Sony v. Tenenbaum, the latest RIAA outrage.

Sony v. Tenenbaum, the latest RIAA outrage.So it’s the old story – college student sued for file sharing, imminent damage award of several million dollars, all according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law written by the RIAA.

Here’s a general overview of the recording industry’s nuclear strike. By me (no expert), the defense’s argument seems a bit weaker than it needs to be.

Other commentators weigh in, despondently. With the Jammie Thomas defeat as a precedent, this boy could be facing the zillion-dollars-in-damages outcome.

And Recording Industry vs. The People addresses the basic issues that are not being addressed.

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The Day ASCAP threatened to sue the Girl Scouts for singing around the campfire; Barbie’s hooker origins; and other true tales of copyright.

The Day ASCAP threatened to sue the Girl Scouts for singing around the campfire; Barbie's hooker origins; and other true tales of copyright.I haven’t read the book Brand Name Bullies yet, but based on these excerpts, you know I will.

“In 1996, ASCAP decided that that since hotels, restaurants, funeral homes and resorts pay for the right to “perform” recorded music, and since many summer camps resemble resorts, why shouldn’t they pay too? Under copyright law, a public performance occurs “where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” Like a summer camp.

“After reportedly opening its negotiations with the American Camping Association with an offer of $1,200 per season per camp, ASCAP eventually settled on an average annual fee of $257. But once ASCAP’s plan went public, and people learned that the Girl Scouts were among the 288 camps being dunned, the group beat a hasty and embarrassed retreat.”

“Mattel’s protests about unsavory depictions of Barbie are hilariously ironic given the doll’s origins in the 1950s as a German “street walker” doll, “Lilli,” an adult novelty gift and collector’s item, which itself was inspired by a cartoon character in the newspaper Bild. Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie, adapted the German doll (dare anyone say “stole”?) and transformed it into the all-American doll we all know today. Like Disney, Mattel thinks it is fine to borrow liberally from the public domain or competing products, but no one is allowed to mess with “its” product.

“Mattel is legendary for fighting unauthorized depictions of Barbie. So it comes as a surprise to learn that Barbie can trace a direct lineage to “Lilli,” a German adult novelty doll from the 1950s (pictured here) that Mattel took the liberties to adapt.”

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Indoctrinating children about “idea theft”

Indoctrinating children about The Electronic Frontier Foundation alerts us that several large, well-monied organizations are placing propaganda material in schools about the evils of “copying”:

Recently, the Copyright Alliance Education Foundation unveiled its plans to disseminate a school curriculum titled “Think First, Copy Later” as well as other intimidating educational materials produced by the MPAA, RIAA, Business Software Alliance, and other content holders to frighten students into believing that making copies is wrong.

EFF knows that the creators and innovators of tomorrow don’t need more intimidation. They need solid, accurate information to make smart choices about how to use new technologies. That’s why EFF launced the free, Creative Commons-licensed “Teaching Copyright” curriculum and website to help educators explore copyright issues in their classrooms.

The debates over copyright and technology – whether they take place in classrooms, pressrooms or courtrooms – should be based on facts, not fear. Support EFF’s tireless efforts to educate the public – including smart, creative, and inquisitive young people – about the purpose and limits of copyright law.

One trusts this will have as much effect as the “marijuana leads to heroin” literature I received by the pound in school, but this ranks up there with the sleaziness of McDonalds distributing free schoolbooks about “nutrition” throughout the US.

If you can drop a few buck to the EFF to help counter the BS, you’ll be helping the youth. And they have some fairly hip premiums if you shell out $25.00 or above.

The EFF’s Deeplink Blog is a steady eye-opener.

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Fight Fiercely, Harvard! Fight! Fight! Fight!

Fight Fiercely, Harvard! Fight! Fight! Fight!Techdirt comments on a new RIAA extortion case moving through the courts, where the big guns at Harvard Law have arrayed themselves against the record industry because RIAA prosecutions are unconstitutional.

I’ll never say anything bad about Harvard. Ever.

Thanks to KG.

Imagine a statute which, in the name of deterrence, provides for a $750 fine for each mile-per-hour that a driver exceeds the speed limit, with the fine escalating to $150,000 per mile over the limit if the driver knew he or she was speeding. Imagine that the fines are not publicized, and most drivers do not know they exist. Imagine that enforcement of the fines is put in the hands of a private, self-interested police force, that has no political accountability, that can pursue any defendant it chooses at its own whim, that can accept or reject payoffs in exchange for not prosecuting the tickets, and that pockets for itself all payoffs and fines. Imagine that a significant percentage of these fines were never contested, regardless of whether they had merit, because the individuals being fined have limited financial resources and little idea of whether they can prevail in front of an objective judicial body.

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Copyright and politics don’t mix

Copyright and politics don't mixLawrence Lessig’s op-ed piece in today’s NY Times:

“Last year, Fox News ordered John McCain to stop using a clip of himself at a Fox News-moderated debate. Last month, Warner Music Group demanded YouTube remove an amateur video attacking Barack Obama that included its music, while NBC asked the Obama campaign to pull an ad that included some NBC News video with Tom Brokaw and Keith Olbermann. No doubt, these corporations are simply trying to avoid controversy or embarrassment, but by claiming infringement, they are effectively censoring political speech.”


And a small note explaining my erratic blogging, including not really keeping up with the WFMU shows I’m offering. The wife and I are in the process of buying a house (and this is an interesting time to be doing that, you betcha), and I’m heading off to Ireland today (see post below), so I’m more untogether than usual. I’ll be back in a week, and I’ll attempt to TCB in a more unified fashion, although I’m feeling the pressure of being only about 1/3 of the way through packing the 14,000 LP’s…

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