Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Court grants RIAA's summary judgment motions on some of major issues in Arista v. Limewire

In Arista Records v. Lime Group, District Judge Kimba Wood has granted summary judgment to the RIAA on several of the key issues in the case:

-inducement of copyright infringement
-common law copyright infringement and
-unfair competition

holding not only Lime Wire, but also its 87% shareholder (Lime Group) and its CEO and sole director, to be liable as well.

The decision, not being a final judgment, is not appealable.

May 11, 2010, granting and denying motions for summary judgment

Commentary & discussion:

Keywords: lawyer digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property portable music player


John Lee, Hollywood winner said...

Funny how judges bypass juries, and their pesky jury nullification.

"The Constitution is just a god damn peice of paper! A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
-George Bush Jr

Xetheriel Angelknight said...

"Not Appealable" is not entirely accurate.

"Not Appealable at this time" would be more like it.

Once the rest of the case has been tried, and the final judgement has been rendered, then, and only then can these summary judgements be appealed, along with any other judgements made during the case. The lawyers will just have to ride it out, and hope they can find grounds for appeal at the end.


Matt Fitzpatrick said...

Don't forget that the content industries have spent a lot of money influencing public perceptions about copyright. Home Taping Is Killing Music ("And it's illegal"), You Wouldn't Steal a Car ("Downloading... is stealing"), Windows Genuine Advantage ("You may be a victim"), etc. Expecting a jury of mass media consumers to be that sympathetic to a copyright defendant seems overly optimistic to me.

The part of this ruling that scares me most: If you invent technology that finds, shares, or displays information, but you don't break it with DRM, this court considers that evidence of inducement. The Grokster chill deepens just a bit more.

Alter_Fritz said...

District Judge Kimba Wood wrote: "
A conclusive determination of whether a particular audio file was downloaded through LimeWire may be made through analysis of its “hash.” A hash is a property of a particular digital file that reflects all aspects of that file, including its content, quality and resolution, length, encoding, and any “ripping” software that has been used to transfer the file. Thus, two audio files with the same hash not only have the same sound content but also have been created using the same “ripping” software. Based on a hash-based analysis, it is clear that copyrighted digital recordings downloaded through LimeWire by Plaintiffs’ investigators, were previously digitally shared and downloaded by other LimeWire users.

yet another judge that has no clue! The "hash" has nothing to do with the "ripping" software. Just because plaintiffs have songs on harddrives does NOT prove that those songs were shared and downloaded by other LimeWire users.
A "hash" is not a prove of the plaintiffs claim!

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

Well, let me answer two issues there.

A hash is of the raw data of the file. While files aren't necessarily tagged for the software used to create them, it's plausible that there would be trace differences in the file produced based on small errors in the CD (audio CDs lack error-correct data that data CDs have) and the exact parameters to rip, crop, and normalize the audio. And the potential differences from the particular encoder and settings of the compressor for lossy algorithms like MP3s would be much larger.

So while the explanation is somewhat approximate (or it's possible he doesn't even fully understand the technical details), hash comparison is a moderately reliable way of saying two copies of a media file have the same origin (whatever that may be).

That said, you're right that there's no guarantee that the files available on LimeWire were also downloaded on LimeWire. It could have been through FTP, Usenet, XDCC (all three of those not requiring downloaders also upload them), etc.

Anonymous said...

Alter Fritz -

To say that the ripping program has no effect on the md5 hash of a file is profoundly naive. The odds that two distinct ripping programs will order and provide the exact same metadata and encode with absolutely identical settings in the myriad of choices available are astronomically small, if not impossible.

Infringement is a civil matter, meaning the weight of the evidence only needs to make it 50.00001% likely than not that the event occurred. Having said that, the presence of a a file on a computer with an identical md5 hash to infringing copies out on the internet makes it significantly more likely than not that it too is an infringing copy.

John Lee -

I would like to see how your disdain for summary proceedings would hold up if you were a litigant with an exceedingly strong case. Would you forgo the summary judgment stage and expend the time, effort, and expense of a full trial to preserve the jury that you so clearly revere?

-Anonymous ABC

Anonymous said...


The hash might be the same if two different people use the same ripping software, or the same encryption algorithm.

On the other hand, if there were other information, such as an unusual id3 tag, for example, that *would* be suggestive of a similar source.

And why are we talking about hashes? If one has access to the files themselves, an actual comparison would be better.