Did The RIAA Just Destroy Its Own Argument Concerning Innocent Infringement?
from the whooops dept
We just saw that amicus briefs are being filed over whether or not the Supreme Court should hear the case concerning whether or not an “innocent infringement” defense is a legitimate defense to an RIAA file sharing lawsuit. If you don’t recall, a district court found that a teenager’s claim of “innocent infringement” — which knocks the potential statutory minimum down from $750 to $200 — was a legitimate defense. An appeals court overturned the ruling, and said that the girl, Whitney Harper, should have known that downloading music was infringing because any CD has a copyright notice (even though she never saw the CDs of the music she downloaded).
I have no idea if the Supreme Court will take the case, but the JoelFightsBack website is pointing out that RIAA boss Cary Sherman, in a recent interview, appears to have undermined the industry’s own claims in a recent interview with Vice magazine:
The time had come to shift over to a strategy that would be more effective. The lawsuits were obviously controversial in the media, but the reality was that most people had no idea that what they were doing was illegal at the time of those lawsuits. We did all sorts of surveys. We tried PR firms. We did everything to look at how to begin to change the culture of using illegal P2P. We realized that 1) none of the messages resonated, and 2) most people had no idea that what they were doing was illegal, let alone thought it was wrong. That completely flipped overnight when we started the lawsuits. It made an enormous impression and we were constantly generating dinner conversations about what you may or may not do with your computer. We think it would be very good if there were more such conversations about all the other things that can be done inappropriately with a computer. So we think it had a tremendous impact by very clearly searing in the minds of the public that maybe getting all of this stuff for free isn’t legal after all.
That seems to undermine the claims that of course people knew it was illegal, doesn’t it? Not surprisingly, the Sherman interview is chock full of other bizarre statements. Even just this one little quote is pretty funny with him trying to somehow redefine the lawsuits as a successful PR strategy. Of course, if they were actually successful in educating people, then wouldn’t there be fewer people accessing unauthorized music today than when they started? Of course, the exact opposite is true. The rest of the article is filled with similarly laughable attempts by Sherman to pretend that the RIAA’s strategy over the past decade has been successful, rather than a complete disaster that has helped the major record labels speed up their own demise.