by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 4th 2007 6:33am
Lots of folks are paying plenty of attention to the first RIAA lawsuit to go to a jury trial. Initially the reports were that the defendant's case was strong, and the RIAA didn't have very much evidence. In fact, the RIAA's star technical witness has been debunked before, and it appears that many of his claims were once again debunked in the court room. However, even with such weak technical evidence, I have to agree with Tim Lee that this sounds like the RIAA has a pretty strong case, based on the combination of the IP address and the username in Kazaa. It's the identical username that the woman uses for many, many different online accounts -- making it tough to believe that someone else happened to be using that same username from an IP address assigned to her account. It also seems highly questionable that the woman would claim she never had Kazaa with that kind of evidence. There are still some legal questions here -- including whether or not the court will instruct the jury that simply making content available is copyright infringement. However, it's disappointing that this is the case that's going to trial, because it certainly looks like the RIAA has stronger evidence than usual in this particular case. Despite what some people think my position is on the issue of unauthorized sharing, I absolutely do not condone it (nor partake in unauthorized sharing). I think the laws covering this type of thing tend to do more damage than good to the very industry it's supposed to help -- but that doesn't mean people should be free to ignore them. I also think the RIAA is making a dumb business decision with these lawsuits and that it often accuses people without much real evidence. However, even with the flimsy technical evidence, the combination of other factors certainly makes this look like a much stronger case from the RIAA's side. That's unfortunate, because if the RIAA does win, more people will assume it legitimizes their lawsuit strategy and even supports their other cases where the evidence is a lot weaker. Perhaps I'm missing something, but it's difficult to see how this case was a good one to fight the RIAA on.
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