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RIAA Sued By Over Right To Link 127

Puck3D writes: "The RIAA is the one being sued. is suing the RIAA to keep them from shutting their site down for linking to sites that carry illegal MP3. " The article notes that nobody has ever been held liable for linkage. Sure seems like there sure are a lot of lawyers getting paid trying to take that right away.
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RIAA sued by Over Right to Link

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  • Providing a link to a web site is not the same as composing the web site or even hosting it. A link is just a pointer.

    What you are proposing is that all search engines should be liable for the content they link to. This is absurd and would kill off all of the US-based search engines.

    To use an analogy that might make this more clear, imagine if the publisher of a telephone directory could be held liable for the actions of the people whose numbers were published! Absurd!
  • Granted, this is could only be a crime if a person actually downloads an illegal file.

    Well, technically the site that publishes the illegal mp3's is in the wrong, not the person who downloads it. Copyright law applies to those who publish without permission, not those who just read or listen to the media. Of course, this means that you are still guilty of copyright law violation even if no one downloads your mp3s.

  • by rak3 ( 43270 )
    Why isn't the RIAA suing a deeper pocketed offender like Lycos? Their [] site allows you to type in the name of an artist, and then it links directly to MP3s that are of questionable legal status.

    Why not go after the big guy instead of the smaller websites?
  • Also, don't forget that in the MPAA lawsuit, they were asking the judge to make it illegal to link to a site that links to decss. I'm too lazy to find the document now, but it was something like:

    "Instead of clicking twice to get to it, the person has to click twice, and click twice again."

    Apparently the lawyer is one of those lusers who double-clicks on everything, including links. Anyway, what they are trying to do is make it illegal to link to a site that links to decss. This would _not_ include search engines, unless the link to the engine includes the search string in the URL. A site only one click removed from the actual download would be in legal trouble for making decss available.

    This is obviously scary in and of itself. Think about the legal precedent being set if they win...

  • Because the big guy can afford big-guns lawyers of his own and just might win. So you go after the little guys who can't afford to fight and set precedents with your wins there before touching the big guys.

    Shakespeare was right.

  • A hyperlink seems completely innocent. It doesn't steal music, or software. It doesn't tell you how, it can only open a door like one of those automatic sensors they build into shopping malls, it has no idea that what it is doing is wrong or right, it just does what it was built to do. Lets just for a moment be completely absurd and pretend you are robbing that shopping mall, and what if instead of an automatic sensor it was your friend opening the door. All of the sudden that person is just as guilty of the theft as you are, even if they don't profit from or even touch the stolen goods. They are willingly helping you commit a crime, and that it illegal. The Internet seems rife with people making exceptions to their morals and values. People who download MP3's aren't the same people who steal CD's from Wal-Mart. Yet they are doing the something. Stealing intellectual property, so of course the industry is trying every trick in their bag to try and staunch the flow of their art. They want to be rewarded for their hard work, not have it stolen. Yet as someone earlier pointed out, Is it the job of the web designer to check the legality of his links I think it is fair to say yes, but it is a very very fine line. An author shouldn't intentionally put a link like l_ban_you_from_napster.html That is just blatant, but if you link to a page that once contained legal content, and then switched without your knowing then you should just be asked to remove that content. So long as you give someone a chance and the benefit of the doubt. On a side note, I do not like the precedent set by this trial for copyright infringement in a hyperlink, because that means if I link my home page to say some major company, and they do like the content of my page that might give them the right to sue me for unlawful linking, or some other absurd charge.
    Geoffrey Cameron Peart
    McMaster Software Engineering
  • Should html linking not be treated (legally) in the same way as references and citations are in printed books and journals?
  • If Abbie Hoffman had published 'Steal this book' today would the book be banned and all copies burned because the government didn't want the information in there public? They couldn't do that then and they can't do that now because a little thing like the first ammendment gets in the way. No law can override the First Ammendment. This sort of thing needs a supreme court case real soon!
  • ``We're not Napster,'' said San Rafael attorney Ira Rothken, who represents MP3Board. ``We don't have . . . MP3 files. We're a mere conduit, like Lycos or Hotbot. What this lawsuit is about is whether a search engine or linking service has an obligation to edit automated links. By going after us, they are basically oppressing free speech for everybody.''

    That line doesn't make sense. Either they don't understand what Napster is, or they simply don't want to have the legal issues Napster has been facing to impeed their case, and hence, distancing themselves from it..

    Napster is simply providing links and interacting with a nonweb client. That is the *ONLY* difference. The client technology used. In a way, if they succedd, this could be good legal citing for Napster to use in the future, using this exact argument. They do not host pirated information. They diseminate links that point to othger Napster clients..
  • One would think that the powers that be would *WANT* this data to be legal, so they could *USE* it to locate and identify the *real* criminals.. Some people just ain't got the smarts, I suppose..
  • by jbarnett ( 127033 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:27AM (#1025522) Homepage

    Yes, but can you check and insure the legality of EVERY link you have EVER posted? What if the file change. Say you put up [] and claim it to be the logo for slashdot and that it is copyrighted and you can't use it. Say tommorrow rob replaces title.gif on his web server with a naked porno pic.

    Can you guarnette that the image with be rated for all ages? What if someones mother tries to sue you because they 5 year old kid seen a porn pic that was linked off your site, and you didn't offer a warning of a "you must be 18" disclaimer?

    You can not verfiy the content you link to, no one really can. Who then should be help responsiable for this? The person that linked the content, or the person with the actucally content?

    Selling crack is illegal (atleast in the United States), but you can legally say "If you want crack, go down to 6th street and ask for Tony, he will set you up". Say this user goes and buys crack and gets busted. Who commited the crime here? The person that sold the crack? The person that bought the crack? You?

    The person that bought the crack will be aresseted for possieon of an illegal substance. The person selling the crack will be arrested for distrubating an illegal substance. What the hell are the going to arrest you with, talking about an illegal substance? Fuck, go arrest half the media and you could even charge cops if "talking about crack" was illegal. %90 of the populas has talked about crack in one form or another.

    Say they did make linking illegal, who would decide what was legal and what wasn't?

    If someone has illegal content on there web site, then the person responsiable for posting this illegal content should be tried in a court of law for his acts, not the person that was talking or linking to it.

    Linking IMHO is a form of free speech. I have the right to say, hey check out this Junk []. But that is not my web site, just my words, who is responsiable for the stile projects acts? Me or the webmaster of that site?

    Everyone is free to Link [] to what ever you fucking want []. It may be in really bad taste, but it is not illegal.

  • This reminds me of the execution paradox/parable:

    A prisoner is told that he will be executed some time this week, but that he won't know what day it is until it arrives. The prisoner is an avid logician (sentenced to death for being a threat to national security, no doubt) and considers this. He realizes that he can't be executed on Friday, since if he weren't executed on Thursday, then he would know ahead of time his date of execution. Since Friday is out, he concludes that he also can't be executed Thursday, for the same reason. And so on.

    Nonetheless, the executioners come on some day of the week and do him in.

    The math lesson is: This is a mathematically unsound proposition. Nonsensical.

    The real life lesson is: Big Business will get you anyway.
  • I think another key difference is that the Napster software simulatneously allows (and encourages) you to share your own MP3 collection.

    Of course I don't think this is a bad thing (how many people use Apache or wu_ftpd for the same purposes?) but Napster is certainly a little more "active" than mp3board.
  • I know it's off-topic but in a nutshell ...

    ... inertia of the system ... keeps the laws on the books and policemen employed in behaviour control instead of chasing white-collar crime (where the really big frauds and crooks are IMHO). Also, can someone confirm the rumor that hemp was originally outlawed as part of a campaign to promote synthetic fibre? Or is this an urban legend?

  • Isn't this covered under the freedom of the press?
    That's why Paladin Press(is the name, i think) can print books on how to make bombs and other stuff.
  • Could this spell the end of forums like slashdot?

    I mean, if linking to stuff deemed 'illegal' is also made illegal, then these forums could be in danger...

    Someone may post a comment to slashdot with a link in it to a site containing 'illegal' material or a link directly to that material. Is it reasonable to export the editors(moderators - whatever) to check all links before a comment is posted??? It would end up being more trouble than it is worth to those who run these forums...

    I think that it is a good thing that someone is challenging the notion that providing a link is 'illegal'... lets just hope the judges have the sense to realise the stupidity of it all. Just because one site links to information on another site doesn't mean that the authors of the site linking have checked what is provided, or are really providing it... This is the argument used by ISP's for saying that they cannot be sued if someone puts up a site with 'illegal' content using their service. Yes, they will take action if alerted, but they deny all liability for the actions of its users.
  • There are many linking cases, where linking has been held to be actionable one way or the other, or where hyperlinking has been held to be within the scope of an injunction of some sort. Not that this is good law, but the cases exist.

    Outside the US, linking liability has been almost routine. The earliest case in this area, the Shetland Times case, was a hyperlinking case.
  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @07:50AM (#1025529) Homepage
    Slashdot links to many illegal warez sites at this link []

    Simply put, type in the name of a few commercial programs, or song names, plus keywords like "serial" and "crack" or "mp3" into the Altavista Advanced Search Form [] and you'll be on you're way to being an 31337 d00d.

    So is the BSA and SPA and RIAA going to crack down on Altavista?


    Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow
  • Well, something that might be relevant, that I have posted before: TimBL has a page called Link and Law [], which is worth a read.
  • Is this link [] legal? Who is to sue? Me [],the poster, Slashdot [], the site wich the link is on, Altavista [], where the link can be found and I linked to, or [] where the link is?

  • This case to me seems to determine whether or not linking to illegal or questionable content itself is illegal. And if the RIAA loses wouldnt Napster be able to use that in saying that they in actuality arent hosting the illegal mp3's but in actually are just linking them. Or would this be negated since they update their database whenever someone logs in or out.

    Also couldnt the 2600 lawsuit profit from this as well? Seriously, I see this case to be a huge stepping stone in many cases, being that this may be just the case to determine what the US Judicial system's outlook is upon being held liable for linking. Only time will tell though.

  • Hey now...
    If they go after linking sites, why don't they sue all the search engines as well since if you search for "mp3", the search engine is bound to find sites with downloable mp3s. This is the dumbest thing they could do since a court already ruled in one case that a website is not responsible what's on the other end of the link. I don't rememeber what case was about but I remember that it happend ;)

    Down with RIAA and their puny lawyers.
  • this won't end /. any sooner than Microsoft suing for the posting of "trade secrets". Linking has already been protected in court. The RIAA is scrambling and enough people have gotten pissed off enough to fight back. I guess the best advice (which I am ignoring) is to steer clear until the death throes cease.
  • Not only is DeCSS not illegal in most of the world, but including a quote from an illegal copy of a copyrighted work isn't illegal. The legality of the physical media you read the information on is irrelevant. The copyright is on the information, not the paper. Thus quoting a copyrighted work is always governed by the fair use clause, no matter if the book/tape/etc you read was illegally copied.
  • Yeah, but one thing you're forgetting: each one of those NRA members is armed, and knows how to use thier weapons.

    Who wouldn't listen to a group like that? :)


  • Quoth the poster:
    I think people are forgetting the right of assocation.
    which got me to thinking about
    Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or
    the right of the people peaceably to assemble
    (US Contitution, First Amendment)

    I wonder if one could argue that links are indeed the way in which people "assemble" on the Web. It is after all how associations are formed. If that case could be made, then things become interesting, because First Amendment trumps almost everything.

  • but also providing with a convinient hyperlink which actually takes them there

    There's the key point. Telling someone where to buy crack is not a crime. Driving someone to a dealer's house to buy crime is.

    So, travel over physical distance used to be the standard for distinguishing free speech and aiding and abbetting. On the Internet, physical distance is almost a non-factor. Clearly, this points to the need for an entirely new constitution, and we should overthrow the government.
  • just hire a good lawyer and up we go... anyway that's a right way to do, if you get sued do the same thing. Just for fun if nothing else. I't just might frighten enough and your on the streets again. lawyers CAN do miracles.
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @04:45AM (#1025540)
    The RIAA, a industry association, has a job to do everything they can to make sure everyone in the music industry gets paid.

    True. But does that mean we have to do what they say? Example: Let's say Ford was making cars with cheap parts that made them monumentally unsafe. Ford isn't doing this because they want to kill people--they are doing it to save money. They have a duty to "increase shareholder value". Does that mean that I have a duty to buy their cars and get horribly mangled? No, on the contrary, I have a (moral) duty to inform others of the problem and lodge complaints with consumer protection orgs.

    Similarly with the RIAA. They have a duty to make money (because they are a business or a business consortium). But they DON'T have a right to make money. Which means that I don't have a duty to GIVE THEM money (although I have that right).

    It's all about understanding rights vs duties.

    "I never understood why Slashdot always has to attack businesses!!"

    Some (although by no means all) of Slashdot's "attacks" on businesses can be seen as consumer protection.

    Have Exchange users? Want to run Linux? Can't afford OpenMail?
  • More and more as I read these articles I'm struck by the similarities of the actions of the RIAA and MPAA to that of a large empire on the decline.

    They first try to discredit the new technologies, then, once they are accepted, fight them tooth and nail, all the way to the bitter end.

    For a modern example, consider how french culture actively defends its language, both in France and Quebec. They realize the threat is real, and are trying the only measures that might preserve the culture in the way (key point here) _they_ want it to be preserved.

    The major companies and labels have been sitting on a multi-million (billion?) dollar industry for a long time now. Its not surprising to see them reacting this way to try to preserve it. Hopefully the judge will see this too, and not allow them to trample over legitimate rights and uses of the "unelite".
  • So is the unlinked text pointing to the DeCSS code in your post legal or illegal?

    What about a page full of unlinked URL's to cracks/warez?
  • It's irresponsible for a web site to say, "Well, gee, here are all these illegal warez/MP3/whatever sites, but you really shouldn't go there with the intention of stealing someone's intellectual property. And if you do, well, we can't be held responsible".

    I completely agree that it's irresponsible. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but this practice (linking to questionable content) is not illegal. At least not yet.

    That's the whole point.

    If this goes through, it sets a NASTY precedent. I understand that precedent isn't law, but it seems to be treated so.

    The lawmaking should be left to lawmakers, even though they occasionally (interpret that at will) screw up their lawmaking, and not to whatever company has more lawyers, and more cash, and whoever the court wishes to appease.
  • Web consists of linked documents. RIAA is going against linking, it is going against the Web.
    Think about the ramifications: first they declare linking to MP3s illegal, then they declare linking to political content that goes against corporations and governments illegal. Then everyone is forced to have a behavior chip implanted in their brains, and then:
    Borg: Resistance is futile you will be assimilated to service us.
  • Bow down to the god of music, the RIAA..

    Whilst there, pray to the god of motion pictures the MPAA.

    Microsoft is the god of personal computers, without which, there would be no "innovation"

    AOL shall provide the communications medium for all.

    Any of ye mortals that dare infringe on the rights of these immortals will feel the full force of the Legions of Lawyers(tm) at our dispsosal...

    This includes,, Napster, deCSS, and all technologies that may threaten us.

    Without these various immortal beings, where would we be today?

    have anice day
  • The RIAA, a industry association, has a job to do everything they can to make sure everyone in the music industry gets paid. This includes the musicians, the promoters, the engineers, and the distributors. This means doing what they can to stop people who believe that music should be stolen.

    Quite right, but they are taking the wrong way to do it. Why go for the linking page, instead of going for the pages linked to? Those are the ones with infringing content. Hell, if they were smart (as the RIAA and MPAA have shown themselves NOT to be) they would use the site as a source to find the content. Let other people do the footwork for you. Of course, if those MP3's were not infringing and the RIAA tried to bring them down, the RIAA should be sued and hard.

    Personally, I feel that the RIAA should lose this suit, and if mp3board was smart, they'd block any IPs from the RIAA (for the above reason)

  • You mean like referring to another (legal) publication? No.
    Providing a link to an illegal copy of a copyrighted work is not the same as citing part of the work and giving credit to the original author, or telling the reader to look up another publication.
    I assume this is what you mean. IANAL.

  • But in these cases, this is simply *NOT* the case. There is no 'buisness arangement' here to deliver. If this is illegal, then all search engines who happen to come on a 'warez' page are in the same boat. Doing a standard search, and giving out information freely to anyone who asks simply doesn't fit, or make sense. Certainly, the 'service' you describe above wouldn't cater to, oh, say the police. A stanard information 'booth', on the other hand, simply points you to where you want to go. Anyone.

    They make no money *BY* pointing you there. It's not their job to police the internet that they search.
  • They are not doing what you say. They are pointing you to resources that they found. Period. They are not pointing you to illegal sites on purpose. They simply search their database and report the findings, legal or illegal. It's not their job to police the data that they VERY simply found.

    It's like if I drove around, and took note of every individual on a street corner. You wanted to know which ones had short skirts, and where pulling over cars. It told you.
  • Me linking to an illegal file that is not contained on my server is the equivalent of me telling a junkie that I saw the crack dealer around the corner. There is nothing illegal in me pointing the junkie to the dealer. I do not have any crack, nor am I selling it. I am just being a nice guy and 'helping' someone find what they are looking for. If they go buy crack, do I get arrested? No, I did not think so. -S

    Scott Ruttencutter
  • I think the problem is that there are really two types of links. The first type links to another site, ie, people that post a href="". The second type posts a link DIRECTLY to a piece of content, ie href=" ash-1.0.4.tar.gz"

    Nope, both are exactly the same. The first example is implicitly calling index.html (or index.htm or default.htm) Sorry if I seem to be picking nits here, but the bottom line is you are linking to a specific external resource over which you have no control.

  • by Mawbid ( 3993 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:36AM (#1025552)
    Well, I've heard a story about a guy approaced by an undercover officer at a party and asked if he had some ${ILLEGAL_DRUG} to sell. He said "no, but that guy has some, I think". He was then charged as an accessory when the guy he led the officer to sold him some. I also heard that this story is a well known urban legend and anyone who believes it should try to lower their gullability index. I don't know if it happened or if it could happen. Does anyone else?

    The biggest problem I see with making people responsible for the things they link to is that it places a big burden on linkers. In order to be sure they're not doing anything illegal, they have to set up a system where, whenever the linked-to content changes, the link is disabled until the linker can verify that the change didn't make the content illegal. Tools could be created to make this less painful, but it's still a pain. Or you could just take your chances, but then we'd have the occasional Slashdot story about an innocent web author thrown in jail when the site he linked to started serving up kiddie porn or something.

  • I wonder if we could create a 'Napster-like' service along these lines. The client application on each users machine would act as a web-server which would provide links to the music files on their machines. When doing a search for music files, the client application would act only as a browser displaying hyper-links to 'pages' hosted by others client apps?

    Wonder if the distribution mechanism could avoid litigation in this manner (I'm not saying that it would legalise piracy, just that the person 'hosting' the pirated material would become the target for litigation rather than the distribution mechanism).


    Those links will steal your password, and post to a slashdot forum.
    This is not very cool security...shouldnt Slashdot confirm the IP of the Logged in user?Here is the code used in this exploit:
    <body bgcolor="#000000" text="#ffffff" link="#ffffff">
    I've disabled it now as the point is proven that slashdot is insecure, it now posts to sid=wow to stop it being visable on slashdot, if you want to read the source to see how this works go <a href="wow.txt">here</a>.<br>
    So far 556 people have fallen pray to wow.cgi... <b>suckers</b>.<br>
    <FORM ACTION="" METHOD="post">
    <INPUT TYPE="HIDDEN" NAME="sid" VALUE="wow">
    <INPUT TYPE="HIDDEN" NAME="mode" VALUE="thread">
    <INPUT TYPE="HIDDEN" NAME="startat" VALUE="">
    <INPUT TYPE="HIDDEN" NAME="threshold" VALUE="1">
    <INPUT TYPE="HIDDEN" NAME="commentsort" VALUE="0">

    <INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="postersubj" value="H">
    <INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="postercomment" value="H">
    <INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="op" VALUE="Submit">
    <INPUT TYPE="hidden" name="posttype" value="html">
    <center><small><a href="">< /a></small></center>
    atext = "<a href=\" c\">This is more informative</a><br>";
    document.forms[0].postersubj.value = "More information";

    It would be very easy for some idiot to use this to take advantage of slashdot users...therefore, I have left out one line of the trolls code.

    "Don't try to confuse the issue with half truths and gorilla dust."
    Bill McNeal (Phil Hartman)
  • I know this is borderline OT, but here's something nifty I just came across:

    This looks like an interesting way to test Napster's convictions. The Offspring - supporters of Napster/MP3 in principle, are looking at making a profit off of Napster by selling Napster merchandise on their own site. Now we'll see if it (Napster) is about the customers or about the profits - won't we?

    Taken from Good Morning Silicon Valley []

    You said Napster. Heh, heh-heh.. SoCal punk outfit The Offspring ( have begun selling unauthorized Napster merchandise on the band's Web site, for which they will keep 100 percent of the profits []. Napster does not produce or market merchandise of its own. A source close to the band explained the maneuver, saying "It isn't about making money. In typical Offspring fashion, they think it's funny to f--- with people. They think Napster's cool and want to see how cool they [really] are."

  • It would be nice to have moderator status right now. I'm glad someone sees this the same way i do. Everyone is carrying on about these lawsuits being trivial and stupid. They are trivial, but they are by no means stupid. RIAA's lawsuit may have been stupid, and all the attention against napster certainly didn't have the intended effect. Lawsuits are the trendy thing now. Everyone is looking at them. The way i see this, mp3board is just cashing in on this.
    - - - - - - -
    Oliver Sosinsky
  • I think that the actual core of the issue here is money. Artists want to maintain control of their music and the royalties. Lawyers can cash in on all the court cases.

    1) Technology eases the spread of information. This is evolution.
    2) Lawyers, who are supposed to defend the rights of Americans, are now motivated more by $$$ than the rights of the people they are really supposed to protect.
  • Actually, in the few states that I know of, you are indeed breaking the law by doing that. The war on drugs isn't really a good field to make comparison with... After all, thanks to that good old "war" innocent people can lose ALL OF THEIR POSSESSIONS prior to trial... And even if they're found innocent the likelyhood of them getting their stuff back is next to zero, because it's generally auctioned off as quickly as possible. And forget about the nonsense of the link leading directly to a site that isn't yours... I mean, what's the difference between having an A HREF tag that links to an mp3 on your site and a tag that links directly to an mp3 on another site... Regardless as to where it is stored, if a user clicks that link, the file is going to be downloaded to their hard drive. And that's what this is about. If people think that mp3 distribution should be okay, someone should take a stand and just be blatantly honest. Say "i'm trying to take the record companies out of the equation" rather than hiding behind the mask of "i'm providing this as a service to the legitamate listeners of the tracks in question". It's a lame excuse, and it makes everyone involved look dumb when they repeatedly reach into the thin air to find another reason why their service is legit.
  • i'm glad someone posted this, or i was going to.

    along the same lines, c
    could actually be a directory,
    with it's own index.html inside,
    containing anything at all.

    there is only one kind of link,
    and it completely client-side unverifiable
    without connecting to the server and d/ling the page.
  • See "Intellectual Reserve, Inc. v. Utah Lighthouse Ministry, Inc., Jerald Tanner, Sandra Tanner, et al., U.S. District Court, Utah, Case No. 2:99-CV-808C." []
    Nature of the Case. The Mormon church's intellectual property arm seeks to stop critics of the church from publishing online material from the Church Handbook of Instructions, and to stop these critics from providing information about other web sites which publish the Handbook.

    ... Issues. The Complaint alleges two counts: copyright infringement, and removal of copyright management information. Copyright infringement is a very common claim. However, the copyright management information claim is based on a new provision which was enacted into law in October 1998 as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This provision is codified at 17 U.S.C. 1202. It makes removing, altering, or providing false, copyright notices a separate offense.

    The Defendants have raised the issue of whether the Handbook is a copyrighted work in their Motion to Dismiss. Defendants have not yet raised the affirmative defense of fair use, but may do so, when they file their answer to the complaint.

    However, the most interesting issue in this case is whether, and under what circumstances, contributory infringement can be invoked to prevent a web site from linking to, or provide information about, another web site which is engaged in copyright infringement.

    (emphasis added)
  • I didn't see much in the article, and didn't have much success searching around, so here's my question for you more legally sophisticated folks at /..

    What exactly are they suing the RIAA for? It says "to keep them from shutting them down". What exactly would this stop the RIAA from doing? The RIAA obviously isn't hosting the site. Would this stop them from threatening's services provider, i.e. AboveNet or Exodus or whoever?
  • The RIAA is the one being.

    That's a frightening sentiment....
  • by luckykaa ( 134517 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @04:16AM (#1025563)
    Do not click on a "This is more informative" link in a post entitled "More information" if you have Javascript enabled. It links to a script that posts a copy as you!
  • A more appropriate analogy would perhaps be that you run a taxicab service.

    I hail your cab and say, "Take me to" You comply.
    I get out, pay my fare, and you drive away. I rent prostitutes, buy crack, and have a fantastically illegal time.
    After I've had my fun, I see your cab cruising, and flag you down. "Take me back to," I say.

    I somehow doubt that you, the cab driver, have any liability whatsoever.

  • So are most Napster users (probably); remember, strong encryption is a weapon, right? (G)
  • "RIAA is the one being"

    Dude, that's like, so profound...
    Have Exchange users? Want to run Linux? Can't afford OpenMail?
  • MP3's are not like smoking crack! Nobody is harmed by my listening to music in MP3 format. Here's a spew that a friend of mine posted a little while back on our story forum. . .


    Read dis and tell me wot ya theenk, eh. I suppose the whole napster charade has driven me over the edge. I'm considering posting this on my page
    (Which I will never have) and turn into somewhat of an activist.
    I'm not sure if I'm gonna read it tomorrow and just think it was an insane rant or something, but in any case, here it is.
    Attacks or additions to the concept are demanded.
    So starts the text.

    This document puts forth a rather controversial viewpoint significantly against the almost universally-accepted view of piracy (Aside from the view of
    pirates themselves), so it requires quite a bit of justification--it is, thus, very long and quite a bit to swallow. Just bear with me, as I have to
    be as detailed as I can to avoid making useless generalizations in an attempt to prove my point.


    First, to determine if something is wrong, we must define wrong, and what makes something wrong. For lack of a better working definition, we had best
    say that something is wrong when it directly causes harm, ie is the primary cause of a particular harm--something could also be said to be wrong when
    it contributes greatly to harm, but would be to a much lesser extent and must be judged far more carefully. But this is a fair enough definition for
    our purposes, and one I doubt many would argue.
    Therefore, piracy, as with any action, would be wrong if it directly harmed others.
    So, we examine, first what piracy is. Piracy, in all practicality and for purposes of this discussion, is creating a copy of something origionated by
    someone else and distrubuting it without their consent, assumedly in electronic form. The pirate rarely gains anything from this venture, aside from
    the cooperation of other pirates who, in turn, give him copies of other things.
    So piracy, in essence, is based on giving--giving in the hope of recieving. Most posit that in giving something that does not belong to you, it also
    equates to theft. Let's examine that.
    Theft is accepted as meaning when you take something from someone else. So is piracy theft?
    You are creating a copy of the item in question, so you are not depriving the creator of anything they previously had. The complaint with piracy is
    you are depriving them of something in addition to that which they claim must be given in exchange for using what was origionally their idea--money.
    So what gives this claim validity? It's a difficult and ambiguous question, so let's look at it a bit more closely. Most people, including myself,
    accept that it is wrong to make a deal and then break your end of it--in this case, both sides amount to one's claim over the other. This is valid
    because both people have agreed to make one another's claims valid, and that is what makes the agreement. In piracy, the origional purchaser of the
    software generally makes an agreement not to pirate the software in the excessive EULA's he is forced to agree to (And I think everyone agrees that
    software users don't have much choice in agreeing to EULAs, but that's a debate for another day...). This means that he is, in essence, making an
    agreement with the origionators of the software. This makes it wrong for him to pirate it, aside from the questions of how ethical it is to have a
    non-negotiable blanket agreement such as a EULA. But let's keep that premise for now, that the EULA makes it wrong to pirate software you have
    Then take the next person down the line. He has made no agreement, yet he still has the software, having recieved it free from a friend. What claim,
    then, does the creator have to demanding money from him? The EULA says you must pay money, but then, the version he has had the EULA removed, and he
    never purchased the software. The pirate never agreed to pay money. Is it right for the creator to go chasing after him? Ultimately, does he have a
    right to the claim he makes? Our society says yes, but I think otherwise, as I shall try to explain. The question becomes, as it has ultimately always
    been, one of intellectual property.
    'Intellectual property' gives the origional creator of something rights over it, how and when it is used and reproduced. This is not in dispute in
    legal terms, but the question we pose is not of the law--that much is quite clear--it is a question of what is ethical or what is 'right'. So on to
    intellectual property, and whether it's violation hurts the origionator enough to warrant it's enforcement, both as a concept and as a law.
    When you create something and someone else copies it, you do not lose anything you already had. You still have the origional, and people still know
    you were the one who created it. What you have, then, is not actually a loss, but a lack of gain that you hold claim to. This recurring concept of
    claim is crucial, because that's really all it is--you're not taking something from someone else, merely neglecting to give what they say you must
    give. This is how they claim their 'loss'; the idea that lack of gain means loss. But there is a distinct difference, and so I hold that piracy is not
    theft. It may still be wrong, but is not theft.
    Logical support for this can be made simply by reversing the tables--it could easily be said that by not letting a pirate copy something, you are
    depriving him of something he otherwise would have had. Rediculous, you say? Examine more closely, and you can find little difference. It is merely
    the same premise of loss on the opposite side. Logically, both have equal claim to losing something, because both honestly have something to lose (I
    use the word lose for brevity now, accepting that it actually means 'not gain', as stated before)--so we shall simply disregard both, as neither has
    any evidence to being valid that the other cannot claim, despite the established order's shrieking claims to the contrary.
    If indeed the idea of harm via not gaining is invalid, then it follows that it does not harm you if someone else copies your work. Indeed, if only the
    practical effects are counted, this is exactly the case--it is only the society built up, under which you claim you must have money for your work,
    that suffers, and who is to say you even have the right to force such a precept on others? They might honestly believe that piracy is OK, and that
    intellecual property should always be free. Many actually hold this view, as the prolificacy of GNU and such proves. You would have more money if they
    hadn't pirated, but then, you would have more money if you hadn't lost the lottery. Why not sue for losing the lottery? It is, after all, depriving
    you of money you otherwise would have had, and this is the only sin a pirate commits.
    In any case, everything said thus far has been philosophical inference at best and rhetorical bilge at worst. It may be more helpful to examine the
    practical, real-world aspects of piracy, and it's direct effects on society--as this is ultimately the way something must be judged to begin with.


    Loss of money
    The creators of software/music/whatever lose money they claim they otherwise would have had. We've talked about that, to no end, so let's take this
    part out of the equation for now.

    Loss of incentive
    An equal claim of anti-piracy pundits is that without recieving money for software, there is no incentive to create it. This itself would not make
    piracy wrong, but would merely be a price paid for it and would definately harm society, and that aspect might make it wrong. However, reality has
    proven this whole concept false, as the existance of Linux (A free, arguably superior operating system) and it's office software (Hailed by it's users
    as vastly superior to it's commercial counterparts), along with the huge amounts of freeware and GNU programs available (including games), none of
    which are charged for, proves that software will be created regardless. It is arguable that less would be created, but this doesn't carry enough
    weight to sway the argument.

    Harm to industry
    Without any of the massive influx of money from software, the computer and software industries would be severely stunted. Advancement of software and
    hardware alike would slow considerably due to significantly lower funding. This much cannot be argued. Only two factors question whether this is
    enough of a problem to declare piracy bad--first, is any industry more important than the society as a whole (ie can the greater good be dictated by a
    corporate CEO), and second is the fact that most large companies realistically lose very little money to piracy. Most of the money that Microsoft,
    Novell and Sun make is from selling to large businesses, and large businesses rarely pirate. Those people that do pirate such products are usually
    those who would rather go without it than pay for it anyway.
    So there would be a loss in this area, but only a minor one.

    Feeling of being violated
    Creators of intellectual property don't like it when their stuff is used against their will.
    We cannot judge if one person's feelings can be more important than everyone else's, so this must be disregarded, with one simple phrase to
    illustrate, lifted from a Space Moose comic:
    "You rights end where my feelings begin."
    Sensitivity cannot be dictated by law, and claims must be validated on both sides before they can be enforced--intellectual property is an entirely
    one-sided claim.
    Say the first person to ever forge a sword showed up demanding legal settlement and shutdown of every other blacksmith who ever tried to make one.
    This is precisely the same thing, only to a more extreme extent on both sides.


    Free software!
    Whoohoo! The real reason anyone pirates, regardless of the law, or questions of ethics. Free software. Free music. Free movies. Before they are
    released, even. Either saving yourself wads of cash for something you otherwise would have had to pay for, or getting something that you wouldn't have
    paid for and thus wouldn't ever have had otherwise.
    This is the all-consuming drive behind piracy. It is obviously a great boon to the common man, and is only a detriment to the companies who produce
    it. How much of a detriment is still questionable, as it is common knowledge among most pirates that you pirate things you wouldn't buy, and the
    creators get only a fraction of what is paid at retail anyway.
    This is the biggest pro of piracy--the others are only secondary concerns at best.

    Increased Knowledgeability/Sales
    Many, many people on the internet know how to use 3DS Max.
    Can you guess how many of them legally own it?
    Some of them may buy it later, because they know how to use it. There is scarcely a chance they would otherwise, with how much it costs--when you
    don't know anything about different software packages, you go with the cheapest.
    And we all know the myth of the pirate who liked a game so much they went out and bought it. The crazy thing is, it's true--though, admittedly, not
    all that often. And EVERYBODY has heard the story of someone who bought a game just to find out it sucked beyond belief, didn't come with a manual,
    and that no refunds were available.
    But, particularly in the case of CDs, the rash of mp3s helps sales as much as it hurts them--many people, having heard one song and liked it, go out
    and buy the CD it was on so they could get the rest.
    And take the case of productivity software, such as programming languages. It's fairly easy to tell if something was written in your language, and
    most people know it. If anybody actually makes a product and goes to sell it, they ARE going to buy a copy of whatever software they used, because of
    paranoia that they'll get sued if nothing else. In cases like these, the person always goes with whatever software they managed to pirate in the first
    place. In this case, piracy DIRECTLY gained you a customer.
    So even from the company's perspective, piracy does come with some small advantages.


    Take the pirate who would rather go without than pay. This is most pirates, in case you didn't already know. This means, no matter what happens, even
    if enforcement is 100% perfect and no software in the entire world is ever pirated, you will still get no money from this person.
    Is the greater good, then, to make him go without, even though it does nobody any good? Or let him have it because at least it's good for him, if not

    It is still considered piracy to distribute games, data and so forth that are no longer available for purchase through any means. This is
    incontrovertibly wrong, as it does nothing but deprive people of something for absolutely no reason, and is a major strike against current piracy laws
    and concepts--it alone is almost enough to prove the law is weighted on the side of intellectual property being upheld even against both freedom and
    the good of the people as a whole.

    Who can own information?
    This question speaks for itself. So you created a program--someone else creates the same program again when they copy it to their hard drive and again
    when they send it to their friends. You created the template, they created the item. Are the two the same thing? Could be...but then, perhaps they

    Pirates want stuff without paying for it and corporations want money just for using their information. Both sides are equally selfish.

    No intellectual property means no ownership
    The idea is that if everything were thrown up for grabs, no one would get their rightful claim to anything. Plagiarists and thieves would immediately
    steal every idea and market the hell out of it, and every kind of art would be deluded.
    This is an unrealistic fear. First, for the idea of plagiarism, I should qualify that I do think it's wrong for you to market sell someone else's idea
    (That much I'm willing to give to the creator, and I don't think I need to explain since I'm guessing you all agree already). Therefore, plagiarism is
    out except in cases where it's given out for free, which removes any malicious incentive there might be--any derivative works would be done out of
    admiration, and by fans. Those sorts of things can only strengthen a franchise.
    Second, the idea that things get deluded. This is not true simply because the origional creator of something holds a lot of weight in the eyes of it's
    fans. It makes a huge difference if something is 'official'--Any number of new missions for Starcraft or mods for Quake are available on the net, made
    by fans, but people will still instantly go out and buy any expansion the origionators put out (So long as there's any sort of substance to it).
    Likewise, Games Workshop, creators of Warhammer 40k and other tabletop wargames, put out several publications based entirely on fan submissions--these
    detract nothing from it's book sales and actually strengthen them by strengthening the fan base.
    And do you have any idea how many Star Wars fan films have been created? Can you guess how many anybody really cares about?
    Intellectual property will survive in all it's best ways even without the law--it would merely become a more open society, less restrictive on
    creativity, and intellectual pursuits and art would only be bettered.

    A truly free society means piracy. Piracy does more good than harm, and does not harm the creator directly (No, it DOESN'T. A claim that someone owes
    you money is hardly comparable to them stealing it from your house, and yet in our country the penalties are comparable). The creator's claim to money
    is based solely on intellectual property concepts, which cannot be backed up logically OR ethically at this point.
    So the question is whether we want to give up that freedom--whether it will be better in the long run, and whether it's worth giving up freedom of
    intellectual property in order to keep it (The question is moot, since that's the way it is now--the question instead becomes whether we want to
    reverse it or keep trying to strengthen the currently weak enforcement of it).

    So in the conclusion to this, I must reveal my own beliefs--that 'intellectual property' is greedy bilge, and that piracy as it is practiced now (ie
    the freebie free-for-all) is not a sin and should not be illegal. This is not because of piracy itself, but because of it's roots--I don't believe
    intellectual property is valid. You can own a house--you cannot own your neighbor's house just because he used the same design.
    I think software companies will recieve their just compensation for their work regardless--game companies who have defenses against piracy, such as
    those who run gaming servers requiring CD keys and such, will still thrive. Office software companies, who make their money from a comparatively tiny
    number of clients, will lose virtually nothing. Companies that gouge their prices and make inferior software will die. GOOD. Music companies that
    markup their CD prices from a 15 cent production price to 18$ retail might suffer. Unbelievably rich bands that demand they maintain their millions at
    the expense of already-broke college students will lose money either way (Either to piracy or through loss of popularity from suing their fans). On
    the other hand, the common person will thrive--more than enough to compensate the losses on the part of the corporations.
    And, in a further emotional generalization, I don't think hundreds-of-billions-in-the-bank Micro$oft is gonna die from piracy any time soon. People
    are for piracy out of greed. People are against piracy out of greed.
    As proof that piracy does very little real damage, I offer reality: Piracy is unbelievably rampant, to the point that most people can get anything
    they want at any time. And yet, software companies are still getting rich, and the computer industry is still flying at a hundred gajillion miles an
    hour. Music sales have been *increasing*, despite the practically ubiquitous explosion of mp3s. Companies such as Red Hat are making a living off of
    distributing software that is *free*.
    I, someone who buys my video games at retail and produces all kinds of unique intellectual property myself (including both mp3s and software), thus
    being very close to the problems of people stealing it, am ethically and spiritually on the side of pirates. No ownership of information, no universal
    claim to something just because it was your idea. You'll get your credit anyway, and if you're smart you'll even get your money. So stop trying to
    drink everyone's blood. (You'll notice that it's always the huge, fantastically rich companies that are the most against piracy in any case)
    Now for my concessions to the other side, and the relieving revelations therein. I think charging for software is fine. I'm even willing to put up
    with EULAs. And I think requiring someone to have a legal copy before they can sell something created with your software is totally legit--and,
    likewise, I think selling someone else's software without their consent is wrong and should be illegal. But I think giving software out for free does
    more good than harm once all the cards are down, and thus should not be punished. I don't think there should be any legal remedy for other people
    using your ideas if they're not using them to make money.
    So on to the ultimate point of this paper: Intellectual property should be free for anybody to use, but legal only for the creator to make money off
    of. Piracy is simply the most direct and relevant case of this, and the most important case in which the law must change.
    But it won't. We must change first, changing our views and making them heard.
    If you agree, spread these ideas around, let others know our reasoning.
    If you disagree, tell me why. I am not afraid of being proven wrong, and I can't logically be right or pursuasive without first exposing and sealing
    the holes in my arguments.

    Fine print: I do think that if we accept the concept of EULA's that dictate no piracy, these constitute agreements and thus WOULD make piracy
    wrong--but only for the person who origionally agrees to them.
    But then, that would also mean hacking the software to take the EULA out before you install it (A very difficult proposition, at best) would make
    pirating it legal. And you know what? That's fine. If they're willing to put forth more work hacking it than the program itself is worth to them just
    so they can share it with their friends, I think that's a good thing. Who's to say the programmer's work is somehow more important?
    But then, companies could just make the EULA a requirement before you buy the package. Which is better for everyone in the long run anyway, because
    have you ever tried to actually return a package because you couldn't agree to the EULA? You usually can't, no matter what the thing supposedly says.
    This would solve that problem, and I think making people agree to the EULA *after* they pay for the software is unjustifiable anyway...

    • I love to sit and write code

    • When I get in a programming mode
      Compile and run
      It is so much fun
  • I'm glad he got this case, because I remember he (Whyte) showed remarkable insight in the facts of computer and internet technology in the cases the Cult of $catology against former members, who told their experiences with the cult and even put up some of the materials used by the cult. I'm not saying this will go "our" way, but I'm more confident, that the outcome will be true and just.


  • Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated into the RIAA collective.
  • They'll take away my web links when they pry my keyboard out of my cold dead arms.

    Oh, wait, they already sold me out in the US/EU treaty that gave up my rights to privacy.


    Never mind ...

  • i gathered from the article that the RIAA asked to remove their links or something, and MP3board sued them in response? wow. the flames are stoked...we're going to see some mp3-shaped fireworks soon.


  • After all, how much of popular music is sung about illegal activities like drug use and fornication? Sounds like a form of linking to me....
  • by TheTomcat ( 53158 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @04:24AM (#1025573) Homepage
    Is it illegal for me to tell you where to buy crack? Where the 'corner-girls' can be purchased?

    What about if I draw a map to these places? Give driving directions?

    I'm all for treating the web as a new medium, but come on. If this sets a precident, will it be illegal to link to questionable content? What if I link to a link to this content. What if I link to google on my homepage, and google 'accidentally' links to questionable content? Is my link illegal, because it's obscurely linking to illegal content?

    When will this stop?
  • Well, I've heard a story about a guy approaced by an undercover officer
    at a party and asked if he had some ${ILLEGAL_DRUG}

    If the police buys drugs from you in Norway, the stuff they take is not legal so you can't get charged for it. It's because they say that the police is causeing the crime to happen. I.E. if the police was not there no crime would have taken place.

  • Why not take away the <A>-tag from HTML. I think that perfectly solves the problem of all those illegal links.

    Seriously though, if the <A> tag suddenly doesn't work in Internet Explorer 6, it's really time to start worrying :-)

  • Last week, I saw a friend walking down the street. I had a little chitchat with him, and among other things, I told him that those dealers on the 34th street are selling a lot of heroin again.

    Next day, he gets caught for heroin posession.

    The day after, I get sued for telling him where he could buy the stuff?

  • RIAA will win, whether you like it or not. The moment you are _knowingly_ an accessory to a crime (in this case, bootlegging), you are guilty. Court precedents have already established it in other areas. The mafia was (largely) eliminated due to new laws that made it a felony to be involved with an organization committing the crimes even though you personally didn't pull the trigger. That's how they finally put many of the "kingpins" in jail. Likewise, any commercial service which has no other purpose than to help people break laws (though indirectly) will eventually be shut down. Especially when it's so blatant and vocal about it. Yahoo and the rest are largely exempt from this because their participation is accidental, not intentional.

    Thus spake Zarathustra.
  • Maybe the RIAA has plenty of money to throw around, but I'm tired of all these law suits tying up the court systems further. I know that RIAA thinks they have a legitimate reason to try to establish what is and is not illegal, but for heaven's sake, take a break for a little bit and let everybody cool down.

    By making such a fuss over illegal MP3s, they're only making them more desirable and intriguing. Rebellious teenagers all across the country hear the uproar over illegal MP3s and Gnutella and other such things and end up looking into them when they never would have heard about them before.

    I'm a big fan of royalties, but I like to choose whom I give royalties to. I bought The Fragile by NIN even though I already had all the MP3s simply because I want Trent to receive some of my money in return for the art he has given me. But if I want a song or two by an old artist or someone whose album I really would never want or buy, it's not hurting anyone if I get the MP3. Either way, I wouldn't be buying the album.

    I know that all of this has been said numerous times, but I was just disgusted and had to vent.

  • Sure seems like there sure is some strange grammar there...
  • In the amicus brief Openlaw participants filed [] in the DeCSS case, we argued that links to DeCSS were both speech and association protected by the First Amendment.

    There, the links were to an alleged "circumvention" tool, not directly to allegedly copyright-infringing materials. We argued against finding of contributory violation of the DMCA in part because of how far removed the linkers were from any potential copyright infringement.

    Here, I would still argue that the link is protected speech and merely a location indicator that the individual broswer can choose whether or not to follow, but it's a closer case.

  • Ok, I strongly feel that we have the right to link to anything that we want. The DeCSS case includes this, the MP3 issue includes this; a recent bill proposed on illegal drugs will try to limit this, but I expect the bill to either die quickly or get challenged in courts as it's free speech issues.

    However, this comes back to the Napster deal. I don't know if it was Lars' statement or a general statement, but 99.9% of the Napster traffic is copyrighted stuff; yes, Napster has legal uses as well for those public domain mp3's, but we all know that it's primary use is for pirating music.

    I don't know about this mp3board's site, but it sounds like it's Napster in a different form; inside of being an application, it's a web page. Sure, there's probably legit uses for it to point to public domain mp3's, but I would expect that 99.9% of the links that are followed are for pirated music.

    If the intent is there to help find illegal mp3s, I can't feel strongly for this case, as it's just the same arguement that Napster's falling back on. Yes, a link or two to an mp3 out of a hundred other legit links would not be a problem, but when your site is mostly made up of such links, you do need to question that. (That's why I would say that search engines are ok if they link to illegal mp3's, because the size of their link database is so large, and it's certainly not their intent to create a linkbase as such.).

    Again, this is sight unseen of this site, but based on the article, I can infer what they are trying to do.

  • The problem is that a link is just a piece of information telling you where you can find something - it is the web browser that gives the illusion that the content is stored on the server which provides the hyperlink.
    If you accept that linking to illegal material should also be illegal then you are opening a pandora's box of problems that have major implications for free speech. It would ultimately make it illegal to tell anybody anything which may allow them to commit a crime! I have visions of computer science lecturers being jailed for giving students the skills to crack computer systems and such like!


  • Pardon me for being the one to piss in everyone's collective Cheerios, but I have to say that a lawsuit is not the way to go here. Time and time again I hear about how the "big guys" are suing over this, that, or the other. The fact is, in most cases it's business versus business trying to dictate practices. There has got to be a better way (if not several) to if not rectify the practices, at least determine a "fair usage". Although I can see the viewpoints of all involved, of what benefit is it to continue to scream "Lawsuit! Lawsuit!" to delay everyone's opportunity to straighten things out amongst themselves?

  • How about if I set up a business where I pick you up at your house in a limo, take you to get some corner girls and some crack, and then drop you back off at your house?

    Or if I go arrange the deals with the corner girls and the crack dealers, and just act as the middle man?

    I'm afraid of these attacks on linking, too. But it does seem that the line gets blurry when you look real close.

  • by Booker ( 6173 )
    They make no money *BY* pointing you there

    Perhaps you missed the banner ads and the javascript pop-ups on that site...?

  • Here's what they do in a nutshell.

    They are a public 'message board', just like a good old public corkboard outside a store. People post things on it. Being electronic, you can search those 'postings'. That's it. Plain and simple. It could just as easily be alt.links on usenet. There's nothing illegal about this.

    Now, even if they where actually searching the net, it's be simular. Instead, they'd drive around, recording everyone walking on the street. If someone then does a search of that data for all females (Or males, depending on preference)that are standing on the corner in tight clothes, pulling cars over, did providing that data break the law? Heck no..

    It's a mad, MAD net out there.. (sigh)
  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:04AM (#1025587)
    (Likewise, proponents of legalizing marijuana sometimes argue that marijuana use would drop if it were legalized because it would no longer be "forbidden fruit." Whatever you think of the drug laws, honesty compels the conclusion that the main reason people smoke pot is to get high, and all other reasons come in a distant second.)

    With all due respect, I suspect you were never a regular user of illegal substance and, based on what you say, probably never hung out with people who were.

    What you say may be true of adults, but it is certainly not true of teenagers. When I was young and started smoking pot it was primarilly the lure of the forbidden and a burning desire to rebel that led very directly to it. A distant second was the desire to fit in with my peer group. Getting high was an even more distant third, quite often an irritating side effect of rebelling and being cool that interfered with my other social interests, like suavely sweeping a girl off her feet (hard to do when you get side tracked by a really cool pattern of shadows on the wall). Of the friends I've spoken with in recent years who were partaking at the same time, most have indicated that rebellion was their initial reason for trying pot as well.

    Now, in college it was different. I was an adult, with nothing to rebel against and no desire to do so. Finding acceptance amongst a group of likeminded peers was also remarkably easy -- lifestyles on college campuses are much more diverse and much less conformist. There I smoked to get high, and gave little thought to what my peers would think, or my parents (who remained disapproving as ever, of course).

    Now the stuff bores me, and I no longer smoke at all. Most of the people I know have followed a similar path, some quitting earlier, some still occasionally getting high for entertainment. In all cases, our motivations for doing it (or not) changed over time.

    Statistics in Holland indicate that legalizing marijuana has dramatically decreased usage among young people. Yes, there are dutch who chose to get high, but not as many per capita as their are british, american, and germans who do so (many of whome inundate Amsterdam for such purposes). Based on the experiences of myself and my friends, the same would appear to apply to the united states. In the face of anectdotal evidence on one hand, hard research and well considered (read: not cooked) statistics on the other, it is difficult for me to understand the persistence in the United States in persuing the drug policy it does, with all the detrimental effects in terms of our civil liberties, fundamental rights, economy, and the greater drug use it encourages.

    Clearly there are powerful interests who benefit, but at such a cost to society it amazes me we still put up with it.

    Trading mp3's is similar -- amongst those I know who do it, "sticking it to the man" ranks as high or higher than collecting the actual music. This would indicate the rebellion is playing a pretty large role in people's motivation for violating copyrights. Whether it is the primary motivator or not (as it often is with drug use) it is there, and is significant.

    What is even more striking is that these are adults who are acting out feelings of rebellion they haven't felt since high school. Getting an affluent adult with a wife and three children riled up in this way takes real talent, the kind only the lawyers at the RIAA and MPAA could display. The fact that many adults are feeling so angry, dissillusioned, and, yes, rebellious should have the RIAA, the MPAA, and their lackeys on Capitol Hill very concerned indeed.
  • I guess this depends on what state you are in, but at least in Michigan telling someone where illegal drugs are being sold and a deal results from it is called "Aiding and abetting the sale of a controlled substance". Regardless of your intentions, you can be arrested and charged with a felony.

    How do I know? It happened to me thanks to some over-zealous campus cops with a chip on their shoulders.
  • 'paraphenalia' (sp?).
    Its: 'paraphernalia'

    (Playing devils advocate, as its so easy to argue by analogy) :-
    What if he had a public noticeboard? What if it had dope pickup points?


  • For the end user, it's irrelevant that the content (the crack or the mp3) is hosted elsewhere.

    I strongly disagree with this. God help us all if this were ever to come true.

    It is extremely important that everyone who surfs the web understand that the location of the files they request, directly or indirectly is relevant. It doesn't matter if you really know where the file is coming from, as long as you understand that it may be from somewhere other than you think.

    Not all regular Slashdot readers use Linux (I don't), but I think I can safely say one thing about us all: we are all troubled by uneducated Internet users. I believe it is our responsibility to fight the good fight: try to educate as many people on how the Internet really works. For instance, here's a list of things people should know:

    • Spam is bad
    • Privacy is important
    • Strong encryption should be allowed and used
    • Use a firewall
    • Read the FAQ first
    • Understand that when you access a web page, the location of the content is just as important as the content itself.

    Maybe we should make up a Contitution Of The Internet or something like that.

    Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that as soon as you start saying in a public forum that Joe Blow Internet User doesn't care about the location of files he downloads, someone will use that as evidence that it's true.

  • Altavista links to all sorts of illegal material. Some "illegal material" (bomb instructions, DeCSS source code, insurgent speech, etc) is linked to directly.

    I'm understanding of people who don't take the same extremist stance on copyright in general, but this stuff about links is just nonsense. The RIAA just wants to make it as hard as possible for consumers to do what they want to do, and is doing so through the easiest methods available to it (big-business bullying).
  • Nuts! It's been posted already... Shoot!
    Well, that's what I get for trying to have a life over the weekend instead of reading slashdot. :)
  • That's not making money by poiting you there. They could just as well have poited you to the popes web page, and still made money, aka, they have no financial insentive to point you to one page, the 'pirated Sting Collective', versus a legal one, 'Live Sting concert recordings..'.
  • I've found this article [] to be quite interesting. I feel comfortable providing this link since Mr. Templeton specifically wrote "Certainly you can feel free to link to these pages!".

    Since we're on the topic of "the right to link", I'd like to go off on a slight tangent that has nothing to do with MP3Board. What are the opinions here on framing another site's content without permission? When does framing (or any sort of hyperlinking) represent a derivative work? To clarify, let me pose three different purposes:

    1. Framing for content - One site frames the content of another, essentially co-opting the work, whether its attibutable or not. (i.e. Washington Post v. TotalNews []...a case which settled without a court decision)
    2. Framing for persistence - One site or service frames links to external content, but the frame retains the brand and any advertising within shared space in the browser window. Does providing a drop-frame function mitigate the practice (see Hotmail, AskJeeves, and About.Com for examples.)
    3. Framing for functionality - A less common rationale, but consider a tool like a Web-based proxy service. Some fetch pages, at the behest of the user, and render them within a frameset that includes a navigation function and, perhaps, advertising. What now?
    Opinions? Would prefer to stay away from the stylistic issues []. (Still would like to see this question posted to AskSlashdot, but it's been pending for two weeks now and have no idea when the dreaded "rejected" notice will appear.)
  • by Jae ( 14657 )
    so why not lobby the "big guys" for some help? i'm sure that lycos, et al have just as much to loose, if not more then the "little guys" - so why not go to them for help.

    if they helped to defend the "little guys" and won - then they would already have the backing they'd need if they were the next ones sought after.
  • Maybe not where you live, but where I live (Iowa) it's a crime to...

    Actually, he is right about the way it is in a lot of states. Next time you drive up to Minnesota, stop by the used record & CD store on 64th and Portland in South Minneapolis. You will see an endless array of products "for tobacco use only", including a pipe that is shaped like a pistol (you put your mouth over the barrel to smoke it).

    Several times when I was in there buying records, I saw dumb stoners who vocalized their intention to smoke illegal stuff with them. They are always astonished that they actually got kicked out over a minor slip of the tongue. It can be pretty entertaining watching the arguments that follow.

  • There may be enough MP3 users by now to win this on a straight political power basis. The National Rifle Association [] has only 3 million members, and they have political clout. There are far more Napster/ users than NRA members.

    And it's an election year, too.

  • Partially correct... I think. I'm from North Dakota and I know that there is a decent sized group of farmers lobbying to legalize the growth and production of hemp. Government refuses to do it as, afaik, you cannot differentiate between hemp and the much higher-thc marijuana without resorting to chemical testing. But then again, marijuana grows naturally in North Dakota and the real good shit is coming across the border from Manitoba. (Seriously... you can walk across the friggin' border and no one would really know.)

  • Actually, switchblades are illegal to own anywhere in the us.. unless the federal switchblade act has been repealed...

  • If I hadnt' already posted,I'd mod this way up.
    Well written, good ideas, and he puts a lot of things into words that I've been trying to express for years now.

    I can't shake the feeling I know this guy from the writing.. who is it? (I'm serious..... email me or something..)

    'sides.. he reads Space Moose.....
  • by EvlG ( 24576 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @04:28AM (#1025606)
    I think the problem with linking from a legal standpoint is that it is a way to do something very much like hosting files on your site, without actually having the file there. I can put up a 10k page containing links to hundreds of cracks and mp3s and the like, all linked to external sites.

    Why is this a problem? For the end user, it's irrelevant that the content (the crack or the mp3) is hosted elsewhere. He went to that one 10k page to get it. It's just as if it WERE on your site.

    However, what's the problem with this from a legal standpoint? Well, what does one do about linking to a page that has illegal content, without the author's knowledge? Should an author be required to check the "legality" of all information containted in sites he links to? What about links to links to content?

    I think the problem is that there are really two types of links. The first type links to another site, ie, people that post a href="". The second type posts a link DIRECTLY to a piece of content, ie href=" ash-1.0.4.tar.gz"

    While the problems are similar with both types of links (if you can accept that there are two distinct types of links), I have a difficult time justifying linking DIRECTLY to illegal content. ie, if DeCSS is declared illegal, I don't see how you can justify a link to That is almost the same as hosting the file yourself, indeed, for the user, it IS the same.

    However, links to a site containing illegal content are something that MUST remain legal, for the web to maintain its open and dynamic nature, even if that means illegal content will still be available. It's just not fair to the author of a site to require him to check to ensure changed it's name from Great Shots of Kids Playing to Gimme Some Kiddie Porn.

    However, do we think the law could recognize a distinction between the types of links? I don't think so. The line is too finely drawn, and any rule would either be too broad, and thus have a dampening effect on the web, or would be too narrow, and easily circumvented.

    As such, I think linking must remain legal.
  • Perhaps the only way to get modded up is to join the Slashdot anti-business bias, but screw it.

    The RIAA, a industry association, has a job to do everything they can to make sure everyone in the music industry gets paid. This includes the musicians, the promoters, the engineers, and the distributors. This means doing what they can to stop people who believe that music should be stolen.

    While this particular website was not hosting the music files, by linking them, they are knowingly facilitating the crime. In fact, they are encouraging it. They don't even have Napster's claim that they "don't know what's going on with their users" because they store the links.

    I never understood why Slashdot always has to attack businesses!!

  • Comes down to the ol' pass by reference or pass by value. A link (URL/URI/URN) is basically a fixed address. Just like a snail-mail address, you like to be assured that silly buggers don't go around changing them all the time (ie static and persistent). Now on the other hand *some* commercial sites have a buiness plan that requires either strict control (guide them pass the ad display) or require something (e.g. consumer data) in return for the <scarcasm on>honor and priviledge of viewing their rebranded proprietary formatted content <scarcasm off>. Quite rightly they get irritated when people bypass all their elaborate facades to go straight to the goodies or raw unencumbered data. Now, as far as I can see there are two issues:
    - right to link/reference
    - right to deny access

    Both are valid and not necessarily symmetric. If someone puts up a private building, they have the priviledge of denying entry. On the other hand, there are certain traditional precendents for public right of access (e.g. to shoreline). Thus a site which fences off common (e.g GPL) property with minimal widget frosting (e.g. a lot of sites fluff up the CIA database on countries) and attempts to charge a rent is attempting to create disproportionate return from little value-added (nice try but most people are smarter than that). Now if the recording industry is in the distribution business (and not music creation) then trying to maintain the same retailing/hype margins in a commodity business is downright stupid. Instead, they could add value by doing the obvious things like indexing, offering behind-scenes walkthroughs, cataloging, sorting by whatever, but no .... it's left to the dedicated fans and nimble new companies. So instead the MBAs try the tactics they know best, legal intimidation, saturation marketing, media bullshitting, etc instead of doing the hard yakka of technology fix (does this remind you of any other company).

    Now the right to link is a rather interesting case as ideally you want lots of people to link to your content (more associated sales a la Amazon) but you can't prevent people from how they link, in short something that doesn't fit the criteria for a property right. Hence attempting to control this is going to be problematic as restricing access actually shrinks your potential market, sorta like cutting off your nose to spite your face. The bigger sites have the ability to prioritise (a la premium counter space in supermarkets due to volume of throughput) but most other businesses are not in that envious position. Perhaps the sensible way is for each commercial site to nominate the respectable entrances (ie valid and persistent URLs they guarentee will last x years). Then you can probably negotitate peacefully and come to some mutual benefit. Links are good, have more of them so long as they don't get broken.

    What is annoying is that companies are confusing legal aspects with technological and economic aspects. By designing a site in a specific way (e.g. not using PURLs) they create a mess for themselves or worse, create a fatally flawed business model which they attempt to cover up by blaming others. If people are geting paid 6 figures for e-commerce MBAs and this is what they come up with, then a lot of venture capital is being wasted through sheer cluelessness. Those idiots deserve to be excommunicated to a country where a web is what the spider creates on your doorframe. One of these days, things will settle back to normal and the rest of us can get back to listening to some decent non-formulatic non-elevator music.

  • I've finally decided what I think of mp3s. They are exactly analagous to 'WaReZ' from the last decade. The proponents of "Warez" had exactly the same "the s/ware's too expensive! make it cheaper or of course we'll have to pirate it" line, which I happen to notice has been swamped by the whole open-source and GPL world. Not that software piracy doesn't happen... but it doesn't have to, anything like as much now.

    Other consequences of the analogy: acceptance is a cure. (E.g., ever noticed that is linked from the MyNetscape portal? This does away with it being "radical new stuff breaking laws", so no-one wants to do the boring thing any more.)
    Second: there has to be an alternative. If the whassit record labels got off their asses and came up with an alternative, they could swamp the "illegal mp3" scene with something mututally acceptable.

    In either case, merely suing over use of the mp3 format is frankly immature. Provide a reasonable alternative and we'll consider it. Otherwise, grow up!!
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • I think the problem is that there are really two types of links. The first type links to another site, ie, people that post a href="". The second type posts a link DIRECTLY to a piece of content, ie href=" ash-1.0.4.tar.gz"

    No, no, no, no !!!

    Let's take this examples to meatworld.

    Case 'A':
    You can buy crack on the corner of 5th and Main.

    Case 'B':
    To buy crack, call 555-12345 and ask for "Spartagus"

    Is anybody seriously claiming that giving this information should be illegal ???
    It would serve justice better to give the 'informer' a medal, since he is making the "crime" more visible !!!

    Why pay for drugs when you can get Linux for free ?

  • by drix ( 4602 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:15AM (#1025623) Homepage
    Okay, I'd like to tell everyone how my day went:
    1. Got up.
    2. Ate breakfast.
    3. Check /.
    4. Read about lawsuit
    5. Went to, which I'd never heard of before
    6. Downloaded even more MP3s than I previously have

    I realize RIAA isn't actually the plaintiff in this case, but it illustrates a point: these lawsuits are stupid. Remember when RIAA sued Diamond for the Rio? That little device got more publicity than Diamond could have bought with a Superbowl ad! Everyone heard about it and wanted one.

    I'm sure that's hits went through the roof as soon as RIAA sued them. And Napster - my god. Between RIAA, Dr. Dre, and Metallica, they have put Napster/Shawn Fanning on the cover of Newsweek! Talk about mass appeal! How many millions of new clients have been generated just from that alone?

    I think knows this. This lawsuit is a masterstroke of public relations - as soon as any major news outlet picks this story up (and they probably will), mp3board is gonna get huge increases in page impressions. All that PR for - what - the $50 it costs to file a civil suit? (At least where I live)...

  • frankly I hope that the RIAA wins. This would make the US even more the laughing stock of the civilized world than it already is. Land of the free, home of the brave.. nobody outside the US takes THAT serious any more. So I hope the RIAA has got themselves some big-ass, expensive lawyers. The type that cost more in 1 hour than 37 whores for a 48 hour orgy with Jack Valenti.

  • So the client supports dynamic upload of new links. It's still providing *basically* the same service, really. The distrobution and searching of links..

    Granted, this allows for easier distribution of pirated materials, perhaps even accidentally for the unaware, but it's right there in the configuration. Set uploads to 0.
  • Selling crack is illegal (atleast in the United States), but you can legally say "If you want crack, go down to 6th street and ask for Tony, he will set you up".

    The person that bought the crack will be aresseted for possieon of an illegal substance. The person selling the crack will be arrested for distrubating an illegal substance. What the hell are the going to arrest you with, talking about an illegal substance?

    (IANAL, so let's see if I get the terms right...)

    Facilitating. Accessory before the fact. Conspiracy (if they can show you and the dealer had some kind of agreement - even a trivial one that gives you nothing - and they can construe almost any contact or information transfer as agreement).

    Seems to me these laws and interpretations need to be struck as well. As I read the Constitution such speech is protected. But that won't keep you out of jail while you're waiting for the courts to agree.
  • That's like being arrested by the cops because you pointed at a bank robbery or something.

    LOL, that made me laugh. But then, if a security guard can be arrested for planting a bomb because he was the one who helped the injured out, you never know what can happen.
  • by TheTomcat ( 53158 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @04:39AM (#1025636) Homepage
    but I would expect that 99.9% of the links that are followed are for pirated music.

    It's still not illegal.

    I can go two blocks over to the local tobacconist, and pick up a bong, a hash pipe, and various types of rolling papers with certain leaf logos printed on the package. It's not illegal to sell this 'paraphenalia' (sp?). Everyone knows that people use this stuff to smoke pot, but if you say the words 'bong' or 'hash pipe' in the store, the tobacconist quickly informs you that these tools are 'Tobacco Sampling Devices'.

    Sure, 99.9% or people use them to smoke pot, but it's not illegal. (Selling these devices, not smoking pot).

    Now, if he were marketing these as tools to help you get high, he'd most likely get busted tomorrow.

    It's all a matter of context.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger