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RIAA Overcounts Shared Music Files

WHY DO SO MANY of the people being sued by the RIAA insist that they
were sharing well under 1,000 major label songs even though the RIAA
says it’s targeting “major offenders” with over 1,000? We were a
little puzzled by this when we kept hearing from lawsuit victims with
500, 600, or 700 songs. We assumed that the RIAA was misleading the
press or trying to trick file sharers.

But according to one of the lawyers who is defending several people
who’ve been sued, the RIAA was actually just sloppy in
gathering evidence. Apparently, the RIAA is singling out people who
have over 1,000 files of any kind in their shared folder, even when
they aren’t all songs. One guy who had about 500 songs in his shared
folder was using Windows Media Player to listen to his mp3s. The
software automatically downloaded cover art for each song and saved it
in the same folder. When the RIAA went looking for people to attack,
they saw 1,000 total files and put him on the hit list. The take home
lesson: never rule out incompetency when trying to understand the
behavior of the record labels.

This was a great article 10 days ago in the Philadelphia Enquirer about what happens to art when the idea of copyright expands way beyond it’s original goal of encouraging innovation and starts to impede it:

“Artists in all fields are asking, ‘Is this going to get me sued?’,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity. “When that is the first question the artist is asking about a work, we’ve already retarded the creative process.”

Read it.

Holmes is going out to Portland, Oregon on Monday to visit Trish. If anyone who lives out there would like to go out and wheatpaste some flyers or just meet up, email him.

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