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A Fundamentally Flawed Process

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Looking at the music industry lawsuit campaign from a purely tactical standpoint, the story Michael Croft shared yesterday – that the RIAA sued a 66-year-old woman for sharing 2000 songs via Kazaa when not only had she never downloaded or uploaded a song, but as a Macintosh user she couldn’t even use the Windows-only Kazaa software – would seem to cast doubt on the viability of the entire enterprise.

Senator Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.) thinks so:

    “This revelation challenges the testimony of the RIAA at the hearing, and shows that the subpoena process includes no due process for ISP subscribers’ accused of digital piracy,” Brownback said in a statement. “Due process, if it existed within the DMCA subpoena process, would provide accused pirates identified through the subpoena with the critical opportunity to rebut accusations of piracy and prevent the release of their identifying information to accusers.”

    ….”I call on my colleagues in the Senate to join with me in working to correct this threat to privacy and personal safety before we witness the use of non-judicially reviewed information subpoenas to more severe effect than an improper lawsuit,” Brownback, chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space, said. [internetnews.com]

Whether you feel the legal assault on file sharers is warranted or not, its foundation and efficacy now appear very shaky. How could such a mistake have been made?

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.whiterose.org/michael/blog/ Michael Croft

    I can think of a number of ways this could happen, some accidental and some malicious. It’s easy to transpose a digit. It’s easy to get the time-stamp wrong on a request, or foul up the time-zone differences.

    It’s not out of the question that someone at the ISP knew this wasn’t valid, but complied out of spite and the letter of the law.

    And it’s also possible that Johnny Thugnextdoor is stealing Grandma Macuser’s internet connection because she didn’t put a password on her Airport WiFi base station.

    What we’re seeing here is that the DMCA has some serious flaws and that the RIAA will exploit them. It’s probably short-sighted on their part, since the lawsuits against 12 year old honor students and Mac-using grandmas will cause a backlash, but isn’t one of the long term industry problems the takeover by short-sighted beancounters who can’t look past the revenue forecasts?

    The fine, obnoxious folks at TShirtHell.com just came out with a “Sharing is Caring” T-Shirt. RIAA backlash is coming to the masses.

    http://www.tshirthell.com/shirts/tshirt.php?sku=a251