[linux-elitists] RIAA Versus the Internet: PART III - A New Hope

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Mon Oct 22 07:14:19 PDT 2007

begin Ben Finney quotation of Mon, Oct 22, 2007 at 11:07:38AM +1000:

> Okay, so Usenet is a "relatively decentralised method" and a 
> "protocol". Sounds close enough.
> > According to the legal brief, the defendant, Usenet, [...]
> Er? How is an information-distribution method or a network protocol 
> able to be "the defendant" in a lawsuit? In fact, it's "Usenet.com" 
> that is the defendant, not Usenet itself.

The Usenet model is what Congress had in mind
when it put "safe harbor" into the DMCA.   Using a
Napster-style lawsuit against Usenet would seem hard.
But the RIAA is pointing out that this particular
Usenet provider is actually marketing the service as
a way to make infringing copies, which makes it an
"inducer" under _Grokster_.  (This Usenet access sold
for your enjoyment of fine tobacco products only.)

> Even more than for the file-sharing networks, it's clear that Usenet 
> has "substantial non-infringing uses".

Not part of the _Grokster_ test.  If your marketing
department runs its mouth about stuff that sounds
like infringement, you lose.

> > The RIAA's up-and-down battle against file sharing continues, both 
> > with battle victories and losses.  The RIAA won a civil court battle 
> > over a Minnesota woman, who must now pay $222,000 worth of damages 
> > to the record industry.
> Which they'll never see more than a fraction of, I'm betting. 
> Individuals struggle their whole lives to pay that much off on 
> something they *own*, much less a copyright extortion settlement.
> I'm of the opinion this attack on the service providers is an attempt 
> to deflect anger against exactly this kind of "sue your customers" 
> activity that has been such a PR disaster.

Suing end users works better than most of the other
ideas.  Expect to see more of it.

Handy clip-and-save guide to record company online

1. Lobby for a DRM mandate: Possibly highly effective,
but only works because it would destroy the rest
of civilization.  Didn't work last time.

2. Lobby against DMCA reform: Counterproductive --
works in the interest of device and service lock-in,
not for the record company.

3. Offer DRM-based downloads: Counterproductive --
makes Steve Jobs "the most powerful man in music"
and makes the player and service the centerpiece and
the music the commodity.

4. Sell DRM-free copies online: Would have worked
better earlier, still potentially useful.

5. Sue device manufacturers: Could have worked
if the suit made device manufacturers adopt a
record-company-driven distribution system.  But no
such thing, so pointless.

6. Sue service providers: Would have worked better
if barriers to switching were lower, but useful in
that this deters Yahoo and Facebook from offering
music sharing and recommendations.

7. Sue end users: Useful since if done consistently,
it increases the mental cost of an infringing copy
(like Clay Shirky's problem with micropayments).
Works in combination with an alternative.  Would work
better if infringer crawlers weren't hopelessly
outclassed in their math skills, and smarter about
taking out well-connected users.  ("hey, that IP
address is in a frat house at Expensive U.")

Don Marti                    
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