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RIAA Says "Wanna Fight? It'll Cost You!" 367

Posted by timothy
from the come-the-revolution dept.
jeiler writes "Ars has the details on an RIAA strategy to double the cost of settling copyright infringement suits for students who try to quash the group's subpoenas in court. In a nutshell: settle early, pay $3,000; try to quash the subpoena and the settlement cost rises to $8,000."
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RIAA Says "Wanna Fight? It'll Cost You!"

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  • by Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) * on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:30AM (#23797789)
    If half the RIAA's claims are as bogus as some say they are, the cost to settle shouldn't matter. Because you should win if you haven't done anything wrong. Right?

    Right?
    • by Merls the Sneaky (1031058) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:33AM (#23797809)
      The **AA's, Law, and regular citizens opinion of wrong all differ greatly. In fact regular citizens cannot agree where exactly the line should be drawn. Right or wrong will also differ with the law depending on individual judges interpretations of the law as well.
      • And remember (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:06AM (#23797993)
        This is a civil case. That means it isn't so easy to defend yourself. In a criminal case the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a fairly high standard because it means, just as it says there must be no reasonable doubt that you committed the crime for the jury to convict. That means that the prosecution actually has to prove their case, the defense needn't do anything at all if they don't. Also in a criminal trial, you get a lawyer, even if you can't afford one. Public defenders generally aren't as good as high paid lawyers, but they are lawyers none the less who can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system.

        A civil case has a much lower standard, the preponderance of the evidence. More or less that means whoever has the more convincing argument. There can still be reasonable doubt, so long as one side seems to present better evidence, then they win. Also, you aren't given a lawyer, you have to pay for one yourself.

        So even if you are innocent, paying the extortion money can be the easy out to take. It'd be real hard to mount a defense for $30,000, much less $3,000. Even if you do, they could still win.

        That's the problem here. It isn't one of these "Oh you are innocent so you have nothing to worry about." No, you have a lot to worry about. Either you pay a ton of money to hire a lawyer to try to defend yourself, or you do it all by yourself and almost certainly lose just because you don't understand the legal system.
        • Re:And remember (Score:5, Insightful)

          by colourmyeyes (1028804) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:50AM (#23798173)
          Mod parent up.

          This thread is going to be full of people saying "When you win in court..."

          Assuming no special legal knowledge, the average person with no lawyer will lose to the RIAA in court. And as for hiring a lawyer,

          It'd be real hard to mount a defense for $30,000, much less $3,000. Even if you do, they could still win.
          • Re:And remember (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @07:50AM (#23799237)
            So? I'll be broke after the lawsuit anyway. And before my money goes to the RIAA, I'd prefer it to be in the hands of a lawyer with the chuzpah to fight them.

            Don't forget what amounts of money we're talking here, and what people. We're not talking about the average 50ish person building a nestegg. The average defendant is someone who is in or just out of college, deeply enough in debt that they have to work their way out for 20 or so years anyway and for whom it doesn't really matter if you stack 8k or 80k on top of that. He is in bankrupcy after that.

            So why not fight it? Any good reasons?
            • Did a little research and did fine a company in Sweden that offered it:

              http://www.boingboing.net/2006/06/28/p2p-insurer-will-pay.html [boingboing.net]

              Don't know how valid that is, but it would also work if a large percentage of downloaders kicked just a few bucks into a slush fund to help people fight if sued.

              The above article stated the odds of getting sued at: 1:1840
              • Smartest Idea Ever! (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Overzeetop (214511) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:15PM (#23800833) Journal
                Think about it from a lawyer's standpoint. You get a constant stream of income to support a group of very good IP defense lawyers. It's the typical reverse-ambulance-chaser play. You get money in the form of premiums, and then if you can prove bad faith on the part of the RIAA/MPAA you can attempt to recover your fees from a deep pocketed organization. Sounds like a good double-dip option. Somebody contact NYCL and a couple of startup investors. In fact, if you can get a few universities to add $19/student/year to their fees (it's a drop in the bucket when tuition is topping $30-40k), you might be able get startup funds from just a proposed team of lawyers, especially if you can kick in support for the Uni against subpoenas if they cover all their students with a policy. As long is you incorporate, if for some reason you lose miserably, you just shut down the company and let the losses die with the corporation.

                I want in on this at the ground floor.
        • Re:And remember (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:53AM (#23798189)
          Or ask the EFF.

          I'm not sure how it work, wether they just defend you for free (if they think your case is relevant to their fight), or if they just get paid low rate, but either way you'll probably get the most competent people for that precise matter, for far less than a top lawyer's fee.

          Plus, you might get NYCL's autograph :)
          • Re:And remember (Score:4, Interesting)

            by mobydobius (237311) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:01PM (#23801651) Homepage
            perhaps the EFF should start a legal insurance service.

            "worried you could be the target of an RIAA lawsuit? pay $X a month and the EFF will come to your rescue if and when they come to get ya"
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jesterzog (189797)

              "worried you could be the target of an RIAA lawsuit? pay $X a month and the EFF will come to your rescue if and when they come to get ya"

              Wouldn't this just encourage the RIAA to prioritise going after people without the insurance? My understanding has been that much of the criticism against them has been that they're often picking unsuspecting people who never would have considered themselves as copyright pirates anyway, and would never have considered some kind of insurance against the possibility of a

        • Re:And remember (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jandersen (462034) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @03:19AM (#23798327)

          This is a civil case.
          That is what I don't quite understand - making illegal copies is a crime, right? At least according to the law. So why does the court allow it to be prosecuted under civil law? A crime is a crime, and it should be treated as such - allowing criminal cases, or cases that imply crime, to run in a civil court without first running it through the criminal court means that you can be found guilty of (or at least economically responsible for, which for all intents and purposes is the same thing) a crime based on very weak proofs.

          In other words, it is fully possible to bully people into admitting a crime they haven't committed. In my view, what the RIAA does is quite clearly criminal, at least in spirit, if not in letter - they know perfectly well that their demands have no merit. If criminal law doesn't already cover this, then it should be changed. It sholdn't be possible for this to happen in a civilized society that claims we all are born equal under the law.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Beale (676138)
            No, copyright infringement is a civil offense, not a criminal one, no matter what the RIAA tells you. At least like this it means that even if the RIAA's team of lawyers manages to bribe you guilty, you'll never get a criminal record.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by nomadic (141991)
              No, copyright infringement is a civil offense, not a criminal one, no matter what the RIAA tells you. At least like this it means that even if the RIAA's team of lawyers manages to bribe you guilty, you'll never get a criminal record.

              Copyright infringement is both a civil and a criminal offense, and you can certainly get a criminal record for violating copyright law. There are plenty of laws the create both criminal and civil penalties for the same action; copyright law is one, RICO is another.
          • It's complicated (Score:5, Informative)

            by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @03:51AM (#23798453)
            So yes, copyright infringement can be criminal. However, the RIAA's evidence is extremely weak, not nearly enough for a criminal case. What's more, not all infringement is criminal, some is civil. Same sort of thing with traffic tickets. Some can be criminal, but many are not. If you get a simple speeding ticket, that's not a criminal ticket, it's a civil one.

            Now also many crimes can have a civil component as well. Take a hypothetical situation: Suppose you are the owner of Evil Corp, and my wife works for you. Because you are evil, you don't give two shits about your employees and knowingly put my wife in a very dangerous situation. This causes her death. You end up getting charged with reckless endangerment and plead to manslaughter. Ok, great, however I'm still now a single parent trying to raise kids. Something that might help is some of the vast amount of money Evil Corp has made. So I file a civil suit against you for wrongfully causing her death. I win this, and thus get a large portion of your money.

            OJ Simpson had something similar happen. He was acquitted of first degree murder charges. However he lost a civil suit charging him with causing wrongful death.

            There's good reason for the system to work like it does, and to have civil and criminal components to a given case. However the RIAA is abusing it. They are trying to use civil suits to be able to go after people on extremely shaky, and often outright incorrect, evidence.

            It is certainly a loophole that needs closing, but you have to be careful. While the civil system does allow for things like this, it also gives you the ability to go after people like the hypothetical Evil Corp, and does so even if the DA refuses to bring criminal charges.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward
              IANAL and not even an American, but I think I have a decent tourist's grasp of your law system.

              Isn't the whole problem that the damages sought in the civil suit are 'punitive', ie they are meant to punish the accused rather than to seek just compensation for the damage done by the infringement (which is minimal for any "non-career pirate")? And isn't it really strange that anything beyond just compensation is tried under civil suit rules?

              I would expect that the criminal system is for punishing people, and c
              • Re:It's complicated (Score:4, Informative)

                by Free_Meson (706323) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:54AM (#23800685)

                Isn't the whole problem that the damages sought in the civil suit are 'punitive', ie they are meant to punish the accused rather than to seek just compensation for the damage done by the infringement (which is minimal for any "non-career pirate")? And isn't it really strange that anything beyond just compensation is tried under civil suit rules?
                The damages in these copyright infringement cases are not punitive. They are statutory. The copyright lobby had congress incorporate into statute the damages recoverable for copyright infringement, so that plaintiffs in copyright cases need not prove damages if they seek a judgment within the range of the copyright statute. There's an economic justification for such damages (they catch 10% of the infringers and charge them 10x, or the like) because enforcement is expensive and each person they catch would likely not be worth suing for provable damages.

                Of course it's gotten much easier to catch infringers and the damages haven't been revised downwards, so the damages being awarded are nonsensical.

                Punitive damages are generally used to punish defendants who knowingly choose to act negligently/wrongfully. For example, punitive damages would be applied when a defendant knowingly poisons some town's water supply because the cost of dealing with the lawsuits will be less than the cost of proper disposal of the poison. Most punitive damages awards are dramatically reduced or eliminated on appeal and in many jurisdictions the nominal plaintiff only gets a small cut (the rest going to the state). They are a trivial part of our civil litigation system that gets a lot of press because the press doesn't understand their function and ignores what happens on appeal.
            • by Tuoqui (1091447)
              Just drag the RIAA's litigation record into court. Its all public documents and make a case for RICO charges.
            • Re:It's complicated (Score:5, Informative)

              by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:34AM (#23800167) Homepage Journal

              If you get a simple speeding ticket, that's not a criminal ticket, it's a civil one.

              Uhhh, this is completely wrong.

              Civil cases are about injury, where one party injures another and the injured party sues for relief. Copyright law is mostly a civil issue (e.g. you created illegal copies of my recording, and damaged my ability to make money with it), though the legislature has recently added some criminal provisions in the last few decades.

              Crimes are about protecting public interests. All moving violations are part of the criminal code of your state; they're laws passed to restrict certain driving behaviors in the interest of highway safety. Traffic court is generally a little different from other criminal court, in the interest of efficiency, but that doesn't change the fact that it is a criminal court.

              The difference between traffic violations and most other crimes is that most traffic violations are treated as minor crimes. Crimes fall into one of three categories: infractions, misdemeanors and felonies. Most states also define various grades within those categories. Most traffic violations are infractions, which means that you cannot go to jail for them. However, there are some more serious traffic crimes which are misdemeanors, which can carry jail time, and even felonies, which can carry a lot of jail time and remove other privileges. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor, for example.

              • No, it's not wrong (Score:3, Informative)

                by Sycraft-fu (314770)
                Read a traffic ticket someday. They have fields for criminal and civil complaints, and different language. With a civil ticket it will say something along the lines of "Without admitting responsibility... etc," for a criminal ticket it'll say "Without admitting guilt... etc." Criminal proceedings are to establish guilt, civil are to establish responsibility.

                Or if you don't believe me, here's a Justice Court page about "Civil Traffic Violations": http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/justiceCourts/CourtsAndS [maricopa.gov]
          • by jonbryce (703250)
            You're being taken in by RIAA/MPAA propaganda that says it is just like stealing a CD from a record shop.

            It is not. It is covered by completely different laws.

            In any case, if you did steal a CD from a record shop, then as well as being prosecuted by the police, you could be sued by the record shop for the loss they suffered as a result of no longer having the record. That would be a civil case, and subject to civil standards of evidence.
          • by aussie_a (778472)
            If you commit murder against someone I love I can sue you for wrongful death.
        • Re:And remember (Score:5, Insightful)

          by colmore (56499) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @04:54AM (#23798643) Journal
          Congrats. You've written the best summary I've yet read on how the US has two legal systems, one of which has major flaws but is basically OK, and the other of which needs to be rewritten from scratch.

          The problem with just condemning civil cases outright is that without civil courts, corporations would be subject to no law whatsoever. If I neglect basic responsibility and allow someone to be killed, I'm a manslaughterer, and my freedom (and ability to do business) is halted for decades. When a corporate legal person does the same thing, all they have to fear is fine by court. Take that away or cap the fine, and they are not just inhuman market entities, but also without law.
        • Not to mention that a civil case doesn't allow for double jeopardy, i.e. you can win the case and still get sued again for the exact same thing.
        • by Teppy (105859) *
          The RIAA's advantage would be mostly neutralized with A New Kind of Justice [blogspot.com], a minimalist set of civil procedure rules designed to stop "bullying" lawsuits (among other things.)

          Under ANKOJ, escalating the claimed damages would put them at increasing peril, and would make it easier for a defendant to hire a lawyer.
    • by mazarin5 (309432) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:36AM (#23797825) Journal
      It's simply a tactic to make resistant seem more frightening. Most people don't understand the situation they're in, and the thought of another $5000 plus lawyer fees may be enough to make them shell out $3000.

      Of course, if they go to court, and win, they have no reason to settle. If they go to court and lose, then they probably have to pay an excessively larger amount.

      So who is this for anyways? People who go halfway through and quit? They're (obviously) just trying to discourage people from fighting it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        So who is this for anyways? People who go halfway through and quit?

        Odd. Of the court cases that actually go to court, I've noticed it's usually the RIAA that try to quit half way through.
      • by inKubus (199753) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:43AM (#23797863) Homepage Journal
        This is good news. Rather than "Fight and it'll cost you" in reality they are offering a discount to people who settle. See, the thing is, one man cannot fight the RIAA in court. But now they are faced with hundreds, even thousands of people challenging them. And they haven't been winning, usually due to lack of evidence that any infringement actually occured. So they aren't recouping the cost of their really expensive teams of corporate attorneys, long discovery sessions, return after return to the courtroom, etc. If we ALL fought at once, they would go out of business or be forced to change their model. They are starting to recognize it, and now they just want to capture as much as they can to pay their lawyers huge bills.
        • by initialE (758110) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @05:16AM (#23798723)
          Go look up the meaning of the tragedy of the commons. Specifically, although it would benefit the whole public to challenge the RIAA collectively, what you're going to end up with is a bunch of people who are intimidated into a settlement for that most selfish of purposes, self-preservation. You're not going to see everyone fight together, it's not in human nature.
      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Of course, if they go to court, and win, they have no reason to settle. If they go to court and lose, then they probably have to pay an excessively larger amount.
        If only you can afford to pay for a lawyer... no matter what you will get a bill from them. After winning the suit you may sue for lawyers fees and costs, but again that will only guarantee you another lawyer's bill.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KDR_11k (778916)
      Only if you get the court costs back and maybe fronted. Huge companies are very good at making trials last forever.
  • But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snl2587 (1177409) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:31AM (#23797801)

    How is this different from any other type of corporate lawsuit? Raising settlement costs if the other party prolongs the case is hardly new.

    • by pikine (771084)
      This makes perfect sense considering that RIAA is turning this into a business model. They basically do a network scan to pick plausible victims and print form letters. The first $3000 settlement money hardly cost them anything. It is the follow-up that costs them lawyer fees. Maybe if they could figure out a way to automatically file counter-motions to motion-to-quash, they would be able to lower the step-up rate as well and make a better deal to the students. Oh wait... remind me again what service is the
      • Re:But... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lobster Quadrille (965591) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:06AM (#23797989)
        I keep hearing that this is turning into a business model, but has anybody really figured out the economics of it? All those lawyers, plus the risks they're taking every time they go to court, plus having to pay out a chunk of the winnings to the artists, the labels, etc....

        I find it much more likely that the whole thing is an expense for the record companies, but that it is worth it to save their dying business model.

        But I also have no real numbers on how many cases actually settle, lose, win, etc., much less the cost of filing the suits in the first place.
        • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

          by Ardaen (1099611) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @03:21AM (#23798343)
          Wait wait wait, they pay the artists?
        • Re:But... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mmeister (862972) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @03:55AM (#23798471)
          The secret to their business plan is that they never pay out any chunks of winnings to the artists.
        • by karlandtanya (601084) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:10AM (#23799627)
          The lawyers don't care whether the long term effect of suing their Client's Customers is good or bad.

          They've convinced their Clients this legal service and the lawyers are rackin' up the billable hours.

          Realize that an organization (any organization) becomes less self-aware (right hand knows what left hand is doing) as it becomes larger. Once it gets to a certain size, behaviour becomes fragmented--you'll often see one department working at cross purposes to another in the same company.

          Ask anybody who's ever worked for the government (even a city government), or a Fortune 100 company.

          The answer to the question "Why do they do something that is clearly self destructive?" is that there is no "they", and the folks that are doing the suing know *exactly* what they're doing.

      • by monxrtr (1105563)
        How are they going to send any settlement letters when the criminal John Doe fishing expeditions are permanently denied? Since when has any alleged IP address ever met the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of identifying a specific *person*?

        File a criminal court case of summary judgment for the purposes of discovery and then drop the case to while celebrating the option to refile in civil court ... and then send a settlement letter before filing their cases with any civil courts. Notice nobody sends settle
  • Really... Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cyno01 (573917) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:32AM (#23797803) Homepage
    How is this not racketeering and extortion? I mean, c'mon...
    • Re:Really... Really? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ericbg05 (808406) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:04AM (#23797975)

      How is this not racketeering and extortion? I mean, c'mon...
      It's not either of those things, I'm afraid.

      My girlfriend IAL; she says this particular practice of the RIAA is perfectly legal. A party to a civil litigation can alter the settlement terms basically however they want, whenever they want (subject to public policy, of course: RIAA can't alter the terms to include the forfeit of your firstborn child or whatever). A settlement is just a contract, after all.

      This makes sense, so the argument goes, because a party's costs for litigating a particular case become higher and higher as the case progresses. So, the settlement costs must increase concordantly.

      • by Ramahan (1210528) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @04:05AM (#23798511)

        How is this not racketeering and extortion? I mean, c'mon...
        It's not either of those things, I'm afraid.

        My girlfriend IAL; she says this particular practice of the RIAA is perfectly legal. A party to a civil litigation can alter the settlement terms basically however they want, whenever they want (subject to public policy, of course: RIAA can't alter the terms to include the forfeit of your firstborn child or whatever). A settlement is just a contract, after all.

        This makes sense, so the argument goes, because a party's costs for litigating a particular case become higher and higher as the case progresses. So, the settlement costs must increase concordantly.

        Your GF might be right if they were stating that they would ask for a higher settlement if the case was prolonged but in the case mentioned here its no different then my walking into every store on the block and threatening a lawsuit for $8000 if they didn't pay me $3000 now. Remember that when the RIAA sends out their little settlement letters they have already dropped a lawsuit against Doe, have not filed the new lawsuit, and it isn't the RIAA legal team who are asking for the money.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by flamearrows (821733)
          Well, if we make your example into something more sensible: Say you walk into stores and threaten to sue them for $8000 if they don't pay you the $3000... Then there's nothing really wrong with that. You're not really exerting any undue influence or behaving unconscionably - just exercising your right to file suit. If you genuinely believe that the suit has merit (as the RIAA does), then them signing the contract as a genuine compromise is legal and really quite commonplace. I don't really see the proble
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:35AM (#23797815)
    and prolong the fight, and if loses, declare bankruptcy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bigbird (40392)
      When I got sued by a rogue recruitment agency I had lots of silly advice like this. Getting sued is a nasty, horrible experience that will be worse if you follow the advice of friends who don't have a clue. Always always get a good lawyer.

      PS Going bankrupt is almost never a good idea. Hiding assets offshore isn't either.
  • What if... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:36AM (#23797823)
    ...you ignore their notices and force *them* to bring *you* to court? You can claim you never got the notices. Not showing up at court at all is harder, because (I'm pretty sure) you can get arrested.
  • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:40AM (#23797845) Journal
    I understand that raising the cost of settling out of court is meant to deter people from fighting in the first place, but considering the ludicrous fines they expect people to pay, it's a little too low. Looks to me like they're just trying to highlight their low, low prices, to avoid people setting a precedent in court, against them.
  • by cyberchuck.nz (1307417) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:44AM (#23797871)

    Excluding the illegal downloads arena (which I know is what they're suing over), I think half the problem is the *AA not keeping up with technology.

    At home I have a sizeable DVD collection (around 230 at last count), but with the release of Blu-Ray I'm starting to realize that my collection will eventually be obsolete (such as when DVD first came out, and people with a reasonable VCR collection realized that their collection would eventually be worth squat).

    I think this is one of the reasons people download (the other reasons being ridiculous prices, etc). People realize that technology changes - CD collections have been superseeded by portable MP3 players (ipod and the likes), VCR's replaced with DVD's which will eventually lose out to blu-ray (once the prices down).

    And people realize this - why should you pay for a CD/DVD, which will eventually become obsolete, when you can get what you want in a digital format (for a cheaper price)?

    • by polar red (215081)

      my collection will eventually be obsolete
      what exactly do you mean by that? If you mean that they aren't the shiniest,latest NewThingToGet(TM): you can always go back to comparing d%ck sizes. If you mean not being able to play 'em anymore: that can mean 2 things : 1/dvd broken: has nothing to do with there being Blurays. 2/new players can't play the 'old' dvd-format, which also doesn't compute, because blurays CAN play DVD's.
      • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @07:34AM (#23799191)
        You mean bluerays can still play DVDs. Now, fast forward two generations and I'm not so sure about that anymore. It's even likely that DVDs become unreadable before CDs do, due to the "decryption" necessary for DVDs, and the likelyness that you have to pay someone to use it. Give it two generations and manufacturers of readers will likely dump the "legacy" ballast, leaving you with a player that can't read DVDs anymore. And soon after that you simply won't get any readers for those "ancient" DVDs anymore, since there's no longer a market for it.

        Let's not even touch the subject of copy protection mechanisms that may or may not work on future generations of players, which you will certainly get no update for. Which manufacturer will bother writing a driver for some obscure DRM crap that was used in maybe 10 discs? That it just happens to be your favorite movie doesn't matter.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gnavpot (708731)

      I think this is one of the reasons people download (the other reasons being ridiculous prices, etc). People realize that technology changes - CD collections have been superseeded by portable MP3 players (ipod and the likes), VCR's replaced with DVD's which will eventually lose out to blu-ray (once the prices down).

      That is not a very reasonable reason for illegal downloads.

      If you know that existing media will be incompatible with new players, and there is no legal way to move purchased content to new media

  • Preventive measure...

    1.) Offshore proxy
    2.) Encrypt your network traffic
    3.) Change your MAC address from factory default if you can

    Now let say you got your notice, now you should...

    1.) Move your assets offshore, i.e. Carribean, Switzerland, cayman island etc.
    2.) Practice your legal rights, especially the fifth amendment and the second amendment of the U.S. constitution.
    3.) If all else fails, move to Canada or elsewhere to seek political asylum, claiming POW status, as **AA is basically a war machine against
    • by Vancorps (746090)

      yes, you realize changing the MAC address on most cable or DSL modems is quite difficult given that the modem loses it's authorization from the ISP. How do you think they provision your access to begin with? The MAC of your computer is irrelevant as MAC addresses don't go past the first hop router which is your cable or DSL modem.

      Encrypting traffic only works if only trusted people copy, most P2P applications are only effective if they have millions of users, there is no way to logistically make sure you

  • by T3Tech (1306739) <tj&t3technet,com> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:58AM (#23797941) Homepage
    The RIAA is a sinking ship and they're trying to make as much as they can as long as there are judges and courts that are still sympathetic to their rhetoric.

    The four major record corporations fund the RIAA. These companies are rich and obviously well-represented. Recording artists and musicians don't really have the money to compete. The 273,000 working musicians in America make about $30,000 a year. Only 15 percent of American Federation of Musicians members work steadily in music. But the music industry is a $40 billion-a-year business. One-third of that revenue comes from the United States. The annual sales of cassettes, CDs and video are larger than the gross national product of 80 countries. Americans have more CD players, radios and VCRs than we have bathtubs. Story after story gets told about artists -- some of them in their 60s and 70s, some of them authors of huge successful songs that we all enjoy, use and sing -- living in total poverty, never having been paid anything. Not even having access to a union or to basic health care. Artists who have generated billions of dollars for an industry die broke and un-cared for. And they're not actors or participators. They're the rightful owners, originators and performers of original compositions. This is piracy." - Courtney Love [salon.com]
  • With the RIAA acting like a bull in a china shop, they will not only destroy the loyality of their own customer base ( which will cause the RIAA members to go out of business in the end ),
    but they will also cause a lot of collateral damage:

    They will, in the long run, cause a lot of political pressure for abolishing copyright law from a large portion of the population, so politicans will eventually abolish copyright in order to be able to win elections.

    Now, a complete abolishment of copyright will cause

  • You know that really doesn't matter if you beat them in court now does it? And given their recent history in court, they're getting stomped. They could put the settlement fee up to a million dollars and it wouldn't matter because nobody should ever settle.
    • by mmeister (862972)
      yeah, the point of trying to scare people to settle early is because they know that RIAA's chances at actually winning in court are dropping every day.

      So, like the sleazy car salesman, have they got a deal for you. If you settle right now, they'll just steal away $3K from you.

      Wow.. where is my wallet at.
  • ARAG (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhearoX (1187921) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:36AM (#23798115)
    Two words: Legal Insurance.

    It costs about $17 a month, and I get hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal cost coverage for most situations. Basically, as long as the case does not involve a vehicle moving violation or is a conflict of interest with my employer (a major grocery chain), I am smilin' all the way to the court house.

    I've had the insurance for almost a year now, and I've actually been kind of hoping for an opportunity to sue/counter sue someone... God bless America.
    • by twms2h (473383)
      Have you checked what kind of legal cases are excluded? (I am sure there is an exclusion clause in your contract.)

      In Germany these insurances often explicitly exclude any internet related cases, which means they are nowadays pretty much useless.

      (In case somebody can tell me an insurance that does cover these cases (e.g. filesharing, "AGB" and other cases of "Abmahnung wegen unlauteren Wettbewerbs" etc.), and is still reasonably priced, please tell me.)

  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:57AM (#23798215)
    Eight grand is about what I make in a year. For a year's salary, I'd shoot a lawyer in the back of the head, cut them up, pour concrete over them, and toss them off a bridge. (Don't worry, I would never do that to an actual human being.)
    • by Dogun (7502)
      Despite the internet tough guy angle, you do raise an interesting point.

      Assassination politics (to resurrect an old meme) actually sounds feasible here.

      For those of you too young to remember assassination politics, the idea is basically that you set up a web site on which people can place bets on the particular day that a person will die. Enough people making microbets, and eventually someone will see the financial incentive to anonymously place a heavy bet on a particular day and off the subject of the de
      • Is anyone here "too young" to remember a scheme that involves setting up a Web site?

        Anyway, no need to make it as complicated as that. Keep robbing people, and eventually you'll target someone who's already at rock-bottom and would love an excuse to take it out on someone. Considering the other extremes people will go to when they're down on their luck, like burning their own life's work to collect on the insurance, it's a wonder that lawyers aren't murdered on a daily basis. But I guess we're just a nat
  • ...it's not an extortion case or anything.
  • *sigh* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nmaster64 (867033) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @05:19AM (#23798737)
    The fact this kind of thing isn't blatantly illegal is just another example of how f**ked up this country's legal system is as it gives big business free rides and doesn't give two s**ts about the average person...
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:44AM (#23799507) Homepage

    There's one simple way to stop the RIAA, MPAA, BSA silliness...make the member companies jointly liable for the excesses of the enforcement organization. Apply the same regulations for bill collectors. As long as they're playing by the rules and obeying the law, no problem. But if you're responsible for the actions of a collection agency you hire, you might be a little more selective about who you pick. Likewise if Sony, BMG and the others found themselves exposed to liability, they might lean on RIAA to play by the rules. In fact, I'd be willing to bet RIAA membership would drop significantly overnight.

    I had a dispute with Dish Network a couple years ago, they tried to blame an advertising partner for the problem.

    It would change the entire outsourcing landscape. If the local hospital is responsible for the actions of outsource contractors, they might think twice before hiring medical transcription services from Abduls Discount Transcription in downtown Pakistan. As long as companies can insulate themselves from liability when trying to cut corners the silliness is going to continue.

  • Maybe it's time... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:30AM (#23800533)
    Maybe it's time for some viral civil disobedience. Dual-layer DVD's hold a fair amount of music. Maybe we need to start burning our music collections and leaving them in public places for people to scarf. Hell even a SL-DVD would be enough to get a fair amount out there.

  • by multimediavt (965608) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:44AM (#23800623)
    How is that *not* extortion? Someone? Anyone? This is ridiculous. These boys have to go down!
  • by Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:26PM (#23801359)
    Gee, how come that sounds so much like extortion? Isn't that ILLEGAL??!? I'm surprised that people don't find their cat, dead, on their doorstep, with a note attached that says, "Pay up or else".

    Utter and complete bullshit, and what's really sad is that I'm not surprised. Being sued, right or wrong, shouldn't be about how much money you have to defend yourself, damnit, especially when you're faced with a terrorist organization like the RIAA. Fucking bastards!

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