Serial Killers of Suing: How the RIAA Finds Its Victims

There’s a fascinating story over on p2pnet describing exactly the legal process the RIAA is using to blanket sue tens of thousands of people.

How does Organized Music get to victims? Lawyer Ray Beckerman, who’s been working with Santangelo since the begining, explains:

A lawsuit is brought against a group of John Does with the corporate headquarters of the ISP as the location of the lawsuit. But, “All the RIAA knows about the people it is suing is that they are the people who paid for an internet access account for a particular dynamic IP address,” says Beckerman, going on:

“The ‘John Does’ may live – and usually do live – hundreds or thousands of miles away, and are not even aware that they have been sued. The case may drag on for months or even years, with the RIAA being the only party that has lawyers in court to talk to the judges and other judicial personnel.

“The RIAA – without notice to the defendants – [then] makes a motion for an “ex parte” order permitting immediate discovery…

I think everyone’s a bit tired of these assholes, even if they were once sympathetic to their position. On one hand, it is absolutely reasonable to protect your IP within the full scope of the law. On the other hand, when you are metaphorically living in a bamboo shack on the beach facing a tsunami of illegal music pirating and all you can do is spear the jellyfish impotently flotsaming along with the tidal wave, maybe you’re missing the point: your business model is rickety, outdated and can not be saved.

We no longer live in a world where entertainment is media based, and until the nukes start spangling the sky, we likely never will again. A song is no longer just a concert ticket or a vinyl LP. A movie is no longer just celluloid on the silver screen or a DVD. It is data – easily transferable, nebulously owned. You can sue all the people you want who realize this before you, but when you finally wise up, these guys are going to be the sizable chunk of your consumer market that you foolishly squandered. You shouldn’t be criminalizing these people. You should be marketing to them.

I mean, how clueless does an industry have to be when they are gleefully fantasizing about jail time for people who are merely fondly remembering that industry’s product? Stuff like this makes me think the Music Industry, as it is right now, simply can’t be saved – it’s going to have to be rebuilt from the rubble.

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  1. I think that the music and movie industry have missed a golden opportunity. They are fighting over HDDVD and Bluray and suing their customers while others have found a way to evolve and to compete in this landscape.

    One industry that has been very apt at managing technological change has been the porn industry. Say what you will about the ethics of their product, but porn is the real reason why the VCR beat the Betamax and it is interesting to see how sites have been able to create some pretty massive businesses around the P2P model. They’ve understood that while some will steal their product, there are still many people who are willing to pay to not get internet STDs and to know that they will have a high quality product instead of some tiny degraded digital copy.

    Unfortunately the studios have been so hell bent on protecting their high (and possibly monopolistic) DVD and CD revenues that they have refused to innovate. There is no reason why a free ad supported TV model couldn’t be supported on the net. While they are so concerned about ad skipping by TiVo, they are missing an opportunity to incorporate ads with their content via the internet. I would argue that if they allowed Netflix to stream their movies that it would take a bigger bite out of piracy then trying to sue their customers.

    They are essentially trying to plug a gaping hole in a dam with just a finger. If they refuse to innovate then I have no symphathy when I hear that people have stolen their content. I will continue to view P2P users as doing a social service through civil disobendience until we see Hollywood come up with a digital solution.