Suing individual file traders. Right, wrong, or both?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by KnightWriter, Jul 3, 2002.

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  1. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Major music companies are preparing to mount a broad new attack on unauthorized online song-swapping. The campaign would include suits against individuals who are offering the largest troves of songs on peer-to-peer services.

    THE BIG recording companies, working through their trade association, the Recording Industry Association of America, are moving toward filing copyright lawsuits that would target the highest volume song providers within the services, which allow people to grab songs without paying artists or labels, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The suits would be part of a broader effort, including a public campaign that may feature prominent artists urging music fans to respect copyright rules.

    The new legal tack would be a departure from the entertainment industry?s strategy so far. Companies have been reluctant to take legal action against individual Internet users, in part because they have feared the possible backlash that could result from big corporate interests dragging individuals into court.

    Suits against individual Internet users ? particularly if the defendants aren?t seeking to create profitable operations based on their online music activities ? could cause a backlash from some of the record industry?s own fans and biggest customers. But many music executives, watching revenue sag as home compact-disc copying has soared, feel that they have little choice if they are to save their business. World-wide music sales dropped 5% last year, while global sales of compact-disc albums declined for the first time since CDs were launched in 1983. So far this year, U.S. music sales are down steeply from a sluggish 2001.

    Filing suits against individual users is complicated. Entertainment companies frequently hire services that specialize in tracking copyrighted material online. But to get the name of an individual user, they have to send a subpoena to that person?s Internet-service provider. Even for the ISP, linking the Internet address to a name can be complex. Moreover, it?s hard to verify which person was logged on to an Internet connection at a given time.
    If the target of a suit turned out to be under 18, he or she would likely be liable. Under certain circumstances, the parents could also be liable.


    That is about half of this article. I share this not for the news value, but rather for the debate of whether or not it is right, wrong or even legal for record companies to attempt to sue individual users. What kind of precedent would it set if a company could sue two people trading songs that they legally own with each other, or people who download music they legally own already. What kind of precedent will it be setting if the RIAA can work with ISPs to find out your downloading information and thereby sue you based on what they find (or what they think they find). And what of the practical points of it, such as the risk of the record companies truly alienating their customers away and thereby severely damaging themselves in a way they have not done before.

    Just some points for debate :).



    Title Change On Request.
  2. tenorjedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2000
    star 5
    I imagine on this website, people would be more intersted and concerned if the porn industry was the one cracking down. But that's just a guess ;)
  3. 1stAD Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 5
    That's probably true [face_laugh]

    The recording industry can always spin facts to support their attacks on P2P file sharing. What, with the "average kid" being able to download 3000 songs in 3 days. The fact is, pirating has become a much bigger problem than it has in the past, but the industry is blowing their losses way out of proportion. Did they suddenly forget that the major economies of the world aren't exactly flying high right now?

    Of course they didn't. I think it's clear the major companies passed up the chance to distribute music online and now that option has been stolen from right under their noses - by millions of individual users. Now they're mad and want it back.
  4. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    In wanting it back (in this case, suing individual file traders), do you think they are willing to risk everything?
  5. BoboliFett Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2002
    star 3
    I don't even understand how they could track such a thing.

    Is that possible?

    Is that constitutional in the US?

    BTW: it could be a bluff, just a scare tactic.
  6. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    BTW: it could be a bluff, just a scare tactic.

    Don't count on it.
  7. BoboliFett Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2002
    star 3
    It doesnt make sense though... how could they track you? It doesn't seem legal, like entrapment or something. Wouldn't the police have to track it? So if the police go to download your song then that seems like entrapment.At least in the US.

  8. KaineDamo Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2002
    star 5
    It is far too late for them to start policing this now. Too many people download songs on a daily basis. It would be like trying to make alchohol illigal.
  9. Rebecca191 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 1999
    star 6
    I think it's wrong. I think it's an invasion of privacy and it makes me think even lower of the music industry. Has it ever even occured to them because maybe sales are down because of ridiculous prices? That's the only reason I download MP3s!!!
  10. Jedi_Xen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 4
    I agree with Rebecca191, why should I go pay $15-20 for a CD when there are only 3-4 songs out of 14-20 that I actually like? Its not like CD's are a new phenomenon that hasnt caught on quite yet, CD's are now the prime sales of music trade, not cassettes or records.

    The music industry is just a bunch of greedy bastards with their hands in everybody elses pockets trying to steal what they can. And incase these morons didnt know, the internet is international, I from the US can swap songs with someone living in Spain or Japan. Get a life, you dont see the movie industry suing over videotapes do you?
  11. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    What do you think of them going after individual people?
  12. Saint_of_Killers Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 5
    They're trying to scare people.
  13. Rebecca191 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 1999
    star 6
    I think it's wrong because it's an invasion of privacy, unless the individual is selling CDs they made.
  14. 1stAD Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 5
    I still want to know how the recording industry plans on policing illegal downloads. They sure can target the biggest distributors by finding them over IRC, etc, but how do you stop small individual file sharers who probably account for the most music piracy?
  15. Darth_Tim Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 4
    When the music industry stops trying to shove J-Lo, Britney, NSYNC, et al down my throat, I'll quit rejoicing that they are losing money from P2P software. Heh..try finding some of the good but obscure music I listen to in your average music store..

    -Tim
  16. Darth Fierce Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 6, 2000
    star 4
    "I think it's wrong. I think it's an invasion of privacy and it makes me think even lower of the music industry. Has it ever even occured to them because maybe sales are down because of ridiculous prices? That's the only reason I download MP3s!!! "

    That's quite an interesting rationalization. Stealing someone's property, and then taking the moral high ground by accusing them of being "wrong" in trying to catch you.


    "why should I go pay $15-20 for a CD when there are only 3-4 songs out of 14-20 that I actually like?"

    Because that's the price they legally charge for a product they created. You have the choice to spend your money on someone else's product instead.


    "The music industry is just a bunch of greedy bastards"

    Well, that much I can agree on. I don't condone theft or piracy for a second, but the music industry's woes are proof that karma really does exist.
  17. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    I would note that it is not illegal at all for someone to download music that they already own.

    Because that's the price they legally charge for a product they created

    That doesn't make it right.
  18. Diesel_Dave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2002
    star 4
    This debate has been going on since the invention of the audio cassette. Just refocused. Worlwide sales of EVERYTHING is down, and more that just 5%. They made the same greedy argument because people just might copy an LP onto cassette. Granted MP3 swapping is much easier that getting taped copies to your friends, but the argument is the same. I don't feel it's wrong to download one song. Infact, I'll use that song sometimes to find the album I want. (when it's on sale of coarse) $17-19 US for 10-15 songs is rediculous. Especially when the actual cost of making the CD (minus royalties and markups) is less than 5 cents ($0.05 for those unfamiliar with US currency) I personally feel that it has helped increase sales because it helps get the band or artist name out, or the new album. The radios and TV are controlled by the recording industry. We hear what they want us too (except for the much loved all request hour :p ) I do feel it's steeling to download a whole album with the intend of not having to pay for it. Jukebox owners have to pay royalties. Internet radio now has to pay royalties. It all comes down to money... IMHO :)

    Metallica, the two faced backstabbers that brought this whole thing to the front page, used to actually tell people to copy their stuff when they where a younger band.

    I think I'll end this on that note!
  19. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Metallica, the two faced backstabbers

    From what I've seen, they've been massively shunned for what they did to Napster and file sharing in general.
  20. Darth Fierce Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 6, 2000
    star 4
    KnightWriter:
    "I would note that it is not illegal at all for someone to download music that they already own. "

    I couldn't tell if you directed that at me, but the people I was replying to pretty clearly were talking about downloading music they didn't want to pay for.


    "That doesn't make it right."

    Why not?
  21. Diesel_Dave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2002
    star 4
    Yes they did loose quite a few fans. Although not enough to make a huse dent in sales. I never really listened to them that much but I have ALOT of friends that do/did. They are pretty upset about what transpired.
  22. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Why not?

    Because it costs less than a dollar to make a CD.
  23. Darth Fierce Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 6, 2000
    star 4
    But they're not selling CD's, they're selling the product on it. They have to pay the artists, the producers, and the agents, and they have every right to make whatever profit they can above that by setting whatever price the consumer will pay.
  24. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    They have to pay the artists

    Not very much.
  25. Rebecca191 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 1999
    star 6
    They still make a disgustingly large profit. And sales of everything were down recently. Because the economy wasn't good, DUH!
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