p2pnet news | RIAA News:- Years back, then MPAA boss Jack Valenti, now deceased, developed the theme that studio workers were being thrown into the streets by their thousands because of staggering financial losses caused by piracy.
It wasn’t true then, and isn’t true now, but it looked good in the media and was reported as fact.
Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG know a good thing when they see it so they picked the line up and their various spin organisations, such as their RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), have been using it ever since as part of disingenuous claims that ‘pirates’ are wreaking terrible havoc within the multi-billion-dollar corporate music industry.
Today marks Day 2 of a trial in which the Big 4 will try to convince a Duluth Minnesota, civil jury that as Tereastarr, Jammie Thomas, a 30-year-old mother of two, is guilty of using Sharman Networks’ Kazaa P2P file application – itself on the wrong end of a file sharing lawsuit – to illegally distribute 1,702 copyrighted music files online, with Holme Roberts & Owen lawyer Richard Gabriel leading the way for the labels.
The trial, the first in which an RIAA victim confronts the labels in an open court of law, is expected to run until Thursday at the least and will define how the sue ‘em all campaign will proceed.
And from the off, Jennifer Pariser, head of litigation for Sony BMG, claimed file sharing is a “tremendous problem affecting the music industry” causing, “several billions of dollars of harm” to the labels, says Ars Technica.
Keeping an open mind
On the jury is a high school English teacher from Kanabec County who has a master’s degree and is a musician, says the Duluth News Tribune, going oni:
He wore his hair over his ears and a black T-shirt with white lettering that read: ‘Got Democracy?’
The man said he has read a lot about the issue of music pirating in Rolling Stone magazine. He said his students also like to write about the issue. ‘It’s a good, controversial topic for students to write about,’ he said while being questioned as a prospective juror.”
Most of his students probably sided with those who download music,” he said, adding, “I know it’s a very debatable topic with lots of issues.”
“He said his view goes back and forth, but he could keep an open mind and follow the law that the judge said must be followed,” says the story.
Lack of technical knowledge
One of the reasons the RIAA cases have progressed as far as they have is because most of the judges hearing them had little or no technical knowledge, and no feeling for how the the Net works.
This meant they’ve been unable to sort fact from RIAA fiction and now, “Jurors’ understanding, or lack thereof, of the technology behind the alleged misdeed might make the difference in the case’s outcome,” says Wired‘s David Kravets, going on:
“Some of the 12 panelists told the judge during jury selection that they lacked basic computer knowledge. Some said they had never been on the internet or don’t use it now. None admitted to using a file-sharing network.”
But, “Five said they had a digital music player and two said they copied a compact disc,” suggesting they probably have more technical knowledge and than may first appear.
And Thomas’s computer hard drive will figure prominently
It was replaced in 2005 after Virgin Records, Capitol Records, Sony BMG, Arista Records, Interscope Records, Warner Bros Records and UMG Recordings, say they let her know they believed she was illegally distributing their copyrighted files.
But Brian Toder, who’s representing Thomas, says the hard drive was replaced before she knew she was being targeted by the labels.
Meanwhile, “I never downloaded anything, Thomas states, says the Duluth News Tribune.
“I have CDs of everything I listen to.”
Massive job loss
What’s it all about?
The Big 4 saying file sharing is playing a major part in the serious decline of the traditional corporate music business, failing to acknowledge they’ve created a whole new consumer class of hundreds of millions of music lovers who, because of the lawsuits, bad product and over-charging, now go out of their way to avoid buying Big 4 product.
The labels say the estimated 30,000 men, women and children ( some of them as young as 10) across America who are currently under attack, charged by the RIAA of sharing music online, are ‘criminals’ and ‘thieves’ although with sharing, nothing has been stolen, no money has been exchanged and no one has been deprived of something they used to own.
EMI (Britain), Vivendi Universal (France), Sony BMG (Japan and Germany) and Warner Music (US) say files shared equals sales lost but as I posted yesterday, the assertion has been, “shot down in a number of authoritative studies, the most quoted being The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis from Koleman Strumpf, professor of business economics at the University of Kansas Business School and Felix Oberholzer of the Harvard University Business School.”
The labels also claim file sharing contributes to massive job loss and ravages the US economy.
Nonetheless, and despite Pariser’s statements, a new Fair Use study states unequivocally:
With more than $4.5 trillion in revenue generated by fair use dependent industries in 2006, a 31% increase since 2002, fair use industries are directly responsible for more than 18% of U.S. economic growth and nearly 11 million American jobs.
In fact, nearly one out of every eight American jobs is in an industry that benefits from current limitations on copyright.
‘Usually, they settle’
Meanwhile, “No other case has gone to trial,” concludes Kravets in his Wired story, adding:
“Usually, they settle. In some instances the cases are dismissed for various reasons, including lack of evidence or the alleged pirate is deceased.”
However, I seriously wonder about that and IMHO, it’s more likely most cases haven’t, in fact, been ‘settled’. Rather, they’re still pending, still awaiting some kind of resolution, and as I also wrote yesterday:
“In August last year when the number of people who’d received subpoenas had reached 8,400, only 1,700 had been frightened into paying up under the RIAA’s extortionate settlement scheme, admitted spokesman Jonathan Lamy, and it’s unlikely that the proportions are very different today, especially given that more and more people are standing up to the Big 4 and their hired legal guns.”
Also see RIAA ‘sue ‘em all’ war losing money.
More to come, so stay tuned ….
Jon Newton - p2pnet