The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has picked up the pace in their efforts to protect the poor, starving rock musicians made almost destitute by now defunct file sharing services such as Napster and Audiogalaxy.
On 16 August, major recording labels including RCA, Sony, and Warner Brothers filed a lawsuit against AT&T, Sprint, WorldCom, and Cable & Wireless - owners of the internet backbone. Why? Because a China based website (www.listen4ever.com) was hosting .mp3 files for download and the Recording Industry, unable to file suit against a website that’s not breaking any law where it is hosted, wants the companies that own the internet hardware to act as international copyright enforcement.
Ludicrous? Perhaps, but we may never know what the courts think. The RIAA dropped its suit today. In a curious turn of events a representative of listen4ever.com calling himself “Mike Smith” sent out an email saying only, “For some reason, the site is closed and will never come back.”
While it may not be a bad idea to incarcerate Limp Bizkit fans, the threatened action means possible prison time for the crime of simply having .mp3s on your computer that could be downloaded. After all, according to the Department of Justice:
To show distribution, it is not necessary to prove that others actually copied or used the work, only that the defendant knowingly made it available to the public.
Such a broad interpretation means that anytime you are online and you have any copyrighted material on your computer, you are in violation of federal law.
Christopher Cookson, executive vice president of Warner Bros., says that there is “a need for governments to step in and maintain order in society.” I agree. Do you really want to live in a society that does not incarcerate people for sharing music files? Not me. But don’t worry - nobody’s watching…