Kevin Murray (claystorm) wrote,
Kevin Murray

The RIAA Witch Hut!

So I am not sure if anyone else has been following the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and their successful litigation in their first jury trial with a verdict of $222,000 in damages. For those of you who have not been following it, basically the RIAA thought this woman was sharing music on a P2P program and sued her for copyright violations in civil court.

The half way funny part is that the RIAA did not really have that much proof at all, because the woman’s hard drive bonked out before they could look at it. But, since burden of proof in civil trials is so much less then that of criminal trials, they (the RIAA) only had to prove that she might have at one time shared her music library via a P2P program. They did not have to prove that someone physically did download the music from her computer.

I should also point out that the woman they went after is a single 30-year-old Native American mom with two kids. It almost makes you wonder if they are trying to make an example out of her, cus I wonder how in the world this woman is going to be able pay the $222,000 judgment, when she only lives off of the $700 a month her tribe grants her. I am sure that they did give the woman a chance to settle out of court for much less, but that she refused for one reason or another.

Now during the trail, Sony BMG’s head of litigation Jennifer Pariser said some things that were very disturbing as a consumer.
Sony BMG’s head of litigation Jennifer Pariser equated Fair Use to stealing when she testified that if “an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song,” adding that making “a copy” is just “a nice way saying ‘steals just one copy.’”
Now I guess I should expect no less from a lawyer, but what really does scare the shit out of me is that she equates fair use to stealing. So long as you rip that CD for your personal, non-commercial use then it should not be considered stealing. Also, in theory, when you buy a CD, or a MP3 music file, what you really are buying is a license to listen to that CD or MP3. Just like computer software in that you can install it and use it on any computer you want, so long as there is only one copy running of the said software, the same should hold true of CD's and MP3's. So long as I am not listing to my CD and the file from the CD that I ripped to my computer at the same time, I should be good. Also, just like computer software, I should be allowed to make at least one backup copy of the CD or MP3 for a backup.

The EFF (electronic Frontier Foundation) had this to say about that quote from Pariser:
That’s an ironic statement coming from an employee of a company that has “Sony” in its name. After all, Sony’s Betamax VCR was at the center of the 1984 case that established that individuals have a right of to make copies of TV programs for personal use.
I laughed and smiled when I read that because it is very true. Back in '84, Sony did establish that the individual consumer has the right to make a copy of TV programs so long as they were for personal use only. Heck, that case back in 1984 is what paved the way for today's Tivo's and DVR's that a lot of us take for granted. That case is also what allows you to rip a CD for use on your computer or iPod like device. Now Sony BMG’s head of litigation is bitching about Fair Use. LOL.

I was also reading a story on DailyTech (which is where some of the above non-cited quotes came from) about how the RIAA might go farther then just people who use p2p when I came across this quote:
Another possible avenue of legal action for the RIAA is the pursuit of businesses that play unauthorized music in stores. The Performing Rights Society (PRS), Britain's version of the RIAA, may give the RIAA some possible ideas with its pending litigation. The PRS is suing the Kwik Fit Group, a car repair shop in Edinburgh, for £200,000 in damages. The case revolves around the complaint that Kwik Fit employees brought in personal radios which they played while working on cars, which could be heard by colleagues and customers. The PRS says this amounts to a public "performance" and should have entailed royalties.
So what in the fuck is going to be next? Is the RIAA going to sue people for listing to the CD's in their car if they are taking a customer out to lunch? Or maybe if I have a dinner party and I am entertaining a client, and I put on a CD for background music, is the RIAA going to sue me for that? Where is this going to stop, or better is it going to ever stop?

The RIAA wonders why sales of music albums are down; well I think we have just found the reason. The RIAA is on a witch hunt, which I think is just pissing off the general public. I for one hate the RIAA with a passion for that very reason. Name any other industry that sues its customers and then expects them to come begging for more and still buy their shit?

I understand that the RIAA is trying to protect the copyrights on music, and for the most part I am ok with that. I mean, stealing music is stealing. But they have taken that idea and gone fucking over board with it. I should also note that the RIAA does not speak for all musicians or musical groups. There are some groups, like the Barenaked Ladies (BnL), who think that the model used by the music industry today is very flawed and needs to change. BNL created Canadian Music Creators Coalition along with other musicians from Canada when the Canadian government planed to update and revisit their copyright laws. Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies said that the formation of the CMCC was in response to what he believes is the wrong direction taken by the RIAA and the major labels, by suing fans for filesharing.

I get a feeling that this is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. I only hope that I am wrong.
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