RIAA Sues Usenet.com

from the no-joke dept

TorrentFreak points us to the news that the RIAA’s latest lawsuit target is Usenet.com, a company that provides private access to Usenet (as you might expect). The RIAA’s argument here is that Usenet.com falls on the wrong side of the Supreme Court’s Grokster rules, which basically said that “inducing” infringement is copyright infringement itself. Whether or not Usenet.com actually induces infringement is an open question — which is what we assume the courts will be deciding. However, if it does get anywhere, it certainly could make for an interesting test case. Part of what clouded the original Grokster ruling was that, while there clearly were non-infringing uses of Grokster, they were harder to show. When it comes to Usenet, it’s quite easy to show that there is a ton of non-infringing uses for Usenet (and have been since its inception decades ago). To completely shut down a Usenet service provider for offering access to all of that may be a tougher sell.

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Companies: riaa, usenet.com

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Comments on “RIAA Sues Usenet.com”

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24 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

When it comes to Usenet, it’s quite easy to show that there is a ton of non-infringing uses for Usenet (and have been since its inception decades ago).

But will it be as easy to show the same for the alt.binaries.* hierarchy? I have a feeling this will come down to some aspect of the partitioning of usenet groups.

George W. Bush says:

Re: Tough Sell

I believe phrases like this one

“Shh… Quiet! We believe it’s no one’s business but your own what you do on the Internet or in Usenet. We don’t track user activity.”

that appear on the usenet.com website will make it harder to prove that they’re 100% innocent.

Just because someone wants privacy doesn’t mean they’re doing something wrong. Even you posted your own message anonymously.

Bob says:

Re: Re:

who is buying the music in the first place that makes these musicians famous? if people supported local music there would be a lot less demand for the big stars music, but instead most people are like sheep and only listen to their local pop radio stations and only buy the “top 40” albums. The majority of the musicians out there are being used by the record companies. No doubt it would be nice to play a few songs, do a couple tours and retire with a lot of money, but if it’s really that easy, why aren’t you doing it?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Replace …
“Due to greed of some of these musicians”

with….

“the Greed of the record companies”

It was the recording industry that created the RIAA not the artists. The artists basically sign away the rights to their music…..

215 note/entry) Musicians/bands retain the rights to their own music (check if this is actually on the list)

Wesley E. Staton says:

"Infringing Newsgroups"

According to the article, part of the complaint in the suit is that Usenet.com carries “infringing newsgroups”. I’m trying to figure out how a newsgroup can infringe a copyright. But if the labels really believe that a Usenet newsgroup can do that then should they sue the newsgroup itself? It would make about as much sense.

marco says:

RIAA going to far

This is interesting facts of the RIAA from Wiki. USENET can just move it’s server, or many servers off shore, RIAA won’t be able to touch them.
On December 21, 2006, the RIAA filed a lawsuit for Russian owned and operated website AllOfMP3.com in the amount of $1.65 trillion. This number was derived from multiplying 11 million songs with statutory damages of $150,000 per song. The RIAA could not obtain jurisdiction over this Russian website.

A critical case, which may determine the fate of the RIAA’s litigation campaign, is Elektra v. Barker.[46] In that case, Tenise Barker, a 29-year-old nursing student in the Bronx, moved to dismiss the RIAA’s complaint for lack of specificity, and on the ground that merely “making available” does not constitute a copyright infringement.[47] In opposing Ms. Barker’s motion, the RIAA argued that “making available” is indeed a copyright infringement. Upon learning of the RIAA’s argument, which sought to expand copyright law, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the U.S. Internet Industry Association, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) submitted amicus curiae briefs supporting Ms. Barker’s motion and rebutting the RIAA’s argument. The Motion Picture Association of America, in turn, submitted a brief supporting the RIAA. The U.S. Department of Justice submitted a “Statement of Interest” refuting one argument made by the EFF, but taking no position on the “making available” issue; the DOJ stated that it has never prosecuted anyone for “making available”. [48] The case was argued before Judge Kenneth M. Karas in Manhattan federal court on January 26, 2007, who indicated that he will decide the “making available” issue. As of September 2, 2007, the parties are awaiting the Court’s decision. Meanwhile, the same issue has been briefed in a more recent case, Warner v. Cassin[49], also in the Southern District of New York, but in the Westchester Division.

In November, 2006, a Judge in a Brooklyn Federal court upheld the legal theory behind a defense claiming that the RIAA’s damages theory — which calls for aggregating statutory damages of $750 per song in its lawsuits — is unconstitutional, since the record companies’ actual damages are less than $0.70 per song.[50][51]

In press reports, the RIAA assumes that every unauthorized copy of a song represents a lost sale. [52][53][54] The logic behind this is highly criticized considering there is no guarantee an individual downloading the song would have purchased it were it not readily available via copyright infringing means. In fact a large number of studies conducted since the RIAA began its campaign against peer-to-peer file-sharing have concluded that losses incurred per download range from negligible to very small.[55][56][57]

In Texas, July 2007, Rhonda Crain (Sony v. Crain[58]) sought leave to add a counterclaim against the RIAA[59] for knowingly engaging in “one or more overt acts of unlawful private investigation” in the RIAA case against Crain.[60]

Sargento Lotsappoppa says:

It was a good run...

Well, 300 gigabytes, 40,000 songs later. It was a good run, bye bye Usenet. Of course what the RIAA doesn’t realize is that I’ve purchased approximately 250 cds as a direct result of my downloading including jazz, metal, classical, electronic, indie and other rock, and various European prog bands from the 70s. Some of what I downloaded was obscure and/or out of print or bootlegs of live shows and almost none of what I downloaded was ever played on the radio except for perhaps some college stations. Newsgroups are one of my primary sources for finding out about new music. Btw every time I see a band I buy directly from them. In any case if the hammer falls I’ll just subscribe to an offshore newsgroup provider such as Newsdome.

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