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Music

Internet Radio's "Last Stand" 316

We've been discussing the plight of Internet radio for some time, as the Copyright Royalty Board imposed royalties that industry observers predicted would prove lethal to the nascent industry. We discussed Web radio's day of silence in protest, which won the industry a reprieve, and the futile efforts to find relief in Congress. Now it's looking as if the last act is indeed close. Death Metal Maniac sends along this Washington Post story with extensive quotes from Pandora CEO Tim Westergren, who said: "The moment we think this problem in Washington is not going to get solved, we have to pull the plug because all we're doing is wasting money... We're funded by venture capital. They're not going to chase a company whose business model has been broken." The article estimates that XM Satellite Radio will pay "about 1.6 cents per hour per listener when the new rates are fully adapted in 2010. By contrast, Web radio outlets will pay 2.91 cents per hour per listener." That's 70% of projected revenue for Pandora; smaller players estimate the hit at 100% to 300% of revenue.
The Courts

NewYorkCountryLawyer Debates RIAA VP 291

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "At Fordham Law School's annual IP Law Conference this year, Slashdot member NewYorkCountryLawyer had a chance to square off with Kenneth Doroshow, a Senior Vice President of the RIAA, over the subject of copyright statutory damages. Doroshow thought the Jammie Thomas verdict of $222,000 was okay, he said, since Ms. Thomas might have distributed 10 million unauthorized copies. NYCL, on the other hand, who has previously derided the $9,250-per-song file verdict as 'one of the most irrational things [he has] ever seen in [his] life in the law', stated at the Fordham conference that the verdict had made the United States 'a laughingstock throughout the world.' An Australian professor on the panel said, 'The comment has been made a few times that America is out of whack and you are a laughingstock in the rest of the world. As the only non-American on the panel, that's true. We do see the cases like Thomas in our newspapers, and we think: "Wow, those crazy Americans, what are they up to now?" This whole notion of statutory damages is not something that we have within our Copyright Act. You actually have to be able to prove damage for you to be able to be compensated for that.' NYCL also got to debate the 'making available' issue, saying that there was no 'making available' right in US copyright law, despite the insistence of the program's moderator, the 'keynote' speaker, and a 'majority vote' of the audience that there was such a right. The next day, two decisions came down, and a month later yet another decision came down, all rejecting the 'making available' theory."
Education

Massive Increase in RIAA Copyright Notices 179

According to Wired, universities in the US are experiencing a "20-fold increase" in the number of takedown notices from the RIAA in the last ten days. Indiana University reports 80 notices a day, but they say their traffic hasn't increased significantly over the same time period. It will be interesting to see if the affected schools join the legal battle against the RIAA, or cave under the increased pressure. "University of California at Berkeley's chief information officer Shel Waggener confirmed he'd heard of the spikes and suggested there was a political purpose driving them. 'Public universities are in a unique position since the industry puts pressure on us through state legislatures to try to impose what are widely considered to be draconian content monitoring measures and turn us into tech police forces in support of a specific industry,' Waggener said. The RIAA is also backing legislation in states such as Illinois and Tennessee that would require schools that get a certain number of notices to begin installing deep packet monitoring equipment on their internet and intranets, according to Luker."
The Courts

Comparing the RIAA To "The Sopranos" 193

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "According to commentator Therese Polletti at Dow Jones MarketWatch, 'the RIAA's tactics are nearly as bad as the actions of mobsters, real or fictional. The analogy comes up easily and frequently in any discussion of the RIAA's maneuvers.' Among other things she cites the extortionate nature of their 'settlement negotiations' pointed out by Prof. Bob Talbot of the University of San Francisco School of Law IP Law Clinic. His student attorneys are helping private practitioners fight the RIAA, and the the illegality of the RIAA's use of unlicensed investigators. She goes on to cite the fact that the RIAA thinks nothing of jeopardizing a student's college education in order to make their point, as support for the MAFIAA/Mafia analogy."
The Courts

University of San Francisco Law Clinic Joins Fight Against RIAA 106

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA's litigation campaign has met resistance from the academic community before, but now it's been taken to a whole new level: the defense of RIAA victims who are not part of the college community. First the University of Oregon lashed out on behalf of its students, then it was the University of Maine's Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic on behalf of its undergrads. Now, the University of San Francisco School of Law has taken the fight a giant step further. Its Intellectual Property Law Clinic's attorneys-in-training, working under the supervision of law professors, are going to bat against the RIAA by helping outside lawyers to defend their clients, pro bono. They reached out 3000 miles to get involved in Elektra v. Torres and Maverick v. Chowdhury, two cases going on in Brooklyn, NY, against non-college defendants. Two of the law students in the USF's legal program assisted in the research and preparation of briefs in these cases, opposing the RIAA's motion to dismiss the defendants' counterclaims. Thousands of honor students throughout United States law schools, most of them digital natives who actually understand the legal fallacies and technological missteps the RIAA is taking, and who can't wait to expose them, make a pretty good resource for the poor and middle class people trying to defend these cases."
The Courts

RIAA Expert Witness Called "Borderline Incompetent" 170

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Prof. Johan Pouwelse of Delft University — one of the world's foremost experts on the science of P2P file sharing and the very same Prof. Pouwelse who stopped the RIAA's Netherlands counterpart in its tracks back in 2005 — has submitted an expert witness report characterizing the work of the RIAA's expert, Dr. Doug Jacobson, as 'borderline incompetence.' The report (PDF), filed in UMG v. Lindor, pointed out, among other things, that the steps needed to be taken in a copyright infringement investigation were not taken, that Jacobson's work lacked 'in-depth analysis' and 'proper scientific scrutiny,' that Jacobson's reports were 'factually erroneous,' and that they were contradicted by his own deposition testimony. This is the first expert witness report of which we are aware since the Free Software Foundation announced that it would be coming to the aid of RIAA defendants."
The Courts

EFF Takes On RIAA "Making Available" Theory 366

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Atlantic v. Howell, the Phoenix, Arizona, case in which a defendant who has no legal representation has been battling the RIAA over its theory that merely 'making files available for distribution' is in and of itself a copyright infringement, Mr. Howell has received some help from an outside source. On the last day allowed for the filing of supplemental briefs, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief agreeing with Mr. Howell, and refuting the RIAA's motion for summary judgment. The brief (PDF), which is recommended reading for anyone who wants to know what US copyright law really says, points out that 'contrary to Plaintiffs' arguments, an infringement of the distribution right requires the unauthorized, actual dissemination of copies of a copyrighted work.' This is the same case in which the RIAA claimed that Mr. Howell's MP3s, copied from his CDs, were themselves unlawful."
Music

RIAA Writes Its Own News For Local TV 282

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Did your local news recently do a two-minute clip on music copyright infringement? If so, you can thank the RIAA. They sent out a video press release to local news stations as part of their 'holiday anti-piracy campaign.' In it, they warn people that the best way to avoid counterfeit music is to avoid 'compilation CDs that could only exist in the dreams of a music fan' and to trust their ears, because illegally copied music usually sounds 'atrocious.' Instead, they encourage watchers to buy ringtones for Christmas."
Businesses

RIAA Protests Oregon AG Discovery Request 172

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA is apparently having an allergic reaction to the request by the State Attorney General of Oregon for information about the RIAA's investigative tactics. The request came in Arista v. Does 1-17, the Portland, Oregon, case targeting students at the University of Oregon. Not only are the record companies opposing the request (pdf), they're asking the Judge not to even read it. (pdf)"
The Courts

Provider of Free Public Domain Music Shuts Down 242

Mark Rogers writes "The International Music Score Library Project has provided access to copies of many musical scores that are in the public domain. It has just been shut down due to a cease-and-desist letter sent to the site operator by a European Union music publisher (Universal Edition). A majority of the scores recently available at IMSLP were in the public domain worldwide. Other scores were not in the public domain in the United States or the EU (where copyright extends for 70 years after the composer's death), but were legal in Canada (where the site is hosted) and many other countries. The site's maintainers clearly labeled the copyright status of such scores and warned users to follow their respective country's copyright law. Apparently this wasn't enough for Universal Edition, who found it necessary to protect the interests of their (long-dead) composers and shut down a site that has proved useful to many students, professors, and other musicians worldwide."
Music

RIAA Sues Usenet.com 495

Several readers pointed us to Torrentfreak's coverage of the RIAA's latest move: the major record labels have launched a copyright infringement lawsuit against Usenet.com. The complaint, filed in the federal District Court in New York, accuses Usenet.com of providing access to millions of copyright-infringing files and slams it for touting its service as a "haven for those seeking pirated content." Usenet.com has been refusing the labels' requests to block access to alleged "copyright infringing groups."
The Internet

AT&T to Help MPAA Filter the Internet? 219

Save the Internet writes "Ars Technica is reporting that the MPAA is trying to convince major ISPs to do content filtering. Now, merely wanting it is one thing, but the more important point is that 'AT&T has agreed to start filtering content at some mysterious point in the future.' We're left to wonder about the legal implications of that, but given that AT&T already has the ability to wiretap everything for the NSA, it was only a matter of time before they found a way to profit from it, too."
The Courts

Lindor Attacks Record Company Copyright-Pooling 136

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Back in March, 2006, Marie Lindor called the record companies suing her a collusive cartel, and their joint agreement to pool their copyrights "copyright misuse" (pdf). A year and a half later, the RIAA apparently got nervous about that allegation and made a motion to strike the allegations. Ms. Lindor has struck back, pointing out to the Judge not only that the RIAA's arguments had no legal basis, but also that its brief was completely silent as to any justification for the record companies' copyright-pooling agreement. Such a justification would be necessary for it to pass muster under 'rule of reason' analysis mandated by the US Supreme Court. Ms. Lindor, a home health worker who has never even used a computer, let alone infringed anyone's copyrights with a p2p file sharing program, is the same defendant who exposed, with a little help from her friends, some of the weaknesses in the RIAA's expert testimony. She also obtained a ruling that the RIAA's $750-per-song file damages theory might be a wee bit unconstitutional."
The Courts

RIAA Trying To Avoid a Jury Trial 183

Joe Elliot writes "Faced with a jury trial set to begin on October 1, the RIAA has filed a motion for summary adjudication of specific facts: that the RIAA owns the copyrights to the songs in a file-sharing case; that the registration is proper; and that the defendant wasn't authorized to copy or distribute the recordings. If the judge rules in their favor, Ars notes that it may turn into a Novell v SCO situation where the only thing left to be decided are the damages. There are some significant problems with the copyright registrations — they don't match up. 'Thomas argues that since she lacks the financial means to conduct a thorough examination of the ownership history (e.g., track the ownership of "Hysteria" from Mercury to UMG) for the songs she is accused of infringing the copyright to, her only opportunity to determine their true ownership is either via discovery or cross-examination at trial.' Ars also notes that the RIAA's biggest fear is of losing a case. 'A loss at trial would be catastrophic for the RIAA. It would give other defense attorneys a winning template while exposing the weaknesses of the RIAA's arguments. It would also prove costly from a financial standpoint, as the RIAA would have to foot the legal expenses for both itself and the defendant. Most of all, it would set an unwelcomed precedent: over 20,000 lawsuits filed and the RIAA loses the first one to go to a jury.'"

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