You have been charged with attempted copyright infringement

Grant Robertson's The RIAA vs. John Doe, a layperson's guide to filesharing lawsuits is a great read if you ever wanted to learn about the RIAA's heavy-handed tactics for suing P2P users. Robertson revised Ray Beckerman's legalese filled How the RIAA Litigation Process Works in order to present a more interesting, accessible overview.

Take a look at some of the comments, too. For instance, Song.mp3 points out how utterly unreliable it is to base a lawsuit on an IP address. How many people are using routers? Most will be configured as firewalls, and the IP points to the router, not the computer. If the router is configured as an open access point, anyone within wireless range could log onto the network and be using it to share files.

All of this got me to wondering. IANAL, but the lawsuit seems to be based on the RIAA's ability to download the files as proof of copyright infringement. How could they know if anyone else has downloaded any files? (I'd be curious to know if ISP's are maintaining and suppplying full IP traffic records to the RIAA) Is it copyright infringement to redistribute copyrighted materials to the copyright owner (the RIAA is the legal representative of the copyright owner)? At best can the RIAA only claim that there is attempted copyright infringement? Regardless, it must be impossible to prove that there was any real damage done the copyright owner if the RIAA can only show themselves to have downloaded the file.

Now I'm done. Rant about other idiocy--Blackboard and patents--coming in the near future ;-)

Comments

I believe were answered in Grant Robertson's article. What I took away from the article was that in part, some of those defenses you raise might work (another one -- even if a song is downloaded to my computer, who says it was me at the keyboard? Why not a remote user through a rootkit?), but few defendants will bother to raise them because they will have to first decline the RIAA's settlement offer and go to court. As an individual risk/reward proposition, if you own any property at all, it doesn't make any sense to go to court. The problem is that the RIAA is pretty successful, according to the article, at least, at getting the charges routinely filed without much serious evidence. Corporations are always complaining about "frivolous" lawsuits unfairly raising the cost of doing business and demanding litigation which removes one's rights in court, as congress most recently did last year in regards to your right to sue negligent health care providers. Clearly, this is one example of corporations benefitting from "frivolous" lawsuits.

Of course, they can sue me all they want -- I couldn't even pay their $3700. I'd let them get their judgment then head over to the bankruptcy court.

 

(Oops. Congress just took away all of my rights at the bankruptcy court. Nevermind.)

 

My hometown paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, ran a story this week about a family in Oregon having to come up with $4k to buy off the RIAA. They were one of three familes/people charged with copyright infringment. One of them had the charges dismissed, though the article didn't say how. Merely by putting up a fight and hiring a lawyer maybe? Can't wait to see what you have to say about BB and patents. What a crock that one is. bradley || bleckblog.org