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RIAA Brief Attacks Free Software Foundation 554

Posted by timothy
from the but-copyleft-needs-copyright dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA has requested permission to file a response to the amicus curiae brief filed by the Free Software Foundation in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, the Boston case against a Boston University grad student accused of having downloaded some song files when in his teens. In their proposed response, the RIAA lawyers personally attacked The Free Software Foundation, Ray Beckerman (NewYorkCountryLawyer), and NYCL's blog, 'Recording Industry vs. The People.' The 9-page response (PDF) — 4 pages longer than the document to which it was responding — termed the FSF an organization 'dedicated to eliminating restrictions on copying, redistribution, and modifying computer programs,' and accused the FSF of having an 'open and virulent bias against copyrights' and 'blatant bias' against the record companies. They called 'Recording Industry vs. The People' an 'anti-recording industry web site' and stated that NYCL 'is currently subject to a pending sanctions motion for his conduct in representing a defendant' (without disclosing that plaintiffs' lawyers were 'subject to a pending motion for Rule 11 sanctions for their conduct in representing plaintiffs' in that very case)."
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RIAA Brief Attacks Free Software Foundation

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  • Ok . . . (Score:4, Funny)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) * on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:12PM (#27667001)
    The RIAA thinks it's a bad man in a big town when it reality it wouldn't make a pimple on a simpleton's ass in a village.
  • by McCat (1438893) <astevegreen@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:12PM (#27667013)
    But what's with all of the RIAA action all of a sudden? What's got a bee in their bonnet now as opposed to, say, five years ago?
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:13PM (#27667027) Homepage Journal

    ...support piracy, so the FSF must be a terrorist organization, right?

    • They didn't claim FSF is a terrorist organization (yet.) "Dedicated to eliminating restrictions on copying, redistribution, and modifying computer programs" and having an "open and virulent bias against copyrights' and 'blatant bias' against the record companies." sounds like a compliment to me. I'd wear it as a badge of honor, as I'm sure FSF will do.

      The RIAA didn't attack the FSF, they were praising the FSF for standing up to an evil organization: the RIAA.

      • Re:not an attack (Score:4, Interesting)

        by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:26PM (#27668135) Homepage

        Kind of funny considering the GPL would be powerless without copyrights. The entire basis of the FSF to enforce GPL compliance is copyright laws.

        You could almost say that without copyright laws, the FSF probably wouldn't exist.

  • by willoughby (1367773) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:16PM (#27667093)
    You say that as if it's a bad thing.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:21PM (#27667165) Journal
      Much as I dislike the RIAA, an organisation 'dedicated to eliminating restrictions on copying, redistribution, and modifying computer programs' actually sounds like a pretty fair description of the FSF. Of course, they fail to mention that the FSF is dedicated to doing this through legal means.
      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:43PM (#27667499)

        Of course, they fail to mention that the FSF is dedicated to doing this through legal means.

        Hell, it isn't just through legal means, it is through practising what they preach with their own creations. Something RIAA members haven't been so keen to do themselves what with all of their shady accounting schemes to bilk creators out of their copyrights.

      • by zoips (576749) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:45PM (#27667515) Homepage
        Without copyright law, the FSF would no longer be able to achieve its goals. With no copyright, everything is either trade secret or public domain. I fail to see how that ensures that end users will always have access to the source of the programs they use in order to update them.

        Unless, of course, I've completely misunderstood the FSF's goals. Which is entirely possible.
      • by gerddie (173963) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:46PM (#27667539)
        Considering (L)GPL 2 and even more 3 and all the BSD vs GPL flame wars, it seems to me that the FSF puts some pretty strong restrictions on copying, modifying, and redistributing software. Actually, it's exactly that set of restrictions that lets me choose the GPL over the BSD License nearly all the time.
        • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @08:02PM (#27669237) Homepage

          Actually they place only one restriction on it: if you want to copy, modify and redistribute my software, you may not give recipients any fewer rights to do so themselves than you received from me. Well, perhaps two: and you may not "forget" to tell them they have those rights.

          Which, come to think of it, is probably a pretty draconian restriction to a certain group who want to play with everybody else's toys but don't want anybody to play with theirs. It's amusing how many issues today look to me an awful lot like the one bratty kid in the sandbox.

  • Bias? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anjilslaire (968692) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:19PM (#27667145) Homepage

    'open and virulent bias against copyrights' and 'blatant bias' against the record companies.

    Funny. I always thought the RIAA has an open and blatant bias against Fair Use. (yes, I know file sharing is not F/U, but those guys don't even want you copying your own stuff even if you never share it)

  • Anti-Copyright? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:21PM (#27667181) Homepage Journal

    The FSF's centerpiece, the GPL, depends wholly on copyright for enforcement.

    So saying that the FSF has an "open and virulent bias against copyrights" clearly demonstrates either a lack of research, a lack of understanding, or a lack of honesty on the part of the RIAA's lawyers.

    • by langelgjm (860756) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:30PM (#27667309) Journal

      On the other hand, saying that the FSF is "dedicated to eliminating restrictions on copying, redistribution, and modifying computer programs" is extremely accurate. In fact, though I didn't see it on the home page, it's the quote that comes up in the Google blurb [google.com] when you search.

      Also, just because the GPL requires copyright to function doesn't mean that the FSF isn't against copyright. I think most of us concede that the GPL is a case where the FSF is using copyright law in a novel, unintended way to accomplish their goals.

      If the FSF could rewrite copyright law, it'd be completely different. I'd say they have an open dislike (maybe not "bias") against the current typical use of copyright, especially for computer programs.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:46PM (#27667551)

        I think most of us concede that the GPL is a case where the FSF is using copyright law in a novel, unintended way to accomplish their goals.

        That's why they call it the "copyleft" - not out of some right/left ideology, but to indicate that the GPL is a hack of copyright - the definition of hack being a novel and unintended use.

    • Re:Anti-Copyright? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@nosPAm.beckermanlegal.com> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:39PM (#27667439) Homepage Journal

      The FSF's centerpiece, the GPL, depends wholly on copyright for enforcement. So saying that the FSF has an "open and virulent bias against copyrights" clearly demonstrates either a lack of research, a lack of understanding, or a lack of honesty on the part of the RIAA's lawyers.

      Picky picky.

      The truth has never been seen as an obstacle by the RIAA's lawyers.

      • Re:Anti-Copyright? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:58PM (#27667755)

        Heh, I just want them to stop this nonsense so I can go back and buy some CDs. With all the time this is stretching out there's a huge number of albums that I haven't been able to buy without breaking my boycott.

        But, I'm sure they've just recharacterized that tiny drop in sales as "due to pirates" and used it as an excuse to waste even more money on piracy prevention and buying elected officials.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rts008 (812749)

      So saying that the FSF has an "open and virulent bias against copyrights" clearly demonstrates either a lack of research, a lack of understanding, or a lack of honesty on the part of the RIAA's lawyers.

      That may well become the 'classic understatement of the year'...it is a strong contender...win, lose, or draw.

      BTW, well said. I did not mean/imply any sarcasm in my above comment!

    • The FSF's centerpiece, the GPL, depends wholly on copyright for enforcement. So saying that the FSF has an "open and virulent bias against copyrights" clearly demonstrates either a lack of research, a lack of understanding, or a lack of honesty on the part of the RIAA's lawyers.

      I agree with the first sentence of your comment. As to the second sentence, I question your use of the word "or". The correct word should be "and". With that minor correction.... respect.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by whiledo (1515553)

      Not really. FSF created the GPL to use copyright to enable it to specify the terms to keep code open and free. If there were no such thing as copyright, there would be no need for the GPL in the eyes of the FSF (or, at least, in its founder's eyes). I think it's pretty safe to say RMS would agree that he has an "open and virulent bias against copyrights." Actually, he'd probably be more likely to not say that, but to turn it around on you and accuse you of having an "open and virulent bias against freed

  • by mmkkbb (816035) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:21PM (#27667185) Homepage Journal

    "4 pages longer than the document to which it was responding"

    And?

  • RIAA has it right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wurp (51446) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:22PM (#27667197) Homepage

    I love the FSF, but which of the quotes listed here is inaccurate? The FSF *does* want to get rid of copy restrictions, and does dislike the RIAA. Although, I would say the FSF hates on the RIAA, not the "recording industry", but I suspect the RIAA doesn't see the difference.

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:37PM (#27667413)

      As it has been pointed out above, and despite being modded redundand I want to stress it again, the FSF relies on copyright law. One of its cornerstones is the GPL, and like all licenses it does depend on enforcable copyright law or code protected by it could deliberately be used in proprietary software and neither the FSF nor anyone else could do anything about it.

    • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:37PM (#27667417)

      I would say that the aspersions cast concerning Beckerman and the "pending sanctions motion" would be inaccurate. If I were in a lawsuit, I could potentially move to have sanctions entered against my opponent for various miscellaneous reasons, such as making out with the court reporter while the judge's back was turned, etc., regardless of whether any of those things were true or not. For the two seconds it would take the judge to deny my motion, that motion would be pending. At that very moment, someone could file a brief in another court involving the person who is my opponent in my case, stating that there is a pending sanctions motion against that person.

      In Beckerman's case, while the motion isn't based on pure ridiculousness as in my straw man above, it's still based solely on allegations made by the RIAA against Beckerman with no consideration of any evidence.

      While the assertion may not be "incorrect", as there is a pending sanctions motion against Beckerman, the fact that the RIAA frames it as a reason to discredit Beckerman makes it inaccurate.

  • No "Duh" Tag (Score:3, Insightful)

    by S7urm (126547) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:23PM (#27667203)

    This is news how?

    The only thing newsworthy I got from this is that the RIAA is just slightly more petty than I thought. Of course the Free Software Foundation is about making software "FREE", and of course, anyone with a blog aimed at bringing to light the RIAA's idiocy is going to be the target of their Ire. The thing people need to get over, and real quick, is the thought that the second they see anywhere in media the acronym RIAA, that they need to immediately post it on Slashdot.

    We also need to realize, as a whole, that the RIAA hates us as much as we hate them, and we also need to note that the RIAA is a litigous bunch of pr1cks and that they will bring DMCA takedown notices, and law suits, and anything their multi-million dollar legal team can come up with against anyone who thinks differently than they do. The thing is, they have this crazy thing called MONEY backing them. When you have a band like Metallica, or Universal Studios supporting your cause, you can then afford frivolous lawsuits and such because money is no object

    What we need, to effectively fight back against their idiocy, is SUPPORTERS. Find some corporation (good luck) that shares our ideals, or even a political movement. Then get them to help with the money to cover the expenses of all these court proceedings, offer legal support to the unfortunate few that get randomly targeted by the RIAA (like the ACLU does) and find someone to help us get some lobbying going in Washington.

    Those are the things we need to do, or maybe even get some of us geeks to inundate media with easily comprehended information that average Joe blow can read and care about, and help spread the word to the masses about their evils. Find a way to make the average citizen give a crap about this issue, and you've found a way to get some money and influence behind this issue on a side that is NOT the RIAA. But until then, we'll always be a flea, biting the back of the Mammoth that is Industrialized politics at work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CodeBuster (516420)

      But until then, we'll always be a flea, biting the back of the Mammoth that is Industrialized politics at work.

      Perhaps, but even the bite of a flea may deliver the horrible wasting disease that fells the mighty mammoth. The RIAA is not beyond our reach and their vain attempts to discredit Mr. Beckerman and defame their opponents, which are reminiscent of the Scientology theory of "lawsuits to harass and annoy, not to win" and policies of "fair game", prove that well reasoned counter-arguments from informed informed groups and individuals can be brutally effective in exposing the malicious nature of the RIAA spamigat

      • Re:No "Duh" Tag (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@nosPAm.beckermanlegal.com> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:09PM (#27667915) Homepage Journal

        The RIAA is not beyond our reach and their vain attempts to discredit Mr. Beckerman and defame their opponents, which are reminiscent of the Scientology theory of "lawsuits to harass and annoy, not to win" and policies of "fair game", prove that well reasoned counter-arguments from informed informed groups and individuals can be brutally effective in exposing the malicious nature of the RIAA spamigation campaigns, the flaws in their legal arguments, and the specious nature of their "evidence" for all to see. In fact, we should take it as hopeful a sign when they single us out for special attacks because it proves that we are being effective. The RIAA has lost the initiative as the shock of their initial lawsuit charge has petered out and now they are stuck in a melee which they cannot win against a new generation of music consumers whom they have now lost forever as customers due to their own ineptness and incompetence which they have also repeatedly demonstrated during their lawsuits (contradicting even their own statements and arguments in different cases over the same issues).

        You are exactly right. The reason they went off on a tangent attacking FSF and myself is that they are losing. Their aimless, pointless, blustery ad hominem atack on the messengers simply calls attention to the fact that they have no suitable response to the message.

    • by rts008 (812749) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:12PM (#27667951) Journal

      This is news how?[...]
      The only thing newsworthy I got from this is that the RIAA is just slightly more petty than I thought.[...]
      The thing people need to get over, and real quick, is the thought that the second they see anywhere in media the acronym RIAA, that they need to immediately post it on Slashdot.[...]
      What we need, to effectively fight back against their idiocy, is SUPPORTERS. [my emphasis]
      [...]
      Those are the things we need to do, or maybe even get some of us geeks to inundate media with easily comprehended information that average Joe blow can read and care about, and help spread the word to the masses about their evils. Find a way to make the average citizen give a crap about this issue, and you've found a way to get some money and influence behind this issue on a side that is NOT the RIAA. But until then, we'll always be a flea, biting the back of the Mammoth that is Industrialized politics at work.

      So, I feel you are saying:
      "We are preaching to the choir, and will never get anywhere"
      If I have misunderstood, then correct me...I can take it, and welcome it, in fact.

      Working on the above perspective, I have to reply to counter argue.

      I will use myself as an example.
      I lurked here for several years before getting an account.
      Why?
      I learned stuff that was new to me, but was dismissed as 'old news' by those with your attitude. Those comments still came through, in spite of those like you.
      I found interesting things to explore and learn about, and still do here on slashdot...every day!

      I found out about GNU/Linux on slashdot, despite you, and the fact it existed before I was aware that it was news.

      There is benefit to 'preaching to the choir', as the choir grows, and talks to others.

      I've learned about many things that I had no previous clue that they existed from the 'preaching to the choir' bunch here on slashdot.

      Again, if I have misunderstood, please accept my apology, and correct me.
      If my assumption was correct, or close, then think about what I said, and have some patience...we were all n00bs at one point....there will always be n00bs, and the future is full of n00bs...in reference to anything.

  • Uh-oh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Khan (19367) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:27PM (#27667281)

    I can't wait to see what RMS is going to say in his reply :-)

  • by H0p313ss (811249) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:32PM (#27667333)
    • First they ignore you.
    • Then they fight you.
    • Then you win.

    We have achieved stage two, they have learned to fear us...

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:35PM (#27667385)

    Because the FSF has an open and virulent bias against copyrights in general, and against the recording industry in particular, it does not--and indeed cannot--play the traditional role of amicus curiae, which is to provide a neutral source of information or legal analysis to aid the court.

    I am not a lawyer but my understanding that amicus curiae briefs came from parties not directly involved with the case but are very rarely neutral. From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "The role of an amicus is often confused with that of an intervener. . . The situation most often noted in the press is when an advocacy group files a brief in a case before an appellate court to which it is not a litigant. . . Non-profit legal advocacy organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Center for Law and Justice or NORML frequently submit such briefs to advocate for or against a particular legal change or interpretation."

    Apart from the fact that the argument relies on "facts" not in the record in this case, the contention ignores the nature of Defendant's infringement.

    Again from wikipedia: "Amicus curiae or amicus curiæ (plural amici curiae) is a legal Latin phrase, literally translated as "friend of the court", that refers to someone, not a party to a case, who volunteers to offer information on a point of law or some other aspect of the case to assist the court in deciding a matter before it." Offering additional information is the point of amicus curiae.

  • Well, is he? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:36PM (#27667397) Homepage Journal

    They called 'Recording Industry vs. The People' an 'anti-recording industry web site' and stated that NYCL 'is currently subject to a pending sanctions motion for his conduct in representing a defendant' (without disclosing that plaintiffs' lawyers were 'subject to a pending motion for Rule 11 sanctions for their conduct in representing plaintiffs' in that very case).

    So, is Ray "subject to a pending sanctions motion", and if so, what does that mean anyway? NYCL, as much as I respect you and wholeheartedly support and appreciate what you're doing, I'm not a fan of the "they did it too!" defense.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:39PM (#27667445)
    If you or I were to do things like that, then we'd be called lying assholes... but if a lawyer does it, then he is simply doing his job.
  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Faylone (880739) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:43PM (#27667495)
    The RIAA is an organization dedicated to maximizing restrictions on copying, redistribution, and modifying music. They have a virulent, though perhaps less open, bias against music customers; and are blatantly biased for the record companies.
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:45PM (#27667519)

    termed the FSF an organization 'dedicated to eliminating restrictions on copying, redistribution, and modifying computer programs', and accused the FSF of having an 'open and virulent bias against copyrights' and 'blatant bias' against the record companies. They called 'Recording Industry vs. The People' an 'anti-recording industry web site'

    What part of our confrontational legal system does the RIAA not understand?

  • I am shocked! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:51PM (#27667633)
    I am shocked and amazed that the people who filed an amicus curiae brief opposing the RIAA's actions in court are all actually members of organizations with a history of opposing the RIAA!!! We cannot allow this bias to continue! Anyone submitting an amicus curiae brief should first have to prove that they no particular bias towards either side of the argument! Look, it is by definition an adversarial relationship; it is a lawyer's job to paint their opponents in as poor a light as possible. Any judge who can't see through this blatant hyperbole doesn't deserve to sit on the bench.

    As far as the "pending sanctions motion", anybody can _request_ sanctions against opposing counsel - I've done it myself, when somebody suing me for $500,000 couldn't even be bothered to meet the court imposed deadlines. A pending motion is standard operating procedure. Get back to me when a judge actually imposes sanctions -- that is much more rare.
  • by Progman3K (515744) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:55PM (#27667707)

    No matter what you do to them, you don't feel bad.

    Seriously, it is great to see them being openly evil like this, for those that are slow or haven't gotten the point.

    Well done, RIAA. Try twirling your mustache the next time you accuse anyone, just to really seal the deal.

  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@gIIIm ... inus threevowels> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:01PM (#27667799) Journal

    That reminds me, pardon my Godwin, of an old line from the late Pierre Desproges: "You will never manage to completely convince me that jews weren't at least a LITTLE bit guilty of irrationnal anti-nazi bias."

  • My favorite quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evets (629327) * on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:01PM (#27667803) Homepage Journal

    To support its proportionality argument, FSF contends that Plaintiffsâ(TM) lost profits in the
    case should be based on a per/download loss of âoeapproximately 35 cents.â Apart from the fact
    that the argument relies on âoefactsâ not in the record in this case, the contention ignores the nature
    of Defendantâ(TM)s infringement.

    And then in the very next sentence:

    Defendant has not only infringed Plaintiffsâ(TM) works through
    downloading, he has also distributed Plaintiffsâ(TM) works for years to potentially millions of other
    file sharers.

    I mean... unless something has changed in their pattern, they only have documentation of one legal download and that being from an investigation team that may or may not be licensed.

    Why has no attorney ever taken a look at the finances and circumstances associated with one particular song - how much revenue did this earn in the year prior, the year during, and the year after the alleged infringement. Most of the songs that I've noted have been out for at least a decade if not two, with little or no marketing, and zero spins on any of the radio stations I listen to.

    Another argument I never see in any of these is the challenge the RIAAs ownership of the material. A 20 year old song may or may not have a clear ownership record, and with the history of the industry, you really should establish that the recording artists, the producers, and the songwriters all have given the RIAA authority willingly and contractually prior to the filing of any individual lawsuit.

  • Idiots (Score:5, Funny)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:42PM (#27668283) Homepage Journal
    Unlike the RIAA, the FSF will never lose a copyright based lawsuit they initiate.

    Or, to put it another way, Richard Stallman's cock is larger than the the cock size of everyone associated with the RIAA combined! What are they going to do in the face of such an enormous penis? What can they do?

    Yeah I could make a serious post on the subject, but I'm giving the RIAA all the respect they and their shrill complaints deserve.

  • by Tiro (19535) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:44PM (#27668305) Journal

    Wow, perfect grammar in a /. story summary! I can't recall seeing such an exquisite exposition of the proper usage of nested quotation marks.

    It's almost as if /. found a professional editor!

    Oh wait...

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:18PM (#27668689)

    ...but I'd really like to know how to file one of those amateur circus briefs.

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