Monday, October 20, 2003

 
More RIAA Action, and a Scary Look at the FTAA

According to this AP article,Targets Warned of Music Download Suits, the RIAA is at it again. Another 204 people are now being targeted for lawsuits, but this time the RIAA is kindly giving them warning first.

A snippet from the story:

"In light of the comments we have heard, we want to go the extra mile and offer illegal file sharers an additional chance to work this out, short of legal action," said RIAA president Cary Sherman.

The letters give the recipients 10 days to contact the RIAA to discuss a settlement and avoid a formal lawsuit. The RIAA declined to identify the individuals, but said they were sharing an average of more than 1,000 songs on their computers.

The advanced notice also could help the RIAA avoid embarrassment.


You know, I just delivered a paper on ethos in the filesharing community on Friday, and I only hinted that the RIAA had been engaged in the process of undermining their own ethos. I think that, in future talks/presentations/discussions, I'm going to call them out a little more directly: the RIAA was doing pretty well with ethos, character, se of authority, using their artists almost as character witnesses, but I think they've really gone and done it now.

Wendy Seltzer of the EFF is quoted in this story, saying the RIAA should stop the legal actions and start offering a reasonable pay service. I wholeheartedly agree, though I happen to think this should have occurred years ago, and that it may just be too late at this point for the RIAA to make this type of option a viable alternative to infringing downloads. P2p is pretty firnly established, and surveys keep on showing that users really just don't know or care that their actions are at ll problematic or illegal. I don't see an easy fix here, at all.

Especially in light of this article at Infoshop News regarding the IP sections of the FTAA. Scary snippet below:

According to the IP Justice report, "unless the second proposed clause to Article 4.1 is deleted from the FTAA Treaty, Internet music swapping will be a felony throughout the Western Hemisphere in 2005."

The proposed agreement forbids consumers from bypassing technical restrictions on their own CDs, DVDs and other property, similar to the controversial US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Even though bills are pending in the US Congress to repeal the DMCA, FTAA proposes to outlaw even more speech and legitimate conduct.

Mislabeled as a "free trade" agreement, the FTAA Agreement would actually make it illegal to bypass trade barriers such as DVD region code restrictions and it would enable price discrimination against consumers in the Americas.

The draft treaty also imposes new definitions for "fair use" and "personal use," curtailing traditional fair use and personal use rights to a single copy and only under limited circumstances. This prevents consumers from backing-up their media collections, using their media in new and innovative ways, and accessing media for educational and non-commercial purposes.


So, in addition to redefining fair use and personal use and further criminalizing p2p filesharing, the clause will also take the terms of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and impose them on all member nations: life + 70 for all works produced in the 33 other countries covered by the treaty.

Peachy. Wonderful. This is just grand. A great confluence of IP nastiness, all swirling around bad law and corporate pressure: for some reason "cultural pollution" is stuck in my head, almost as if the DMCA, the RIAA, the MPAA, and the FTAA are releasing gross toxins into our common waters (the pool of cultural materials and ideas from which we draw inspiration) and leaving them foul-smelling, hazardous sites.

- posted by laurie @ 10/20/2003 10:23:00 AM
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