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RIAA Lawsuits from a John Doe's Perspective 629

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the through-the-wringer dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Nick Mamatas was sued by and subsequently settled with the RIAA for file sharing. He wrote a piece for the Village Voice describing his experience, and he goes on to briefly discuss the implications of "John Doe" file-sharing lawsuits. He argues that the labels are using these suits as a source of profit; he also claims that when his lawyer contacted the RIAA to discuss the suit, he was put in touch with a regular staffer, not another lawyer. 'It feels like they're doing a volume business,' Mamatas' lawyer notes."
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RIAA Lawsuits from a John Doe's Perspective

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  • The RIAA (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tobias.Davis (844594) <tobias.davis@gRE ... com minus distro> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:11PM (#11906403) Homepage
    The RIAA is to America what GNAA is to Slashdot
    • Re:The RIAA (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The RIAA is to America what GNAA is to Slashdot

      I never realised that a business association of music monopolists who get custom laws written and sue people had so much in common with a bunch of white middle class nerds who troll slashdot pretending to be gay black guys. Well, you learn something new every day.
      • Re:The RIAA (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You just perfectly described the recording industry's approach to rap music :-)
    • Re:The RIAA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday March 11, 2005 @12:07AM (#11907103)
      I say to you that the RIAA is to the American music afficinado and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.
    • Re:The RIAA (Score:5, Funny)

      by EvilNTUser (573674) on Friday March 11, 2005 @06:21AM (#11908480)

      " The RIAA is to America what GNAA is to Slashdot"

      Not really, the GNAA trolls are sometimes creative and entertaining.

  • by Stick_Fig (740331) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:13PM (#11906413) Homepage
    Hey, at least they're doing something they're good at.

    Just think, if the lawsuits decrease, record execs will suddenly whine, "OH WE ARE STARVING, WE SUED EVERYBODY! HELP US ORRIN!"
  • Shareholder Profit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:15PM (#11906423)
    Perhaps companies need to declare their extraordinary profit in shareholder reports due to pursuing 'legal avenues'.
  • by chaffed (672859) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:15PM (#11906425) Homepage
    Your friendly and conveniently located RIAA offices are here to take your extor... settlements. Just stop into one of our many locations.

    We are also accepting unsolicited settlements. If you feel guilty about steeling from the table of our hard working label execs just drop by and we'll settle everything.

    • Your friendly and conveniently located RIAA offices are here to take your extor... settlements.

      Maybe they can set up drive-thrus.

      Instead of a Jack-In-The-Box clown, we can have giant, glowing plastic heads of Ashlee Simpson, 50 Cent or Shania Twain.

      Ha! That's silly of me!

      People don't even download Ashlee Simpson songs for free.

      I wonder if a giant, glowing head of Ted Nugent is a sign of the End Times. You could pay your fine and buy some ammo at the same time.

  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:16PM (#11906429)
    Let's see.. 1700 times a minimum of 3000 dollars... 5.1 MILLION DOLLARS! Not too shabby, HUH? And I'll bet that the artists and performers never see a single cent of it!
    • by Orcspit (600792) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:23PM (#11906482)
      Hmm, Dollar a song at iTunes, Author of the article had about 2500 songs downloaded. Sounds like you might as well just download all the songs now and take your chances, pay RIAA later. Saves you from having to go through all the trouble of paying for iTunes.
      • by cdrudge (68377) *
        Except for the fact that if/when you get sued and fork over your $3,000, your out the money AND the songs. When you buy them legally, you are only out the money.
    • Nono, this stops piracy which in turn drives sales of cds which creates more revenue which means the RIAA can drop their % on contracts. Right?
    • by jspoon (585173) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:29PM (#11906530)
      And I'll bet that the artists and performers never see a single cent of it!

      From what I've read of their contracts with artists, the RIAA is probably charging them for the privilege.

  • by sabernet (751826) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:16PM (#11906437) Homepage
    Man, that article has opened my eyes. I never would have guessed all these lawsuits were used to generate profit for the cartel.

    -----

    I'll file this under "duh".

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:16PM (#11906438)
    A few companies started settling instead of fighting frivilous lawsuits. Now it's the primary source of income for some law firms, and its side effects are a measurable drain on the economy.

    So will society let this one spin horribly out of control until it is a vast, pathetic cataclysm of Brobdingian proportions, that makes strong men weep, strong women faint and baby Jesus cry?

    Of course we will. The question was rhetorical.

  • by mark-t (151149) <`markt' `at' `lynx.bc.ca'> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:18PM (#11906453) Journal
    It doesn't matter if they are just using the lawsuits as a revenue stream.

    Copyright infringement is against the law, and I have absolutely _no_ sympathy for people who think that because it's just a "little crime" there should be just a "little penalty". That's nothing more than a bunch of handwaving to rationalize the criminal activity in the first place.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      What about the people who aren't guilty but can't afford to defend themselves? We have no idea how many defendents are criminals and how many the RIAA are simply extorting.
      • Name one case (in copyright matters) where it was "extortion".

        Just one... where the person facing fines wasn't committing copyright infringement in the first place.

        Otherwise you're just grasping at straws.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Since they never go to court, we'll never know.

          WHy do you think the RIAA targets grandmothers and little girls? Because they know that THEY won't fight it in court - they CAN'T. The RIAA will never sue someone who will likely make them look stupid in court.
    • by $exyNerdie (683214) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:23PM (#11906485) Homepage Journal
      Copyright infringement is against the law

      Laws are to be for the benefit of people. These days, if you are rich and can have a government official elected by generous donations, media exposure, etc., you can get laws passed that might benefit you more than the public...

      • by $exyNerdie (683214) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:25PM (#11906502) Homepage Journal
        Here you go (on the laws being passed for businesses):

        http://www.cnn.com/2005/ALLPOLITICS/03/09/bankrupt cy.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

      • by gkuz (706134)
        These days, if you are rich and can have a government official elected by generous donations, media exposure, etc., you can get laws passed that might benefit you more than the public...

        "These days"? Read some history, dammit. It's been this way in the US of A for at least 150 years. Ever hear of Jay Gould? Andrew Carnegie? This ignorant ahistorical whining is getting really annoying.

      • I am "the people".

        I respect copyright law not only because it _is_ the law, but because I respect the reasons for it.

        I'm entitled to my opinion... and as it just so happens, in this case, the law happens to coincide with my opinion.

        • by Sancho (17056) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:41PM (#11906614) Homepage
          I stopped "respecting" copyright when they stopped sharing it back with the public. Remember that bit? Copyright is supposed to be a limited monopoly, but large copyright owners such as Disney keep pushing it back by purchasing new laws. And it's even been held up in court.

          No, I don't download because I don't want to get sued. But I can't accept copyright as it exists today.
          • I don't agree with that aspect of the law either, but that's not at issue here because works whose copyright would have expired by now are not typically works that people commit copyright infringement with.
          • by Anonymous Coward
            Yup... as soon as mickey mouse becomes public domain, ill stop downloading.

            I really dont see what the big deal is there, it's not like they have actually used mickey in a cartoon or movie within the last 30 or 40 years. He is nothing more than a corporate logo these days.

            As long as there is no corporate respect for public domain, I shall have no respect for corporate copyrights.
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:37PM (#11906581) Homepage Journal
      It's not criminal activity. It's a civil dispute between citizens. The fact that there are *any* criminal copyright laws in your country (if there are) is a result of out and out corruption. Get a grip.
  • When will the horror end?

    No, seriously, when will it end? I'd like to know.

    By the way, bassist/co-songwriter/co-singer.

  • Proof? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Seumas (6865) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:22PM (#11906475)
    First, is it just me or does that article come across as if part of his settlement entailed him promising to use his public position to author a "scare-em-straight" article?

    Second, why aren't people going to court over these lawsuits? I don't see why you would even need a lawyer. Just go to court and say "I didn't do anything illegal. Show me proof beyond a reasonable doubt that I did."

    I mean, other than a record company CLAIMING that someone at some IP address was sharing certain songs, what proof is there? If something goes missing from my garage, I can't just point a finger at a neighbor and tell the judge "no, I KNOW he took it - I saw it!". You have to have more proof than that. Something unbiased and irrefutable, preferably from an independant party.

    Short of confiscating your computer, finding an installed P2P application ACTUALLY RUNNING AT THE TIME, with a configured shared directory full of copyrighted songs that you are not legally licensed to distribute and your software is actively serving them to active downloaders at the time that it is being viewed by a judge - what proof is there?
    • Re:Proof? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BoneThugND (766436) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:28PM (#11906526) Homepage Journal
      This isn't criminal law. In a tort case, they don't have to prove it 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' They have to prove it 'based on a preponderance of the evidence.'

      Which basically means, if the judge and/or jury thinks it's more likely you committed the tort than not, they can force you to pay damages.

    • Re:Proof? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tekiegreg (674773) *
      Show me proof beyond a reasonable doubt that I did."

      Therein lies the problem, you did nothing illegal. This is a civil case and not a criminal one. Reasonable doubt is not the standard here. Basically you're looking at a "Preponderance of the evidence". Basically the judge listens to you, then the RIAA and decides who sounds better. So if the RIAA has anything better than "you did it", you better be just as well prepared and then some...
  • by x757x (674442) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:22PM (#11906478) Homepage
    its a civil suit judgement, correct? I had one from 1998. I did not pay it, no big deal. It is not the court's responsibility to force you to pay. (at least not where I live). its "on" my credit report, but i have never been turned down for anything since then, (have a very nice credit score actually) and it will get removed soon. I actually called the lawyer representing the person that sued me one day, and asked him about it (thats mostly what he does for a living). He said a good percentage of the judgements he wins never get payed, as there is no way to force the loser to cooperate. Maybe its different in other states? If I lost the case, I would basically be like kiss my ass RIAA.
    • I've heard that in many states, you can go to court again for non-payment, then the court can order the local sheriff to go with you to the defendant's property to start confiscating stuff for auction until the dept is paid. Although I don't know if this works for just businesses or individuals too.
      • by Jhon (241832) * on Thursday March 10, 2005 @11:01PM (#11906745) Homepage Journal
        Laws are different from state to state, but several years ago I won a case against someone (~$5000). I immediately put a lean on his real property (which was tied up because he was in the middle of a divorce).

        Granted, not everyone HAS property, but it doesn't cost a lot to find out.

        Took a number of years, but I finally got my money when he sold his house +10% a year interest. What was funny were the calls 5 or 6 months before I got my money -- him wanting to "settle" with me for a few hundred, then a thousand, then a few thousand, then the original amount... Bah. He never did found out how all his creditors knew he had title on some real property in my state... They got all their money, too... (heh)
    • That's fine if you're a renter, but if you are a homeowner they can put a lien on your house and get the money when you sell. If you fit that description, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when you move. I would check with your county recorder's office if I were you to see if this is the case.
    • by The Tyro (247333) *
      if you're living from paycheck to paycheck and don't have any tangible assets they can attach, you're basically scott-free. As the saying goes, "you can't get blood out of a stone."

      However, the moment you OWN something, whether it's a house, car, whatever, you become vulnerable to having a lein placed against it. Those leins MUST be settled if you ever sell the item... or you cannot sell it. They can try to attach your wages, but unless you've got a government job, that can be hard to do.

      One of my empl
  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:23PM (#11906483)
    RIAA Bastards (Sung to the tune of "Radio Ga Ga" by Queen)

    I sit alone and watch the lights, on my PC for several nights. And ev'rything I want to load, I find it on the net, you know

    You gave us all those boyband stars. Their CD price -- a total farce. You made 'em sing - which made us cry. We just want all those bands to die

    RIAA

    You'll just become some background noise, suing groups of girls and boys, who just don't know and just don't care, about your new idea of "fair"
    You had your time, you've had the power. You're going to have your final hour

    RIAA

    All we hear is, RIAA bastards, RIAA sue you, RIAA wankers.
    All we hear is, RIAA retards, RIAA blah blah
    Peer to peer is new. RIAA no one now needs you!

    We taped CDs - we dubbed the stars, off radio for hours and hours. Now we swap files amongst our peers, The tech just changes through the years

    Let's hope you leave 'cause you're no friend. Like all good things they come to an end. Don't stick around, as we won't miss you. We're growing tired of all your bullshit
    You had your time, you've had the power. You're going to have your final hour

    RIAA

    All we hear is, RIAA bastards, RIAA screw you, RIAA smacktards.
    All we hear is, RIAA wankers, RIAA losers, RIAA ha ha.
    All we hear is, RIAA retards, RIAA blah blah
    Peer to Peer is new. RIAA, no one now needs you!

    RIAA bastards, RIAA bastards, RIAA bastards
    RIAA

    You had your time you've had the power. You're going to have your final hour
    RIAA

  • by zymano (581466) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:25PM (#11906503)
    It's called the LIBRARY. I know they don't have all the movies or songs but that could change with a little more funding. If we could also 'UNITE' the libraries through internet networking then we could also download or the library could download hard to find movies or songs.

    One point on the Riaa lawsuits . Is it really like breaking into BEST BUY and stealing CDs' and movies ? Aren't these MP3's,Camcorder tapings, Divix, AVI and Mpegs just average to bad copies. If so then how could it be counted as theft ? Shouldn't there be a consideration to quality. Wouldn't you equate this to recording RADIO with tape ?
  • Huh? Okaay. Damn pirates...they deserve what they get.

    Now what's this with Martha Stewart and her lemons and donuts? Poor gal, she's suffered so much...

    Man, this Michael Jackson guy trial really rocks ass...what'll they think of next.

    et al...

    [/sarcasm]

    Nobody cares for the real news any more.

  • by negative3 (836451)
    I still can't understand how "We're losing money" is the same as "We're not making as much money as we think we should".
  • by waynegoode (758645) * on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:29PM (#11906527) Homepage
    What is his complaint?

    Is he upset that he got sued? That it was filed as a John Doe suit? He admits in the article he broke the law, so I don't think he has the right to complain.

    Is he upset that his lawyer (whom he did not pay) did not get to speak to lawyer at the RIAA? Doesn't the RIAA have the right to handle their case the way they want do?

    Is he upset they sued a lot of people at the same time as him? If it's illegal, say so and fight it. If the other people aren't guilty, let them complain. Otherwise, it sounds like an acceptable legal tactic to me.

    Yes, the RIAA has done some things wrong in handling these cases. Originally, they were requesting information without a filing a suit, but they have changed that. Also, they have sued some innocent people, but the writer admits he is not one of those.

    He was caught with his hand in the cookie jar and doesn't like it. Well, sorry. If he did not want to be sued and pay up he should have not violated the law. He, like everyone else, must face the consequences of their actions.

    I don't like the way the RIAA is reacting to digital music, but that does not give me the right to steal music. If you don't think someone is offering their music fairly, then boycott them. That is a time-honored legal method of protesting.

    Calling downloading "civil disobedience" is an insult to those, like the civil rights protesters and the protesters in Tiananmen Square, who have used civil disobedience to try to right the wrongs of society. File sharing is stealing to avoid paying the cost, not civil disobedience--it directly benefits the protester. Civil rights protesters did not directly benefit from their protests. The only thing they got was a change in the laws--the whole point of their protest..

    If you steal music, then, as a law breaker, what right do you have to complain about the RIAA?
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:44PM (#11906631) Homepage Journal
      I believe he is upset for the same reason that a lot of people are upset: they don't like copyright law. When a large percentage of the population think a law is no good that law should be rescinded. Why don't people like copyright law? Because it's no longer a good deal. Copyright used to be a law that only affected publishers engaging in trade. They were the only ones who could copy, so they were the only ones who were affected. Now we all copy, all the time, and we don't like a law that was crafted hundreds of years ago to serve the specific purpose of restricting trade to encourage progress restricting each and every one of us.

      Unfortunately, the will of the people no longer controls the state of laws in our countries. That's why we're upset, and frankly, I think it's a pretty good reason to be.

      • I'm sorry, thats quite possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard. We want to copy music for free, so we should be allowed to? Musicians and their chosen distribution agents (the recording industry) should all find another way to make a living, but they should still provide us with the product...

        Right....

        I'm not sure if you noticed, but when you don't reward people for their efforts, they stop trying (see U.S.S.R.)

        I'm guessing you should still get paid for whatever you do however?

        • >I'm not sure if you noticed, but when you don't >reward people for their efforts, they stop trying >(see U.S.S.R.)

          Exactly whose efforts are the current copyright laws rewarding? Surely not the artists as they are getting screwed most of the time too. The RIAA perhaps? Considering their efforts consist of suing people, screwing artists, and promoting bland, homoginized crap, it might not be a bad thing if we stop rewarding their efforts.
        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday March 11, 2005 @12:18AM (#11907156)
          I'm guessing you should still get paid for whatever you do however?

          I think musicians should get paid just the way I am paid:

          I go to work, I write software for my client, he pays me for it and then I don't give a rat's ass what he does with it afterwards.

          Musicians should record their music, get a buyer or group of buyers to pay for it, give it to them and then not give a rat's ass what they does with it afterwards.
        • We want to copy music for free, so we should be allowed to?

          Seems reasonable.

          I'm not sure if you noticed, but when you don't reward people for their efforts, they stop trying (see U.S.S.R.)

          That's just a practical concern. You're saying that if people can copy music for free that there will not be any new music created.

          So it sounds to me like a compromise is in order: don't copy music for free just long enough to provide enough of a motivation to get it created, then copy it for free.

          And as it happens
    • Is he upset that his lawyer (whom he did not pay) did not get to speak to lawyer at the RIAA? Doesn't the RIAA have the right to handle their case the way they want do?

      Of course they have a right to let non-lawyer emploees handle assembling case records, fielding calls from opponent lawyers, and so on. The US has a legal right to send its troops into battle armed with nothing more than sharpened sticks and trash can lids,* but what does it say about the balance of power if we were fighting any foe where t
    • What is his complaint?

      I would guess it has something to do with personal information about him being illegally obtained by the RIAA which led directly to him losing thousands of dollars. Would you not complain? Guilt or innocence is moot when the police kick in your door without a warrant. Then again, I RTFA. I guess that's too much to expect of some folks though.

      Calling downloading "civil disobedience" is an insult to those

      Oh look, it's the thief who steals from the public domain. He's crying a

    • What is his complaint?
      • His complaint is that while the RIAA
      • claims these lawsuits are being filed to combat online filesharing the reality is that they're doing it to make money. He's not trying to say he shouldn't have gotten in trouble when he was caught. I would say he does have a ligitimate complaint about his lawyer not being able to speak to a lawyer on the RIAA's side. If they're working out a legal settlement both parties need a lawyer to protect everyone. That the RIAA doesn't seem to care e
  • Perhaps someone should stand up and refuse to settle. What did your lawyer say about your chances if you went to trial?
  • by BlastM (663010) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:30PM (#11906535) Homepage Journal
    'It feels like they're doing a volume business,' Mamatas' lawyer notes.
    Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but large-scale litigation seems to be the sign of a failing business model.

    Towards the end, SCO's business model was pretty much:
    1) Sue
    2) Sue
    3) ???
    4) Profit!
    to the point where they listed court cases among their achievements on their corporate website.

    The media indstry seems to be slowly heading in this direction. Maybe the demise of the RIAA labels / MPAA studios is imminent?
  • he goes on to breifly discuss the implications

    ;-)
  • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:37PM (#11906590) Homepage
    Most of the smaller labels out there don't seem to particularly care about file sharing. Century Media, which isn't that small, but isn't RIAA affiliated to the best of my knowledge doesn't do these kinds of suits. I guess it's because they're not so big that most of the people are just swiping free MP3s that they have no intention of buying. I have frequently downloaded metal MP3s and I go out and buy the real CD when I can find it.

    I guess it comes down to, what is the average file sharer's excuse other than "I want it, I want it now and I want it for free?" Most of the file sharing I have seen among other college students isn't obscure stuff, but top 40s type stuff. It's stuff that if you go to buy it online you can find a ton of bargains on. Not only that, but the "poor college student" excuse is bullshit. The most prolific abusers of file sharing I have seen were people that could afford to **buy** most of what they downloaded.

    I'm glad that the RIAA has cut down on its lobbying and started doing its job. The RIAA is supposed to protect artists and labels, and that's what they are doing now. New laws don't mean a damn thing unless they are so draconian that enforcement is trivial. These lawsuits are not even in the same league, let alone as some of the laws that people like Fritz Hollings have tried to foist on people.

    And you know what's amusing? This is precisely the type of copyright defense that was originally intended in America by our founders. So stop your bitching, you could be arrested by the FBI and sent to a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. People like Fritz and Orrin Hatch would love to send file sharers to prison, but the RIAA is happy with a few thousand dollars in civil liabilities which sure beats the fines you would pay in criminal court. In fact, these mass lawsuits are a drop in the bucket compared to what you could face.

    Btw, if anyone wants to shop for cheap metal, I have found http:///www.theendrecords.com to have a great online store for distributing popular and obscure stuff. It's even got free shipping in the U.S.
    • by compro01 (777531) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:49PM (#11906660)
      This is precisely the type of copyright defense that was originally intended in America by our founders


      are you trying to be funny? copyright was not intended to give basically perpetual profit to a corperation. it was originaly, what, 7 years? it's now life of artist, plus 75 years. that's 75 years that *record company* is able to sell the song exclucively at pure profit. no artist royalites.

      your copyright system is a equally screwed up as your patent system. both need a serious overhaul, soon.

    • This is precisely the type of copyright defense that was originally intended in America by our founders.

      Actually IIRC several of the "founders" didn't like the idea of copyright at all and were rather reluctant to codify it. I'd also feel pretty confident in saying they would have made copyright terms *shorter* over time and not longer and would be rather horrified at the corporate-profiteering-tool modern copyright law has become (not to mention the concept of the "corporation" as a "person").

  • Thank you DirecTV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XMyth (266414) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:38PM (#11906596) Homepage
    For forging the path to this type of lawsuits. Innocents (and the occasional crook) sued for profit . Welcome to your future America.
  • by hawkeye_82 (845771) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:39PM (#11906599) Journal
    ... when you call the RIAA now?
    "If you're being sued for file-sharing, please press 1
    If you were caught using Kazaa, press 2
    If you were caught using Morpheus, press 3
    If you would like to speak to a lawyer, press 4"
    *beep*
    "Please hold while I transfer your call to the next available legal representative."
    *listen to 5 minutes of Ashlee Simpson*
    "All our lawyers are currently suing other customers. Your money is very important to us. Please hold for the next available legal representative"
  • by AlgUSF (238240) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:40PM (#11906607) Homepage
    The RIAA is just making it "not easy" to trade files. People will still get away with it. The hard-core traders will use IRC, Gnutella, etc. These people believe in "Fair Use", and are not the average Joe-Sixpack saying "This napster thing lets me get something for free". I personally buy the CDs that I listen to, however I believe that "Fair Use" allows people to share music, whether it be online, or by letting a friend borrow your CD...
  • by Mike Kelly (864224) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:48PM (#11906652)
    Musicians are probably getting none of these funds - A lot of them would not get any royalties if this music was distributed legally 'cause their contract was signed before the advent of digital music.

    100% profit (after lawyer's fees)!

  • by scdeimos (632778) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @11:03PM (#11906761)
    From the linked article:
    "We surf peer-to-peer music networks," Jonathan Lamy of the RIAA communications office says. "We look for people who are offering songs, and if they have a substantial number of songs, we take note of all the songs they are offering for distribution and their IP addresses."
    and:
    ... the court ordered her to pay damages of $750 for each of 30 songs she was found to have downloaded illegally, ... but it is worth pointing out that damages of $750 per infringement is the minimum the RIAA could have received.

    OK, so RIAA is admitting they know exactly which songs each person they are suing has and that they are getting a minimum $750 each for them (via the court proceedings). That's way more than they could ever hope to get through conventional retail sales or download sales: but are any artists seeing any benefit from this?

    To me, it sounds like RIAA has just opened-up a new revenue stream and like it so much because they get way more income for less expenditure (ie: no royalties, manufacturing nor distribution costs).

    Are there any recording artists reading slashdot? If you get a statement breaking-down your royalties, is anything attributed to P2P litigation?

  • Buy the CDs! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FrankDrebin (238464) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @11:23PM (#11906863) Homepage
    From TFA:
    the court ordered her to pay damages of $750 for each of 30 songs she was found to have downloaded illegally, for a total of $22,500.

    If you get sued by the RIAA for downloading, why not buy the CDs and claim downloading was a convenient way to rip. Fair use of your CDs means no copyright broken. $600 is a helluva lot cheaper than $22K.

    • ...but here at least, that would not work. Fair-use copies must be made from your own copy. Copies of illegitimate works are still illegitimate regardless. And since it is very obvious that your random P2P user does not have distribution rights to offer RIAA music, I very much doubt it'll fly.

      Kjella
  • by victorvodka (597971) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @11:28PM (#11906885) Homepage
    The risk is sharing your files so it can be UPLOADED. Why does no one ever make this clear? People never get busted for downloading. It hasn't happened.
  • i'm sorry, but i will never buy digital media in my life ever again

    i haven't bought a single CD since i fired up Napster in 1999

    my formula (using eMule) for not being caught is two-fold:

    1. load your shared folder up with porn
    2.if you must download linkin park or evanescence, the kind of stuff the riaa is sniffing?:
    a. stop all of your downloads except that song you want with the most sources and the best connections
    b. suck it down in under a minute
    c. immediately get it out of your shared folder
    d. if you do it fast enough, all the porn suckers you have cultivated will flood out anyone trying to get that drop of water pop song in your sea of masking porn

    remember: the riaa only goes after those who make pop songs available, not those who download it

    and speaking of pop songs?

    i have the BEST solution for beating the riaa on that subject matter:

    i embrace world music, i let my mind wander

    currently, i'm into filipino music (i live in new york city)

    the thing to do is is to expand your musical interests to things beyond the usual pop crap, and you are also therefore using the new file sharing technology to its greatest benefit: connecting with resources that otherwise would be beyond your grasp in the pre-internet universe

    embrace world music, screw the pop crap, and you win two ways:

    1. you won't be on the riaa's radar
    2. you'll grow new brain cells as you develop an awareness of a world beyond your nation's borders, of music beyond your stupid local pop music industry

    there really is a lot of good stuff out there that isn't the usual robbie williams or christina aguilera or kylie minogue crap

    free your mind and give the bastards who want to market you sugar water the finger in the process

    and for those of you with a holier-than-thou attitude about me ripping off poor third world musicians?

    if it weren't for the filesharing networks, I WOULD NEVER BE EXPOSED TO THE ARTIST I AM LISTENING TO IN THE FIRST PLACE

    solve that quandry and get back to me with your holier than thou attitude
  • by Bodysurf (645983) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @11:35PM (#11906926)

    The **AA suing people is no different than what DirecTV [slashdot.org] has been doing [cnn.com] for a few years [directvdefense.org].

    The "problem" with these lawsuits is that it will cost you more to defend them than to settle.

    Additionally, both the **AA and DirecTV typically sue you civilly where your guilt or innocence is based on a "preponderance of the evidence" [law.com], not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That is, if their heavy-handed attorneys can make some jury full of idiots think it's 51% likely you did it, then you lose. You get no court appointed attorney and you don't get to plead the 5th ammendment without any negative inference. These **AA attorneys have these cases cookie-cuttered/boiler-plated out and don't care whether you are guilty or innocent. They care about billable hours and whether they think there is enough evidence for them to win.

    And when you lose under the DMCA, you lose big time. You not only risk hefty fines, but attorney fees that are often in the tens of thousands. Look at the PACER reports of those people who try and fight these corporations in court -- the defendent typically has one attorney while the plaintiff often has four to six attorneys on their side. Is it NO WONDER nearly everyone settles, even if they are innocent?

    So learn from the mistakes of those poor slobs, many who were innocent, but settled anyways.

    BE ANONYMOUS.

    Because if you get sued by one of the above, you always lose.

    If you are gonna do anything that even remotely has the risk of you getting targeted for a lawsuit by one of these big corporations that could care less if 10% of the people they sue are innocent, make sure there is NO WAY it can get tracked back to you.

  • Profits != illegal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by darnok (650458) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @11:42PM (#11906972)
    > Newitz says that "recent reports indicate that
    > file sharing is bigger than ever--and so are the
    > record industry's profits. As a result, it's hard
    > to see the suits as anything other than a
    > wrongheaded attempt by the old media industry to
    > push upstart innovators out of the marketplace
    > rather than working with them."

    This is a ridiculous argument.

    If the record industry is making bigger and bigger profits, that in no way obliges them to ignore illegal downloads of their product.

    Like it or not, it is their product; they *own* it. If someone starts distributing it for free, then they'd be mad not to try to stop it happening.

    For the record, I think IP laws, as exist in much of the world, are fundamentally flawed and will be substantially revised within the next several years. Business models that they encourage - companies like Eolas with no employees and no tangible assets, holding patents with ridiculous scope, capable of suing huge corporates and/or stopping development dead - doesn't benefit society at all and won't be acceptable to either individuals or major companies in the long run.

    The record companies will die out in their present form, because they can't put the genii back in the bottle now. All they've ever offered as pluses to music creators are marketing and distribution; the Internet already handles distribution better than the record companies could ever do, so all they now bring to the table is marketing.

    At this point, many established groups - the ones who generate most of the profit for music companies - think they're now big enough to do their own marketing. If these groups stand up and say "We'll do our own marketing", what does the music business have to offer them?

    Off the top of my head, the only thing I can think of is underwriting their touring costs; a really big group (think "U2") spends big dollars putting a tour together, and would probably appreciate someone else underwriting the tour and would be happy to share the profit on that basis.
  • Error (Score:5, Informative)

    by LuYu (519260) on Friday March 11, 2005 @01:15AM (#11907411) Homepage Journal

    There is an error in the article:

    "We look for people who are offering songs, and if they have a substantial number of songs, we take note of all the songs they are offering for distribution and their IP addresses." Suits are filed against the anonymous file-sharers in bulk and then the RIAA goes to court to get names and addresses from ISPs. From there, the RIAA offers downloaders a chance to settle the complaint, or they can go to court and fight it.
    It should read "uploaders" because copyright prohibits unauthorized distribution. I doubt the RIAA can even find a way to sue downloaders. It is probably impossible because there is no way to prove where a file comes from.

    However, they try to make "downloading" appear to be criminal in their ad campaigns. It is interesting how great an effect this advertising has had. Even one of their victims cannot tell the difference.

    • Looking Deeper (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LuYu (519260) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:50AM (#11908220) Homepage Journal

      Looking deeper into this article, I cannot believe Mamatas has not looked more carefully into his rights and copyrights. He basically takes and supports the RIAA and the news media's standard position: that file sharing is "stealing".

      This article needs to be put into the perspective of actual copyright law. I will attempt this below.

      Of the millions of people who illegally download free music using various peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, only about 8,400 have been sued by the recording industry--including, last month, an 83-year-old dead woman from West Virginia. Those odds seem pretty good, until it happens to you. This past October, my former Internet provider alerted me that they had been subpoenaed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on behalf of its member labels with the demand to turn over the names and addresses of 100 "John Does" that the RIAA had detected sharing music. The RIAA is now appealing an 8th Circuit Court decision, which ruled that Internet services providers don't have to reveal names of customers who have not yet been sued.

      "We surf peer-to-peer music networks," Jonathan Lamy of the RIAA communications office says. "We look for people who are offering songs, and if they have a substantial number of songs, we take note of all the songs they are offering for distribution and their IP addresses." Suits are filed against the anonymous file-sharers in bulk and then the RIAA goes to court to get names and addresses from ISPs. From there, the RIAA offers downloaders [uploaders] a chance to settle the complaint, or they can go to court and fight it.

      For me, the experience of settling with the RIAA was almost painless--except for the thousands I agreed to pay. Dragging my "shared" folder to the trash icon, promising not to download anymore [so, you cannot download service packs for Windows or updates for your computer? You cannot download purchased software? You cannot download Free Software?], and acknowledging that illegal downloading is wrongful [Interesting statement: "illegal downloading is wrongful". Unfortunately, you were not sued for downloading. You were sued for uploading. Copyright covers distribution and copying. If the RIAA were to sue you for making a copy, they would have to sue anybody with any mp3 files on any computer. In addition, they would have to sue your ISP and every ISP the file passed through because EVERY ONE of those groups made copies in violation of copyright. In effect, computers and the Internet have eliminated all possible policing of copying. That only leaves distribution to attack you with. Conclusion, you did not illegally download. You illegally allowed others to download from your computer.] were easy enough. I happened to know an intellectual-property lawyer who agreed to handle the negotiations pro bono. He was the one who called the RIAA settlement center number and spoke not to a lawyer, but to a staffer empowered and trained to negotiate. "It feels like they're doing a volume business," my lawyer told me. [And this has not made you consider filing a counter suit? Extortion is a form of theft. It is true theft because someone takes something away from you.]

      Lamy says that of the 8,400 suits filed (8,100 of which were filed against John Does) there have been about 1,700 settlements to date. The process, from detection to settlement, can take months, but its critics believe the RIAA moves far too quickly. Annalee Newitz, policy analyst for the civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the practice of suing not just a single anonymous person but dozens at a time is called "spamigation." "That's one of the slimier things that entertainment companies are doing," she says, because mass lawsuits allow "companies to sue hundreds of

  • by PGillingwater (72739) on Friday March 11, 2005 @03:01AM (#11907843) Homepage
    For those Slashdotters in Austria, here is a student newspaper [webster.ac.at] wherein a lawyer describes (on page 9 of the PDF) a recent case he defended against the RIAA's equivalent in Austria.

    The case was based on Kazaa -- the young woman was forced to pay up to 200 Euros per song for future downloads. So this type of craziness is not limited only to USA and Australia -- Central Europe is also under attack.

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