Saturday, August 21, 2004

DOES AXL ROSE REALLY WANT ORDINARY PEOPLE RUINED?: Obviously, you'll have noticed that there's no great love for the RIAA and its self-appointed sister organisations around the world as they attempt to stamp out file sharing with heavy-handed legal action and ludicrous demands for compensation. It's worth taking a moment to look at the case of 36 year old Ross Plank, who - fair enough - had downloaded songs. The RIAA are forcing him to pay USD11,000 in "damages". They found evidence of "hundreds" of songs. Maybe. Let's say he had 1,000 songs on his computer, shall we? That still works out at "damages" of eleven dollars a song - or twenty-two times what Real is currently charging for a single download. We're really not sure how the RIAA can get away with this - straight-faced lying about how much damage each individual download does to its interests. We can't understand how the loss of earnings generated by a single download can be more than the download is worth. Well, actually, we can: people are being bounced into settling for absurd figures because they're scared. Plank had to take out a second mortgage to keep the RIAA happy - a second mortgage to pay for a few hundred downloads; a second mortgage to pay for a few hundred bucks worth of recordings. All being done, claim the RIAA, in the name of the artists. But which artists really want people to have to put their homes at risk? Is this what David Cassidy wants? Or Axl Rose? Is Moby happy with this?

US District Judge Nancy Gertner is certainly alarmed at the way a big corporate body is attempting to drive all over ornery folks:

"I've never had a situation like this before, where there are powerful plaintiffs and powerful lawyers on one side and then a whole slew of ordinary folks on the other side."

In an America that's recently seen the Worldcom and Enron scandals, is there anyone who actually believes the RIAA is playing fairly here? Isn't it about time the ridiculous, medeaval demands of the Big Four record comapnies be reigned in? Punishing copyright violation is one thing, but wrecking people's lives over a handfull of songs? It's going too far.

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