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Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Fighting back against the RIAA

From Techdirt:

Someone Finally Fighting Back Against RIAA Lawsuits In Court

Ever since the RIAA started filing lawsuits directly against people for sharing music online, we've wondered why no one fought back and took the case to court in the US. As the courts in Canada have noted, simply having the IP address of someone you believe to be sharing an unauthorized file isn't enough evidence to prove that person was file sharing. Earlier this year, a US judge, trying to clean up some of the details in the old, old, old Napster case, also specifically noted that making files available is not the equivalent of distributing -- which is what all the RIAA cases charge. However, when presented with the option of just sucking it up and paying $3,000 to $10,000 and going on with your life, or spending time in court, paying lawyers' fees and risking huge fines nearing a million dollars, the prudent choice for many is to simply take the deal. It's almost a form of legalized extortion. Doing the right thing is almost always going to be more expensive and more painful than just giving in. However, Broadband Reports points to the case of one woman who is fighting back and says she's willing to go to court to fight the charges the RIAA has filed against her, because they're not right. She points out that she had never even heard of Kazaa. The details suggest that perhaps a friend of one of her kids was responsible for the file sharing -- but, that certainly suggests that the RIAA got the wrong person. While the internet account may be in this woman's name, the burden should be on the RIAA to prove who did the actual sharing -- not who owns the account. It's the same reason why they can't sue an ISP for someone doing unauthorized file sharing on their system. Meanwhile, the quotes in the article show that, once again, the RIAA (and the reporter) don't even seem to understand the issues being discussed. They repeatedly refer to "illegal downloading," when that isn't even what the RIAA has been filing lawsuits over. They're suing over uploading or sharing -- not downloading. Yet all of the quotes from the RIAA avoid the actual issues raised by this case (how do they prove the woman actually did infringe on their copyrights), and pops out the soundbites about how downloading is evil. In the past, unfortunately, when these types of cases have come up, the RIAA has simply dropped the case and moved on. Hopefully, they won't be allowed to do that in this case -- and will be forced to show how they can get actual evidence that the person they're accusing uploaded an unauthorized file to someone else.
Defending your rights in court really is necessary to keep them.

Avedon (7:31 AM) permalink

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