Are Parents Liable For Kids' Music Sharing?

from the might-be-a-tough-one dept

When the RIAA lawsuits started last week, one of the first questions I asked was how could they prove who in a household was actually responsible. Now, more legal experts are beginning to wonder if the RIAA really can get away with charging parents for any music their kids illegally shared. While most lawyers are saying anyone sued by the RIAA is probably best off settling – they’re not so sure in cases where the person being sued didn’t actually do anything. The RIAA claims that it’s the fault of whoever pays for the internet access – but the courts might not go for that, since “service providers” are generally held not responsible for the actions of those using the service (a point in the DMCA law the RIAA is so fond of). Should be interesting to see if anyone fights back. I imagine most will just settle and yell at their kids, though.

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Comments on “Are Parents Liable For Kids' Music Sharing?”

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Tony Preston says:

Legal Liability? Prove it was me!

I fully expect someone to claim they did not down load the music and force the RIAA to prove it was them at the computer. It seems that just because the computer is in my home, the music downloaded from that computer, does not prove it was me or my family.

It might be a virus… There are computer viruses that take over the computer connection and use the machine as a server… Yep… I was infected.

Or, one of my kids allowed a friend to download the music… It wasn’t me, it wasn’t my family that did it.

Proof is absolute, reasonable doubt is easier.

Munich says:

Re: Legal Liability? Prove it was me!

First, note that I am against the RIAA, so this comment is not in defence of them, but pointing out that you need to go after the law that is holding them up, not on tort tactics.

Keep in mind that the threashold of legal liability in a tort case is a lot lower than criminal law (think O.J.). And there is plenty of precedent for holding parents responsible for their kid’s actions and for getting around the other defences you outlined.

For example, your kid throws a baseball through my window. You weren’t responsible – you were at work. Every court, however, will find that as a parent, you are responsible for damages caused by your minor, so you are on the hook for paying for my window.

Say that there was a group of kids playing and no one takes responsibility. I can probably then go after the parents of all the kids and get compensated a little from each one, or just take one of the kid’s parents to court, knowing they will settle since at $200 an hour, lawyers are more expensive a handyman.

Keep in mind the RIAA is not really after money, they are trying to make examples of a few so that people are scared of downloading. Even if you manage to get a dismissal from a judge, you will be out 1000s of dollars in the process, which is still scary for a lot of people.

Ed Halley says:

No Subject Given

Then there’s the WiFi defense. “These Wireless Access Points ship unsecured. I knowingly/unknowingly installed it in such a way as to allow neighbors to use my AP as a gateway to share my bandwidth. If I knowingly did it, I’m a safe-harbor provider. If I unknowingly did it, I’m reasonably non-negligent due to the unsecure factory defaults.”

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