This is not the first time the RIAA has pulled such a stunt. They've sued other disabled people, grandmothers, young children, dead people, people who have never owned a computer, and college students. Their sole source of evidence is typically easily forged documents showing that a certain IP address downloaded some music.
Some of you may be thinking "People shouldn't be illegally downloading music. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time." To understand the err or that way of thinking, we need to look at a few things:
- Copyright infringement isn't a criminal offense in the states (or Canada). It's a civil liability. So, "illegal" isn't really the right word to use.
- Stealing implies one person unrightfully looses something to another. If you steal my laptop, then you have a laptop, and suddenly, I don't. If you copy my mp3 files, you have the mp3 files, and so do I. I loose nothing, so "stealing" isn't the right term either.
- "Ahhh, you're stealing from the artist by way of a lost sale." That assumes that if the option to download were not available, the would-be downloader would then buy the song/album. In a lot of cases it doesn't amount to that. A lot of times people download music they're not willing to buy for any price, but since they can get it for free, why not?
- I've never been to business school, but it seems to me that suing your customers and potential customers is just not good business sense. (Of course, these are the same people that think DRM makes good business sense.)
- Suing isn't for compensation of bad business sense. The recording industry's cheese has been moved and they're not happy about it. When this happens, the wise man asks "How can I make money from this?" People who do things like this just resist and slow down progress, while the more evolved find a way to make money from it. (Just ask Steve Jobs.)
If you slip and fall in a grocery store because of negligence on the part of the store, and you're hurt because of the fall, and you can't work and make money, you sue the store. The store probably has insurance for such things. Lots of people and business pay into the insurance pot. Insurance companies have deep pockets for big budgets. You can expect some sort of settlement. Suing isn't personal. It's business, a business most (big) businesses are prepared for. Suing is to spread the loss, not taking revenge.
A company suing disabled people with limited income is just wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! The record companies need to be sent a message that this is unacceptable! I, for one, no longer buy mainstream music. I boycott, and feel good about downloading. I think it's more important to send a message than to obey the laws being beyond their original intent. Call me a conscientious objector, if you will, but this is where I stand. (Oh, yeah. Copying music for personal use in Canada does no constitute copyright infringement.) (BTW: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.)
Another interesting thing that's been happening lately, possibly coincidentally, possibly as a result of the actions of the RIAA is that a lot of people are listening to Indy music. The internet makes this very easy.
I predict that as Indy music grows, the major labels continue to sue instead of reforming their business model, the major labels will loose money, loose clout, have less to sue over. And, for once, music will be about the music.
For anyone else wanting to boycott the RIAA, The RIAA Radar allows you to search out artists to see if they're part of the RIAA or not. It's there that I found out that one of my favorite groups, The Proclaimers, are Indy!!
Another site is Boycott the RIAA.
Oh, yeah, and The RIAA was voted the worst company in America.