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[Ars] RIAA Doubles Settlement Cost for Students Fighting Subpoenas

post #1 of 10
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Challenging RIAA subpoenas can be costly, and not just because college kids have to dig deep into the sock drawer to pay lawyers of their own. Ars has learned that the RIAA's legal campaign against students is now built on escalating penalties; if you force the RIAA legal team into action, then end up settling, you could end up paying more than that initial $3,000. A lot more

When college students are fingered by the RIAA's "pre-litigation letters," most schools pass the letters along and let students make their own decision about challenging the issue in court or settling for around $3,000. That's not cheap, but the RIAA has recently been making it far more expensive for students who try to fight. If a student doesn't respond to a pre-litigation letter and the RIAA has to go to court to get the name, the settlement fees goes up to about $4,000. And if a student decides to challenge the RIAA's subpoena or otherwise delay a trial, the price jumps dramatically to $7,000 or $8,000. [...]

The legal consultant tells Ars that this has nothing to do with bullying people into staying silent and paying up. "We have no qualms with individuals exercising their rights to litigate real issues," he says. "[But] the issues being raised in these motions to quash are issues that have been resolved time and time again in the RIAA's favor."

Students sometimes think they can simply fight the subpoena and the case as hard as humanly possible, then simply drop it and settle down the line. The RIAA wants to get the word out, though: those choices have consequences that can be measured in beer money. Lots and lots of beer money.

We weren't surprised to find that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a different perspective, but the gulf between the two sides is positively Grand Canyon-like in size. I spoke to EFF attorney Corynne McSherry, who argued that the copyright infringement claims at the basis of these lawsuits aren't always as strong as the RIAA would have people believe.

McSherry points to recent court decisions that cast doubt on the idea that simply making a file available is the same as actually distributing it to the public, and she points out that the MPAA has been wildly misguided in its own analysis of collegiate file-swapping. Given these issues and more recent questions about the limits of automated P2P enforcement, McSherry argues that it is "especially inappropriate and unfortunate" to punish people for trying to defend themselves in court. The "judicial process is important, and it's particularly important now when there seems to be real questions for the factual basis for these claims," she says.

And taking a bigger-picture look at the entire issue, McSherry says that there's "no reason to believe that any of this is stopping file-sharing or helping the RIAA or the artists that it represents to get paid."

Colleges are simply "scapegoated because they're easy targets," she says, pointing out that schools do far more to educate their network users about copyright, fair use, and file-swapping than any commercial ISPs in the US. The schools are easier to pursue than individuals because they are uniquely vulnerable to government pressure (in the form of grants and aid money), while at the same time they possess unique punishment powers that commercial ISPs lack.
More inside
Source [Ars Technica]
Edited by rabidgnome229 - 6/11/08 at 10:56pm
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post #2 of 10
Hurrah! More money for the people who don't deserve it!
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post #3 of 10
Well its good to read how the nazi's..wait sorry riaa is back out there stopping real criminals. I mean seriously downloading music is just like murdering children, and should have the same punishment.

I am glad the music industry has found a way to make up for lost funds, btw did I mention that since the riaa bs has come around that I haven't purchased a single cd...due to stupidity, and I don't fund stupidity.
post #4 of 10
I Think all music CD's should either be FREE or $5 max and they should have live toures like crazy and they would make up money if there good enough to play live. I hated paying $17 for a Rammstein CD, but there soooo good.
    
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post #5 of 10
Those evil blood sucking monsters!
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post #6 of 10
I have one question: what are the penalties against people who actually steal the CD, and not download the music? I have a feeling they're smaller.

The way out of this is for the college students not to give in. The RIAA is mostly just guessing and don't have any evidence since they sued dead people and people without computers before.
post #7 of 10
The penalties are probably very much smaller..

The excuse is that you "probably" uploaded the song(s) to xxxx number of other people.

But if your thinking that way....A person with a stolen copy of the cd could theoretically make xxxx copies of that cd and give to other people.

Flawed System Is Flawed.
post #8 of 10
A person with a stolen copy of the cd could rip it and upload it everywhere =)
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post #9 of 10
If someone stole the CD from a store, they would more than likely get a tiny fine £50/$100. A *gentle* slap on the wrist and thats about it.
    
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post #10 of 10
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You don't get sued for downloading - you get sued for uploading. The penalty for selling bootleg CD's is much higher than that for shoplifting a CD. Still nothing like the ridiculous penalties the RIAA is able to get though
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