Home / Blogs

RIAA Loses Again: No Legal Wins Against P2P File Sharers So Far

Sascha Meinrath

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been taking a lot of people to court — basically, harassing folks in an attempt to curb file-sharing. The $220,000 verdict against Jammy Thomas got a lot of news (and probably worried a lot of folks). However, on appeal (i.e., after a new court not cherry-picked by the RIAA to try the case looked things over), the RIAA lost… again. ZDnet covered the verdict.

At its heart, the verdict reaffirms that simply making a copyrighted work available is not the same as actually distributing the work. In other words, copyright holders actually have to show harm before they can sue the pants off of people. More importantly, it lends yet more weight to the notion that our copyright laws are woefully out of date and that the RIAA has systematically overstepped the legal bounds of its authority under existing copyright law.

Fundamentally, there will need to be a reassessment of copyright and a rebalancing of the rights of copyright holders and the benefits of copyright to the general public. As Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution clearly states:

"The Congress shall have power to...promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

The goal is the promotion of the progress of science and the arts — not to enrich copyright holders. Clearly, we've strayed from that core mission and Congress should reaffirm its commitment to the original function of copyright.

By Sascha Meinrath, Director at X-Lab
Follow CircleID on
SHARE THIS POST

If you are pressed for time ...

... this is for you. More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

Vinton Cerf, Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet

Share your comments

Verdict vacated, no new verdict Mike O'Donnell  –  Sep 30, 2008 11:42 AM PDT

the verdict reaffirms that simply making a copyrighted work available is not the same as actually distributing the work

There is no verdict. The court recently vacated the old verdict, mainly due to improper jury instructions.

on appeal (i.e., after a new court not cherry-picked by the RIAA to try the case looked things over)

I am pretty sure that the original judge who issued the improper instructions discovered his own error, and reported it. Perhaps someone else will look that one up.

Mike O'Donnell
http://people.cs.uchicago.edu/~odonnell

To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related

Topics

New TLDs

Sponsored byAfilias

DNS Security

Sponsored byAfilias

Cybersecurity

Sponsored byVerisign

IP Addressing

Sponsored byAvenue4 LLC

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign