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ACLU and EFF to Cripple RIAA Lawsuits

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While I don't support downloading music and movies instead of buying them, I also don't support abusing the legal system to bully people and make money. The RIAA has been doing just that for a long time according to several consumer groups.

In this case, the The American Civil Liberties Union - ACLU and the The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are arguing that when the The RIAA - Who They Are In a Nutshell sues thousands of "infringers", they have to file thousands of separate lawsuits and not just one.

Filing one is cheaper and easier, but makes it harder and is unfair for the victims… er, I mean defendants.

If the court adopts the approach suggested here, the costs of the current anti-P2P litigation strategy could become untenable. If each anonymous defendant requires several hundred dollars in filing fees, individual paperwork, individual subpoenas, and detailed information on their alleged distribution, settling for a mere $1,500 doesn't sound so hot.

Let's hope for the best. Leave people alone and worry about pirating organizations and criminal groups instead.

Source: Ars Technica

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Sent a Peer Downloading Settlement Letter? Ignore It!

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Some people have been sent letters to pay up or go to court that have ignored them with no consequences. I'm not actually suggesting that you simply ignore any letter you see, but perhaps be cautious about who is actually sending it, what they're suggesting, and whether or not they can prove it.

Most importantly, if the letter sounds like a scam (threatening things they can't do like taking your house and only giving you a week or two to respond), there's a good chance it is.

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Protect Your Privacy When Using Peer 2 Peer Downloading From The Internet

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It's up to you to decide whether what you do online is correct and that's why this article about protecting you downloading privacy is important. Use the tips provided to make sure that the only person making a judgement call about your online activity is you.

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Bittorrent For Legitimate Purposes

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Lest one think of torrents and illegal downloads at the same time, it's worth reminding the public that torrents are just a file distribution system and one that has many legitimate uses. For example, one IT department used torrent technology to distribute a set of system patches and upgrades in just four hours. The same patch would have previously taken over 4 days!

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RIAA Filesharing Case to Go To Appeal

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We all mourned the trial loss where the RIAA won a judgement of over $200,000 against a woman who claims she didn't even download anything. Whether she did or not, I support her appeal on the basis that $200k is excessive. Assuming she downloaded songs and shared them too, the amount of her penalty should be far closer to real damages, not some made up number.

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File-sharing Might Be a Bigger Risk than You Think

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In case you didn't know already, if you don't set up your filesharing software right or if there's a coding error that allows the program to be exploited, random people on the Internet might be able to browse around on your computer. What would they want? Perhaps banking information, personal data, access to your tax records.

If you're going to fileshare, learn a little about the program you plan to use first.


AT&T Plans to Filter Copyrighted Files In Transit

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AT&T (a.k.a the evil empire that won't die), is going to start filtering Internet traffic to remove copyrighted material in transit.

Fortunately, there's no chance this will work for long. First there's the SET technology for filesharing that uses generic chunks from files unrelated to copyrighted material to speed up sharing. If this gets implemented, not only will it improve filesharing speeds and allow people to finish files that have lost their seeders/sources, but it will prevent AT&T from filtering copyrighted material without blocking legitimate shares as well.

Secondly, it won't be long until filesharing networks introduce a quick encryption to packets that scramble them randomly using an IP address so the chunks of data won't be recognized by AT&T filters. I'm sure there are plenty of other techniques as well, but one thing's for certain: even honest non-hackers and non-sharers are still rooting against the copyright holders and AT&T.

I mean, come on! The article says the copyright companies lost billions of dollars due to filesharing? All they're doing is talking about the value of the files they know have been shared without taking into account that many of the people who are downloading these files would never have bought them in the first place! They're not losing money they would have had, they're losing money they never would have had.

As the article itself says, the RIAA and MPAA should just focus their money and resources in finding ways to turn downloaders into honest customers (perhaps cutting prices? Offering slick downloadable options? Removing all DRM so people can do what they want with it?)

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Apple DRM-Free, but Spies on You?

Apple Corp.
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Apple music files can now be purchased without DRM, but it seems that they hide information in the file with your name and account information.

Now the question becomes, what do they do with the information? Ars Technica theorizes that this might be a new form of identifying file sharers since the file itself will blab who the original owner was.

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Oppose the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007 (IPPA2007)

Keeping media open when it needs to be
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A lot of the newsletters I subscribe to and groups that I follow are making more noise about this. The main point, from Defective by Design's e-newsletter:

The Department of Justice has drafted this outrageous legislative proposal that threatens ordinary Americans with jail time and the sort of property forfeiture penalties applied in drug busts for P2P users, mixtape makers, and mash-up artists. The law would stiffen penalties for "attempted infringement", basically removing the requirement that the government or Big Media companies actually prove that infringement occurred. The IPPA would also authorize massive wiretapping to investigate copyright infringement by individuals. The government has plenty of tools to investigate and prosecute large scale criminal enterprises engaging in bootlegging, the IPPA will target every citizen.

The main point here is that it makes copyright infringement a criminal offense and that it only has to be attempted! Think of all the people who've already been served with lawsuits (many who were clearly innocent). Now imagine that they no longer have to prove infringement, only attempted infringement. This makes their case far easier to fight. But now it's a crime so the punishment would be stiffer as well.

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P2P Filesharing Speed Increase with SET

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The article is here, but here's the basics:

Say your file is this string of letters:


And you try to download from the one guy in the world who has this file, but he goes offline before you finish it. With SET, they've developed a scheme where anyone with any kind of file that shares sections of bits with your file can be sources. Before you needed this one guy, but if you find people with these files:

bbgggeeeyyy and iiuucc

Because they have the code chunks you need, you can download it from them instead (and it doesn't matter what kinds of files are involved, only that the code chunks match.

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