Lawyers Fighting RIAA Want P2P Tech Experts

By Jon Newton 10/25/05

Ray Beckerman, a lawyer representing victims being sued by the Big Music cartel's RIAA, is looking for technically savvy allies to help guide judges who may have been misled by RIAA evidence.

"There’s a crisis in this country with the RIAA's reign of terror,” he told p2pnet. “The RIAA is bringing massive secret lawsuits against unnamed defendants – ‘John Does’ - who never even know they’ve been sued. These lawsuits wend their way through the courts on an ex parte basis, which means only one side - the RIAA - is represented.”



Jon Newton

He’s posted a riddle for techies on Recording Industry vs The People, a web page which among other things carries documents relating to the growing number of appeals by RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) victims.

In an RIAA case a federal judge said that a screen shot of defendant John Doe Number 7's Kazaa shared files folder was enough to show copyright infringement because

"[RIAA] obtained "metadata" about the files that Doe No. 7 was disseminating, which often reveal who originally copied a particular sound recording from a CD to a computer disk (a process called "ripping") and provide a type of digital fingerprint, called a "hash," that can show whether two users obtained a file from the same source.... Using the metadata associated with the music filed that Doe No. 7 was offering for distribution on Kazaa, plaintiffs have determined that many sound recordings were ripped by different people using different brands of ripping software. Such information creates a strong inference that Doe No. 7 was not simply copying his or her own lawfully purchased CDs onto a computer, but had downloaded those files from other P2P users."

Was the judge right or wrong?

The case was Elektra v. Does 1-9

Beckerman says judges are hearing things which, technically speaking, are simply not true and, “some of the judges may actually believe what they’re being told,” he says.

By the time a John or Jane Doe has been named by his or her ISP, and has been sued, “the judge has already been talking to the RIAA's lawyers, in a complete vacuum, for several years,” says Beckerman, going on:

“I think it would be helpful, when I see an instance in which I think a judge may have been misled by the RIAA on technical issues, to present the judge's findings to be vetted by the tech community.

“I believe the tech community is very much interested in these cases, is very alert to, and mindful of, the extreme danger these cases pose to freedom of expression, and to a climate of technological innovation, and is ready, willing, and able to help ensure that the courts proceed with integrity in these technical areas.”


Jon Newton is the editor of p2pnet.net and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.

 


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