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Author Topic: 79-year-old man sued by RIAA for sharing Vanilla Ice songs
Kasie H
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Among the RIAA's recent targets is retiree Ernest Brenot, 79, of Ridgefield, Washington, who wrote in a handwritten note to a federal judge that he does not own a computer nor can he operate one.

Brenot was accused of illegally offering for download 774 songs by artists including Vanilla Ice, U2, Creed, Linkin Park and Guns N' Roses.

Brenot's wife, Dorothy, said she and her husband were stunned by the claims, offended at the suggestion they listened to such music. Brenot was targeted in the previous round of 80 suits the recording organization filed late in October.

This is going way too far.

[ December 06, 2003, 12:33 AM: Message edited by: Kasie H ]

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Kasie H
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How someone chooses to share or protect their own intellectual property (IP) is their choice. I'd love to see artists embrace the GNU Public License (GPL) inspired licenses proposed by Lawrence Lessig and other IP digerati, but that is absolutely the artists choice.

The RIAA's response seems heavyhanded, but it was clearly the path they were on when they sued Napster. The ugly thing to me isn't that the RIAA is protecting copyrighted works, I'm offended by their sloppy forensics and the lack of due process involved.

Try this, google "RIAA Professor Usher" and see what you get. A list of file names and file sizes alone are not good evidence. In a typical computer forensics scenario an investigator would fingerprint a file by taking what is known as a hash of that file. Kazaa and other file sharing networks do not share such hashes -- someone actually patented using such a hash over a file sharing network. if you wanted to increase your score on Kazaa, to give you better access to download other's files you could hack the client so it offers up the same file names and sizes as it sees shared by other users and then uploads a nul stream when those files are requested. your total bytes shared soars, but you aren't actually sharing copyrighted material. This exploit was actually proposed several years ago and can be found in the archives of http://www.securityfocus.com. Such a hack of Kazaa violates the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and Sharman networks could take action against you, but the RIAA has no standing.

So, in order to verify the hash of the file the RIAA would have to actually download it, and they have to do it in a manner that insures it was only downloaded from a single source. Again, this requires hacking the Kazaa client and violates the DMCA - the RIAA's own puppet legislation. (I like the irony - don't you?)

OK, so the RIAA's forensics in these cases is either slipshod or illegal - and if you bothered to google "professor Usher RIAA" you know it's slipshod. Now, the absence of due process comes in the SLAPP subpeonas the RIAA uses to obtain the personal information of suspected file sharers. I believe this is another provision of the DMCA - allowing a copyright holder to demand the removal of information from public networks, and the revelation otherwise private information about the poster. When you participate in a peer-to-peer netowrk you are subject to these subpeonas, and they have been upheld when Verizon and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have attempted to oppose them.

So the RIAA can get your home address because they suspect you are sharing copyrighted information. (I won't even get into the disgusting effect this nonsense portends for free speech -- take a look athttp://www.chillingeffects.org for some more info. I'll just leave it at this - anonymous speech is vital to democracy - see Thomas payne's "Common Sense" or Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison and "The Federalist Papers.")

The above was posted as a comment on www.gendeanblog.com.

[ December 06, 2003, 12:36 AM: Message edited by: Kasie H ]

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While I agree with the obvious illegality of the RIAA's "forensics" (they're really just hacking and guessing), the statement about the GNU license is ridiculous. The GNU is for software and similar intellectual property. If musicians were realeasing their music under such a license, then the record companies wouldn't have to charge less money at all. In fact, they could charge more. You see, all they would have to make freely available would be the musician's sheet music. Making that available would cost money, and who doesn't think companies involved in the RIAA would defer that cost to the customer?
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Papa Moose
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Regardless of one's opinion of the RIAA, one must admit that sharing Vanilla Ice ought to be a criminal offense....
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I would think just having Vanilla Ice songs would be punishment enough...
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Argèn†~ - it doesn't do a very good job of explaining it, but the Creative Commons licenses are only inspired by the General Public License. They are significantly different, even at their most similar, and customized quite well to pertain to artistic works and enable sharing (they do less enforcing of sharing than the GPL does): http://creativecommons.org . In fact, they've got a number of different licenses which you can customize by answering a series of questions about what you want to be possible with your work.
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