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Two bills, Two problems (pt. 1)

THERE ARE TWO VERY IMPORTANT bills right now working their way through the U.S. House and Senate right now. And the major record labels have two major short-term problems with their lawsuit campaign against families, which both bills are designed to address.

The first problem:

Most people are being very rational about filesharing. When the lawsuits first started, everyone expected filesharers to be scared away in droves. But according to BigChampagne, a company that tracks networks like Fastrack and Gnutella, the numbers just keep rising, even after successive rounds of lawsuits. Why? Because people are just too rational: the odds of getting sued will be well under 1/10,000 and the odds drop to zero if you only keep a small number of songs in your shared folder (which is plenty to keep these networks functioning swimmingly). People say “it won’t happen to me,” and they’re 99.9999% right.

The major labels will need to sue 100 times as many people to get the results they want, but lawyers cost money. Senators are cheaper (Hollywood Democrats and Texas Republicans are practically free) and with a few thousand dollars of lobbying (including campaign contributions to Leahy Hatch, Berman and Smith), the RIAA may be able to get the federal government to do their work for them. More people will get hit with civil or criminal cases, the penalties will be higher, people will get scared, and it just might keep the major label monopoly alive. The Senate bill (the PIRATE act) and the House bill (PDEA) will give the Department of Justice the legal foundation they need to go after filesharers. Currently, DOJ doesn’t have that.

Which brings us to the major labels’ second major short-term problem:

Labels may not have the legal grounds to pursue filesharers either. These two bills are may be an attempt to change the law before someone in the U.S. calls their bluff. More on this tomorrow. Also: if you live in either Vermont or Utah, please contact us as soon as possible regarding upcoming projects.

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