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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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EFF Takes Opportunity to Shut Down All RIAA Lawsuits

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
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In a recent case, the judge has asked for public comment which the Electronic Frontier Foundation was happy to do.

In brief, the EFF is trying to show the judge that the RIAA can't win judgments against people only by showing that someone had a copyrighted song in a share folder. In other words, just because it was "available" for download, doesn't mean a crime occurred. Second, just because MediaSentry (the company paid by the RIAA to find copyrighted material online) downloads the song from someone doesn't suddenly make the providing person a criminal.

Hear, hear.

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Sent a Peer Downloading Settlement Letter? Ignore It!

RIAA
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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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RIAA Tries to Fine People for Defending Themselves in Court

RIAA
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The RIAA likes to send people settlement letters whether they've done anything wrong or not which leads many people to pay up just to end the issue (much like traffic tickets which, even if you're right, it's often cheaper to just pay). Now, if someone tries to defend themselves in court, the fee will more than double thus providing stiff motivation to avoid using our own justice system.

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U of W Kicks RIAA and MPAA in the Butt!

University of Washington
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The University of Washington has proven how ineffective the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) bully corporations have been identifying suspected infringers on their copyrighted works.

The paper finds that there is a serious flaw in how these trade groups finger reported file-sharers. It also suggests that some people might be getting improperly accused of sharing copyrighted content, and could even be purposely framed by other users. An inanimate object could also get the blame. The researchers rigged the software agents to implicate three laserjet printers, which were then accused in takedown letters by the M.P.A.A. of downloading copies of “Iron Man ? and the latest Indiana Jones film.

So they've show that it's possible to frame others for the download of materials. I wonder what that will do to the lawsuits.

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Judge Strikes Killing Blow to RIAA?

RIAA
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A judge just ruled against the RIAA's theory of "making available". What this means is that the RIAA can't pursue a lawsuit solely on the fact that someone has a song available for download, but that someone actually downloaded it from them.

This one ruling could derail future (and past?) RIAA lawsuits and make filesharing a whole lot safer for the masses. Interestingly enough, the judge also helpfully offered the defendant a bunch of other possible defences that they could have used which the judge (presumably) would have ruled in their favor with.

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Free Software Foundation To Support RIAA Victims

RIAA
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The RIAA has been able to run free for years suing just about anyone it can using dubious legal methods. Well, their glory days may be over. The Free Software Foundation has pledged funds to "pay fees and/or expenses of technical expert witnesses, forensic examiners, and other technical consultants assisting individuals named as defendants in non-commercial, peer-to-peer file sharing cases brought by the RIAA, EMI, SONY BMG, Vivendi Universal, and Warner Bros. Records, and their affiliated companies, such as Interscope, Arista, UMG, Fonovisa, Motown, Atlantic, Priority, and others".

That is awesome.

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Universities Fighting RIAA and Winning In Some Cases

RIAA
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Here's a little summary of the battle between the RIAA and university students. Looks like things are getting harder and harder for the RIAA meaning as their exploits become more public, less people are willing to bend over and take their abuse.

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RIAA Filesharing Case to Go To Appeal

RIAA
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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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RIAA Fighting to Stay Away From A Jury Trial

RIAA
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From Ars Technica:

The over 20,000 file-sharing lawsuits that have been filed over the past few years share a single distinction: not one of them has made it to trial. The RIAA is trying to keep Virgin Records, et al v. Jammie Thomas from a jury trial, filing a motion for summary adjudication on some specific aspects of the case.

A loss at trial would be even more catastrophic for the RIAA. It would give other defense attorneys a winning template while exposing the weaknesses of the RIAA's arguments. It would also prove costly from a financial standpoint, as the RIAA would have to foot the legal expenses for both itself and the defendant. Most of all, it would set an unwelcomed precedent: over 20,000 lawsuits filed and the RIAA loses the first one to go to a jury.

That pretty much sums it up. It would be so cool to see them lose. I wonder if the people who settled previously could join a class action lawsuit against them. Probably not, but that would be nice.

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