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BusinessWeek Takes On the RIAA 241

Posted by kdawson
from the palpable-hit dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "BusinessWeek magazine has gone medieval on the RIAA, recounting in grisly detail the cruel ordeal to which the RIAA has subjected a completely innocent defendant, Tanya Andersen of Oregon. Nobody can read the story and come to any other conclusion than that the RIAA and its lawyers are total jerks. Of course we've been reading about Atlantic v. Andersen on p2pnet.net and on my blog, and discussing it here, but there's something extra special about a mainstream publication like Business Week really letting them have it."
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BusinessWeek Takes On the RIAA

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  • by HetMes (1074585) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @08:09AM (#23213296)
    ...if Slashdot started naming the large companies behind the RIAA at every occurrence, so any misbehavior on their part is directly related to the "Big Four". Right now, most of us reading about the RIAA don't directly associate them with Sony, Warner, EMI and Universal. And this is exactly what they intended! Let's not endulge them any further.
    • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @08:34AM (#23213370) Homepage
      That's probably rather true. In my mind, I expand "RIAA" into "Sony Warner EMI Universal" but almost no one else thinks this way.
      • by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:55PM (#23216060)
        Well... everyone else probably needs a good mnemonic.

        They could use something like this...

        What does RIAA remind you of? Pigs, right?

        And what does the RIAA love to do? SUE, right?

        And what do you say to call in the pigs?

        SUE-W.... SU-EW...

        Sony-Universal-EMI-Warner...

        Here piggie...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ThePepe (775625)
        I like Warner, EMI, Sony, Universal.

        Otherwise known as W.E.S.U.
      • by vux984 (928602)
        In my mind, I expand "RIAA" into "Sony Warner EMI Universal" but almost no one else thinks this way.

        Here's a handy mnemonic:

        Warner Emi Sony Universal

        or:

        WE SU :)
    • by jnmontario (865369) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @08:43AM (#23213404)
      I would have to agree. As a consumer, I avoid, if I can, businesses whose sales tactics/merchandise irritates me. This sometimes 'paints me into a corner' where my stubborn streak of punishing businesses means I forgo their product entirely. It drives my wife insane....I find it amazing she sticks with me.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Narpak (961733)
        Problem is. If we avoid products made by companies that use unethical, unmoral or borderline illegal means of production, marketing or just trying to maintain a monopoly situation; there really wont be too many products left for us to buy.

        Then again I guess that is consumers/citizens faults in the first place for not insisting that regulations are enforced unconditionally; and to ensure that those regulations are fair and in the interest of the people and the individual first and foremost.

        Unfortunately th
        • by reallyjoel (1262642) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:36AM (#23213624)
          Problem? Seems like a blessing to me.
        • by penix1 (722987) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @10:25AM (#23213840) Homepage

          Unfortunately the music industry comes across as one industry that has grown fat on not only screwing its own customers; but on screwing over many of its own artists to. And they has used some of the vast quantities of money that has passed through their accounts to "inform" (influence) political decisions, in relation to the music industry, for decades.


          It isn't just the media industry that has a choke hold on Congress. Yes, it is our fault but not for the reason you give. It is our fault because we give corporations, an immortal entity, the rights of a mortal man. Worse, because those corporations have no motivation beyond greed, they wield their power to feed that greed even to the detriment of real people.

          For the specific case of copyright, it is the only business model on the face of the planet where employees (read: distributors+"Artists") are expecting to be paid decades or even centuries after they are finished the job. Where this idea that a person can make a one-hit-wonder and be paid perpetually for it is so wrong it is laughable. In no other industry do you find employees being paid beyond what they actually worked much less having that paycheck go to their heirs well after their death. Imagine if every business had to continue to pay all their employees+heirs for 90+ years after they quit. Business would come to a screeching halt then. But yet we are OK with it when it comes to copyright....Go figure.
          • "For the specific case of copyright, it is the only business model on the face of the planet where employees (read: distributors+"Artists") are expecting to be paid decades or even centuries after they are finished the job."

            You mean, besides pensions?

            Oh yes - creative artists don't get those...
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by penix1 (722987)

              You mean, besides pensions?


              Pensions are paid into as agreed upon by the employer and the employee with the lion's share being footed by the employee. All the while, corporations are playing financial games with those pensions declaring bankruptcy to get out of them.

              Oh yes - creative artists don't get those...


              And neither do McDonald's employees. What's your point?
          • For the specific case of copyright, it is the only business model on the face of the planet where employees (read: distributors+"Artists") are expecting to be paid decades or even centuries after they are finished the job. Where this idea that a person can make a one-hit-wonder and be paid perpetually for it is so wrong it is laughable. In no other industry do you find employees being paid beyond what they actually worked much less having that paycheck go to their heirs well after their death. Imagine if every business had to continue to pay all their employees+heirs for 90+ years after they quit.

            I think these two situations are completely different. In the case of a company, employees are hired to do a specific task in exchange for a specific amount of money. It's purely `work-for-hire' and employees will usually be asked to assign copyright of anything they create during business hours or for their employers to the company. Therefore, it would indeed be ridiculous for companies to pay their employees after they've quit, since they've already been fairly compensated.

            Copyright is quite different.

            • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @03:40PM (#23216418)

              Additionally, if you're currently benefiting from what an artist did ten years ago, for instance by listening to a song he performed, why would it be unfair for him to be compensated for it?

              I just returned from the bathroom. Should I send a check to whoever put the pipes in place ten years ago ?

              • by mr_matticus (928346) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @05:16PM (#23217126)
                You already do, or at least your bank did. You pay your mortgage every month, do you not?

                The OP is wrong. We pay for lots of things long after they're created, based on a theory of credit or cost spreading. For example, a bank pays the people who built your house up front, because most people don't have that kind of cash sitting around to do it themselves. You pay the bank for 30 years. The job is done.

                You pay insurance premiums every month even though the agreement was created years ago. The insurance company isn't actually providing you with hundreds or thousands of dollars in service every month. You can only afford to have insurance because millions of other people are sharing the cost with you. You pay that bill, even if your lifetime payments actually add up to more than the policy limit, and even if you never actually make a claim. If you buy a big-ticket item on credit and pay it down over time, your credit card company is profiting from a purchase you made months ago (profit far exceeding their opportunity costs for advancing you the money in the first place). When you buy into a co-op or timeshare, you're paying for something that was probably paid off years ago and is now just profit.

                Buying a copy of a copyrighted work for $10 or $15 is like buying stock in the work. You never own the "company" with your single share, but you do own a tiny piece of it. If you buy enough shares, you can take over the company and do what you want with its work, including blowing your money by giving it away. The market has placed the value of a typical album at several million dollars, and a typical film at dozens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. If you actually took out a loan and bought the whole thing, then yes, OP would be correct to complain about being asked to pay continuously. But since one person doesn't continually pay, and since the work is worth more than the $15 for the first DVD, the rant is, well, misguided and wrong. You wouldn't be able to afford CDs and DVDs if millions of other people didn't pay small amounts for it over the years as well.

                If you'd like to round up $50 million to buy and truly own a motion picture and never have to worry about copyrights again, knock yourself out. Otherwise, deal with they profit from sales above and beyond what they need, just like every other profitable business.
                • by Maestro4k (707634) on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:23AM (#23219930) Journal

                  How the hell did this get modded insightful? You're comparing apples and oranges here and you should know it. To wit:

                  The OP is wrong. We pay for lots of things long after they're created, based on a theory of credit or cost spreading. For example, a bank pays the people who built your house up front, because most people don't have that kind of cash sitting around to do it themselves. You pay the bank for 30 years. The job is done.

                  The OP's right, you're wrong. In the case you specify you're paying the bank for 30 years for giving you a loan. You're paying back that loan + interest. And it's you that pays the builders -- from the money the bank loaned you. The bank's not being paid for your house for 30 years, they're being paid back their money they lent you. If you don't pay up they can take your house away from you, but you _own_ the house until that point. No one in this situation is getting paid more than once for the service they provide. The builders get paid once for building the house and the bank's getting paid once for letting you have a loan. The bank's just letting you spread your loan payments out over time so that you can afford to pay them back. (Oh and they'll earn more interest if you don't pay it off early so they're more than happy to let you take the full 30 years.)

                  You pay insurance premiums every month even though the agreement was created years ago. The insurance company isn't actually providing you with hundreds or thousands of dollars in service every month. You can only afford to have insurance because millions of other people are sharing the cost with you. You pay that bill, even if your lifetime payments actually add up to more than the policy limit, and even if you never actually make a claim.

                  Actually your insurance company is providing you that service every month -- if you have an accident/etc. that qualifies as a claim on the policy. The rest of the time you're paying a fee to insure that they will cover you if something happens. Basically you're paying them to "insure" you can recover from catastrophic incidents. That others are paying into the pool as well is irrelevant, each of them is paying for the same service, they're not throwing money at nothing. As for lifetime payments being more than the policy limit, you can self-insure if you think that'll occur. Lots of companies do it, some people do as well. Most people aren't comfortable with self-insuring so they pay a company to insure them instead. The company's not getting paid for the same thing repeatedly, you're paying to make sure that they'll cover you each month in case something occurs. If you don't pay your premium for February and then have a wreck that month you'll find out that all that money you paid before doesn't help. That was because each payment was for the company to cover you for one period of time (be it 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or a year). And I don't know about you but my car insurance policy number actually changes every 6 months to reflect that it is indeed a new policy.

                  If you buy a big-ticket item on credit and pay it down over time, your credit card company is profiting from a purchase you made months ago (profit far exceeding their opportunity costs for advancing you the money in the first place).

                  In this case the store gets paid exactly once for the big-ticket item and you pay exactly once for it. You're paying the credit card company for giving you credit. The interest charged beyond the actual purchase price is their fee for letting you spread that big-ticket item's purchase out over time. Again, no one is getting paid more than once here. You pay interest to the credit card company until you've paid the balance off, then you don't. (Unless you charge more stuff to it, which is what they're counting on.)

                  When you buy into a co-op or timeshare, you're paying for something that was probably paid off years ago and is

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Mistshadow2k4 (748958)

              Additionally, if you're currently benefiting from what an artist did ten years ago, for instance by listening to a song he performed, why would it be unfair for him to be compensated for it?

              Good idea. I like to paint. I say I start charging people every time they look at my paintings. Why should authors and musical artists be the only ones who get paid for the same work over and over again?

          • by xelah (176252) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @06:52PM (#23217720)

            Yes, it is our fault but not for the reason you give. It is our fault because we give corporations, an immortal entity, the rights of a mortal man. Worse, because those corporations have no motivation beyond greed, they wield their power to feed that greed even to the detriment of real people.
            Corporations don't have motivations; they're not sentient. The shareholders, directors and employees choose how they act, are through whom they act and who take their profits have motivations. They're not sinister supernatural beings; they're just collections of humans being collectively human and responding to the incentives put on them and that they put on each other. And, of course, real humans are greedy, especially when they don't see the sharp end of their greed. If you want to change the behaviour of corporations you have to do it by changing the incentives on real people. And that can only be done through people - en masse - voting, buying, working and investing differently. It isn't going to happen by everyone pretending they're battling a monster from outer space.

            Where this idea that a person can make a one-hit-wonder and be paid perpetually for it is so wrong it is laughable. In no other industry do you find employees being paid beyond what they actually worked much less having that paycheck go to their heirs well after their death.
            So a creator exchanges rights in his creation for a claim on future profits from it...what's 'laughable' about that? It's a perfectly sensible way for a publisher and creator to come to a deal in the face of massively differing opinions of the worth of what's being sold. They're are plenty of reasons for altering copyright, but they're mostly to do with balancing deadweight loss with incentives to create....how people are paid certainly isn't amongst them.
            • Yes, it is our fault but not for the reason you give. It is our fault because we give corporations, an immortal entity, the rights of a mortal man. Worse, because those corporations have no motivation beyond greed, they wield their power to feed that greed even to the detriment of real people.
              Corporations don't have motivations; they're not sentient. The shareholders, directors and employees choose how they act, are through whom they act and who take their profits have motivations. They're not sinister supernatural beings; they're just collections of humans being collectively human and responding to the incentives put on them and that they put on each other. And, of course, real humans are greedy, especially when they don't see the sharp end of their greed. If you want to change the behaviour of corporations you have to do it by changing the incentives on real people. And that can only be done through people - en masse - voting, buying, working and investing differently. It isn't going to happen by everyone pretending they're battling a monster from outer space.
              xelah, what you are saying is reasonable, but the GP had a good point. Essentially, under our legal system, a corporation is

              -a creation with a perpetual life,

              -whose primary function is to serve its shareholders' financial interests.

              I.e, it is an immortal sociopath.

              While consumer disinterest, etc., can have an effect, it is important in our society that the government -- which creates such 'immortals' -- regulate them quite carefully. To assume that market forces are alone sufficient to deter their excesses is just wrong.

              If doing harm is profitable, corporations are programmed to do harm. They are programmed to do anything they can get away with. It is up to the government which created these extraordinary creatures to limit what they can get away with.

              Regrettably, our courts have not yet shut down the RIAA's excesses, and our Congress -- far from shutting them down -- has shown itself to be quite deferential to the recording companies' wish to steal the internet from those who made it what it is.
        • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @11:41AM (#23214370)
          The trick is to start with something easy to avoid. Thanks to torrentz i can avoid buying all RIAA much, i do rarely go out to by music from indie lables tho.
          What id quite like is somebody to produce a scanner that lists all non-RIAA music in my collection so i can go and buy the albums the RIAA doesn't "protect".
          The problem is when you start trying to apply ethics to buying your snacks & drinks. Think Ms has a monopoly, look at coke. Snacks while not bieng as owned by 1 company are instead owned by 2/3 companies, but atleast they make it obvious so its easier to avoid say nestle than coke (coke, fanta, oasis, powerade, etc)
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Lunatrik (1136121)

            What id quite like is somebody to produce a scanner that lists all non-RIAA music in my collection so i can go and buy the albums the RIAA doesn't "protect".


            You mean something like this?
            http://www.riaaradar.com/ [riaaradar.com]
          • by kz45 (175825)
            "The trick is to start with something easy to avoid. Thanks to torrentz i can avoid buying all RIAA much"

            You mean by downloading RIAA music for free? So, you are proving it's worth by actually listening to it, but not compensating the artists.
            • The RIAA cant affect the quality of the music, but by going to see bands whos music i like, i circumvent the RIAA and they get compensated anyway.
              If people only pay for non-RIAA music, then those companies that choose to not support he RIAA, will actually experience less piracy than those who pay the RIAA for protection.

              Another way of looking at it, is that most bands get crap & lazy as they get rich, by taking away money from cd sales (which they dont get much from anyway) im
              1) keeping them in touch wi
    • "Right now, most of us reading about the RIAA don't directly associate them with Sony, Warner, EMI and Universal. And this is exactly what they intended! Let's not endulge them any further."

      Hear, hear. Henceforth let RIAA == SUW_MEI.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DarkOx (621550)
      Exactly I have suggested before we do the same thing. Instead of saying the RIAA they should be refered to as an organization that represents {Insert specific party as appropriate here}, Sony, Warner, EMI, and Universal. It would really help our cause. Sure we slashdots know that Sony is the hieght of all evil, SHAME ON THOSE OF YOU WHO WENT OUT AND BOUGHT PS3s, but others dont. Most people know the RIAA is a bunch of dickheads, that is eactly the point. The real reason for the RIAA is to provide a lay
    • The music industry is a business and extortion is a very successful newly-emerging form of that business. Business Week is the mouthpiece of successful business strategies.
      So why should anyone assume that a story in Business Week about an unsuccessful attempt by the music industry to extort money from a random citizen is written from the side of the citizen? Business Week is more congratulating the music industry for successfully creating a new profit center by extorting millions of dollars
  • Good on you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jnmontario (865369) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @08:20AM (#23213336)
    "The RIAA is fighting very hard to make sure that [Andersen's case] never reaches a jury," says Heidi Li Feldman. I would too if I were doing something on the fringe of legal in a twisted business model that pits your clients (recording artists) vs. their money source (consumers). Asshats!
    • by gnutoo (1154137) * on Sunday April 27, 2008 @11:21AM (#23214242) Journal

      The only thing legal about any of this is abuse of process. What you are looking at is mass produced fraud that should result in disbarment of everyone involved and jail time for the ring leaders. They knew what they were going to do to "dolphins" like Anderson with their "drift net" tactics. They also thought they were aiming for a less sympathetic but more pliable target when they targeted "rich" college kids. In all cases, the victims were stripped of their life savings if they caved in and of everything now and forever if they fought. The RIAA music sharing cases are one of the most degraded abuse of the legal system by the rich and powerful ever.

      It's time for a backlash. The emails and reports behind this fraud should be ripped open to expose the guilty at the big music publishers.

      • The only thing legal about any of this is abuse of process. What you are looking at is mass produced fraud that should result in disbarment of everyone involved and jail time for the ring leaders. They knew what they were going to do to "dolphins" like Anderson with their "drift net" tactics. They also thought they were aiming for a less sympathetic but more pliable target when they targeted "rich" college kids. In all cases, the victims were stripped of their life savings if they caved in and of everything now and forever if they fought. The RIAA music sharing cases are one of the most degraded abuse of the legal system by the rich and powerful ever. It's time for a backlash. The emails and reports behind this fraud should be ripped open to expose the guilty at the big music publishers.

        Well spoken, gnutoo. I share your sentiments.

    • by initialE (758110)
      It may not have reached a jury, but it's definitely caught the public eye. Here on slashdot we're just a bunch of unorganized geeks, not necessarily from America, and not likely to put up a concerted defense. But perception out there is changing. Once lawyers smell money in the air from defensive and counter-offensive lawsuits against the likes of Sony, Warner, EMI and Universal (deep pockets to draw money from), we could have a case of ambulance-chasing here.
    • Ad hominem (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Brain-Fu (1274756)
      Asshats!

      Though you didn't imply that copyright law needs to change because the RIAA are asshats, the entire theme of this post did. So I would like to challenge that directly.

      1) The RIAA claims that we need to strictly enforce copyright law (and charge per copy) in order to ensure that artists get paid and continue making music.
      2) The RIAA are asshats.
      Therefore: we don't need copyright law (and strict enforcement) in order to ensure that artists get paid and continue making music.

      This is an exa
      • Calling someone an asshat is an ad-hominem attack. Saying an ad-hominem attack invalidates any other points that were made is also an ad-hominem attack.
        • by ultranova (717540)

          Saying an ad-hominem attack invalidates any other points that were made is also an ad-hominem attack.

          Actually it's a non-sequiter - the conclusion "conclusion is wrong" doesn't follow from the premise "the argument used to defend the conclusion was wrong". While ad hominem itself is a kind of non-sequiter, merely saying that someone has made a logical fallacy is not an attack on person.

  • Contradictions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Sunday April 27, 2008 @08:33AM (#23213368)

    But aggressive steps are necessary, it says, to stop rampant piracy that it figures costs the U.S. record industry at least $3.7 billion annually in sales. "The magnitude of this [theft] is incalculable", says Richard L. Gabriel, lead national counsel for the RIAA and a partner at the Denver law firm Holme, Roberts, & Owen"
    You got to love that. When they are talking to judges the histrionics starts and the damage is "incalculable". Yet, when they need to justify their actions, or their claims for damages it becomes calculable pretty quickly doesn't it?

    Funny thing is, that I think their first statement is actually right. The damages are "incalculable" since they quite often used flawed studies, doctored data, fallacious logic, etc. to come up with that "3.7 billion" number in the first place.

    Of course at the rate they are going it won't be long before they claim that every single TCP session established with the defendant is an instance of possible copyright infringement, or theft, and that it would just be easier to calculate damages based upon some one's bandwidth :P
  • by Sj0 (472011) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:04AM (#23213476) Homepage Journal
    Gabriel says it's not accurate to say the RIAA dropped its suit for lack of evidence. He says the user name Gotenkito may have been inspired by Kylee, since she admitted she liked Dragon Ball Z, a Japanese anime TV series that has a character with a similar name. He also says Andersen said in her deposition that she knew or listened to some of the country and rock artists whose songs were offered for download.

    If you take a far enough stretch, you can 'prove' anything.

    Hey, anyone here ever heard of Bon Jovi? THERE! PROOF YOU'RE A THIEF!

    Hey, is your kid a fan of a wildly popular TV show? THERE! THE COMPLETELY UNRELATED GUY'S USERNAME WAS VAGUELY JAPANESE! PROOF POSITIVE YOU'RE A THIEF!

    Hey, RIAA member companies brought Rammstein, a german band, to prominence. Hitler was German. THERE! PROOF POSITIVE THAT THE RIAA HELPED RUN NAZI DEATH CAMPS!
    • Oh-oww, I've got a framed portrait of Marley!
      • by Sique (173459)
        Which inevitabely leads to the Obligatory Joke:

        In Soviet Russia portraits of Marley frame you.
    • by Sique (173459)
      Hitler was in fact Austrian.

      There is an old saying about the three mayor achievements of Austria in history.

      1) Making everyone believe they were a victim in WWII.
      2) Making everyone believe Ludwig van Beethoven was from Austria.
      3) Making everyone believe Hitler was German.
    • Hey, RIAA member companies brought Rammstein, a german band, to prominence. Hitler was German. THERE! PROOF POSITIVE THAT THE RIAA HELPED RUN NAZI DEATH CAMPS!

      That Sj0 is a funny guy. I liked when he mixed up a truthful statement in with his examples of bad logic to keep us on our toes. Funny stuff!
  • by Xelios (822510) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:06AM (#23213484)
    And here's the part that worries me, "The record labels declined to comment for this story, referring questions to the RIAA."

    Lets take the best case scenario and say this class action lawsuit ends up being 100% successful and destroys the RIAA. The record labels behind the organization will simply dissolve it, like a snake shedding old skin. The next day a new association will spring up, using new devious tactics for the next 10 years before they too are finally ousted, and so on. Until Sony, Universal, EMI and Warner are held accountable for the actions of the RIAA this won't change.

    They've done it at least once already, "The Settlement Support Center was a less public part of the initiative. Its name may suggest a neutral organization set up to resolve disputes with evenhanded objectivity. In fact, it was financed by the record industry and operated like a cross between a call center and a debt collection firm. The SSC has since been dissolved."
    • by TimHunter (174406) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @10:00AM (#23213744)

      The difference is, of course, that we're on to them now. Although the scenario you describe may have used to work, the 'net is putting a crimp in such plans. The web allows "regular people" to interact and organize at almost no cost. We can share information via blogs like Slashdot, p2pnet and Recording Industry vs. the People. The article says that Anderson "searched the Net for a case like hers." Her lawyer can use the 'net to find and communicate with other lawyers who are fighting the same fight to share advice and strategy.

      The 'net helps even the playing field. Think about Sony, still recovering from getting their asses handed to them over the rootkit debacle, backing off on their plan to charge extra for a crapware-free PC http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/03/sony-pay-an-ext.html [wired.com] within a day of the news hitting the intertubes.

      Go read the stories on the Consumerist http://consumerist.com/ [consumerist.com] about customers using the 'net to get refunds on bad deals and real service from fake "service departments" from the likes of Sears, Citibank, and Comcast. (Well, maybe not Comcast.)

      The Internet, like the printing press, is a transformative technology. That means nothing is ever going to be the same. You and I already know it and sooner or later Big Business will, too. For an excellent book on the power that the 'net brings us, check out Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.

    • by aitikin (909209) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @10:10AM (#23213774)
      It's worth pointing out that the suit isn't just the RIAA, it has been specified (in TFA) that the suit is "...against the RIAA, the SSC, MediaSentry, Warner Music Group, EMI Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Group..." Hopefully, if and when they win their case, it takes out more than just the RIAA and SSC (which is already dead, as parent pointed out), it can move on to all the others. Not saying that it's going to happen, just pointing out that the likelihood is there.
      • ...it takes out more than just the RIAA and SSC (which is already dead, as parent pointed out)....
        thankfully, there's a fine legal maxim that applies: "just because it's dead, doesn't mean you can't riffle through the corpse."
      • by initialE (758110)
        It's been pointed out before, but the RIAA doesn't actually file any suits, instead referring the case to the parent corporation whose rights had been allegedly infringed. Any countersuit would have to include that corporation. No weaselling out of that one, nope.
    • Lets take the best case scenario and say this class action lawsuit ends up being 100% successful and destroys the RIAA. The record labels behind the organization will simply dissolve it, like a snake shedding old skin. The next day a new association will spring up, using new devious tactics for the next 10 years before they too are finally ousted, and so on. Until Sony, Universal, EMI and Warner are held accountable for the actions of the RIAA this won't change.

      Right, so you kill the snake. Starve it until it shrivels up and dies.

      This means BOYCOTT their product. Don't buy it. Don't pirate it. Don't LISTEN to it.

      Will people actually do this? No - because most people are wimps. The rebellious spirit that founded this country has been dead and buried for a long time.

      There's also the matter of exposure. Think about it - how long can you go in any given day without hearing a song by a major record label artist? They're on television. They're in commercials. They're

    • The very fact that these ostensible "competitors" have banded together in this way is, in my opinion, prima facie evidence of illegal industry collusion.
  • Privacy lost (Score:2, Insightful)

    by masonc (125950)
    Where did Verizon get teh right to hand out usage information to other businesses? Last I heard the USA was not China, we were not supposed to be subject to monitoring in a Big Brother fashion. Who lets these assholes away with reading our mail, watching our internet usage, censoring our access to information. The culture of the free internet is gone, we are now mice under observation in a lab. Nothing we say or do is private, everything is made available to big business to chew on for opportunities to mark
    • by Solandri (704621)

      Where did Verizon get teh right to hand out usage information to other businesses?
      Re-read the contract you signed with Verizon when you got your phone / internet / TV service. You probably gave them that right.
  • Q's and A's (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stanislav_J (947290) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:31AM (#23213596)

    About time. The more "mainstream" pub on this whole debacle, the better. I think, if you were to lay out all the facts and history in front of the American people (well, those with brains, anyhoo), they would feel this way:

    Is piracy wrong? Yes.

    Does much P2P activity infringe on copyrights? Yes.

    Do copyright holders have the right to defend and protect those copyrights? Yes.

    Do the "yes" answers above justify bullying, intimidation, and harassment; spurious, questionable, and sometimes downright wrong technical claims; spying by 3rd parties; end runs around the legal system; or a general reluctance to allow accused file sharers to defend themselves, or take their case to a court of law? NO.

    The last question is where the RIAA loses whatever moral high ground they may have.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The American people are in general not qualified to discuss copyright law, not just because they are ignorant of the law but because they have been brought up to believe that the current system is the only possible system and they will defend that idea to the death even though they have actually not put one iota of thought into the issue.

      Personally, I think that copyrights are wrong, and that piracy is therefore basically a force of nature and the road to repairing the situation.

      However, copyright being w

      • The very fact that you have the time and opportunity to spend on the internet tells me that you have more than you need. (As do I) So do you really believe what you are saying or does it just make you feel good? You simply can't claim to believe something like that without it changing entirely the way you live your life. There's probably some single parents in your area that need help (your extra time) and access to the internet (why not yours?) But you're too busy telling everyone on /. that having more th
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The very fact that you have the time and opportunity to spend on the internet tells me that you have more than you need. (As do I) So do you really believe what you are saying or does it just make you feel good?

          You are making a specious comparison. I do not have money pouring out of my ass. If I did, I would be making investments that help people; you can make money AND help people at the same time.

          I'm not saying your views are wrong, I'm not trying to insult you personally, I just hate hypocrisy. And beliefs like the ones you're espousing are not things you argue with people, they're the ones YOU ACT ON if you believe them.

          When I have a few million dollars and can choose to oppress people or not, you'll have a point.

          I know it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside to say you think this way, just try to remember that the next time a drunk on the street is asking for your help, and ask yourself "Do I really BELIEVE all that crap about people dying in the gutters? Or do I want to go home and read /. instead of taking this guy to a hotel and getting him cleaned up, fed, and to a good counselor?"

          What you're talking about is the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." What I'm talking about is the rule of law. So really, you're way off topic. I'm not sure if you constructed this off-ce

          • You are not only wrong, it is YOU who are leading this off-topic.

            Say whatever you want about capitalism, but it is the ONLY system in this modern world that has WORKED for a long period of time. The ONLY one. You can find examples of all kinds of other systems, but capitalism has worked while the others have not.

            Why?

            Because it accounts for human ambition and incentive. It is HUMAN NATURE to want to be compensated for hard work. Any economic system that fights that nature is doomed to failure.

            The
        • I agree with a lot of your arguments, but you fall flat when you introduce Mother Theresa. If you really knew much about her (and I suggest you do some reading before bringing her up again), you would know that while on the surface she was a great humanitarian, she was in fact a nutcase who abused and unnecessarily prolonged the suffering of the ill, even when it was within her power to cure them in some cases.

          I know that is not the popular perception of her... but find out the truth for yourself. Jeez,
    • The real question is the central point of copyright law, "What is the best way to share culture and knowledge?" Words like "piracy" have nothing to do with that question and are propaganda terms invented by companies that grew fat off government grants of spectrum in the 20th century. The internet allows people to bypass paper and broadcast publishing so those interests should be ignored. The best way to share culture and knowledge may be to allow limitless, non commercial reproduction by individuals and

      • Read your history. The reason copyright laws exist at all is to benefit society as a whole.

        This argment has been prevalent in the discussions of "intellectual property" lately, and I would like to put this myth to rest. A "totally open" society, in which there are no copyrights or patents, DOES NOT WORK.

        Our founding fathers were NOT stupid! They were painfully aware of examples in which the works of individuals were grabbed immediately "for the good of society". And it doesn't work.

        A good modern ex
    • by SirSlud (67381)
      You need to look into the history of copyright law. It was enacted for some good reasons, but not the reasons you seem to think.
  • by rathehun (818491) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:35AM (#23213612) Homepage

    Reading through this story, it continues to shock me -- not what asshats the RIAA etc are -- but that we here, at the collective hive-mind that is Slashdot, haven't already come up with a way to help people wrongly being prosecuted by them and their sleazy lawyers.

    There seems to be a clear pattern to their targets - people who know relatively little about technology and who are more likely to settle than battle it out in courts. I'd argue that we need to help these people out.

    About halfway down the story, the defendant, Tanya Andersen is said to have looked up information online, hoping to find information on similiar cases.

    Why don't we, through /., set up a site, aggregate information about similiar cases and build up a body of evidence to "[...] show that the RIAA engaged in serial bad-faith lawsuits [...]". In the long run, the space could serve as a place for debate on the current copyright regime, the inflated monetary value assigned to the songs/movies downloaded, etc.

    I'm sure that some of us here are lawyers as well - maybe some time could be spent decoding the various court documents/legal stuff that the RIAA sends out - a distributed legal advice centre (cue Beowulf joke)...

    This is just an idea, of course - but I'd be happy to get involved in whatever way I can. I have some small amount of expertise in building websites - perhaps that's the first place to start...

    • Why don't we, through /., set up a site, aggregate information about similiar cases and build up a body of evidence to "[...] show that the RIAA engaged in serial bad-faith lawsuits [...]".

      Because that would take away from precious time ogling the latest Star Trek film or signing petitions to stop Uwe Boll from making movies. d:

      All jokes aside, if you are serious about such a project, then figure out what you need to do it technologically - is the site going to use PHP? Would you just do it easy and go with Wikimedia? etc.

      Once you have a rough plan, you would have to find people with the talents you need who are willing to help on their free time. Projects like this (ones where people don't get paid) often have staff members that abandon ship faster than a rowboat full of Cuban refugees at the Florida coast. Anyone working on it would have to document/comment everything appropriately so their inevitable successor can continue their work.

      What can you do? Well, if you wanted to fill the ambiguous position of "Project Lead", you can start by registering a .com and getting some decent hosting for the site. Again, you'll need a plan ahead of time aside from a few paragraphs in a /. comment to get some people to get on board with the project.

      Is theriaaareabunchofthievingbastards.com taken? It might be too long, but it makes the point...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rathehun (818491)

        Because that would take away from precious time ogling the latest Star Trek film or signing petitions to stop Uwe Boll from making movies. d:

        It's surprising - I just read a transcript of a talk by Clay Shirky titled Here Comes Everybody [herecomeseverybody.org] which talks about the 'cognitive surplus' that we have these days - and how the potential exists for large-scale distributed social projects to grow, given the rampant free time which exists with our four/five day working weeks.

        Once you have a rough plan, you would have to find people with the talents you need who are willing to help on their free time. Projects like this (ones where people don't get paid) often have staff members that abandon ship faster than a rowboat full of Cuban refugees at the Florida coast. Anyone working on it would have to document/comment everything appropriately so their inevitable successor can continue their work.

        More important than the underlying technology would definitely be planning for and accomodating the 'rowboat nature' of this project, yes.

        What can you do? Well, if you wanted to fill the ambiguous position of "Project Lead", you can start by registering a .com and getting some decent hosting for the site. Again, you'll need a plan ahead of time aside from a few paragraphs in a /. comment to get some people to get on board with the project.

        Well, for me, /personally/, it's not compl

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        You're making the whole thing too complicated. WAY too complicated. Social sites work like this: You put up a forum and take some suggestions. Then you figure out which ones are good, and implement them. Need more people? If your site is popular, just ask for some assistant admins or editors, and you'll get more responses than you can use; then you just have to read all these people's posting history to see if they a) post and b) have a brain. Work your way up from there. Once the forum starts getting unwie

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ricosalomar (630386)
      EFF [eff.org] does this, better than we could. Give 'em a hefty donation.
    • by n1ffo (1140017) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:59AM (#23213742)

      Why don't we, through /., set up a site, aggregate information about similiar cases and build up a body of evidence to "[...] show that the RIAA engaged in serial bad-faith lawsuits [...]". In the long run, the space could serve as a place for debate on the current copyright regime, the inflated monetary value assigned to the songs/movies downloaded, etc.

      It seems to me like Groklaw [groklaw.net] would be a perfect place for this sort of activity. After all, isn't it the sort of thing they did in the early days of the SCO trial?
  • Consumers are abandoning physical media in droves; filesharing is way up; Radiohead, NIN, Madonna, and now Metallica (!) are eschewing the labels; and those who have been sued by the RIAA are starting to win cases and university law schools are turning beating the RIAA into class projects.

    How long before the RIAA and the labels behind them vanish?

    If /. implements new features, a deathwatch meter (like a /. poll, but ongoing) would be a fun one...
  • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:52AM (#23213706)
    Yesterday I heard about Nine Inch Nails new album (Ghosts) on NPR. I visited the band homepage, paid $5 (yes $5) via paypal, and downloaded the new album in FLAC. I didn't have to install a special software client (this turned me away from the amazon store), didn't have to use a centralized service, didn't have to create an "account" with a new password I'll never remember, nothing. Buy and enjoy. I'll admit I have downloaded unauthorized copies in the past. But at $5, which mostly goes straight to the artist, what is the excuse?
    • by cmacb (547347)

      I didn't have to install a special software client (this turned me away from the amazon store),

      I had a similar distaste for yet another vendor "utility". But as Amazon did at least make the effort to work cross-platform I decided to try it on my current stable Debian machine. I had to satisfy one dependency via "apt-get", after which the Amazon utility installed very gracefully, inserting menu items into my KDE desktop and all. As far as I can tell all it does is act as the download agent and drop the f

  • The article has it all wrong. There is nothing personal in the RIAA's action, it's strictly a business decision.
  • "The magnitude of this [theft] is incalculable," says Richard L. Gabriel. I'm wondering how they calculated the 3.7 billion in lost sales or any supposed 'lost sales'.
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday April 27, 2008 @11:06AM (#23214124) Homepage Journal

      "The magnitude of this [theft] is incalculable," says Richard L. Gabriel. I'm wondering how they calculated the 3.7 billion in lost sales or any supposed 'lost sales'.

      They count every download as a lost sale.

      This is an obviously specious metric. Everyone has downloaded music for perusal, found out that it sucked ass, and deleted it. And pretty much everyone with bandwidth and friends without it has downloaded music for someone else and either deleted it or has it lying around, never listened to once. These are of course not necessarily lost sales, because these days you can go to a record store and listen before you buy.

      The law takes the attitude that duplication and distribution are themselves illegal acts. However, if they do not result in a lost sale, who is being harmed? This is the basic problem with copyright law as it is today written.

      I think it's pretty clear that if you can't demonstrate a simply provable loss of revenue, that no one has been significantly hurt. An argument that someone is giving away an endless supply of what you're selling and therefore harming your profits looks reasonable on its face, but if you are selling squid-flavored apple-rutabaga smoothies, then most of the people who get one are just going to pour them out anyway. THIS is what the music industry is upset about today. They want to control the previews of the music. With mp3 downloads people do not need to buy music without knowing if it's good or not, so they can't just make a SUPERSHIT album with one hot single and then sell it to you on that basis any more; practically no one listens to music in the store before they buy it unless it's in the little kiosk, although you can do this in many stores. This is also why the MPAA is so upset about bittorrent downloads. The Movie Theater experience is getting worse all the time and if you know the movie sucks, you aren't going to go see it.

      The solution is to make movies and music that aren't shit, and sell them on their merit, but most of these guys wouldn't recognize talent if it ran a train on their ass, so that's pretty much a non-starter business model for the major labels.

      • by toriver (11308)
        They count every download as a lost sale.

        Worse than that; in order to call it theft they practically have to count every download as a loss or expense.

        Which does not make sense at all.
  • by lysse (516445) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @11:16AM (#23214210)
    Mr Gabriel, for the RIAA, asserts that:

    we could have pursued the case until the end of time.
    That's interesting in itself, considering that most people who engage in litigation only pursue a case until they win; is he in fact implicitly admitting that the RIAA could not have won the case, merely strung it out for as long as it took to bankrupt everyone else involved?
  • ...the RIAA and its lawyers are total jerks.

    Enough with the fancy lawyerin' talk. Give it to us in layman's terms.

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