Monday, October 08, 2007

A Win for the Bad Guys

Looks like the RIAA finally has some good news to latch on to -- they managed to get a Minnesota woman convicted of music piracy. No doubt this will only embolden the RIAA into making more and more senseless suites against music sharers instead of trying to adapt their business model to accommodate the internet and all of the avenues available for creating new revenue streams.

The case itself was probably one of the worse ones to go to court. It would have been interesting to see some of the 80-year old grandmas and pre-adolescent children going toe-to-toe with the RIAA, but in this case it was a 30 year old woman taking on the RIAA after sharing obviously RIAA supported artists such as Aerosmith and Green Day. Still, I'm somewhat upset by the jury's decision to award the RIAA $220,000. From the article, I found this most perplexing:
In proving liability, the industry did not have to demonstrate that the defendant's computer had a file-sharing program installed at the time that they inspected her hard drive. And the RIAA did not have to show that the defendant was at the keyboard when RIAA investigators accessed Thomas' share folder.
Also, the judge in the case ruled that jurors may find copyright infringement liability against somebody solely for sharing files on the internet. The RIAA did not have to prove that others downloaded the files.

So just making something available is piracy? I don't know if I can get behind that. So if I leave my CD collection on the sidewalk outside of my house (from which anyone can come by and make a copy), I am conducting piracy? And there wouldn't even have to be proof that someone copied my music -- just by having it there I'd be conducting piracy. That seems a little wonky to me.

On top of that, the RIAA didn't have to prove that a program capable of sharing these files was on the woman's computer when the scanned her drive... so how do they know definitively that she was able to share the songs and was, in fact, doing so? I am pretty sure she was sharing them, but I thought the point of a trial was to prove that you did something, not to just be pretty sure someone did it.

It'll be interesting going forward now that this precedent has been set. I expect to see the RIAA getting sue-happy over the next 6 months.

No comments: