Is it coincidence that a) a judge ruled in favor of Grokster against the RIAA regarding copyright liability on Friday b) Apple announced its new music service Monday c) the RIAA sent out threatening messages to Internet file sharers yesterday?
- RIAA President Cary Sherman said the latest tactic had been in the works for months but gained urgency after a judge ruled Friday that Grokster’s technology didn’t violate copyright law.
….a slick new downloadable music system from Apple Computer Inc. sold more than 200,000 tracks in its first day, record industry sources said.
To bolster those fledgling ventures, the music industry is attacking the free file-sharing networks outside the courtroom on three fronts:
* Piercing the veil of anonymity. The new instant-message campaign targets Kazaa and Grokster users who offer any one of several hundred popular songs for copying. The message they’ll receive automatically – just once per day, Sherman said – declares that downloading or offering copies of songs without permission is illegal.
The purpose is just to educate users, and the RIAA doesn’t plan to take any further action after sending 1 million to 2 million instant messages this week, he said. [LA Times]
This version of “educate” sounds ominously like the “re-education” of the Chinese Cultural Revolution – it seems as though the industry is attempting to foster a dramatic “cultural revolution” of their own, returning them to the driver’s seat of this cultural buggy.
Back to the Times:
- * Gumming up the works. In the weeks leading up to a major release, the record companies have been flooding the file-sharing networks with bogus copies of the songs on that record. Some of them download at an excruciatingly slow pace, making it all the more frustrating for users when they discover that they’ve been duped.
For example, files on Kazaa that appeared to be advance copies of songs from Madonna’s latest album turned out to contain a message recorded by the pop diva: “What the [expletive] do you think you’re doing?”
But such decoys lose their effectiveness, anti-piracy experts said, after a CD is released and real copies of the music appear online.
….* Playing up the risks. The record companies have tried to make consumers nervous about connecting to file-sharing systems, and not just for fear of a piracy lawsuit.
They’ve played up the computer viruses on the networks – at least six have been distributed by Kazaa, Sherman claims – and the danger of inadvertently sharing personal documents and information.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the House Committee on Government Reform have started trumpeting the risks of file sharing, recently holding or scheduling hearings on child pornography, privacy and security on file-sharing networks.
The committee is doing as much as it can to “get the word out to parents about the amount of pornography that’s easily available on these sites,” spokesman David Marin said, including urging talk-radio hosts to take up the issue.
Can the RIAA win by breeding fear and confusion? Not in the long run because those they wish to frighten and confuse are their customers, who when all is said and done, owe them nothing.
By the way: where did the RIAA get the idea to send file sharers threatening IMs? Perhaps from their opponents in the Verizon case:
- “We made an argument to the judge that (the RIAA) always has the option to contact the user directly rather than go through the ISP,” said Verizon’s associate general counsel, Sarah Deutsch. “The means to do that would be the chat feature.”
One intellectual property attorney involved in the case was rather amused by the news.
“This was something that came up in the Verizon case after the recording industry claimed that they had no way of contacting end users,” said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is working on the case on behalf of consumer and privacy groups in support of Verizon.
“That’s just too funny,” von Lohmann said. “It’s fascinating that they are now taking our advice.”
A representative for the RIAA said that the group “knew of this capability separately from whatever Verizon suggested” and said that it did not get the idea to contact file swappers from Verizon. [Wired]
Of course, Information Minister.
In addition, here is the text of the RIAA’s threatening IM:
- COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT WARNING: It appears that you are offering copyrighted music to others from your computer. Distributing or downloading copyrighted music on the Internet without permission from the copyright owner is ILLEGAL. It hurts songwriters who create and musicians who perform the music you love, and all the other people who bring you music.
When you break the law, you risk legal penalties.There is a simple way to avoid that risk: DON’T STEAL MUSIC, either by offering it to others to copy or downloading it on a “file-sharing” system like this.
When you offer music on these systems, you are not anonymous and you can easily be identified.You also may have unlocked and exposed your computer and your private files to anyone on the Internet. Don’t take these chances. Disable the share feature or uninstall your “file-sharing” software.
For more information on how, go to http://www.musicunited.net/5_takeoff.html.
This warning comes from artists, songwriters, musicians, music publishers, record labels and hundreds of thousands of people who work at creating and distributing the music you enjoy. We are unable to receive direct replies to this message. For more information about this Copyright Warning, go to http://www.musicunited.net.