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White Paper Decries RIAA Attempts To Raise Infringement Payouts 140

Posted by Zonk
from the making-a-quick-buck dept.
Little Big Man writes "Public Knowledge, the CEA, and six other industry and public interest groups have issued a white paper critical of the attempts of the RIAA and other major copyright players to have statutory infringement levels raised. 'Noting that the courts can currently award massive statutory damages without rightsholders having to demonstrate that they have suffered any actual harm, the white paper calls current copyright law a "carefully designed compromise" meant to balance the interests of both parties ... The authors of the white paper paint a dreary future where "copyright trolls" file lawsuits in order to rake in massive amounts of statutory damages, where innovation is stifled, and where artists are afraid to "Recut, Reframe, and Recycle" because of the financial risks involved.'"
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White Paper Decries RIAA Attempts To Raise Infringement Payouts

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  • Nice idea but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:08PM (#22324790)
    A hundred whitepapers wont do much good unless you can afford to lobby a few politicians and they only deal in cash.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Speare (84249)
      We need a "-1 Cynical" (or maybe +1) moderation choice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mrxak (727974)
      It's a money war, and unfortunately every forced copyright settlement is paying politicians for the sorts of laws that make extorting people so easy. Somebody form a lobby group for shutting down the RIAA's frivolous lawsuits and I'll gladly donate money to it.
      • Re:Nice idea but... (Score:5, Informative)

        by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @05:49PM (#22326062)
        Its called the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) [eff.org] and they would be pleased to accept your tax deductible donation right now [eff.org]. I have donated money to them each year for the past three (3) years now. I think you will agree, after reviewing their website, that their lobbying efforts have been intelligent, organized, informed, and as their list of successful actions attests, surprisingly effective as well. The professional lobbyist is an inevitable and some would say unfortunate part of our democracy, but the EFF proves that it does not take a fortune to effectively agitate for positive change or resist unwelcome changes. If you can donate even fifty ($50) US dollars on a yearly basis then that would be a useful and powerful statement against the RIAA and other special interest groups who are fighting to take away and roll back your rights and carve out unwarranted new rights and protections for themselves at your expense.
      • by mpe (36238)
        It's a money war, and unfortunately every forced copyright settlement is paying politicians for the sorts of laws that make extorting people so easy.

        Maybe "they" will mess up sometime and buy a law which allows the "plebs" to extort "them". In which case they won't have time to pay politicans to do anything about repealing/altering the law in question.
    • A hundred whitepapers wont do much good unless you can afford to lobby a few politicians and they only deal in cash.

      And with the way the economy is going, it must be in euro's ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:10PM (#22324814)
    Unless whoever wrote this white paper is prepared to bribe congresmen, presidents, and government officials at the rate at which the RIAA is doing it nothing will ever change.

    Put simply, corruption and bribary are the language of American politics.
  • by Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:13PM (#22324856)
    We are in your politics killin' your business models
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Wear in ur politics killin ur biznis models If you're going to lolCat something, do it right. at least half the words have to be spelled phonetically
  • Poison Pill (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:17PM (#22324898) Journal
    Let them raise the statuatory infringement cap...
    But only if they cut copyright back to 14 years instead of life + 70 yrs.
    • by Nullav (1053766)
      14 years is just about as ridiculous as what the RIAA is proposing, the only difference is that it hurts people on the other side. Say what you will about riding a single work for a lifetime, but if someone's buying what you spent time to make, I'm sure you'd want a chunk of it, too.
      I'd rather see it reduced to ~70 years or the artist's lifetime (whichever is shorter), with (significantly) derivative works expiring at the same time. This wouldn't fix the current mess, or the dystopian future of shotgun laws
      • by jimicus (737525)
        14 years is just about as ridiculous as what the RIAA is proposing, the only difference is that it hurts people on the other side. Say what you will about riding a single work for a lifetime, but if someone's buying what you spent time to make, I'm sure you'd want a chunk of it, too.

        What you're effectively saying is that anyone who produces any sort of intellectual property which becomes sufficiently popular should receive an exception to the rule of thumb which says "keep some of your money aside and put i
    • Let them raise the statutory infringement cap...
      But only if they cut copyright back to 14 years instead of life + 70 yrs.

      They'll accept the offer, then in 13 years when there's a different Congress they'll have copyright extended again.
  • Is this misworded? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    'Noting that the courts can currently award massive statutory damages without rightsholders having to demonstrate that they have suffered any actual harm, the white paper calls current copyright law a "carefully designed compromise" meant to balance the interests of both parties

    I'm misunderstanding how the assignment of statutory damages without a demonstration, much less proof of harm can be considered in the interest of both parties.

  • by Recovering Hater (833107) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:27PM (#22325024)
    The RIAA won't be happy until they can sue someone for "100 Jillion dollars" *

    * Spoken in Dr. Evilese

    • by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:51PM (#22325312)
      In all likelihood, I believe the RIAA would prefer to make copyright infringement a capital offense.

      The executions, themselves, will be recorded (and copyrighted) and then tacked on the beginning of every DVD or future media type.

      After a few years, consumers will be able to purchase "The best of RIAA Executions" in a variety of formats (each disk or download fully protected by DRM, of course).
      • by snarkh (118018)

        Finally it would be clear what exactly the RIAA "executives" do.
      • by jimicus (737525)
        In all likelihood, I believe the RIAA would prefer to make copyright infringement a capital offense.

        I doubt it. It's rather hard to get money off a dead person.
  • Future? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:28PM (#22325046)

    The authors of the white paper paint a dreary future where "copyright trolls" file lawsuits in order to rake in massive amounts of statutory damages, where innovation is stifled, and where artists are afraid to "Recut, Reframe, and Recycle" because of the financial risks involved.'"
    Strange. That sounds remarkably similar to the dreary present.

    Copyright lawsuits to censor, intimidate, or extract cash are already fairly common. Also, the financial and legal burden to remixing content and culture is already so high that no independent artist can endure it, and most big-name outfits avoid it wherever possible.

    Welcome to the future.
  • I have a dream. I have a dream that content creators will find it easier and easier to retain the rights to their works instead of being coerced into signing them away to a 3rd party.

    If large monolithic recording companies and their associations didn't con the artists into handing over the rights to their labor in the first place, none of this would be an issue. Hopefully the industry will change and allow the artists more freedom over their work while still being able to make a living.
  • by LockeOnLogic (723968) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:30PM (#22325070)
    A late amendment to the PRO-IP would give the RIAA permission to "hold you upside down and shake out every last penny" on suspicion of copywrite infringement. Not satisfied with this development, RIAA is now pushing for a further amendment permitting cavity searches as well.
    • by jedidiah (1196)
      Someone needs to put this on a t-shirt.

      I think Lars Ulrich or James Hetfield would be the perfect
      subjects to be oversized the "troll" holding a poor media
      consumer up in the air by his leg.
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:37PM (#22325140)
    The RIAA makes perfect sense here. In response to dwindling (or flat) profits from lawsuits, they want to raise the guaranteed ROI on fewer lawsuits. Models the recording industry business practices perfectly... Rape, don't innovate.
  • The RIAA raised my infringement liberally.
  • by Shagg (99693) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:45PM (#22325246)
    Why is it that the RIAA (and I guess the MPAA too?) are able to basically have the best of both worlds with current copyright laws. They have the reduced burden of proof that a civil court gives them, but are also allowed to basically get criminal levels of punishment. If they really want to be able to financially ruin someones life for a single infringement, shouldn't they at least have to do it in criminal court with a "beyond a reasonable doubt" burden of proof.
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @04:49PM (#22325278) Journal
    ...the white paper calls current copyright law a "carefully designed compromise" meant to balance the interests of both parties

    I don't. I think copyright is WAY out of hand. Terms should be brought back to the eighteenth century's tewnty years, and no noncommercial use should be called infringing except in the case of plagairism.

    P2P is advertising and MP3s are free samples of a far better commodity.

    If copyright were reasonable, you wouldn't have folks on slashdot calling for its abolition like you do now.

    -mcgrew

    PS- I hold hundreds of copyrights, two having ISBN numbers. The two registered ones would have gone into the public domain already if I'd had my way, as they are both over 20 years old. How are you going to convince Jimi hendrix to record any more songs? That is what the US Constitution says the purpose of copyright is!
    • P2P is advertising and MP3s are free samples of a far better commodity.

      This is disingenuous. The difference between a 256kbps MP3 and an audio CD is negligible and you know it.

      The complaints about copyright--and I might add that holding copyrights does not make you an expert, though it might make you an outlier--boil down to "I can get it for free, so I want it for free."
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by cliffski (65094)
        agreed. People aren't on slashdot arguing about copyright because copyright is a problem. They are doing it because it helps them justify piracy/theft. There was no huge outcry 20 years ago about copyright terms or the penalties for infringement. In fact, I never heard anyone ever criticize anything about copyright until it became easy to download copied music and movies from the web.
        In short, the only thing thats changed is its easier to copy stuff now. People want stuff for free (big surprise!) so they tr
        • People aren't on slashdot arguing about copyright because copyright is a problem. They are doing it because it helps them justify piracy/theft. There was no huge outcry 20 years ago about copyright terms or the penalties for infringement. In fact, I never heard anyone ever criticize anything about copyright until it became easy to download copied music and movies from the web.

          Guess you weren't born early enough to hear the whining about VCRs, [wikipedia.org] were you?

          I'll gripe when any industry gets too big for its britches 'n' starts pissing on the consumer. No "piracy" excuse needed.

        • Spot on. In one way it's even worse: denying the originators (of music, or quality games like your good self) has become a moral crusade in its own right.

          This quote summed it up for me:

          "can there ever have been a more empty and worthless cause than fighting for the right for artists not to be paid?" http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/03/jammie_thomas_attorney_flees/ [theregister.co.uk]

          Which is an interesting PoV from the guy who coined the word "pigopolist".

          People used to campaign to make everyone better off, to rais

          • by russotto (537200)

            "can there ever have been a more empty and worthless cause than fighting for the right for artists not to be paid?"

            Didn't Slashdot just report about the RIAA doing just that?

            People used to campaign to make everyone better off, to raise everyone higher. Now they campaign to make talented people worse off. The anti-copyright nuts will disappear up their own backsides eventually, I just wonder how much damage they'll do before they feck off.

            Copyright's terms have been increased (Bono), its subject matter e

      • by sm62704 (957197)
        In the US, before a thing can be copyrighted it must be "affixed in tangible form". That should give a clue to one place where the insudtry has gone and is going wrong. They should NOT be selling downloads, certainly not selling them for a dollar a pop.

        Instead, downloads should be free, or at least cheap enough to discourage anyone from wanting to upload them. Instead of a dollar, a nickle or dime should be enough. If a file is on my own server the cost of letting someone download it from me is negligible.

        C
    • by shark72 (702619) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @05:10PM (#22325606)

      "P2P is advertising and MP3s are free samples of a far better commodity."

      I've purchased hundreds of MP3 and AAC tracks. Not once have I proceeded to purchase the CD version, nor have I gone to see the performer play live, or -- to use the Slashdot cliche -- "bought a t-shirt." The track was the product, not an ad. And the fact is that there are many, many consumers like me. If I could have legally gotten those MP3 files for free, then the copyright owner would have seen exactly zero money from me. Let's not pretend that MP3 files hold no value... while I acknowledge that many people reading this use P2P as their primary source for music, Apple and others have done quite well in the business of selling downloads.

      "I hold hundreds of copyrights, two having ISBN numbers. The two registered ones would have gone into the public domain already if I'd had my way, as they are both over 20 years old."

      Possibly a dumb question... if you hold the copyright, don't you have your way? Does obtaining an ISBN hamper your ability to release something into the public domain?

      I'm thinking of what Cory Doctrow has done with some of his stuff... he didn't see the need for it to be under copyright any longer, so he set it free. His stuff, too, has ISBNs, so I don't understand what the difference is here.

      • by Dusty00 (1106595)
        False analogy.

        The argument made on Slashdot, and elsewhere, is that the music is the promotional material. No promotional material is ever 100% effective. If I'm at the grocery store, get a free sample and don't purchase the product I don't feel any obligation to pay for the sample I've received.
        • by shark72 (702619)

          "The argument made on Slashdot, and elsewhere, is that the music is the promotional material. No promotional material is ever 100% effective. If I'm at the grocery store, get a free sample and don't purchase the product I don't feel any obligation to pay for the sample I've received."

          It can be promotional material. It can incite the customer to buy more music from the same artist, or do Ye Olde t-shirt and concert thing. But, any product can also be described in similar terms. Hyundai could give away ca

    • by EzInKy (115248)
      ...and no noncommercial use should be called infringing except in the case of plagairism.


      You would think this would already be the case as current copyright law stomps all over the first amendment.
    • by stubear (130454)
      Even if copyright terms were brought back to 20 years there would still be MASSIVE violations occurring on P2P networks. People don't pirate movies, music, and software that is 20+ years old, they are illegally distributing works that are barely days or weeks old. In some cases works that have yet to be publicly released wind up on P2P networks. Your advertisement argument, weak as it is, only works for music. How do you suggest movie and TV production companies make a living? TV shows are traded on P2
  • Colors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teflon_Jeff (1221290) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @05:15PM (#22325674)
    White papers aren't going to et it done, Green papers are the only way to make a change in laws.
  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @05:19PM (#22325722)

    The authors of the white paper paint a dreary future where "copyright trolls" file lawsuits in order to rake in massive amounts of statutory damages


    It's not widespread yet as a means for profit, but copyright protection laws are being already being (mis-)used to silence critics and competitors. There was the Lexmark DMCA case [techdirt.com] where they argued that a competitor's ink replacement system was a violation of the DMCA. There are the widespread Scientology claims of copyright on items they don't own, but want offline [chillingeffects.org]. In general, anyone who wants a site offline quickly [techdirt.com] can just file a DMCA claim on it You can sort out those messy perjury issues later (if they come up at all). Attach a financial reward for filing DMCA claims and suddenly copyright trolls will appear everywhere.
  • I've grown so annoyed with the virtual shoplifters on the internet who give fair use a bad name that I actually hope the RIAA will be able to hang a few of the folks with the 50,000 song collection that they got for free. But I don't think charging $150,000 per incident is the way to do it. Charge $150 and the police will be more likely to prosecute. Heck, if the police department in my town could write tickets for illicit copies, you know they would love that. They routinely write $27 tickets for inane vio
  • by Christoph (17845) <chris@cgstock.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @06:45PM (#22326626) Homepage Journal
    A corporation took a photo from my website (cgstock.com) and used it in an entire ad campaign (phone book, brochures, newspaper). I saw it, they refused to pay, then sued me for defamation when I wrote about it on my website ( http://www.cgstock.com/essays/vilana [cgstock.com] ).

    The case went to trial in federal court November 5th, 2007 (case 06-01164, District of MN -- my copyright infringement claim and multiple counterclaims over me "disparaging" them...it was a bench trial and I'm still waiting for the judge's ruling).

    I explicitly permit non-commercial use of my photos -- personal web pages, schools, etc. (I require a photo credit, but I would not sue over it). But I greatly object if you are making money from my work, you HAVE A BUDGET to pay me, but are cutting me out of the loop to inflate your profits while I'm earning nothing.

    There are excessive penalties for copyright infringement where the infringer does not seek to profit, but (speaking subjectively) I would like the corporation that stole my photos (two photos, actually), lied about it, forged evidence, and tied up in court since 2005, to pay "a billion dollars"...not just a token amount, or a few hundred. The risk of getting caught has to be a deterrent, which (for this company) it was not.

    (licensing photos largely relies on professionalism and the honor system; if a local bank tells me they are going to use my photo in 1,000 brochures, I assume they are not using it in a TV campaign, billboards, and 100,000 brochures -- if so, the damages should outweigh the benefit of lying).

    I guess this relates to the change in copyright law (to address P2P) that equated infringement without a profit motive = infringement with a profit motive.
  • I think that the artists should get 50 percent of all settlements... The RIAA of course would balk at this. But it goes with thier primary arguement that its robbing the musician of hard earned money. If artists got half of all settlements they'd be more likely to help the RIAA catch people.

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