RIAA Files A Near Word For Word Copy Of MPAA Lawsuit Against Megaupload

from the because-that's-not-infringement dept

Earlier this week the MPAA filed a very questionable lawsuit against Megaupload, recognizing that the statute of limitations would run out in a few months. And just days later, the RIAA has followed suit with a nearly identical filing. While they're done by two different law firms, the similarities between the lawsuits are uncanny -- including the numerous defective (to dangerous) attempts to reinterpret copyright way beyond what the law actually says. We already covered why most of these theories are defective, but let's look at some similarities between the filings. I mean, honestly, if the RIAA and MPAA weren't so close, and if it were possible to claim copyright on legal filings (as some do assert), you'd think that the MPAA attorneys might have a claim on the RIAA's attorneys for copying their work. One wonders how much the RIAA's lawyers charged to basically rearranged some words in the MPAA's filing.

Let's start at the beginning. Here's how the MPAA describes what Megaupload does:
Megaupload amassed the millions of popular content files that it hosted on its servers and offered to the public for download by openly encouraging and paying users to upload these files. Any Internet user who went to the Megaupload website could upload a computer file, whether or not the user registered as a member. When the upload was completed, Megaupload reproduced the file on at least one computer server it controlled and provided the user with a Uniform Resource Locator ("URL")"link" beginning with "megaupload.com." The uploader could then propagate the link broadly over the Internet, so that anyone interested in downloading or otherwise accessing a copy ofthe file could easily find it on Megaupload's servers.

Any user who had the URL link could access and download the associated content from Megaupload's servers. By "clicking" the URL link (or copying it into any web browser), the user was taken to a "download page" on the Megaupload website that allowed the user to download a copy of the file from a computer server controlled by defendants.
And the RIAA's version:
Beginning in late 2005 and continuing at least to January 2012 when Defendants were indicted, Megaupload amassed the millions of popular content files that it hosted on its servers and offered to the public for download by openly encouraging users to upload these files. Until mid-2011, Megaupload went so far as to actually pay its users to do this. Any Internet users who went to the Megaupload website could upload content files, regardless of whether the users registered as members. Upon completion of the uploads, Megaupload reproduced each file on at least one computer server it controlled and provided the users with a Uniform Resource Locator ("URL") "link" beginning with "megaupload.com" for each uploaded file. The uploading users could then propagate the links broadly over the Internet, so that anyone interested in downloading or otherwise accessing copies of the files could easily find them on Megaupload’s servers.

Users in possession of the Megaupload URL links could access and download the associated content from Megaupload's servers. By "clicking" the URL links (or copying them into any web browser), users were taken to a "download page" on the Megaupload website that allowed users to download the content, including Plaintiffs’ recorded music, from computer servers controlled by Defendants.
Yeah. That's pretty damn similar, including numerous identical phrases. Someone's copying something. Okay, how about the lack of a search (which, as we noted previously, is ridiculous, since Napster got in trouble for having a search, and now everyone's saying that not having a search is just as damning). Here's the MPAA:
To conceal the scope of infringennent occurring on the Megaupload website, defendants did not provide users with a searchable index of files available for download from the Megaupload website (although defendants themselves had access to such an index). Instead, defendants relied on numerous third party "linking" sites to host, organize, and promote URL links to Megaupload-hosted infringing content, including plaintiffs' copyrighted works. Such linking sites made infringing content broadly and easily accessible to users by maintaining an index of links to content files organized by category and/or alphabetically by titles of the copyrighted work; some such linking sites also offered search boxes where users could enter queries quickly to find the content they wanted. Many of these linking sites were blatant pirate sites, hosting thousands of links to infringing material. Any visitor could quickly see the widespread availability on many linking sites of links to infringing content on Megaupload. Defendants knew of this open infringement on pirate linking sites and closely tracked the traffic from those sites to Megaupload. Furthermore, defendants provided financial incentives for premium users to post links to these sites through the Uploader Rewards program.
Okay, and the RIAA version:
To conceal the scope of infringement occurring on the Megaupload website, Defendants did not provide users with a searchable index of files available for download from the site (although Defendants themselves had access to such an index). Instead, Defendants relied on numerous third party "linking" sites to host, organize, and promote URL links to Megaupload-hosted infringing content, including Plaintiffs' copyrighted works. Such linking sites made infringing content broadly and easily accessible to users by maintaining an index of links to content files organized by category and/or alphabetically by titles of the copyrighted work; some such linking sites also offered search boxes where users could enter queries quickly to find the content that they sought. Many of these linking sites were blatant pirate sites, hosting thousands of links to infringing material. Several of these linking sites exclusively offered Megaupload links. Any visitor could quickly see the widespread availability on many linking sites of links to infringing content on Megaupload. Defendants knew of this open infringement on pirate linking sites and closely tracked the traffic from those sites to Megaupload. Defendants also knowingly interacted with users of linking sites and have visited such sites themselves. Defendants also provided financial incentives for premium users to post links to these sites through the Uploader Rewards program.
Right. So those two paragraphs are identical, except the RIAA adds in two extra sentences about the linking sites. It goes on and on like this, with both filings clearly working off of either each other or the DOJ indictment, which they're copy/pasting into their own filing and fussing with a word or two here or there. Here's just one more example. Both filings claim that Megaupload can't be considered a "cloud storage" site because it would delete unpopular files. Here's the MPAA's version of this:
Contrary to some of defendants' public assertions, Megaupload was not designed to be a private data storage provider. Users without premium subscriptions were restricted not only in their downloading capabilities, but also in their ability to store files on the site. Any content they uploaded would be deleted if it was not also downloaded within a certain period of time -- after 21 days in the case of unregistered, anonymous users and after 90 days in the case of registered users who were not premium subscribers. Only premium subscribers (estimated to be 1% of users) could use Megaupload for long-term file storage.
And the RIAA's nearly identical text:
Megaupload was in no respect designed to be a private data storage provider. Users without premium subscriptions were restricted not only in their downloading capabilities, but also in their ability to store files on the site. Any content that users uploaded would be deleted if it was not also downloaded within a certain period of time--after 21 days in the case of unregistered, anonymous users, and after 90 days in the case of registered users who were not premium subscribers. Only premium subscribers (estimated to be one percent of users) could use Megaupload for long-term file storage.
Of course, Kim Dotcom has now refuted this claim, saying that content that was unpopular was not deleted from Megaupload.

However, even beyond that, I fail to see how having a service like this that deletes unpopular content suddenly disqualifies it from being a legitimate service. Lots of other legitimate services have similar terms. While it appears to have recently changed this, the popular image sharing site Imgur (which we use at Techdirt) used to have a very similar clause, saying that "images that are not viewed for 6 months may be removed. However, images with pro accounts can only be removed by you." That doesn't mean they were not a legitimate service.

Nor does it mean it's not a "cloud" service. Different cloud services serve different markets, and services like Megaupload (and Imgur) tend to be more focused on the immediate sharing of content (not necessarily infringing content). In fact, if you look back at the origins of Megaupload, it initially resembled services like the old "YouSendIt," which were focused on making it easier for people to move any file from one person to another. That's not encouraging infringement, it's encouraging being able to transport a digital file it's completely neutral to whether or not the content is or is not infringing.

Either way, the RIAA's lawsuit is a near carbon copy of the MPAA's, and is just as faulty in its reasoning. It's nothing more than a blatant pile on in the attempt to twist copyright laws to their liking.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 9:30am

    In a semi-just world

    The MPAA would file a lawsuit alledging copyright infringement by the RIAA, blissfully unaware that court documents are public domain

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Pragmatic, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 7:27am

      Re: In a semi-just world

      Ah, but if the RIAA paid the requisite license fee, it's all above board. Remember, those starving artists have a right to make a living from their work. /sarc

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Vincent Giannell, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 10:22am

    "The RIAA's lawsuit is a near carbon copy of the MPAA's, and is just as faulty in its reasoning. It's nothing more than a blatant pile on in the attempt to twist copyright laws to their liking."

    I'll bet RIAA and MPAA will be very angry and insulted after reading this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 4:14pm

      Re:

      The lawsuit is definitely from the Cardinal Richelieu school of law, twist a mans words to incriminate him.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 10:24am

    There will no doubt be further pressure and further refusuals from the MAFIAA to keep Dotcom's defence team from being able to access the servers to gain evidence that will debunk the MAFIAA claims all the time during and even after the criminal case has reached its final conclusion.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 11:14am

      Re:

      At what point does a Judge decide that the evidence has been rigged, or tampered with, by the prosecution being selective; and not allowing the defense access to evidence?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        That One Guy (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 12:07pm

        Re: Re:

        Unfortunately, if it was going to happen, it would have happened a long time ago, so I can only assume they managed to find quite an 'industry friendly' judge to be in charge of this whole mess.

         

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  •  
    icon
    OldGeezer (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 10:26am

    I can attest to the fact that files were not deleted for lack of downloads. I had personal files that I never gave out the URL that had never been downloaded. Also some study materials that I sent to a friend were only downloaded once in at least 2 years before the shutdown.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 11:18am

      Re:

      I second that.

      I used to use it for sending large files before dropbox came along, I re downloaded a couple of the files to stick them on my dropbox about a month before the shutdown.

      The MAFIAA are just scraping for excuses.

      I liked the radio show with the MPAA guy and KDC. KDC refuted each point and came out sounding far more trust worthy than the MPAA, mind you I don't think that is too hard!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 11:24am

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 11:29am

      Re:

      You do realize that if the MPAA/RIAA version of copyright law was enforced, there would be no tape recorders, video recorders, Internet or personal computers.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Gwiz (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re:

        Easy now. Our esteemed Anonymous Coward hates it when logic is enforced.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        That One Guy (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 12:05pm

        Re: Re:

        Acceptable losses.

        After all, no price is too high when it comes to protecting the profits of copyright owners(not creators mind, they can go rot), and obviously without such technologies as music players, television and it's related technologies, and the internet profits from music(not film though, which wouldn't exist, as recorded video would take money away from the hard working theater actors) would be higher than ever, because, again, obviously such technologies are nothing but tools of piracy and should be made illegal as such.

        /s

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Ruben, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 12:26pm

      Re:

      When is copyright law ever enforced?

      All I've ever seen is extrajudicial sabre rattling.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      G Thompson (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 1:44am

      Re:

      I see by your comment that is repeated ad infinitum that you like eating paste

      (popehat readers will get the reference)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
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    justplainfolks (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 12:10pm

    If you look at the current state of our educational system and the morality in this country you'll see why there is more than coincidental similarities in both filings.
    How do you think a lot of professionals take/pass tests and get their degrees? I doubt that lawyers, especially lawyers, are not above doing it that way.
    Plus, I'll bet they all billed for the hours to "create" the filing.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Zonker, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 12:15pm

    Pay attention to what both the MPAA and RIAA are alleging here. This is not really about "piracy" at all. They clearly state that the are going after Megaupload because it hosted and promoted popular content. Megaupload was doing their job better, faster, cheaper, and more profitably for artists that used it to distribute their works. Just ask Busta Rhymes.

    Megaupload was the MPAA/RIAA's direct competition for distributing and promoting artists profitably. Megaupload was the future that would make the MPAA/RIAA dinosaurs extinct. *That* is why the MPAA/RIAA have gone to the lengths they have to shut it down and make an example out of Kim Dotcom so that it will never happen again. Look closely to the details of their case and see for yourself.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 12:16pm

    It's not just the mafiaa.

    Lawyers certainly do share, steal, and otherwise reuse other people's legal filings. It's fairly standard practice actually. It's not just limited to the MAFIAA here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 12:25pm

    The thing that stands out about this, isn't about lawyers sharing or using others legal filings. It's about who they represent. Both the MPAA and the RIAA are supposedly going after infringers time and again where you hear about it in the news and here.

    For all the crowing they do when they win a case, you would think that copying anything that in any way could be seen as plagiarism, infringment, or intruding on someone else's work in any way would be a big sore thumb that would stand out as something you just don't do.

    Such is not the case and time and again, they are found infringing on others works only to have to pull it down or as an after thought pay for the work. It's not too hard to see that even they have problems following the laws they have gotten set up. Quite frankly, it is at parts about education. Not of the people but of the ones setting these laws up that run contrary to human nature. They are poor laws and people do not willingly respect them because it goes against their nature of sharing.

    If you put lawyers up as the idea men, guess what their solution will usually be?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 12:54pm

    The copyright monopoly must die.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous CowRd, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 3:46pm

    Triple jeopardy?

    This could almost be seen as a case of triple jeopardy, given that the DOJ went after Dotcom at the behest of of the MAFIAA, then their two most prominent component organizations separately bring essentially the same lawsuit.

    I realize that legally it doesn't wash but then neither does most of the prosecution's case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Kronomex, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 7:18pm

    We We did did not not collude get together when when the the suits suits were were filed considered.

     

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  •  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 1:51am

    Quick Q for all attorneys


    Would joinder (either of claims OR compulsory of parties) be appropriate here with regards to both MIAA/RIAA's suits?

    If so how would that affect any default judgement structures? Also if amicus's (like Dropbox et.al) come into the fray?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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