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Harvard Law Professor Urges University to Fight RIAA 180

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the you-know-you-want-to dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Distinguished Harvard University Law School Professor Charles Nesson has called upon Harvard University to fight back against the RIAA and stand up for its students, writing 'Seeking to outsource its enforcement costs, the RIAA asks universities to point fingers at their students, to filter their Internet access, and to pass along notices of claimed copyright infringement. But these responses distort the University's educational mission. ...[W]e should be assisting our students both by explaining the law and by resisting the subpoenas that the RIAA serves upon us. We should be deploying our clinical legal student training programs to defend our targeted students.'"
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Harvard Law Professor Urges University to Fight RIAA

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  • wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wellingj (1030460) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @01:59AM (#18999687)
    Finally some one with some integrity speaks on the matter.
  • Authority (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CriminalNerd (882826) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @02:03AM (#18999705)
    If this gets out all over the media, people would start fighting back more since a Harvard law professor is advocating resistance, and we all know that Harvard has brand power that is rivaled by only a few other high-grade universities. If Harvard does resist, we can have a new slogan: "Fight the RIAA because Harvard's doing it."
    • Re:Authority (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 05, 2007 @02:38AM (#18999825)
      so they do it for all the wrong reasons and they learn nothing from it?

      -why did we fight riaa anyways?
      -i dunno lol, harvard was doing it
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by izzo nizzo (731042)
        People get curious, the media is a help and a hindrance, but after a while people do learn. They wouldn't learn nothing just because this was very helpful in getting their attention.
      • by Joebert (946227) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @03:48AM (#19000021) Homepage

        so they do it for all the wrong reasons and they learn nothing from it?

        Not really, they learn why they should have went to Harvard.
      • Better than bending over and taking it from the RIAA, yet still learning nothing. Most people are never going to care enough to learn why they take whichever course of action they take, so I'm satisfied that they do fight, whether they know why or not.

        I'd rather they learned, and I'm willing to put forth a little bit of effort to teach, but I'm not going to tell them not to fight just because they don't know why.
      • by Fordiman (689627)
        Sounds like how things get done.

        Seriously, it's the wont of most people to fail to learn anything. Ask your average voter why he votes the way he does - you'll notice that, nine times out of ten, it's a stupid reason like, "Well, I just don't like the other guy" or, "I think he's got an honest face".

        Goddamnit, why do I get punished for being able to type 90 WPM??
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by viksit (604616)
      _If_ Harvard ends up resisting. _IF_ Yale joins in. _IF_ Columbia, which was targeted as one of the 12 piracy-propogating schools decides to join on the bandwagon. Who knows, the ivy league might just end up doing something as a team.

      Those are a lot of big ifs, imho.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by archmedes5 (106202)
        If they lose this fight, they'll singlehandedly make the "Ivy League" a thing of the past. I'm not siding with the RIAA here, but the law, unfortunately, is on their side. Are these colleges prepared to take the risk of losing everything to stand up for their students?
        • Re:Authority (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SillyNickName4me (760022) <dotslash@bartsplace.net> on Saturday May 05, 2007 @06:11AM (#19000533) Homepage
          If they lose this fight, they'll singlehandedly make the "Ivy League" a thing of the past. I'm not siding with the RIAA here, but the law, unfortunately, is on their side.

          The law isn't on their side when it comes to going on a fishing expedition. Also, the number of cases that the RIAA has won in court so far (that is NOT the same as people settling) isn't very high, and their cases being thrownn out isn't exactly unheard of..

          I'd rather think that a law professor has some idea about this, and about the legal risks in general. I would even go as far as suggesting that he probably has a lot more of an idea then you and me together.

          Are these colleges prepared to take the risk of losing everything to stand up for their students?

          Is this society prepared to destoy such colleges and their future in order to protect the ill-gotten exclusive rights of an industry that is doomed to failure?
          • by westlake (615356)
            the number of cases that the RIAA has won in court so far (that is NOT the same as people settling) isn't very high, and their cases being thrownn out isn't exactly unheard of..

            The number of federal civil cases that end in a verdict by a judge or jury is between two and four percent.

            It takes a substantial commitment of time and money to get that far, even though your chances of winning are no better than fifty-fifty. But to lose, is to lose big.

            • The number of federal civil cases that end in a verdict by a judge or jury is between two and four percent.

              Interesting, but no real surprise. Usually it is a lot cheaper to settle a case then to pursue it to the end even when you know you are likely to win. This is why there is little point in including those cases, and why I argued to ignore them when looking at the statement that 'the law is on the side of the RIAA'. Rather, we should look at those cases that did end in a verdict from a judge.

              I think that
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ultranova (717540)

            Is this society prepared to destoy such colleges and their future in order to protect the ill-gotten exclusive rights of an industry that is doomed to failure?

            Since the society is ruled by politicians who are paid by that very industry, I'd say that the answer is "yes".

        • Re:Authority (Score:5, Informative)

          by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Saturday May 05, 2007 @06:38AM (#19000605) Homepage Journal
          From my experience litigating against the RIAA, it has no interest in the rule of law whatsoever; its goal is to make money and monopolize as much of the digital music space as it can.

          1. Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure encourage the making of all motions on notice, the RIAA does everything it can ex parte. The John Doe proceedings and motion for discovery are initiated without notice to anyone, even though it would be a simple matter to furnish the university, college, or ISP with copies of the motion and other papers, which could in turn be disseminated to the "John Does" to enable them to consult with counsel and take action if so advised.

          2. The RIAA joins unrelated John Does, also in total contravention of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

          3. In 2004 the federal district court in Austin, Texas, enjoined the RIAA to cease and desist from that practice. The RIAA has been in contempt of that order ever since, merely taking care to avoid litigating in Austin, Texas.

          4. The RIAA conducts a sham investigation which, at best, identifies a person who paid for an internet access account... and then turns around and sues that person without any information that that individual is actually liable for copyright infringement.

          5. The RIAA has invented a claim for "Making available" even though there is no legal authority.

          6. The RIAA has invented a concept of an "online media digital music distributor", and uses it to tarnish people who've never engaged in file sharing in their life.

          7. The RIAA never honors its pretrial discovery obligations, taking advantage of the fact that most defendants do not have the resources to engage in a constant stream of motion practice in order to get even the most rudimentary discovery.

          8. It makes frivolous assertions of "privilege" and "confidentiality" solely to make litigation more expensive for defendants in other cases.

          9. The RIAA will disclose, and distort the contents of, confidential settlement discussions.

          I could go on and on. But to anyone who thinks the RIAA is trying to enforce copyright law.... think again.

          The key, for me, is that our system of law is an adversarial system. For there to be fair outcomes there needs to be a fight of equals, a level playing field. The RIAA has embarked on a program of using colossal wealth to prey on defenseless victims, so that it can rewrite copyright law in a way that will maximize the recording industry's wealth. And it tramples on their civil rights in the process. ACLU, Public Citizen, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Amerian Association of Law Libraries. the US Internet Industry Association, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, and others have submitted amicus curiae briefs pointing these things out.

          The article written by Prof. Nesson and Ms. Seltzer is a landmark.

          The key message for the university, in my view, is this: "we should be assisting our students both by explaining the law and by resisting the subpoenas that the RIAA serves upon us. We should be deploying our clinical legal student training programs to defend our targeted students."

          Harvard should make sure that the due process rights of its students are protected.
          • Ray,

            This clear statement of all that's wrong here belongs on your blog, for all the people who need to see it and won't find it here first.

            • Dear Nom,

              Don't you think the people who read my blog are well aware of this stuff, and more?

              I try to keep palaver to a minimum on the blog, and devote myself to reporting the news, because
              -I have limited time
              -The defendants and defendants' lawyers need to know the news of what's going on in the litigations
              -Writing takes time.

          • by Fordiman (689627)
            Hey, Ray, I gotta say I respect you and everything you do to keep us at Slashdot and across the inter webs informed about the RIAA's legal mishandlings.

            I would like your opinion - not as a lawyer, but as a consumer - on an Open Letter I wrote for the RIAA / MPAA. It's linked in my sig.

            The short version: I put forth an olive branch, a light criticism of DRM, and a potential alternative means for enabling media interoperability, prevention of casual piracy, ensuring the correct defendant for anti-piracy liti
            • Thanks, Fordiman.

              Unfortunately, it's out of my league. I'm just a country lawyer. I really can't evaluate such things.

              The one thing I'm sure of though is you can't make peace with thugs, you just need to beat them.

              • by Fordiman (689627)
                The RIAA member companies run a business, and as a result, I gotta assume the shareholders and the execs are just out to do what any businesspeople are: make a profit. You know, the whole "It's not really that they're bad people; they just don't know a better way to do things" argument. Even if they ARE bad people, they have to realize that bad PR cuts into their profits about as far as piracy does - they're replacing one loss with two (legal fees plus bad PR).

                It's probably naive on my part to think that
        • by Fordiman (689627)
          Heh. You'd think that, wouldn't you?

          The law isn't on the RIAA's side here. The school has no responsibility to prevent filesharing on their networks, much like Verizon doesn't. In fact, the only persons who have responsibility are those actively engaged in torrenting.

          Now, I'm all for bandwidth throttling or connection suspension for bandwidth abuse - the IT department has to ensure access to all its 'customers' - but playing stoolie for the RIAA is not their job, not on a single legal document.
        • by Dun Malg (230075)

          If they lose this fight, they'll singlehandedly make the "Ivy League" a thing of the past. I'm not siding with the RIAA here, but the law, unfortunately, is on their side. Are these colleges prepared to take the risk of losing everything to stand up for their students?

          Please. Spare us the hyperbole. They don't stand to "[lose] everything". Worst case scenario, the RIAA takes this before the courts and the school is ordered to turn over the information. If the person in charge of the info refuses, they are thrown in the clink on contempt until the info is turned over. That's all. I fail to see how your idiotic prediction of the ivy league becoming a thing of the past fits in there.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      It must be the best - the President went there!

      Personally I think he is not as dumb as he looks, likes to play dumb the same way he is playing at being Texan with the new "family ranch" and has had most of his life organised for him by other people. Is there pressure to pass students with influence there or does Harvard have more integrity than that?

    • First off, thanks for saying Harvard has brand power as being one of the best universities and not that Harvard is one of the best universities.

      With that said, you make a really good point in that people tend to listen more to things that appear to be special or great. If one of the lesser known but higher ranked law schools had a professor who said the same thing, this wouldn't have nearly as much of an effect. That's assuming that this actually has an effect, but here's to hoping.
    • by hey! (33014)
      Harvard. Meh. It's not like he was a professor at Regent University Law School or anything.
    • by Fordiman (689627)
      True. Penn's been quietly looking the other way for ages - hell, I even know that a few of their IT slaves tell the students to use PeerGuardian to keep the higher ups and the RIAA the hell out of their torrents.

      Well, sometimes. The student has to be one of the 'cool' ones, not one of the assholes that wants to know why his email isn't working every freaking day, even though he just can't follow the damned instructions to set up Outlook.
  • by rde (17364) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @02:10AM (#18999733)
    We should be deploying our clinical legal student training programs to defend our targeted students.
    Ooh, this raises some intriguing possibilities. If a university's legal faculty 'n' lawyers-to-be rally around the students, a whole body of experience will quickly build up. By the time they become fully-fledged lawyers, a whole bunch of students will be familiar with the xxAA and their tactics.
    Could lead to some interesting exam projects, too; "Find a granny being sued by the RIAA and prepare a suitable defense. For bonus credit, find a granny who doesn't have a computer but is being sued by the RIAA."
    • no, no. Find a granny who DOES have a computer and is being sued by the RIAA for bonus marks. Not only is that harder, but the task of preparing the defence is fractionally harder too.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by IP_Troll (1097511)
      A legal clinics are typically free, so this also removes RIAA's threat that "you are going to spend more in attorney's fees fighting us, so you should just settle for $X,000".
    • by houghi (78078)
      and when they have there degree, they can get high payment from said **AA, because they know the material so well.
      • by Fordiman (689627)
        Yeah. Most likely they'll advise the RIAA that they can't actually win the case, and are very likely to lose a bunch if they can't settle.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Opportunist (166417)
      It gets better. "Find a bunch of grannies without a computer, prepare a countersuit and find out just how much money you can pump out of the *AA."
  • by null-und-eins (162254) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @02:18AM (#18999757) Homepage
    Nesson's daughter Rebecca (http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~nesson/) works on a PhD in CS after going to Law School. Hence, you can be sure that he is very well aware of the discussion inside the CS community. Rebecca won Google's Anita Borg Fellowship 2007 (http://www.google.com/anitaborg/) and I remember here as a very nice person all around.
  • Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aarku (151823) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @02:28AM (#18999785) Journal
    Thank you NewYorkCountryLawyer. Keep doing your thang!
    • You're welcome, aarku.
      This was a landmark article, I was very happy to see it. This could be the beginning of the end of the reign of terror.
  • by Foehg (48006)
    Speaking of the RIAA, I think they've been cribbing business plans from the ad for wall-size maps on the back of my granola. It says "Buy USA at retail price, get the World Free!"
  • Copyright Law (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deAtog (987710) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @03:23AM (#18999947)
    With all the talk about this recently, I'm surprised someone hasn't mentioned this sooner... Granted I'm not a lawyer, but last I read, copyright law explicitly states that it is perfectly legal for students attending an educational institution to make a copy of any copyrighted work for educational purposes. Who's to say the students in question weren't doing so for this exact purpose?
    • by adam (1231) * on Saturday May 05, 2007 @04:20AM (#19000153)
      I am also not a lawyer, but I don't believe what you are positing would fall under fair use. In 1989, Kinkos was found guilty of copyright violation [answers.com] for copying substantial portions of textbooks (up to 100 pages at a stretch), and fined $1.9M plus court costs.

      Basically (as I understand it) there are several factors that fall into the test for fair use. First, is whether the use is for commercial or non-profit use. In this case, copying the music would probably pass the test. The second test is whether the work is "creative" or "informational" in its origin. In this case, the deck would be stacked against a student copying the average RIAA CD for "educational" purposes, as the work itself is probably of a creative nature. The third factor is the scope of the portion used. Simply put, the less you use, the more chance it is fair use. So copying a whole CD wouldn't pass this test. Copying a whole "hit" song probably wouldn't either. There was an actual case where a church choir director was found guilty of copyright infringement for copying essentially all of the lyrics (or something like that) from a song, arranging it to his music, and distributing copies to his choir. It was found that despite his good faith desire (not to infringe), he was still infringing. I recall the famous instance of Gerald Ford's memoirs as well, where only a few hundred words of his 100,000 word work were reprinted, and the supreme court found in his publisher's favor.

      So.. in summary, I think you are mistaken. It (copyright law) doesn't state what you think it does, and the test for fair use definitely isn't "explicit" (as you said).. it is rather subjective. Nice shell game, though. Anyone who is a real lawyer, feel free to respond and repudiate my whole post ;)
      • I don't think the Kinkos corporation you used as an example is likely to be considered eligible.

        1. They're not a student.
        2. They do not attend an educational institution.

        And all that other stuff too, being a business, profiting off of it, etc.
        Your point stands though.
    • last I read, copyright law explicitly states that it is perfectly legal for students attending an educational institution to make a copy of any copyrighted work for educational purposes.

      And what country where you in when you read that? Because it sure ain't the USA. You probably just heard someone somewhere say something about the component of the fair use defense that involves an educational exemption and then totally stretched it into something way, way larger than it really is.

    • by deblau (68023)
      Sorry, educational use isn't enough. It's something to consider, and it's given a lot of weight, but it's not determinative. Please go read the law [cornell.edu] again, carefully.
    • Funny. Why is it then that I hardly ever (read never) find any scientific papers about the latest Robby CD or Spidernam III???
  • law schools (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @04:00AM (#19000073)
    i believe there's 2 things they tell you in law school 1. never sue a church - they are exempt from just about everything 2. never sue a university with a well stocked law faculty - you'll become the target of the best legal minds in the world who will have 100's of students working for free.
    • Re:law schools (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cskrat (921721) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @05:15AM (#19000383)
      Then consider that likely a good chunk of the law student's are planning to be Nth generation lawyers. This means that you get to bring in parents, siblings and possibly grandparents that may be in firms that would like to be precedent setters in **AA style cases.

      Yeah real smart for the **AA's to go marching into a den of hundreds (if not over a thousand) highly vicious (Type-A personality) lions (Lawyers). (parenthetical commentary FTW)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Well, the converse to this is that a bunch of established alumni call up the trustees at Harvard and say: "why are you squandering the credibility of the University on kids who want to listen to a bunch of Brittany Spears songs for free?" The 'parents, slibings and possibly grandparents that might be in firms' might feel that Harvard has better legal stands to focus on.

        Sorry for singing a different harmony here, folks...
        • by Dun Malg (230075)

          Well, the converse to this is that a bunch of established alumni call up the trustees at Harvard and say: "why are you squandering the credibility of the University on kids who want to listen to a bunch of Brittany Spears songs for free?" The 'parents, slibings and possibly grandparents that might be in firms' might feel that Harvard has better legal stands to focus on.

          Sorry for singing a different harmony here, folks...

          Unless they're write a huge check with dependable frequency, the trustees don't give a crap what alumni have to say. Seriously, Harvard isn't some sort of democracy of the alumni. It's a private school. Those that agree with Harvard's stance will help, and those that don't, won't. They've already decided to fight it. Do you really think a phone call from some 80 year old geezer who graduated Harvard in the 40's and has attended two football games and donated $150 in the intervening time is going to change

        • by Raenex (947668)

          why are you squandering the credibility of the University on kids who want to listen to a bunch of Brittany Spears songs for free?

          Seems like the main point of the article was to plug Noank Media [noankmedia.com]. Follow the $ signs in the chart [noankmedia.com]. Look at who [noankmedia.com] stands to profit from the new "copyright-business model".

  • by nocynic (907095) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @05:47AM (#19000449)
    It is fantastic and the right thing that was needed. A reputed university such as Harvard propagates the fight against the RIAA. Why does it make such a difference when Harvard does it? Well, we all know that University of Wisconsin (Madison), albeit respected, does not match to the global reputation and brand recall that comes with an Ivy league university such as Harvard. Harvard's name is familiar to everyone around the world. Students in India, China, Pakistan the UK, everyones knows of Harvard. Even the crowd that isn't aware of the education system in other countries (the US), knows of Harvard.

    So, Harvard fighting the RIAA, if publicized correctly by the media, will get the attention of everyone around the world. Take the MIT dean issue that came up recently, for example. That was splashed all across the news channels everywhere in the world!
    I am currently in India and it was quite a talk here when the MIT news came out. I'm talking about local news channel covering the story! If the same happens with Harvard's move, is could almost be certain that people can will be educated more about the problem and its impact on internet downloads.
    • by drsquare (530038)

      So, Harvard fighting the RIAA, if publicized correctly by the media, will get the attention of everyone around the world. Take the MIT dean issue that came up recently, for example. That was splashed all across the news channels everywhere in the world!
      Really? I only heard about it on Slashdot.
  • by Gangrenous BoB (1000398) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @07:00AM (#19000701)
    "Seeking to outsource its enforcement costs, the RIAA asks universities to point fingers at their students, to filter their Internet access, and to pass along notices of claimed copyright infringement."

    This reminds me of something the ARIA wanted to/wants to implement in Australia. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,21555941-2,00 .html?from=public_rss [news.com.au]

    "Under this system, people who illegally download songs would be given three written warnings by their Internet service provider.

    If they continued to illegally download songs, their internet account would be suspended or terminated.

    Those with dial-up internet could face having their phone disconnected."
  • by Garwulf (708651) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @10:03AM (#19001639) Homepage
    Well, I'm glad to see more and more people taking a stand against the flagrant abuses of the RIAA - with luck, it will soon get to the point that the RIAA can no longer get away with any of it. However, one statement in the article really bothers me:

    "We need not condone infringement to conclude that 19th- and 20th-century copyright law is poorly suited to promote 21st-century knowledge."

    Now, I may not be a lawyer, but I am a professional writer, and an author, and part of my profession requires me to have a working understanding of copyright law. So, this statement bothers me for a couple of reasons:

    1. It does not differentiate between copyright law and patent law. Copyright law is actually quite good at allowing for the promotion of knowledge, as you cannot copyright an idea - only the exact implementation of one. Patent law, on the other hand, has become very restrictive in regards to the promotion of knowledge, and you CAN patent an idea. (You can patent a tax strategy, for crying out loud.)

    2. I don't know enough about 19th century copyright law, but frankly, 20th century copyright law based on the Berne Convention is quite good at what it does, and doesn't really need to be fixed. At best, it needs minor modifications.

    Expanding on the second point, there seems to be a "shiny thing" reaction in the copyright industry in regards to the Internet, and it really does miss the point. The RIAA, legislators, and even some lawyers are spending a lot of time panicking in awe at the shiny new Internet and what it can do, and failing to notice that at the end of the day, a work is either infringed or it isn't, just like it was before the 'net. As far as the actual letter of the law is concerned, how it got that way is really unimportant.

    (Think of it this way - somebody figures out how to commit a murder over the Internet by making his/her victim's keyboard deliver a deadly electric shock. Do the murder laws now need to be rewritten? Of course not - at the end of the day, it's still murder, plain and simple.)

    If you look at the Berne Convention, you see:

    1. Respect for the creator's wishes for their work.
    2. Ability for the creator to transfer rights and copyright.
    3. Allowance for fair use and the use of ideas, but not exact implementations, in derivative works.
    4. Allowance for public domain.
    5. A recognition that these rights and provisions apply to new media.

    If you think about it, it's simple, covers all the bases, allows for everything from Creative Commons to the Open Source movement to a novelist receiving royalties in any media - and has been around in its current form since the 1970s. I wouldn't call it a broken tool at all. I just wish people would stop panicking because there's a new shiny thing and coming up with daft measures (Vista-style DRM anybody?) to protect against it.
    • by arevos (659374)

      I don't know enough about 19th century copyright law, but frankly, 20th century copyright law based on the Berne Convention is quite good at what it does, and doesn't really need to be fixed. At best, it needs minor modifications.

      What do you mean by "minor modifications"? Copyright is a legal incentive to encourage authors to produce more creative works, by allowing the author a temporary monopoly over the work. But whilst this monopoly might encourage new works, it also restricts people's access to existing ones. In the end it it is a balancing act between providing a reasonable incentive, and allowing people access to existing works.

      The Berne convention protects an author's work for 50 years after his or her death. Now, somehow t

    • by Dun Malg (230075)

      2. I don't know enough about 19th century copyright law, but frankly, 20th century copyright law based on the Berne Convention is quite good at what it does, and doesn't really need to be fixed. At best, it needs minor modifications.

      The Berne Convention is a load of crap. It is completely at odds with the basic premises US copyright law is based on. That's why it took over 100 years (1887 -> 1989) for the IP industry to push the US into signing.

      If you look at the Berne Convention, you see:

      1. Respect for the creator's wishes for their work.

      This was the main sticking point. The notion that creators somehow "own" their creations had historically (and logically) been considered completely ludicrous (which it is). With the birth of the recording industry however, the 20th century saw a concerted effort to push the notion of "co

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Saturday May 05, 2007 @11:39AM (#19002267)
    Copyright law ceased being fair when copyrights started being massively extended retroactively. At that point it was no longer about encouraging the creation of artistic works by securing for a limited time exclusive rights to profit from those works. It was simply about money, and the perpetuation of profits of one particular industry. This is the very thing thing that USA copyright law under the Constitution was supposed to prevent, and which was going on widely in Europe at the time the Constitution was written.

    Existing works had already been created under the copyright laws of the time. (28 years plus one extension of 28 more years). The laws fully served their purpose of encouraging the creative arts. No change in the law afterwards would change what had been done. These works should have moved into the public domain, where new artists could freely use them to create even newer works to enrich society. Instead, the content creation industry got Congress to enrich them by extending unreasonably the time of protection. Congress did not represent the people at large that day.

    The President failed in his job by signing this bill, and The Supreme Court failed miserably in their job of understanding the intent in the US Constitution by upholding the unwarranted extensions. And the court system now fails even more miserably by permitting the RIAA suits to exist in the first place, and then be dropped in ways that cost never-convicted defendants tens of thousands of reimbursed dollars, the moment the RIAA might lose. All this while the RIAA tries to trick the courts into granting them rights never included in the original legislation. If the RIAA can fool uninformed judges into creating precedents to be used in future cases, they will have de facto created new law for themselves.

    Filesharing should be viewed as an act of civil disobedience against an industry that has received out-of-proportion, and unconstitutional, protection from all three branches of the government.

    • by Garwulf (708651)
      "These works should have moved into the public domain, where new artists could freely use them to create even newer works to enrich society. Instead, the content creation industry got Congress to enrich them by extending unreasonably the time of protection. Congress did not represent the people at large that day."

      As a creative artist on a professional, I find that statement incredibly funny. You really have no idea of how we work, do you? You also have no idea of how copyright works - here's a hint: you C
      • by David Rolfe (38)

        These works should have moved into the public domain, where new artists could freely use them to create even newer works to enrich society. Instead, the content creation industry got Congress to enrich them by extending unreasonably the time of protection. Congress did not represent the people at large that day.

        As a creative artist on a professional, I find that statement incredibly funny. You really have no idea of how we work, do you? You also have no idea of how copyright works - here's a hint: you CAN'

        • by Garwulf (708651)
          "You've never heard of derivative works? We aren't talking about ideas."

          I've heard of them - but I think your definition of them is a bit different than mine. I've seen pros work in licensed worlds, but most of us don't actually like to do that - we prefer to do our own thing. And it's when we do our own thing that society is moved forward through artistic means, quite frankly.

          "You believe that copyrights are rights, you've said it elsewhere."

          They are rights. The word "right" is even in the name. You ta
      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        Now - oh my god - somebody like me actually gets to keep the thing he creates and do with it what he will, and even leave it as a legacy for his children. How, um, reasonable.

        No, it's unreasonable. I install communications infrastructure. If I want to leave something for my children, I have to save my money to do so. My children can't go around to the owners of all the networks I installed and collect money after I die. I could leave them my business, but they'd still have to learn how to pull wire and then install new networks if they expect to make any money. Please, tell me why your children should get a different deal.

        And none of this even addresses the root issue, that

        • by Garwulf (708651)
          "No, it's unreasonable. I install communications infrastructure. If I want to leave something for my children, I have to save my money to do so. My children can't go around to the owners of all the networks I installed and collect money after I die. I could leave them my business, but they'd still have to learn how to pull wire and then install new networks if they expect to make any money. Please, tell me why your children should get a different deal."

          Well, try this one on for size - I DON'T install commun
  • And you should be sending the RIAA a bill when they request documentation about who was connected to what IP when.

    If the records office charges fees for copying records, why wouldn't they charge for their time and effort when other information rquests come in?

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich

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