good enough in the eyes of the people to spend money on buying overpriced CDs, and the music that was popular to the people saw an increase in sales proportional to the amount of file-sharing that occurred for a particular song off the album.
tagged file-sharingcopyright industry media music riaa sentry by willlly ...on 26-NOV-08
This source is the decision in the Atlantic v. Howell case. This case is important in the fight to lower the power that the RIAA has over copyright law because it rejects 2 popular theories that the RIAA tries to use in their cases against file-sharers. This first theory is called “making available” theory of infringement and it holds that if a person has a folder or file which is shared and therefore is able to be downloaded, that person is infringing on copyright even though the file or contents of the folder were not necessarily downloaded. The rejection by the court of this theory is a major blow to the RIAA's strategy and weakens the power that the RIAA has over copyright law. The second theory is called “offer to distribute” theory and had been accepted in similar cases by the court. It means almost the same as the “making available” theory.
One of the most important factors of this case is that Mr. And Mrs. Howell represented themselves against the whole litigation team of the RIAA, and won. The court sided with the Howells, saying that just because MediaSentry went and downloaded a file off of the Howell computer does not mean they personally put the file in the shared folder. The Howell's argued that Kazaa shared their whole hard drive without their knowledge. The courts stated that although MediaSentry had evidence of a file being shared, there was no way it could tell who actually put it in there.
The decision favoring the Howells was a monumental victory for the little guy so to speak and provides hope that the RIAA is not unbeatable, although they try their best to seem so with their intimidation tactics and bullying.
tagged copyright file-sharing industry intimidation media music riaa sentry by willlly ...on 26-NOV-08
The Sony BMG v. Tenenbaum case is arguably the most high profile file-sharing case in the news today for a number of reasons. First, the defendant, Tenenbaum, is being represented by a famous Harvard Law professor by the name of Charles Neeson. The fact that Neeson was attracted to this case speaks volumes of the potential change to be made in how copyright law runs in the modern world today. Second, this case shows to the common people the true motive of the RIAA. They are trying to make an example out of Tenenbaum, who downloaded seven songs, in order to intimidate everyone from sharing files on their computer. He is a small fish in a big pond to them, and they think that they can use the intimidation tactic of suing him for an exorbitant amount of money all the while instilling fear in those who are thinking of sharing files.
This leads to the reason why I am choosing to use this case as a source: Tenenbaum is not trying to win his case just so the RIAA can pay legal fees that incurred, rather he wants to tackle the organization's legal strategy at its core. He is trying to prove the unconstitutionality of their litigation tactics in order to severely limit their power and effectively hit them where it hurts. Someone is finally accusing them of abusing the law and constitutional rights, and has the legal team to back him as well. There is a major difference between reading court cases and reading the obvious abuse by the RIAA in them, and actually being proactive and trying to defend yourself and others. The people have had enough with the RIAA and their monopoly over copyright law in regards to file-sharing and the music industry and the measures they take to restrict the flow of information that copyright is supposed to encourage. People are not supposed to be so scared of the RIAA that they will not use the computer or send files ever again for fear of punishment. The modern world we live in is changing largely into a digital world, and the RIAA is trying to stop us from moving forward by squashing our hunger for new information with their unconstitutional strategies.
This source is a blog written by one of Prof. Neeson's students in his CyberOne class, who are also helping out Tenenbaum in his legal battle. This source also provides links to the portions of the court case documents themselves which could potentially be very helpful in my paper if I need to locate something specific in the case.
tagged copyright file-sharing industry intimidation media music riaa sentryriaa by willlly ...on 26-NOV-08
The Virgin v. Thomas case is not being used as a source in my paper for its positive outcome or because it somehow decreased the RIAA's power over copyright law. Actually, Thomas is losing her case, was hit with a 222,000 dollar judgment, and has since sought new legal advisors. What is very important about this particular case is the awareness this case has raised around Internet circles. People have websites devoted to “Freeing Jammie”, donations are being made in her name so she can pay the 222,000 dollars as well as finance an appeal, and awareness of RIAA abuse is thriving more than ever in Internet forums and chat rooms.
The amicus brief submitted by a handful of law professors strengthens the argument that more and more people are gaining knowledge and are willing to fight back against the RIAA. The amicus brief also presents new evidence and questions about copyright law, such as what is fair and what is infringement. For example, they state that the Copyright Act gives copyright owners the exclusive right “to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.” Making a work available to the public, they believe, does not constitute distribution. They also make their case and point to reject the synonymy between the words “distribute” and “publication.” They make a convincing argument that is relevant to my topic and back it up with multiple sources.
Before reading this brief I wondered whether the exclusive right of a copyright owner under the Copyright Act actually applied to a computer file. I wondered this because the Copyright Act protects phonorecords and copies which I take to be actual tangible items. There is a gray are for me when I think about Copyright Law and a computer file because a file is not tangible. After reading this brief I feel that this exclusive right cannot apply based off of the Copyright Act, but rather a provision or amendment needs to be made which outlines if and when a computer file is protected.
tagged copyright file-sharing industry intimidation media music riaa sentry by willlly ...on 26-NOV-08