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Judge Orders RIAA to Show Cause in DC Case

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the and-all-the-other-little-cases-as-well dept.

The Courts 104

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA's 'bumpy ride' in its 'ex parte' litigation campaign against college students just got a whole lot bumpier. After reading the motion to quash filed by a George Washington University student, the Judge took it upon herself to issue an order to show cause. The order now requires the plaintiffs to show cause, no later than November 29th, why the ex parte order she'd signed at the RIAA's request should not be vacated. She's also requested information showing why her ruling should not be applicable not only to John Doe #3, but to all the other John Does as well. p2pnet called this a 'potentially huge setback' for the recording companies."

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In Soviet Korea... (-1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387555)

Only old robotic overlords have to show cause.

Re:In Soviet Korea...while in America ..... (1)

chawly (750383) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387595)

If I RTFA correctly, young potential overlords have also got to "show cause".

Re:In Soviet Korea... (1)

douglaid (897645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387873)

Perhaps in Soviet Korea, but I thought that the students were being stupid not defending the writs to begin with. Now they all have default judgments against them, which don't require the RIAA to prove a thing. What do they say when the Sheriff knocks on their door?

Re:In Soviet Korea... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21391819)

Well, my understanding is that the RIAA wins the default judgments before informing the intended victims^h^h^h^h^h^h^hdefendants that they've already lost. Consequently, they have no chance to defend themselves. That basically seems to be how it works: they call you up, tell you that you've lost the case, and that if you give them money they won't finish suing your pants off. It's weaselly at best.

"Potentially huge setback" (1, Insightful)

crowbarsarefornerdyg (1021537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387581)

Sure, it's got a lot of potential. But until the RIAA responds, we're not going to know how much. It could even end up helping the RIAA.

Re:"Potentially huge setback" (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387665)

It can't help the RIAA. Either it will hurt them, or things will be as they are now. But there's no scenario under which the RIAA comes out of it better because of the Judge's signing the order to show cause. The RIAA will now probably spend $10k or more "showing cause". Meanwhile, it's evidence is defective, and its legal arguments are nonexistent.... so it's unlikely that the Judge will find it has established "cause". Most likely this ex parte order, which never should have been signed in the first place, is going bye bye.

Re:"Potentially huge setback" (1)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387831)

Ray --

Will this set a precedent that will affect any other districts or cases?

Re:"Potentially huge setback" (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393785)

Precedence, no. Influence, yes...or we hope so at least.

Re:"Potentially huge setback" (1)

jellie (949898) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388419)

Mr. Beckerman: Could you also accompany the summary with a short comment about the significance of the legal actions? For example, I learned (from your response to another question) that it is highly unusual for a judge to issue the order to show cause herself. I'm also interested in the sibling post's question about precedence: if the case is dismissed, could it then be used throughout the federal circuit, or is it limited to DC, for example?

We really appreciate everything that you do. I just think adding the information will help this (lay) audience understand its significance better.

Re:"Potentially huge setback" (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388495)

It certainly could be used. I'm given to understand that judges will take into acount foreign cases, to a lesser extent. Importance in precidence is a function of proximity (politically speaking) and authoritativeness of the court. IANAL

Re:"Potentially huge setback" (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389529)

Mr. Beckerman: Could you also accompany the summary with a short comment about the significance of the legal actions? For example, I learned (from your response to another question) that it is highly unusual for a judge to issue the order to show cause herself. I'm also interested in the sibling post's question about precedence: if the case is dismissed, could it then be used throughout the federal circuit, or is it limited to DC, for example? We really appreciate everything that you do. I just think adding the information will help this (lay) audience understand its significance better.
1. John Doe #3 made a motion. The usual procedure would be for the Court to wait for the RIAA's opposition papers. Instead the Court made some findings indicating an awareness that the RIAA may not have been forthcoming in its original papers, and set an accelerated schedule, and raised the point that if the subpoena was wrongly issued, it was wrongly issued as to ALL defendants, not just Doe #3. It's just unusual for a Judge to take on that burden.

2. If the Judge grants the Does' motion, and does so with sound reasoning, the decision will reverberate throughout the country, and may lead to the end of the RIAA's John Doe litigations, which is where it all starts [blogspot.com] .

Re:"Potentially huge setback" (2, Insightful)

LrdDimwit (1133419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21391691)

To add a bit more: A "show cause" order means the judge wants to take some action you won't like, and is giving you one last chance to protect yourself from it (this is, after all, only fair). They are basically the judge saying 'This is your last chance to explain why I should not take [action] against you. It had better be good.' After Jack Thompson filed the 'grey prawn' in the case he's currently embroiled in, the judge in that issued a "Show Cause" order demanding to know why Jack should not be referred to a disciplinary committee. A show cause order can't possibly be good for the recipient. It means you've pissed the judge off. Particularly, the judge here has begun to suspect the RIAA pulled a fast one and got him to sign an unjust order.

Re:"Potentially huge setback" (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388533)

But there's no scenario under which the RIAA comes out of it better because of the Judge's signing the order to show cause.
IANAL, and I don't know the details surounding this order. I can, however imagine this being a good thing on appeal (which is what I think the judge is thinking of). This wouldn't be a huge advantage for the RIAA, just one thing that could otherwise come back around to bite them later.

Again, this is my own ignorant opinion. Feel free to refute it.

Re:"Potentially huge setback" (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389319)

That is my thought too, just hope this doesn't happen to be the one of 100000 where they DO have actual evidence.

Hebrew National RIAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21387583)

Oy vey, it's the RIAA!

Re:Hebrew National RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21388773)

That's Yiddish, not Hebrew, you putz!

Orders to Show Cause are routine (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21387611)

IANAL but OSC hearings happen all the time, it's absolutely routine, it was almost inevitable given the filings. The ride is neither bumpier or smoother.

Re:Orders to Show Cause are routine (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21387729)

The problem is that NewYorkCountryLawyer (Ray Beckerman) is a publicity whore. This story is just more of his anti-IP FUD that will, in the end, mean nothing.

Re:Orders to Show Cause are routine (3, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389813)


The problem is that NewYorkCountryLawyer (Ray Beckerman) is a publicity whore. This story is just more of his anti-IP FUD that will, in the end, mean nothing.

I didn't know Gene Simmons read slashdot.

Simplify this legal language (3, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387613)

The order now requires the plaintiffs to show cause, no later than November 29th, why the ex parte order she'd signed at the RIAA's request should not be vacated.

I have trouble understanding legal lingua. I therefore ask somebody to explain the above quote. That is to say: What is it to "show cause?" Thanks.

Re:Simplify this legal language (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387639)

The judge is ordering them to give her whatever reasons they have as to why she shouldn't vacate the order.

Re:Simplify this legal language (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387695)

Is setting the deadline for when a rebuttal needs to be submitted unusual, or is this just the ordinary operation of the system by the judge setting a time line?

Re:Simplify this legal language (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387715)

It's normal to set a deadline.

What's highly unusual is the judge issuing an order to show cause on her own.

Re:Simplify this legal language (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387847)

Could it be that the RIAA's reputation has preceeded it into this courtroom?

Re:Simplify this legal language (3, Interesting)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388019)

Possibly. Or the judge could not be fond of ex parte discovery.

See, that, to me, is a sham (ex parte discovery). The RIAA doesn't know who specifically is infringing on their IP. Hence the John Doe lawsuits and the motions for ex parte discovery. But then the students who are the targets of these lawsuits don't know what may be used against them in court and help prepare their own defense because if they show up to the discovery proceedings, it actually strengthens the RIAA's case because now the RIAA knows who they are.

But what the hell do I know... most of the law I know is from Law & Order and serving on jury duty. (Okay, and printing out a lot of legal documents over the last seven years.)

Re:Simplify this legal language (4, Informative)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387647)

Though I'm sure Mr. Beckerman will arrive with the correct interpertation shortly, I think show cause just means show why. "They asked me to throw this out. Why shouldn't I?"

Re:Simplify this legal language (2, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387673)

I think show cause just means show why. "They asked me to throw this out. Why shouldn't I?"
You said it more eloquently than I did.

Re:Simplify this legal language (4, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21390717)

If I understand it correctly, it seems that in this case it's even stronger than that - She is saying "They haven't even asked me and I'm thinking of throwing this out."

I must say that from reading your submissions I'm less cynical about the judicial system.

Re:Simplify this legal language (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21387659)

Ex parte just means without the other team appearing, but the other team just showed up in this case. Show Cause means show cause for their complaint, i.e. justify why the judge should rule one way or the other, it's basically just a hearing date where each side shows up and presents their arguments, but there will be paper sumbissions before then, any evidence and arguments or declarations in writing has to be served on the other parties in advance of the hearing. OSC is your day in court.

Re:Simplify this legal language (5, Insightful)

therealgrumpydog (1141193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387825)

"Show Cause" technically means, to prove oneself right" or as to "justify one's actions within the best interests of all concerned." Either way the RIAA can kiss my arse. I get promotional music and play it. This is the way I see things, if you want free Airplay, one needs radio stations and DJ's. No Radio Stations, no DJ, no plug for your new tune! If you like it then buy it. The RIAA is supposed to protect Artists, or are they really just another money making scheme, purporting they are protecting you, as the artist, so you get your Royalties? I think not! Record companies and they're PR dept knows who they have sent out promotional music to and therefore should be immune from Royalty charges. The same applies to PPR. In all honesty, the RIAA is more of a hinderance to the Music Industry, rather than supports it. Whether some people use p2p in order to get the latest tune is another matter. People will use p2p to try and get the latest music as we are a consumer driven society.

Re:Simplify this legal language (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389267)

This is the way I see things, if you want free Airplay, one needs radio stations and DJ's. No Radio Stations, no DJ, no plug for your new tune!

That is an extraordinarily naive view of the situation.

The members of the "popular" culture are increasingly receiving their media via the internet. All the manufacturers of traditional popular entertainment media need to do in order to continue to hawk their crap is to get a significant mindshare on the 'net. Since we sell advertising here just like we do everywhere else, they can do that the same way they do it now - by spending money.

But even if you discount that argument, consider this: you really don't need any real, live DJs. You do need some psuedo-DJs to attend events and do live remotes if you want a full-featured radio station. But for commercial radio you never, ever need a live human on the air. In fact, they are a liability! Using computer systems monitoring one another, you can achieve far higher uptime than any human DJ can provide. You need some voice "Talent" to prerecord some messages and you slice and dice them in at will, with fake phone calls and all. Calls are forwarded from local numbers to a central processing center where people who sound vaguely like your DJ voices have their voices processed to match more closely. Et cetera.

Soon enough this technology will be available for the television news as well, but it's a lot easier to do with audio than with video...

Re:Simplify this legal language (1)

therealgrumpydog (1141193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392169)

Well let's put things into perspective here, Do you want robot DJ's, robot airplay and television? It is happening more and more in todays times. You Must be a psycho if you want to have robots dictate your life. Not with me I am afraid. If that is the life you want to live then fine. The more real live people the better. More robots then you might as well be a psychiatrist! Enough said!

Re:Simplify this legal language (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21391301)

This is the way I see things, if you want free Airplay, one needs radio stations and DJ's.

They don't get free airplay at all. All that time is bought and paid for through payola and other schemes that are mostly off the books to evade taxes, and of course to avoid paying out royalties. This is why they hate the internet and are trying so hard to protect the gatekeepers. This is a criminal organization whose only purpose is to skim off a piece of the action. They do little more than hijack the trucks. And now they own the trucking company and have had the competition outlawed by means of copyright. So they will accept the internet when it becomes more like old time media where they serve up the goods. First step is to put an end to this P2P thing. And that might be fairly easy to do as long as we remain on the corporate leash...er wire.

Re:Simplify this legal language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21394087)

The RIAA is supposed to protect Artists


No, the "RI" part is "Recording Industry". It's a (trade) Association of the large American (well, multinational) labels.

It's supposed to enrich the Recording Industry. Whether it does or not is a good question.

However, it is not the Association bringing these lawsuits, it's individual member companies -- several big multinational corporations.

Re:RIAA does not represent artists (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21397311)

The RIAA is supposed to protect Artists, or are they really just another money making scheme, purporting they are protecting you, as the artist, so you get your Royalties?


No, they represent the Recording Industry. The artist thinks up music, then signs a contract giving the recording copyright over to the recording company. The company makes money off the recording, and gives a few pennies to the artist in royalties. So they protect their own copyright and interests, not those of the artist.

In all honesty, the RIAA is more of a hinderance to the Music Industry, rather than supports it.
The busines model of the current music industry is to get a few songs on the radio, on MTV, or wherever it is these youngsters hear their music, and use that to sell the entire album. The recording, if you will, making the Recording Industry the biggest part of the Music Industry. There may be more dollars exchanged in other forms, like performance rights or writing songs for a performer, but album sales pretty much support the business to customer portion of the current business model of the industry.

Re:Simplify this legal language (1)

trekkwik (1189013) | more than 6 years ago | (#21405797)

A "consumer driven society" does not prosper on theft. Taking music without paying the producer is the same as shop lifting so why do so called music fans still insist that they care about the artists while they take from their pockets? Sorry for flaming - this debate doesn't seem to evolve...

Re:Simplify this legal language (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21390129)

Usually a judge decides something after hearing arguments from both sides. In rare cases, a judge will decide something without giving one of the parties a chance to make their arguments. That's what's called an "ex parte" order.

The catch is, if you're asking a judge to do something without giving the other side a chance to be heard, you have to be EXTRA SPECIAL fair in the way you present the arguments and evidence.

This judge granted an order trusting the RIAA had not misled her on the facts. But now, after the fact, the other side has had a chance to respond in writing. And after reading those arguments, she's started to wonder if the RIAA was blowing smoke in her face. So she wants the RIAA to come back and make their case again, this time with the other side in the room so they have a chance to say "wait a minute, that's not true!" and explain why.

Re:Simplify this legal language (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21391231)

Good explanation, AC. Why don't you stop being "Anonymous" so I can get to read your stuff more often?

Re:Simplify this legal language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392281)

Wow. Thanks. I'll think about that. Apparently nobody sees stuff posted anonymously, so you might be the only one who's read it.

Re:Simplify this legal language (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393909)

Yeah, I set my filter to exclude almost all "Anonymous Coward" posts, because I have found that they are usually no good.

Re:Simplify this legal language (1)

Lord Flipper (627481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394533)

Apparently nobody sees stuff posted anonymously, so you might be the only one who's read it.

Not the case at all; I'm sure plenty of us read at 0 or -1 to get all the points of view. There is a bit of attrition involved, of course. :=) But it's the only way to go if an open mind has any meaning...

Re:Simplify this legal language (1)

abb3w (696381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392305)

What is it to "show cause?"

As I(AmNotALawyer) understand it, "put up or shut up".

mood down (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21387757)

Creek, saBysmal [goat.cx]

The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (3, Interesting)

compumike (454538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387761)

So, I understand that the legal process that the RIAA is trying to use is questionable at best, with ex-parte discovery and merging of multiple unrelated acts of infringement. But I fear that too many people are reading into your fight against the RIAA that the music industry should not be entitled to protect their intellectual property rights.

Maybe it's easier to take an example outside of the music industry. For example, say that I write a creative text, and publish it online as a PDF file that I sell, and that I do not grant the right to redistribute my work. If I later discover that someone who legally obtained my work is now hosting it online for others to obtain, and even have evidence that an actual unauthorized redistribution has taken place (i.e. someone linking to it with a comment suggesting they've downloaded it), do I not have a right to protect my intellectual property? Even if all I have is a time and IP address, shouldn't I be able to seek appropriate civil action against the infringing party?

There are lots of cases of genuine copyright infringement occurring, and while I understand and support your campaign to make sure the RIAA plays by the rules and isn't overly broad in their accusations, I also don't think it's right to let infringers go unpunished. I think too many people see the endgame as one where the RIAA "folds" and can't protect its interests, and where IP holders have no recourse against digital infringement. But when I read into your work, I think the endgame is really one where the RIAA just has to work a bit harder to present its case in the right way, and infringers are punished.

--
Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387833)

Even if all I have is a time and IP address, shouldn't I be able to seek appropriate civil action against the infringing party?

No. Now, if you had me on camera downloading music and heard me listening to said tracks ... that might be different. But if you're going to be throwing a lawsuit at someone that will cost both sides tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, you'd goddamn well better be required to have more than a server log. Otherwise what you're doing is not redress of grievance but ... well, I'm sure there are a hundred legal and non-legal terms for what the RIAA is doing but justice isn't one of them.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389505)

I think the answer should be yes, you should be able to seek appropriate civil action. I'm not saying you should win a civil case with just a time and IP address, but it should be enough to go to a court and have them ask the ISP, school, etc. if they know who had that IP address at that time. The amount of evidence required to start a case is quite a bit lower than the amount required to win a case.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (4, Insightful)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389621)

This is actually the basis of the flaw in the RIAA's reasoning. An IP address does not relate to an individual. Even if there is only one person normally associated with an IP address, that IP address, for that particular (illegal) action may not relate to the individual.

If you are assuming that someone is committing a crime, you have to also consider that they may be falsely laying the blame on someone else. Cracking the password on their router, spoofing packets, botting their machine, hacking their wireless, or even physically splicing a wire. After all, people have been physically splicing into other networks for decades (cable and telephone). Why assume that the relationship is a pristine one-to-one for IP addresses?

If you are going to burden someone with thousands of dollars in legal fees, you should have to have more than an IP address. Most people will simply fold under the weight of a lawsuit; that doesn't imply guilt, just poverty in the face of huge legal fees.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (3, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389749)

This is actually the basis of the flaw in the RIAA's reasoning. An IP address does not relate to an individual. Even if there is only one person normally associated with an IP address, that IP address, for that particular (illegal) action may not relate to the individual. If you are assuming that someone is committing a crime, you have to also consider that they may be falsely laying the blame on someone else. Cracking the password on their router, spoofing packets, botting their machine, hacking their wireless, or even physically splicing a wire. After all, people have been physically splicing into other networks for decades (cable and telephone). Why assume that the relationship is a pristine one-to-one for IP addresses? If you are going to burden someone with thousands of dollars in legal fees, you should have to have more than an IP address. Most people will simply fold under the weight of a lawsuit; that doesn't imply guilt, just poverty in the face of huge legal fees.
Bingo. Plus the fact that the RIAA knows [blogspot.com] that the identifications of the IP address are often themselves wrong.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (2, Insightful)

peterd11 (800684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387845)

In the motion to quash, the defendant's lawyer makes the point that while the court may be sympathetic to the RIAA's attempt to prevent copyright infringement, "playing by the rules" is what the court must enforce. If the rules, i.e. the DMCA, are flawed, that's not something the court can correct. Congress has to update the DMCA, taking into account the competing interests at stake.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387869)

Congress has to update the DMCA, taking into account the competing interests at stake.

"Update", in this context, being synonymous with "repeal", I'd say. I suppose that as a software developer with (ahem) "intellectual property" to protect I should be more sympathetic to the DMCA and those who invoke it but ... I'm not. I've read as much of it as I can understand, and I can't say I like it. That's because I think that, while it's good for some people, it's bad for society as a whole. Congress was unusually irresponsible in passing that law, even for them.

Even so, as I understand copyright law (as much as a non-lawyer can, I suppose) the penalties for copyright infringement were centered around large-scale pirate operations (those who illegally mass-copy protected works for sale) and that when applied to individual infringement don't really don't fit the crime. You know, like using a .50 cal to swat a gnat.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (2, Insightful)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388271)

See, that's a good point. If the RIAA came down with the jackboots and the truncheons on some operation that was cranking out hundreds or thousands of pirated CDs and wanted to impose the same scale of penalties on them as they are trying to burden these college students with, I don't think anyone on Slashdot would even defend those pirates.

But trying to sue a college student into the poorhouse because they shared some tracks off of a Beyonce CD using the same scale of penalties is ridiculous. And the RIAA should know this. But they don't seem to care.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388911)

And the RIAA should know this. But they don't seem to care.

They do, and that's why I tell people like the original poster in this thread that nobody at that organization is about defending their copyrights from pirates ^H^H^H^H^H^Hpeer to peer users. So far as I know, the RIAA doesn't even own any copyright: the studios hold those. The RIAA is all about the projection of power, the projection of fear, and those large statutory damages fall right in line with the deterrent effect they're trying for. Doesn't really seem to be working, though.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21396981)

So far as I know, the RIAA doesn't even own any copyright: the studios hold those

The case is Arista vs Does, not RIAA vs Does. In addition to generally being involved in the cases, RIAA is used by many P2P piracy advocates as a somewhat sloppy shorthand for "the recording industry", but this is ultimately a studio not the RIAA that's doing the suing.

You know, I do find it impressive that the "big, giant, scary group of corporations" is the one that's having difficulty communicating its message and the "plucky underdogs" do seem to be extremely good at putting out somewhat misleading propaganda that virtually everyone takes at face value. Part of the reason is I think the recording industry in general sees it in its best interests to allow it to happen - given the copyright holders are being smeared, it's better for their image if it's "teh RIAAs" that gets the mud thrown at it while "Universal" and "Sony" (well, the latter has enough problems of its own...) who aren't directly, in public, associated with the lawsuits.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389315)

as I understand copyright law (as much as a non-lawyer can, I suppose) the penalties for copyright infringement were centered around large-scale pirate operations (those who illegally mass-copy protected works for sale) and that when applied to individual infringement don't really don't fit the crime.

I am also not a lawyer, but you should consider the way the feds do things before you make decisions like this. The federal government is engaged in an operation to fleece the citizenry of their money. You can see this exemplified in copyright law, drug law, the so-called war on terror, et cetera. Each of these undertakings is designed to be as expensive as possible.

The simple truth is that people with money have a lot to lose if copyright law is redesigned to serve the people. As we have seen, people can and do buy their way in to every level of American government, and I do mean every level. It should be no wonder that money controls the government.

While I do think that copyright law is ridiculous in its present form, consumers have only themselves to blame for the current state of affairs. We have spent our money in places that guaranteed our oppression. The solution is to start spending it elsewhere and to try to convince others to do the same. While this is a hot button and will mark me as a zealot, I have convinced several people to join me in not giving any more money to Sony, just because they're the ones that pissed me off. I continually spread the word about any [perceived?] injustice on the part of corporations, both to remind others and myself as to why I should not spend money with certain establishments. And over time I have reduced or eliminated certain expenditures which really worked against me.

Instead of working to change copyright law, let's work to make it irrelevant, by supporting Creative Commons-licensed media, or at least staying away from RIAA and MPAA-member media entirely. This has two effects: we switch over to feeding the right beast, which provides for the future; and if we're not acquiring any of that media by any means, we're certainly not acquiring it by illegal ones, and we avoid prosecution by the simple expedient of not committing the crime, however ridiculous that crime might be.

A certain part of me wants to say that it's their crap and they can license it however they want, but since we have explicit legal rights to do things with that media that they've been trying to patch around (successfully in some cases) I do believe that the way copyright has been manipulated, twisted, and extended eliminates the majority of benefit to the people - and if a law does not serve the people, it should not exist. But then, that's most of what we have on the books, which serves only lawyers. I know they're not all satan's children or anything, but the point is that unnecessary complication of the legal landscape only provides more opportunities for selective enforcement and graft, which is how we got where we are today.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389969)

It is their crap and they can license it any way they want, but I stopped buying any big media music decades ago, once I realized what a bed of snakes those companies are. I guess in that sense I've been even more of a zealot than you have: the last disc I bought was in 1981 or thereabouts. Oh sure, I do buy used discs (and I don't want to get into another discussion about how I'm still indirectly supporting the media companies, etc. etc.) but none of my hard-earned cash goes directly into their pockets. Fortunately, my tastes don't run towards the latest-greatest hot-off-the-presses releases anyway. And besides, there's plenty of ways to buy music that don't involve supporting a particularly nasty oligopoly, especially nowadays. The Internet does make that really easy, so unless you absolutely must have music from specific big-label artists, there no excuse for giving those bloodsuckers another dime. Heck, peer-to-peer technology could disappear tomorrow, and it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference in how much money they get from me.

I happened to get interested in the mechanics of the music business and its "industry trade organization" a long time ago, and after performing my due diligence decided I didn't want anything to do with them. However, until the rise and fall of Napster, most people had never even heard of the RIAA, and really didn't make any distinctions between the big labels (I mean, nobody walks into a Best Buy looking for the latest Sony release.) Seems to me, though, that the RIAA's (ahem!) "anti-piracy" campaign has raised the music industry's profile, and made more people aware of the kind of people they're dealing with. Like you, I also do my part to raise awareness of these shenanigans. During the whole Sony copy protection fiasco, I got asked numerous times, "Hey ... what's a 'rootkit'?" I would explain in some detail ... that raised more than a few eyebrows, let me tell you. As in, "WTF? Hell, I think I might have bought one of those!" By just letting people know what's going on, I've probably cost Sony a few grand.

Put it this way: the people running the music business are a protected criminal class, one with delusions of grandeur and a strong sense of entitlement. After I figured that out, I decided that I could not, in good conscience, continue to do business with them. So I didn't, and I believe that I'm not the only one. Recent comments by studio execs that "the war on consumers was a mistake" indicates that they, too, are starting to understand that John Q. Public is wising up. It remains to be seen if they'll actually do anything about their drain-bamaged business practices. Perhaps they will ... but either way we're still stuck we all the bad law they bought.

In some ways, I think they should have just kept quiet and took the heat, rather than showing their true colors to so many people. Most of us know, implicitly, that the world's major corporations have us on the express elevator to Hell. There's often not a lot we can do about that, so we'd rather just not know too much about it. However, forcing consumers to realize they've been bending over for a bunch of self-righteous, self-serving corporate thugs for the past half-century or so may not be the best long-term strategy.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (2, Funny)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387877)

Since when did the RIAA actually makes music?

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (4, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387895)

Since when did the RIAA actually makes music?

Well, I'm sure the sound of all those settlements rolling in is music to their ears. They probably copyrighted it too.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21397017)

It doesn't. However, Arista does fund the creation of new music, and it's Arista, not the RIAA, that's actually the plaintiff in this case. HTH. HAND. This has been Slapdown a Slashbot asking a Stupid Question with an Obvious Answer. Next week: How the word "pirate" has been used to describe copyright infringers for over a century and is therefore part of the lexicon and not a term used exclusively to refer to sea robbers.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (2, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387887)

So, I understand that the legal process that the RIAA is trying to use is questionable at best, with ex-parte discovery and merging of multiple unrelated acts of infringement. But I fear that too many people are reading into your fight against the RIAA that the music industry should not be entitled to protect their intellectual property rights.
I think you're largely correct here, the problem is that it isn't just a matter of protecting property whether real or virtual. It's a matter of filing questionable cases and asking to receive far more than the infringement may have cost because it sends a message.

I do think that the RIAA folding and giving up on protecting its copyrights would be a positive move for everybody. And I do include the labels in that as well. Where things got screwed up was when they expected to sell crap albums to people, because the people couldn't hear the whole thing prior to purchase.

There are a number of albums by artists that I would never have purchased had I not illegally downloaded a few songs first. They just weren't easily accessible to me in other ways.

It's largely a matter of the RIAA having too much protection from piracy that has caused most of their problems in the first place. The whole concept of copyright is one that should probably be largely revoked. It was never meant for a copyright to last more than about 30 years, and even then it originally required people to file paperwork to have it extended.

A lot of what the piracy is about these days is a whole lot of poor customer service. It was for a long time easier for me to crack windows than it was for me to go searching for my legitimate serial number everytime I wanted to reinstall windows. It was horribly inconvenient and significantly more so than pirating the OS. Likewise in the music industry, it is difficult to separate the good music from the horrid crap, because the labels are terrified of piracy. Wrongly equating a full sale for each illicit download.

I won't personally purchase another CD until such a time as they've decided to start playing fair within the generally agreed upon legal principles. There are plenty of other artists out there that put out quality music and do so in a manner which makes it easy to spread word of mouth reviews of them.

I don't think that it makes a whole lot of sense to pretend like the RIAA didn't make their own trouble. The majority of music consumers understand that if nobody buys the music, nobody will make the music. But lied to about the cost of producing the music, and then being expected to pay $18 or so for an album that was recorded in a way that kills nearly all of the nuances and subtleties is absurd.

For a physical copy of an album $5 is more than enough in the volumes that an album that is charting will sell. A platinum album would bring in $5mill, with less than $1000 for a decent recording probably $500,000 for the discs, and an additional $500,000 for promotion $1mill for the artist. That's a pretty huge profit, and depending upon the actual terms, very little risk, only a bit over 100,000 albums reguried to break even with that type of budget.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388007)

with less than $1000 for a decent recording
Just wanted to respond to this, I agree with most of your post but you're off on this figure by about two orders of magnitude. Professional recording on the level done for a major label release along with professional mixing and mastering is easily $50k-100k if you want a top tier sound.

For smaller label or independent releases it can be done for much less of course, primarily because engineers and producers are paid less and production processes are more streamlined. But in the context you mentioned (a platinum RIAA artist) $1000 is not going to cut it.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

nystire (871449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388043)

It doesn't appear to change his numbers too much either way. No matter which figure is correct, there is still an immense profit.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21390453)

The main reason why I'm annoyed at it is that the status quo is to overproduce, over compress try and make up for poor quality talent by making adjustments with technology, and it raises the cost and lowers the sound quality. I'm sure that it probably does cost them more to make the recording, but I think the real question is how well is that justified? Do they really get sufficient improvement from the investment, or do they just destroy whatever artistry there was previously.

No amount of audio engineering is going to cover up for the fact that the Beatles, Eagles, Meat Puppets and Bob Dylan can't sing. They all suck at the singing aspect, granted in all cases they did a far greater job of writing and playing the instruments, but that shouldn't be possible with all the competition out there.

What I don't really see you wondering about is that if indie labels can streamline and still come out with a superior sound quality, why can't the labels. And that is an important question to be asking. I've worked for myself, and I can't imagine just pissing away that kind of money without trying to justify it.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392429)

Hi Raven,

as an individual who has worked with multiple independant music labels I can tell you that 10 grand gets you closer than necessary to the "super fidelity sound". Just need to use the money smart. People just want the expensive things to make crappy artists sound good...so yes, you are correct in some ways, but I find it hard to agree with your amounts on the recording.

I see neumann u87's for 3 grand. How many of those suckers you think you need? 30? You don't need much more than that and a well set computer system if you know what you are doing, of course effort involved will be greater.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21387947)

You are asking these questions on Slashdot? Are you new here? A good portion of people here feel that regardless of the law, they are entitled to give and get music for free because CD's are over priced...

Yes, they say they would pay a reasonable price for music, but they feel that since that reasonable price isn't part of the offer from the record company, they are just entitled to take the music. Oh but wait, Radiohead gave them even more freedome than what they wanted... But of course, going to the Radiohead Web site and giving them a few cents... or even nothing... was too inconvenient, so it was just better to continue to illegally take the music via p2p.

But how can music that could be gotten legitimately be illegal to distribute... Of course, it violates the copyright on the music to distribute it outside what the owner allows... Oh but a good portion of Slashdot users don't believe in copyrights... How can you copyright numbers, letters, words, sounds, bits, bytes, and math? How can anybody charge for it? Of course, a large portion of Slashdot users have no problem protecting, and charging their employers for, those same items that they feel should not be copyrightable by others...

Your post is good and your points are valid, you are just posing them to an audience that is so self-righteous that they would cut-off their nose in spite of their face, lol.
 

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

compumike (454538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388109)

Oh but a good portion of Slashdot users don't believe in copyrights... How can you copyright numbers, letters, words, sounds, bits, bytes, and math? How can anybody charge for it? Of course, a large portion of Slashdot users have no problem protecting, and charging their employers for, those same items that they feel should not be copyrightable by others...
Speak up, AC! There needs to be some balance brought to this debate... people aren't clearly understanding what these cases are about. They're not about free music. They're about the RIAA not pursuing these cases in a legally sound way. That's all.

--
Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21391377)

Based on your post I'm thinking that in addition to the "Post Anonymously" checkbox there should be a "Post as Straw Man" checkbox.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (2, Insightful)

S point 2 (1190255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388023)

Maybe it's easier to take an example outside of the music industry. For example, say that I write a creative text, and publish it online as a PDF file that I sell, and that I do not grant the right to redistribute my work. If I later discover that someone who legally obtained my work is now hosting it online for others to obtain, and even have evidence that an actual unauthorized redistribution has taken place (i.e. someone linking to it with a comment suggesting they've downloaded it), do I not have a right to protect my intellectual property? Even if all I have is a time and IP address, shouldn't I be able to seek appropriate civil action against the infringing party?
No. Legally yes, you have the right to. But morally? Ethically? No, I would say probably not. The problem is you don't have any control over it once it is published in a reproduce-able format. And especially after it goes online. Practically speaking, suing one person does nothing to prevent another form doing the same or downloading it. So it doesn't protect your intellectual property. I even have a problem with the idea that it is yours to begin with: a copyright is all well and good, but I have a problem with the idea that you own something that I have already bought. I'm not leasing the pdf, I own it. It's mine, and I'll do what I want with it. Copyright isn't going to change it. It's a piece of paper somewhere that I may or may not agree with. And in any case there's nothing you can do about it except try to sue me, which won't prevent anyone else from doing the same, and is certainly not going to encourage me to cooperate with you. Besides, I own the pdf. I have direct control over the file and can do whatever I like to it. Copy it, Modify it, send it to Tajikistan, whatever. Litigation doesn't prevent it and then,after the fact, doesn't even discourage it. This has been proven by the music industry. At best it pisses people off. At worst you loose customers and waste a lot of money on pointless litigation and look like an ass in the process. So this really isn't helping the music industry. It gets back to the old MIT hacker argument: How can you sell something that can easily be copied, distributed, and re-produced for free? It is possible (people make millions selling bottled water) but you can't sell things people don't want. people don't want to pay 15 bucks for a cd that cost 10 cents to make with 12 songs they don't want and one they do. And they don't have to. They can download it for free. And that's the bottom line no matter what they (RIAA) say.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

compumike (454538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388089)

The problem is you don't have any control over it once it is published in a reproduce-able format. And especially after it goes online.
Practically speaking, suing one person does nothing to prevent another form doing the same or downloading it.
So it doesn't protect your intellectual property.
I even have a problem with the idea that it is yours to begin with: a copyright is all well and good, but I have a problem with the idea that you own something that I have already bought.
I'm not leasing the pdf, I own it.
It's mine, and I'll do what I want with it. Copyright isn't going to change it.
It's a piece of paper somewhere that I may or may not agree with. And in any case there's nothing you can do about it except try to sue me, which won't prevent anyone else from doing the same, and is certainly not going to encourage me to cooperate with you.
Besides, I own the pdf. I have direct control over the file and can do whatever I like to it. Copy it, Modify it, send it to Tajikistan, whatever.
Litigation doesn't prevent it and then,after the fact, doesn't even discourage it.
You don't have the same right with non-digital formats... You can't legally take a copyrighted VHS videotape (analog) and make lots of copies of it and give them away. You can't legally take a copyrighted paper book and photocopy it and give the copies to ten people. In each case, you'd be violating the author's rights to control distribution. Of course, there are some things you're allowed to do, like make a copy for personal backup purposes, or to sell your copy. But the physical instance is just that -- one instance of a piece of intellectual property, and you can't further distribute that intellectual property.

Why should I be able to seek redress for analog violations when analogous digital violations don't get handled appropriately?

You may say it's the "bottom line" that you can't sell something that can be redistributed for free, but the foundations of valuing information itself rely on stopping unauthorized distribution, whether it's technically easily redistributed or not.

I hate DRM, but I've never heard a good argument for why we should just throw all of intellectual property rights out the window.

--
Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (2, Insightful)

S point 2 (1190255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388169)

I hate DRM, but I've never heard a good argument for why we should just throw all of intellectual property rights out the window.
Because they don't work. It is an illusion of control. An illusion. I do not think that intellectual property rights should be thrown out, But in certain areas, with certain things, they should be changed. Utility patents expire after 10 years. That's a patent, for some great invention or piece of engineering or whatever. But copyrights for sound recordings last 50 years from the date of recording. For films it's even more absurd: 70 years from the date of the last major player(director, producer,screenplay author, sound director,etc) involved to die. 70 years after the last one of them dies the copyright expires. That's ridiculous. 50 years is to much too. Ten. Ten years. Thats it. That's long enough. And the litigation laws regarding this should be changed too. There is no reason why someone should be sued for millions of thousands of dollars over the loss of one infraction. That's just stupid. And as the laws currently stand, I have no pity for those who would be ripped off and lose money over copyright infractions epecially in the music and film industry. They are acting like jerks and have not stopped the loss one bit. That's why the laws should be modified: they don't work. They don't help the creator of the item, nor do they help the consumer or end-user. They just don't work.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (2, Informative)

fluffykitty1234 (1005053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388191)

The digital era has thrown a wrench into the the system for 2 reasons. 1. The cost to make reproductions has gone to zero. I can copy a file as many times as I like, it doesn't cost me anything. If I want to make 10 copies of a VHS tape, I have to actually buy 10 tapes. 2. Tracking bootleggers has become close to impossible. If you buy 10,000 VHS tapes, produce 10,000 copies and sell them in Time Square for a buck each, you leave a paper trail. I can (well not me personally, I have no skills) figure out where the tape was sold, then who bought them and track them back to you. In the digital era, this become quite impossible. On the Internets, I might be able to figure out that a computer is hosting files to be downloaded, but I don't really have a good way to figure out who is downloading those file, or who even owns that computer that is hosting the files. The RIAA is trying to get copyright law changed to say that if you even make it possible for another person to reproduce a copyrighted work, that you are "hosting", then you are in violation of copyright law. I've been told that the copyright doesn't work that way, but I am not a lawyer so I have no clue. The problem that I personally have with the RIAA is not that they are trying to protect their copyrights, it's how they are doing it. They are using scare tactics to make people think if they share their music with others they might have to thousands of dollars, and they are (ab)using the legal to accomplish their task.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388215)

Well, part of it is the approach. With a book the author's rights to control what you do with it are limited to copying and distributing to others. You can make copies of pages, or favorite passages, to tack up on your wall. That's not infringement. You can show your book to others. You can loan your book to others. You can sell your book to a used-book store. None of those are infringement, and the author's got no right to tell you you can't. But with digital formats, the authors (or in this case the RIAA) have taken the position that since they can control those things technically they ought to have the right to do so. They're the ones who've taken the position that it's all or nothing: either we-the-customers give up all the rights we have with analog media, or (so the RIAA claims) the authors have to give up all rights. The position a lot of people have taken is "Well, if they insist it be all or nothing, then let them have nothing.".

Rich girl, poor boy (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388395)

She was a rich girl -- she don't try to hide it;

Diamonds on the soles of her shoes.

He was a poor boy, empty as a pocket.

Empty as a pocket, with nothing to lose

Sing tananaaa... tananana.

Downloads were the source of her blues.

Downloads were the source of her blues.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

porpnorber (851345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388407)

If I understand correctly, your argument is that because you (a) paid money, (b) are physically capable, and (c) are not dismayed by penalties imposed on other people, you have a moral and ethical right to proceed as you will. But this is clearly broken reasoning: all the same elements appear in taking out a contract to have someone killed, and I sincerely hope that you do not believe this gives you a moral and ethical basis to kill someone.

'Rights', it is true, are not inherent things; they are ideas developed and promulgated by a society. Various rights of ownership have been extended in our society: ownership of objects, and ownership of expressions of ideas. This might be sensible or it might be daft, but this thing has been done, as a subgame of the broader game of the rule of law, the thing that gives you a reasonable expectation of dying in your sleep.

The RIAA issue is one of cake-and-eat-it-too: if the RIAA wants the benefits of the law, in both letter and spirit, it should abide by the law, in both letter and spirit. The law does not, and indeed (for slightly subtle mathematical reasons of stability, if nothing else) should not, say that the RIAA must abide by one law to receive the benefits of another; but morally and ethically it ought to do so, and practically it cannot but expect that the law will be used against it as much as it uses it in its own favour.

Similarly, if you do not want people to break into your house and steal your shit and rape your cat and eat your crayons, then, morally and ethically, you, too, should abide by this quasi-arbitrary ownership game. If you don't like it, or so goes the theory, you vote for someone who isn't a complete tool next time you are given the chance, and with luck they will help see to it that the law is changed.

A lesson that many people, and many corporations, and many countries, need to learn is this: that to keep the moral high ground, you must first have the moral high ground. However personally inconvenient that may be.

Wanting the bad guys to lose is a reasonable stance, at least if you are honestly willing to learn the truth; but it remains so only until you become one of the bad guys yourself.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

S point 2 (1190255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388517)

If I understand correctly, your argument is that because you (a) paid money, (b) are physically capable, and (c) are not dismayed by penalties imposed on other people, you have a moral and ethical right to proceed as you will. But this is clearly broken reasoning: all the same elements appear in taking out a contract to have someone killed, and I sincerely hope that you do not believe this gives you a moral and ethical basis to kill someone.
You do not understand correctly. A correct understanding would be that because I paid money, and a sale took place, it is my property, not theirs. Metalica could not legally come in to my house and demand that I give them my Cd (if I owned a Metalica CD). Also Under current copyright law, the law is clear: to "distribute"(in a legal sense[required in cases like this to allege copyright infringement]) one has to do so for commercial gain. P2P networks are free. It is not a violation of copyright law to use them, even to download music or movies. The law is quite clear. District Judges have consistently ruled that this is so. Despite the music and film industry's theories that it is copyright infringement, this is not the law. It is quite clear that this is a matter for Congress to pass new legislation, not the courts. I would suggest reading the motion to quash submitted by defendant John Doe #3. It clearly lays this out.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

Zarim (1167823) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389409)

You're making it sound as if people who spend years writing books or music shouldn't expect to be paid for their work. While the RIAA's excessive response to piracy is more of a desperate move to make a defunct business model work, let's not forget that piracy is still a bad thing and, at least in theory, hurts the artists and their craft.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21389497)

Let's not forget those artists don't produce any art at all without copying the ideas of others. So no, if by "piracy" you mean "copying", artists benefit from copying, because otherwise they wouldn't have any art at all in the first place. I doubt it's been 70 years after the death of many of the inventors of various blues progressions which have been used in countless rock and roll songs.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (4, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21391265)

Let's also remember that the term "piracy" in copyright parlance means large scale reproduction of exact copies for commercial gain. None of these cases is about "piracy" and the RIAA's and MPAA's repeated use of that term is rank propaganda.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

hhawk (26580) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388047)

According to the motion filed by Doe #3, in your example, their has not been a violation of copyright law. In part, the major test is the person who is "handing out the copies" has to be doing so for commerical gain. Perhaps with your example, you could claim the web site making a gain, but in the case of the p2p system, it's clear that the users are not gaining $$ from the copies. Also the motion claimed it's not illegal to offer to sell someone's work, it only becomes illegal when the transaction happens.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388853)

I think that if you take the time to read the motion itself, you will see that Jon Doe #3 actually contests whether any copyright infringement can be considered to have happened, citing specific court judgements to eliminate the 'making available' argument, and asserting that the 'making available' argument is the only possible substantive claim of the plaintifs.

Now if Congress so wishes, it may introduce new law whereby 'making available' (via P2P or other means) becomes copyright infringement (despite the obvious objection that those making the copyrighted works available do not do so for commercial gain).

Until such law is introduced, John Doe #3's position, which the judge in this case seems to think has merit, is that no infringement has in fact taken place, so the plaintiffs do not have a case.

Genuine copyright infringement is a problem for the coyright holders - the sale of copied CDs at car boot sales or on market stalls being the prime example.

But it appears that the law as it stands does not prohibit 'making available' (excluding the perverse judgement of one jury), so the RIAA will have to go back to bribing congressmen to get that fixed, or perhaps admit that their business model is unsupportable in the digital age.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21389157)

You have to distinguish evidence sufficient to justify a subpoena to get the identity the person associated with the account assigned that IP address, versus evidence sufficient for the court to find a particular person violated the law.

A date and IP address, and affidavit that the investigator believed he found copyrighted works on a computer at that IP address at that time, is sufficient to get a subpoena to ID the person associated with that account, so *further* discovery can be had, such as asking that person who had access to their IP address, do they have a wireless router, and examining their hard drive for the infringing works. Depending on the answers to those additional facts, the person may or may not be subject to liability. But date and IP address alone is not enough to win the case.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21389447)

A date and IP address, and affidavit that the investigator believed he found copyrighted works on a computer at that IP address at that time, is sufficient to get a subpoena to ID the person associated with that account, so *further* discovery can be had, such as asking that person who had access to their IP address, do they have a wireless router, and examining their hard drive for the infringing works. Depending on the answers to those additional facts, the person may or may not be subject to liability. But date and IP address alone is not enough to win the case.
There likely isn't a single computer in the universe that doesn't have "copyrighted works" on it. Aren't the operating systems copyrighted (even linux has GPL fine print). Any material viewed over the internet is COPIED. This means there will be "copyrighted" material on the computer in its RAM. That a computer may have "copyrighted" material on it doesn't PROVE how that material got there. The RIAA could claim investigators drive by houses and sign affidavits that they heard copyrighted sounds emanating from specific houses at specific addresses at specific dates and times? So does that mean they can obtain warrants to to not only search your house (but confiscate it for discovery purposes) and if you have copyrighted books on your bookshelves, copyrighted music on cds, copyrighted videos, you are liable for $150,000 per copyrighted work you possess in your houses because the RIAA alleges a copyrighted sound was heard (made available) coming from your house?

Not only is date and IP address not enough to win the case, but the existence of copyrighted materials on the computer also isn't enough to win the case. Computers cannot be liable, only PEOPLE can be liable. And that means at a minimum EVIDENCE of persons intentionally infringing copyright. At a minimum police forces should be required to obtain warrants from judges to be allowed to investigate alleged copyright infringement. Unless you are sitting in the street with a giant laptop screen so that investigators can see actual persons infringing copyright, they need a court ordered wiretap to record sound or video of actual persons for evidence purposes. That means the FBI must get authorization to put hidden cameras in your home with a view of your computer, the RIAA investigative goon trackers aren't the FBI. They have no evidence. And then if they got evidence of a person downloading and uploading to a P2P site, it must be taken into account that is a non-commercial purpose. That the RIAA has not followed this methodology of gathering evidence, imo puts them in violation of RICO statutes, subject to criminal prosecution with hefty penalties, not to mention forfeiture of all settlements thus far garnered along with penalties and interest.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (5, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389599)

It is you who have lost sight of the big picture. The big picture is that we are a nation of laws. The reason I went into the legal profession is because I believe in the rule of law. Bringing frivolous cases based on misstatements of existing law and bogus evidence is contrary to the law.

Secondly, even before I went into the legal profession, I was raised to believe in fairness and decency and courtesy and humaneness.

I have never once suggested to anyone that the laws regarding protection of intellectual property rights should not be followed. I have been working in the copyright field for 34 years, and I have never once said anything like the bogus points you are trying to attribute to me.

Yes the RIAA has to work a "little bit harder".... small details like

(A) identifying the right people, who

(B) actually did infringe their copyrights, and then

(C) handling the matter in a lawyerlike manner instead of an extortionate gangsterlike manner.

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

herbierobinson (183222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21400797)

So how are they supposed to identify the "right people" without filing Ex Parte lawsuits?

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21394697)

If I later discover that someone who legally obtained my work is now hosting it online for others to obtain, and even have evidence that an actual unauthorized redistribution has taken place (i.e. someone linking to it with a comment suggesting they've downloaded it), do I not have a right to protect my intellectual property? Even if all I have is a time and IP address, shouldn't I be able to seek appropriate civil action against the infringing party?

Is the infringing party pretending that the work is theirs? As far as I am aware P2P attributes the work to the artist (the artist is the reason it's popular in the first place).

What is the purpose of your work? Did you write it because you want to share your ideas with as many people as possible, to have people relate- or did you simply write it to make money? If the latter, it's probably not really worth reading at all.

What will you do about those who read your work illegally but then go and buy a copy because it's so good? Are you going to refund their money if you take them to court?

These aren't legal questions, they're just moral ones...

Sorry I am an anon coward, I don't have a /. account I usually only read =)

Re:The bigger picture, Mr. Beckerman? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21397065)

The problem is the settlements they want is the financual equivilant to Keelhauling, a severe form of punishment abolished years ago.

Most people given the choice between keelhauling and a 222,000 settlement would take the keelhauling. The injuries are likely to heal in a few weeks time unlike an RIAA settlement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keelhauling [wikipedia.org]

Contact Information (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387805)

Does anyone have any information on the Judge's email address so we can show our support for the person who finally stood up to those bastards?

Re:Contact Information (1)

deathy_epl+ccs (896747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388373)

Does anyone have any information on the Judge's email address so we can show our support for the person who finally stood up to those bastards?

Yeah, that's all this poor lady needs is millions of e-mails from /.ers. I wouldn't be surprised if it did more damage than good. heh.

Re:Contact Information (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389341)

Yeah, that's all this poor lady needs is millions of e-mails from /.ers. I wouldn't be surprised if it did more damage than good. heh.

I guarantee you that it would.

Everyone who is qualified to make an intelligent comment to her probably already knows who she is and how to reach her. Hint: Most of them aren't [primarily*] slashdotters.

--

* that is, in terms of webforum usage

Re:Contact Information (1)

Ptraci (584179) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392057)

That could backfire. Please don't spam the judge.

Momentum running out... (1)

LinDVD (986467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21387985)

AFAIK, one point of the lawsuits against consumers is to try to generate fear with the general public. Now that the legal system is catching on to the shady RIAA tactics, it seems that what little momentum the RIAA was hoping for to alter the mindset of the general public, won't happen.

Re:Momentum running out... (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389687)

AFAIK, one point of the lawsuits against consumers is to try to generate fear with the general public. Now that the legal system is catching on to the shady RIAA tactics, it seems that what little momentum the RIAA was hoping for to alter the mindset of the general public, won't happen.
I agree with everything you said, except that I don't know what "AFAIK" means. (My guess: "As far as I know"....?)

Yeah (1)

LinDVD (986467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389807)

Just a chat acronym, but yes it's As Far As I Know (AFAIK)...

Commerical Copies (4, Insightful)

hhawk (26580) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388033)

I read through both the judges order and the motion filed by Doe #3; it's good reading.

The two most strong points for me are:

a) they can't lump all the Does together; that wouldn't hinder the RIAA much but still having to file 25 or 100 or 1000 or 50000 cases, each one with filing fees, would have some effect but as Doe #3 claims, it would also serve and advance the interest of justice for each of the Does to be treated on a case by case basis, with their own juries, lawyers, etc. [A Doe who actually illegally sold copies of music wouldn't get lumped in with someone who had their ID stolen or their IP address spoofed].

b) that for someone to violate the copyright law, one of the major tests is you have to do it for a) commerical gain and b) merely offering to sell a copy isn't a violation (you have to actually sell it). It's clear that the P2P system is anything but a commerical sales system; everyone admits the copies are free; it's also fairly clear, to anyone who wants to really research the matter, the only party that gets commerical gain out of the P2P sharing of media is the copyright holders.

PS.

Many decades of radio station play of records as well as song "play" on MTV, VH1, etc. has shown that when people are exposed to new sounds/songs, etc. they buy them; this was the novelity of MTV, kids started buying songs that didn't get played on the local radio.

So even if there wasn't any evidence that P2P directly boosts sales of songs, CDs, etc, 50+ years of radio play has proven that point; listening to a song boosts its sales.

It has proven it to the point that many members of the RIAA have illegally (in the past and in the present) used a system called Payola, which pays radio stations to play songs by a particular artist repeatedly more than other artists for commerical gain; they do this because they believe the more their songs are played the more $$ they will make.

Copyright holders spend 100's of thousands to mulitple millions of dollars to produce "music videos", engage in Payola, advertise to DJs and radio station programmers, etc. all for the purpose of allowing the music to be played on the air or on TV/Cable all in the hope that people will buy the music. Clearly they could save those $$, let P2P do it's work, and accrue the savings in production, Payola, etc. to any lost of royalities.

In fairness not deserved by the RIAA, their is a difference between listening to a song on the radio and making a copy of it via P2P but in fairness to the public, owning a physical copy of a song is not the same as having a 3rd rate digital copy, that may or may not be 100% as the artist intended.

Re:Commerical Copies (1)

S point 2 (1190255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388197)

Agreed.

Re:Commerical Copies (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21388249)

"b) that for someone to violate the copyright law, one of the major tests is you have to do it for a) commerical gain"

Where did you get that silly idea? Comercial gain has nothing to do with copyright. Copyright allows the owner to control distribution of the work, whether for fee or for free.

Re:Commerical Copies (1)

hhawk (26580) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388363)

I am quoting from the motions files by the judge and Doe #3; in this case a claim by Doe #3.

Doe #3 quotes a fair amount of case law so while their maybe other issues at stake, and other law(s) that apply, commercial gain is one of the major tests (as per Doe #3's filing).

Re:Commerical Copies (2, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389949)

Copyright holders spend 100's of thousands to mulitple millions of dollars to produce "music videos", engage in Payola, advertise to DJs and radio station programmers, etc. all for the purpose of allowing the music to be played on the air or on TV/Cable all in the hope that people will buy the music. Clearly they could save those $$, let P2P do it's work, and accrue the savings in production, Payola, etc. to any lost of royalities.

Actually, the problem the RIAA members have is that they don't control what gets played this way. RIAA members believe (wrongly) that they can manufacture demand for particular music, no matter what its quality is. They, also, believe (correctly) that if this new distribution/exposure system takes over, they will no longer be able to justify the large share of the profit from music distribution that they take.
Under the old, established music distribution system (brick and mortar stores, exposure on radio stations and MTV), the RIAA members added a lot of value to an musicians work, justifying the large share of the profits that they reaped. Under the new distribution system (download music file and mount to media of user's choice, exposure on internet radio and free download), the RIAA members add much less value and so artists are starting to realize that the artist should get a larger share of the profit and end users are realizing that there is no justification for the profit being so large.

Re:Commerical Copies (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21390071)

and so artists are starting to realize that the artist should get a larger share of the profit

Artists are starting to realize they can have all the profits, that the studios just really aren't all that relevant anymore. For that matter, they're starting to realize the sale of their music can actually have profits, if they just don't contract out to a major studio. Radiohead's recent efforts in this regard have certainly pointed the way to self-publishing on the Web as a way to make serious money.

Re:Commerical Copies (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21390519)

and so artists are starting to realize that the artist should get a larger share of the profit

Artists are starting to realize they can have all the profits, that the studios just really aren't all that relevant anymore. For that matter, they're starting to realize the sale of their music can actually have profits, if they just don't contract out to a major studio. Radiohead's recent efforts in this regard have certainly pointed the way to self-publishing on the Web as a way to make serious money.
However, in the long run, most artists will discover that they need to pay a publicist, a promoter, and a record producer (probably a couple of other roles of which I am not thinking at the moment) to maximize their profit. The best of those that do those three jobs will get a cut of the profit, not just a flat rate. Therefore the artist that wants ALL of the profit will not make as much as the one who shares it intelligently.

yuo fai7 it?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21388133)

community at INVENTING EXCUSES Very sick and its EFN3t servers. project faces a set Example, if you for the record, I marketing surveys Backward and said obsessed - give
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