We’ve already talked about attempts to legalize vigilantism on P2P networks.
However, that’s not all RIAA is up to. They are also taking actions which are likely to have a more immediate impact and could make it a lot more likely the average P2Per will see the insides of a courtroom.
Even if you think the RIAA is the technoantiChrist, there is an age-old truth that’s very valid here: Know Your Enemy.
Now I can understand why some people don’t want to hear these things, but if somebody’s out to get you, it is better to keep a close eye on him than not.
RIAA Plans To Start Getting Subpoenas On ISP Records They’ve just subpoenaed an ISP to provide the name of a customer.
A subpoena is a legal order for information. “Give me the name of your customer.” If an ISP doesn’t obey a proper subpoena, then they get in the kind of trouble that include some jail time.
If you work, ask yourself how many of your customers would you be willing to go to jail for.
Part of the DMCA allows copyright owners to get subpoenas (an order for information) issued to ISPs without having to file a lawsuit.
This is very important because issuing subpoenas is much cheaper than filing lawsuits, which means places like RIAA can go after a lot more people than if they had to sue each and every time they had a suspect. If you’re a medium-sized file-sharer on a P2P network, that probably will be the difference between someone like the RIAA being likely or unlikely to get your name from your ISP.
The ISP has so far refused to honor the subpoena, but these guys have previously released customers’ names to the RIAA when the customers were using their servers.
Now the RIAA is asking for the name of a customer who is just using the ISP for Internet access. This particular ISP just wants a test legal case to cover themselves. If the legal system says the law is OK and orders them to do so, they will (and it’s unclear whether they’d appeal this to the end).
These folks are mostly interested in not being held liable for all these goings-on, and incidentally think some kind of compromise (which would involve paying something directly or indirectly for P2P) would be a good idea to legitimize what they now call “illegal activities.” So if you think this should all be free, the telecoms are not your friends.
Right now, this is before a district judge in Washington, DC. If he says the law is OK (whether or not it gets appealed), odds are the RIAA will toss out tons of these things, and ISPs will have to decide whether to fight their own court battle, or comply. Many are likely to comply, and your family could be in a lot of legal trouble.
What Do You Mean My Family?
This brings us to the second point:
RIAA Is Thinking About Suing Individuals for copyright infringement. You may think, “So what? I’m a kid, I don’t have anything.” Well, there’s two problems with that.
If the RIAA successfully sued you for copyright infringement, that judgment doesn’t go away just because you don’t have any money now. When you start making money, RIAA can put what’s called a lien on any money you make, which means not only the IRS will take a chunk of your paycheck, but so will the RIAA.
It’s sort of like being made to pay child support through your paycheck, and no, declaring bankruptcy doesn’t make this go away.
In many cases, though, there’s a much simpler and quicker way for RIAA to get their money:
With the exceptions of New Hampshire and New York, all states make parents financially responsible for their minor children’s misconduct. In most states, there’s a dollar limitation, usually in the thousands of dollars, but there is no dollar limitation in five states (Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New Jersey). In those states, if the RIAA got a big legal judgment, they could take your family’s bank accounts, their cars, their house.
In at least some cases, the parent could be held directly responsible if the computer can be shown to be owned by the parent.
While I really don’t see RIAA suing millions of people, I can certainly see them suing some to make examples of them, so this happens:
The local TV news reports that some parents are getting sued over what their teenage kid has been doing over the Internet. Maybe the news story will say that the family may or will lose their house because of this.
Take three guesses what your Mom or Dad are likely to do when they hear this. They’re going to take a closer look at what you’re doing. If you are doing this, what are you going to say to them? Would you lie to them about it? If they told you to stop, would you, or would you disobey?
Imagine yourself unlucky enough to be that kid the TV show is talking about? Just what are you going to tell your Dad or Mom when they lose the things they worked so hard to get because of you? What do you tell your brothers and sisters if it turns out they can’t go to college, or do something else because the money meant for that is now paying for your “free” music or movies. “I didn’t think it could happen to me” “I didn’t know they could do this?” “My music is more important [than you]?”
How would you feel being responsible for something somebody else did? How would you feel having to pay big time for it, and you didn’t even know about it? How would it feel being a casualty of a war you didn’t even know you were in?
Most of the time in most states, it wouldn’t be that bad, but don’t you think your folks having to pay lawyers thousands to defend you and paying a few thousand more in fines is bad enough? Plus, almost certainly losing your computer. I think that would be hot water enough.
Should anything like that happen, what are you going to say to them? All your on-line buddies will back you up 100% verbally, but how much cash are they going to come up with? There’s warez guys in prison, how much support are they getting now? How much do you hear from them?
If you don’t think it’s at least reasonably possible RIAA will do this, look at how music companies treat the musicians who make them the money. Just imagine how they’ll treat those whom they feel take money away from them.
If you’re on your own, odds are you’re not rolling in money, either, so how would you pay for it? Or will you be back to Mom and Dad, too?
Who else is going to watch your back?
Hard Time Time
Someone from the Department of Justice recently told a conference that the DOJ is getting ready to prosecute P2P people criminally.
This occurred after a number of members of Congress, including a few rather important ones, sent a letter saying urging the DOJ to do just that.
There’s one name on that list that’s more important than it might seem. That is Diane Feinstein, who is one of the two Senators from California. Yes, Hollywood is in California. But so is Silicon Valley. You see which side she chose.
Another case of making a relatively few examples of people? Sure, but if you’re an example . . . . again, what do you tell your family?
Even if you’re older, who’s watching your back?
Against All This: The French Guard Defense
You get the feeling somebody’s coming after you?
What’s the appropriate response?
More often than not, it boils down to this (imagine King Arthur and Company as the authorities and the Guard as the techie):
(Text from Monty Python and Search for the Holy Grail, btw, this is a real example of fair use: excerpting works for criticism.)
GALAHAD: What are you doing in England?
GUARD: Mind your own business!
ARTHUR: If you will not show us the Grail, we shall take your castle by force!
GUARD: You don’t frighten us, English pig-dogs! —Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called Arthur-king, you and all your silly English knnnniggets. Thppppt!
GALAHAD: What a strange person.
ARTHUR: Now look here, my good man!
GUARD: I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper!…… I fart in your general direction! . Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!
GALAHAD: Is there someone else up there we could talk to?
GUARD: No, now go away or I shall taunt you a second time-a!
The only difference is that Monty Python did this much better than the techies do.
Well, another difference is that those stupid Monty Python comedians thought this was silly, while the superintelligent techies know this really works and that Hollywood and Musicdom will come up with Trojan Rabbits and run away for the slightest reason. They must believe that; their pieces make no sense unless they did.
Am I the only person who finds this defense a bit of a faulty tower? If you thought somebody had ripped you off, would getting called a few names stop you?
If somebody was out to put people like me in jail or sue me, I know I wouldn’t feel safe and secure with the thought, “Other people are calling my enemies names.”
Even Gangs Have A Support Network
I’m not even going to suggest that maybe the best way to avoid all this is to get a hint and stop doing this.
I won’t even hint that if the enemy is fighting the battle on the legal and political fronts and pumping tons of effort and money into it, maybe you need to organize and do the same.
I will suggest it would be a really good idea to keep an eye on that subpoena case.
For those who want to fight for freedom as they see it, here’s some friendly advice.
Since a war looks like it’s going to start, there will be some casualties. That’s not iffy at all, that’s for sure 100%.
What are you ready to do for your buddies in this cause?
Will you pay for their lawyers? No? Then who will pay for yours?
Will you pay their fines and penalties? No? Then who will pay yours?
Will you visit them in prison? No? Then who will visit you?
Will you try to get them out of prison should they end up in it? No? Then who will get you out?
If the martyrs have families, will you support them? No? Then who will support yours?
If your answer to actually doing anything is basically, “Those are the breaks, Charlie,” what happens if that message has your name on it?
If you picture yourself as a Luke Skywalker fighting the Evil Empire, remember that he didn’t fight all by himself. If he had, the Death Star would still be around. No, there was a Rebel Alliance that paid for all those fighters and the fuel and all the rest.
Where’s your Rebel Alliance?
If you want to fight the Evil Empire, don’t you think you ought to get busy getting one put together?
If you want to fight, get ready for it.