Lawsuits Don't Create New Markets

from the kicking-and-screaming dept

The RIAA has apparently been getting a lot of negative publicity for its six-figure judgment against a single mother for file-sharing. RIAA president Cary Sherman has a taken to the Web to defend his organization's actions. Personally, I don't have a great deal of sympathy for Jammie Thomas given the strong evidence against her, but I did think Sherman made a couple of misleading arguments. First, Sherman claims that the lawsuits have "created a legal marketplace" for music. But the primary way you create a "legal marketplace" for your products is to offer better products. The market is growing because services like Apple's iTunes make it convenient for consumers to get the music they want in a convenient and flexible format. But the major labels can hardly take credit for that, since they had to be dragged kicking and screaming into signing on to the iTunes store. Sherman says he'd rather be "helping artists make great music that we can distribute in lots of exciting new ways that music fans want." But for the most part, their approach has been the opposite: doing their best to sue new music technologies out of existence and sharply limiting the ways consumers can listen to the music they want. Secondly, Sherman repeatedly equates copyright infringement with theft, going so far as to say that the jury found Thomas "liable for copyright theft." But of course there's no such thing as "copyright theft." As the Supreme Court and others have pointed out, copyright infringement and theft are two different crimes, and it's misleading to treat them as if they were identical.

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Comments on “Lawsuits Don't Create New Markets”

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Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

I broke into your office and stole your copyright from your file room and I went to the US Copyright office and stole all the paperwork and files involved. Possession is 9/10 of the law…prove that the copyright was yours first. I should have just downloaded the song illegally and I would have the copyright in my possession. That would have been much simpler.

TheDock22 says:

The arrogance

Carly Sherman is a very arrogant and self-serving individual from reading that article. The whole “copyright theft” is bogus and everybody knows it. You can not “steal” music, it is offered free from a bunch of sources like radio. I do not believe downloading music is a morally right thing to do, but theft is a little much.

Also he said a jury of her peers, which is always the thing that bugged me about this case. How can people who don’t own computers don’t have the Internet be qualified to decide a case like this? This whole lawsuit was silly and I seriously hope more competent courtrooms start slapping down the RIAA.

Danny says:

Re: The arrogance

The whole “copyright theft” is bogus and everybody knows it.

That’s the problem, everybody doesn’t know that and little (little to the unknowing masses mind you) things like that are exactly how the RIAA tries to snow people over with false data and lies. In that case with the single mother you can bet your last dollar that the plaintiff side tried to stack the jury with people that knew next to nothing about copyrights and computers. That way it was much easier to convience the jury of their viewpoint.

The tactic of choice of the RIAA is to prey on the ignorance of people. They love going to judges and politicians because they can “educate” them on technology issues they don’t know about. Look at how quickly they try to drop their case and run whenever they come across a defendant that is knowledgeble and rich enough to fight back.

And this is one reason I have no pity for the RIAA. Copyright infringment is wrong and they could have defended theirs in a perfectly sensible and not legally questionable manner (not to mention they could have taken the lead in digital distribution by embracing it). But no they resorted to lying, false data, outrageous lawsuits, bribing(okay so they call it lobbying but really…), and who knows what else in order protect their copyrights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If downloading is theft, then use the same pun

The ‘problem’ is that supposedly you are automatically facilitating the distribution of those ‘illegally gotten’ songs. So its like stealing 24 cds, then being accused of burning and giving them away an infinite ammount of times.

Which is total bs. They should have to prove, without reason of doubt, that you actually did. They don’t have to which is why the laws need to be evaluated and fixed, not more tacked on.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Justice Harry Blackmun was most certainly speaking of abstract property (copyrights) when he wrote these words in his majority decision overturning Dowling’s conviction of interstate transport of stolen property: “(copyright infringement) does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud…

Then the Supremes go on to say that copyright violation fits with theft, but awkwardly.

Who is kidding who here? Do you deny that the court ruled it fit with theft but awkwardly? Who is being honest here?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Who is kidding who here? Do you deny that the court ruled it fit with theft but awkwardly? Who is being honest here?

As has been repeatedly pointed out to you the courts language, “fits but awkwardly”, means that it does not fit well and so does not apply. As in a size six shoe on a size 12 foot. And on that basis they overturned the theft conviction they were considering. You know that by now, yet you continue to tell the same lies. Who is being honest here? As usual, it certainly isn’t you.

Anyone who has any doubts can ask a competent lawyer, not RandomThoughts, to explain it to them.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Yeah, the conviction of Interstate Trafficing of Stolen Goods was overturned. It was overturned because the court ruled that copyright violation was covered nationally and didn’t need to be covered by Interstate Transportation. Before talking about a ruling, maybe you should know what it covered and what the court actually said, instead of taking one sentance out of the ruling and ignoring everything else.

Kennith Farrish says:

Re: RandomThoughts is a Shill

First of all, the original Interstate Transportation conviction was federal (i.e. “national” as you call it) so the claim that they threw out the conviction on the basis that it wasn’t “national” is clearly untrue. Another lie. Oh well, there you go again.

Justice Blackburn in Dowling v. United States wrote:
The phonorecords in question were not “stolen, converted or taken by fraud” for purposes of [section] 2314. The section’s language clearly contemplates a physical identity between the items unlawfully obtained and those eventually transported, and hence some prior physical taking of the subject goods. Since the statutorily defined property rights of a copyright holder have a character distinct from the possessory interest of the owner of simple “goods, wares, [or] merchandise,” interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The infringer of a copyright does not assume physical control over the copyright nor wholly deprive its owner of its use. Infringement implicates a more complex set of property interests than does run-of-the-mill theft, conversion, or fraud.

I think most people can see pretty well that he said copyright infringement isn’t theft, no matter how you try to spin it. You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own set of facts.

Before talking about a ruling, maybe you should know what it covered and what the court actually said, instead of taking one sentance [sic] out of the ruling and ignoring everything else.

Everyone, look at RT’s first post on this subject above. That’s kind of exactly what he was doing. Funny, huh? I gotta tell you RT, your shilling doesn’t do much good for the public image of your industry.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Yes they do

Lawsuits most certainly can create new markets. Have you forgotten the court-ordered breakup of AT&T, which led to major deregulation of the phone system not just in the US, but all over the world? One of its side-effects was loosening up the restrictions on the development of telephone modem technology, which was such a key factor in the spread of the Internet.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Kennith, why do you hate? From the original ruling, not Wiki

“Congress has the unquestioned authority to penalize directly the distribution of goods that infringe copyright, whether or not those goods affect interstate commerce. Given that power, it is

Page 473 U.S. 207, 221

implausible to suppose that Congress intended to combat the problem of copyright infringement by the circuitous route hypothesized by the Government. See United States v. Smith, 686 F.2d 234, 246 (CA5 1982). Of course, the enactment of criminal penalties for copyright infringement would not prevent Congress from choosing as well to criminalize the interstate shipment of infringing goods. But in dealing with the distribution of such goods, Congress has never thought it necessary to distinguish between intrastate and interstate activity. Nor does any good reason to do so occur to us. In sum, the premise of 2314 – the need to fill with federal action an enforcement chasm created by limited state jurisdiction – simply does not apply to the conduct the Government seeks to reach here”

Hate to tell you this dude, but I am not in the movie, music, software or any other related industry. Do I really care about this topic? Not really, I don’t listen to music a whole lot, don’t own an iPod or any other MP3 Player. I do find it funny how folks like you like to justify your actions though.

Am I guilt free? Hell no. I have a driver in my bag that a friend made for me. It is a Ping driver, except it doesn’t have the Ping name on it. It was made in the same factory that Ping has their clubs made. Do I feel bad about using this driver? Nope. Of course, I don’t claim that I only have it because Ping is being bad by charging $500 for their version.

Kennith Farrish says:

Re: Re:

Kennith, why do you hate?

I just hate liars.

Hate to tell you this dude, but I am not in the movie, music, software or any other related industry.

Should I believe a liar?

I do find it funny how folks like you like to justify your actions though. Which actions would those be? Exposing liars? I don’t feel that I need to justify that.

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