Friday, December 19, 2008

Good article in "Computer World" on SONY BMG Music v. Tenenbaum case

Came across a good article by Jay Vijayan of Computer World, about the SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum case:

Target of RIAA lawsuit says music piracy case has been an ordeal
College student Joel Tenenbaum claims trade group wanted to make an example of him
By Jaikumar Vijayan

December 19, 2008 (Computerworld) To hear Joel Tenenbaum's version of the story, at least, it isn't hard to see why the Recording Industry Association of America's campaign against music piracy has earned the RIAA so many enemies — perhaps contributing to the trade group's decision this week to stop filing lawsuits against people like Tenenbaum.

Tenenbaum, who turns 25 on Christmas day, is a doctoral student in physics at Boston University. He also is involved in a high-profile legal fight with the RIAA for allegedly downloading and distributing songs belonging to several music labels. The recording companies claim to have discovered more than 800 songs stored illegally in a shared folder on Tenenbaum's computer, although the RIAA's case against him only identifies seven of the songs.

The RIAA says that despite its change in strategy, it doesn't plan to drop existing lawsuits. If found guilty of willful copyright infringement, Tenenbaum faces financial penalties that could exceed $1 million dollars — $150,000 per song, the maximum fine allowed by the federal statute under which he is being sued.
Complete article

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


Anonymous said...

The lawyers even asked him about certain modifications he made to his car in high school because of photos they found on his computer, he said.

If there was ever a reason to absolutely deny the RIAA plaintiffs unfettered access to computer disc hard drives this is it. They have clearly gone fishing for everything thing they can to rattle defendants and this is such an outright over-the-top invasion of privacy and lying to the court about all they are seeking in their forensic examination that they should never be allowed to touch a hard drive again. Only a completely neutral party with a strict list of what is to be searched for that is agreed on ahead of time. After all, a Search Warrant specifies the only things allowed to be taken if found. Why is a computer hard drive any different.

the RIAA has asked for a complete copy of the hard disk in his current computer as well as the ones used by his parents and his sister, who lives in Pittsburgh. He described that request as "a disturbing invasion of privacy."

That is a *lot* more than merely disturbing. If they're not being sued, or that the current computer isn't the computer they claim to have identified as the source of the infringement, this man feels they have to right to its contents at all!

rejected Tenenbaum's $500 settlement offer and his claims of financial problems because its investigation showed that he had just purchased a $250,000 condo.

Clearly you get a legal anal examination by these people.

the trade group claims in its legal filings that it made several attempts to negotiate a settlement with Tenenbaum before filing the lawsuit against him.

Pay up or else isn't any form of negation in this man's book. Especially when every time you agree you find out that the amount has gone up.

{The Common Man Speaking}

Anonymous said...

Ray - as the riaa litigation campaign appears that it is winding down, i think we all owe you a debt of gratitude. you have been a lone warrior over the years in what i am sure may have seemed like a lonely and sometimes thankless job of trying to defend victims and shine publicity on the situation. as the movement against this campaign grew, you emerged as its leader. the others -- EFF, Wired, etc -- used your work as their launching pad. you devoted a not insignificant portion of your life fighting against this campaign. you helped many people over the past few years. you meticulously put together practice tips. it was a really great effort and a job well done. i know there may be other fights ahead and this thing may not be over. it just seemed a fitting time to say this.

raybeckerman said...

Thanks for your kind words.

Alter_Fritz said...

Common Man,
you got it absolutely right with your observation about their modus operandi with regards to "forensic" examinations of defendants harddisks by their "expert" Dr Douglas Jacobson.

He showed this (criminal?) behaviour too in the lindor case and thankfully admitted to have done it by referencing resumees he had read.

Now A_F is left wondering since Dougie and the lawyers have "confessed" to this (criminal?) wrongdoings with the harddiskimages they got:

Why are they still running around free and not behind bars?

No matter how linient a judge might be in interpreting what he has allowed them to do with the HDDs to prove their case of copyrightinfringement, watching private pictures (is RIAA in the business of pimping cars now and they suspected Tenenbaum of plagiarism?) or reading resumees is clearly NOT related to their allegations.

I must remember right now a german TV spot by the content industry against "Raubkopierer" where the mother and the childs are standing in front of the prison wall and singing happy birthday and the child asks when will daddy be home and the mother answers "we have to sing five times more" and the off voice is explaining that copyrighinfringement in germany can get you for 5 years behind bars.

How many times should Mr. Jacobson's students sing at the prison wall?

Or are those record companies, the RIAA, their lawyers, MediaSentry and the guys like Doug immune against laws?
Have they bought the american judicial system in the important positions that they will get away with their behaviour?

I hope not!

Anonymous said...

A_F: We seem to be seeing a slow shift in judges. Starting from maybe the judge's ruling in Jammie Thomas's case, there's been a regular string of solid precedents building up for defendants.

When judges rule against defendants these days, it seems those judges are often ignoring relevant case law, which means their rulings won't stand up in appeals courts.

In Thomas, the ruling didn't even stand up to the same judge checking the situation later.

In Electra v Licata, the magistrate judge's ruling is one I'd expect to see overturned, since he assumes "defendant knows who did it" with no supporting evidence.

I don't expect it'll be a gentle downhill journey for the RIAA's attorneys. They simply have too many cases out there to not get burned hard on some of them. But, like you, I'd rather see things get better sooner than later, because seeing innocent people get pwn3d by the RIAA is horrible.

Fistandantalus said...

I totally +1 what poster #2 said.

Also set up a related discussion at:

To others:
While Ray already knows that this is far from over and bringing out the bubbly now would be very premature, the rest of us should not forget that even though the lawsuits have stopped, its not a total win, not only because the scum..oops, good people at the RIAA.. are not dropping filed suits but because this is marely a shift in their strategy. These people were born lower than a snakes belly, lived like that and continue to live like vermin, dont expect a drastic change anytime soon.


Anonymous said...

Ryan: the lawsuits have not stopped.