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The Courts

RIAA Loses Bid To Keep Revenues Secret 229

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA's motion to keep secret the record companies' 1999-to-date revenues for the copyrighted song files at the heart of the case has been denied, in the Boston case scheduled for trial July 27th, SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum. The Judge had previously ordered the plaintiff record companies to produce a summary of the 1999-to-date revenues for the recordings, broken down into physical and digital sales. On the day the summary was due to be produced, instead of producing it, they produced a 'protective order motion' asking the Judge to rule that the information would have to be kept secret. The Judge rejected that motion: 'the Court does not comprehend how disclosure would impair the Plaintiffs' competitive business prospects when three of the four biggest record labels in the world — Warner Bros. Records, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and UMG Recording, Inc. — are participating jointly in this lawsuit and, presumably, would have joint access to this information.'"

Many Universities Spending $100K/Year Enforcing P2P Rules 323

Scott Jaschik writes "A new study documents just how much money colleges are spending on enforcing P2P rules through software license fees, hardware, and other costs. Many private universities are spending more than $100,000 a year — a major allocation of funds. An article in Inside Higher Ed explains the study and its findings."

MediaDefender's Parent Company Joins P2P Market 40

An anonymous reader writes with news that ArtistDirect, the company who acquired MediaDefender, has launched another company called PiCast for the purpose of P2P video distribution. The reader says: "This is a strange twist for a company which last year set up a video-sharing site called Miivi in an attempt to entrap users uploading copyrighted content, and was caught launching a DoS attack against Revision3, which we discussed earlier this year."
The Courts

Oregon Judge Says RIAA Made 'Honest Mistake,' Allows Subpoena 175

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Arista v. Does 1-17, the RIAA's case targeting students at the University of Oregon, the Oregon Attorney General's motion to quash the RIAA's subpoena — pending for about a year — has reached a perplexing conclusion. The Court agreed with the University that the subpoena, as worded, imposed an undue burden on the University by requiring it to produce 'sufficient information to identify alleged infringers,' which would have required the University to 'conduct an investigation,' but then allowed the RIAA to subpoena the identities of 'persons associated by dorm room occupancy or username with the 17 IP addresses listed' even though those people may be completely innocent. In his 8-page decision (PDF), the Judge also 'presumed' the RIAA lawyers' misrepresentations were an 'honest mistake,' made no reference at all to the fact, pointed out by the Attorney General, that the RIAA investigators (Safenet, formerly MediaSentry) were not licensed, rejected all of the AG's privacy arguments under both state and federal law, and rejected the AG's request for discovery into the RIAA's investigative tactics."
The Courts

Ray Beckerman Sued By the RIAA 725

An anonymous reader writes "Ray Beckerman, known for questioning the RIAAs legal tactics (also for frequent Slashdot contributions), was sued by the RIAA over his blog Recording Industry vs. People. In question is the 'vexatious' claims that the RIAAs legal tactics is a 'sham.' Beckerman is quoted as saying that the litigation against him is 'frivolous and irresponsible.'"
The Courts

RIAA Foiled By "Innocent Infringement" Defense 220

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In an interesting development in a Texas case against a college-age defendant who was 16 at the time of the infringement, the Judge has denied the RIAA's summary judgment motion and ordered a trial of the damages — even though the defendant admitted copyright infringement using Kazaa — based on the 'innocent infringement' defense, which could reduce the statutory damages to $200 per song file. Relying on BMG v. Gonzalez (PDF), the reasoning of which I have criticized on the 'innocent infringement' issue, the RIAA argued that Ms. Harper does not qualify for the 'innocent infringement' defense, since CD versions of the songs, sold in stores, have copyright notices on them. In its 15-page decision (PDF) the Harper court rejected that contention, holding that 'a question remains as to whether Defendant knew the warnings on compact discs were applicable in this KaZaA setting,' since 'In this case, there were no compact discs with warnings.' Finding that there was a factual issue as to what the defendant knew or didn't know at the time of the infringement, the Court ordered a trial of the damages unless the RIAA agrees to accept $200 — rather than the $750-plus it seeks — per infringed song."
The Courts

RIAA's $222k Verdict Is Likely To Be Set Aside 224

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Apparently the RIAA's 'big gun' didn't fare so well this morning in Duluth, when he tried to persuade the judge in Capitol v. Thomas that the part of the Copyright Act which says 'by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending', can be disregarded. According to an in-person account by the Judge indicated that he is likely to grant a mistrial, setting aside the $222,000 jury verdict based upon his incorrect jury instruction, and that he will probably hand down his decision in September. Just yesterday some of the same lawyers got rebuffed by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in their attempt to argue that Cablevision's online storage for its customers constitutes a copyright infringement, in Cartoon Network v. CSC Holdings. There, too, the content owners had argued that the wording of the Copyright Act did not mean what it said. There, too, the Court politely but firmly disagreed."
The Courts

ABA Judges Get an Earful About RIAA Litigations 349

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "I was afforded the opportunity to write for a slightly different audience — the judges who belong to the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. I was invited by the The Judges Journal, their quarterly publication, to do a piece on the RIAA litigations for the ABA's Summer 2008 'Equal Access to Justice' issue. What I came up with was 'Large Recording Companies vs. The Defenseless: Some Common Sense Solutions to the Challenges of the RIAA Litigations,' in which I describe the unfairness of these cases and make 15 suggestions as to how the courts could level the playing field. I'm hoping the judges mod my article '+5 Insightful,' but I'd settle for '+3 Informative.' Here is the actual article (PDF). (If anyone out there can send me a decent HTML version of it, I'll run that one up the flagpole as well.)" Wired is helping to spread the word on Ray's article.

Provider of Free Public Domain Music Re-Opens 142

Chip Zoller writes "This community took note when the International Music Score Library Project shut down last October, and when Project Gutenberg stepped in to help three days later. I would like to alert you all that our site, IMSLP, has re-opened to the public for good after a 10-month hiatus. All the news updates in the interim can be found linked to the main page. We take great pride in re-opening as it demonstrates our willpower to make the masterpieces of history free to the world; and moreover to make manifest that we will not be bullied by publishers sporting outrageous claims of copyright in a country where they clearly are expired."

MPAA Scores First P2P Jury Conviction 335

An anonymous reader writes "The MPAA must be celebrating. According to the BitTorrent news site, the Department of Justice is proclaiming their first P2P criminal copyright conviction, against an Elite Torrents administrator. The press release notes, 'The jury was presented with evidence that Dove was an administrator of a small group of Elite Torrents members known as "Uploaders," who were responsible for supplying pirated content to the group. At sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2008, Dove faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.'"

Law Profs File Friend-of-Court Brief Against RIAA 186

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "A group of 10 copyright law professors has filed an amicus curiae ('friend of the court') brief on the side of the defendant in Capitol v. Thomas, agreeing with the judge's recent decision that the $222,000 verdict won by the RIAA appears to be tainted by a 'manifest error of law.' The clear and well-written 14-page brief (PDF) argues that the 'making available' jury instruction, which the RIAA had requested and the judge ultimately accepted, was in fact a 'manifest error of law,' making the point, among others, that an interpretation of a statute should begin with the words of the statute. My only criticism of the brief is that it overstates the authorities relied on by the RIAA, citing cases which never decided the 'making available' issue as cases which had decided it in the RIAA's favor." As it turns out, the MPAA, close ally to the RIAA, has come forth with a more controversial view. They suggest that proof of actual distribution shouldn't be required. From their brief (PDF): "Mandating that proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances."

Internet Pirates In France To Lose Broadband 388

slyjackhammer writes "France is purporting to take a hard line on copyrighted media (movies and music). According to, a new measure approved yesterday by the French Cabinet would kill the Internet connection to those caught downloading illegally. 'There is no reason that the internet should be a lawless zone," President Sarkozy told his Cabinet yesterday as it endorsed the "three-strikes-and-you're-out" scheme that from next January will hit illegal downloaders where it hurts. Under a cross-industry agreement, internet service providers (ISPs) must cut off access for up to a year for third-time offenders.' Google and video site Dailymotion have refused to sign up as consenting participants, and the state data protection agency, consumer and civil liberties groups and the European Parliament are all kicking against the goad as well. France may be pioneer in this kind of legislation, but they sure have their work cut out for them."
The Almighty Buck

BPI Defends Anti-File-Sharing Partnership With Virgin Media 98

MrSteveSD writes "The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has responded to criticism by Bill Thomson over its collusion with Virgin Media in targeting UK file sharers. BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor personally wrote to the BBC to set things straight, and he asserts that 'it's Mr Thompson, rather than music companies, who is stuck in the past.' Of course, Virgin Media customers who download music and TV legally often find their connections being turned down to unusable speeds due to Virgin's aggressive throttling policy." Mike also points out a blog entry that describes one of the letters received by a Virgin Media customer. In the letter were suggestions regarding the customer's router settings and anti-virus software.

MPAA Wants To Prevent Recording Movies On DVRs 225

I_am_Rambi writes "At the request of theatrical film makers, the Federal Communications Commission on Friday quietly launched a proceeding on whether to let video program distributors remotely block consumers from recording recently released movies on their DVRs. The technology that does this is called Selectable Output Control (SOC), but the FCC restricts its use. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) wants a waiver on that restriction in the case of high-definition movies broadcast prior to their release as DVDs." The FCC is soliciting comments until June 25th.

Inside the RIAA and MediaSentry 218

bsdewhurst sends along an interesting article about how MediaSentry and the RIAA identify file sharers. Since 2003, while the RIAA has been filing 28,000 lawsuits, the percentage of US Internet users using P2P for downloading music has dropped from 20% to 19% (there is no knowing how much of a factor the lawsuits have been). The list the RIAA uses for ISP takedown notices is about 700 currently popular songs that are updated based on the charts, so not liking the top 40 could save you. The list of songs tracked for the user-litigation program is said to be larger.

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