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12/22/2003 Archived Entry: "The RIAA loses one"

A couple of victories in the fight for online freedom: first, a US appeals court has quashed the RIAA's DMCA subpoena of Verizon. These subpoenas are a particularly egregious aspect of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, since they can be issued by a clerk (not a judge) on the basis of an allegation alone, with no supporting evidence. In this case the judge ruled that since Verizon wasn't storing the offending content, the DMCA could not be used against them.

I'm still reading the Groklaw analysis of the decision, where PJ is doing her usual excellent job of explaining the various laws involved and how they were interpreted.

Kudos to Verizon, and congratulations to you Verizon cusomters out there: it's nice to have an ISP that will put up any kind of fight for its users' privacy.

On a more distant front, a Dutch court has ruled that Kazaa file sharing software is legal. They seem to have concluded that the maker of software is not responsible for the illegal acts of its users. Sensible: else why not ban Windows because file-sharers use it to exchange files? This is a step toward placing responsibility back where it belongs -- with the violator -- rather than with a convenient high-profile target.

I'm annoyed, however, to hear the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) pursuing lawsuits against file-sharers while simultaneously demanding an increase in the "CD tax." These avaricious poltroons want it both ways: they already get a hefty cut of the price of blank CDs and tapes, ostensibly as royalties because these media are being used to copy music. Yes, I have to pay royalties to the music industry when I back up my computer. (I've burned hundreds of data CDs with not a note of music on them.) It seems to me that if they get royalties whenever a CD is burned, then those burning music onto CDs have paid their due, and no one should be sued for it. Canada may soon be in the peculiar position where it is legal to download music, but not legal to make it available for download.


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