Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




RIAA Makes Case For Why Parents Should Be Liable For File Sharing Of Kids

from the doesn't-seem-to-fit-with-the-law,-you-know dept

Earlier this month, we pointed out that a judge had told the RIAA it needed to pay up for the legal fees for a woman it wrongly sued over unauthorized music sharing. Not surprisingly, the RIAA has asked the judge to reconsider, but there's also something even more interesting in the request. In the filing, the RIAA lawyers dispute the judge's claim that the RIAA's suit was frivolous and note that if they had been allowed to present more evidence they would have made it clear that the woman being sued should still be responsible for the activity on the account, even though she had nothing to do with the file sharing. The filing argues that, as a parent, she should have been aware of what her child was doing -- and that since the terms of service she agreed to with her ISP placed responsibility on her, then it automatically was her responsibility. On top of that, the filing points out that since she used the same computer, she should have noticed things like the Kazaa icon on the desktop or the annoying popup ads that come with the adware bundled with Kazaa. Of course, the filing doesn't explain how someone who isn't particularly computer savvy is supposed to immediately recognize that pop-up ads = your kid file sharing -- but that seems besides the point. Since it's become increasingly clear that the RIAA is filing these lawsuits based only on an IP address and a prayer (which hasn't been working out so well lately), it's interesting to see the lawyers hitting back and making the case that the owner of an account has liability for the actions of others. It's an argument that's been tried in the past and usually fails, so hopefully the judge will set the RIAA straight again.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2007 @ 1:32pm

    "All these, "what if your kid did this, you'd be liable," arguments are getting on my nerves. If your child stole your car and hit someone, you would NOT be legally responsible."

    You got some case history on that to back you up? I don't know of a jurisdiction where parents aren't responsible for the illegal actions of their children.

    "Um, kids are arrested for their behavior all the time. In a civil case, a jury may find a parent culpable. But a parent never goes to jail for the actions of their kids."

    And in fact we're talking about civil action here. Although if the parents are found to be neglectful, criminal charges could ensue, although obviously not in the present case.

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