A must read document that cuts the RIAA down to size

A must read document that cuts the RIAA down to size

Summary: If you're like me and you're worried about the way that entertainment industry is using Digital Rights Management technology, the Digital Millenium...

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TOPICS: Legal
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If you're like me and you're worried about the way that entertainment industry is using Digital Rights Management technology, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, its lobbyists, and its lawyers to checkmate innocent people into paying copyright infringement fines that are easier to pay for than what a legal defense would cost them, here is a must read amicus curiae brief that was filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (the ACLU), and the American Association of Law Libraries in the case of Capitol Records v. Debbie Foster.  Ray Beckerman, an attorney that works with the EFF and a lawyer at a NYC-based law firm that represents people who are sued by the RIAA referred to the document as a landmark. While I can't vouch for that (I'm not sure what qualifies as a landmark and what doesn't), it certainly strips the emperor of its clothes:

When the RIAA threatens suit against an individual, it makes sure to offer her a carefully chosen sum that is substantially smaller than the legal fees required to fight the accusations, even for defendants that are completely innocent non-infringers. Faced with the threat of costly litigation to defend their names and the possibility that hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages might be wrongly assessed against them by a jury, many innocent people accept these unfair settlement offers because they cannot afford the legal costs to fight back. Wielding the threat of copyright lawsuits as a club, the RIAA has already bullied thousands of average Americans into settling.....

.....The RIAA is not only continuing to prosecute the innocent in spite of clear evidence to the contrary but also attempting to expand the scope of its copyright protections beyond what the statutes provide. This copyright “grab” stems from the plaintiffs’ erroneous theories of secondary liability in copyright law. These theories, which the RIAA knows are wrong, attempt to put parents, employers, teachers, and other internet account holders on the hook for third-party computer activities—even when the defendant has no knowledge or ability to supervise the actual alleged infringers. Because of the vast differential in resources between plaintiffs and defendants and the strict liability and statutory damages regime of copyright law, these cases often settle, sending the message that these erroneous theories are actually correct.....

....The RIAA’s driftnet litigation campaign unfairly exploits the economic position of an untold number of innocent individuals who cannot afford to defend themselves against its legal machinery. Absent the promise of an award of attorney’s fees when the copyright holder unreasonably persists, innocent defendants have little incentive to risk the turbulent and uncharted waters of a protracted legal battle.

Thanks to Slashdot for the pointer.

Topic: Legal

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15 comments
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  • "A landmark ..."

    "... amidst the turbulent and uncharted waters" of the current legal situation indeed.

    The problem with spending the money to enter uncharted legal waters is the uncertainty in the absence of even mournfully tolling buoys.

    The real landmark case must be undertaken by an organization which can afford to lose. On behalf of a real person with real losses of real property. That's essential, as observed by the losing attorney in the copyright extension case.

    Good luck to them. But here I think hope has to follow fulfillment, not precede.
    Anton Philidor
    • Here you go

      Well, it's the MPAA, but same principle:

      http://wired.com/wired/archive/14.08/start.html?pg=3
      tic swayback
  • Can you imagine ...

    ... if a computer company started to wage war against its customers? The company would be out of business in no time. There is something seriously wrong with the entertain industry, and the antidote for its ailment is greatly increased competition.
    P. Douglas
    • Actually one has ...

      SCO has sued IBM as well as two of its own customers over UNIX intellectual property -- whch SCO calims IBM has introduced into Linux. The case has been in limbo for a couple of years now and SCO faces an ever-shrinking market share.
      M Wagner
      • Yes, but ...

        That?s correct. SCO began going after its customers, and a little after that, its revenues started shrinking quickly, until it apparently stopped. But the sustained, aggressive, and fairly broad campaign by the entertainment industry, could never fly in the computer industry.
        P. Douglas
  • More Must Reads

    Thanks for the link David, two articles along similar veins:

    1) by the same author, on how the RIAA process works:
    http://info.riaalawsuits.us/howriaa.htm

    2) A layman's translation of the above:
    http://tinyurl.com/emchs
    tic swayback
  • Check this out:

    http://p2pnet.net/story/9559
    btljooz
  • The proper persepctive ...

    Thanks, David for finally putting this issue into its proper perspective. The DRM juggernaut is but a small part of the problem. It is the RIAA that is using disproportionate attacks against it's own customers. Alienating those who cannot defend themselves. Corporate interests have way too much influence in Washington, DC and the DMCA is the culminaiton of that unbridled power.
    M Wagner
  • Little Davie?s bull gored

    Yeah, it should be an ox, but get with the metaphor -- I?m innovating here. You know, innovation -- one of Little Davie?s little tin gods. The technogeek?s equivalent of ?who?ll save the children? -- and we all saw *that* South Park episode.

    So, Little Davie, I?m doing some research on the web, and I get these PDFs with total security: no printing, no extracting, no nothing. Isn?t that a violation of my fair use? Also, Word can create files that need a password to open. Rudimentary DRM at best, but still DRM. So why isn?t Little Davie storming the walls of 345 Park Avenue and 1 Microsoft Way?

    The fact is, PDFs and Word don?t inconvenience Little Davie. No, he?s only interested in the high culture of Verizon ringtones. But, Little Davie, as has been pointed out time and again, DRM doesn?t really affect anyone?s ability to capture in the analog domain, albeit with a little sacrifice of quality. Heck, if Little Davie were a serious player, he?d be opening up his PC case and picking off bits en clair at the input to his sound or video card. No, the point isn?t that DRM prevents anyone from, ah, ?repurposing ? content. It?s just that Little Davie and his ilk (bull elk?) can?t stand anybody having the temerity (L?audace! L?audace! Toujours l?audace! Oops, sorry, thought I was pre-WW1 French for a second there. Or maybe the ?Fighting Temeraire.?) to say no to them. That?s all Little Davie?s anti-DRM crusade amounts to -- somebody crossed Little Lord Fauntleroy in his Blue Boy silks, and that?s just not, you know, done. Property rights are so, I don?t know, declasse. A true aristocrat derives their status from enfiefed land, not something so crass as mere commerce, right Little Davie?
    Vesicant
    • 9.8

      On the idiot scale, not the Mike Cox scale.
      Hallowed are the Ori
    • must be a lawyer

      maybe a comittee of laywers
      beachdigital
      • ...for the RIAA/MPAA...

        Who else would write such a crock of steer manure?
        Wolfie2K3
    • Grow up

      You come into the forum with that kind of childish, condescending tone and expect us to even hear your message, much less agree with it. Go back to MySpace where the other spoiled children hang out.
      GrumpyOldMan
  • Quit Buying and Quit going

    When this idiocy started I decided that I would no longer buy movies or DVD's and that I would stop going to movies, I have also encourage many people and families that I know to do the same. None of us have missed them at all, Remember we can do without them but they cannot do without us so fight the fight where it hurts? them most in their fat unearned wallets.
    wizardb@...
  • Er.. Has anyone ever considered applying the RICO statutes?

    It seems to me that at least ONE fundamental constutitional principle these RIAA/MPAA nazis are violating left and right - namely the presumption of innocense until proven guilty in a court of law...

    Back in the roaring 20's, mobsters would collect "protection" money from business' in a given neighborhood. The RIAA/MPAA mafiosos seem to be pulling a variation of this scheme - intimidating innocent people into paying "protection" money in exchange for not bankrupting them, forcing them to lose everything trying to defend themselves in a court.

    It seems to me like it's another flavor of organized crime...
    Wolfie2K3