A New Lottery

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There’s a new lottery in town. It’s a little different than the other ones. Actually, it’s the exact opposite.

Instead of getting in it to win a lot of money, you get in it for the chance to lose a lot of money.

This lottery is being run by the RIAA. So far, they’ve picked 871 names and picking more at a rate of 75 per day.

Will your number be called?

What’s interesting about the abovementioned article is that subpoenas are being issued to people who bought very few tickers, as few as five.

A Trial Run

This is actually just a trial run by the RIAA of this lottery, though the “prizes” are very real.

What they’re going to do is take a sampling of P2P users, and see what happens when they get introduced to the legal system. How many will settle out of court? How many will go to trial? Which are the best approaches to take when in court, and which aren’t.

In short, they’re experimenting, and you’re the guinea pigs.

When and if they can get the operation running smoothly, they expand it.

The Paradox

A lottery winner will be damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

That person will have to decide whether to settle out of court, or fight it out.

The RIAA would much rather have the vast majority of cases be settled out of court should they go all out on this. That means less court time and fewer lawyers they have to hire to prosecute.

So if most people settle, that will encourage the RIAA and Company to go big-time. That would be bad for the “cause.”

On the other hand, if you fight and go to court, unless the court finds RIAA’s evidence inadmissible (very unlikely), the law says you’re going to lose, so your court case will end up with you paying RIAA a lot more than if you settled.

If you don’t think that’s a big deal because you have no money now, they’ll just get their money later when you do have some. Wait until RIAA tells your employer to give them a chunk of your paycheck every week. Personal judgments will definitely put a crimp in getting a credit card, or buying a home or even renting an apartment. All these places what to know what debts you have, and that will be one of them.

If there were a support network to pay the legal fees and fines, that would be one thing, but there isn’t. Maybe a group here or there might help a little, but rest assured that a place like EFF will run out of money before RIAA.

Are you willing to take the (financial) bullet for the cause, knowing that 99.9% of your fellow “soldiers” won’t open up anything but their mouths to help you (and many of them will consider you an incompetent sap for getting caught?)

This form of civil disobedience can get lonely. And very, very expensive.

But Kazaa Lite has an IP Blocker Now! They Say It’s Safe!

Do you know what an IP blocker is? It’s just a list of IP addresses. The same principle is used for an ad-blocker.

Ad-blockers work principally because it isn’t practical for them to change their IP addresses all the time. The RIAA snoops are under no such restraints. They can easily change IP addresses.

So if the RIAA changes addresses, you are completely unprotected until somebody figures out that a particular IP address is now a “bad” one. Since the only sure way to find that out is to see how many people get sued after a particular IP address gets lively, this is hardly great protection.

It’s like thinking your house is rat-free after covering up a single mouse hole. Unless you have pretty stupid rats, you’re only kidding yourself.

Nor is any “privacy” feature likely to put much of a crimp in searching. RIAA only needs one file to sue you.

What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You

I’m not going to pretend that the odds are against you on this one. Hundreds or even a few thousand lawsuits are a drop in the bucket compared to the number of P2Pers. Unless you’re part of the drop, that is.

The odds on this are pretty much like teens dying after drinking and driving. Statistically, nothing happens to most that do, but if your lottery ticket in that activity gets called . . . .

An RIAA lawsuit won’t end your life, but it could mess it up financially quite a bit for quite a while. Is even a small chance of that happening worth what you get for the risk?

What disturbs me the most about the P2Ping is not so much the stealing, but just how oblivious people are to the risks they are taking.

It would be like someone not just selling drugs at school in front of the principal, but then offering him some.

It’s like high school, and people think they rule and the “rules” are whatever their peer group decides they are. If enough of you tell each other P2Ping is perfectly OK, it becomes perfectly OK.

That’s not the rules the world plays by, and they’re certainly not the ones the RIAA plays by.

Or perhaps it’s just a measurement of powerlessness. The less you think you can do, the more noise you make about it. The former Iraqi Information Minister is a good example of that.

A Question

Let’s say you win this “lottery.” You get a letter from the RIAA saying that they’ll sue you. Assume for argument’s sake that the letter will offer to settle for, say, $2,000.

What would you do?

I want specifics, not speeches. If you decided to fight, how would you pay for your lawyer, for instance? Would your decision depend on somebody else giving you legal help? What if they couldn’t provide it?

I’ll put up the more interesting and/or instructive comments Monday. No names.

You know where to find me.

Ed

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