Archive for August 10th, 2007

10
Aug
07

The RIAA is crazy… Like a fox…

I just read an article talking about how the RIAA is now going after the Universities for failing to forward pre-litigation settlement letters to suspected file sharers:

Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG’s RIAA has come up with another tactic in their attacks on American university students.

It’s now blaming the schools themselves.

The Big 4 enforcement unit is after 16 Philadelphia students, completely ignoring mounting universal outrage against the ongoing harassment.

Actually, this is not so surprising. It fits perfectly with their current modus operandi of suing anyone they possibly can, notwithstanding the legal dilemma of actually trying to prove anyone actually did anything. What is not so obvious is what thier strategy is, and what it does and does not accomplish:

An RIAA ‘press release’ says “unsettled cases” were, “either because the university failed to forward a pre-litigation letter to the student or because the record industry’s initial settlement offer of a discounted settlement was ignored”.

As p2pnet posted, until fairly recently, the Big 4’s practice, “was to have about 750 subpoenas aimed every month not only at adults they were accusing of being massive online distributors of copyrighted music, but also very young children,”… – [p2pnet]

Now here are the important numbers. 750 subpoenas/pre-litigation letters a month. At around $3000 – $5000 per settlement. If we assume the minimum of $3000 per suit and 100% successful settlements, then relying on my rusty math skills that gets them somewhere in the region of $2,250,000/month. $2.25million a month. Thats $27Million a year. How exactly did they come up with these settlement figures?

Now given that file sharing does not seem to have been affected in any significant way by any of this, it seems to me like these lawsuits have taken on another purpose. Like a secondary income. And not just from illegal file sharers, but from anyone they think they can get away with suing. P2P software providers, P2P sites, college students, universities, parents, kids, it doesn’t seem to matter any more whether the people being slapped with pre-litigation papers were actually engaged in the practice of illegal file sharing or not.

The unfortunate thing about this is that you do not even have to be guilty for the RIAA to slap you with a suit. The RIAA knows full well that for the average citizen, it will be cheaper to settle, than to try and retain legal counsel to defend themselves in court, no matter how innocent they are, and are taking full advantage of that fact. The RIAA has adopted the methodology of a crime syndicate that moves into a bad neighborhood, and starts charging all the store owners, both good and bad, for “protection” money.

I can understand the need to prosecute those who are engaged in illegal file sharing, but it doesn’t even seem like they are even really going after file shares any more. Given the nature of some of the targets of these litigation letters, some of who are clearly innocent, it almost sounds like they are pretty much just pulling names out of a hat. Don’t any of the governing authorities see this is getting out of control?

RIAA blames universities for lawsuits – [p2pnet]

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10
Aug
07

Telecommunications and censorship…

If you are a regular at this here blog, you probably already know my opinion of censorship in general. To me, it makes no sense. Especially here in America. We, as a country, claim to value our personal freedoms, and as a result, pretty much any possible position on any given issue can be heard, especially if you have your ear to the right part of the ground.

So it seems paradoxical to me to see any large telecommunications companies like AT&T engaged in censorship:

While AT&T claimed to be just as outraged as we were over their censoring of Pearl Jam’s anti-Bush lyrics during their Lollapallooza stream, they might not be being all that honest. They claim that it was a one-time mistake made by an outsourced company. Really? According to Wired’s Listening Post, concerts streamed on the Blue Room by The Flaming Lips and the John Butler Trio have also been censored for political reasons. If true, this action coupled with past allegations aimed at AT&T suggests an unnerving pro-Bush political agenda from one of America’s biggest telecoms. – [Gizmodo]

This is, as the article stated, a somewhat “unnerving” discovery. While they are not a news agency and are therefore not required to be “fair and objective”, companies with far reaching influence, like the major telecoms, that have political agendas that can affect their users would be avoided like the plague by most freedom loving Americans.

As privately owned entities, they certainly have a right to their opinion. But they should be careful not to allow their opinions to infringe upon the rights of their customers. Of course that is just my opinion. But I daresay a lot of consumers would agree with me…

AT&T May Have Censored Bands’ Political Speech in the Past – [Gizmodo]




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