Tuesday, January 24, 2006

RIAA lawsuits hit close to home.

This past weekend, my wife gets a phone call from a former co-worker and friend... She proceeds to tell my wife that she got a notice that several top record companys (like Motown) are suing her for song sharing.  1500 counts at $750 each... ouch.  My wife, having discussed this very thing a couple of years ago and how the RIAA is actively suing, even 80 year grandmothers for peer-to-peer sharing, proceeded to tell her friend to “get and lawyer and settle as quickly and and for as little as you possibly can.”  This turned out to be the best advice... It looks like she is settling for only $4800 total, plus lawyer fees.  Also, after a few Google searchs, my wife's freind quickly found out that all the previously filed suits either settled or lost in court.  This bostered her resolve to settle as quickly as possible and not try and fight it.

Apparently, this all started when my wife's freind's daughter signed up for Limewire and proceeded to download like crazy.  It's sad, actually.  That is why as soon as I found my kids had signed up for BearShare (a similar peer-to-peer service), I proceeded to clamp down the firewall at the home network to totally block all peer-to-peer technologies, Gnutella, Napster, Limewire, BearShare, etc...  The last thing I need is to be served with a lawsuit because my children were downloading massive amounts of songs, movies, etc...  Keep a very close eye on what and where your children are surfing.  I've also setup a web proxy that all the children use that blocks adds, popups, and looks for sexually explicit material and blocks it.  The good thing is that it is, at times a little over zealous.  That's good because, the kids will now come to me and say, “Dad, I can't get to site 'abc.com.'“  That allows me to screen the site and if I approve of it, I can simply add it to the exception list.

I feel really bad for this freind since it totally blindsided her and her family.  The good side is that for this family, $4800 isn't going to sink them, but it will hurt.  Imagine if this happened to a far less financially capable family or person... like those 80 year-old grandmothers living on a fixed income.


  1. Mind sharing what the piece(s) of software(s) that you are using (ie web proxy, firewall etc) to control your kids' internet access?

    I used to use NetNanny but am getting quite irritated with it, and I've probably reached that point of wanting to dump it. :)

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Blocking www.abc.com? I don't blame you! That site has horrible media on it :)

    ..nothing like fox.

  3. I'm curious what you are using for the internet as well.

    Do your kids have email? So far only my 12 year old wants email so we signed her up for an account at safe2read.com. Even though I have my own domain and could create an account for her in 2 minutes for no additional charge, I'm not about to give her a totally open email account.

    With Safe2Read, initially all email sent and received has to be approved. You can add addresses to the safe list or continue to monitor everything. It gives you complete control as to how granular you want to monitor things.

  4. The RIAA is simply bullying people into settling as part of an "information campaign". Judging from your reaction, it appears to be working.

    Let's try to get the law changed instead of considering file-sharing kids to be criminals. Read http://www.eff.org/share/?f=legal.html

  5. Jax, David,

    I use Privoxy (http://www.privoxy.org). It is free and highly configurable. Also, no filter is perfect, but it does keep out most objectionable material. For email, the children have their own accounts on our own server which is hosted at my home.


    These are civil suits and so they're not considered "criminals." If they had been prosecuted under federal statues by the DOJ, then it'd be a criminal case. And, yes I do agree that laws should be clarified, however, the rights of the copyright holder should also be upheld. No doubt that the RIAA is a large amoral organization and is using strong -arm tactics. So are you saying that I should have encouraged this friend to fight this on principle? This problem isn't going to be solved in the courts, it needs to be solved in congress and in the culture.

  6. Corbin,

    I would have figured it the other way around ;-). Block Fox and leave open ABC... ;-)

  7. <<Also, after a few Google searchs, my wife's freind quickly found out that all the previously filed suits either settled or lost in court.>>

    LOL... your wife's friend has a reading problem (or maybe a Google problem <g>). There is not a SINGLE case of someone losing a file-sharing suit - because not even one made it so far. It looks like Andersen and Santangelo will have the honor... and the odds are good that they'll actually win the suits.

  8. Allen,

    Interesting story. I can't say I feel sorry for her or the 80-year old grandmother. How can one download 1,500 songs for free and not suspect something is awry? "If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

    I am sure Borland would not be pleased with Delphi being passed around on a P2P network. A music artist won't be any different. I would agree that suing in every case might be excessive, but suing, right or wrong, doesn't alleviate the fact a crime was committed.

    In regard to low income violators of the law, you could say that about paying for traffic violations, child support, bail, and more. Sometimes a payment plan is worked out.

  9. Blocking your childerns traffic is censorship. China does the same to its fellow citizen. Wouldn't it be a better approach to teach them identifying what is correct and what isn't? Maybe they discover that sharing music and films *is* correct and it's not your childern who have to be changed but the laws.

  10. I have no sympathy for people who steal intellectual property and then get caught. 1500 songs? That's the equivalent of having stolen nearly $1500 worth of merchandise.

    As for these people that say sharing songs (or any intellectual property) ought to be perfectly legal, I can only assume that they have no understanding of wealth and capital. They probably think only physical goods have any value or worth. That's a dangerous myth.

  11. A lot of companies actively look on the p2p networks for their work, hop on the download and track all the IPs in it. Its not hard to find ut if you've been doing it.. I wish in a way Borland did the same for its products, a lot of hard work goes into things like bds having people get at it illegally is wrong.

  12. RIAA is just a bunch of huge companies that want to keep the business model that made their money. Their purpose: Control all the channels of diffusion, and make independant diffusion the hardest and more confidential possible.

    During RIAA's "war against P2P terror" (lawsuit campaign), record sales progressed less than 2%, and P2P users progressed more than 30%. Now several millions of pple use P2P all around the world, they just can't all be wrong.

    The RIAA was is lost, they know it, threatening pple appears as a desperate, attempt, now proved to be inefficient.

    In france the lower chamber passed a bill to legalize P2P with a voluntary global license.

    No matter the future of this bill, they did it, somewhere in the world a chamber constituted with elected pple has said that P2P is just fine, providing the fact you are paying a reasonable amount each month (~10$), you can legally download anything.

    Someday those who decide in our name will remember that P2P users or their parent have the right to vote, and may not choose the one that tell your kid is a thief.

  13. Hi John,

    I say sharing songs could be legal, but I don't say it should be for free. I fully agree with you that intellectual property must be protected.

  14. Kyle Miller,

    With all due respect sir, you're a slime spinner (please dully note I refrained from using words like EDot, arsshwle or others on the same file). And I say that because you are guilty of bullshitting people. Apart from this not being the place for a *proper* answer to you (but seeing how it is on topic), I would only say that *music artists* are not exactly those that primarily stand to lose from P2P traffic. Often times, the artists are encouraging their songs distribution on P2P. It sells concert tickets, which they do care about. You see (of course you do, I just point this for the others), the recording companies are the real losers in this, and granted, they're also artists... only con, not music artists.

    As for Borland and Delphi... you are right. They would probably not be happy with it on P2P... (well they should probably be a tad sad already). Also it truly saddens me to say, I won't sympathize . After being ripped off with an D2005-Ent that's *useless* even after the third SP (and unofficials – sorry Allan, they did help... but not enough for what we expected from / payed to Borland), I seriously think a bootlegged D2006 would be the right answer for many (almost... it still has issues). Oh sorry... the BSA only protects one way. Well... if justice would truly be served...

  15. John,

    You say that "they have no understanding of wealth and capital". The way I see it, the wealth of society as a whole is never increased by imposing artificial scarcity.

    Yes, new technology can be disruptive. It may eliminate existing busines models. But is imposing artificial scarcity really the answer when facing disruptive abundance? Isn't it more likely that new business models are needed?

    People will not stop creating music just because the business model of 'selling copies' falls apart. They will find new ways to make money from music.

  16. As long as major music artists and record company executives are earning dozens of friggin' millions a year, i won't feel guilty for a second to download all of their music for free! Maybe they should pour a little less champagne and flash a little less diamonds in their videos before they start to sue hardworking people.

  17. gd, Nice comment about Delphi 2005. Class action suite anyone? Not sure what U.S. laws could be used. In the U.K. though I think the 'fitness of goods for stated purpose' clause of the Sale of Goods Act might be a good start; lets face it, not going to happen though... As far as bootlegging Delphi 2005 goes, surely using the thing would be punishment enought.

  18. David Howes,

    I was not referring to bootlegging D2005... as you said, it's an action defeating it's own purpose. I was speaking about D2006 (DeXter) in that part. Please note that I was not *encouraging* people to do it. I _do_ think it would be the right kind of answer Borland should receive for it's previous lemon (as in beta rebaptized golden and shipped way before it's time). And the reason I say so it's because D2006 definitely approaches what I thought I was buying a year before (as I said, it still has it's issues... but at least it's suitable for production from what I've heard... a couple of SPs and we'll hopefully have a winer). The problem is... Borland would leave me with one product in my hand, only payed for twice (ok... upgrade options considered). This is simply disgraceful... I mean... c'mon... it's Borland... (only now I think it finally is Inprise :( ). When some seller from it's local rep. contacted me about upgrading I seriously thought he was joking (pun intended) and that we were to be offered a _free_ (as in beer) "upgrade" to the product we had already licensed. Well... not exactly....

  19. Doh :-) that'll teach me to read posts more carefully. I read 2005 for 2006. The rest of my post stands though...

  20. So far I have not noticed any reference to sharing, only downloading. To my knowledge only file sharers have been prosecuted.

    If file sharing is disabled in the set up of most p2p software,RIAA investigators will not be able to read downloaded files

    from your computer. No sharing = no evidence = no lawsuit.

  21. Please consider contacting and supporting the Institute For Justice, The Free Software Foundation, and the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

    I believe that ripping a cd that you own into mp3 files that you listen to on your mp3 player should be legal under Fair Use. It probably was legal prior to the DMCA.

  22. If the RIAA didn't sue dead people might take them a little more seirously. I notice they stopped pretending to be LA SWAT, they were doing that a couple of years ago when they "busted" bootleggers. Nothing wrong with busting bootleggers but if you pretend to be SWAT when you do it...?


Please keep your comments related to the post on which you are commenting. No spam, personal attacks, or general nastiness. I will be watching and will delete comments I find irrelevant, offensive and unnecessary.