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RIAA Sues 12-Year Old Girl 1872

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the squash-her-like-a-bug dept.
tcp100 noted an article running at fox about The RIAA suing a 12 Year Old girl: "'I got really scared. My stomach is all turning,' Brianna said last night at the city Housing Authority apartment where she lives with her mom and her 9-year-old brother."
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RIAA Sues 12-Year Old Girl

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  • by panxerox (575545) * on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:02AM (#6909175)
    Owwww !!! My foot !!! My foot !!! Owwww !!!
    • No kidding. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lendrick (314723) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:31AM (#6909607) Homepage Journal
      If they sue her, then they'll have the PR nightmare of suing a poor 12-year-old girl living with a single mom.

      If they drop the case, then all of the other people they're suing will (quite publicly) ask: "How come it's okay if a 12-year-old does it, but not if I do?" Because really, if it's unjust to do it to a 12-year-old girl, it's unjust to do it to anyone. Little girls just catch the public eye more because they're sympathetic characters.

      It's a lose-lose situation for the RIAA. I love it. :)
      • Re:No kidding. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by luzrek (570886) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:36AM (#6909696) Journal
        Here is a more important legal question. Can non-emancipated minors assume debt? I don't think so, this is why banks won't issue credit cards or loans to minors without an additional signature from an adult. Even if RIA successfully sues this girl, she won't have to and cannot be made to pay. The lawsuit against her is completely stupid.
        • Re:No kidding. (Score:5, Informative)

          by JCMay (158033) <JeffMayNO@SPAMearthlink.net> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:52AM (#6909890) Homepage
          Can non-emancipated minors assume debt? I don't think so, this is why banks won't issue credit cards or loans to minors without an additional signature from an adult


          It's not that minors can't asssume debt, it's that they can't enter into legally binding contracts. That's why the cosigns are required. Credit card agreements and loans require written legal contracts.
        • Excellent! (Score:5, Funny)

          by Greedo (304385) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @11:03AM (#6910082) Homepage Journal
          I'm gonna go out and get me a 12-year-old and have them do all my file sharing.
        • Re:No kidding. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by tuckerclerico (667874) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @11:37AM (#6910600)
          Although it *does* beg the question: if a 12 year can't assume debt, then how exactly did they get her name in the first place?

          Her mom shoulda signed up with the ISP, no? So her mom is the one paying the ISP bill.

          And her mom is probably the one that registered Kazaa.

          And if the RIAA claims they don't know any personal details about the people they're suing -- then how did they get the name of the girl?

          Unless her mom did something weird like register a bunch of credit cards in her daughter's name in order to get credit. But, nah, no one would do that ...

          (Just curious ...)
          • by LinuxParanoid (64467) * on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @01:29PM (#6912122) Homepage Journal
            Although it *does* beg the question: if a 12 year can't assume debt, then how exactly did they get her name in the first place?

            I've not seen anyone confirm or deny the following scenario, but I was thinking about this question this morning.

            I suspect the mom, who was likely the owner of the ISP account (billed to the mom's credit card) is the one who actually had her name on the suit since the RIAA got her name through subpoena'ing the ISP. But in a brilliant PR move, the mom is telling the press that the RIAA is suing her daughter (since the mom had nothing to do personally with the copying.)

            This is the only scenario that makes logical sense to me, but I'd note that it is 100% speculation.

            --LP
    • by frankie (91710) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @11:40AM (#6910652) Journal
      From last week's BBSpot: Law and Order: RIAA [bbspot.com]
      Lars Ulrich will star as a gritty New York detective and John Amos will play the chief RIAA lawyer. "Since most file sharing cases are civil and only consist of serving subpoenas, we had to take some liberties much like the RIAA," said creator Dick Wolf.
  • Smooth move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:02AM (#6909179) Homepage Journal

    Super move RIAA: attack children. This will certainly endear you to the masses. They must be millipedes to have all these feet they keep shooting themselves in.

    OK, cheap shots aside; what will this lawsuit serve? They obviously know they won't get much money, if any, from a girl living in a city's subsidized housing system. This is nothing more than a tactic designed to instill fear into file-sharers, call it an attempt at Social Engineering.
    • Set up? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Cap'n Canuck (622106) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:08AM (#6909260)
      Super move RIAA: attack children. This will certainly endear you to the masses.

      It's almost as though it was a setup. The only thing that was missing was the fact that she wasn't in a wheelchair.
      • Re:Set up? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bahamat (187909) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:12AM (#6909314) Homepage
        Setup or no, when a law is passed that automatically defaults the majority of citizens as being criminals, there's something wrong with the law, not the people.
      • Re: Set up? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:17AM (#6909394)


        > It's almost as though it was a setup. The only thing that was missing was the fact that she wasn't in a wheelchair.

        The only thing missing is that it was on FOX instead of The Onion.

      • Re:Set up? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:26AM (#6909551) Homepage

        I know her! I bought a box of Camp Girl Cookies from her! She was trying to raise enough money to buy a flag, as all they can afford is a piece of sackcloth, but they salute that raggedy old thing and sing the Star Spangled Banner at the top of their little tuberculosis ravaged voices like the bravest little patriots you've ever seen.

    • Re:Smooth move. (Score:5, Informative)

      by BWJones (18351) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:13AM (#6909331) Homepage Journal
      Social engineering is right. The BBC is also reporting [bbc.co.uk] that the RIAA is suing a 71 year old man. Apparently his grandchildren were coming over to his house and downloading music.

    • by Phronesis (175966) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:20AM (#6909433)
      This is nothing more than a tactic designed to instill fear into file-sharers, call it an attempt at Social Engineering.

      To the extent that making and enforcing laws is "social engineering," you're right. The whole concept of private property is social engineering (see Locke's Two Treatises of Government [hanover.edu] for a detailed explanation). Most of us approve the sort of social engineering that gives us government, laws, and property. Under this system, "instilling fear" into lawbreakers is exactly what lawsuits and criminal prosecutions are about. It's called deterrence. This is one of the principal purposes of the law.

      • by JayBlalock (635935) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @01:05PM (#6911841)
        Under this system, "instilling fear" into lawbreakers is exactly what lawsuits and criminal prosecutions are about. It's called deterrence. This is one of the principal purposes of the law.

        I disagree for the most part, and it's this point of view which causes so many draconian laws to be passed.

        Man is by nature a SOCIAL animal. We live by the herd. It's in our instincts (and by "our" at this point, I am speaking of people in general, NOT specific abberations) to, in essence, do what everyone else is doing. Why else do marketeers, politicians, etc try so hard to convince the "buyer" that everyone else in the world is doing something, even if, in fact, only a small fraction are? Get enough people to believe that everyone is doing something, and pretty soon, everyone WILL be doing it.

        Accordingly, any child properly raised will know the mores, morals, and values of his society. You say that one of the principle purposes of law is deterrence - do you mean to suggest that, without threat of governmental punishment, people everywhere would start running around stealing and raping and burning? I certainly hope your view on humanity isn't that dismal. No, most people follow the basic rules of social conduct because its in our nature to do so, and the subliminal threat of social ostracization (known as the emotion "guilt") is FAR more of a deterrent than any stated legal penalty.

        Will a starving man, looking at an unattended loaf of bread, say "Gee, I shouldn't take that. I might get locked up"? Certainly not. (in fact, in this case, the "deterrent" could serve as encouragement - jail time means a bed and three square meals) Does a man, upon seeing his wife in bed with his best friend, stop to consider the personal ramifications before pulling the trigger? I would doubt it. Do 90+% of drivers on the road every day keep EXACTLY to the speed limit out of fear of getting pulled over? (remember, 5 MPH over is STILL breaking the law) No. And in many circumstances, adhering to the speed limit is MORE dangerous - woe to the car going 55 when everyone around them is going 70.

        The only way that a law is a REAL deterrent is if the penalties are orders of magnitude worse than the crime. The starving man above wouldn't hesitate to take the loaf of bread if the only penalty is jail time - but he might if he was looking at having his hand severed. A casual file trader isn't going to think twice about swapping a few MP3s, unless he's looking at penalties in the thousands or millions. However, this is NOT Justice, because if enforced, the penalty is several magnitudes worse than the crime. And a slavish adherence to overreaching punishments will lead almost inexorably (and I'm talking historically, do the research) into a police state. There hits a point where the laws are seen as justification unto themselves (ie, "If it is illegal, it MUST be immoral,") and that's when personal freedoms start going away.

        This is why laws and society clash. When a government starts making laws which run contrary to the general behavior of society - like attempting to enforce a 55 mph speed limit when, as traffic engineers will tell you, traffic will generally find the correct speed on its own - it starts to create stress and social fracturing. The primary purpose of laws is, and should be, to remove those that behave contrary to the general will of society FROM that society. Murderers, rapists, rampant theives, etc. And, on the LARGER scale, society should be left to sort itself out. The only question is exactly what balance to strike between societal freedom, and legal rules governing conduct.

        The alternative is a downwards spiral of ever more laws, with ever more increasing penalties.

    • Amnesty program (Score:5, Insightful)

      by theophilus00 (469290) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:21AM (#6909448)
      As this drags on, I expect the RIAA to actually drag very few individuals through court. It's interesting that they've already announced their amnesty program... all you have to do is swear on your mother's grave that you'll never ever ever ever do anything horrible like file sharing again.

      What this will accomplish is to scare off all those borderline-computer-literates who found a neat program called Kazaa and thought downloading music was fun. Most of these people have never even considered the legal ramifications of what they are doing. Simply being threatened a little, or sued and then "mercifully let off" will cause people who have no interest in the issues at stake to delete their kids' Kazaa clients to make sure that never happens again. These people will then go back to watching television and shaking their head over this whole Internet thing.

      Since this same demographic probably buys 80% of popular music, the score will stand: RIAA 1, angry informed minority 0.
    • Re:Smooth move. (Score:5, Informative)

      by bear_phillips (165929) * on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:27AM (#6909558) Homepage
      A few years back ASCAP threated to sue the girl scouts for singing campfire songs without a license. [s-t.com]

      "They buy paper, twine and glue for their crafts - they can pay for the music, too," says John Lo Frumento, ASCAP's chief operating officer. If offenders keep singing without paying, he says, we will sue them if necessary." I don't think the RIAA will care that they are going after children.
      • Re:Smooth move. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pmz (462998) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:52AM (#6909889) Homepage
        "They buy paper, twine and glue for their crafts - they can pay for the music, too," says John Lo Frumento, ASCAP's chief operating officer.

        Imagine how the music we take for granted today would be affected if the RIAA and ASCAP existed 150 years ago. Great compositions, folk music, etc. from the 19th century would still be under copyright and inaccessible to anyone without the necessary greenbacks. Jazz artists everywhere would get sued for incorportating classic themes into their solos. Cash-strapped symphonies would need to drive away an already too-small audience with higher ticket prices. Small businesses wouldn't be able to afford to put music into their products. Hell, we probably couldn't even sing the national anthem without stuffing a dollar into the panties of some RIAA whore.
    • Re:Smooth move. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:28AM (#6909579) Homepage Journal
      This is nothing more than a tactic designed to instill fear into file-sharers, call it an attempt at Social Engineering.

      Which is really bad for business, at least from my experience.

      Before we were old enough to get jobs (legally) in school the kids would all save up our paper route money and buy a new tape and a pack of the-cheapest-blank-tapes-made. We couldn't afford to buy more than one new tape every couple months, so we'd copy our friends' tapes on a dual-deck cassette player and we all got our music fix. It's not like Mom was going to buy me the latest Anthrax tape.

      Guess what? When we got jobs we traded up to CD's and went out and bought albums. The illicit trade of pirated materials by children had created a consumer group of adults. We were hooked at a young age and the RIAA was better off for it. To this day I've only ever downloaded songs off of Napster that were out of print, and a couple songs from a box set from the iTunes store - I like the CD quality and longevity well enough to pay for them.

      Even if they don't care about engendering bad will, going after children is going to eat into their profits.
    • by Tristfardd (626597) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:47AM (#6909834)
      It would be more effective if people and newspapers stopped saying "RIAA sued a 12 year old girl" and instead said something like "Sony and other labels through the RIAA sued a 12 year old girl". Currently the use of the term RIAA allows the labels to keep themselves at a distance from most people's perception. The general public doesn't equate the two. The labels would hate to get bad press directly.
  • by TechnoVooDooDaddy (470187) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:03AM (#6909189) Homepage
    see, downloading files is just a gateway crime... by the time this girl is 17, she'll be knocking off liquor stores, and in her early 20's she'll be doing banks!

    nip it in the bud!
  • by x0n (120596) <oising@i[ ]ie ['ol.' in gap]> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:03AM (#6909193) Homepage Journal
    Damn! and I'd nearly completed the whole Barney catalogue in mp3. Anyone got a copy of barney_and_the_squirrel.mp3?
  • Hehe, spoke (Score:4, Funny)

    by mao che minh (611166) * on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:03AM (#6909194) Journal
    From the article:

    "When reporters visited teh apartment last night, Brianna..."

    WILDCAT?!? Is that yuo?!?

  • Says a lot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:04AM (#6909198)

    You can tell a lot about the RIAA based on the fact that they are willing to pick on a 12 year old girl!

    At least pick a fight with someone CLOSE to your own size.

    That's just one more would-have-been future customer that how hates the RIAA and won't be buying their CDs when she has money.
  • Exactly. (Score:5, Funny)

    by darkov (261309) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:05AM (#6909209)
    She's stealing music. She deserves everyting she gets. She should be tried as an adult and the death penalty shuld not be ruled out.

    If the piracy continues the recording industry may we wiped out, then would would all those poor executives do? The can't all join SCO.
  • by Zachary Kessin (1372) <zkessin@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:05AM (#6909214) Homepage Journal
    I am wondering why they are suing a kid living in city housing. It not like she has any money. Her parents might have some, but she doesn't.

    Maybe the can take a cut of the income from her paper-route.
  • by casio282 (468834) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:06AM (#6909218) Homepage
    The New York City papers are all over this -- it's on the cover of both the Post and the Daily News. They skew really sympathetically towards the girl and her family, who apparently were paying $29.95 a month for Kazaa "service", and apparently thought there were thereby legit.

    This is really going to help the cause against the RIAA's draconian retributive lawsuits, as it will appeal to the hearts of the populace at large. Bad PR, RIAA, baaaaad PR.

    • by InterruptDescriptorT (531083) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:15AM (#6909356) Homepage
      The RIAA fully realize that they are the 'bad guy' and that they are seen as such by the eyes of the world. They have one goal in mind, and one goal only--protect their way of business and revenue stream at any cost.

      I agree this looks really bad on the RIAA (I don't remember minors being targetted before), but those who think this spate of publicity is going to stop them are dead wrong. They've already shown that they're willing to go to any length to kill the file-sharing phenomenon.

      I can see the outcome of this case right now: The RIAA will probably have to respond to the negative publicity and probably drop the suit against the twelve-year-old girl. The rest of the cases will go on as planned. One poor target isn't going to be the downfall of their enforcement operations.
  • Good Lord (Score:5, Funny)

    by ArmenTanzarian (210418) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:06AM (#6909220) Homepage Journal
    This would be laugh out loud hilarious if it weren't so horribly tragic...
    And in further news, the RIAA and SCO have teamed up to kick a 6 year old's puppy. Film at 11!
  • by coupland (160334) * <<dchase> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:06AM (#6909221) Journal

    "I got really scared. My stomach is all turning," Brianna said last night at the city Housing Authority apartment where she lives with her mom and her 9-year-old brother.

    This is precious, just the kind of screw-up the RIAA didn't need. They sued frickin' Tiny Tim [fidnet.com]. That's about one degree shy of suing the burlap sack boy [snopes.com]. Way to go RIAA, we couldn't buy better press.

  • by yerricde (125198) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:06AM (#6909224) Homepage Journal

    Your grain of salt for the article:

    Fox is one of the four motion picture studios in the MPAA that do not share revenue with a major U.S. record label. (The others are Disney [losingnemo.com], MGM, and Paramount.) Anything that makes the RIAA look like the bad guy benefits Fox indirectly, as every dollar spent on recorded music is a dollar not spent on a Fox movie.

  • by Surak (18578) * <surak@ma i l b l ocks.com> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:07AM (#6909236) Homepage Journal
    Okay, this is not only a 12-year-old girl, but a 12-year-old girl LIVING IN THE PROJECTS. Her family is dirt poor. How exactly do you think this is going to play on the evening news? The American public will be OUTRAGED at the RIAA and this is going to be over soon. There will be a demand that Congress intervene and stop the RIAA from this course of action. The cries will be "will someone PLEASE think about the CHILDREN!" You watch.

  • by Bonker (243350) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:08AM (#6909250)
    "It's not like we were doing anything illegal," said Torres. "This is a 12-year-old girl, for crying out loud."

    Public perception is that file sharing is NOT illegal. When there's a gap bewteen public perception and law, public perception usually wins. Public perception was that alcohol was not worthy of being banned. We no longer have prohibition. Public perception of drugs is that 'Drugs are bad, M'Kay?'. The negative effects of the drug war are felt more by non-voting minorities than the white majority, so the horrific drug crime laws we have in this country are allowed to continue.

    The RIAA and other **AAs aren't convincing anyone. Young mothers and children beleive that file sharing is an OK thing to do. Therefore, it is and will continue to be. Law or no, public perception is going to win this one.
  • by gotroot801 (7857) * on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:10AM (#6909282) Homepage Journal

    From the article:

    "It's not like we were doing anything illegal," said Torres. "This is a 12-year-old girl, for crying out loud."

    I disagree with the RIAA's ability to serve its own subpoenas, and this article might throw a little sympathy Brianna's way, but let's be totally honest here. Yes, Mrs. Torres, your daughter was doing something illegal. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:38AM (#6909715) Homepage

      You, of course, have never:

      1. Jaywalked.
      2. Crept one mile per hour over the speed limit.
      3. Ignored a stop sign when you could see that it was clear for half a mile either way.
      4. Run your tires 1mm under the tread limit. What's the tread limit where you live? Is it the same in the next county or state? Do you know if there is one? Ignorance of the law isn't an excuse.
      5. Had consensual sex with a 17 year old in a county or state where the age of consent is 18, regardless of whether you knew that or not. Ignorance of the law isn't an excuse.
      6. Drunk under the legal age (what it is in the US, 40 or so?)
      7. Drove while over the legal limit, regardless of whether you knew that or not. Ignorance, etc.
      8. Backed up software or music.
      9. Created a mix tape.

      But wait! Those last two are legal now. Kind of. Sort of. Maybe. But only because case law precedent has decided so.

      See, in the US, they aren't actually legal, it's just vanishingly unlikely that you'll be successfully prosecuted for doing them.

      Do you begin to see how this works yet?

  • by Wiseazz (267052) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:10AM (#6909287)
    Well, even though they say the girl was targeted, it'll be the parents that are sued.

    My first reaction was "they won't pursue this". But consider the reason behind these lawsuits: to make an example of people. Now they can also show that parents are responsible for their kids' downloading. Obviously the family can't pay out too much, but don't expect them to be let off the hook.

    Not sayin' I agree with it... I'm just sayin'
  • Why the child? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harmonica (29841) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:12AM (#6909310)
    The article says: The family signed up for the Kazaa (search) music-swapping service three months ago, and paid a $29.99 service charge. So why isn't the family (read: the parents) sued? In the end, they are responsible for their children's doings anyway. Besides, does anybody still truly think trading copyrighted material is legal? It may be a nice (if weak) defense, but I have my doubts believing that, with all those 'awareness campaigns' the **AAs are running.
  • Bad Media for RIAA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bildstorm (129924) <peter...buchy@@@shh...fi> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:13AM (#6909330) Homepage Journal

    I was thinking about the possiblity of something like this last night when I was listening to NPR's report on the RIAA. All these lawsuits and going after downloaders have already created a bad identity for record labels. Before all this, most people didn't know about the labels, they primarily knew the about the artists. Now there are major negative connotations with the labels.

    So, now the primary demographic they need to spend money, teens and college students, will now associate labels with persecuting them, asking colleges to violate their privacy, suing a 12-year old, and going after grandpa. Grandparents, a large part of the senior citizen voting group, will start to see themselves as potential victims.

    If the studios want to make money from selling CDs again, they need to both drop the price and start really creating albums again. I remember albums that were created very well that the flow from song to song made listening to the album a joy, but now with pushing the crap they are now, they make an album just a collection of tracks of which one or two might be neat to listen to for a few months.

    The RIAA needs to sack the lawyers and send their marketing people back to school for the fundamentals.

  • A diffirent view (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrayzyJ (222675) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:16AM (#6909388) Homepage Journal
    "It's not like we were doing anything illegal," said Torres. "This is a 12-year-old girl, for crying out loud."

    I won't be the popular one around here, but I thought this quote was the dumbest thing I have ever heard. The mother thinks the daughter's age allows her (the daughter) to do whatever she wishes! Hey, she's 12, give her a gun and tell her to shoot the number - it's not like she's doing anything illegal, she's a 12-year-old girl, for crying out loud!

    As the law stands, she IS doing something illegal and the law is (pseudo) blind to age.

    This has been all over the NYC radio news this morning, and yes, they are slanting it towards Brianna being the victim.

    (Don't mod me a Troll, just because I have a slightly different opinion...)
  • by szquirrel (140575) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:17AM (#6909399) Homepage
    This is like an early Christmas present for RIAA detractors. Their lawsuit-by-scattergun approach has caught the worst target possible: A 12-year-old honor student who had no idea she was doing anything wrong ("But we were paying for it!"). What a PR nightmare.

    Too bad it won't last. This particular case will get resolved as quickly and quietly as possible. You'll be able to feel the breeze from the RIAA quickly brushing it under the rug. Or, worse, if they're smart they will dismiss all charges (and give little Brianna lots of free music) in exchange for her too-cute 200-word essay on "Why Filesharing Is Wrong".

    The EFF and other RIAA opponents could get heavy mileage out of this case if they tried, but I fear they just aren't coordinated enough to counter the RIAA's spin.
  • by Rinikusu (28164) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:30AM (#6909597)
    Did anyone else read the article but me? That story can sum up everything that "geeks" get wrong about user interfaces and assumptions about "levels of knowledge" when it comes to computers. Let's look:

    She's paying $29.95 for KaZaA service. Now, unless they paid for the application (didn't specify), maybe they were referring to their ISP service? Kinda like when users point at their computer and say "My modem".

    Dig deeper (paraphrase):
    "We just listen to the songs and then just let them go. We don't save them."

    Obviously these folks do not realize that KaZaA saves the files to their harddrive and automatically "shares" them. They don't even know they still have the song! Not to mention that they probably download the song over and over if they want to hear it again. Don't laugh, I've seen my dad do that. He didn't know, literally, that just because he downloaded a song via napster that he still "had it" and had no idea on how to find it if he didn't use Napster to get to it.

    I cringe at the thought that my own dad can't use a computer and has no inclination to learn. I've literally shown him a dozen-times how to open up windows explorer and browse through to find stuff, but he doesn't use his computer very often and by the time he wants to find something, he's forgotten again. It's not that he's stupid (to the contrary, he's a professional musician, a retired machinist, etc etc), it's just that computers are something he very rarely uses and he just doesn't have the dedication it requires to learn the basics.

    But that's Joe Average User.

    This little girl might know a bit about IM and kazaa and how to use Internet Explorer, but I doubt it goes much beyond that.
  • by JamesP (688957) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:52AM (#6909902)
    RIAA suas a 3 month old baby and his mother, who sang lullabies w/o paying the license
    A RIAA representative said "SInce this kid is not going to forget this lullaby ever again, were thinking of lobotomizing it so we get back our intellectual property"
  • Jury Nulliffication (Score:5, Informative)

    by sirbone (691768) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:59AM (#6910018)
    This would be a good time for the People invoke jury nullification, assuming any of these go to trial. (Note that the Bill of Rights grants any RIAA victim a right to jury for lawsuits worth over $20 if they decide to take this to trial.)

    So what is jury nullification? It is the principle that jury's may find a defendent "not guilty" if the law is unjust. This harkens back to British colonial days and is the primary reason we have juries in the Bill of Rights: both the defendent AND the law are judged. It is the Peoples' last check against unjust law when the three branches of government fail.

    A prominent case of this was when William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, was charged with assembling Quakers for worship when only the Church of England was permitted to assemble. (Again, pre-Revolution colonial days.) Though the jury found that he did indeed do just that, they gave a "not guilty" verdict on the grounds that the law was unjust. The judge held the jury without food and water for a couple of days and imposed fines, demanding that they give a "guilty" verdict, but they refused to budge. Events like this are what inspired our nation's founders to recognize the right of juries over the judge and the law. Jury nullifications also played an important role in overturning Prohibition. Juries often ruled against the law even when finding that the law had been broken, thus making Prohibition unenforceable, and I believe some regions of the nation still regularly have non-violent marijuana prosecutions lost due to jury nullification.

    Jury's are unfortunately not informed of this right when they go to trial. I believe during the slave days the government realized that it was near impossible to get a conviction for violating the Fugitive Slave Act since people in the northern state juries, which was the only place the law really had any use, would rule "not guilty" on the grounds that the law was unjust. And so the government sadly decided to stop telling juries of their right to jury nullification.

    So how does this apply to the RIAA? Well if enough 12 year olds, or any one else for that matter, being sued millions of dollars for downloading music take it to court then the People (ie-the juries) could toss out the cases as being unjust. Given enough of these rulings, the law could be forced to change to reflect what the People consider just or the RIAA could be forced to change tactics. Though this will remain unlikely if we do not go back to informing juries of their rights. (Plus stacking the jury by having the prosecution quiz them instead of making it truly random also undermines things...) So write to your state and federal legislative representatives today and demand that they pass laws requiring judges to inform juries of their "jury nullification" rights!
  • by DickBreath (207180) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @11:11AM (#6910202) Homepage
    I have had this argument two [slashdot.org] different times [slashdot.org] in the last week.

    Some people on slashdot point out that copyright infringement is against the law and that file sharers are the problem.

    In my two above linked past postings, I argue that file sharing is merely a symptom of the problem. The real problem is that nobody respects copyright anymore. And it is only going to get worse.

    If copyright holders want some respect, they need to act in a fashion deserving of such respect. Let's see. We have
    • way overpriced music -- especially compared to movies -- how many hundred million $ goes into a DVD vs. a CD?
    • the DMCA
    • The whole DeCSS fiasco
    • digital rights management -- despite the sillyness of such a concept unless you take it to its logical conclusion, but in that case I would say, substitute "sillyness" for "draconian" or "orwellian".
    • The RIAA tried to sue Diamond Rio for simply seilling an mp3 player.
    • RIAA companies being found guilty and penalized for overcharging and anti competitive practices.
    • copyright term extensions -- the fact that nothing is likely to ever fall into the public domain. "Happy Birthday To You"
    • Jack Valenti suggesting to congress that the "limited time" of copyright could be extended to "foverever minus a day".
    • DVD region encoding, even on very old movies -- while arguing that the purpose of regions has only to do with new releases. (Can you say hypocracy?)
    • RIAA trying to kill small webcasters -- by structuring deals so that they can't pay a fair price
    • Clear Channel

    I just don't care about copyright. Sort of like prohibition. If the copyright holders, like the government, want respect, then they need to set a better example.

    What is the purpose of copyright? When does anything ever fall into the public domain?

    In my above linked posts I argue that...
    • It is not that people don't understand that what they are doing is illegal, it's that they don't care. There is no respect for copyright or copyright law.
    • Someone argued that the RIAA will put fear into them and that this would fix the problem. The problem is not lack of fear, it is lack of respect. The RIAA may generate more fear, but they will at the same time get even less respect.
    • The only way the problem will really get fixed is to fix the broken copyright (and patent) system.
    • The RIAA is fighting a losing battle. They are guaranteed to lose. (We now have alcohol to drink, and a 70 MPH speed limit on roads where it matters.)
    • Someone pointed out that slashdot is full of knee jerk paranoia. I responded to that in one of my above linked posts with a long list of the abuses that justify such paranoia. They ARE out to get us.
    The latest efforts seem to be that even mere compilations of facts should be able to be copyrighted.
  • by cyranoVR (518628) <cyranoVR AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @11:18AM (#6910308) Homepage Journal
    On the Internet, nobody knows you're a 12 year old girl...

    Time for EFF to do a "reverse-sting" - have 12-year old girls pose as 35 year-old male file-sharers with the goal of drawing more RIAA lawsuits.

    (The reciprocal of how law-enforcement snags pedophiles in chat rooms - they have 35 year-old men posing as 12 year-old girls).
  • by Bendebecker (633126) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @11:24AM (#6910409) Journal
    What worries me about this whole RIAA-sueing-everyone-on-earth thing is the effect it is having on our culture. When people have to spend money just to get what in every other century was freely provided, one has to wonder what the effect will be. Will the poor not have music in their lives? Will the young no longer be inspired by great stories simply becuase they can't pay the publisher his outrageous dues? Will the average man on the street have to be worried about the song he hums to himself on the street for fear of being sued? Perhaps the furure of music isn't on cd's at all, perhaps it is the street musician. Maybe, in 100 years when they look back on this time, they'll discuss the rise from the streets of the great musicans and the RIAA and all its assembly-line produced music will only be a footnote.
  • by panurge (573432) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @11:24AM (#6910413)
    Some people seem to forget that in any half way democratic society, law is to a certain extent the codified prejudices of that society. IANAL but lawyers go a long way back in my background, and I think this is a fair restatement of their views.

    If a sufficiently large number of people - more than it takes to elect a president, say - do not understand a law or its basis to the extent that they regularly break it, eventually it falls into desuetude. That's why Prohibition ended: it was unenforceable. Equally, if enough people decide that certain people shall not be rewarded for certain activities, that business plan is doomed. (and vice versa, of course, hence the fruits of the cult of celebrity.) In the UK, you cannot legally make money selling handguns to people. In the US you can. I do not believe there is any absolute moral standard for this difference: it reflects different views of different societies. If the RIAA pushes things to the point that a lot of people turn round and say, in effect "We didn't understand that was what copyright meant. Now we do, and it sucks", then ultimately that business model will fall.

    Perhaps successful musicians will only be rewarded for live performances. Perhaps music will only be sold in conjunction with some other service, as has been suggested by the guy who thought the telecoms companies should buy up the studios. Just as a record company can lay off an exec because of a downturn, incompetence or whatever, we the people can decide to lay off an industry. When we started to travel by air, the railways could not impose a tax on air travelers to recover their lost revenue. But the airlines were certainly taking away the railways' monopoly on long distance intracontinental travel.

    I think one thing that obsesses some people here is the idea that the most sacred thing there is, is property, and that anything which apparently removes my property is theft. (Strangely, many of them will claim to belong to a religion whose founder was extremely anti-property, but I leave that one for the psychoanalysts.) Yet things are constantly encroaching on my property. It gets old, it wears out, it falls out of fashion, and one day I will die and it will cease to be mine in any very meaningful sense. Somehow, the suits in the RIAA need to realise that they need to adapt to society, rather than the other way round. But they won't...they are actually frightened, and behaving like frightened men in a position of power.

  • Times change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pjt48108 (321212) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [80184tjp]> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @11:39AM (#6910637) Homepage
    I know these thoughts will entertain some and enrage others, but I will post them anyhow.

    The fact that a 12-year old girl in 'government housing' is being sued seems to indicate that the file-sharing issue is not an 18-24 age group issue. It is apparant to me that people of ALL ages are sharing files, some of which are music.

    I had an argument with a friend of mine recently. He lives in LA, and is, like EVERYONE there, it would seem, affiliated loosely with the entertainment industry. His stance was that the artists are working and ought to be paid. If not for the RIAA, their music wouldn't get distribution. To make money, they require distribution, and the RIAA is the only one in town through whom they can find it.

    My perspective, being in Michigan, unaffiliated with the music business, experienced with technology and trained in the performing arts (theatre degree--marketable as galoshes in the Mojave), is vastly different. I understand that artists, like everyone, are working for pay. However, the advance of technology has been marginalizing the RIAA/record producers for some time now. I believe that technology has come to the point where artists, assuming they are enterprising and not lazy asses, can entirely circumvent the recording houses. Sure, they might not have instant distribution, but AFAI am concerned, when they take it upon themselves to market themselves and what art they have produced, any success is well-earned and not as likely to crumble or fade, as would an artificial creation of the industry (Menudo, Brittney, Tiffany, etc.). Additionally, since they chart their own course, they are free to take whatever artistic tangent they care to explore. In my opinion, the RIAA stifles artistic expression in all but the few artists whom they have contracted whilst on cocaine binges, and who would sign anything to get more blow.

    I can't really elaborate any better, seeing as my boss is sure to see me typing madly on non-company business. But, in short, I believe that the RIAA, etc., are close to joining the buggy whip industry: their raison d'etre is about to expire, thanks to technological advances, and their realization of this threat of extinction is evidenced by their willingness to blindly sue a 12-year old, financially disenfranchised girl. When a corporation feels it must go after kids to get its pound of flesh, I believe that its social contract to provide whatever useful services to society has effectively expired or must be revoked.
  • by syntap (242090) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @11:56AM (#6910900)
    The article quotes the girl's mother as saying "There's a lot of music there, but we just listen to it and let it go"

    The defense arguments will be interesting when they undoubtably say the clients didn't have the technical knowledge to understand that "download and listen" really means "download and provide." It's possible that users deleting the file transfer log line in Kaaza (erm, not that I know what that is or have ever seen it before) may have assumed the file was gone too. But lo, the hundreds of songs they "just listened to" were saved and now available for mass download from their machine by the whole world.

    Sheesh this is going to be fun!
  • by popo (107611) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @12:09PM (#6911064) Homepage
    We are surrounded by intellectual product. All our technologies and products (ALL OF THEM) are merely constructs of pre-existing technologies.

    Wheels, incandescent lights, circuits, building materials, plastics, adhesives, machines, our knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology. Everything we know, understand, and utilize as a culture is all based upon the intellectual developments of preceding generations.

    To suggest otherwise is to start history at a convenient point.

    The great composers adapted ancient folk songs into their work. Jazz musicians then played wonderful creative games with the works of great composers. And then the Rolling Stones came along and claimed ownership over those jazz standards. Anyone who believes in the right-of-ownership in pop melodies has a very small understanding of music composition.

    Can you imagine how stifled creativity and progress would have been if the "wheel" was patented.

    The lawyers and the big corporations are attempting to create ownership over our cultural heritage, and ultimately they are trying to maintain in unsustainable business model in the face of new technological developments. It is neither our national responsibility nor our legal right to maintain business models that have been surpassed by technological evolution.

    And remember: 99.999999% of musicians in the world are doing it for free because they love music. (Myself included).

    Peace.
  • It's about time... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mog007 (677810) <Mog007@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @12:46PM (#6911576)
    I've been waiting for something like this to happen. Now the parents can go after no only the RIAA, but also their ISP. The internet privacy act protects children under 13 from just this sort of thing. When the RIAA sopneaed the girl's ISP, they were not allowed to give her information up.

    Looks like we finally have a case that'll make this circus stop.
  • The best part: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sammy baby (14909) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @12:56PM (#6911715) Journal
    Reading the Fox writeup, I couldn't help but notice this:
    Asked if the association knew Brianna was 12 when it decided to sue her, [RIAA spokesperson Amy Weiss] answered, "We don't have any personal information on any of the individuals."

    "Oh, except for her name," Weiss then went on to say. "And her address. And phone number. And her Kazaa details, and who her ISP is, and a bunch of the stuff she downloaded. Nothing except for that."

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -- E. Hubbard

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