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RIAA Victims Bring Class Action Against Kazaa 288

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Chicago, Illinois, a Kazaa customer has filed a class action against Kazaa, Lewan v. Sharman, U.S.Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill 06-cv-6736. The lead plaintiff, Catherine Lewan, was a Kazaa customer who was sued by the RIAA for her use of Kazaa, and paid a settlement to the RIAA, and she sues on behalf of others in her position. In her complaint(pdf) she alleges, among other things, that Kazaa deceptively marketed its product as allowing 'free downloads' (Complaint, par. 30); it designed the software in such a manner as to create a shared files folder and make that folder available to anyone using Kazaa, while at the same time failing to make the user aware that it had done so (Complaint, par. 36-37); and it surreptitiously installed 'spyware' on users' computers which made the shared files folder accessible to the Kazaa network even after the user had removed the Kazaa software from his or her computer (Complaint, par. 42-45)."
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RIAA Victims Bring Class Action Against Kazaa

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  • by porkThreeWays ( 895269 ) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @03:28PM (#17150298)
    It's almost as if the RIAA let her off easier if she promised she'd bring a class action suit to various P2P companies. This sort of thing has got to make the RIAA spooge on themselves and I can not imagine someone actually taking their frustration out on Kazaa without some coaching. Nice move RIAA, but I see right through it!
  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @03:29PM (#17150314) Journal

    I am going to buy a gun, completely ignorant of how to use it, and start playing around with it. If someone gets shot (including myself) I will sue the company that made it. Horray for logic!

  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Thursday December 07, 2006 @03:31PM (#17150360) Homepage Journal
    I've received at least 5 short contracts because of slashdot -- contracts that have paid at least 5 figures each.

    Almost everything I get from slashdot is worth more than the time I spend writing on it. People respond to my posts, and I use those responses to better understand various topics and items -- politics, tech, lifestyle. This is my business, so the input I gather here helps me cultivate a better product for my customers, thereby raising my income. I would say that I probably receive more out of the responses here that I would doing any continuing education or external study. Whereas most educations are antiquated and take years to catch up, slashdot is NOW and tells us about the current "geekthink." I don't think one can spend their time better if they're consultants. You'd also be shocked at how many employers read slashdot regularly, and take steps to hire those who have interesting viewpoints.

    A fool with his money is the fool that doesn't think about their return on every purchase -- whether a financial profit, emotional profit or even time-savings. For me, I receive the education and opinions of thousands. For $10 and an hour a day of time invested.
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @03:38PM (#17150482) Journal
    I'm tired of spending hours removing hidden spyware and addware from machines where someone unknowingly that crap while trying to install something else. For example, my uncle has to use a computer for work. His daughters would constantly download the app-of-the-week and every Christmas, I would spend 3-4 hours removing all that crap from his hard drive.

    Yeah-yeah, I know it may be mentioned in the license agreement, but do you guys read every license agreement that comes across your screen? Besides, if Ford put a note in the glove box of every car that said, "Vehicle will send adds to your TV set at random intervals, even after vehicle is sold." would that save them from lawsuits? Would it make you guys feel better if the government put a label on all phones saying that they might be listening?
  • by blueZhift ( 652272 ) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @03:47PM (#17150656) Homepage Journal
    I know that many here on /. have already dismissed the person filing it as stupid. But I really think this case may help test the question of whether someone's ignorance of how computers and networks work can be held up as an excuse for copyright violations, etc.. At least in the case of automobile driving, all drivers are supposed to have valid licenses which were presumably obtained after training and passing the appropriate tests. But I don't recall any such requirements to operate a computer networked to the internet. I've encountered plenty of smart people in technical and scientific fields who don't really know what they're doing on a computer. So the average Jane, might be excused for not having too much of a clue about what is really happening on the machine. Of course the judge might still throw it all out because she should have read the licenses, but generally our legal system tries not to punish people unless they are competent enough to know what they are doing is wrong. Needless to say, it isn't always successful in this.
  • by cnelzie ( 451984 ) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @03:55PM (#17150794) Homepage

    "It isn't that I refuse to learn a trade and stick to it, it is just fair to pay a living wage!"

    This last strawman argument you have made is highly disingenuous of you.

    Yes, it is fair to pay a living wage and not every single person has the opportunities to put themselves into a position for which they can begin to learn, let alone stick to a trade of some sort. Sometimes, this is simply because someone was born with less intelligence than someone else. Sometimes this is because the environment they were raised within handicapped them, with either parent's who cannot read or are simply "busy" with other things.

    A living wage allows a person the opportunity to advance him or herself and raise him or herself out of the situation he/she lives within. This is better for all of society, because it brings greater potential for people to earn more and thus purchase more expensive items, thus bringing the price of such items lower for all, while simultaneously increasing the profit margins of the manufacturers and retailers of those goods due to the economy of scale.

  • Re:Only in America. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @04:04PM (#17150930)
    The problem with the "plaintiff pays" model is that even with entirely legitimate complaints, hardly anyone would be able to risk suing a company with deep pockets. Been wronged by Behemoth Industries? Are you sure you can win the case? If you're not 100% sure, you could get stuck with several million dollars in attorneys' fees. Even if the courts were 99% accurate in their judgments, do you want to risk the 1% chance that you'll end up as a pauper for life?

    Just as an aside, you might also want to consider that your complaints about "illiterate people from the streets" would carry more weight if you used complete sentences, correct punctuation, and proper capitalization.
  • Re:Ridiculous. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @04:16PM (#17151142) Homepage

    It's more like suing your drug dealer after you go to prison for getting caught with a rock.

    A surprisingly good analogy. The only claim that really has any merit IMO is the spyware claim. Using the same analogy, can you sue your drug dealer for putting rat-poison in your drugs that wound up destroying your kidneys? I'd say yes. Sure you took the risk of being addicted to the drug and the effects of it, but the drug dealer put the rat-poison in and didn't tell you about it, therefore you didn't assume that risk.

    I don't know much about spyware in Kazaa, but if Kazaa did put in spyware that created a further risk even after un-installing the software, they could be vulnerable.
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @04:19PM (#17151200)
    Do we punish the owners of the masses of infected/infested PCs who spew out tons of email?

    We should.

    We assume that everyone understands technology and legal issues the way we do, but in fact, I would say that it is very possible (even likely) that most people don't understand the ramifications of using Kazaa.

    They should. Robert Heinlein wrote in 1949 in his short story "Gulf":

    "If the average man thinks at all, he does silly things like generalizing from a single datum. He uses one-valued logics. If he is exceptionally bright, he may use two-valued, 'either-or' logic to arrive at his wrong answers. If he is hungry, hurt, or personally interested in the answer, he can't use any sort of logic and will discard an observed fact as blithely as he will stake his life on a piece of wishful thinking. He uses the technical miracles created by superior men without wonder nor surprise, as a kitten accepts a bowl of milk. Far from aspiring to higher reasoning, he is not even aware that higher reasoning exists. He classes his own mental proccess as being of the same sort as the genius of an Einstein. Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal.
    For explanations of a universe that confuses him he seizes onto numerology, astrology, histerical religions, and other fancy ways to go crazy. Having accepted such glorified nonsense, facts make no impression on him, even at the cost of his own life. Joe, one of the hardest things to believe is the abismal depth of human stuipidity.
    That is why there is always room at the top, why a man with just a little more on the ball can so easily become governor, millionaire, or college president - and why homo sap is sure to be displaced by New Man, because there is so much room for improvement and evolution never stops.
    Here and there among ordinary men there is a rare individual who really thinks, can and does use logic in at least one field - he's often as stupid as the rest outside his study or laboratory - but he can think, if he's not disturbed or sick or frightened. This rare individual is responsible for all the progress made by the race; the others reluctantly adopt his results. Much as the ordinary man distrusts and persecutes the process of thinking he is forced to accept the results occasionally, because thinking is efficient compared with his own mauderings. He may still plant his corn in the dark of the Moon but he will plant better corn developed by better men than he.
    Still rarer is the man who thinks habitually, who applies reason, rather than habit pattern, to all his activity. Unless he masques himself, his is a dangerous life; he is regarded as queer, untrustworthy, subversive of public morals; he is a pink monkey among brown monkeys - a fatal mistake. Unless the pink monkey can brown himself before he is caught.
    The brown monkey's instinct to kill is correct; such men are dangerous to all monkey customs.
    Rarest of all is the man who can and does reason at all times, quickly, accurately, inclusively, despite hope or fear or bodily distress, without egocentric bias or thalamic disturbance, with correct memory, with clear distinction between fact, assumption, and non-fact. Such men exist, Joe; they are 'New Man' - human in all respects, indistinguishable in appearance or under the scalpel from homo sap, yet as unlike him in action as the Sun is unlike a single candle."


    "I confess to that same affection for democracy, Joe. But it's like yearning for the Santa Claus you believed as a child. For a hundred and fifty years or so democracy, or something like it, could flourish safely. The issues were such as to be settled without disaster by the votes of common men, befogged and ignorant as they were. But now, if the race is simply to stay alive, political decisions depend on real knowledge of such things as nuclear physics, planetary ecology, genetic theory, and even system mechanics. They aren't up to it, Joe. With goodness and more will than they

  • Next up. . . (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, 2006 @04:19PM (#17151212)
    Convicted shoplifters who drove off with full tanks of gasoline sue gas stations for making it so easy to steal gasoline?
  • Thank you (Score:2, Interesting)

    by don_bear_wilkinson ( 934537 ) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:16PM (#17153478)
    I just wanted to say thank you for posting that Heinlein quote. I am unaware of the referenced book and its story, but I may have to find and read it just to see more of what the character puts forth.

    As often, I find much value in what Heinlein (his characters) has/d to say. There's a cutting truth behind the opinions and attitudes he puts forth. And, for whatever truth or selfaggrandizement I find in this; I enjoy the feeling that because I understand what he is saying, there's a fair chance I am worthy of being among the elevated groups he describes and not among the dim-witted masses he lampoons. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:42PM (#17153936)
    Maybe your sister-in-law doesn't understand how downloading music is stealing because downloading music DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THEFT. It is copyright infringement, but no physical property is lost by the party being stolen from. Is it morally wrong? Probably. But it's not theft and should not be treated as such. The analogy that music is "free" on the radio isn't far from the truth. Is it not legal to make mix tapes of music recorded off the radio to give to friends? Is downloading that much different?
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @07:38PM (#17154862)
    I always thought Heinelin was an arrogant twat

    Perhaps you have only read his later works, after 1975 or so, and then I agree with you. However, the story I quoted, written in 1949, is one of the most prophetic works of science fiction ever written.

    People always complain "where is my flying car", because they don't realize that science fiction isn't about technical details, but mostly about the sociological changes brought by evolving technology. "Gulf" was a fictional story set in an indeterminate future, but actually Heinlein was writing about the quickening pace of evolution of technology in the 1940s and how people were unprepared for that reality.

    How do you like one of the lines I quoted about how "political decisions depend on real knowledge of such things as nuclear physics, planetary ecology, genetic theory"? Don't you agree that that sentence is absolutely true today? Whoever knew what "planetary ecology" was about in 1949? Heinlein was a true prophet...

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban