Courts Giving RIAA a Hard Time

Courts Giving RIAA a Hard Time

The music industry has had a rough week as it faced setbacks on two fronts. Courts in Europe and the U.S. have thrown out attempts by the recording industry to impose restrictions on file sharing software and to track individual users by obtaining information from ISP's.

The Dutch Supreme Court on Friday rejected an attempt by the music copyright agency to put controls on Kazaa. Buma Stemra, the Dutch royalties collection society, demanded that Kazaa distribution cease and that future versions be modified so that copyrighted materials cannot be exchanged over the network.
The victory by Kazaa creates an important precedent for the legality of peer-to-peer software, both in the European Union as elsewhere, Kazaa's lawyers Bird & Bird said in a statement.
The agency pursuing the demand stated, Today's ruling on Kazaa by the Dutch Supreme Court is a flawed judgment, but still leaves no doubt that the vast majority of people who are using file-swapping services like Kazaa are acting illegally -- whatever country they are in. Although this loss is a setback for the recording industry, there is little doubt that they will seek other ways of pursuing Kazaa, the worrying fact about this decision however, is how, if at all, it may influence a similar case which the recording industry is pursuing in the U.S. against Sharman Networks, Kazaa's new, Australian owners.

The case in the U.S. was more of a surprise since it saw the Appeals Court overturn a ruling which allowed the Recording Industry to obtain user information from ISP's prior to filing a lawsuit. The court went as far as to claim that the industry's legal basis for inundating Internet providers with thousands of subpoenas borders upon the silly. This ruling was another chapter in the saga of the case of Verizon Vs RIAA.

Verizon can not remove or disable one user's access to infringing material resident on another user's computer because Verizon does not control the content on its subscribers' computers, Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote.

The Recording Industry Association of America began filing lawsuits against individual users this fall, and so far has reached more than 220 out-of-court settlements, usually for USD 5,000 or less.
Many experts suggest that although the, so called, John Doe lawsuits are an expensive and difficult procedure, the RIAA will have to research evidence much more thoroughly, helping it avoid public relations fiascos such as the pursuit of a 12 year old girl for possession of copyrighted nursery rhymes.

Overall a bad week for the RIAA but if we know one thing about them is that they love the courts and especially their lawyers, so expect to hear from them soon.