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EFF Calls RIAA Tactics 'Reign of Terror' 215

Posted by Zonk
from the hyperbole-much dept.
nanday writes "What happens when the RIAA prosecutes people for alleged illegal music downloads? In an article on Newsforge (also owned by OSTG), lawyer Ray Beckerman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains the RIAA's favorite tactics, and why they play fast and loose with the law. Beckerman also explains why two of these cases may stop the RIAA in its tracks - and what you can do for help." From the article: "In UMG vs. Lindor, the defendant 'is a home house-aid who's never even used a computer,' according to Beckerman. 'She's never operated a computer, she's never even turned on a computer. The only connection she has ever had to a computer is that she has on occasion dusted near the parts that she believes are a computer. And yet she is being pursued as an online distributor in peer-to-peer file sharing.' Since Beckerman became involved in the case after it had gone to federal court, he has tried to learn the details of the charges -- so far with little success. 'The RIAA is trying to conceal the information about how it conducts its investigation,' he says. 'They have stalled every discovery request we've made' -- presumably because to reveal this information would also reveal the weakness of all the similar cases."
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EFF Calls RIAA Tactics 'Reign of Terror'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:25AM (#15756566)
    This will obviously lead to anti-dusting legislation shortly.
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:25AM (#15756567) Journal

    Case in point from the article:

    The trouble is, Beckerman says, "The judges have no clue. They actually won't let me talk about it. There was a case in 2004 where an elderly judge was told by a lawyer in his brief from the RIAA that from the meta-data and the hash, you could tell that these were illegally copied files, which was, of course, nonsense. But the judge actually referred to that in his decision as to why he was upholding the subpoena." Often, the judges make decisions without hearing oral arguments at all.

    It would be nice to think the courts and the justice system (the jurists) would apply due diligence but for myriad reasons they don't or won't. Considering technology, the RIAA, and the gazillion combinations of playing with digital media it isn't clear a judge could ever be educated enough to understand the technical issues. Instead, the deepest pockets win because they can afford the biggest megaphone -- they've convinced the legal system via FUD that consumers are evil and piracy is rampant and must be stopped.

    Problem is, customers aren't evil, piracy is not rampant (yeah, it exists, but it's not the monster the RIAA claims it is), and it doesn't need to be stopped.

    My biggest fear is the momentum is too strong, the RIAA has gotten too far along and has won enough battles it's beginning to look like they may win the war. And, the prediction in the article:

    Peter Brown, executive director of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and one of Defective By Design's chief organizers, wrapped up the call by emphasizing the need to support the defendants in these cases. What the RIAA is doing today with music downloads, Brown warns, other organizations may be doing next year if digital rights management technologies become commonplace in hardware. He urged call participants to blog about the call to educate others, and announced that a recording of the call would be available shortly on the Defective By Design site.
    is likely to be the outcome.

    Of course it seems obvious to me the ultimate result of all of this nonsense is the buying public either is so angry at their treatment, or confused by all of the rules and regulations, the promising landscape of new and great electronic gizmos will suffer its own (and hopefully temporary until all the goons leave town) recession. To quote the scathing Paul Thurrott's outrage against Microsoft's false positive to his "piracy", "Ah well". ;-)

    • I have faith in our ability to do the right thing... For ourselves! The greed and self-centeredness of the consumer will always win out, and DRMs are unbelieveably irking to many people. The dollar is more powerful than anything else in this country, and people are already buying less music because of the RIAA's tactics and methods of enforcements.

      With regards to this: "Considering technology, the RIAA, and the gazillion combinations of playing with digital media it isn't clear a judge could ever be e
      • Have faith? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MarkByers (770551) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:41AM (#15756693) Homepage Journal
        Honestly, the idea of DRMs pisses so many people off that they simply can't stay around for long. The consumer hates not being trusted, and won't buy things that have DRMs.

        Most people, when they installed the Sony rootkit, did not even know that they had installed DRM on their machine, what it's purpose was, how to remove it, or even why they should care.

        DRMs will be a thing of the past in the next decade, I have faith.

        My prediction: DRM will be even more common next decade. CD sales will continue to fall and DRM'd content sales will continue to rise. The difference between you and me, is that I will be trying to raise people's awareness rather than just sitting back and letting it happen.

        • Re:Have faith? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:22AM (#15757079) Journal
          I see two possibilities...

          One, we get "good" drm, which is to say, DRM that is both hard to break, and mostly transparent to the user (good quality, not good ethically). Right now DRM is really obvious, it's like a leash, and every time you try to exercise your rights, that leash jerks you up short, causes anger and irritation. It's also easy to break, so the benefits of breaking the DRM and getting full use of the content are way ahead of the actual hassle of breaking the DRM. In my opinion, the best way to get "good" DRM would be to stream everything from central servers, and make it available through a range of wireless integrated devices. This is obviously serious future tech, but the potential exists already, so it's not farfetched.

          The other possibility is that the current distribution model will break down as artists opt-out of the restrictive RIAA practices, and some more organic system grows up in its place, where content is not so rabidly protected, and artists are more directly compensated by their fans.

          I wouldn't be surprised to see a little of both, in the next 10 years. All these subscription sites are technically crappy implementations of the first concept...Pay a subscription fee and access the music all you want, in any number of crappy non-portable formats. But if you could browse it in your car, or anywhere else through a range of compatible devices interconnected wirelessly? Who gives a damn if you can't copy it, if you can access it any time, from any where? It'd be the death of the physical media sales, so they won't support it for a while to come, but it's the best approach for them. They keep control, they get your money.

          As far as the second goes, there have been independant artists and independant labels for years, but they're exploding now, with all the production costs going down. They have so much less to lose, and so much less access to physical media stores, they're trying all kinds of new methods of distribution, and it's not unlikely that some of them will be popular enough to pull in some of the mainstream.

          • Re:Have faith? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by insanemime (985459)

            The other possibility is that the current distribution model will break down as artists opt-out of the restrictive RIAA practices, and some more organic system grows up in its place, where content is not so rabidly protected, and artists are more directly compensated by their fans

            Unfortunately I don't think that will happen with the artists. Remember the stink over ticketmaster and their "service charges"? Some artists came out aginst it and swore it was not right but now it is just business as usual. Art

            • Re:Have faith? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
              Ticketmaster is a more interesting case, because they have access to a resource that is a seriously tough nut to crack. You can record, mix, and burn your own CD, but if you want to play a venue bigger than your local bar, you're going to have to play their game (or find a nice field somewhere, build your own stage, etc).

              Record companies, on the other hand, only have that sort of stranglehold on the retail outlets, and retail outlets have been slumping for years. I think the indies are in a really good posi
        • DRM will be even more common next decade

          i am not so sure. in the past i didnt really care about drm, thought it was a boogie man. then i got a new cell phone. the manual says i can put mp3s as a ring tone - so long as they have the right drm. wtf? granted i only use the vibrate alert. also, i can still record obscure audio clips for my voice mail. but anyway, the point is that if my phone has the ability to play mp3s and use them as a ring tones, i dont want to have to buy those tracks again.

          i think more

        • Steam (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ate50eggs (647594)
          I don't think DRM is going anywhere. Now that every computer is on the internet almost all the time, companies can start demanding that you remotely validate your software every time you run it.

          I hate Steam. I just hate everything about it - clumsy interface, annoying ads, whining message boxes when it can't find the intenet. guess what Steam, I know when I'm connected and when I'm not, but thanks.

          Yet I tolerated it so I could play Halflife 2. I have even purchased half-life add-ons that I might not have pu
      • by lgw (121541) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:48AM (#15756763) Journal
        This is the truth of the DRM war.

        Today geeks are pissed, mostly because we see a dark future if trends continue, and consumers aren't upset by this. However, consumers *will* be upset if trends continue! If DRM moves to a place where consumers choke on it, it will be as dead as Divx, and all technology assoiciated with whatever consumers hated will be dead as well, as fast a a boy-band becomes no longer cool.

        I work with engineers who are working on the TCG standards, and there is a lot of awareness of this problem. If, as many Slashdotters fear, Trusted Computing gets used to lock down consumer DRM, then Trusted Computing is dead, and years of work are wasted.

        This doesn't mean that DRM is going away, however. There's plenty of room for less intrusive DRM that won't annoy the average customer, but will still seem restrictive to geeks. iTunes is there, more or less, for example.
        • I fervently hope that Trusted Computing dies a horrible death. As far as "years of work being wasted", the work shouldn't have been done in the first place. I don't care if my computer or any software that I have legally obtained trusts me. Remote attestation and sealed storage are especially treacherous features of Trusted Computing. I should be the one controlling my computer, not the computer manufacturers, software publishers, and content providers who wish to control my computer using the friendly
          • You feel this way because you're sure it will be used against you, via some sort of DRM nonsense. Who would ever buy a PC made like that?

            If you have the master keys, however, Trusted Computing is a good thing. Not a big advantage for the home user, though I'm sure someone will cook up a good security product around it, but for the corporate IT guy it will allow far more powerful security policies, and perhaps a final solution to the BritneySpearsNaked.jpg.scr problem.
      • "Honestly, the idea of DRMs pisses so many people off that they simply can't stay around for long. The consumer hates not being trusted, and won't buy things that have DRMs. DRMs will be a thing of the past in the next decade, I have faith."

        Yet the iTMS is a phenomenal success, while emusic and Maganatune are virtually unknown by the public.

        For what it's worth, the iTMS DRM has never bothered me. I can burn as many copies of a playlist as I want to, burn stuff for my car, and listen to it on as many

    • by FinchWorld (845331) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:37AM (#15756657) Homepage
      If the judge of such cases (and/or jury depending on how the case works) does not understand the issues, then they should not preside over it.

      Would you allow a technition to fix a photocopyer when he only knows about air conditioning?

      • If the judge of such cases (and/or jury depending on how the case works) does not understand the issues, then they should not preside over it.

        Do not write off the intelligence of a judge or the judge's willingness to learn about the impact of a case simply because we do so with legislators and most of the Exectutive. Judges are very capable of reading amicus briefs. It a judge's business to learn about the relevant facets of their case before a ruling is issued. You aren't implying that all judges know a

    • by Roody Blashes (975889) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:37AM (#15756659) Homepage Journal
      Problem is, customers aren't evil, piracy is not rampant (yeah, it exists, but it's not the monster the RIAA claims it is), and it doesn't need to be stopped.

      You fail to understand the enemy, and that is why you will lose.

      The RIAA and MPAA are not fighthing this fight because they believe piracy is a problem now. They're not spending all this money fighting it because they want to get a couple extra bucks in sales.

      They're fighting it because they recognize that p2p has the potential to completely decimate their supply channels by allowing every Tom, Dick, and Harry to interrupt their entire business plan with a mouse clicks.

      This is a fact. Whether you believe it will actually happen or not is up for debate, but the RIAA and MPAA do believe that it will, or that it's likely enough that going on this campaign now is in their best interests.

      Of course, like any other company that mistreats a cusomter, the simplest solution is to simply cease doing business with them. However, since the majority of people who are aware of this problem seem to be comprised of either theives or theif sympathizers who would rather just keep fueling the fire by stealing music, there's nobody really out there with any effective grassroots campaign to expose this disgraceful behavior.

      If you want to put an end to this, the simple answer is to cease all activities involving consumption of the product. Don't steal it, don't buy it, don't listen to it on the radio, and make sure you let everyone know your position and explain why you're taking that position WITHOUT making it sound like you're just whining that you're coming under fire for wanting to steal things.

      No income = dead cartel. Very simple equation.
      • the simple answer is to cease all activities involving consumption of the product. Don't steal it, don't buy it, don't listen to it on the radio, and make sure you let everyone know your position and explain why you're taking that position WITHOUT making it sound like you're just whining that you're coming under fire for wanting to steal things.

        Gee, I hope my " Today's music sucks teh Sh!t " bumper sticker get's the word out.

        You won't hear the trunk welds breaking in my car from overcranked trash pop.

      • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:15AM (#15757021) Journal
        If you want to put an end to this, the simple answer is to cease all activities involving consumption of the product. Don't steal it, don't buy it, don't listen to it on the radio
        I actually have to disagree there.

        If you dissosciate yourself completely from the RIAA's music, you deliver the message loud and clear that it is the music, not the company that you object to. Sure you can "make sure you let everyone know your position and explain why you're taking that position", but that level of detail doesn't reach the sales figures of the RIAA. Show demand for the music (if there is any demand for it), just not the company's "Reign of Terror". So called piracy boycotts the business model thrusted upon us every time we want to listen to music, but still retains the demand for the music. I know everyone has said it, but give me a good-quality, DRM-free system (read: the system allofmp3.com uses), and I will be generous with my hard-earned cash.

        Please note also that boycotting music (or movies for that matter) is not easy for everyone. I love my music, and I couldn't imagine my life without it. Right now, the RIAA could boycott me and I'd come crawling back, humble and submissive, within weeks.
        • "Sure you can "make sure you let everyone know your position and explain why you're taking that position", but that level of detail doesn't reach the sales figures of the RIAA. Show demand for the music (if there is any demand for it), just not the company's "Reign of Terror". So called piracy boycotts the business model thrusted upon us every time we want to listen to music, but still retains the demand for the music."

          That's one of the more interesting rationales for piracy I've heard. If I understand

        • Please note also that boycotting music (or movies for that matter) is not easy for everyone. I love my music, and I couldn't imagine my life without it. Right now, the RIAA could boycott me and I'd come crawling back, humble and submissive, within weeks.

          If you don't feel strongly enough about the RIAA's policy to make any sacrifices in order to change them, then it's really not as important as you're making it out to be.

      • If you want to put an end to this, the simple answer is to cease all activities involving consumption of the product. Don't steal it, don't buy it, don't listen to it on the radio, and make sure you let everyone know your position and explain why you're taking that position WITHOUT making it sound like you're just whining that you're coming under fire for wanting to steal things.

        No income = dead cartel. Very simple equation.


        Then the RIAA would point to declining record sales as proof of further harm by pira
      • by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:38AM (#15757229) Homepage Journal
        They're fighting it because they recognize that p2p has the potential to completely decimate their supply channels by allowing every Tom, Dick, and Harry to interrupt their entire business plan with a mouse clicks.

        This is a fact.

        Please, cite a source. Any source.

        I'm in full agreement with you on the theory that this is the RIAA and MPAA's motivation (though I think it goes deeper than that, and gets a bit darker as they don't merely wish to preseve, but expand their control over distribution), but this is still just what we think the RIAA and MPAA think. It harms our case when we say that this is "a fact".
    • by Epeeist (2682) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:37AM (#15756661) Homepage
      > Of course it seems obvious to me the ultimate result of all of this nonsense is the buying public either is so angry at their treatment, or confused by all of the rules and regulations

      Unfortunately I think you are wrong.

      If you were right then people would have got rid of their crashing, malware prone MS desktops years ago. As it is they moan and groan, but still don't switch to anything better.

      I think the same will be true about restrictions management. People will grumble but accept it as normal. It is only the activists who will attempt to do something about and they stand a good chance of being dismissed by the (bought) legislators who can point to the fact that most people accept and are therefore happy with the situation (yes, I do know there is a non seqitur there).

      Nice use of the Oxford comma by the way.

      • > would have got rid of their crashing, malware prone MS desktops years ago
        I don't think thats a good analogy. The typical highschool/college students of today have figured out how to share music,etc because the results only affect them. They don't deal with chaging the PC operating system, because they are not allowed to, and understand (correctly or incorrectly) that for a job they have to learn to deal with windows. They won't need to learn to deal with DRM in the workplace unless they are a disc
        • > I don't think thats a good analogy.

          Reasoning by analogy is always tricky ;-)

          I think it is a matter of expectation. With a car or a washing machine people expect it to just work for a very large amount of time and they accept occasional breakages due to wear and tear.

          With anything to do with computers the expectation is that very much lower, breakage is the normal state of affairs. So anything that prevents you playing media on your PC will just be accepted.

          The only place I can see people become angry w
    • by sjwaste (780063) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:42AM (#15756702)
      I'm wondering if the blame doesn't lie with the clerks. Let's face it, federal judges have enormous case loads. I'm not sure if the 2004 case reference was at the district level, but it's especially busy there.

      So I'll ask, where were the clerks, if this account is correct? Federal clerkships are fairly prestigious, and many clerks are young enough to have direct exposure to this technology. Are they not doing the research? I'm fairly certain any due diligence by the judge would be carried out by the clerks on these matters.
      • Really? You want unelected, unappointed clerks heavily influencing findings of fact?
      • Are they not doing the research? I'm fairly certain any due diligence by the judge would be carried out by the clerks on these matters.

        With the exception of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (which hears patent appeals), most federal clerks are political science or English majors who have no background for understanding technology (other than perhaps being p2p users themselves). The fact is, and has always been, that in any legal dispute, there will be Ph.D experts from MIT or Stanford (dependi

    • by geoff lane (93738) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:42AM (#15756707)
      The piracy that costs the companies that the RIAA represents are the undocumented pressings that appear from CD factories throughout the world. Compared to that, the kids sharing a few files is inconcequential.
    • by andrewman327 (635952) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:57AM (#15756852) Homepage Journal
      Why doesn't the EFF provide experts to file briefs outlining the flaws in RIAA's claims? Do lower courts not accept amicus curiae briefs?


      I agree that there is a problem with judges not compeltely understanding technology, but they are taught to be open minded. Remember that a lot of the people dues by the RIAA are guilty. Just because many of us feel things should be different does not change the fact that some of these people are violating the law. However I do not believe that the legal actions of the RIAA are in the spirit of American jurisprudence, nor do they meet the required burden of proof.

    • Except for the RIAA hasn't been battling a whole lot. They just bully certain people into either paying a certain extortion fee or they can go to court and spend double that amount on lawyers, court costs and others. The consumer will get their rights, eventually, and they will get their lawyers fees etc. back, eventually, but in the mean time they get bankrupted or give up because they need to eat and their lawyers need to eat.

      Now some people are standing up against the RIAA, saying: bring it on, and see w
    • The judges have no clue.

      I had a conversation not long ago with someone who was clearly a very bright state Supreme Court justice. It was scary. On the one hand, at least when one gets high enough in the system, the judges are, for the most part anyway, pretty bright. The problem is that (from my single data point) they think they are bright enough that they understand technical detail -- when in fact they are more or less clueless. It's kind of like watching "Nova" or "Horizon" and thinking that by dint

  • Countersuit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pete6677 (681676) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:29AM (#15756597)
    Until one of their wrongly sued victims files a countersuit and wins big, they have no motivation to stop this. They don't care about losing a few cases. In most cases its enough to just scare people into paying their extortion fee.
    • Re:Countersuit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DeathKoil (413307) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:45AM (#15756735)
      Given how much money it would cost to go after the RIAA I'm not too surprised that no one has filed a countersuit yet. However, so far every story I've heard about the RIAA sueing someone has been that the person was either a child/teenager or a family that doesn't much cash. It would be interesting to get demographic information about who the RIAA has gone after so far.
      • They go after people with no money or other expenses who will settle and get on a payment plan to pay whatever the RIAA wants + interest. Why go after someone who can pay a lawyer or might have a lawyer friend who can file the paperwork to put the stops to the suit immediately. They look much better if they get people who won't be able to get a good lawyer before those short notice hearings and then get boned at the hearing.
  • by cloudkiller (877302) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:31AM (#15756611) Homepage Journal
    This is what happens when you have a government that can be purchased. Make no mistake about it, in the US laws/justice/rights/people/myself is for sale and the RIAA/MPAA is buying. As long as they have money they will be able to manipulate any system set up in the US to serve their needs.
    • This is what happens when you have a government that can be purchased. Make no mistake about it, in the US laws/justice/rights/people/myself is for sale and the RIAA/MPAA is buying. As long as they have money they will be able to manipulate any system set up in the US to serve their needs.

      As opposed to where? Many countries pay taxes on all CD-R's purchased regardless of purpose. Face it, government everywhere is for sale, and the RIAA clones in most countries exploit the fact.

  • by kthejoker (931838) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:35AM (#15756641)
    How come non-RIAA labels can't form an "anti-RIAA" coalition? Most labels not on the RIAA are pretty hip, they have tracks for download without DRM on their sites, they're real big on freebies and artist promotion, and they're generally more about the music itself than the big labels.

    So why can't they generate some sort of composite publicity for their activities? Why can't they call themselves soemthing fun like "AWESOME" (Association of Wedding Evil SOBs Out of the Music Enterprise) and run press releases like the RIAA? Donate some money to the EFF? Have some benefit concerts to Kill the RIAA?

    Get your acts together, people! Let's synergize our paradigms, or something! Go go go!
    • "Wedding Evil SOBs"

      So, they are getting married? ;) Okay, so I had to poke a little fun. I think he means .... "weeding out".
    • by shark72 (702619) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:58AM (#15757427)

      They do. In the UK there's the Association of Independent Music [wikipedia.org], and in Australia there's AIR [air.org.au]. In Canada there's CIRPA [cirpa.ca], and in the US there's the A2IM [com.com]. I found these by taking a few seconds to goodle on "independent record labels."

      Many, if not most of them, do issue press releases, as you suggest.

      I suspect that while the indie labels aren't suing people left and right, they may not be as pro-piracy as you expect. I knew a fellow once who ran an indie record label. He had ten employees and paid himself the princely sum of $20K per year. When x% of the population opted to pirate rather than buy a CD from a major label, all it meant was that somebody you never heard of got laid off or didn't get a raise that year. When his artists' works started showing up on the P2P services, it meant that he had to lay off his friends. Although it's the major labels (through their mouthpiece, the RIAA) make the most noise about piracy, the large RIAA-affiliated labels are actually more resilient to piracy, while the indie labels often run on razor-thin budgets. We can talk about how piracy actually helps the artist because it gets their music out there, we might buy a shirt or go to a concert, etc. but the reality for the tiny 10-person labels (who put up the cash to fund the CDS and who rely on sales to stay in business) is that they must pay the rent and pay their employees each month -- no exceptions, no excuses. If income isn't meeting expenses, it's simply not enough that some 17-year-old in Minnesota loves the copy of your CD that he got via BitTorrent.

      • Very well said and an excellent point.
        I would add, although you eluded to this, that the way to combat the **AA behavior is not to pirate but to spend your money on CDs and DVDs produced by labels that follow your personal ethics. It will require educating yourself on the various labels and companies but if you truly believe in a solution that is what you MUST do.

        Companies must SEE solid numbers showing what consumers want and what they will tolerate. So long as people still buy, they have not found the lim
  • Desperation (Score:3, Informative)

    by alphasubzero949 (945598) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:35AM (#15756646)
    The RIAA is engaging in these tactics for a simple reason: they're fighting a losing battle. They want control of any and all media and will do whatever it takes to keep their decades-old model propped up.

    Podcasting, Internet radio, and independent music are the new Davids fighting this Goliath and as each one becomes more and more popular in mainstream culture you can guarantee that the RIAA will look for ways to shut it all down (they're already trying with podcasts and streaming radio under the guise of royalties) or infilitrate these new forms of media with their commercial garbage. And yet again, they'll be unsuccessful just as they have been with cassette tapes and recordable CDs.

    In the end, they'll be as irrelevant as an 8-track player.
  • Linux? (Score:4, Funny)

    by IAmTheDave (746256) <basenamedave-sd.yahoo@com> on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:38AM (#15756669) Homepage Journal
    'They have stalled every discovery request we've made' -- presumably because to reveal this information would also reveal the weakness of all the similar cases."

    Imagine if Linux had to go through something like this...

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:39AM (#15756671)
    So where was the RIAA in 1982 when I taped Rush's 'Signals' album from my friend?
    Should I be worried?
    • Blockquoth the poster:

      So where was the RIAA in 1982 when I taped Rush's 'Signals' album from my friend?
      Should I be worried?

      Well, having just posted a confession to potentially millions of witnesses, now you should be worried...
    • "The world weighs on my shoulders
      But what am I to do?
      You sometimes drive me crazy
      But I worry about you
      I know it makes no difference
      To what you're going through
      But I see the tip of the iceberg
      And I worry about you..."
    • I don't know about the RIAA, but the BPI were there, placing stickers on LPs featuring a cassetter/skull and crossbones and the ominous message "Home Taping Is Killing Music" [wikipedia.org].

      The more things change, the more they remain the same.
    • You likely posted this tongue-in-cheek, but it does raise an issue that may not be clear for some. Copying of albums (or even CDs, for that matter) to cassette tape was considered fair use (and was codified as such in the Copyright Act of 1983) as long as the tapes were not sold--they had to be given away (or, if memory serves correctly, minimal costs could only be recouped for the actual cost of creating the tape). These recordings did not worry the recording industry to a great degree because there woul
  • by starseeker (141897) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:43AM (#15756714) Homepage
    For goodness sake stop distributing their music! Find the legitimate free music out there and start a grassroots movement!

    If they don't want people illegially distributing their music, that's fine with me. That's what the law says, and changing the law is going to be tough. Is there response extreme given the crime? Of course, but you have to admit it's hard to deter people from downloading music - the odds of being caught and punished are still extremely low. We think they shouldn't be doing this, but remember from their point of view they want to stop this behavior. The only question then becomes what it will take to stop it. Secondary damage to sales (if any) doesn't seem to phase them much.

    The only way we'll EVER win this is to cut the RIAA out of the picture. There are folks doing free music out there - let's get organized and promote the good ones! Just like open source software - don't pirate commercial software, do it right and create free alternatives. In the end, everyone's happier.

    Admittedly, the creative/artistic community seems to function differently than the software folks - look at how many game engines there are, vs. high quality maps/data for said engines. I expect high quality free music might also be a bit unusual, but that's no reason not to try and start a new social trend.

    We don't like Microsoft because of their software and business practices - all right, we're doing something about that. Not pirating Windows, but creating alternatives and using them. Let's do the same with music - if we're correct about the low quality of product being promoted by the large commercial groups (debatable - I personally don't think there are any useful univeral quality metrics that will decide what is enjoyable to all people, but I'll go with it here for the sake of argument) it shouldn't be impossible for folks with the time and hobby interest out there to put something together.

    Let's establish a non-commercial Americal Idol type phenomena - people can compete for rating on the internet, and the most successful of those might be able to start playing live concerts, selling professional quality CDs with covers/etc. and other things that actually generate revenue. (I can't say I care for the way Americal Idol works, but we should pay attention to the techniques they are using to identify people that America wants to hear sing).

    iRate radio has some good ideas, but I think they should utilize bittorrent technology and start building more of a community structure than just scraping free music websites. Lets do this right - don't fight the RIAA on their own turf. They can use the legal system to beat us over the head - they've got the $$ to do it. So let's not let them dictate the terms of engagement - let's take both the long term solution and the moral high ground. THAT's the way to fight, and the only real hope I see for success.
    • I couldn't agree more.

      I suggest that for a popular musician, there is more than enough money in touring, etc to become very wealthy, and a semi-popular one could easily make a living. The only trouble is that doesn't leave anything for the record company execs to get rich on. The argument in the past of course has been that the record company is needed to promote, fund and make the artist popular in the first place. (An unpleasant side effect of this is that the same parasites get to choose what gets to be
    • "I expect high quality free music might also be a bit unusual, but that's no reason not to try and start a new social trend." This has been around for years. It's called Electronic Music. I know most people don't like it, but it IS a working copyright-free model. This is how it works: 1) Producer makes killer track, publishes it to vinyl without copyright. 2) DJ hears killer track at record store. 3) DJ purchases said track, thus providing the producer with his money. 4) DJ spins said track at their nex
    • Do you think that the artists aren't aware of what their "label" and the RIAA are doing? Of course they're aware, and they're hoping that they'll get paid as a result! Do you think that the artist doesn't wish you would just buy the stupid album? No matter what they say, if they're producing through RIAA-associated labels then they are hoping to reap RIAA-associated benefits.

      • Don't buy RIAA-related music. (Okay, that's probably already covered.)
      • Avoid listening to RIAA-related music, and certainly av
    • There may be a free music scene, and you may be able to get *some* people to adopt that model, but the ones who need to be reached are the up-and-coming musicians. When they finally get noticed by a talent scout, agent, or label, all they can see through the paperwork is the promise of paychecks and royalties.

      Sure, there will always be some purists who pursue the art form for its own sake, but there are too many out there who want success and will sign contracts without thinking about file sharing, RIAA/c
    • For goodness sake stop distributing their music! Find the legitimate free music out there and start a grassroots movement!
      That course of action is fine if your one's only objection is the oligopoly that is the RIAA member companies. If one objects to the current state of copyright law, then destroying the RIAA by not only not buying their music, but also making copies in direct defiance of copyright law is more in keeping with one's beliefs.
  • by Howler (17832) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:47AM (#15756751)
    ...that if the RIAA is sponsoring a "Reign of Terror" that everyone at the RIAA can be arrested, send to GITMO and tried under the Patriot Act? Would would a military tribunal say about the RIAA? Hmmm.. :-P
  • by CurtMonash (986884) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:51AM (#15756796) Homepage
    Besides the nasty tactics outlined in the article, the RIAA et al. are a serious menace in at least two other ways.

    First, they are a prime mover behind laws mandating a long audit trail (e.g., two years) recording who accesses which web sites. (Child porn is the other common motivation.) To date, this has been more of an issue in Europe than the US.

    Second, there's a huge threat going forward as Layer 7 inspection by ISPs becomes commonplace [monashreport.com]. At that point, it will be at least theoretically possible to harass somebody for ANYTHING they download, upload, whatever, because intermediaries such as ISPs will have complete access to that information.

  • Just wondering... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:56AM (#15756844)
    how many copies are made without going online. My music collection is backed up on DVDs, on the average about 600 songs per DVD, and all a lot better quality than you find on any P2P network or iTMS, and all DRM-free. Just good that I don't let anyone get their hands on those DVDs, it would be RIAAs nightmare and completely untracable.
  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:58AM (#15756866) Homepage
    "The only connection she has ever had to a computer is that she has on occasion dusted near the parts that she believes are a computer."

    Ok, maybe she hasn't used a computer before.. Thats fine, but unless this person is uncontrollably stupid "dusted near the parts that she believes are a computer." How many people in a normal society would even be able to recongnize a computer! I think this person is playing extra stupid as part of her defense.
    • "Ok, maybe she hasn't used a computer before.. Thats fine, but unless this person is uncontrollably stupid "dusted near the parts that she believes are a computer." How many people in a normal society would even be able to recongnize a computer! I think this person is playing extra stupid as part of her defense."

      What TFA article doesn't mention is that Beckermen is her lawyer. And yeah, he's exagerating the hell out of the situation for sympathy. Which is what he's expected to do as a lawyer, so I hav

    • I'm sure you're right in that they're playing up her computer illiteracy, but still...you've never heard of anyone who thinks that the monitor is the computer?
    • to a person who doesn't know anything about computers a computer is a mouse maybe? Or a monitor? Or a keyboard? I remember when computers WERE keyboards (well, they were inside keyboards.) Even the speakers can be mistaken for a computer, and the main processing unit can be mistaken for a filing cabinet.
  • Tactics in court (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:03AM (#15756904)
    The development is not a good one, neither for the efficiency nor the reputation of our courts. The tactics are always the same. First, accusations are peppered all over the net to people who might have something to do with it. Now, the average person is no lawyer and can't afford one, so one of two happens:

    1. They pay, because the accusation says "Pay or it gets more expensive", even if they didn't do anything.
    2. They go to court where the case is immediately dropped by the RIAA unless they REALLY hold some evidence.

    Now mix in that the average judge knows jack about internet or the way it works (I only say "tubes". Ok, no judge but a politicians, but similar species and cranium). To make matters worse, many judges refuse to hire experts to get an informed input about it and instead rely on hearsay or what accuser and defender claim would be true. It's stunning that the judges don't even bother considering that either of them could be lying to win his case (again an example where in the presence of computers usually intelligent people turn into gullible morons).

    This makes trials more gambling than anything resembling justice. Justice has the problem, like many parts of the legal branch, that the advent of the internet and computers in law and crime changed a lot of parameters. Most of all they changed that a lot of the things happening in and around computers cannot be grasped with "common sense" (not that it was all that common in court rooms... but I ramble).

    In "normal" cases where everyday things are happening, judges can cast a sound and sensible verdict even if they don't know too much about the underlying matter. If a customer and a mechanic are going to court over breaks that should've been fixed and weren't, a judge can make a fair decision based on looking for parallels that he can understand.

    Those parallels don't exist in a world that is very artificial and virtual, where property can be multiplied without any quality loss, immediately and inifinitly.

    That's why judges are out of their league when dealing with the 'net, computers and IP. And that's why we get unjust and unsensible court orders. And that's why companies who can afford pepperspray sueing do it.
  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:04AM (#15756919) Journal
    1) Steal the identity of the heads of the RIAA.

    2) Using those identities, set up bank accounts, rent a cheap apartment or office somewhere, get broadband, hook up a computer with P2P software and loaded with songs. Use the identities to set up websites where people can download songs. Infringe on those copyrights!!!!!!

    3) Watch the ensuing hilarity as the RIAA sues it's own heads for infringement.
  • If one considers this quote:

    This is the point where Beckerman and the EFF prefer to intervene in a case. They try to point out that "any real pirate would never leave the meta-data [and] would be using someone else's Internet access account," Beckerman says. "Even seeing the shared file folder doesn't tell you which computer it resided on, because you're seeing files from a group of computers that are connected." ...So what if everyone using p2p simply fills in the information of their local congress-critte

  • The memes of justice are build with cases, not lawbooks.
    If an organisation can successfully win 1000's of cases then these memes of justice are changed towards their favour.

    Then justice thinks that these organisations are right.

    I wonder why people need many words to explain simple facts of life.
  • by radtea (464814) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:38AM (#15757233)
    The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is waging a "reign of terror" against "defenseless people" in its efforts to prosecute people for illegal music downloads.

    Over a hundred years ago Marx wrote, "What party in the opposition has not been called communistic?" or words to that effect (quoting from memory--dunno where my copy of the Communist Manifesto has got to.) For most of the century that followed it was safe in some circles to paint anything you didn't like--union organization, civil rights protests, anti-war activity, to name but a few--as "communist."

    Today, we see the same trend with "terrorist". I have seen and heard accusations of "terrorism" against patent trolls, aggressive commercial competitors, angry former spouses...you name it. Terrorism is the trendy term-of-the-day for anyone you don't much like.

    I'm tempted to put in some fairly obvious but sure-to-be-modded-flamebait links to stories on current events that might accurately be described as a "reign of terror" against "defenseless people", just to contrast these with the legal manueverings of the RIAA. I'm sure readers can think up their own links, which will vary depending on political persausion, but in every case they will involve stories where innocent people are living in fear of being killed by bombs, rockets, swords and guns. THAT is a "reign of terror", and I'm damned sure that most of those people would change places with the folks being sued by the RIAA in a moment.

    So please, could we stop the hysteria and quit calling everything we don't like "terrorism"?
  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:40AM (#15757252)
    What's happening in the Middle East as I type is a reign of terror. The RIAA are simply abusing their power. There's a pretty big difference between the two and overexagerting the problem can have the effect of making otherwise fair minded people stop listening to what you're saying.
  • by houghi (78078) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:48AM (#15757321)
    The RIAA is trying to conceal the information about how it conducts its investigation,


    That should not matter. What they should do is file a complaints and then the COURT should do the investigation. The fact that they even know who the person is, is a bad thing. What is happening is:

    RIAA to ISP: Give us all the details of IP XYZ:
    ISP: OK, there you are:
    RIAA to ISP: Sue this basterd, he must die.
    COURT: Sure, whatever you say.

    Here is how it SHOULD go:
    RIAA: We want to report a copyright crime:
    Court: Ok, please specify
    RIAA: IP adress 127.192.168.172 at GMT 23:12 shared song "Some_music by Some_person_or_band" wich is in violation of ....
    Court: Ok, we will see what is going on.
    Court to ISP: Give us the data of the person who connected with IP on ...
    ISP: There you are
    COURT: Ok. Now let us proceed.

    What happens in Belgium is that the court says: Fuck off if they don't ask money for it. We ain't got no time to do that. Come back when we have nothing to do or if you have people who are SELLING the stuff for profit.

    Also if the local RIAA would come with the adress of the person, a serious investigation into the ISP will be done because of violation of the privacy laws AND the evidence (the name of the accused) will be dropped as evidence, making them loose the case almost immediatly.

    America: Home of the give-your-privacy-away-for-free. :-(
    • The courts have a much different role in the US than in most European systems. Here, everything is party driven; the courts do not do any independent investigation of facts. In fact, a court conducting a private investigation on a case would be highly improper. The court's role in the US is to make rulings of law based on the facts and arguments presented by the opposing parties and, where there are factual disputes, to make findings of fact in a bench case based upon the evidence the parties bring forth at
  • Ugh, Yes, EFF hates the RIAA, RIAA is bad, EFF is good to neutral. Let's get real news instead of restating the same old same old.

    On a side note, when is the article title writer coming back? The last couple days have been pretty sub par and most of the time missed a crucial piece of data, or changed a word to a non synonym.
  • Well, in Soviet Russia, the dust control the computers. So. they have a precedent.
  • Just want to clarify something. The post suggests I was speaking for the EFF. I love the EFF, I'm a member, I got into defending RIAA defendants through the EFF, I applaud their efforts in everything I've seen them do... but I'm not an employee or leader of the organization and I am certainly not an authorized spokesman for it. I'm just an ordinary "country" lawyer (in Manhattan) trying to fight for my clients.

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