Shouldn't RIAA Focus All Energies on Napster?

I don’t understand why the RIAA isn’t satisfied with going after Napster and the like for all they can get outof them. Instead, now it has to go after every user? It’s like the Feds suing the cigarette companies…and every single user!

Maybe some SDopers can explain - as well as who gets the money? Will the RIAA actually tally up how many files from each band were downloaded and then split the windfalls accordingly? Or, will the pot be split equally amongst all bands? Or, will the RIAA just pocket all the dough they can?

What is going on here…when we’re even suing 12 yr olds?

  • Jinx

They are going after the company making Kazaa, but it’s legally difficult. I don’t remember details, hopefully some other dopers can provide those.

With other networks, like Gnutella, there simply isn’t a company to go after. It’s a de-centralized open network that no company controls. They could sue people and companies making clients, but then simply other clients will be made secretly. The only option in this case is to sue users.

One reason: when they tried it, they lost: Judge: File-swapping tools are legal

That’s a bad analogy. Exactly what federal law is a smoker breaking and what basis would anyone have to sue them? There are public health issues, and many places have made laws against smoking in certain areas, but there is no basis for pursuing every single smoker.

In contrast, every single user of P2P software who downloads an unauthorized copy of a song is committing a copyright violation. That is, they are breaking the law. The companies who make P2P software are not breaking laws because there are tremendous non-infringing uses for the software. It’s the users who choose to upload and download content they don’t have the right to copy who are the violators. Napster is a slightly different case because they were hosting content and (allegedly) facilitating the copyright violations, but other companies who simply make P2P software have done nothing wrong. Pursuing Kaaza or the people who wrote Gnutella is analogous to suing Ford and GM for damages due to drunk driving.

Napster was not hosting content.

You’re a little bit behind the times, Jinx. Napster is no longer usable as a means of sharing copyrighted files. The RIAA has shut it down already. The fatal flaw with Napster was that Napster compiled a central list of files on the company servers, and connected downloaders to the people who had the files they wanted. This meant that Napster knew exactly what files were being shared, by who, and when. Which means that they knew their network was being used to trade copyrighted files, but did nothing to stop it. So they were shut down by the judiciary. Napster is still around, but only a shadow of its former self, and only public domain files are available on it.

The newer systems of file sharing have no centralized function. They allow downloaderrs to search for other computers that have files for sharing, and connect to them directly. The companies that make the file sharing programs have no knowledge of what users trade with them, and according to official company policy their programs should only be used to trade files in the public domain, or files that users have the right to copy. Of course the vast majority of files traded are copyrighted files, but the companies that make the programs theoretically have no control over that.

The only option is to sue the people who download files. The way to do that is to go on the file sharing networks and see what files people have available for download. Since the people who make their files available for sharing are providing illegal copies, they are violating the law. Of course, technically this isn’t punishing downloading, but rather punishing uploading. You can’t prove that Bob downloaded an illegal copy from Joe, but you can prove that Joe allows people to download copies. Therefore you sue Joe. And you can sue Bob if he publicizes that he has an illegal copy available for download.

Technically, the Kazaa network could probably be shut down. It used to be Morpheus was using the same type of network and software from Kazaa, but there was some dipute between the two and Kazaa shut down the Morpheus network deader than Napster. Now the Morpheus client uses the Gnutella network, last time I checked.

This proved that type of network can be shut down. That was a few years ago though, and it might have changed since. I suppose it’s also possible the Morpheus network might have had technical differences from the Kazaa network, it occurs to me now.

But, as I said before, the people who own Kazaa now made it very difficult legally to shut them down.

This is more of opinion than fact.

I’ll move it to IMHO.
General Questions Moderator

Attempted murder via second hand smoke? :stuck_out_tongue:

Not a chance. If that was the case, every band signed to a major record label would be screaming bloody murder about file-sharing as opposed to vocal few that do right now.

It will be interesting to see, when eventually one of these suits goes to trial, instead of settling, how well the strategy of suing file sharers, rather than downloaders (perhaps not what RIAA would prefer, but much easier from a technical standpoint), plays out in terms of legal theory.

If making files available for sharing really meets the necessary intent standards for theft, would it technically be a violation of the law for me to buy a CD, copy it to tape for my own (fair) use, and then leave the CD lying on a library table with my belongings while I go to use the bathroom? Somebody might come along and steal it, after all.

Are all libraries themselves liable for intellectual property theft if they loan out CDs or LPs or DVDs that someone might <gasp!> tape their own copies of?

f I don’t have a firewall on my computer, and some hacker utilizes the latest Windows defect to access and copy my files without the help of a P2P network, have I violated the law by not taking sufficient measures to protect those files? Has Microsoft? (we can only wish…)

We should just set up a levy like the canadians. Maybe something like a penny per megabyte for blank cds and half that for blank cassettes. Suing kids isn’t gonna accomplish anything other then causing people to stop buying cds out of anger. I know I have.

Why should I have to pay the record companies so I can burn my own files on to a CD-R I have bought legally?

I make music, I write short stories - if I want to back these up on to a blank CD (which I do), why should I have to pay the RIAA for that privelage?

I was only suggesting a levy as a more sensible method then suing people. I understand you can burn more then just music onto CDRs. I make backups of programs I’ve downloaded all the time in case my computer crashes again.

However, the average user buys CDRs to burn music. We have to accept that piracy is going to happen. At the least, we can try to find ways to compensate the musicians. I realize there will be people who have to pay this levy even though they don’t burn music. It’s just, this is one of the better ideas I’ve seen. If someone can come up with a compensation model that’s better then I’ll be all for it.

Gex gex, do you realize this model of ‘spread the cost to everyone to compensate for a few bad apples’ is employed by many businesses? The two examples off the top of my head are you pay higher car insurance if your male (because statistically males have more accidents) and all doctors must pay high insurance because of a few bad doctors and frivolous lawsuits.

This is a little off-topic, but something I was wondering about today: can the RIAA sue people who aren’t actually providing music from labels in their organization? If you’re only downloading music from indie labels, do they still have a case? I don’t post this as an attempt to justify file-sharing of any sort–I’m well aware the SDMB doesn’t condone it, and I respect the decision. I’m just really curious.

As for the OP, I’d guess it also has something to do with the fact that going after Napster was, in the long run, not a resounding success. I mean, they effectively destroyed Napster, yes, but the file-sharers just popped up again. They cut off the head of the Hydra, but two more grew. So to speak. Going after individual users is meant to put the fear of God into the teenage users–to cauterize the wound, to carry on my corny metaphor. I’m not sure how well this tactic will succeed, but it will be interesting to find out.

But levying a tax on CDRs to compensate for potential piracy is more like putting a tax on first-aid kits to compensate victims of malpractice. CDRs have absolutely nothing to do with piracy. The act of music piracy does not require the use of CDRs, and the act of burning a CD is not an indication of piracy. I myself have burned hundreds if not thousands of CDs in the course of backing up systems, but I have never, not once, pirated music, must less burned an unauthorized copy to CD. Levying a tax on CDs to buy off RIAA lawsuits is appeasement which puts the burden on the innocent. It’s fundamentally wrong on several levels.

Your analogy of insurance companies raising premiums to offset losses due to a few insured would more reasonably be applied to raising the price of music CDs. If the labels claim to be losing to pirates, they should raise the price of their own product to compensate, just like insurance companies do. This puts the burden on the people who choose to be their customers, not on people who have absolutely nothing to do with their industry. After all, insurance companies can only make up for their losses by charging their own customers, not by levying some arbitrary fee on everyone else.

Actually, the answer to your questions is no, and a bit of infomation about the U.S. copyright laws might help you understand why.

The copyright laws prohibit unauthorized <i>copying</i> of files. When you buy a recorded piece of music, under the law you are buying that physical copy (mechanical reproduction). It is illegal for you to copy that recording, though you can give it to others to use and play, put it up for library loan, sell it in used record store, or do just about anything else that doesn’t involve copying it.

Some people would argue that you can make a copy of a recording you own in a different form for your own use under the fair use exception, though this has not been definitively found to be the case by the courts. However, if you make a “fair use” copy, you must continue to use it within the fair use exception. In other words, if you copy a CD to cassette to play in your car, it would probably be considered fair use, but if you gave that cassette to someone else, that would be breaking fair use and a copyright violation.

You don’t really have a requirement to protect your copyrighted materials from theft or infringement by others. If someone without your express or implied permission copies materials you own, they’ve violated copyright, not you. If you take a recording out from the library and copy it, you’ve violated copyright, not the library.

However, if you are making copyighted material for distribution or sale, you are violating copyright law. There really is a common sense test here. If someone steals your physical recording or breaks into your computer through a security hole, you wouldn’t be a violator. However, if you invite others to copy your physical recording, or leave your copyrighted compuber files available and electronically announce their availability, you’re illegally distributing and a copyright violator.

Billdo – You seem to have pretty well summed up the current laws and logic. I still see RIAA’s strategy as potentially running up against my library example. I suppose that the fact that someone can’t really listen to your mp3 file over KaZaA, but must copy it first, might be the operative distinction. Seems to me, though, that distribution of a P2P browser that had the capacity to listen without copying might subvert that theory conveniently: “My client was simply making files available for others to listen to. The fact that they copied them, instead, was their choice.”

Sounds like you’ve fallen into the RIAA’s language trap. As much as they’d like people to believe that copyright violation and theft are one and the same, they’re very different crimes.

Copyright violation is only “theft” in a rhetorical sense, and referring to it as theft is only useful for demonizing people who copy music. Similarly, you could call jaywalking “stealing your way across the street”, or you could call rape “stealing a woman’s honor”, but the legal definitions of jaywalking and rape have nothing to do with the legal definition of theft.

OTOH, if you really meant “necessary intent standards for copyright violation”, feel free to disregard the above. I don’t think there are any necessary intent standards, though… the 12 year old girl who’s been in the news lately apparently thought it was legal to download from Kazaa, but that didn’t stop the RIAA from suing her.

There was an article in Technology Review, MIT’s magazine, about how it’s misconception that illegal file swapping is impossible to affect.


You can register the company outside of the U.S., but the bandwidth needed is only available on the continent, not from the Caymans or something similar.

The point being that Kazaa says it’s decentralized, but in fact has host computers devoted to playing supernode to help out. If those computers were removed, the searching would be greatly affected.

It seems that there’s a snag in that logic somewhere, or you’d think that the courts would have at least shut down those computers.