26
Jun
07

P2P Suit Abuse…

Ok, I just read yet another article that all too painfully demonstrates the lengths that the RIAA will go to bolster it’s income, for lack of a better description. The article below referred to a case of P2P file sharers on the University of Washington campus. The RIAA alleged that members of the student body had been engaged in file sharing, and had approached the university on the issue. After mulling it over, this is what they decided:

“UW said it will forward notices of pending lawsuits from the Recording Industry Association of America to students who engage in illegal downloading on the university’s computer network.

The notices say offending students have 20 days to settle with the association by paying it about $3,000 to $5,000 or be taken to court without possibility of a settlement…

…The university will not pass the students’ names to the association, but it will use its server to identify them and inform them of their settlement options before they get stuck with a lawsuit, Godfrey said.” – [The News Tribune.com]

Now I see quite a few issues here. First, while it is theoretically possible to identify which computers may have been involved in file sharing, there is no way to verify that the actual owner of the computer was actually the one who did the file sharing. Unlike a home or office, where the number of different people that would have access to any given computer is usually limited, in a dorm room, it is usually a free for all. Most dorms are fairly accessible, and any one of a given residents friends or roommates could generally and reasonably be expected to have access to anothers computer.

Next there is the base assumption by the RIAA, upon which this massive anti P2P campaign is based, that all of this file sharing means lost sales. OK, let’s think about this for a second. The fact that someone downloaded an album does not mean that they would have bought it, regardless of whether or not they could afford it. That is an illogical assumption. The mount of music piracy that occurs is not, by any means, directly proportional to the number of lost sales.

Which brings me to the other point that makes no sense. I cannot blame them for filing suits against illegal file sharers, but where is the RIAA coming up with the settlement figure? An average CD can be had for about $20 from any one of the myriad of online music vendors and clubs that distribute music. $30, maybe for a hot item at full price. At $3000, each defendant would have had to have pirated at least 100 full priced CDs each. At $5000 they would have had to download over 166 CDs (at full price), or at the very least, 250 regularly priced CDs. And thats not counting additional promotions and discounts, etc.

Now that’s a lot of CDs, I don’t care how fast your connection is, and it’s unlikely that any of these students could possibly have downloaded that much music in the time frame given. And I think it’s a fair bet that the RIAA knows this. I think this is nothing more than the RIAA using the law to intimidate people into a reduction of file sharing, and, more heinously, recoup their losses from slumping sales. Yet another example of a $67 million pair of pants… just on a smaller scale. Or larger, depending on how you look at it…

UW will abet file-sharing lawsuits, it says – [The News Tribune.com]

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