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RIAA Admits ISPs Have Misidentified "John Does" 271

Posted by kdawson
from the record-keeping dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA has sent out a letter to the ISPs telling them to stop making mistakes in identifying subscribers, and offering a 'Pre-Doe settlement option' — with a discount of '$1000 or more' — to their subscribers, if and only if the ISP agrees to preserve its logs for 180 days. Other interesting points in the letter (PDF): the RIAA will be launching a web site for 'early settlements,' www.p2plawsuits.com; the letter asks the ISPs to notify the RIAA if they have previously 'misidentified a subscriber account in response to a subpoena' or become aware of 'technical information... that causes you to question the information that you provided in response to our clients' subpoena'; it notes that ISPs have identified 'John Does' who were not even subscribers of the ISP at the time of the infringement; and it requests that ISPs furnish their underlying log files, not just names and addresses, when responding to RIAA subpoenas."
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RIAA Admits ISPs Have Misidentified "John Does"

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:47PM (#18001660) Homepage Journal
    ...the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

    It's a justified analogy to what the RIAA is doing, but I welcome the work they spend trying to button up music "piracy." For one thing, the costs of the RIAA are pushed onto the consumer -- leading to higher prices of the music they're trying to protect, giving consumers more reason to work with alternative distribution mechanisms. This will also hopefully lead to more anonymous forms of file sharing, or even file-piece sharing, where you're only hosting a tiny portion of a specific songfile. At what point would a "pirate" not really be guilty of much if they're only sharing a small portion of a particular songfile, say 0.01%?

    ISPs are being financially harmed, too, because they're going to have to keep these logs, and also keep them consistent. DHCP makes things more difficult since it increases the amount of tracking they have to do. What all will they track? Port usage, IP address, data transfer totals and rates, etc? As the ISPs have to spend more for legal aid and log data stores, their costs will go up. I can see a market for third party services off-shore that allow you to transfer all of your data through their proxies for a given price -- especially as bandwidth prices fall as bandwidth becomes a commodity.

    Consider this: most of us demand fast (low latency) response to websites we browse. We need less response time for some use -- e-mail, file sharing, software patches. The RIAA is powerful in the US, and its power is growing internationally, but it is impossible for a cartel to control everything -- we even see that in the energy market as alternative forms of energy are a barrier to the oil cartel increasing their costs beyond a certain price point. All the RIAA can do is make their overhead so expensive that artists find reason to pick alternative distribution mechanisms.

    I'm noticing that medium-level artists are finding more ways to produce an income without the sale of recorded music. I received an e-mail about David Martin, an artist I never heard of, offering a free T-shirt if you pre-buy his album. That's value added incentive to buy HIS album, rather than bootleg it. Good idea. His downloadable music is right from his site, a great way to get music without worrying about the RIAA. What will the RIAA do when their legal costs outweigh their collections, which then creates a high overhead for their artists in the form of lowered commissions?

    Are these "early settlements" financially profitable for the RIAA? Lawyers aren't cheap, and settlement lawyers even less so. Even if you agree to a settlement, they still need collections agents to process the payment and make sure it is done in full.

    This form of cartelization can't last forever, not with the Internet changing faster than the law can control. I'm surprised the RICO act doesn't cover an industry where 90% of published music is controlled by one cartel. The law fails us in both cases, as the law always does. If you're in a band that isn't in the top 1% of music sales (the long tail is appropriate here), do you find that you make most of your music from ticket sales, beer sales percentage, and T-shirt/sticker/button sales? Why would you need the RIAA?

    When will artists start appearing with logos imprinted on their merchandise that says "0% of the proceeds of this CD/t-shirt/sticker goes to the RIAA cartel"? If you're in a band, maybe that time is now. Maybe it is time for small to medium artists to be the ones to inform the customers that there is NO reason to buy a CD or a download from a distributor affiliated with the RIAA?

    I can't wait for the day when the RIAA goes back to what they started doing -- making sure that music sounds good across all playback systems through equalization and consistent sound modification.
    • by stratjakt (596332) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:59PM (#18001892) Journal
      It's a justified analogy to what the RIAA is doing, but I welcome the work they spend trying to button up music "piracy." For one thing, the costs of the RIAA are pushed onto the consumer -- leading to higher prices of the music they're trying to protect, giving consumers more reason to work with alternative distribution mechanisms

      They're making record amounts of money, despite what they tell you. This is about maximizing profit. They aren't dumb, they've run the numbers.

      ISPs are being financially harmed, too, because they're going to have to keep these logs

      Why should the RIAA care? Besides, in lots of cases, the ISP is going to be owned by the same set of companies that own the members of the RIAA.

      'm noticing that medium-level artists are finding more ways to produce an income without the sale of recorded music

      It's always been that way. The $$$ for the artist is in touring and merchandise sales, why do you think they'd work 11 months a year, if they can get fat and rich floating in their gold-lined swimming pool? Love of art? Maybe for 1 in a million, for the rest - performing live is their job. Recording an album is marketing.

      Are these "early settlements" financially profitable for the RIAA? Lawyers aren't cheap, and settlement lawyers even less so. Even if you agree to a settlement, they still need collections agents to process the payment and make sure it is done in full.

      Financially profitable? Maybe not in and of themselves, but they're looking at the big picture: say, for every 1 guy we sue/settle with, 10 guys get scared off of kazaa and onto iTunes.

      Although, I wouldn't be surprised to find the whole sue cycle to be at least financially self-sustaining.

      Remember, lawyers are behind all this - the RIAA is basically nothing but industry lawyers, and they're pretty good at making sure they get paid.

      It wouldn't have been going on this long if they didn't feel it was effective.
      • by shark72 (702619) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:19PM (#18002218)

        "They're making record amounts of money, despite what they tell you. This is about maximizing profit. They aren't dumb, they've run the numbers."

        Hey, do you have a cite for that? I've heard that a lot but can't find any evidence. Warner Music made a profit margin of 0.27% and an operating margin of 6.29% last year. Their quarterly revenue growth of NEGATIVE 11% yoy and a quarterly earnings growth of NEGATIVE 74%.

        I know, it's because they're not spending their money wisely, people who pirate wouldn't have bought it anyway and it actually helps artists by giving them free exposure, and so on, but is Warner the exception? Are there others in the cartel who are reporting profits in the sense of "record amounts" that I think you mean -- ie. moving in the upward direction?

        But I agree with you, that the cost of all of these lawsuits likely isn't much, given the size of the industry, and I don't think it has a real effect on music pricing.

        • by stratjakt (596332) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:35PM (#18002490) Journal
          Depends who you ask and for what purpose.

          The RIAA themselves will tell you that sales have never been better, and the industry has never been healthier - if you're an investor.

          Warner music losing money doesn't mean that album and song sales can't be going up. They are, but the numbers are weird.

          Digital music sales tripled last year, but album sales continued to slowly trickle off. This article [siliconvalley.com] says overall sales are up 19% - including digital music, videos, etc.

          The market is different - people are less likely to buy a CD, when they can buy just a song, or with so many portable video devices like video iPods, are buying music related DVDs - live concerts, or video compilations. The market is much more diverse - music listeners don't necessarily buy "albums" as they have conventionally.

          At the end of the day, it's all (potential, if they can realize it) profit for RIAA members.

          However, when the discussion turns to piracy, they only talk about CD sales. These are of course dwindling - they would be even if there was absolutely no piracy at all. But a huge chunk of the money they "lose" in album sales they make up in digital downloads, or other products.

        • by yoder (178161) *
          I don't have numbers to argue your numbers, but what would make Warner Music any different from any other major corporation? They have one set of numbers for the stockholders, one set for the IRS and another for the public. They can and do make their profit or loss look like whatever they need it to look like at that time.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by StikyPad (445176)
            They have one set of numbers for the stockholders, one set for the IRS and another for the public.

            Nonsense. Can you say securities violation and/or tax fraud? If the numbers didn't jive, they'd be guilty of market manipulation. If you really believe they're doing that, go ahead and feel free to file a complaint and/or tip here [sec.gov].
        • Cite? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @05:21PM (#18004280) Homepage Journal
          Try asking the IRS what the salaries (plus benefits) of the executives and directors are. Everyone gets all caught up in corporate profit margins and stock prices. Those aren't the numbers that the RIAA is interested in. The RIAA/MPAA are interested in the numbers which land in the executives pockets, the numbers which pay the greens' fees for the executive board members, the numbers which allow the attorneys to purchase newer Bentleys.

          The RIAA/MPAA does not give a good gosh darn golly gee what the price of a CD is. It does not matter to them how much it costs a local band for studio time. Those numbers are convenient for PR releases and nothing more.
        • by mariushm (1022195) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @06:06PM (#18004848)
          You should watch "This film is not yet rated". Hollywood companies create lots of small companies and all the profit from the movie is split between those companies...i'm not explaining it well but if you see the movie you'll understand...lots of artists that ask for a percent of the winnings are very pissed when the studios say at the end that they've made no winnings and their box office movie is actually a failuri. In the end, a box office movie can actually show up as loss on the company's profile because all the profits are hidden as payments to those small companies.. Same thing happens with music companies.
        • by Reziac (43301) * on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @07:52PM (#18006122) Homepage Journal
          Don't confuse GROWTH of revenue with the AMOUNT of revenue. All those numbers mean is that their income wasn't GROWING at the same rate; it doesn't mean they had LESS income.

          It's like if you grew 10 inches every day, then one day you only grew 9 inches -- that's a 10% drop in your GROWTH, but you didn't get any shorter; quite the contrary, you still got 9 inches taller that day.

      • by TheMeuge (645043) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:02PM (#18002990)
        They're already unveiling a website? It seems as if to the RIAA, these lawsuits are becoming not just a tool to scare their clients into submission, but rather a business model in and of itself. A "$1000 discount?" being offered to clients of certain ISPs?! What's next, 2-for-1 specials? How long are we going to sit quietly, while the RIAA unrolls a new wave of ecommerce - information superhighway robbery...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      To Photoshop! Away! I must design a label! The "Anti-Label Label" is the new "organic" or "all-natural"!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SirWhoopass (108232)

      At what point would a "pirate" not really be guilty of much if they're only sharing a small portion of a particular songfile, say 0.01%?

      That is why there are judges and juries: real people, not algorithms; in the judicial system. So a judge can look at a software system that distributes subsets of a file, and decide the perpetrators are guilty.

      Even if, in other circumstances, holding a subset of a file would not be a crime. Or even recognizable as a song file.

      Footnote: I am not a fan of the RIAA, their tac

      • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:26PM (#18002356) Homepage

        Engaging in illegal activity, however, is not a good way to express dissent.

        So Rosa Parks should have stayed in the back of the bus? Some guys dressed up as "Indians" shouldn't have thrown a bunch of tea into Boston harbour?

        Civil disobedience has been a core technique in the expression of political dissent for as long as there have been laws and politics. Yes - it's a calculated risk to violate the law to make a political statement, but it's also one of the few ways to be heard at all.

        • If she had somehow hidden her act (which was impossible of course), then her act would have had little impact. Civil disobedience [wikipedia.org] does not mean breaking the law without being caught. It entails breaking the law to bring about change. "Pirating" music is about breaking the law in order to save yourself some change. Two very different things. Please, don't demean Rosa Parks by the comparison.
          • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:56PM (#18002848) Homepage

            The guys who participated in the Boston Tea Party hid their identities and never got caught, but they made damn clear that their action was public knowledge and we still learn about it in history class today.

            "Pirating" music is about breaking the law in order to save yourself some change.

            People don't push for political change that doesn't benifit them. I'm not sure what you're really getting at here. The implication that if it's possible to pay money for something one is ethically obligated to do so... that's absurd.

          • by ari_j (90255) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:06PM (#18003044)
            The hallmark of civil disobedience is willingness to accept the consequences of breaking the law as part of making your point. After all, if you escape punishment at any level then there is no need to change the law. The Boston Tea Party was not civil disobedience - it was outright protest. There's a difference, and one way to look at it is this: the Boston Tea Party injured the government's revenues to tell the government that the taxes were unjust. Rosa Parks did not injure anyone's interests but her own.
          • by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @07:39PM (#18005948)
            Civil disobedience does not mean breaking the law without being caught.

            It certainly includes it. The Underground Railroad was civil disobedience, but the people involved did not want anyone to know who they were, and most were never found out.

            It entails breaking the law to bring about change.

            And that is unrelated to whether or not you are caught.
          • by Deliveranc3 (629997) <deliverance.level4@org> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:05PM (#18007220) Journal
            Well sir, I'm an open Pirate.

            I live in Canada in Guelph Ontario and attend the University of Guelph.

            I pirate Software, music, movies and books. And I maintain a share ratio of 1.2 (Which I'm quite particular about). I believe information should be free though labour should not. I donate money to artists I think are worth while, usually web-comic artists and occasionaly local performers.

            For me it is not about saving money, before I became a pirate I didn't spend much money on media.

            What I did do before I was a pirate was take those little magnetic stickers found on the back of CD's and attach them to my monitor, one for each cd I purchased.

            Those stickies cost more than twice what it costs to burn a cd and buy a jewel case and were a constant reminder of what the information age is all about.

            Meanwhile items like well designed combustion engines are kept out of the hands of developing countries through I.P. Which I discovered on trips to the third world as a volunteer.

            At which point I decided that it was time we seriously considered a reset on information laws to allow the third world to benefit from the works of humanity.

            I started ripping music and movies which were not available through local distribution (Largely chinese films which have since become more popular and English electronic music which has also found broader western acceptance since). If you drop by Socis and ask for my Nick you can meet me, feel free to bring the police.

            I.P. is still a font of imperialism and until I feel that as a society we have examined it as such I will continue to be a pirate.
        • So do I get extra civil disobedience points if I ride in the front of the bus, dressed up as an Indian, and downloading illegal tunes?
        • by Daffy Duck (17350) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:57PM (#18002890) Homepage
          That's a tempting analogy, but it doesn't really fit. Civil disobedience is effective when breaking the law can show that that law is unjust. Most of the music/movie file-sharing that results in RIAA/MPAA action is of current material with real commercial value. The only principle being expressed by sharing that stuff is "Waaaa! I want free CDs! I want free movies! I don't want to drive all the way down to Blockbuster!".

          A *real* protest would be to stop buying/consuming the new stuff altogether, and go out and file-share the 99% of copyright-protected material that has no significant commercial value but is still held hostage by the DMCA and the ever-increasing copyright terms that the entertainment industry keeps buying from Congress. Get sued for sharing a song written by someone who's been dead for 75 years and get the copyright-holder to explain in a public court how prohibiting that distribution is removing the dead author's incentive to produce.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dr_canak (593415)
          Just as an FYI,

          "So Rosa Parks should have stayed in the back of the bus?"

          Rosa Parks sat in front of the bus, which was her legal right to do even at that time. A caucasian person got on the bus, and typically an African American would get up from their seat and give it to the caucasian person. Rosa Parks remained in her seat. The bus driver demanded that she move to the back of the bus, something she refused to do. It was a law that passengers listen to the instructions of the bus driver and this was th
      • Absolutely (and on all accounts). More than one person can be guilty of a single crime, whether that crime is murder, theft of a single object, or even copyright infringement of a single object. Do not think that being only 0.01% responsible for a crime will mean that you will be only 0.01% responsible for the penalty associated with that crime. It's not how our justice system works. Of course, IANAL.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tha_mink (518151)

      It's a justified analogy to what the RIAA is doing, but I welcome the work they spend trying to button up music "piracy." For one thing, the costs of the RIAA are pushed onto the consumer -- leading to higher prices of the music they're trying to protect, giving consumers more reason to work with alternative distribution mechanisms. This will also hopefully lead to more anonymous forms of file sharing, or even file-piece sharing, where you're only hosting a tiny portion of a specific songfile. At what point would a "pirate" not really be guilty of much if they're only sharing a small portion of a particular songfile, say 0.01%?

      All the great heap paradox [wikipedia.org]. I'd say that the method by which to put the parts back together or the part map would be the pirate file.

    • Pirate! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:11PM (#18002108) Homepage Journal

      At what point would a "pirate" not really be guilty of much if they're only sharing a small portion of a particular songfile, say 0.01%?
      We at the **AA have identified your recent post as containing both zeros and ones, which are concidentally found in illegal MP3 files ripped from the latest Dave Matthews CD, scanned PDFs of every book on Oprah's list, and illicit DivX copies of all the "Lord of the Rings" films (including the crap one with the cartoons.) Please come with us, sir.
    • Re:Ugh... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mpapet (761907)
      In inverse order from your post.

      I can't wait for the day when the RIAA goes back to what they started doing
      You will be waiting forever then.

      When will artists start
      1. Is a starving artist is going to bite pretty much the only hand that has the potential (note phrase carefully) of feeding them? The economics of being an independent artist are depressing.
      2. There are bands doing this. I have a feeling you want the music to show up at Walmart/Worst Buy. RIAA members control retail outside of a handful of in
  • Why? (Score:3, Funny)

    by okinawa_hdr (1062664) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:48PM (#18001670) Homepage
    Why don't the American people storm their buildings with pitchforks?
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:52PM (#18001756)
      Because we are not only incredibly lazy but we corner the market on apathy.

      It is a complete truth that the typical American is too lazy to fight for their rights let alone change their buying habits when a company acts badly.

      Yes I AM an American.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:58PM (#18001872) Journal
        Funny thing about modern civilization, we have traded dueling at dawn and other acts of violence over squabbles with lawyers and the court system. In most cases this is good. But there are times when violence is necessary, and Americans have not only forgotten this but view anyone who disagrees as barbaric.
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Chapter80 (926879) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:22PM (#18002286)

          But there are times when violence is necessary, and Americans have not only forgotten this but view anyone who disagrees as barbaric.
          One word counter-argument to that statement: Iraq.
          • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Tmack (593755) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:06PM (#18003048) Homepage Journal

            But there are times when violence is necessary, and Americans have not only forgotten this but view anyone who disagrees as barbaric.
            One word counter-argument to that statement: Iraq.

            Theres enough dissent about that to support both your counter argument and the GP's. Not a good example.

            tm

          • Well (Score:3, Insightful)

            by paranode (671698)
            Look at how much trouble a loosely-organized rag-tag group of people willing to die for their agenda can cause an organized military machine orders of magnitudes more powerful than them.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Grimfaire (856043)
            There is a difference... I take the original statement of "Americans have not only forgotten..." as refering to the general citizens of the USofA. Iraq was not caused by this overwhelming need of the general citizen to invade another country but a calculated action by those in power who wanted to fill thier meglomania and make some money.
        • by operagost (62405)
          That's funny, because Americans are usually panned by Europe whenever we pick up arms. We're vilified as the nation of gun-toting, war-mongering, rednecks. Someone please harmonize that dichotomy!
        • You and the moderators who blessed this rant are part of the problem.

          We all have the tools to stop this. I can think of two right now: voting and legislation;

          Go ahead, get involved in politics if you are so angry. We have a system. Learn it and use it. Other small groups have done so to great effect. Prohibition is one example. No gun-toting rants necessary. Not one.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I know the liberals on Slashdot are going to hate to hear this, but chances are that John Doe is guilty. The guy's a constant trouble maker, always up in court on charge after charge. Yeah, innocent until proven guilty but no smoke without fire!
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

        by HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:19PM (#18002224)

        I know the liberals on Slashdot are going to hate to hear this, but chances are that John Doe is guilty. The guy's a constant trouble maker, always up in court on charge after charge. Yeah, innocent until proven guilty but no smoke without fire!
        He's also constantly found dead in shallow graves across the United States.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by soft_guy (534437)

        I know the liberals on Slashdot are going to hate to hear this, but chances are that John Doe is guilty. The guy's a constant trouble maker
        Yeah, Exene too.
    • See the post ahead of yours.
  • So.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:49PM (#18001692)
    So the RIAA argument of "well, your ISP says you downloaded 100 movies, we don't care if you don't have access to or own a computer, or perhaps even died a few years ago, you did it and our records are infallible" maybe won't fly anymore?
    • Re:So.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:02PM (#18001948) Homepage
      I don't think it ever would actually fly. In such an instance, their case would be dismissed. Perhaps the consumer would have a counter-suit against the ISP for providing faulty data and causing damage to the consumer (specifically, the hassle of getting a dismissal), but if the RIAA uses information provided by the ISP with respect to an IP that had been used for illegal file sharing, it isn't really the RIAA's fault if the name/address data it receives is faulty. It is the ISP's fault and that's where liability ought to lie.

      Yes yes yes -- cue the ad nauseum replies about open access points, friends, or compromised machines. Those are all defenses that may or may not be more or less successful in a suit. What they're talking about here is faulty data provided by the ISP and it seems to me that the RIAA can't be blamed for that, but the ISP sure can.
  • It makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gravesb (967413) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:51PM (#18001728) Homepage
    If you agree that the RIAA is correct in its lawsuits (which is an if on the order of magnitude If you believe the earth is flat), then this makes sense. I think we can all assume that the RIAA believes that it is correct in its lawsuits, which means it should persue means to make the law suits more effective. This is just a another means to do so. Really, it helps consumers in that the RIAA is less likely to sue innocent people, and only sue those people who are actually violating the law. I don't condone the activities of the RIAA, nor it methods in general for reaching its goals, but at least this one is based on making its lawsuits more accurate, and its willing to pay to do so, rather than just going back to courts and attempting to get contempt charges against the ISPs, which it may be able to do. That said, there will be fewer instances of the RIAA suing grandmothers for filesharing that people can use to illustrate the futility of the overall RIAA campaign.
    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:21PM (#18002260) Homepage Journal

      Really, it helps consumers in that the RIAA is less likely to sue innocent people, and only sue those people who are actually violating the law.
      Let's say for the sake of argument, hypothetically speaking, I'm not violating the law. Should I be okay with my ISP's logs being an open book to some agency whos only source of authority comes from having a shitload of money? All they need to do is scribble my IP address on a form letter and they get all my online activities. Yours too, for that matter.

      Now let's look at it another way, and say I'm in a related business. Let's make me a writer, musician, or other professional independent artist, self-publishing my own work out of my basement for burger money. I'm slightly suspicious that all of you people are illegally trading my copyrighted work, and depriving me of my burgers. I want to investigate this. Can I have the underlying logs from all of your ISPs as well, or is the shitload of money a requirement?
    • Really, it helps consumers in that the RIAA is less likely to sue innocent people, and only sue those people who are actually violating the law.

      I don't agree with your logic here at all. Making suits more expensive makes you be more selective about whom you pursue. This makes them very much less expensive because they are now -- or will be under this -- able to send you settlement demands directly without having to file in court. They can't lose on these, be awarded court costs when they do lose, or wo

  • So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by faloi (738831) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:53PM (#18001760)
    If you go out of your way to make it easier to harass your customers, we'll be happy to give you a little something extra... Wonder if we can get a list of ISP's that are volunteering to comply with this.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:54PM (#18001790) Homepage

    Sue customers

    Blame ISP's for suing wrong customer and try to make them do your job

    ?????

    PROFIT!!!!

  • by mcguirez (524534) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:55PM (#18001826)
    Thank you for visiting our new p2p lawsuit settlement site.

    By reading this text you acknowledge your interest which implicates your guilt.

    Your ISP has been notified of your crimes - expect a bill.

    Love,

        RIAA

  • Extortion? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:56PM (#18001840) Homepage
    IANAL, but isn't this "pre-lawsuit settlement opportunity" plain-old extortion? "We know you did something illegal. Pay now and we won't bring it to light."
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      No, that only works if the act isnt illegal that you did in the first place.
      • They *say* you did something illegal, but you're innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. They actually *believe* you did something illegal.
        • This is a civil, not criminal, matter. You're not innocent until proven guilty. The standard is the presumption of guilt. And they presume a lot.
        • by HiThere (15173)
          You're thinking criminal law. This is civil. I believe here the rule is "The perponderence of the evidence". That's because it's written to benefit those who hire lawyers rather then merely the government. (Well, there *ARE* other explanations...but they don't wash in the modern legal system.)
    • by aquabat (724032)
      It's extortion if you know someone did something illegal, and you demand compensation to keep quiet about it.

      However, it is not illegal to threaten to sue someone for compensation, if they refuse to settle the matter out of court.

  • by Lev13than (581686) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:57PM (#18001848) Homepage
    I get a kick out of the fact that www.p2plawsuits.com [p2plawsuits.com] currently points to a GoDaddy placeholder page filled with ads for P2P software and instructions for streaming satellite signals to your computer.
    • Indeed, especially since the domain is owned by the RIAA. Isn't that something like entrapment?
    • by tx_kanuck (667833) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:21PM (#18002252)
      wait a second.....I go to *their* website, and see that they are advertising P2P programs that allow me to download files for free? Wouldn't that then give me a good excuse of why I was downloading? "I swear your honour, I went to their website and the RIAA had advertisments on their website for eDonkey. Why were they advertising something that is illegal?"

      Just an idea, and IANAL
    • Good one!
    • I was skeptical until I actually saw it with my own eyes. What kind of genius works for them and pulls a bonehead move like that? Switch your nameservers and set up your own placeholder you lazy bastards. I wonder if the idea of pre-lawsuit settlement violates a GoDaddy TOS...

      Registrant:
      RIAA
      14 8th Street NE
      Washington, District of Columbia 20002
      United States

      Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:57PM (#18001854) Homepage Journal
    So when do these start?

    Geesh..
  • by castiron5615 (1061608) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:57PM (#18001856)
    ...John Doesn't is still SOL.
  • Ars coverage (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tyler Too (909326) * on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:58PM (#18001874)
    Ars Technica has some really in-depth coverage [arstechnica.com] on the letter.
  • by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:00PM (#18001906) Journal
    Nothing like having the *AA park their domain on godaddy, complete with such relevant ads as "Gnutella P2p: Download free MP3 music" or "eDonkey Free Downloads: Unlimited music, movies and games. 15 billion files". Also listed are ads for "American Legal Funding: pre-settlement advance, pay only if you win" and "Illegal Downloading: Experienced, aggressive criminal attourney in Texas"

    On top of that, two separate ads for "The Beacon Review" [thebeaconreview.com] and "The Download Guide" [downloadguideonline.org], which were amusing to compare side-by-side.
  • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:01PM (#18001924) Journal
    I'm certainly no lawyer and I don't know for a fact that this idea could work, particularly since I'm not sure what the terms of settlement may be but...

    Why doesn't each and every person who has settled their case with RIAA counter-sue, providing this letter as evidence that they have been co-erced into their agreement with evidence that has now proven by RIAAs own admission to be suspect. Sue for damage to reputation, hardship caused by the settlement etc. Sue individually, not as a class action. Even if the cases weren't won, I'd imagine the number would keep the RIAA legal team tied in a knot for some time. Use the same frivolous tactic back against them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by planetmn (724378)
      Because if they had wished to challenge the evidence, they would have had to take the case to court. Instead they came to a mutually agreed upon settlement. Once you settle, you agree to the terms. Period. A criminal who confesses to a crime, doesn't get to go back to court 6 months later and say "well, I was under a lot of stress, the evidence against me at the time looked good, but now I don't think it's as solid, can I please have a second chance? Pretty please?"

      If the accused had doubt in the evide
      • by naoursla (99850)
        Really? A convicted criminal couldn't appeal on the grounds that his confession was coerced? What are appeals then?
      • A criminal who confesses to a crime, doesn't get to go back to court 6 months later and say "well, I was under a lot of stress, the evidence against me at the time looked good, but now I don't think it's as solid, can I please have a second chance? Pretty please?"

        Yes you can. A person can appeal based on a confession that was 'coerced'. Showing someone overwhelming faked evidence against them and offering to let them off easy is coercion. People do get off from crimes they previously confessed to. It has

  • Isn't that some kind of breach of privacy for all the other users listed in the log files?

    On the flip side, I'm waiting to see one of the spambot systems start churning out e-mails that copy the text of the "Dear Customer" letter at the end of the RIAA's missive... wouldn't it be funny if all the spam filters became trained to mark such mail as spam? (read the actual letter here [ilrweb.com])

  • by geoff lane (93738) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:03PM (#18001964)
    Can you sue for libel?
  • by ivan256 (17499) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:05PM (#18002030)
    The RIAA is now offering a pre-settlement discount of 100% for customers of ISPs who agree not to keep DHCP logs beyond the current leases.
  • by Spazntwich (208070) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:05PM (#18002034)
    Giving the RIAA a real presence on the internet beyond their press release regurgitating main site will give everyone the world over a big red bullseye on which to lock their sights.

    I can't wait to hear about the hilarious exploits of various hackers having their way with those servers.
  • FIRST LETTER TO ISP's

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    It has come to the RIAA's attention that our requests for subscriber information has not been........ blah blah blah.

    Please correct this matter at once.

    Best regards,
    RIAA Legal Hack

    SECOND LETTER TO ISP's

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    It has come to our attention that our requests for subscriber information has not been corrected... blah blah blah...

    Be prepared for further strongly worded documents sent via Next Day Delivery!

    Best regards,
    RIAA Legal Hack.

    Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
  • Extortion. Plain and simple.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:10PM (#18002102) Journal
    Networks, as we know, are designed to work around the problems. New technologies and equipment will very soon make it possible to establish citywide dark mesh networks such that your packets of a torrent will be shared among hundreds or thousands of IP addresses across multiple ISP's. Now run those packets through an anonymizer like Tor and things get more difficult for the *AA by orders of magnitude.

    Even if the ISPs were required to keep logs, the logs will show nothing. This is the exact opposite of what the *AA and governments actually want. It is possible to make it incredibly difficult for them to track who does what. The FBI will find it even more difficult to find purveyors of child pornography. Don't think that I support child pornographers, but I certainly won't sacrifice my rights to privacy in order to catch them, or rather make catching them possibly easier for the police.

    With all the post 9/11 rhetoric, I'm certain that any would be terrorists are already encrypting their communications. Its really not difficult to do. There are tons of ways currently to hide or encrypt data communications that make it impossible for the FBI/governments to efficiently make sense of it. That means that the ONLY reason for tracking and logging is to control honest citizenry. George, you were right.

    The *AA can log all they want to, and try to sue anyone they want. In the same fashion that DRM is worked around, darknets will appear and ruin all the lawyer's fun. They are fighting a losing battle on all fronts. Eventually they will either capitulate and sell it cheaper and without DRM, or they will go out of business because more artists start selling their art without using the *AA.

    What we have to ask ourselves is WHY do we continue to elect politicians that support this type of active spying on the citizenry?
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:14PM (#18002158)
    IANAL, but if an ISP "cooperates" with the RIAA as they suggest, doesn't the ISP become an agent of the RIAA? As an agent, wouldn't the ISP be liable in any lawsuits initiated by the defendant. It's one thing for the ISP to answer a subpoena or supply the RIAA with information that the courts have ruled they legally can request. It's another thing to help the RIAA with enforcement.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:16PM (#18002174)
    See, here's the thing. The RIAA is filing affidavits and suits based on the information they get from the ISP's. And the information that the ISP's have is fallable.

    Contrary to the RIAA's apparent claim, it is NOT a legal requirement for ISP's to collect information to which they can swear on a stack of bibles is true to track all customer activity. Even if the RIAA subpoenas them. They are obligated to provide what information they have. It's the RIAA that's turning around and swearing before a court of law that what they have is true, without verifying it.

    Basically, the RIAA has discovered it's overstated the evidence that they have before them, and have potentially committed perjury or at least violated procedural rules. So now they want to say it's all the ISP's fault, apparently for not collecting information they're not obligated to collect, and which RIAA has used in court as "proof" without knowing what it entails.
  • and then make all of their products free. so everyone enjoys free unfettered access to music. and if every once in awhile you get sued, you just have to pay your share plus the share of 100,000 other people. oh well. i'll call it "music distribution by reverse lottery"

    the riaa knows it will get paid, and every once in awhile, some random joe you hardly know becomes bankrupt and homeless. if it's you, well the rest of will try to remember you fondly for providing a copy of "meet the fokkers". just stop tryin
  • All the ISP's Fault (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:20PM (#18002240)
    Ah,so it's all the ISP's fault. Couldn't be anything that the RIAA is doing wrong.

    This is nothing more than an attempted end-run around the courts. Having proven that they are willing to go to court in a few thousand cases (out of a few million, and rising, number of filesharers), the RIAA wants to dispense with the courts altogether. Before they couldn't get their message to you that they knew who you were, and were gonna get you if you didn't fork over thousands of $$$s first, without a court subpoena. And a few million [Who is] John Doe lawsuits weren't going to fly there. Now they claim their victims are crying out for this solution, and it is a "favor" for the ISP's to offer it. And oh, if you RTFLetter, they don't want the ISP help desk employees directing any of these victims to other web-sites any longer. Sites that might tell them what their actual rights truly are, or where lawyers can be found. That's verboten.

    So this becomes a quick, cheap route to shake out those willing to settle at the first whiff of danger, and a great time and money saving opportunity for the RIAA. Anybody think that this won't just increase the number of threats they make? Like to maybe everybody Media Sentry and their still questionably secret methods can point a finger at (and we know which finger they're pointing). The record companies are certainly trying to find a way to collect their due from everyone in the entire country who they believe has infringed their copyrights, under their own expansive and untested definition of what constitutes infringement!

    All this on the same day a report has come out saying that filesharing, at least back in the 2002 timeframe when the record industry claimed they were being "devastated" by P2P users, say that the effect of P2P filesharing was "statistically insignificant" in causing the drop in CD sales.

    So where do I find ISP's who don't keep logs?

    But what really pisses me off about this is the continual recording industry refrain of: "We doing it for the (starving) artists." What I hear is that the record companies are trying to reduce the royalty payments from digital sales -- sales that occur at virtually no cost at all to the record companies themselves -- to the artists themselves.

    • by cweber (34166)
      You're right, this whole thing is very disingenuous. Everybody who complained about Steve Jobs' self-serving stance last week must RTFLetter and tell us how it could get any worse in terms of disinformation. Steve at least was technically correct, and on the pulse of things. But this is simply awful in how it tries to co-opt ISPs to do the dirty work. I hope ISP lawyers will talk some sense into their companies' management before they get with this program.
    • I run a small high security ISP and I don't keep any log enries older that 24 hours.
  • George W. Bush: "Yes, I'm sure, there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq! I swear!"
    The RIAA: "Yes, we're sure, these are the people stealing our intellectual property!"

    (time passes...)

    George W. Bush: "Oops, sorry. It wasn't my fault! I didn't know the reports were wrong!"
    The RIAA: "Oops, sorry. It wasn't our fault! The ISPs were wrong in identifying people!" :-/
  • by Flying pig (925874) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:33PM (#18002460)
    It seems to me that the ISPs should make a reasonable offer to comply with the RIAA's request. They should jointly decline to release any records that have not been and cannot be properly validated, for whatever reason. They would also charge the RIAA on a per-record basis, based on the reasonable time taken by suitably skilled people to go through hard copy print-out from logs.

    After all, this is what top of the range direct mail houses do to ensure that their clients do not send the same letter to the same household under two different names, or that the new Porsche brochure is addressed to the father and not the 15-year-old son, so an equal standard should obviously apply to cases where a lawsuit might be involved. They could reasonably argue that a judge in a court does not have access to the necessary technical skills to make a proper judgement on correct identification, so it would be improper to release data that could not be fairly assessed by a court.

    Assuming one dollar per record, the ISPs could be entirely funded by the "music industry" in short order.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:39PM (#18002582)
    Having been employed at an ISP a few years ago, there are a few typical reasons that a "John Doe" gets misfingered:

    1.) The time is off on the RAS, radius server, or other networking gear during the timeframe the RIAA asks records to be preserved for.

    2.) The admin is having a bad day and messes up the time zone shift from RIAA's request to UTC or whatever time zone the records are kept in.

    3.) (Rarely anymore...) The request from RIAA fails to indicate an IP or time or some other piece of information to clearly identify what account / user was responsible is being targeted.

    Requests from the MPAA, FBI, and local law enforcement can be even worse. Many were still giving timeframes of HOURS, when you could point to 10-30 or more possible infringers.

    Anyway, this sort of recordkeeping is trivial for any ISP - just plunk the accounting information in a database and (depending on the size of the ISP) you know who had what IP address where up to a year ago with a simple query in a matter of seconds.

    Before this post becomes flamebait, let me just say that the best course of action I found was to simply relay the notice to the customer if that's what the requester wanted, as the ISP itself has no quarrel with RIAA or the customer. ISPs simply provide a series of tubes - what comes out of your straw is your own business.

    Oh yeah, and ISPs don't like getting sued. So they follow the law.

    But misidentification happens rarely. Good admins do their best because they know what's at stake for a customer.
  • by GuyverDH (232921) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:47PM (#18002726)
    If the RIAA is pushing forward with criminal cases, shouldn't they be brought forward by the local district attorneys?

    If the RIAA is pushing forward with civil suits, what gives them the legal right to subpoena information from other entities?

    There's already been cases that have thrown out ISP responsibility for copyright infringement cases, so they don't have that *handle* to hold onto with ISPs anymore.

    I'd say, make the RIAA file charges with a REAL law enforcement agency and wait for trial.

    If they choose to make civil cases, make them come up with the identities on their own - they should not have the right to force ISPs to hand over any information whatsoever.
    Why do they think they have a right in (and seem to have gotten away with) asking for this information so far?

  • by Churla (936633) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:01PM (#18002962)
    The RIAA is offering up the ability for you to go to a website.. pay a "pre-settlement" and then not be libel if they get around to suing you. Is that it?

    Wait... Does this mean I'm clear of future lawsuits?

    How about they just be more up front and sell a $250 "Get out of lawsuit free" card. Then you buy that, download all you want, if/when they sue you, you hand them the card, and it's done? Or is that too close to the "we know you're a criminal" iPod tax?

    We could have drive thru courts!
  • by GuyverDH (232921) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:06PM (#18003038)
    The RIAA should be forced to retain permanent logs of every song, cd, cassette, music dvd purchase so that when the defective by design media is damaged and or destroyed, they can provide a FREE replacement of the music we purchased.

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