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RIAA Shifts Lawsuit Strategy

Postby SlyckTom » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:20 am

June 26, 2003, marked the day the Recording Industry Association of America began collecting evidence and preparing lawsuits against individual file-sharers. At the time, the effort was the main spearhead in a multifaceted campaign to stem the unchecked growth of file-sharing.

Anticipation of the lawsuits had been growing for over a year, as early attempts to hold P2P developers responsible for copyright infringement proved difficult. In 2003, Presiding Justice Steven Wilson disagreed with the entertainment industry’s assertion that StreamCast Networks and Grokster were responsible for the unlawful activities of their users.

"Defendants distribute and support software, the users of which can and do choose to employ it for both lawful and unlawful ends," Wilson wrote in his opinion. "Grokster and StreamCast are not significantly different from companies that sell home video recorders or copy machines, both of which can be and are used to infringe copyrights."

The entertainment industry’s appeal in 2004 faired little better. The panel of three judges confirmed the lower court’s ruling, and maintained neither party qualified for secondary copyright infringement.

"This appeal presents the question of whether distributors of peer-to-peer file-sharing computer networking software may be held contributory or vicariously liable for copyright infringements by users. Under the circumstances presented by this case, we conclude that the defendants are not liable for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement and affirm the district court’s partial grant of summary judgment."

The entertainment industry, represented by the RIAA and MPAA, immediately appealed this decision to the United States Supreme Court. Unlike the two previous rulings, the entertainment industry finally received the decision they so desperately sought. In a unanimous 9-0 ruling, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the lower courts, stating StreamCast Networks and Grokster could be sued for violating federal copyright laws.

“We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties,” Justice David H. Souter wrote in court’s decision.

While all three rulings varied in their success for the entertainment industry, the common denominator maintained that users are responsible for their own actions. This gave the RIAA and MPAA the ammunition they needed to continue pursuing individuals who distribute copious amounts of files online. Yet three years and over 18,000 lawsuits later, the strategy of launching a continuous barrage of monthly lawsuits aimed at approximately 750 individuals is being retooled.

The problem with the current barrage of lawsuits is equivalent to being hit with a fire hose of information. With so many individuals being hit at once, it becomes counterproductive to the entertainment industry’s effort to educate the file-sharing populace. The growing perception over the years has developed into complacency. Who are these people? Do they live near me? Why should I care if some nameless, faceless individual on the other side of the continent was sued for sharing 5,000 songs on the FastTrack network?

This lack of focus is apparent when alleged file-sharing pirates come forward to the media and plead ignorance in the face of a $3,000.00 settlement. Often times such individuals are completely befuddled, unaware their actions were unlawful.

Realizing this, the RIAA has shifted their strategy away from once a month, en masse lawsuits. Replacing the old strategy is one that still focuses on individuals; however the number is spread out over the course of a month rather than an immediate date. In addition, the weekly lawsuits focus on specific geographic locations, working with local media outlets to catch the attention of the surrounding populace.

“We are currently filing lawsuits throughout the month in batches, in order to maximize efficiencies and expand the geographic reach,” an RIAA spokesperson told Slyck.com. “We are always looking for ways to make the program as effective, smart and targeted as possible. We need to be flexible in how we manage these litigations in order to handle them efficiently. The lawsuits are and will continue to be an essential part of a larger effort to encourage fans to enjoy music legally.”

This new strategy is already taking shape. Quite noticeably, there has been a lack of RIAA press releases articulating the usual monthly, en masse round of lawsuits. Conversely, there’s been an increase of local and specific news articles describing potential lawsuits against alleged P2P pirates. For example, the <a href=http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/local_news/epaper/2006/06/26/m1a_MusicSue_0626.html?cxtype=rss&cxsvc=7&cxcat=17 target=_blank>Palm Beach Post</a> recently reported that local Boynton Beach resident Dorothy O'Connell (and several others) was sued for sharing files online. It’s a similar story in Evansville, Indiana, where the <a href=http://www.courierpress.com/news/2006/jun/23/group-alleging-digital-stealing/?printer=1/ target=_blank>Evansville Courier Gazette</a> published an article this week describing two local residents currently facing potential RIAA lawsuits.

The aim of the new RIAA strategy is to give a name and face to a previously ho-hum lawsuit campaign. It’s designed to summon a reaction that invokes a sense of relevance and vulnerability, not one that’s perceived as something happening in a far off land. There’s little question the previous RIAA strategy is far from the worldly success hoped for. Three years and 18,000 lawsuits later, more people are populating P2P and file-sharing networks than ever before. This new campaign will certainly bring more localized attention to the issues surrounding the great file-sharing debate, however which direction the local populace focuses this attention will only be realized with time.
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Re: RIAA Shifts Lawsuit Strategy

Postby Drake » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:38 am

SlyckTom wrote:“We are currently filing lawsuits throughout the month in batches, in order to maximize efficiencies and expand the geographic reach,” an RIAA spokesperson told Slyck.com. “We are always looking for ways to make the program as effective, smart and targeted as possible.


I suppose they believe that their weekly shock and awe campaigns will result in Americans turning off their computers for good.
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Postby liberator » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:42 am

They are optimizing their lawsuit strategy for maximum efficiency........

It's beyond me how a professional can say something like this. Lawyer jokes are already commonplace and lawyers are often derided, instead of respected for the intellectual work they do. But this goes one step further. Not only we are losing faith in the Legal System but soon we will start to make fun of it. Once the pillars (politics, administration, justice) of the Modern State fall like that the only one left would be the fourth Power - Media (TV and Holywood). God help us then!
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Postby zbeast » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:46 am

Wait a sec!?!

This is almost as bad as when the super villain starts monologuing to the super hero about how he's now got you trapped and now my evil plan can not fail.

If people know your evil plans.
The super heroes can stop you.

What they have in mind is nothing new you see this type of thing in the news paper all the time.
Johnny Whatshisname age 54 of Nacogdoches Texas was arrested to day for possession of 1000lb of whipping cream with a street value of $500.00
If convicted he could be sentenced to 1 year on oprah and a 100 penny fine.
They give names location evil deed, and possible punishment. People will do what they always do.
Shrug and stuff the paper in the bird cage.
Worse yet Kids don't read or watch the news so they don't care.
I only read the news because I invest in stocks.
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Re: RIAA Shifts Lawsuit Strategy

Postby SlyckScratch » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:47 am

Shock and Awe replaced by Hearts and Minds - corporate style
I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' To tell the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement - but as I deal in English, the most powerful language in the world with subtle nuances that may blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' Well do you punk?
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Postby who_me » Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:07 pm

isnt this the same exact strategy that the MPAA has used since they started suing customers themselves? And look what a major impact that has had on movie sharers LOL
what a fkn joke these corporations r.....
/me goes back to leeching <we don't need to know what you're leeching> :roll:

why not? :roll:

dont be ghey.. u gonna edit peeps post have a backbone and use ur nick along with the edit....
as per your rules found here:
http://www.slyck.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=11063
i wasnt doing anything wrong ;)
Last edited by who_me on Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby VSAMCluster » Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:21 pm

The RIAA should be careful what they wish for. There's already a smattering of stories about them going after 12 year olds and people without PCs. If they want to start making sure more stories get to the local press, they could end up antagonizing someone who actually knows something about P2P and gets a decent story about it into the press.

Then again... if you know something about P2P, you probably aren't using Kazaa or Fasttrak..... :lol:
I don't mind stealing bread from the mouth of decadence.
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Postby Dazzle » Wed Jun 28, 2006 1:16 pm

I refuse to become part of the corporate "fear mongering machine", its my firm intention to ignore stories of this type.

Theses suits are not launched blindly, a credit check is more than likely done to confirm that they fit the profile to extort.

Picking on poor and low income households to launch suits against is the work of the lowest form of humanity, a Global list of law firms handling such cases should be established to allow interested parties to avoid doing buisiness with those who sue the dead, children and anyone else who is not likely to be able to afford to mount a defence.
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Postby SlyckScratch » Wed Jun 28, 2006 1:18 pm

@Dazzle

Wow. Can you do a credit check on someone in the States without their permission?
I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' To tell the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement - but as I deal in English, the most powerful language in the world with subtle nuances that may blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' Well do you punk?
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Postby who_me » Wed Jun 28, 2006 1:34 pm

SlyckScratch wrote:@Dazzle

Wow. Can you do a credit check on someone in the States without their permission?


why not? im sure uve seen all the news on how the US law enforcement has been using 3rd party companies to illegaly buy info on citizens.. im sure credit info wouldnt be hard to find ;/
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Postby abou105 » Wed Jun 28, 2006 1:35 pm

VSAMCluster wrote:Then again... if you know something about P2P, you probably aren't using Kazaa or Fasttrak..... :lol:



I would say now that you are just as likeley to get caght on most of the major networks as others... Kazaa just seems to have more fakes.
Information is so valuable in todays society, its understandable people want to lock it up, but the internet is about freedom of information, lets not take that away.
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Postby Widdle » Wed Jun 28, 2006 1:48 pm

Credit checks can be done in the states without any authorization. Just the way it is thanks to the useless office called Comptroller of the Currency.
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Postby timmyfl » Wed Jun 28, 2006 2:10 pm

Funny stuff in here "The lawsuits are and will continue to be an essential part of a larger effort to encourage fans to enjoy music legally."
How by bankrupting entire families so they have no cash for anything.
cable theft is a victimless crime!
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Postby Red_Blue » Wed Jun 28, 2006 2:10 pm

This shift in tactics may be a double edged sword for PRopaganda reasons, because smaller local media are less likely to be publishing CRM's claims without any rebuttal. The "human face" stories also give more airtime, column inches and web pages to the extortion victims to convey their surprise, disgust and cries of injustice. Perhaps there will also be wider disclosure of the abuse of process by the CRM and the "settlement centers" in clearly extorting money with false legal claims and indifference to any counterclaims or even evidence that they got the wrong person.

Remember, that the first stories may be more in line with what CRM has to say because as mentioned by Tom, they are carefully coordinating these regional stories by feeding their PRopaganda material to the journalists. However, the followup articles exploring the issues more in depth and exposing the whole scheme of faulty investigation, unproven and unprovable claims and generally unethical litigation practices may in the end turn out to be "educating" the population not about how bad P2P is, but how utterly horrible and indefensible the copyright mafia business strategy of legal extortion is.

In the more general "750 sued this month" stories, there won't be any single extortion victim to speak out about their experiences in dealing with the CRM.
Last edited by Red_Blue on Wed Jun 28, 2006 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby altpdend » Wed Jun 28, 2006 2:14 pm

This will be just like they when first started their lawsuits it will get reported on alot and as time goes it will get less and less Attention. Most of the local towns papers are not owned by the big media so you won't get the usual proriaa reporting. I saw this artical abour the riaa going after a grandmother for her granddaugther downloads and well the artical was not kind to the riaa.
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Postby sonnentier » Wed Jun 28, 2006 2:39 pm

Maybe this new strategy will make more people thinking, and afraid of P2P, however I find it sad that the music industry seems to care about nothing else than scaring and to sue "music lovers". Or to force them in buying expensive, copyright protected CDs/Files, taking much freedom.
I wonder if it is essential for them to see their business partners (consumers, users) and technology/progress as enemies. I don't see more controlling DRM as improvement for users :)
Couldn't there be something like FairSharing; fair for both parties?
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Postby IFeelFree » Wed Jun 28, 2006 3:17 pm

When a common activity like file sharing is outlawed, it breeds disrespect for the law. Similar to the 55 mph speed limit, prohibition, war against drugs, etc. Large numbers of people violated these laws and the result was often more harm to society than benefit. The RIAA/MPAA want to lock up our culture and turn us into a "permission society". People won't stand for it. The content industy is slowly losing the battle. There are so many ways to get content, even copyrighted content, for free. Also, indie content is becoming more prevalent.
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Postby ShawnSpree » Wed Jun 28, 2006 3:57 pm

RIAA, coming to an area near you. Catch them on tour.
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Postby curzlgt » Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:16 pm

Another fine article Tom!

As the article points out the RIAA has only had one real success in this war, the Grokster decision, and even it failed to stop the growth of filesharing.

The harder they squeeze the the more filesharers slip through their fingers. Now they are taking their war to the local press......

I'm sure putting faces with their jon does will work out real well for them.......

I fully expect another surge in the numbers of filesharers as a result of their latest strategy change. I figure Big Champaign will be reporting 10 mil simeltanious p2p users around mid-summerish

Litagation as a business modle......... :roll:

“We are currently filing lawsuits throughout the month in batches, in order to maximize efficiencies and expand the geographic reach,” an RIAA spokesperson told Slyck.com. “We are always looking for ways to make the program as effective, smart and targeted as possible. We need to be flexible in how we manage these litigations in order to handle them efficiently. The lawsuits are and will continue to be an essential part of a larger effort to encourage fans to enjoy music legally.”


sad days we live in when this kind of abuse of the legal system is allowed to continue and flurish.
Last edited by curzlgt on Wed Jun 28, 2006 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby lubczyk » Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:19 pm

The difference is that not obeying the speed limit or anti-drug laws can bring about personal injury and/or death. File Sharing is just free exchange of information. It might be illegal but it's not ethical for File Sharing to be illegal. Just look at what an unconstitutional thing Hollywood did a few years back:

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20020305_sprigman.html

Now that, as far as I'm concerned, is a pure, cold-blooded, shameless encrouchment on our rights!
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Postby SlyckScratch » Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:42 pm

who_me wrote:
SlyckScratch wrote:@Dazzle

Wow. Can you do a credit check on someone in the States without their permission?


why not? im sure uve seen all the news on how the US law enforcement has been using 3rd party companies to illegaly buy info on citizens.. im sure credit info wouldnt be hard to find ;/

Why not? There's a little thing called 'Privacy'. If it is ok in the US to do this, i'd at least hope there's a record of who did the search.

I'm sure none of us has privacy when our governments and law enforcement get involved but this is record companies, not the secret service :roll:
I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' To tell the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement - but as I deal in English, the most powerful language in the world with subtle nuances that may blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' Well do you punk?
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privacy?

Postby Knucklez » Wed Jun 28, 2006 5:06 pm

i wonder how it is the local news papers catch wind of the "story" to begin with? i mean, if you were sued would you go running to the new paper to tell them your folly? probably the news paper is tipped off by RIAA.. but then wouldn't that be a breach of privacy of some sort? defamation of character because RIAA went out of their way to rub you in the mud :?:

just wondering,
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Postby webe3 » Wed Jun 28, 2006 5:08 pm

I am STILL waiting to hear the outcomne of the trial that the woman is suing the entertainment industry for extortion....I have a feeling that once this gets into the main news, the entertainment industry is gonna get their head handed to them on a platter.
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Postby IceCube » Wed Jun 28, 2006 6:20 pm

Maybe this will speed up the growth of resistance to these tactics. Who knows?
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Postby who_me » Wed Jun 28, 2006 6:22 pm

SlyckScratch wrote:
who_me wrote:
SlyckScratch wrote:@Dazzle

Wow. Can you do a credit check on someone in the States without their permission?


why not? im sure uve seen all the news on how the US law enforcement has been using 3rd party companies to illegaly buy info on citizens.. im sure credit info wouldnt be hard to find ;/

Why not? There's a little thing called 'Privacy'. If it is ok in the US to do this, i'd at least hope there's a record of who did the search.

I'm sure none of us has privacy when our governments and law enforcement get involved but this is record companies, not the secret service :roll:

it isnt ok to do this in the US but yet law enforcement commonly uses 3rd parties to mine data about peoples they maybe investigating but cant get a warrant for... its under investigation right now... this practice has been used by the beat cop right up to the fedz.... check google and ull find info about it ;/
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