RIAA and DMCA madness

The RIAA has struck again, this time suing a family that has no computer and no internet connection. When told of the lawsuit, James Walls said he was unaware of the lawsuit since he had not been served yet – he asked, "How can they sue us if we don’t even have a computer?"

The RIAA has struck again, this time suing a family that has no computer and no internet connection.  The federal lawsuit was filed in Rome, Georgia against a family in Rockmart, GA. The RIAA charges that the Walls family infringed on copyrighted recordings by file sharing on the internet. When told of the lawsuit, James Walls said he was unaware of the lawsuit since he had not been served yet -- he asked, "How can they sue us if we don't even have a computer?"

Indeed. You can read the report here at KNAC.com, via Techdirt. The Techdirt article says the family did own a computer for about 2 months but it was over a year ago. Carma Walls admits to downloading a some songs.  Apparently the RIAA lawsuit alleges the Walls continue to use file sharing applications, but how they manage to do that without a computer is beyond me. I'm no fan of file sharing, never used it, but I detest the RIAA's heavy handed tactics. I'm hoping the RIAA will be their own undoing someday.

In other news, the Inquirer and CNET are reporting that a proposed law would make just *knowing how* to bypass copy protection illegal. The proposed legislation is endorsed by the RIAA, among others. I guess that should come as no surprise.  Declan McCullagh's write up at CNET has a good breakdown of the proposed legislation. Excerpt:

The 24-page bill is a far-reaching medley of different proposals cobbled together. One would, for instance, create a new federal crime of just trying to commit copyright infringement. Such willful attempts at piracy, even if they fail, could be punished by up to 10 years in prison.

Does that mean if I download a song from iTunes, burn it to a CD, then rip the CD to my computer as a WMA or MP3 file so I can load it on my Creative MP3 player I might go to prison for 10 years? Oh, wait. I don't have to actually do it, just attempt to do it. Sheesh. How about if I just think about doing it?  Can the RIAA and DMCA regulate my thoughts, too?

I think this legislation is leading down a treacherous road, and the folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) seem to think so, too. You might have heard about the dog that had his chain shortened one link at the time, every few days, until his chain was so short he could barely move. The dog never resisted because he was conditioned to the loss of his freedom slowly over a period of time.  Are we in this country becoming like the dog?

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