Friday, December 30, 2005


The RIAA's determined push to punish all Americans, young and old, dead and alive, has managed to build up a tidy sum of payments (although nothing even starting to cover the cost of the operation), mainly because their targets have been too scared to challenge their claims in court.

Until now.

The music industry has slipped up and issued a threat against someone who knows his way round the court system - and John Doe Number 8 is fighting back. Number 8 has challenged the terms of the actions against him in ways which, if succesful in court, could bring the process of legal action grinding to a halt. He claims - amongst other factors - that his ISP should never have given up his identity to the music industry body, as they failed to provide any evidence that it had a case against him; that the MediaSentry investigation which turned up his name in the first place was flawed; that the RIAA hadn't provided any solid evidence of copyright infringement in its communications with him, and, crucially, that the RIAA's habit of bundling together large numbers of cases was itself unlawful, as there was no connection between the various John Does.

This last one is perhaps key - the RIAA has been behaving like it's bringing a class action in reverse. But while there is sense in, say, 200 people who have been hurt by one corporation banding together to bring an action, there's no logical or (apparently) legal basis for a single corportation to bundle up 200 different arguments into one.

If he's successful in all his claims, the RIAA have got a serious problem if they really wish to continue with using the courts to punitively punish random file sharers. Having to file each case separately will slow down an already crawling and expensive process; being asked to prepare a case demonstrating the copyright infringements to a higher standard of proof before the ISPs can give up details of RIAA targets would further frustrate the process. A sensible organisation would probably call a halt to this actions if that happened; but then a sensible organisation wouldn't have started out suing its customers in the first place.


Anonymous said...

Suing "customers"? If you have and distribute copyrighted material without authorization, are you really "a customer" of the copyright holder (or a copyright holders' organization)?

The article doesn't state if he had any legitimately purchased products of RIAA members, which I understand would make him "a customer".

Anonymous said...

The lawsuit doesn't have anything to do with one word you have a problem with on a blog covering the story, it has to do with the RIAA acting like idiots and apparently illegally using their power to sue people for much more than they've actually done.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Anonymous, it is just possible that the man involved has never bought a prerecorded product in his life. Possible, but unlikely.

The use of the word customer is because the RIAA's policy is to sue us all into purchase. Remember, the RIAA isn't suing because of any loss, it's only preceived loss. It is suing the very people who it relies on to keep going. It is not suing thieves, it is suing its own customers.

Anonymous said...

If you have and distribute copyrighted material without authorization

...You're a freedom fighter. copyrights are theft, patents are murder.

Anonymous said...

Lots of people both buy CDs and download files. It's a great way to find (a) new music you haven't heard before that doesn't get radio play, that you'd like to try before you buy, and (b) old music that the industry doesn't bother selling anymore. Both of these were widely reported as common among Napster users, and multiple economic studies have shown that music sales are not diminished by filesharing; if anything, they go up.

And of course, there won't be any downloading without other people uploading. Uploaders are bad for musicians already on the charts, but for all the rest, uploaders are free marketing...the equivalent of radio play. And judging by their public comments, a lot of those musicians are figuring that out.

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