Bush Administration: Happy, But Wrong, About RIAA Courtroom Win

from the effective-policy? dept

It’s no secret that entertainment industry execs tend to exaggerate the impact of their “successes” — and it would appear that such thinking works with politicians as well. President Bush’s Coordinator for International Intellectual Property Enforcement made a statement to applaud the RIAA’s courtroom victory last week, saying that it shows that the legal system is working, and noting that: “Cases such as this remind us strong enforcement is a significant part of the effort to eliminate piracy, and that we have an effective legal system in the U.S. that enables rights holders to protect their intellectual property.” Except, of course, that’s simply politician speak. This win is not going to help the RIAA “eliminate” piracy. In fact, few think it will have any dent at all. And, it’s hardly an “effective” legal system if the end result is just as much infringement and a ton of people pissed off that a single mom is being fined a quarter of a million dollars for wanting to listen to a few pop songs. If anything, it makes more and more people wonder what the hell is wrong with the legal system — and the companies that insist this is the best way to keep their obsolete business model in place.

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Comments on “Bush Administration: Happy, But Wrong, About RIAA Courtroom Win”

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ReallyEvilCanine (profile) says:

The legal system

Anyone associated with the White House who says something as outrageous as “the legal system is working” has his head so far up his ass that he’s turned himself into a Klein bottle.

Sounds like you’re now accepting the verdict, Mike. I still don’t buy it, especially considering the jury instructions and RIAA’s withholding of information.

mike allen says:

I dont buy it either

The law that allows the prosicution to lie is wrong did they not try to make out she had thousands of tracks. Also that irrepairable harm had been done to artists. WHERE IS THEIR PROOF. their is NONE. In fact if all the cases of irrepairable harm was true then all movie and music companies would be bankrupt by now. instead they just need to change their buisness plan a little.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I dont buy it either

“Prosecution”. No, this is a civil case. Just a plaintiff and a defendant. No prosecution, no “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden of proof. This was a civil raping. The fact that you used the term “prosecution” just shows that we’ve let civil entities act too much like enforcers of criminal law.

MadJo (profile) says:

How many songs?

24?! Yeah, take that, you pirates(!)
Sure, chalk this one of up as a win against those large-scale pirates. Really nicely done.

Instead of taking action against people duplicating discs at large scales, they take the easy road, and sue their customers, taking more of their money, than these customers even have.

How many times can someone shoot himself in the foot? If it’s up to the RIAA, there are many feet to shoot.

Mark Levitt (user link) says:

When will they go after Bush himself?

In a Washington Post article dated Friday, December 16, 2005, available online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121502378.html, President Bush is asked about the music on his iPod.

President Bush is quoted as saying, in part, that one of the artists on his iPod is The Beatles.

As you may know, none of The Beatles songs are available on the iTunes Store or on any other online music store. The only way to get them onto an iPod is to copy them from a Beatles CD.

Jennifer Pariser, Sony BMG’s the head of litigation, recently testified, when asked if it was “okay if a consumer makes just one copy of a track they’ve legally purchased. She said no — that’s “a nice way of saying, ’steals just one copy.’???

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: When will they go after Bush himself?

Maybe that’s what it would take. Have a politician get sued (I don’t care what party – just get the issue raised) for piracy. This was raise awareness about the idiocy of these copyright laws and make lawmakers actually do a little research on them.

I still contend that these laws are NOT the result of bribery, lobbying, or personal interests of politicians. They are a result of ignorance. Most lawmakers are 20 years older than the average technological expert and are just way too out of touch to be making laws regarding copyright. Of course, an ignorant politician is more willing to listen to a lobbyist – and there are no “anti-DCMA” lobbyists because we’re not that organized. But the root problem is ignorance.

Debunked says:


Mike quote:

“…a single mom is being fined a quarter of a million dollars for wanting to listen to a few pop songs.”

You need to apologize for these multiple inaccuracies. Parts of your theories are defensible and parts are not but when you make statements like the above you shoot yourself in the foot and present yourself as a rabble rouser rather than a serious theorist.

1. The fine was $222,000. The rules of rounding would mean you would round it to 200K and not up (incorrectly) to a quarter million.
2. She was fined not for “wanting” but for actually doing infringement- and the jury decided that it was “willful and not accidental” based on asking the judge what the minimum fines were and what the range of fines meant.
3. Thirdly, the fine was not for “listening” but for sharing (infringing).

Colorado says:

Re: Inaccuracies

Think before you criticize.

There are no rules for rounding, rounding is subjective. If he was rounding to the nearest quarter-million, he’d be correct. Businesses round up all the time to get those extra pennies from you.
2 + 3, because they’re the same thing.
She wasn’t fined to sharing music, she was fined for “making it available”.

TheDock22 says:

Not cool

I think this whole lawsuit was a waste of time. Sure the RIAA won, the jury could barely tell a computer from the hind end of a horse. One the jurors did not even own a computer and of the couple of jurors that did all that they knew was their music came from iTunes. Whatever happened to a jury of your peers.

Also the statement that makes me laugh the most was from the RIAA spokeswoman who said making a backup copy of a song you bought is considered stealing. So I can pay $20 for a cd, but I am not allowed to put that music on my iPod (because usually iTunes does not offer the songs I listen to). I would like to see the RIAA come after me if they dare. Let’s see them take on somebody who actually has a case against THEM.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

What makes you think sharing via p2p is any different than any other service?

I would imagine the RIAA is attempting to set up a speed bump that slows down file sharing. It won’t stop all, but just like the trooper who sits on the side of the road, the goal is not to write tickets (well, maye in some places it is) but to get most people to slow down.)

Does speeding take place? Of course, do some slow down? Yes.

Steve baker says:

What are you buying

I’ve often wondered under the traditional business plan whether my $10 for an album buys the music or the media.

I assume I am buying the media and that the media holds it’s value. If you have ever listened to a scratchy old LP you know it doesn’t hold it’s value very well. I’ve never worried about copying contents; that is just protecting my investment.

If I am buying the music, I should never have to buy it again; once paid for, it’s mine.

Capt Barbosa says:

Re: What are you buying

Just wanted to add to Steves comment, if you buy a CD from the store ( ahh the humanity)!! and it gets scratched, and can’t listen to it, can you sue the RIAA for faulty media? If you can’t protect your investment by making a copy, then what recourse does one have? Try to take it back to the store.. that would be funny, I think EVERYONE should find a scratched, broken disk, and we could file a class action lawsuit.

Buzz says:

I still don't understand...

OK, so the woman is a pirate. Sue her. OK, the RIAA did that. I am still baffled at how damages are calculated. In the real world, damages cannot be collected unless the actual lost sales or stolen goods can be recovered or at least discovered. Somehow, when digital music is involved, the RIAA is allowed to just assume that damage was done without actually proving that any files were actually shared.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I still don't understand...

It’s called statutory damages and it is not limited to digital music. It is written into Copyright Law with specific minimums and maximums as an alternative to proving actual damages.

It’s intent was to make it easier for agencies to get an award closer to actual damages in cases where the actual damages would be nearly impossible to determine (no receipts from sales of pirated goods, no documents of how many customer, how many sales, etc).

It was *never* intended for use in cases such as this where no money changed hands and no physical media was distributed.

To make a finer point of it; It was meant to penalize those making obnoxious amounts of money off of copyright infringement, not off of irresponsible, brainless single mothers who should have known better.

Newob (user link) says:

Call for an Amendment to copyright law!

Fascism, under the guise of protecting copyright, is gaining power exponentially in the United States. If we, the people, do not do something to stop it, corporate powers will dissolve all nations and make all people everywhere into wage slaves. One crucial step in this process – the corporate control of the internet – is coming to a head, but if we are smart we may be able to do something about it.

The recent court decision, that making audio recordings available to be copied is a form of unauthorized distribution whether or not anyone actually copies them, spells the end of the internet as we know it, if that decision is upheld in higher courts. Why? Because the internet potentially devalues audio recordings, and the artificial monopoly of audio recordings is one currency of the legal copyright cartel. If that decision stands in the Supreme Court, the internet will be shut down because the basis of the internet is the free sharing of data between computers. In its place will be a corporate power sharing system which excludes any unauthorized connections. That is the logical extension of the current legal threats to peer to peer sharing.

And why would this be perceived to be in the best interests of the copyright cartel? Because their copyrights are worthless if audio recordings are exchanged without paying them any money. Just as, the US dollar would be worthless if US citizens would exchange goods without paying the Federal Reserve any money. The value of the US dollar translates into the ability of the Federal Reserve to tax exchanges between US citizens and the value of audio recordings translates into the ability of the copyright cartel to tax copies of audio recordings.

We do not need to pay anything to copyright holders in order to make copies of music, nor do we need to pay the Federal Reserve in order to exchange goods. The belief that we must, is the basis of their power. But the Federal Reserve is not necessary for the government to print currency; and a copyright cartel is not necessary for original works to be valuable. We can make up money in our minds and we can make up audio recordings on computers. Neither one has any intrinsic value, only the value we attach to it socially, politically, psychically.

Copyright law permits a limited monopoly on original works; but the copyright cartel collects the rights to copy original works by buying them. They decide the value of their recordings, and eliminate any threat to that value, and absorb any competition to their monopoly. That system worked well for the copyright cartel while the means of recording audio remained largely in their ownership. But today the situation is changing because audio recordings can be made and copied using freely available technology, without paying the copyright cartel. If they are cut out of the loop then they are powerless, but they may yet be able to use their power to write themselves legally into the loop. That will happen if the Supreme Court upholds the decision, that making recordings available to copy regardless of whether they are copied is a violation of copyright. Then, the copyright cartel can authorize a private police force to enforce their law or just employ the US military. They will outlaw unauthorized connections to the internet and seize any computers used to make unauthorized connections.

But the Constitution allows a limited monopoly by the creators of original works to make copies, and that is not the same as a monopoly of the rights to make those copies. If we, the people, permit the copyright cartel to continue on its course then we are authorizing fascism, and this situation will follow its logical extension. The alternative is that we make a new Amendment to the US Constitution that explicitly forbids the legal transfer of copyrights and outlaws the monopoly of copyrights. The legal monopoly permitted by the constitution is the limited monopoly of original works. That is twisted by current law into meaning the unlimited monopoly of purchased rights. By the Constitution, rights cannot be purchased and are unalienable. Among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The new Amendment should explicitly add to that list the right to own and copy your own original works. All second-hand ownership and alienation of the right to own and copy original works should be obliterated.

The propaganda against the practice of sharing digital copies of recordings without exchanging money, alleges that creators and copyright holders cannot make money or continue creating if they are not paid for every copy. But sounds themselves are not audio recordings and pictures themselves are not video recordings. Long before modern recording technology was invented artists and inventors made money, for example by soliciting sponsors for their work. The internet is a valuable means of publicity and sponsorship. Musicians, filmmakers, other artists and inventors will not be put out of work by unauthorized distribution of their works. Rather, the wider their works are disseminated, the more publicity they have and the more opportunity for sponsorship.

Once upon a time, an original work could be hijacked by changing its name and attribution. Before modern technology, to make a copy meant the same thing as taking credit for its creation. An unauthorized copy could take the place of the original by making the original more obscure. But plagiarism is a threat to the livelihood of an author only if the counterfeit copy can be passed off as the original and the pirate can be passed off as the author. Today the original work does not become more obscure than the copy; the copy and the original coexist with one another. The internet permits multiple methods of checking attribution and determining the origin of a copyrighted work. Therefore copy control is not necessary to fight plagiarism.

On the other hand, the copyright cartel operates by taking credit for the creations of others, and that is the very definition of piracy. The music labels print their names on the works of others that they distribute and that is a form of counterfeit. They buy the right to own somebody else’s work and pass it off as their own, and that is a form of plagiarism. Under the current system, the cost of copying and distributing is often exchanged for the right to own the work, so authors no longer control their creations. But over the internet, copying and distributing no longer costs anything. Copying no longer necessarily means taking credit for a work.

Curiously, taking credit itself has come to be accepted as a form of work. But the work of taking credit is worthless if copying costs nothing. There is no motivation to plagiarize if the attribution of a copy cannot be changed. There is no such thing as counterfeit if copies have no value besides publicity for the original.

Today, corporations are abolishing national sovereignty by buying people’s rights. Banks are buying the right to print currency. Copyright cartels are buying the right to own original works. Medical associations are buying the right to practice medicine. News organizations are buying the right to freedom of speech. If this keeps going, soon there will be no nations, only corporations. The United States will be ruled by the corporations, for the corporations, and of the corporations. Freedom will be a trademark of Democracy, Incorporated.

The internet is not just the connections between computers, it is the connections between people through those computers. As long as corporations manufacture the computers, they exercise great control over the internet. But they do not yet completely control how we use the internet. The internet is the only worldwide forum capable of democracy, and it holds the potential to unite the people of the world and preserve their freedom to associate and exchange information freely. But if corporate powers take control of the internet under the guise of protecting copyright, we will no longer have freedom of speech or the freedom to associate. The people of the world need to take ownership of their own works away from corporations and make themselves the owners of the internet.

Thought itself is at stake here, because the technology to share data is the technology to share our thoughts. Ideas, like flames, can be copied without diminishing the original and without replacing the original. But like flames, ideas can die out without any medium to burn. Our lives are a net of shared beliefs and activities centered around those beliefs. If we wish to remain in control of our lives and not become slaves even moreso than we are today, we must be able to control our own minds. Words, thoughts, and culture must be free to share without commercial interruption.

Please forward this message widely.

Overcast says:

Yaaay, another win for the big corporations and another lose for the people and consumer.

Of course the Bush administration is happy for this. My wife and I made an observation recently – watch and keep track – how many times does Bush look into the camera? Body Language says a lot, when you can’t even look the people of your country in the face – so to speak.

Past presidents – well that hasn’t been the case with all of them.

We can’t count on Congress to fix a damn thing. Just boycott them, simple as that. What has the Government ever fixed? I can’t really… think of anything..

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