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
Capitol v. Foster is a major victory for those being bullied by the RIAA. It is a sign of hope that people can make cases against the RIAA and win, even though they seem very outmatched. This source is useful because of the ruling that rejected yet another theory used by the RIAA to control and transform copyright law. The theory that was rejected due to the ruling of the case was that Foster was not found liable for the file-sharing that occurred on her computer by others and over the internet access that she paid for. The judge ruled in this way because Mrs. Foster was ignorant of the fact that any file-sharing programs were on her computer, and that any file-sharing occurred. Her husband and daughter could have been the ones at fault but she could not be sued for something she did not do and did not know about. This is a huge blow to the RIAA's legal campaign because it adds insult to injury. Not only can an IP provide limited information about a specific copyright infringer, but the RIAA cannot get away with suing the owner of the computer without sufficient evidence anymore. They cannot intimidate people with the specific lie that they have hard evidence on the identity of the copyright infringer because when they are brought to court their evidence will not hold up.
This case is not representative of the way RIAA lawsuits go however. Still, most people tend to settle out of court because legal fees would outmatch the settlement fee. But this case is representative of the evidence that the RIAA uses and the inconclusiveness of it. If a person does take action against the RIAA, and are truthfully not a copyright infringer, they have a very good chance at winning the case. Fortunately for Foster, she was able to have her case dropped as well as win a counterclaim argument for attorney fees which amounted to more than 60,000 dollars. Resistance to the RIAA is ever increasing and with each case lost by the RIAA they lose that much more control over the direct copyright law is going and will go in the future
tagged copyright file-sharing industry intimidation music riaa by willlly ...on 26-NOV-08
This website produced by the RIAA, is supposed to educate a person about illegal file-sharing and copyright infringement. Some questions that the RIAA pose and answer are both helpful and truthful, but there are also others that the RIAA answers with lies. It is interesting to look at these questions and realize the manipulation that the RIAA uses to persuade people into settling out of court, and the blatant lies they tell those people when doing so. From these questions I am able to gage the direction and steps that the RIAA is taking in order to successfully transform the laws on file-sharing and copyright to fit their liking.
For example, they declare that a person is sued because that person in particular has been identified as uploading or downloading copyrighted material without authorization. Most of the people they sue and take action against are not extremely tech saavy and therefore might not catch the lies in the previous statement. The truth is that the RIAA cannot single out a person, only a specific IP address, which only means that the action took place at a time. Basically, all they can prove is that at a certain time, which they can not pinpoint either, a person used the computer with the specific IP address mentioned and downloaded an illegal copyrighted file. They do not have enough evidence from that alone to win a case, but because they have the money to sue massive amounts of people in this way, they manage to settle many cases in their favor and out of court. However, some people do realize what an IP address is and realize the lack of evidence the RIAA has which results in the high profile cases in the news today. That false statement by the RIAA adds to the list of ways it has directly affected the flow of information and the way copyright law works. They have been able to bully their way out of court cases with lies such as that and the excessive amounts of money they have.
tagged copyright file-sharing industry intimidation music riaa 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 source is the definition of the term “ex parte.” I am going to need to cite the term in my paper because it is one of the more favorite ways of the RIAA to bully people. First they find out the IP addresses of the copyright infringer through private investigations done by MediaSentry. Since IP addresses can only identify that the infringement happened on a certain computer not the specific person that shared the files, the defendant becomes a John Doe and other measures need to be taken by the RIAA. This is where the “ex parte” order comes in to play. This “ex parte” order, if granted, allows for immediate discovery of the identity of the copyright infringer. The RIAA subpoenas the ISP (Internet Service Provider) of the IP address forcing them to give up otherwise confidential information such as names and addresses. Once the RIAA obtains that information they are able to sue the person in his own name.
“Ex parte” is the term used when one party talks to the judge without letting the other party know about it, and in the USA the courts maintain that both parties have to notify the other when talking to the courts. However, the RIAA has gained so much control over the way copyright law works that the courts normally permit such an order. Although it seems very unfair, illegal, and violates the constitutional right of fair notice, the RIAA has the power and people to make such an order almost routinely successful. The “ex parte” order is one of the most important ways the RIAA can control how copyright law works, but hopefully with the rise in cases being brought to trial this power will soon diminish.
tagged file-sharing industry intimidation music riaa sentrycopyright 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
This is a lengthy article that analyzes the RIAA litigation process from head to toe. It is a great source to cite in my paper because of the massive amount of information that it provides as well as fine details that it includes which would otherwise be very hard to find. It is presumably written and put on the Internet by Ray Beckerman, an active lawyer in the fight against the recording industry and their dubious tactics. He goes through each step in the process one by one, gives insight on it and defines terms where necessary, and cites specific cases in which that particular step was of significant importance. He also cites specific people that are fighting against the RIAA in a particular step and then moves on to the next process of RIAA litigation.
The main places that I will potentially cite from this website will come from the information provided on the processes of “ex parte” discovery as well as the analysis given regarding the RIAA's routine motions for dismissal of counterclaims. These are two major reasons for the RIAA's success in recent cases, and this article is trying to convey the fact that with proper knowledge of the way the RIAA litigation process works the RIAA can indeed be taken down. Their frequent use of “Ex parte” discovery is sickening, but if one knows that the RIAA is likely to try and use this tactic, however unconstitutional it is, adjustments can be made and abuse can be prevented.
I also find it somewhat amusing and unbelievable how much authority the RIAA thinks it has, and how much authority the people believe it has. Due to their intimidation tactics, “ex parte” orders, an expensive legal team, and often abusive and forceful pre-litigation letters, the RIAA seems to be in complete control of copyright law in the modern United States. They can do what they want and get away with it, even if most practices are of questionable legality. This source states that while the RIAA tries to dismiss counterclaims brought up by defendants as if they have the authority to do so, they actually do not. For example, they have not been able to cite any legal authority to dismiss counterclaims for legal fees.
Finally, this source provides descriptions on the types of people that the RIAA has tried to sue, further strengthening the idea that change is needed and that the RIAA is getting more and more abusive in their practices each day. Yes it is true that college students are normally who the RIAA target, but it is know that they have also tried to sue children, their guardians, a single mother who did not live at the residence the copyright infringement occurred, and last but not least a person who is actually deceased.
tagged copyright file-sharing industry intimidation media music sentry by willlly ...on 26-NOV-08
This is a great blog that includes an interview with Patricia Santangelo on Good Morning America and it gives great insight on the types of alleged copyright infringers that the RIAA has been going after. Patricia is being sued by the RIAA for something she did not do. This case is very indicative of the intimidation and blackmailing tactics that the RIAA uses against the people they sue. Ms. Santangelo however did not concede to their tactics and took them to court. They tried making her settle out of court so that her name would not be mentioned in a lawsuit, and they told her that a much more severe fine would be in store for her if she went to trial. The RIAA has almost an unlimited supply of money they use this factor to pressure those being sued. But because she did not download anything or do anything wrong, she did not give in to their pressure and did not settle with them. This case is fascinating because of who the RIAA set out to sue. The computer that was found with illegally downloaded songs was not at Ms. Santangelo's place of residence, she is divorced and the computer is located at her previous residence, and she does not have the financial means to pay the lawsuit. Also, before the case she knew nothing about illegal downloads on her computer, about Kazaa, or even what an IP address was.
It is unbelievable to me that the RIAA can amount enough gusto to try and sue this helpless person who has no idea what is going on. It is an awful attempt to make a few more dollars, and an even worse attempt at trying to promote awareness on the severity of illegal downloads. It is not right to go after a divorced mother who has very limited technological knowledge and who could not have possibly been at fault. The RIAA can not possibly be gaining any support when they sue people such as Ms. Santangelo. Luckily, Ms. Santangelo is fighting them, and in doing so she is raising awareness of the intimidation tactics the RIAA uses. Ms. Santangelo is only one person however, and for every one there are another hundred people who give in to the bullying of the RIAA.
tagged copyright file-sharing industry intimidation media music by willlly ...on 26-NOV-08
This book is an objective look at the various implications of digital sampling and copyright infringement in the music industry. It offers numerous examples of instances in the production of music that range from simply “causing a stir” to reaching a major court decision – and it provides the results of each. It has been written and edited by a collection of scholars, specializing in a number of fields and commenting from a variety of backgrounds and points of view.
The book does not necessarily pose an argument as much as it clarifies the dispute between the recording industry and the digital sampling community. It pits the copyright laws against the “creativity” of new musicians. The book takes neither stance but rather gives adequate attention to both. On one hand, it states that copyright is often blamed for curtailing creativity in music, in that it prevents the production of completely new songs simply because of their use of a small sample of a previous work. Conversely, the authors acknowledge that copyright is also seen as a catalyst for creativity, offering incentive to create fully original work instead of somehow deriving it from a pre-existing source.
This dichotomy is essential to my argument seeing as it offers equal views and examples on the subject of digital sampling. The cases identified in the text are sound evidence of the evolution of the copyright law as a result of the development of the digital sampling technologies and practices. As a result of these case studies, the book also calls to mind a number of musical examples that can not only be analyzed further, but can also be used to find other examples or to gain further insight into the specific case in question. All of these items are discussed in a case-by-case basis with commentary following and this formal structure provides an easy reference into any single instance of copyright infringement that results from the practice of digital sampling. This source will prove invaluable in the completion of the final paper, seeing as it outlines all of the surrounding facts and intricacies of copyright law as it pertains to music. In deciding whether or not a sampling is within the bound of copyright law, this book has been cited numerous times, and will be upon completion of the paper.
This book is a guide – as its title might suggest – to all things digital when it comes to music. It serves as not so much an analysis on copyright in the music industry as a whole, but rather as a set of legal and technical guidelines so that one may participate in the consumption and production of such music without infringing on copyrights. In other words, it describes for the reader all of the ins-and-outs of the digital music industry so that one may know where in the law his practices may reside.
Hill’s book has entire chapters devoted to the assessment of what is legal, what is not, and how to go about participating in said sanctioned musical practices. He identifies a list of acceptable file-sharing websites, and offers his own commentary on why others are forbidden, as well as why these are acceptable. The book begins with a basic introduction into the technologies and methods used in the digital realm and then goes deeper to list available services and to comment on the merits of various practices. His advice is clear and he condones no illegal activity, yet he makes clear why certain people might be motivated to circumvent copyright laws in terms of digital music. He further lists specific file types and programs that are used in these practices and he identifies useful software. He finishes the book with another broad chapter about the “Conscience of Digital Music” as a whole as well as his prediction of the future of the industry.
Hill’s technological knowledge is a key aspect of this book that has allowed me to delve deeply into the details of digital music production and sharing. He explains these issues in simple terms, while still conveying the complexity of their implications. In writing this final paper, the technological terms and details from this book will provide much-needed expertise in a field that I am not necessarily well-versed in. In my analysis of the acceptability of digital sampling, I must first know how the practice works and what techniques are involved; this book offers me this knowledge, which is key to reaching a conclusion in my final paper on what sampling is acceptable within copyright law.
tagged appropriation bootleg bootlegging burning copyright copyright_infringement digital_music digital_sampling downloading file-sharing grokster kazaa mix-cd mp3 music peer-to-peer piracy remixing ripping sampling sharing software song by minglet ...on 25-NOV-08
University of Chicago File Sharing Policy and November 2007 Memorandum from the Vice President and Chief Information Officer to the Campus:
The University of Chicago’s Eligibility and Acceptable Use Policy for Information Technology includes that students comply with their copyright and file sharing laws. The policy asks that students prohibit themselves from participating in peer-to-peer file sharing software as well as not sharing other copyrighted materials through the University network. On their file sharing policy website, the University gives a few different links to the dangers of file sharing and also, how to disable a peer-to-peer file. The letter sent out to the school by the Vice President of the University, has a similar structure to the school’s policy. He reminds students that violating the copyright law has serious consequences, both legal and otherwise, and presents the “no longer hypothetical” situation by claiming that some students have already been sued. He also states that the University complies with valid subpoenas asking for student’s identities.
The policy of the University of Chicago represents a standard, and for my topic, improved university stance on file sharing. They provide information, and comply increasingly with the RIAA and government. They encourage their students not to use peer-to-peer file sharing while presenting them with links and other ways to inform themselves. Unlike Stanford, University of Chicago’s policy has not, as of yet, lead to fines for any students. Neither, however, is it on the opposite end, like the University of Maine who does not, by any means, wish to be the government’s ‘spy’. This information helps to answer my question of how universities are handling the growing pressure from the RIAA and the government while still promoting education and placing their students first.
Copyright Silliness on Campus
This Washington Post article discusses the intensity of the RIAA in their fight against illegal downloading of music and movies. The article explains how the Record Industry Association of America is questioning 19 major American Universities regarding their actions against students who download. One of the major questions being asked is whether or not these universities are expelling students who practice peer-to-peer file sharing and illegally download. The RIAA claims that certain universities are not expelling enough students for these causes. It seems that even with the RIAA attempting to control universities, they continue to sue and threaten individual students. The monitoring techniques the RIAA wants universities to utilize are not only costly, by also ineffective. Students will be able to outsmart the monitoring system either through the internet or simply with blank CDs and hard drives. Music and movies can be shared even with the RIAA’s “copyright hall monitor”. This article recommends a blanket license that would allow students access to music and movies from whatever source they choose. This blanket license would be similar to that used by universities for a cappella groups that perform on campus and cable television subscriptions. The article concludes claiming that universities have more important things to worry about than the RIAA’s fight for money.
This article supports my thesis. It provides a variety of reasons why the RIAA is losing control over their copyright battle. Not only is the RIAA threatening students, but it is also attempting to discipline major American universities who do not follow suit in acting against their own students. The author offers another option of blanket fees as opposed to suing every student and threatening universities. This way of handling the file-sharing phenomenon supports my own argument for promoting awareness as opposed to financially attacking students.
One University Refuses To Pass On RIAA File-Sharing Letters, But The Rest Play Ball
This article discusses how the University of Wisconsin has gone against the RIAA’s request to identify students who the RIAA finds have participated in illegal downloading. The RIAA wants to use Internet Protocol/IP addresses from university networks to give individuals a chance to come forward without their names being involved. The difficulty with this arises from the fact that the university cannot know which student is actually doing the illegal downloading, especially when rooms are shared and one port is used. The University of Wisconsin argues that it does not want to be a middle man in this situation, stating that it is inappropriate. This system of locating individuals by the universities is not legally required, but the article points out that many administrators believe it is beneficial to students since it gives them the opportunity to settle.
This article aids my topic, because it provides information regarding a method that gives universities the option to aid its students, without making it a legal necessity. It still has its flaws like the overall threats involved in the lawsuits, but it would be preferable for universities to have an option rather than be forced into action by loss of funding and legal issues. This article also provides the opinion of the University of Wisconsin and presents how they are handling the RIAA’s pressure differently from most other institutions. The University of Wisconsin's position could be helpful in contrasting university policies.
RIAA v. U: The state of file-sharing on campus
This article discusses the actions taken by Missouri’s University of Science and Technology. The University decided to make a quiz on the effects and legal issues of peer-to-peer file sharing pop up on a student's computer screen if they attempt to make an illegal download. This way, the students cannot claim ignorance if they are able to pass the quiz and remove the block on their downloading and are informed of the consequences of their actions. “Be Aware Your Uploading” or BAYU is given as another option for giving students the information they need to avoid ‘accidental downloading’. It acknowledges the fact that not all students are technologically savvy and know exactly what they are doing on the internet. BAYU gives students a warning that they are downloading illegally before they complete the download. The article also discusses the policies adopted by Stanford, Ohio University, University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Minnesota. The article then states the positions of IT’s and Educause (the group that represents the IT’s) as having serious problems with both the RIAA and total blocking of peer-to-peer. Mainly because the IT’s, like most who work with students, care about the students' education and the internet's role in education has been greatly increasing. The next section of the article provides information regarding how much university students are actually involved in file sharing, and the likelihood that colleges are not actually facilitating this illegal behavior. It claims that the file sharing would start anew each year with the incoming freshman class because of high school experience with downloading.
The article provides valuable information for my question of how universities are handling the RIAA’s increasing demands to impede file sharing. It presents the differing actions and policies implemented by universities, such as BAYU and the pop quizzes before downloading takes place. These different courses taken by the different universities could support my argument that it would be best for universities to provide information for students. The universities’ policies give examples and possible options for file sharing on campuses to be controlled without putting universities against their students.
NOTE: This article is difficult to find on Lexis-Nexis. Do a powersearch and specify "Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology" as your source.
This is a journal article by a man named Daniel Reynolds who attends the University of Minnesota Law School. The article appeared in the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, and Technology. The article gives background information about RIAA lawsuits, and proposes solutions to the file-sharing problem. The author says that the RIAA believes the lawsuits are necessary to make people respect copyrights and deter them from sharing files. The problem with this reasoning, however, is the actual result of the lawsuits. Since 2003, the number of people using file-sharing networks has more than doubled, and there have been 26,000 suits since then. The author continues by discussing the amount the file-sharers are asked to pay for a settlement. The RIAA can claim “statutory damages,” and demand $750 per song. Nearly all of the file-sharers settle, however, because legal fees are so high. A single mother named Jammie Thomas was sued for sharing files, and because the RIAA believed she did it willfully, they asked for $9,000 per song, totaling $222,000. The author believes that the RIAA is alienating the demographic they sell to with these expensive lawsuits.
The author proposes a few solutions to the file-sharing problem. First of all, he says that the government could change copyright law to make copyrights last for shorter periods of time, making less songs illegal to share. Secondly, he suggests that part of the P2P programs’ fees could be paid to the RIAA, along with part of the money paid for computers or blank CDs. These levies would be enforced if the RIAA guaranteed they would stop filing lawsuits. Lastly, the author suggests large-scale music licensing.
This article was helpful in many ways to my research. It shows that the file-sharing suits are ineffective, the settlements are unfair, and that a solution is needed. The lawsuits are simply not working to prevent file-sharing, and there are statistics to prove this. If the number of file-sharers hasn’t gone down, it seems clear that the RIAA isn’t trying to solve a problem, it is just trying to take money from students and other individuals. Secondly, charging $750 per song is absolutely ridiculous. These songs can be downloaded on iTunes for 99 cents, and it seems like these exorbitantly expensive settlement amounts are completely arbitrary. The RIAA is only angering the people it wants to sell music to, and needs a new approach.
I don’t think the government should place levies on things like computers and CDs to be paid to the RIAA, because not all people use these things for illegal purposes, and I don’t think copyright law needs to be changed. I think the best solution is large-scale licensing, like the author suggests. Here at Penn, the university has tried to prevent file sharing by giving students free access to Ruckus, a program that gives students access to many copyrighted songs. The problem with this solution is that Ruckus is not compatible with Macs, and the songs cannot be downloaded to mp3 players like iPods (without paying an additional $20 a semester). If universities offered programs like Ruckus that were compatible with all computer types, and paid the extra fees so students could play music on their iPods, there would be no incentive to download music illegally. I think this would be the best solution even though it would be expensive for the university. After all, we are paying the university tens of thousands of dollars per semester...
This is a court decision from the US District Court for the District of Maine. It was made on January 25, 2008. In the case, the RIAA sued 27 University of Maine students for copyright infringement, because of their use of the Gnutella file-sharing network. 9 of the students, referred to as “Does,” moved to dismiss the complaint, but in this decision the court rejected the motion. The court said that infringement consists of, “..downloading and distribution of copyrighted sound recordings,” and that “…record companies have the exclusive right to reproduce [the recordings].” Lastly, the court said that the students’ infringement was “willful,” and, “intentional.”
In the decision, the court explained how the RIAA discovered that these students were sharing files. It was explained that the RIAA hired a private company called MediaSentry to log onto the file-sharing network, and download music files from students who were sharing them. MediaSentry then gave the RIAA the students’ IP addresses and the files in question. The RIAA reviewed the list of files being shared to see if they were actually copyrighted material, and then listened to them to verify this. After this determination, the RIAA gave the IP addresses to the University of Maine and asked them to identify the students. The students were sharing from 81-2903 copyrighted files.
Learning exactly how the RIAA identifies infringers was extremely important to my paper. This case explains each step in the process of deciding to file the lawsuit, and what the RIAA’s definition of infringement is. These details allow me to make a judgement of whether or not I think the lawsuits are fair, which is one of the main discussions of my paper.
First of all, simply reproducing a copyrighted work should not be considered copyright infringement. If a person legally purchases a CD, and wants to copy the files to his or her computer, he or she should definitely be allowed to. If the user does not distribute these files, I don’t believe he or she is breaking the law. Secondly, once these files are being shared on a P2P network, the RIAA claims that they listen to every song to verify that it is indeed copyrighted material, but I question whether or not that is true. After reviewing thousands of file names, does the RIAA really take the time to listen to every single song?
Based on the RIAA’s process of finding infringers, it seems that people are getting caught for making files available on a P2P network, but not for actually downloading copyrighted files. For example, if I downloaded a thousand songs and took them out of my shared folder, the RIAA would not be able to discover my actions. Therefore, the people who upload files are considered criminals, but those who download and steal them are not necessarily prosecuted.
The students being sued had from 81-2903 shared music files, and this makes me wonder how these specific 29 students were chosen. Certainly there were other infringers who had more than 81 songs. Assuming this is true, the RIAA gives no reason why these individuals were chosen. It seems that the RIAA is suing people randomly, which isn’t a fair way to file lawsuits. There needs to be more specific criteria.
NOTE: This article is difficult to find on Lexis-Nexis. You must do a powersearch and specify "UCLA Entertainment Law Review" as your source.
This is a journal article in the UCLA Entertainment Law Review. The article is by Kristy Wiehe, the Editor-in-Chief of the journal. This article examines how the RIAA uses copyright law to sue individuals, and whether or not the RIAA’s interpretation of the law is correct. The author first describes how P2P file-sharing programs work, explaining that most of them scan the user’s computer for media files, and place these files in a “shared” folder that is uploaded to the P2P network. When the files are uploaded to the network, the user is making the files available for other users to download. The RIAA claims that if these files are copyrighted material, then this “making available” is defined as copyright infringement. In the Napster case in 2001, the court agreed with the RIAA’s view. The author, however, disagrees with the RIAA’s interpretation of the law. She contends that copyright law says it is illegal to distribute copies in the form of material objects to the public, and that the RIAA should have to prove that an actual transfer of the copyrighted material took place from one user to another. Parts of copyright law are quoted in the article to make this point. She believes that without a definitive “transfer of ownership,” the RIAA should not be able to sue someone. The RIAA believes that the “making available” of files is considered distribution, and this is the fundamental disagreement between the RIAA and the author.
In addition, the author compares the use of these lawsuits to stop file-sharing to an “effort to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic.” The problem is so large that suing a few individuals will most likely not fix it. The solution proposed in the article is for the record companies to make it “economically rational” for consumers to pay for music files instead of downloading them illegally. She suggests pricing that asymptotically approaches zero as the number of songs purchased increases. Therefore, if a person downloads thousands of songs, they won’t have to make extremely high payments.
I strongly agree with the author’s interpretation of copyright law, and I believe that the record companies should have to present more proof than a file being in a “shared folder” in order to file a lawsuit. Also, the P2P programs should eliminate their scanning programs because there is a significant chance that they could incriminate an unknowing person who has legally obtained copyrighted work and stored it on his or her computer. Proof of a transfer should be necessary for a lawsuit, and it is also questionable whether or not an mp3 file is a “material object.” People are being sued without concrete proof of infringement, and the RIAA needs to be stopped from abusing the law to gain money. This argument will be part of my contention that these suits are unfair.
The author’s suggested business solution may be unfair to the record companies, but these companies certainly need to focus on making large-scale changes to their sales techniques.
This is a newspaper article by Amy Brittain that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor on June 18, 2007. The article provides basic statistics about the RIAA’s file sharing lawsuits, makes an argument in support of the RIAA, and gives examples of solutions being implemented at some universities. The article says that since 1999, physical music sales have declined 30 percent, and that two-thirds of college students’ music was illegally obtained. Recording companies have suffered millions of dollars in losses, and the author reminds us that, “For every one Justin Timberlake, there are hundreds of sound-technicians, backup singers, and retail workers who are hurt by illegal downloading.” As a result of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in 1998, universities are protected from file-sharing lawsuits, and this is why individual students are being sued.
Some universities have tried to solve the problem by forcing students to install programs that block the use of P2P programs, and others have started to use campus-wide filters that “stop the flow” of copyrighted material.
This article is important to my paper because it gives examples of possible solutions that, in my opinion, are completely unfair to the students. These solutions are the exact WRONG way to solve the file-sharing problem. Blocking P2P programs is unfair because they can be used in many legal ways. Students should be allowed to share non-copyrighted material over the internet as much as they please. That is one of the basic functions of the internet. This right should not be taken away because the RIAA is unhappy. Also, where would these types of restrictions end? Would universities eventually block email programs because copyrighted music files can be distributed by email? Filters that block the distribution of copyrighted material are a better idea. But what if the student has a fair use for the copyrighted material? Shouldn’t he or she have access to this material to use in projects or presentations for media studies classes?
This article’s argument in favor of the RIAA goes against my thesis, but it does make sense. There are many people who are hurt by copyright infringement, which is unfortunate, but a FAIR solution must be implemented to help these people.
This is the defendant’s opposition to the plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss the counterclaims in the case of Sony BMG Music Entertainment et al. v. Joel Tenenbaum. Joel Tenenbaum was sued by the RIAA for copyright infringement, and Charles Nesson, his attorney, filed a countersuit against the RIAA for abusing the court system. The RIAA wanted to dismiss the counterclaims, and this is Nesson’s defense.
Nesson believes that the RIAA is trying to “…punish him (Tenenbaum) beyond any rational measure of the damage he allegedly caused.” He believes that the RIAA is trying to FRIGHTEN the public, and its not actually seeking legitimate damages. This intimidation is an abuse of the law. Tenenbaum only shared 7 copyrighted songs illegally. Nesson is challenging the constitutionality of the process, saying that due process of law is being neglected because of the “grossly excessive” statutory damages (a minimum of $750 per song with a potential maximum of $150,000). He believes that Joel’s case should be tried in a criminal court, giving him a trial by jury. He worries that the courts are giving “excessive prosecutorial power to private hands,” and compares the situation to hundred thousand dollar speeding tickets being given by self -interested police officers. He reminds the court that Joel acted with no malice and made no profit, and wonders, “Is the law just the grind of a statutory machine to be carried out by judge and jury as cogs in the machine, or do judge and jury claim the right and duty and power of constitution and conscience to do justice?”
Basically, the RIAA is just trying to scare people away from file sharing networks, and their lawsuits are unfair because no one can challenge them without facing extremely high costs. The RIAA and the courts are exploiting the public, and they must be challenged. Laws made by lobbyist influence are allowing the RIAA to act as a bully, and all of these defendants deserve due process of law (a constitutional right by the 14th amendment). These are criminal matters, and they should not be tried in civil courts. I believe that the court needs to sit back and examine the whole situation, and hopefully realize that an abuse of power is taking place. My paper will use these points to define the RIAA lawsuits as completely unfair. Hopefully someday the courts will prevent the RIAA from filing blatantly unfair lawsuits that are extremely difficult to fight, and with Nesson at the forefront of the battle, that day could come soon.
This is a document called RIAA v. The People: Two Years Later, which is on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website. It was written in 2005, which is two years after the file sharing lawsuits started. The article provides information about the legality of the lawsuits along with their results, and it also shares personal stories about individuals who have been sued. One interesting note is that the RIAA used to offer amnesty to anyone who deleted their copyrighted files and signed an agreement to stop file sharing, but some of these people were sued anyway. The RIAA was sued for false advertising.
The EFF wants the public to know that the people being sued are chosen randomly, and there is no end in sight to the flood of lawsuits. The lawsuits have not worked at all, and “Today, downloading from P2P networks is more popular than ever, despite the widespread public awareness of the lawsuits.” The number of P2P users increases every month. 89 percent of high school students reported that they knew file-sharing was against the law, and that they would continue doing it anyway. The EFF suggests cutting the prices of songs on iTunes (because there are 35 times as many songs downloaded illegally as there are downloaded on iTunes), or having the record companies collectively license music to individuals for a flat fee of around five dollars a month.
The EFF shares the stories of many people who have been sued and are in terrible financial situations, to elicit the sympathy of the public. For example, a 71 year-old grandfather was sued, along with a 12 year-old girl who had a single mother.
This document is extremely useful to my argument because it provides statistical evidence that the lawsuits have not slowed down file sharing, which was their goal. The RIAA wanted to use the lawsuits to educate people, but people clearly don’t care about the legality of their downloading. P2P programs are extremely easy to design, and even if they add filters to the popular ones, other unfiltered applications will be created eventually. The RIAA needs to take drastic action in the form of large-scale licensing, or their problems will never be solved.
While I agree with the EFF on most accounts, I strongly disagree with their use of sob-stories to promote their views. It is unfortunate that some people with very little income were sued by the RIAA, but a person’s financial situation should not affect whether or not they are sued. If the RIAA is going to file lawsuits, they should sue the users with the most copyrighted material, regardless of their income. The whole strategy of using lawsuits to stop file sharing, however, just doesn’t seem like it will ever work. And hopefully, ISPs and universities will do their best to protect the identities of their users.
This is a journal article in a journal called Popular Music, and it is by Eamonn Forde. It was written in 2004. This article gives information about the state of file-sharing in 2004, and explains that record companies shouldn’t worry so much about it. The article’s argument is that record companies will still be able to sell a large amount of CDs despite file sharing, and that there are other forms of media from which they can profit.
The film and TV industries are also becoming upset about the use of P2P networks to share files, because many of them are video files. In other countries, the government has tried to help these industries with the use of levies. In Germany, there are levies on PCs and CD-Rs that go to record companies. And all over the world, record companies are flooding P2P networks with fake versions of songs to frustrate the users. This is called “spoofing.”
I doubt the “spoofing” tactic works very well, and the levy idea seems unfair to the consumer, who would be forced to pay higher prices for goods. This article is important to my research because it suggests it might be best for the record companies to ignore P2P file-sharing. In France, CD sales have been going up by 5 percent every year, and they also have P2P networks. It is possible that the record companies may just need more creative marketing schemes to attract more customers. Also, they need to take advantage of the market for music on cell phones, because that market is less likely to be affected by file sharing. As the author says, “Online delivery is not the death knell for record companies. It should be seen, ideally, as the wake up call they so dearly needed.” If record sales are still increasing in countries that face the same file-sharing problems, American record companies need to try to emulate some of these other companies’ strategies. They claim that their lawsuits are necessary, but maybe if they are more creative, they can avoid angering their customers and causing additional damage to their industry.