A Boston jury yesterday ruled that file sharer Joel Tenenbaum would have to pay the Recording Industry of America $675,000 for sharing 30 copyrighted songs. The hefty award was all the more surprising because Tenenbaum was represented by a crack team of legal eagles from Harvard’s law school. The trial didn’t unfold nearly the way they planned…
Not content to let the RIAA get all the recent publicity for stupid lawsuits, ASCAP has sued AT&T over sales of ringtones, saying each time a ringtone plays it’s a public performance and royalties should be paid. Luckily (?) for consumers, ASCAP wants AT&T, not individuals, to pay—although we wonder what they’ll say when you take a track from your own library and make a ringtone out of it.
TechCrunch has published a damning rumor accusing the social music site Last.fm of helping the RIAA find users who downloaded leaked copies of U2′s new album. Relying on a tip, TechCrunch claims that the Last.fm, a subsidiary of CBS, handed over a “giant dump of user data to track down people who are scrobbling unreleased tracks.”
Apple has dropped DRM from iTunes — and is offering to remove their DRM from music you already bought for the low, low fee of $0.30 per song.
The Wall Street Journal and Ars Technica are reporting that the RIAA has announced a fairly dramatic change in its strategy to fight piracy.
The only jury verdict against a file-sharer has been thrown out by U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of Duluth, Minnesota, who declared a mistrial because he had committed “manifest error of the law” by instructing the jury that “that the recording industry did not have to prove anybody downloaded the songs from Thomas’ open Kazaa share folder.”
Yet another example of why DRM sucks: Yahoo! is shutting down their music store. Don’t worry, all you have to do is burn all that music to CD then re-upload it to your computer. As Ars Technica says: “Sure, you’ll lose a bunch of blank CDs, sound quality, and all the metadata, but that’s a small price to pay for the privilege of being able to listen to that music you lawfully acquired. Good thing you didn’t download it illegally or just buy it on CD!” [Ars Technica]
A legal brief submitted by an attorney representing The Motion Picture Association of America states that intellectual-property holders should have the right to collect up to $150,000 per violation without having to actually prove copyright infringement, Wired reports. The MPAA attorney, who seems to feel very inconvenienced by the whole “due process” thing writes, “It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement.” Details, inside…
When we read stories like Tanya Andersen’s and consider the countless others who have been wrongfully targeted by trade groups like the RIAA, it becomes evident that the system by which DMCA takedown notices are issued is very far from perfect. For the uninitiated, DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notices are official statements which assert that an artist’s or company’s intellectual rights have been violated (i.e. copyright infringement) and often threaten legal action against an individual. In a study conducted by the University of Washington, researchers proved that this system is seriously flawed, according to the New York Times. In one experiment, the team received takedown notices from the MPAA which accused 3 laserjet printers of downloading the latest Indiana Jones movie and Iron Man. More, inside…
If you were still somehow unconvinced that the RIAA’s legal strategy is “be sleazy, intimidate, then profit,” their latest legal maneuvering might finally convince you. Next week, a judge was to decide whether their case against a New York family should be thrown out—the family’s lawyer, RIAA critic Ray Beckerman, argued “that if the RIAA can’t prove anybody downloaded the music from an open share folder, then the case would have to be dismissed.”
You may remember Tanya Andersen (pictured left) as the woman who was falsely accused of illegally sharing over 1,000 songs, thus becoming the target of an unsuccessful RIAA lawsuit. According to The Oregonian, a federal magistrate has awarded her nearly $108,000 in recompense for attorney’s fees and other costs associated with her successfully fighting the lawsuit. Details, inside…
BoingBoing notes that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the notorious PRO-IP bill that ” puts local law enforcement in a position to demand the forfeiture in criminal proceedings of stuff used to violate copyright. Which means that instead of the RIAA simply trying to collect fines, they can also incite local authorities to collect all the computers and related gear that was used to pirate.” [ BoingBoing ] (Thanks, John!)
Nine Inch Nails is offering their new album for download “one hundred percent free,” on their website. They’ll also release a CD and a vinyl version in July for those of you who like paying for stuff. “The music is available in a variety of formats including high-quality MP3, FLAC or M4A lossless at CD quality and even higher-than-CD quality 24/96 WAVE,” says NIN. Will you buy a record that the band gives away? [NIN]
Although it won’t affect other cases, the RIAA was handed a small smackdown this week when a U.S. district judge rejected their request for a summary judgement, and ruled that putting song files in a shared directory was not enough proof that infringement had occurred.
Yet another reason not to buy DRM music. They are telling us that we have to burn our music to CD format since no additional computers or devices can be authorized after August 31, 2008. So let’s see. Burn to CD, then rip said CD to MP3. Couldn’t they just give us a tool to do it for us, just this once?
David forwarded a copy of the email Microsoft sent him about the expiring DRM. Reading it gives us a headache.
All promotional CDs are forever the property of Universal Music Group and giving or throwing them away are “unauthorized distributions,” according to a brief filed by UMG. In a lawsuit filed in federal court, UMG claims that ownership rights to promotional CDs, typically sent to DJs, reviewers, and others in the music business to generate hype for new releases, are expressly retained by the label. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is taking up the fight against this absurd position in UMG v. Augusto.
MySpace is starting a DRM-free music store, says the NYT.
Exact terms of the deal and details about the new site, like prices for downloaded music tracks, were not disclosed. But MySpace did say the site would offer songs free of digital rights management software or D.R.M., which is used to prevent illicit copying but can create technical hurdles for buyers. The songs would be playable on any portable music device, including Apple’s iPod.
The store will also feature ring tones, tickets, T-shirts, and all that other stuff the kids like.