Archive for the 'RIAA' Category

06
Oct
07

The RIAA Strikes Again!

In an interesting first, the RIAA has actually won an honest-to-goodness trial against a suspected file sharer:

 The Recording Industry Association of America won its first trial this week when a jury ordered Jammie Thomas of Duluth, Minnesota to pay $220,000 to six separate record companies — Sony BMG, Arista Records, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, and Warner Bros. Records. The amount covers 24 copyrighted songs illegally downloaded on her computer. – [Yahoo/TechWeb]

Now given the inconsistencies in her testimony, if I were a betting man, I’d say she was in fact guilty. However the damages were absolutely outrageous. And regardless of what anyone says, this win does not legitimize the tactics the RIAA has been using to hunt down suspect file sharers over the past 4 years. The moment they started suing people regardless of whether they were actually engaged in file sharing or not, the RIAA started committing extortion.

It is clear to me that the actions of the RIAA is no longer about managing copyrights. They are about income, plain and simple. And the damages are entirely out of control. Throw a bunch of people, half of whom might as well have been luddites, into a jury, and the RIAA can get away with anything.

RIAA Victory Sends Message But Won’t Stop File-Sharing – [Yahoo/TechWeb]

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09
Sep
07

Anti-MAFIAA Manifesto (v3.03) (V for Vendetta style)

A ran across this little gem while browsing a P2P news site that i visit every now and then. I thought it was a *masterfully* done piece of literature, as the author describes it: “Written in the V for Vendetta style.” I thought it definitely worth sharing:

Market Momentum. A marginal improvement in a massive move of millions of monetary units. Mobs maintaining their millionaire manors with a martial ministry, marauding and muzzling the melomaniacs who made the mistake of mounting multi-user music-sharing programs onto their microprocessors, mostly for an ear-mashing, mundane and monotonous munch of music, with a miserable “remasterized” dynamic range.

The Machiavellian Music Industry, the Movie Masterminds and their malevolent minions, muscled by the majority of the media, masquerade their managers as martyrs to maintain a megalithic marketing model, misleading the masses into malls like mules, macerating -no, milking- their income and molding them: With mesmerizing melodies, moronic mottos, mountains of merchandise and meticulously mannered nominations, those monsters mutilate the masses’ minds, melding them into not more than mere mammals, with a microscopic mental magnitude, matching the mud and the moss.

Myth? Misstatement? Madness? MATERIALISM!

Meanwhile, in their magnificent mansions, the mink-mantled magnates morbidly mock the minorities’ misfortune, while moistening their mouths in martinis under the moonlight, and masticating their meat and marshmallows like no tomorrow.

Those mischievous moguls magnify their monumental monopolies by multiplying their machinery: Digital Rights Management, DMCA, “Trusted” Computing (Mr. Stallman was not mistaken). Maltreating musicians, misusing copyright to the max, mirroring the Matrix by mining the government to monitor communications, marching like the militia to school meetings in the mornings with menacing memos, mirthfully mismatching mortified mothers for maleficent mobsters, mandating most into misspending more and more (or be imprisoned). Their main motivation is no mystery: Money.

Money! A metastatic misery, a muddling myopia, a momentary make-believe, a magnetizing mirage! A manipulating mephisto, which metamorphoses the meek into mercenaries and murderers, making them moan like Midas in a maniacal manner: “mine, mine, mine!!” Is modesty no more?

MONEY! MAY OUR MAKER MALEDICT THEE!

(Meditate my musing for a moment)

This melee, to maximize their market share. Most of mankind’s malignancy is merged into a man-made monster of mastodonic measures. A mammoth called MAFIAA. Months pass, and the multitudes mourn the ever-minimizing mobility of their mediocre minds, amidst marred music, meaningless media transmissions, and miniaturizing freedom. This multinational massacre must be terminated, but most men make meager or no moves, at most mimetizing their communications with muTorrent, masked by the mist of encryption. Is this illegal? Maybe. Morally wrong? Maybe, maybe not (memorize this term: Civil Disobedience).

IT IS MANDATORY THAT WE DO MUCH MORE, OR THIS MACABRE MELTDOWN WILL MOVE ON!!

Militate and manifest yourselves in the metropolis! This is a major command! Miraculous modifications start as a minimal idea in a man or a woman’s mind. Maintain your might! Manly move forward, and donate money to your magnanimous comrades, the EFF and FSF, for their mission is not minor! But if you malinger…

Memorize my message, merciless mice! You might enjoy your freedoms for a minuscule moment – you shall miss them in melancholy for millennia, after they become but a marooned, mummified memory in a mausoleum named morgue. Misunderstand me not: this moderate memento, amusing to many, may be a premonitory ultimatum.

A MAYDAY!

Merry to meet you, I’m merely a man behind a mask with a mystifying moniker. I am M. – [p2pnet.net]

Nicely done. And all the more impressive because it conveys it’s message in both an inspiring and profound way. That’s right. There is a message in there. I hope you got it… 🙂

Myth? Misstatement? Madness? – [p2pnet.net]

19
Aug
07

The RIAAs Worms Turn!

The RIAA seems to be a prominent fixture in the online media these days. And given that they seem to have adopted the rather short sighted strategy of knowingly suing both guilty as well as innocent members of the very demographics that they could have been legitimately making a lot of money from, it isn’t hard to see why. But now it seems that they may truly be getting ready to experience a full size serving of their own brand of justice:

In cases which should by rights have been initiated by the Bush government on behalf of innocent families across America, falsely attacked by Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, RIAA victims Tanya Andersen and Michelle Santangelo are determined to make the Big 4, as well as companies involved in the sue ‘em all morass, pay, literally and figuratively, for the distress they’ve caused and are still causing.

Go Tanya and Michelle! Though I have some reservations about the long term repercussions of Michelles’ legal approach, ( I think the justification for her claims and the resulting targets are only half right) , I was suitably convinced by Tanya’s list of complaints:

Her amended complaint is impressive. She’s citing negligence, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, federal and state RICO, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, trespass, invasion of privacy, libel and slander, deceptive business practices, misuse of copyright law, and civil conspiracy. – [p2pnet.net]

Wow. It looks like the RIAA is getting ready to have the book thrown at them. As I have said on many occasions, I have always felt that the big entertainment industries had all the right in the world to try and protect their business from pirates.

However I think they crossed the line when they started attacking any technology that could be used for file sharing, especially when these same technologies have proven so beneficial for so many other legitimate purposes. Even more heinous was the decision to sue people, en mass, without any kind of conclusive evidence, and use their legal and financial clout to extort them into settling.

What was the worst was when it became obvious that they were knowingly subjecting innocent people to this form of legalized extortion. I kinda think that they were definitely asking for this. And to be honest, the first line of the article actually echoes my sentiments exactly. Why has this obviously monopolistic corporate activity been ignored by the federal government? I am really interesting in seeing how this turns out.

RIAA named in first class action – [p2pnet.net]

11
Aug
07

The “Pirates” take a stand…

An interesting movement seems to have spawned the desert of Utah. The US arm of a group calling themselves the “Pirate Party”, has proclaimed their intent to become a legitimate political party:

Yesterday, the Pirate Party of the United States announced its intention to register as a political body in Utah, its first move into American state politics. The fledgling Utah operation is now accepting “statements of support,” needing 200 voter signatures for official registration.

“Our basic mission is to restore a lot of the civil liberties that have been eroded in the name of profit, including privacy, free speech, and due process,” Ray Jenson, the interim administrator for what may become the Pirate Party of Utah, told El Reg.

He has his sights set on the DMCA, the U.S. law that protects online intellectual property, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that quite likes the DMCA. “Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there have been numerous erosions of liberties since it went into effect almost a decade ago,” Jenson said. “Number one on the list is the RIAA’s litigation” against P2P services and the people who use them. – [The Register]

Given the amount of abuse the entertainment industry has been dishing out lately, it is almost no surprise that this group exists, though I will admit I had never heard of them until today. However, I honestly believe that the entertainment industry, in particular the MPAA and the RIAA have been abusing the law.

I do agree that the RIAA and MPAA have the right to take actions to protect their investments. However I also believe that they have been using this as an excuse to violate the rights of others. They have embarked on what is little more than an extortion campaign, or litigation terrorism, in the name of curtailing piracy.

While I agree that piracy is a problem, it seems like nobody has been looking out for the innocent victims that have been needlessly terrorized by the MPAA/RIAA. While groups like the ACLU have been vocal about the issues, it appears that their efforts have done little to helped those who have been the unjust focus of the entertainment industries legal might. It’s about time there was an organization dedicate to this cause. I will be watching these “Pirates” closely…

Pirate Party invades Utah – [The Register]

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]

03
Aug
07

A SLAPP in the face of a fair legal system…

I read an interesting article about the MPAA and RIAA strategy for dealing with copyright infringment and, in particular, file sharing:

Going up against big guns
For insight into how tough it is to oppose the entertainment sector, consider the conclusions of some long-shot copyright cases Rothken worked on: RecordTV and ReplayTV ran out of funds before their cases were heard, and MP3Board.com settled.

There’s no telling whether the start-ups would have survived had their cases gone to trial, but Rothken argues that shouldering legal fees and bad press didn’t help.

Applying financial pressure is only part of Hollywood’s strategy, Rothken said. Another tactic is to sue founders as well as their companies. In 2000, the RIAA filed a copyright suit against MP3Board.com, a music-file search engine, as well as the company’s founders.

Instead of risking their own income, the operators of MP3Board.com settled the case and decided to stop linking to MP3 files, Rothken said.

“I can’t say what the MPAA’s strategy is,” said Gary Fung, founder of IsoHunt, a TorrentSpy rival and Rothken client who also is being sued by the MPAA for copyright infringement. “But they do know they have more time and money than we do.” – [C/Net News]

There is no doubt that file sharing technologies have contributed to the illegal piracy of music and video. I also cannot argue that the MPAA and the RIAA have a right to file suits against those who decide to share copyrighted works illegally. That being said, this is decidedly not what they are doing. They have taken the decidedly unrealistic approach of attacking the technologies rather than the people doing the file sharing.

The various entertainment associations have sued numerous torrent tracker sites, on the basis that they are helping promote illegal file sharing. Now it may just be me but this seems to me no better than suing the gun industry for the common use of firearms in the commission of crime, or automobile makers for the high incidence of drinking and driving. And as usual, those who use the technology for legitimate purposes are always the ones to suffer.

What is even more distressing to me is not simply the fact that these suits are brought at all, but rather the strategies being used to win these suits. Rather than relying on the strength of the case, the RIAA and MPAA have begun a the methodical practice of SLAPPing defendants into submission. The SLAPP or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, is designed to ensure a settlement not by virtue of any legal argument, but by wearing down the defendants financial resources until they are unable to afford to continue their defense.

This to me, is the ultimate abuse of the legal system. The fact that this type of activity is legally allowed to happen should be a cause of great concern, even for law abiding American businesses and citizens, because it means that the outcome of future suit brought against you may not be determined by the validity or legal strength of the suit, but rather by who has the most money. And that situation is fundamentally anathema to the concept of a fair and equitable legal system.

TorrentSpy lawyer battling ‘copyright extremism’ – [C/Net News]

24
Jul
07

Copyright infringement. Guilty until proven innocent?

Yet another Mom gets targeted for, get this, posting a home video of her toddler dancing to Princes “let’s Go Crazy”:

She wanted to share it with other folks around the world so she uploaded it to YouTube, just like thousands of other proud parents have done.

What happened? Big 4 organised music cartel member Vivendi Universal claimed the recording infringed a copyright. – [p2pnet.net]

Apparently the video got removed from YouTube because Universal claimed copyright infringement. I guess you don’t even need to have actually engaged in verifiable copyright infringement to have your videos taken down. Someone merely has to accuse you of it. Now is it just me, or does it seem like the RIAA has YouTube wrapped around it’s little finger?

I’m sure there are many legitimate complaints of copyright infringement from the RIAA on YouTube videos, but shouldn’t they at least verify that some sort of infringement has actually taken place before removing videos? What happened to the rights of the posters? After all, without it’s posters, YouTube would be little more than, say, WebTube. Or InterTube. Or just ‘Tube. Now those don’t sound to popular do they?

Mum sues Universal over YouTube video – [p2pnet.net]




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