Peer-to-Peer, DMCA, RIAA, Lawsuits

After six months of RIAA lawsuits, you’d think this would be old news, but….

It’s been a while since I’ve reported on the music industry’s attempts to control online music distribution, but Ars Technica has been following that and the larger issues all along. The story took a turn in December when a three judge panel ruled that the RIAA’s subpoenas were illegal. That was a win for the ISPs that had brought the appeal against the RIAA and have now ceased cooperation with the music industry. In response, the RIAA had to resort to John Doe lawsuits in its latest round.

If successful, those John Doe tactics will likely yield the same identifying information about the alleged P2P users, but it will require a judge to review and approve each subpoena — far different (and more expensive…and, perhaps, less likely to succeed) from the RIAA’s earlier tactic of directly subpoenaing ISPs for the info. Separately, the RIAA is working to defeat an earlier ruling that commercial P2P software developers were not liable for copyright violations using that software.

Meanwhile, in a non-music DMCA story, the movie industry, after experiencing it’s own legal defeats and watching the RIAA, has decided to take a wait and see approach for now.

One interesting or hopeful point in all this is increasing awareness and understanding of the music industry. Working artists and musicians rarely see much profit from their labor, but now, some say, the technology exists to eliminate the record labels. What remains to be seen is if the will and imagination of musicians and consumers can overcome the control the labels maintain.

With so much talk about these issues, I can’t walk away without mentioning the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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