RIAA Continues Its Quest To Sue As Many Potential Music-Swappers As Possible

Feb 23rd, 2007 // 5 Comments

RIAA.jpgAn RIAA lawsuit against a woman whose Internet connection was stolen, then used to swap music, was dismissed last summer; the judge decided to throw out the case, since the woman herself wasn’t liable for the swapping, and ordered the RIAA to pay her $50,000 in legal fees. The RIAA, of course, has decided to appeal the decision, prompting Wired‘s Listening Post blog to
wonder about the further-reaching ramifications:

If the judge rules that we’re each legally responsible for all of the traffic that comes through our ISP account, open, unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots would become a serious legal liability, the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people who depend on their neighbors for Wi-Fi will be out of luck, while altruistic (or ignorant) folks who leave their wireless networks open could find themselves embroiled in an RIAA lawsuits even if they’ve never shared a single song in their lives.

We keep the flophouse wireless network locked, but we could see how this could turn into a very hairy problem for anyone involved with providing wireless access to people; take, for example, hotspots owned by businesses, or even municipalities. Obviously, the first steps for parties not interested in litigation involve port-blocking, or slapping always-lagging filtering programs on outgoing Web traffic, but pre-emptive strikes like those rarely work. Why? Because if people are interested enough to steal someone’s wireless access in order to steal music, they’ll stay one step ahead of any blocking programs people might implement. It’s that simple, but the RIAA, in its effort to pin the low-record-sales blame on only consumers, and not greater market forces, is showing, once again, that it’s too blinkered to realize that fact.

RIAA Fights Back, Threatens Open Wi-Fi [Listening Post]


  1. Butch Huskey

    “stealing wireless” ?
    was this post sponsored by the the DSL “free networks = bad” lobby

  2. Anonymous

    I live in Portland, and while I’ve never used it, the city is now outfitted with Metro-Fi, aka free wireless to everyone. It seems to me like that’s a lot of people to be potentially suing over file sharing….

  3. NickEddy

    This reminds me of some quote I read from the ever-sage Noel Gallagher re: CD burners (for the young set, CDs were…aw, never mind). Sony or whoever was griping about cd’s being copied (again – ah, youth! or mere near-middle age!) and Noel said “But they was the ones that made the players in the first place.” Or summat to that effect. Apples and oranges, sort of, but the idea that a behemoth like the RIAA is trying to catch up with years-old (and ever more quickly developing out of their mental grasp) technologies is like when the major labels seem shocked, in a naive yet ossified way, that no one buys a Robert Plant album. Or whoever it was at whichever label who said re: whichever record Blanket’s Dad did a while back “He can take as long as he wants on it, and spend as much as he wants, as long as it outsells Thriller.” What cave do these moneyed goons hide in?
    Within five years there will be a whole new group of music consumers (not, note, necessarily BUYERS) who will have never been in a record store whatsoever.
    The genie is all up about the bottle here.
    With that, off to download “Kepone Factory”. Anarchy!

  4. Mick Kraut

    No matter how loudly the RIAA and the major labels bang their spoons on the highchair the music consuming public will not return to the old model.

    Any sympathy I might have had to their view point on P2P’s effect on their industry is tempered by:

    1). Their ham-handed legal actions against people like this poor woman mentioned in the article.
    2). Consistently selling records with 1 good song and 11 fillers. They squeezed out the singles market to push the purchase of full CDs…only the market wants singles since quality control on full LPs became spotty at best.
    3). Constant re-issues. How many versions of WHO’s NEXT do we need? The whole industry has based at least 1/2 of their sales and marketing strategy on convincing the consumer to purchase the same product over and over again.
    4). Repeated FTC actions on CD pricing. The inflated prices for CDs were not to insure that the artists got their fair share, it was to insure that DJs were able to get hookers and blow in exchange for playing the “hot buzz cut”. It was to pay Best Buy for a nice end cap display. Meanwhile you would have platnium artists who were in hock to their label.

    Artists needed labels for distribution and advertising…but the internet is lowering those barriers. Artists can reach their audiences directly now. I am someone who has downloaded music before and it has usually turned into me spending more money on shows and merch because of being able to check out a new act without having to shell out $18.99…

    Just my $.02…

  5. AcidReign

    …..Corporate music stores don’t get it, I’m afraid. I’ve been waiting with baited breath for the big 30-year anniversary reissue of my favorite album from high school, which was released Tuesday this week, and Fye, Sam Goody, Laser’s Edge, Best Buy, Target, Walmart… none of ‘em have it. I’ve got cash money ready to spend, and I was going to buy it, even if cost $50. I’ve got no torrents on my machines, I pay for what I listen to, and all I saw new today at Fye was a giant rack of Kidz Bop 11. Guys, those Kidz have already stolen it, or bought it on i-tunes! Thank God for Amazon. It’s no wonder people are stealing the music.

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