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Inside the RIAA and MediaSentry 218

Posted by kdawson
from the belly-of-the-beast dept.
bsdewhurst sends along an interesting article about how MediaSentry and the RIAA identify file sharers. Since 2003, while the RIAA has been filing 28,000 lawsuits, the percentage of US Internet users using P2P for downloading music has dropped from 20% to 19% (there is no knowing how much of a factor the lawsuits have been). The list the RIAA uses for ISP takedown notices is about 700 currently popular songs that are updated based on the charts, so not liking the top 40 could save you. The list of songs tracked for the user-litigation program is said to be larger.
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Inside the RIAA and MediaSentry

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  • Numbers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:25AM (#23723545) Homepage Journal

    Since 2003, while the RIAA has been filing 28,000 lawsuits, the percentage of US Internet users using P2P for downloading music has dropped from 20% to 19%
    So the actual number has doubled or something, and the percentage might have gone from 20.1 to 19.9 depending on how it is rounded.
    • by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:40AM (#23723737) Journal
      Dropped from 20% to 19%? Samuel Clemons (Mark Twain) said there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

      First off, how are these numbers generated? Finding out how many file sharers there are may not be as impossible as finding out how many Linux users there are, but how are these metrics obtained?

      Second, what is the margin of error? If there is a +- 4% margin, then the actual percentage could have risen.

      Third, if the total number of internet users has risen by, say 5% (number pulled from a dark hairy orifice) and file sharing dropped by 1%, the actual number of file sharers has risen.

      Fourth and most importantly, not all file sharers are breaking the (civil) law. There are far, far more musicians (and programmers, etc) with files they WANT you to share than there are RIAA musicians. How many file sharers are sharing legitimate content? The corporate media would have you think everything on Kazaa or Morpheus is illegal, when in fact that "fact" is a damned lie.
      • There is also the question of what they consider to be p2p services.

        From the use of such terms as "shared folder" my guess is they're still referring to the archaic gnutella style clients, when bit torrent has been taking over for years.

        I haven't used a gnutella client since 2004, and the last time it was a primary means of p2p sharing was 2002
    • by capnkr (1153623)
      Don't take them, or this article, serious. It's a puff-piece, something to make Joe Public think that what the MAFIAA is doing is a legitimate way to identify offenders, and to make them think that their methods are so technologically complex that they can't be wrong. It's also another big-publication article the MAFIAA can point out to Congresscritters they are trying to influence/buy.

      Just stay away from MAFIAA music - support indies, and those artists who have broken out from under the "protection" they
      • The big problem with supporting independent music is finding artists that you like. Since they're not part of the RIAA marketing machine, odds are that I'm never going to hear their music on the radio, see it on TV, or find it as a featured download on iTunes.

        I wish that there were more mainstream methods out there of promoting independent music. And my mainstream, I mean something that most people have actually heard of and use to find independent music! Yes, I'm sure that there are already tons of indie f
    • In other news (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PIPBoy3000 (619296)
      . . . the number of P2P clients that use peer blocking jumped 40%.

      I suspect that the people measuring P2P downloading are the same people being paid to find downloaders. It's in their best interest to show that they're making a difference and should continue to be paid.
  • by queldor (1184789) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:26AM (#23723553)
    5 years for 1%. so in 2103 it will be down to 0%. Way to go RIAA!!! That will also be 532,000 lawsuits.. and don't forgot that is IF that 1% was from them..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I might just be getting old, but I think that music today is less compelling than it was 10 or even 5 years ago. Seriously, music today is crap. The drop probably has more to do with people not wanting big label music even if they can get it for free over the internet.

      Of course, it should be noted that one percent is much smaller than the sampling error for this kind of thing, so for all we know it could have gone up.
      • I am an old fart, since my parents bought our first record player in the 60's I have seen a handfull of great albums appear each year (same with films). IMHO the output of good music/films/TV has stayed relatively stable even though the volume and variety of all these different mediums has exploded.
  • by weierstrass (669421) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:27AM (#23723563) Homepage Journal
    a complete meaningless statistic.

    The error inherent to measuring something that is 'unlawful' and often frowned upon is far greater than the difference between 19 and 20 percent. Perhaps everyone has simply got better at concealing their downloading of copyrighted material (mp3 blogs, private trackers, etc) or perhaps the effect of the RIAA's grandma-suing onslaught has been that people lie about their online activity more.
  • by east coast (590680) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:28AM (#23723589)
    so not liking the top 40 could save you.

    In ways that are too many to count.
  • by slifox (605302) * on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:29AM (#23723595)
    From the article:

    "There is an idea that we target certain universities," the investigator says. "That is completely incorrect and, technically, not possible. We find what we find by song and through public means; we don't try to get into a university's internal system."
    Who said anything about trying to get into a "university's internal system"?

    The question is more like: Are they only sending take-down notices to certain universities?

    No notices have been sent to Harvard, supposedly because they have lots of money, power, and law professors
  • by aceofspades1217 (1267996) <aceofspades1217.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:39AM (#23723701) Homepage Journal
    If these statistics are based on surveys obviously they are going to be low. If I got a survey saying "do you pirate RIAA music over P2P" obviously everyone is going to say no. No one is going to admit to doing something illegal on a survey.

    You mind as well send out a survey asking "do you sell, traffic, or push Illegal Drugs", I wonder what the actual "infringers" are going to mark as an answer?

    Pretty everyone I know has pirated some music. Even the mos moral guys have pirated an album or two because hey weren't able to buy it or just really wanted it.

    So in actual people who have pirated anything in their lifetime I'm guessing its pretty high (50% at least). But people who are casual pirates who download one or two things whenever they feel like it (maybe once a week) or moderate pirates who download stuff whenever they want it.(maybe an album ever 3 days).

    Than you have the serious guys who never have their computer going without downloading something (eg me :P). Especially people with a usenet connection. Just leave your computer running for a couple hours and download stuff.

    I am slowly making a shift to usenet because it has no logs whatsoever. Even if the RIAA begin fighting usenet they aren't going to able to fight the users.

    The battle for usenet will be a big corporation vs another big corporation battle. Considering their are only a few usenet companies and all of them are massive conglomerates such as giganews, usenet.com, astraweb.com (my fav...real cheap).

    So they are just trying to chip away and do some fear mongering. But they will never defeat piracy. It has become almost cultural and most people with a computer have pirated something. Heck i remember when kazaa came out and people would have a computer dedicated to kazaa just because of all the Spyware :P

    Good times!
    • by hostyle (773991) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:51AM (#23723869)

      If these statistics are based on surveys obviously they are going to be low. If I got a survey saying "do you pirate RIAA music over P2P" obviously everyone is going to say no. No one is going to admit to doing something illegal on a survey.
      You almost had it right:

      "Do you still pirate songs off the interwebs?"

      A. Yes.
      b. No.
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @09:01AM (#23723991)
    In the U.S.A. the public library legally lends CDs, DVDs, and even, gasp, video cassettes.

    Borrow the CD, rip it at the format and audio quality you want, listen to it until you get sick of it, then return the CD for the next person.

    100% legal and moral behavior. That, quite frankly, is the purpose of the library.
    • by Mike89 (1006497)

      100% legal and moral behavior.
      Wrong, ripping CDs (defeating copy-protection) is illegal under the DMCA.
      • by mlwmohawk (801821)
        Wrong, ripping CDs (defeating copy-protection) is illegal under the DMCA.

        CDs do not, generally speaking, have copy protection. Besides, format shifting, comes under fair use.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Except that the local library has nothing i want.
      • by mlwmohawk (801821)
        Except that the local library has nothing i want.

        I don't know where you live, so I can't say 100%, but where I live, my Library is part of a larger network. I can call or email the library, search the whole network on-line, and order what I want and get a call or email when it comes in.

        Take a closer look!
        • by nurb432 (527695)
          Even then, i doubt they have much from my taste ( that i dont already have )

          And ive never seen a bootleg at the library.
          • by mlwmohawk (801821)
            And ive never seen a bootleg at the library.

            A bootleg, by definition, is illegally obtained.
            • by nurb432 (527695)
              And the point still holds, they dont have what i want.
              • by mlwmohawk (801821)
                And the point still holds, they dont have what i want.

                I guess the point "I" was making is that there is no legal or moral way of obtaining that. So, you're on your own I guess.
                • by nurb432 (527695)
                  Morals are relative. Remember, i dont belive in IP rights, so there is no moral issue here for me.

                  Legal, thats often a grey area when it comes to bootlegs.
  • Bad Taste? (Score:4, Funny)

    by inamorty (1227366) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @09:02AM (#23724021)
    The RIAA should be given a medal for prosecuting people that listen to that charts drivel.
  • Statistics? (Score:3, Funny)

    by oahazmatt (868057) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @09:10AM (#23724155) Journal
    50% of statistics are completely made-up. 40% of all people know that.
  • by viking80 (697716) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @09:16AM (#23724257) Journal
    ... because most people have downloaded everything they ever wanted to download.
  • Method (Score:4, Funny)

    by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @10:08AM (#23725195) Journal

    how MediaSentry and the RIAA identify file sharers.

    • Tea leaves?
    • d20?
    • Gut feeling
    • C:\>find pirate
    • Every citizen's name in a gigantic, wind-powered "grab-a-prize" booth?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Since they have tried to sue people with no internet connection, and tried to sue people for sharing music they obviously have no interest in....yes

      They don't look for people sharing RIAA members music, they just look for P2P connections

      They are not a government organisation
      They do not represent the music industry
      They do not represent the artists
      They cannot arrest you
      It is not stealing (it is licence infringement)
      It is not piracy

      It is however a crime!

  • In more ways then one.
  • Error in the article (Score:4, Informative)

    by Quila (201335) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:43AM (#23727225)

    Once they file the suit, the labels may then have the court issue a subpoena for the ISP to identify the registered user for the IP address. That person then replaces John Doe as the defendant.
    That is not what happens. The RIAA drops the John Doe suit once it has the identity, and then sends the person one of their extortion letters.

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