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View Full Version : So it begins.... The first file-sharing trial, that is.



Steve
4th October 07, 01:25 AM
First File-Sharing Trial Begins in Minnesota
Tuesday, October 02, 2007

DULUTH, Minn. An amateur musician and 11 other jurors were seated Tuesday in the trial of Jammie Thomas, accused by the recording industry of sharing music online in violation of copyrights.

Thomas, a 30-year-old mother of two, is the first of 26,000 people sued by the industry whose case has gone to trial.

An industry group and three recording companies claim she illegally offered 1,702 songs for free on a file-sharing network.

Her trial offers the first chance for both sides in the debate over online music sharing to show a jury its version of the facts. Opening statements were expected Tuesday morning.

Her lawyer says the record companies haven't even proven that Thomas, who lives near Brainerd, Minn., and works for the Department of Natural Resources of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, shared the songs.

Most of the 26,000 people the record industry group has sued have settled by paying a few thousand dollars.

"We think that speaks to the clarity of the law here," said Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America.

But lawyers for the defendants say they've settled because trials cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Thomas's lawyer, Brian Toder, said she was determined to fight. He declined to make her available for an interview.

"She came into my office and was willing to pay a retainer of pretty much what they wanted to settle for," he said. "And if someone's willing to pay a lawyer rather than pay to make it go away, that says a lot."

There have been no claims that either of Thomas' children ages 11 and 13 were involved in music sharing.

Thomas is at risk for a judgment of more than $1.2 million. The recording association is seeking damages set under federal law, of $750 to $30,000 for each alleged copyright violation.

"We repeatedly offer out-of-court settlements far less than what the law allows," Lamy said. The lawsuits aim to "communicate that there are consequences for breaking the law and encourage fans to turn to legal online services."

Jury selection starts Tuesday in Duluth, Minn., and opening statements are expected the same day.

The record companies claim that on Feb. 21, 2005, online investigators at SafeNet Inc., found 1,702 files shared under what they said was a Kazaa account being used by Thomas.

The songs included Swedish death metal band Opeth, German industrial group VNV Nation and American rock band Chevelle.

"This individual was distributing these audio files for free over the Internet under the username '[email protected]' to potentially millions of other KaZaA users," according to court papers.

Capitol Records Inc., Warner Bros. Records Inc. and Sony BMG are among the companies suing Thomas.

In addition to filing the lawsuits, the industry group has sent 4,000 pre-lawsuit letters, Lamy said.

The recording industry persuaded a federal judge in 2001 to shut down Napster, which made copyrighted music available on its own computers. Since Napster re-opened, it has charged users for music.

The file-sharing programs that emerged to take Napster's place point users to files available on a variety of computers and servers. But their impact has been the same: Millions of songs are being downloaded for free instead of purchased legally.

So the recording industry began naming individual file-sharers users in lawsuits in September 2003. The industry association says the lawsuits have helped.

But the number of households that have downloaded music with file-sharing programs has risen from 6.9 million in April 2003 to 7.8 million in March 2007, according to industry tracking.

"I think by most any metric you choose it's been a failure," said Fred von Lohmann, the senior intellectual property attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group.

He questioned whether the lawsuits are much of a deterrent because the 26,000 cases have targeted only a small percentage of music downloaders.

"The vast majority of people will never know anyone who's gotten sued for this," he said.

Toder, Thomas's attorney, plans to start with the basics making them prove they own the songs at all.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis threw out 784 pages of documents produced by the record companies to show they owned a sample of the songs.

Toder had argued that the documents were produced seven months late.

--------------------------

Link. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,299018,00.html)

Like I said: SO IT BEGINS. :suicide:

JohnnyCache
4th October 07, 01:36 AM
It's nice to see someone actually go to trial. Some of their suits have been really ridiculous.

Steve
4th October 07, 01:51 AM
Indeed. I'm very interested in seeing how this turns out and if it will encourage others to go to trial as well.

If all 26,000 people were to go to trial I imagine the record industry would have to do a bit of backpedaling. Considering that the people that they would be prosecuting were obviously the same people that paid their wages (or at least would, if they some how managed to get rid of file-sharing sites) and wouldn't want to make them bitter.

Shawarma
4th October 07, 01:36 PM
I'm wondering: Do people only get sued for downloading music and popular movies or do the people downloading ancient films nobody cares about, video games and porn also get hit?

kismasher
5th October 07, 01:57 PM
FUCKING BULLSHIT!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071005/ap_on_hi_te/downloading_music

$9,250 / SONG, WTF!!!!

Cullion
5th October 07, 03:12 PM
I'm not going to get into the ethics of copyrighted material here, just talk about the practicalities of internet file-sharing.

These lawsuits, to me, seem like the 'finger in the dyke' approach. 'We make an example, and the rest will be scared enough' approach. Right or wrong, I just don't believe that all the favourable judgements in the world are going to much difference to the continued growth of file-sharing.

The mass-media we've inherited from the early 20th century has a business model based on the assumption that it's worth spending a lot of money tracking down, coaching, supporting and then producing/stage managing the artists with the broadest appeal because we can more than make the money back by making millions of copies of their work at low cost-per unit as long as we have economy of scale which individual members of the public cannot achieve due to lack of capital.

Digital media mean that this assumption has died. Trying to prop it up with endless investigation of individuals, constant investment in DRM systems (which by definition will always be crackable, and therefore will be cracked) and endless court cases is not economically sustainable.

These are the options I can see:-

Mass reproduction where you don't expect the end user to pay for it, but advertisers or other sponsors pay (already happening with product placement in movies and certain music genres, and on certain advertising funded legal download sites).

Use of mass reproduction as a marginally profitable or loss-leading enterprise where the real goal is to make money from merchandise or live performances.

Performers are going to have a choice between using their mass-produced work to sell other people's stuff, or using it to sell their own stuff. The mass reproduced article itself will no longer be the profit centre. The most popular will still be able to make vast sums and buy the beach-houses etc.

Dagon Akujin
6th October 07, 01:24 AM
Use of mass reproduction as a marginally profitable or loss-leading enterprise where the real goal is to make money from merchandise or live performances.


This is already the case for the artists. Many artists make absolutely DICK on the CD sales. Even some Grammy Award winners have made only enough to place themselves just out of poverty. Remember TLC declaring bankruptcy... after their album went diamond?

Fuck the record industry. You support artists much more by watching their shit off YouTube, stealing what you like, and then GOING TO A FUCKING CONCERT.

Dagon

WarPhalange
6th October 07, 12:29 PM
If you feel bad about stealing money from musicians via downloading their albums, mail them a $20. That's more than they'd ever see if you bought 10 of their albums.

Stick
7th October 07, 03:00 PM
Esentially the RIAA is the horse and buggy industry trying its damnedest to fight the tide of the automobile, but rather than take on Ford and Chryssler they're sueing the customers that have switched from a horse drawn cart to a model-T.

They're trying to maintain their dinosaur of an institution and will fail; technology has moved past the RIAA, and good fucking riddance.

Seriously, of the $16 a new CD costs how much of that honestly went to the artist? $1.00? $0.70? A quarter?

There is a disgusting amount of bloat in the music business between agents, lawyers, marketers, every ass hat associated with "Music Television", and the like. Back when the only way to be heard was to tour endlessly on the local scene and pray some podunk radio station would play your demo tape, it made sense to have people who could invest money in you and get you truly expensive studio time, marketing, and bigger venues, but honestly it isn't anywhere near that hard to get your music out tot he people anymore, and if it's worht hearing you'll get money, that's all there is to it.

All the manufactured pop crap sung by Spears, Beyonce, Simpson, and the rest, all that crap written by anonymous song writers.... well, the thing is, some of it isn't crap in the beginning, and most of those song writers can probably play their own shit, put it up on the web dirt cheap, and low and behold be far more worth my time and money than the "finished product" the Industry will slap together out of glitter, back up dancers, and a leather g-string on some 17 year old with no vocal range.

This case has finished the RIAA for me. I didn't much care for them up to this point, but now I'd say they haven't so much lost a customer as gained an enemy.

Fuck the RIAA.

Cullion
7th October 07, 03:03 PM
That's a good point, well made, however, I take issue with your lumping of the angelic being who takes the name Beyonce on this plane with those other whores. I'm sort of like her protector, appointed by god.

Gong Sau.

Stick
7th October 07, 03:09 PM
GONG SAU!

You're on!

To be fair, while I don't think much of her music, she does at least seem to have a level head on her shoulders and isn't getting involved in any of that Britney/Paris/Lyndsey/LiL'Kim style crap. Good for her.

WarPhalange
7th October 07, 03:24 PM
Seriously, of the $16 a new CD costs how much of that honestly went to the artist? $1.00? $0.70? A quarter?


Better yet, of the $9k per song that the RIAA won, how much of that will go to any artist?

Cullion
7th October 07, 04:48 PM
GONG SAU!

You're on!

To be fair, while I don't think much of her music, she does at least seem to have a level head on her shoulders and isn't getting involved in any of that Britney/Paris/Lyndsey/LiL'Kim style crap. Good for her.

We're talking about a woman who after being forced to lose weight for a movie, deliberately decided to put weight back on with hamburgers and ice cream because she didn't think that size zero shit was healthy for the young girls who looked up to her, and she was proud of her womanly curves. That's a balanced woman with a wholesome, hearty appetite for the good things in life rather than some neurotic nut.

WarPhalange
7th October 07, 04:52 PM
Yes, but she was also fat.

Steve
8th October 07, 01:13 AM
But you would still do her.

Arhetton
8th October 07, 03:54 AM
Taken from: http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/06/14/love/print.html

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

Last November, a Congressional aide named Mitch Glazier, with the support of the RIAA, added a "technical amendment" to a bill that defined recorded music as "works for hire" under the 1978 Copyright Act.

He did this after all the hearings on the bill were over. By the time artists found out about the change, it was too late. The bill was on its way to the White House for the president's signature.

That subtle change in copyright law will add billions of dollars to record company bank accounts over the next few years -- billions of dollars that rightfully should have been paid to artists. A "work for hire" is now owned in perpetuity by the record company.

Under the 1978 Copyright Act, artists could reclaim the copyrights on their work after 35 years. If you wrote and recorded "Everybody Hurts," you at least got it back to as a family legacy after 35 years. But now, because of this corrupt little pisher, "Everybody Hurts" never gets returned to your family, and can now be sold to the highest bidder.

Over the years record companies have tried to put "work for hire" provisions in their contracts, and Mr. Glazier claims that the "work for hire" only "codified" a standard industry practice. But copyright laws didn't identify sound recordings as being eligible to be called "works for hire," so those contracts didn't mean anything. Until now.

Writing and recording "Hey Jude" is now the same thing as writing an English textbook, writing standardized tests, translating a novel from one language to another or making a map. These are the types of things addressed in the "work for hire" act. And writing a standardized test is a work for hire. Not making a record.

So an assistant substantially altered a major law when he only had the authority to make spelling corrections. That's not what I learned about how government works in my high school civics class.

Three months later, the RIAA hired Mr. Glazier to become its top lobbyist at a salary that was obviously much greater than the one he had as the spelling corrector guy.

The RIAA tries to argue that this change was necessary because of a provision in the bill that musicians supported. That provision prevents anyone from registering a famous person's name as a Web address without that person's permission. That's great. I own my name, and should be able to do what I want with my name.

But the bill also created an exception that allows a company to take a person's name for a Web address if they create a work for hire. Which means a record company would be allowed to own your Web site when you record your "work for hire" album. Like I said: Sharecropping.

Although I've never met any one at a record company who "believed in the Internet," they've all been trying to cover their asses by securing everyone's digital rights. Not that they know what to do with them. Go to a major label-owned band site. Give me a dollar for every time you see an annoying "under construction" sign. I used to pester Geffen (when it was a label) to do a better job. I was totally ignored for two years, until I got my band name back. The Goo Goo Dolls are struggling to gain control of their domain name from Warner Bros., who claim they own the name because they set up a shitty promotional Web site for the band.

Orrin Hatch, songwriter and Republican senator from Utah, seems to be the only person in Washington with a progressive view of copyright law. One lobbyist says that there's no one in the House with a similar view and that "this would have never happened if Sonny Bono was still alive."

By the way, which bill do you think the recording industry used for this amendment?

The Record Company Redefinition Act? No. The Music Copyright Act? No. The Work for Hire Authorship Act? No.

How about the Satellite Home Viewing Act of 1999?

Stealing our copyright reversions in the dead of night while no one was looking, and with no hearings held, is piracy.

It's piracy when the RIAA lobbies to change the bankruptcy law to make it more difficult for musicians to declare bankruptcy. Some musicians have declared bankruptcy to free themselves from truly evil contracts.

TLC declared bankruptcy after they received less than 2 percent of the $175 million earned by their CD sales. That was about 40 times less than the profit that was divided among their management, production and record companies.

Toni Braxton also declared bankruptcy in 1998. She sold $188 million worth of CDs, but she was broke because of a terrible recording contract that paid her less than 35 cents per album. Bankruptcy can be an artist's only defense against a truly horrible deal and the RIAA wants to take it away.

Artists want to believe that we can make lots of money if we're successful. But there are hundreds of stories about artists in their 60s and 70s who are broke because they never made a dime from their hit records. And real success is still a long shot for a new artist today. Of the 32,000 new releases each year, only 250 sell more than 10,000 copies. And less than 30 go platinum.

The four major record corporations fund the RIAA. These companies are rich and obviously well-represented. Recording artists and musicians don't really have the money to compete. The 273,000 working musicians in America make about $30,000 a year. Only 15 percent of American Federation of Musicians members work steadily in music.

But the music industry is a $40 billion-a-year business. One-third of that revenue comes from the United States. The annual sales of cassettes, CDs and video are larger than the gross national product of 80 countries. Americans have more CD players, radios and VCRs than we have bathtubs.

Story after story gets told about artists -- some of them in their 60s and 70s, some of them authors of huge successful songs that we all enjoy, use and sing -- living in total poverty, never having been paid anything. Not even having access to a union or to basic health care. Artists who have generated billions of dollars for an industry die broke and un-cared for.

And they're not actors or participators. They're the rightful owners, originators and performers of original compositions.

This is piracy.

jubei33
8th October 07, 08:05 AM
while that is low down on behalf of the industry, it still becomes kind of the same problem with disney et al. Ie: when does something become public domain?

Mr_Mantis
8th October 07, 10:12 AM
Fuck the record industry. You support artists much more by watching their shit off YouTube, stealing what you like, and then GOING TO A FUCKING CONCERT.

Dagon
Ditto.

Go to a show, buy a CD from the band. They'll usually sign it for you if you are into that too.

Most musicians don't play music for money. They play because they love music. But those who make their lives music, need to be compensated for their efforts. These lawsuits don't help the musicians. They help the record companies take control.

In today's day, we can record pretty good stuff with a home digital rig and somebody who can figure out the levels. Burn your own disks and there you go. Sell them at your shows, or give them away. That's what Daniel Johnston did. But he was using cassettes. And he didn't even have a dubbing deck. He would sit with his guitar in front of a tape recorder and individually play each song to record a tape for somebody. Who is Daniel Johnston you ask? Why, he's one of the single greatest songwriters of our time. You haven't heard of him? He's not exactly a corporate lapdog, that's why you don't know who he is.

WarPhalange
8th October 07, 05:15 PM
But you would still do her.

Only because I'm desperate.

Cullion
8th October 07, 05:31 PM
Only because I'm desperate.

Seriously? You really think this woman is that bad?

http://www.kitmeout.com/img_assets/beyonce.jpg

WarPhalange
8th October 07, 06:41 PM
She only wants me for my body.

socratic
14th October 07, 09:30 PM
I hear the only way to make money as an artist in the music industry is to write your own material. The people who get the fattest cheques, save perhaps the producer and other bastards, is the songwriters.

Mr_Mantis
14th October 07, 11:12 PM
I think the only way to make money is to work it like a job.

socratic
16th October 07, 11:30 PM
I think the only way to make money is to work it like a job.

I suppose if you mean recording/creating music in the same time frame as a regular worker (say 9-5 every work day sort of thing) then yes, I'd agree with you.

DAYoung
17th October 07, 03:02 AM
I'm astounded by the music industry. A friend of mine is a producer, writer and performer - and gets a fair amount of radio play.

But he gets pretty much NOTHING for his albums, regardless of how well they do - because he spends most of his time paying back the record company for the advance.

Compared to the book trade (which is hardly a money spinner for authors) it's like some Dickensian factory. Of course there are superstars, but many who're genuinely well-liked, well-selling artists make zero from album sales.

socratic
17th October 07, 05:32 AM
I'm astounded by the music industry. A friend of mine is a producer, writer and performer - and gets a fair amount of radio play.

But he gets pretty much NOTHING for his albums, regardless of how well they do - because he spends most of his time paying back the record company for the advance.

Compared to the book trade (which is hardly a money spinner for authors) it's like some Dickensian factory. Of course there are superstars, but many who're genuinely well-liked, well-selling artists make zero from album sales.

Is he a member of TISM?

DAYoung
17th October 07, 05:47 AM
No. But thanks for asking.

Cullion
17th October 07, 06:01 AM
I'm astounded by the music industry. A friend of mine is a producer, writer and performer - and gets a fair amount of radio play.

But he gets pretty much NOTHING for his albums, regardless of how well they do - because he spends most of his time paying back the record company for the advance.

Compared to the book trade (which is hardly a money spinner for authors) it's like some Dickensian factory. Of course there are superstars, but many who're genuinely well-liked, well-selling artists make zero from album sales.

What proportion of a book's sale price does an author typically get ?

I'm wondering whether it's more profitable to just give away the text for free on the web and make money from google ads down the side.

DAYoung
17th October 07, 06:05 AM
What proportion of a book's sale price does an author typically get ?

I'm wondering whether it's more profitable to just give away the text for free on the web and make money from google ads down the side.

Up to 18%. But it's also the prestige, recognition, and so on. They open professional doors, allow opportunities for grants, fellowships in academia, or for writing in magazines, newspapers, radio appearances, and so on.

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
17th October 07, 06:51 AM
I'm astounded by the music industry. A friend of mine is a producer, writer and performer - and gets a fair amount of radio play.

But he gets pretty much NOTHING for his albums, regardless of how well they do - because he spends most of his time paying back the record company for the advance.

Compared to the book trade (which is hardly a money spinner for authors) it's like some Dickensian factory. Of course there are superstars, but many who're genuinely well-liked, well-selling artists make zero from album sales.

What does he make his living off of? Gigs and sessions?

DAYoung
17th October 07, 06:53 AM
Touring and writing.

socratic
18th October 07, 08:07 PM
Touring and writing.
Has he released any material recently?

Edit: Whoops, wrong train of thought. Fixed.

Mr_Mantis
18th October 07, 10:21 PM
I'd guess he means writing "songs"

DAYoung
19th October 07, 05:32 AM
Has he released any material recently?

Edit: Whoops, wrong train of thought. Fixed.

The last year or so, and touring. I don't know who he's writing for (there's a living being a songwriter).