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Advice for the Beleaguered File Sharer

Another roundup of the current legal status of file sharing, the RIAA’s Campaign Against Humanity, and advice on how to not get sued: if you have already been subpoenaed, erase copyright infringing files from your computer; if you haven’t, stop file sharing.

Hmm, brilliant advice. When I explained the situation to my 3-year-old, she also mentioned disabling the the computer’s sharing capability, and she hasn’t even started law school yet!

    As the recording industry tries in unprecedented fashion to enforce copyright laws against individual consumers, legal experts say people can take several steps to try to avoid costly litigation.

    For starters, legal experts advise file-sharers to stop sharing any unauthorized files. That action could, though not necessarily, eliminate the need for more costly legal steps if a file-sharer learns he or she has been caught in the Recording Industry Association of America’s copyright infringement dragnet.

    ….The RIAA will not say what it considers substantial, but legal experts say the larger the number of files, the more likely the file-sharer will be sued.

    ….”So the first thing you should do if you want to be off (the RIAA’s) radar is to stop uploading,” said Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    The San Francisco digital-rights advocacy group’s Web site, www.eff.org, includes a new page that offers tips on how not to get sued by the RIAA for file sharing. Among those tips are ways to stop sharing potentially infringing files or to disable file sharing.

Aah, now I understand when you put it that way.

    But Rothken, the San Rafael attorney, believes having shared files may not automatically be an infringement. “If you are somebody who accidentally shares a subdirectory on a private hard drive and someone wants to call that an offering because it appears on some file-sharing network by accident, the answer would be no,” he said.

    RIAA spokeswoman Amy Weiss said her group might be “willing to talk settlement” if a file-sharer has erased the evidence, but that would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

I wonder if a middle class citizen who loses his house and has to move his family to the street and eat cat food due to an RIAA suit for file sharing will consider not kicking every single member of the RIAA’s ass on a case-by-case basis.

    If a person learns the RIAA has subpoenaed the ISP to learn their identity, they should seek legal advice to protect their rights, said Glenn Peterson, a partner in the law firm McDonough Holland & Allen PC of Sacramento.

    The firm is one of several legal firms listed on a Web site — www.subpoenadefense.org — that has been set up as a resource for people served by RIAA subpoenas.

    The subpoenas themselves raise other new legal issues, such as whether they interfere with federal laws designed to protect the identities of minors on the Internet, Peterson said.

This part actually IS helpful, having a sympathetic, savvy attorney to call is golden.

    Verizon Communications, which has been fighting to overturn the law, said it has told users they have seven days to hire an attorney and decide whether to challenge the subpoena.

    If Verizon doesn’t hear from the users within seven days, the company said, it will turn over the user’s personal information to the recording industry.

    But if an attorney contacts Verizon by the seven-day deadline, Maureen Flanagan said, “we don’t turn over the names to the RIAA.”

In other words, call a freaking attorney.

    RIAA spokeswoman Weiss said that while her group expects a consumer backlash, it will press ahead because the record industry believes it has no other choice.

    “We won’t win any popularity contests. We don’t really care what people think, except we want them to know that it (file-sharing) is illegal,” Weiss said. “It’s unpopular, it’s not pretty, but it’s the right thing to do for all the people involved in the music industry.”

If by “right thing” you mean the most counterproductive, suicidal, vengeful, disproportionate, stupid thing to do, then it sure is! Rock on.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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