No, The RIAA Is Not Asking For $72 Trillion From Limewire (Bad Reporters, Bad)

from the stop-that dept

In the last day or so we keep seeing people send over variations on this story claiming that the RIAA claims it is owed $72 trillion dollars from Limewire. Many of the reports appear to originate from the NME post I just linked to, though I don't think that's accurate. The story is bogus in almost every way possible, and it's kinda sad that a ton of websites are repeating it as fact. If the basic statement sounds familiar, it's because the RIAA member labels did make an extreme request on damages last year in the Limewire case, suggesting that every single download should be subject to statutory damages, which could, under some circumstances (basically willful infringement) reach up to $150,000 per download. As we (and many other sites) reported in March of 2011, Judge Kimba Wood rejected that claim, noting that:
"Plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877," Wood wrote, citing a Lime Group court filing referring to the inventor Thomas Edison. She called this an "absurd result."
While she did say that such an argument would likely lead to "billions" in damages, she also mentioned that it could possibly reach trillions in damages, but I don't believe she ever mentioned $72 trillion. Someone, however, did a back of the envelope calculation based on downloads and tossed out that $72 trillion number, and it caught on widely... again, way back in March of 2011. The first place I can find (though it may have come from somewhere else) to quote such a massive number was actually a Law.com article that came out right before the ruling was made. And it says $75 trillion.

Anyway, a year ago, in May of 2011, Limewire famously (or so we thought) settled the case for $105 million. That case is basically over.

And yet, for reasons that are beyond me, someone has revived the original story and lots and lots of other sites -- including plenty with real reporters who should know better -- are repeating it as fact, even to the point some are claiming that this shows the RIAA "wasn't satisfied" with the $105 million settlement. Most reports are linking back to NME as originating it, and the NME report links back to one of the many posts from March of 2011, from Computerworld, so you might think that the (nameless) NME reporter misread the date.

However, in looking around, two days before NME did its bogus report, it looks like Stuff.co.nz posted a similar story also linking to that same ComputerWorld story. Amusingly, the very first comment on that Stuff piece points out that link is to a story from 2011. And yet, Stuff has still not updated its story or posted a correction. Meanwhile, it looks like NME's (still nameless) reporter, simply copied the story from Stuff without crediting Stuff in the first place... meaning that many people are blaming NME for reviving the story, when really, NME just sucks at crediting their sources (and fact checking).

Either way, tons of other sites picked up on the story, including CBS News, who has since pulled it down entirely and just has a 404 page where it was before.

Then there are the folks at "Business Insider," who still have the story up but appear to have appended a "note" at the bottom that says "This case was settled last May for the much smaller fee of $105 million." You'd think that this should have led them to (a) change the headline (b) put the note at the top (c) be a little more clear in correcting their error. Even The Onion fell for it, though they've since posted an update. Then there are folks like WebProNews, Spinner and ZeroPaid (who is normally so good on this stuff), all of whom should have known better.

Anyway: basically this story is bogus. Well over a year ago, the RIAA made a ridiculous attempt to seek damages on every download. No specific amount was named, and no matter how you do your math, that $72 trillion number never made any sense at all. It was just a reporter looking for a good headline. Either way, the judge totally rejected that plan 15 months ago, and the entire case settled a year ago.

Nothing to see here folks, other than an internet pile-on. Move along now...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    bill, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:37pm

    72 trillion dollars. I didnt even know the number 72 trillion existed!

     

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      arcan, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:43pm

      Re:

      it does. but according to wikipedia only about 61 trillion dollars (US) exist on the planet. and i mean that is if you convert every single bit of money on the planet to US dollars you would only get 61.59 trillion dollars. so 72 trillion is more money than exists on this planet.

       

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        arcan, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:46pm

        Re: Re:

        P.S. i don't think the RIAA would let such a little thing such as reality stop them from trying to claim that much money has been lost to piracy.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 8:36pm

        Re: Re:

        The 61 trillion dollars is the GDP of the planet. Actual wealth is higher than that (though not as high as I would have thought), coming in at about $200 trillion. I looked that up after wondering if the $16 trillion U.S. national debt could really represent a quarter of the world's wealth, and turn's out it's only about 8%....still way too high, but that's another argument.

         

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      Hothmonster, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:34pm

      Re:

      It doesn't, 24 is the highest number.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:42pm

      Re:

      well, it's a start.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:19pm

      Re:

      OMG you're right!

      Everybody knows that in our number system we go straight from 71,999,999,999,999 to 73,000,000,000,000

       

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    identicon
    arcan, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:38pm

    if the RIAA won 72 trillion from limewire what do you think they would spend it on? I think Sherman would just sit on the massive pile of money and stroke it, all while crooning "my precioussssss".

     

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      Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 4:42pm

      Re:

      4 words...

      Scrooge McDuck Money Vault!

       

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        arcan, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:44pm

        Re: Re:

        i think we need a bigger word than vault to describe just how big of an area you would need to hold that much money...

         

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          trollificus (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 6:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Scrooge McDuck actually had "money SILOS".

          You think those things are filled with cowfodder?

           

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          jason, May 25th, 2012 @ 12:56pm

          Re: vault?

          it doesn't take any kind of vault at all. just have the US Treasury print you a $72Trillion note. Put it all in an envelope, or your back pocket even. Treasury notes are nice like that. Print whatever you need. :)

           

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        That One Guy (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 3:28am

        Re: Re:

        I would gladly hand over money to see the RIAA top brass have a vault filled with gold to go swimming in, because unlike in cartoons, when you swan/duck-dive into gold coins in real life, they tend not to have much give...

         

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      Josh, May 25th, 2012 @ 1:12pm

      Re:

      Simple, since I don't think that much money even exists they would probably buy the world and sue the already impoverished billions for breathing. This is the RIAA we're talking about, they're greedy, not hard to figure out.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:56pm

    They're just doing what you do, Mike. Rushing out with a story without doing any factchecking or homework first. It's hilarious that you do the same thing you're complaining about in the article.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 5:36pm

      Re:

      So would you care to backup your statement or are you just going to throw stones without any evidence?
      I've seen Mike and the others have to make corrections to stories, and they do so openly. They do it so we can trust in what they are reporting on, they also provide links to support their conclusions and sources.
      You have done neither and just seem to be trolling in the vain hopes that someone will engage you in some kind of namecalling so that your e-peen will throb mightily.
      And now you have gotten it... now run along, the adults are talking.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:42pm

        Re: Re:

        "So would you care to backup your statement or are you just going to throw stones without any evidence?"

        Silly That Anonymous Coward, don't you know that is all he does?

         

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        •  
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          That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 5:46pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Its just fun seeing him behave the exact same way he claims Mike does, and then flee in terror when someone calls him out on it.
          Besides had I not given him a response he would have just cluttered up the whole thread rabidly flailing that excuse for a penis trying to get someone to notice him.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:52pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I don't find his antics fun, just pathetic. He spends his entire time on techdirt parroting MPAA/RIAA propaganda and spamming the threads in his one-man fight against "evil pirate Mike". All the while raising techdirt's profits.

             

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            •  
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              The eejit (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 2:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Profile. I'm not 100% on whether TD is profitable, but its profile is gradually growing.

               

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              •  
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                That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 5:13am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                someone told me there were ads here, and as ad blocking according to shills is stealing they would never block any ads so I am sure his fevered refreshing of the page generates a couple of pennies a day.

                 

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    •  
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      MrWilson, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:45pm

      Re:

      Factchecking != asking your corporate overlords for troll talking points.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:50pm

      Re:

      Your point would make sense if Mike got paid to make these posts. Barely.

       

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    •  
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      PaulT (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 12:15am

      Re:

      Awesome... Mike writes a level-headed story pointing out that certain anti-RIAA articles are misleading and should be ignored, and you still manage to find a way to attack him for it. Yet, you wonder why people don't take you people seriously...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2012 @ 9:23am

      Re:

      I don't even know how to respond to this.

       

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    Zos (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 5:30pm

    Over the last week i've watched a story about "google buying 4chan" go from an obvious parody site, get picked up by a reputable(supposedly) trade news aggregator as a snippet, and from there get reposted everywhere. People need to turn their bullshit filters up just a little bit more, and remember to check their sources before they hit submit.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 5:44pm

    While the 72 trillion is a bogus number, the sadder portion of this is that no one for a moment considered it wasn't exactly what the cartel demanded.
    They are regularly completely over the top in their claims, and anyone would be hard pressed to not believe they would not have demanded more money than exists on the planet.
    As the fines and penalties go up they expect they will somehow turn the tide and win the war. The problem is they are at war with their customers, and can't draw that little line connecting their insane actions to the number of customers telling them to fuck off and moving onto other things they found on the net.

    blah blah blah pirates, blah blah thieves, blah blah blah.

    A business model has to adjust to the times it currently wants to survive in. All of this money thrown into the "war" is wasted and is speeding their decline, but they are sure just a few million more and they will change the entire world... they are delusional. One can only hope they will finally going to die off like they have sworn every innovation was going to do and let someone new with a clue take over and be more successful than the cartels ever were.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      AB, May 24th, 2012 @ 6:28pm

      Re:

      But... but... but... won't anyone think of the lawyers?!

      If the Mafiaa stop wasting money chasing windmills how will the poor lawyers survive? Who will pay them? There are hundreds of millions of regular people who make a living supporting the legal industry: Taxi drivers, secretaries, tailors, restauranteurs, letterhead designers, corporate CEOs, and politicians to name just a few. How will these people continue to feed their families if the mafiaa stop throwing meaningless law suits around? Just imagine how many jobs would be lost!

      It should be clear to anyone that the nation relies on these legal filings for its very survival. Next time, please think of the lawyers before suggesting the mafiaa stop.

       

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    •  
      icon
      drew (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 2:24am

      Re:

      I started writing a "manifesto" for what the content industry could do to sort out their business model and remain relevant but I was initially concerned that it was taking me so long to write that they'd adapt before I finished it.
      I'm now more concerned that they might completely lock down the web before I get chance to publish it...
      http://www.yamdac.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/manifesto-for-content-industry.html

       

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    •  
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      Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 4:15am

      Re:

      Agree , it is not a far fetched bogus number.

      context of....

      Jammie Thomas-Rasset's $1.92 million dollar playlist (2009)

      Guns N Roses "Welcome to the Jungle"; "November Rain"
      Vanessa Williams "Save the Best for Last"
      Janet Jackson "Let’s What Awhile"
      Gloria Estefan "Here We Are"; "Coming Out of the Heart"; "Rhythm is Gonna Get You"
      Goo Goo Dolls "Iris"
      Journey "Faithfully"; "Don’t Stop Believing"
      Sara McLachlan "Possession"; "Building a Mystery"
      Aerosmith "Cryin’"
      Linkin Park "One Step Closer"
      Def Leppard "Pour Some Sugar on Me"
      Reba McEntire "One Honest Heart"
      Bryan Adams "Somebody"
      No Doubt "Bathwater"; "Hella Good"; "Different People"
      Sheryl Crow "Run Baby Run"
      Richard Marx "Now and Forever"
      Destiny’s Child "Bills, Bills, Bills"
      Green Day "Basket Case"



      MAFIAA SAYS:
      LimeWire enabled $72 Trillion dollars in content theft.

      Seems Legit !


      not factual...but comprehensible with logic

       

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  •  
    icon
    trollificus (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 6:45pm

    My first thought was of the poor starving artists, and how all that money would (of course, by the logic of the copyright maximalists) result in a veritable explosion of creativity, art and music.

    Which things are almost impossible to find now, in this artist-depriving, pirate-riddled world.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:49pm

      Re:

      Yeah. I miss music, like we used to have in the olden days, before technology fucked it all up. I blame video recorders...

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:49pm

      Re:

      Yeah. I miss music, like we used to have in the olden days, before technology fucked it all up. I blame video recorders...

       

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  •  
    icon
    jakerome (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 7:33pm

    The New Math// A realistic method to calculate Real damages

    Wrote this somewhere else. Guess it was all for nothing. :( But give it a read.
    --------

    I think the judge should use this as an opportunity to point out that assigning statutory damages is simply inappropriate for a case such as this, and should require the RIAA to base damages request upon actual damages.

    So that's 480 million downloads... the service is rough hybrid between iTunes & Spotify, picking a geometric mean seems appropriate.

    iTunes is $1/song. Spotify is about $0.003/song. The geometric average is SQRT($1 x $0.003) = $0.054/song. Multiply by 480 million downloads, that's $26 million dollars. Should leave the investors with nada, and establish a nice precedent whereby the damage per download has now been reduced by 99.999964%. I could live with that.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 10:28pm

    Actually, Mike, if one takes the RIAA's logic that Judge Wood mentions in her order, and if one acknowledges that the RIAA has never left a penny on the table in its demands, then the number of the implicit damages demand would be $ 75 quadrillion. It is 500 million downloads times $150,000 statutory damages per infringer per work infringed (on the assumption that no individual downloaded the same song multiple times). So you're right that the articles are indeed wrong, but they were wrong by UNDERestimating the RIAA's demands.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 10:39pm

    Oops, my math was wrong in the 10:28 pm comment above. 75 trillion, not quadrillion, is the number. But that $75 trillion number is a fair calculation of damages from the RIAA's arguments -- and since RIAA didn't give an actual demand number (presumably because that would be too embarrassing), it's fair to make the calculation based on the elements in RIAA's arguments.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 11:36pm

      Re:

      it's fair to make the calculation based on the elements in RIAA's arguments.

      Not really. That still assumes $150k.

      And it ignores the fact that the case settled a year ago. That's the main part.

       

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    identicon
    Loki, May 24th, 2012 @ 11:42pm

    Considering the ridiculous and fantasy-ridden claims of financial "losses" the RIAA has claimed in the last decade or so, and the fact they rarely let little matters like honesty or facts stand in the way of their agenda, it doesn't really come as much of a surprise that few people even doubted the veracity of this story.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Digitari, May 24th, 2012 @ 11:56pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Has anyone looked up the definition of Insanity? should adult protective services be called on the RIAA and MPAA?


    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/insanity

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2012 @ 12:08am

    I blame The Pirate Bay. Posted a link on their facebook 5 days ago to a year old article (that PC World one) and I think the internet just wanked itself stupid because of that single post.

    https://www.facebook.com/ThePirateBayWarMachine/posts/391890854186797

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2012 @ 12:08am

    I blame The Pirate Bay. Posted a link on their facebook 5 days ago to a year old article (that PC World one) and I think the internet just wanked itself stupid because of that single post.

    https://www.facebook.com/ThePirateBayWarMachine/posts/391890854186797

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2012 @ 12:15am

      Re:

      Apologies for the double post but I'd also like to clarify that the TPB post is from the 20th - the day before the NME article. I think that's the source of the revival there.

       

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        PaulT (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 12:19am

        Re: Re:

        Quite possibly. But, whatever the original source, it really doesn't excuse supposedly "reputable" new outlets from not having done the most basic of fact checking.

         

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          hfbs (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 12:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oh heavens no. It's quite sad that they'd just jump all over the headline in an excuse for a good story without bothering to check the date of the sources. Don't get me wrong, I think it'd be a great story.. a year ago. Now though, there's no excuse :/

          (BTW, in my previous post, I, of course, meant the Stuff.co.nz article, not the NME one. God I'm stupid this morning)

           

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  •  
    identicon
    Jimmy, May 25th, 2012 @ 12:24am

    no you didn't

    Stop defending the RIAA. We know you are bought and paid for by the RIAA Mike Masnick.

    Guys this guy is bought and paid for by the RIAA, don't trust a word he says, everyone call and email Mike how we don't need fake journalists like Mike who are paid by the RIAA and demand that his ass is fired from techdirt.

     

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    McCrea (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 12:29am

    See also

    In other news, Robin Williams has died.

     

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    Josef Anvil (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 12:49am

    Just one

    Would have been nice for the RIAA to win a settlement of just 1 trillion dollars. Then they could leave the US and start running their own nation with that much capital. Or they could just buy a few Googles and Facebooks and Twitters.

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), May 26th, 2012 @ 4:47pm

      Oh No, Not That! Never That!

      "Or they could just buy a few Googles and Facebooks and Twitters."

      They'd become "Big Search", "Big Social Media" and all the other things they claim to hate and that exist only to fund and support piracy!

      The only thing worse would be if they bought out Kickstarter, too, so they could become "Big DRM"!

      What on Earth would bob do? What could he troll about anymore? What new "histories" would or could he invent if that ever happened.

      Forget the children!

      Think about bob! O the trauma, the shock, the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome bob would suffer!

      We'd never see bob again...

      Hold on. Just a moment.

      ...

      Let me think about that...

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2012 @ 2:11am

    The simple fact that so many people found RIAA asking 72 trillion dollars damages not absurd enough to set an alarm bell off speaks by itself on how much those are perceived as bullying mobsters totally disconnected from the real world.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Eric, May 25th, 2012 @ 9:22am

    Funny Part

    And i guess the funny part is the fact that many people/sites assumed the story could have been true likely because it was the RIAA being dealt with...

     

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    Kevin (profile), May 26th, 2012 @ 12:02am

    raving and ranting

    This ridiculous claim shows that the RIAA and it's members are stuck somewhere between Jupiter and La La land.
    Totally insane nutters

     

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  •  
    identicon
    smd, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 4:19pm

    source

    original article was posted on reddit in 2010 from slashparty.com which doesnt exist. it was before the court ruling, so was merely stating the facts, that the riaa was seeking maximum damages, which were excessive, a critique of copyright law.

     

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