Nine year old saga concludes with refusal to review previous judgements
Finally closing the door on the trial, the US Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from file sharer Jammie Thomas-Rasset. As it now stands, the Minnesota woman owes the top record labels $220,000 stemming from the 2007 lawsuit finding her liable for sharing 24 songs online. Thomas-Rasset was one of two defendants who did not settle with the group, with both found to have shared the music and slapped with monumental fines for doing so.
Recording organization complains about search placement of infringers
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today lambasted Google in a report for not going far enough to stop media piracy. The RIAA believes that the efforts that commenced by Google in August -- which exceed that required by law -- have been ineffectual in stopping "serial infringers" from finding content hosted by pirate sites. In August, Google made changes to its search algorithm to lower the profile of sites accused by legitimate copyright owners of hosting pirated content. The RIAA claims that sites that have been accused of copyright theft "still managed to appear on page one" over 98 percent of the time.
American Assembly claims heavy sharers purchase more music
Researchers from the Columbia University-affiliated American Assembly, a non-partisan public affairs forum, have suggested in a new study that US media pirates buy roughly 30 percent more music than non-pirates. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Vice President of Research and Strategic Analysis Joshua Friedlander disagrees, claiming that "what [the study is] comparing is people who are interested in music with people who might not be interested at all."
Previously lowered then reinstated damages award upheld
The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal against a $675,000 damages award to the RIAA and Sony in a file-sharing trial, reports Wired. Attorneys for Joel Tenenbaum, formerly a Boston college student, argued the defendant should be protected against "unrestrained discretionary jury damage awards against individual citizens for copyright infringement," but was denied by the court without further comment.
French three strikes law not leading to sales help
A cross-check of facts at TorrentFreak has called into question the effectiveness of France's three strikes anti-piracy law, Hadopi. Despite claims (below) by the Hadopi office that bootleg file sharing is down 66 percent in France, new music sales data shows that revenues were still down 3.9 percent over 2011, two years after Hadopi had been enacted. It points to the measure's warning and disconnection process not only having little effect but possibly having hurt sales by reducing exposure to new music.
RIAA shows streaming on the rise
New RIAA music data has shown streaming music starting to get mainstream acceptance in the US. Although the number of those paying for subscription music services like Rdio, Slacker, and Spotify in 2011 was small at 1.8 million users, it represented an 18.9 percent boost over the year before. Revenue was up by a smaller rate, at 13.5 percent, as the faster paid subscriber rate was partly offset by free or low-cost users signing up.
RIAA: some ISPs ready to enforce rules by July 12
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has revealed when some ISPs will begin policing illegal file sharers, CNET reported. Last July, Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and more providers agreed to the policies, which were meant to keep their subscribers from illegally downloading and sharing files. The deadline is July 12, and at least Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon are on track to start implementing the program.
IFPI, RIAA mull suing Google to censor results
Two organizations that represent the music industry may file a lawsuit against Google in order to make it harder for web users to find pirated content online. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have gone as far as to obtain a preliminary legal opinion on the matter, TorrentFreak revealed. The two maintain that Google is abusing its dominant market position and should degrade search results that link to websites hosting pirated material.
Gaffigan to distribute DRM-free comedy special
Comedian Jim Gaffigan will take a page out of colleague Louis CK's book and distribute his next comedy special, Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe, exclusively over the Internet. The one-hour special will be taped on February 25 and be released in April. Gaffigan will charge $5 for the video available from his official website, and donate $1 to charity.
Joint venture accused of hypocrisy
Vevo, a joint venture owned by several major music labels, has been accused of streaming a pirated NFL game at an event the company hosted during the Sundance Film Festival. Attendees were reportedly able to watch a football playoff game featuring the Patriots versus the Ravens, however the video feed was being illegally streamed from the Spanish site TuTele.tv via sports stream aggregator Frontrow.tv.
Anonymous carpet bombs Megaupload opponents
(Update: FBI too) The forced closure of Megaupload and accompanying arrests may have backfired on proponents after Anonymous launched one of its largest attacks ever in retaliation. Multiple statements from the hacking collective confirmed they were responsible for successful denial of service attacks against the websites of the Department of Justice, MPAA, RIAA, and likely arrest instigator Universal Music. All of the sites were partly or completely unresponsive as of early Thursday evening.
US music sees digital finally overcome analog drop
US album sales have grown for the first time in seven years, Nielsen Soundscan reported Wednesday. A three percent increase to 458 million albums in 2011 was helped by digital sales from iTunes and other sources jumping by 20 percent, to 103 million, overcoming a six percent drop in CD sales to 225 million. Single songs themselves grew faster, up nine percent to 1.27 billion songs.
Jobs posthumously honored with Grammy for music
The Recording Academy on Wednesday awarded the late Steve Jobs with a posthumous Special Merit Grammy for his contributions to music. He received the Trustees Award for "outstanding contributions" to music outside of performance. In a statement, the Academy praised Jobs for blurring the lines between technology and art through through iTunes, the iPod, and other fields.
Louis CK shows copy protection not needed
Comedian Louis CK in an update revealed that an experiment in directly selling his Live at the Beacon Theater show online was a runaway success. Although it cost $170,000 to self-direct and produce the video, the DRM-free, $5 video had made $250,000 in just its first 12 hours. By Tuesday, Louis had more than doubled that amount and managed $200,000 in pure profit.
Megaupload to join fight against SOPA bill, more
Following the blockage of a YouTube video on Friday at the request of the RIAA and IFPI, cloud-storage service company Megaupload has stated it will sue Universal Music for prompting what it sees as a wrongful takedown. Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom requested YouTube reinstate the music video, dubbed Mega Song, while Universal asked to pull it again. The video in question was a promotional one for Megaupload and included P Diddy, Will.i.am, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray, Chris Brown, The Game, and Mary J Blige. TorrentFreak learned.
Trade group demands access to sales records
The Recording Industry Association of America has sent a cease-and-desist letter to ReDigi, threatening to sue the company over its marketplace for "used" digital tracks. The trade group demands that ReDigi shutter its operations, erase references to RIAA member artists from its site, "quarantine" current digital copies and provide access to sales records.
RIAA unhappy with Google stance on music app
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claims that Google is refusing to pull MP3 Music Download Pro (free, Android Market). The app is the fifth most popular free app on the Android Market and offers the ability to “search and download free music & lyrics.” According to RIAA, the app is being used to promote the illegal distribution of copyrighted music.
E-mails tie copyright officials to RIAA deal
E-mails made available thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (pdf) and unearthed by Wired reveal high-ranking Obama administration officials were actively involved in secret negotiations between Hollywood, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and ISPs. The three sides were found collaborating on plans to disrupt web access for users who are suspected of violating copyright law. The e-mails included executives and lobbyists from the likes of companies like AT&T and Universal Music, among many others.
RIAA tries again to raise Thomas fine
RIAA labels' attorneys on Monday appealed a decision to lower the fines against Jammie Thomas-Rasset over allegedly pirating songs. The music group claimed that Judge Michael Davis "erred" in determining that just making a song available through a peer-to-peer network didn't count as active distribution, letting him lower the total fine from as much as $1.92 million down to $54,000. Lawyers also disagreed with the notion that the original penalty violated due process rules.
Thomas-Rasset filesharing case still ongoing
The long-running court cases of file-share Jammie Thomas-Rasset against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is still making news, this time from Ars Technica. Federal Judge Michael Davis on Friday said she lied in her trial testimony and that her "past refusal to accept responsibility for her actions raises the need for strong deterrence."
Judge approves class-action status
US District Jude Loretta Preska has allowed a class-action lawsuit against RIAA music labels to continue forward. The lawsuit, which accuses major labels of conspiring to fix prices for digital music distribution, will be pursued under the Sherman Act to explore potential antitrust violations of federal law. Similar antitrust actions under New York state law will also be investigated, as well as other claims related to consumer protection and unjust enrichment.
Some US ISPs confirm copyright alert plans
Internet providers on Thursday formally revealed their pacts with the MPAA and RIAA to curb piracy. The new strategy (below) used by AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon, and others will first send "educational messages" to an Internet account if a music or video producer sends a notice of an alleged copyright infringement. If a content producer detects another incident, the notice will require a click through receipt that will prove they had received a warning and which could theoretically be used to sue the account holder for knowingly ignoring any warnings.
Nielsen sees first recovery in US music in 7 years
Nielsen SoundScan on Wednesday reported the first increase in American album sales since 2004. Total album sales in the US for the first half of 2011 were up one percent year-to-year to hit 155.5 million. Pure digital sales were growing faster at 660 million individual tracks, up 10 percent, and 221.5 million album equivalents, a boost of 3.6 percent.
ISPs may take graduated response under RIAA heat
American Internet service providers were reported late Wednesday as near giving into pressure from the MPAA and RIAA into adopting a graduated response system to alleged piracy. AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and others are believed to be near deals that could be made public in July that would toughen responses with each successive discovery. The White House as well as the National Cable and Telecommunications Association were claimed by CNET to have helped broker the deal.
LimeWire ends lawsuit with 105m settlement
LimeWire on Thursday agreed to pay $105 million as part of its lawsuit settlement in what may be the last chapter in the company's history. The payout comes a quick week after a trial to determine the amount that should be paid to music label owners such as Sony, Vivendi, and Warner. The former peer-to-peer company said only that it was glad to be rid of the lawsuit.
Analysts see digital music past CDs in 2012
Digital music should overtake CDs in the US for the first time next year, Strategy Analytics said in a new study. It expected CDs to continue dropping a steep 40 percent from $3.8 billion in revenue for 2010 to just $2.7 billion in 2012. Digital, led mostly by iTunes, would keep growing and just edge past the physical medium to hit $2.8 billion.
Judge allows controversial measure to proceed
DC-based US Copyright Group has won a ruling that will allow it to proceed in a case against thousands of people alleged to have shared files illegally. The decision by Federal Judge Beryl Howell will require ISPs to turn over the identities of thousands of users who have engaged in P2P file sharing. This is the first time that a subpoena for the identities of thousands of people alleged to have shared files illegally has been granted.
Demise of dominant P2P site leaves a vacuum
A new study by NPD Group found that illegal file sharing has dropped dramatically since a lawsuit shut down Limewire last year. The Recording Industry Association of American had sued parent company Lime Wire and its CEO Mark Gorton for copyright infringement, claiming that the peer-to-peer site encouraged pirating. The study found that after October 2010, when the service closed, the percentage of Internet users downloading music via P2P services dropped almost in half.
LimeWire agrees to settle music publisher suit
LimeWire on Tuesday said it had reached a settlement deal with major music publishers that had sued it for alleged piracy in June of last year. The two sides reached a secret deal that would see the lawsuit dismissed without the possibility of its return. The publishers, including those representing EMI, Sony, and Universal, had wanted as much as $150,000 per song and would have made it impossible for LimeWire to pay them back.
Supreme Court drops review of digital music suit
The US Supreme Court later on Monday declined to review a lawsuit accusing RIAA music labels of price fixing for digital music. Officials cleared the lawsuit to go ahead after an appeal brought back the case, which had initially been dismissed in 2008. No comment accompanied the decision to uphold the appeal and the case.
LimeWire to shut down permanently
LimeWire on Friday explained that its cancellation of music store plans was a full shutdown of the company. The company planned to close its New York office at the start of 2011. It didn't mention any follow-up companies or projects in a statement to AllThingsD.
LimeWire admits installing secret isolation code
LimeWire late Tuesday said that it had secretly installed a 'cut-off' switch in its peer-to-peer client to accompany the court-mandated withdrawal of its app. After a rumor from PCMag, company representative Tiffany Guarnaccia acknowledged to CNET that a summer update had given LimeWire the ability to isolate clients from the Gnutella network, rendering the app useless. It had also changed its update policy to both patch automatically and to refuse to open if a user wasn't running the latest version.
LimeWire pulling peer-to-peer app
LimeWire today agreed to stop offering its peer-to-peer file sharing client after an unsuccessful attempt to fight a lawsuit win by RIAA labels from last spring. The company said the move was "not our ideal path" but said it would both remove the option to download the client and improve the filtering where it can. It didn't say how or if it could stop users from running copies they already have.
Jammie Thomas-Rasset in court again next month
In a series of trials that dates back to 2007, Jammie Thomas-Rasset will once again go in front of a judge to appeal the damages in the copyright infringement ruling against her by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The trial is due to take place on November 2, despite lawyers' attempts to get the judge to again slash the damage award, last set at $54,000 down from $1.92 million.
NAB and RIAA would require FM in return for bill
The NAB and RIAA have proposed a compromise for a bill that could theoretically force all portable media devices to include FM radios. Under a yet to be formal suggestion for the Performance Rights Act, they would allow $100 million in performance royalties a year but would demand FM chips in MP3 players, smartphones and many other devices. Supporters have argued to Ars Technica and to legislators that forced radio would provide "more music choices."
Court says cracking DRM OK if purpose is legal
A new court ruling on Friday could set a legal precedent that allows bypassing digital rights management (DRM) for fair use purposes. New Orleans circuit Judge Emilio Garza found that GE hadn't violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by using hacked security dongles to repair uninterruptible power supplies from MGE UPS Systems as the goal itself was legal. While a jury fined GE $4.6 million for breaking copyright and misusing trade secrets, Judge Garza determined the DMCA hadn't been broken, as using hacked items by itself didn't constitute violating protection at the same time.
RIAA paid $64m over three years to get $1.4m
Ray Beckerman, the New York lawyer famous for fighting the recording industry's many lawsuits against what it alleges are illegal downloaders, has exposed what he says is a major financial flaw in the RIAA's business plan. On his blog, Beckerman found that the actual damages paid back were well below the actual legal expenses. Between 2006 and 2008, over $64 million was spent tracking customers but only extracted $1.36 million in successful lawsuits or settlements.
Judge in Tenenbaum case reduces damages by 10x
Boston Judge Nancy Gertner today ruled that the $675,000 in damages levied in the Joel Tenenbaum piracy case was illegal. An order from the legislator called the penalty "unconstitutionally excessive" and cut the penalty to $67,500. It violated the 14th Amendment's rule against depriving anyone of property without due process of law, according to the decision.
RIAA vs Thomas-Rassett case fails at arbitration
The now three-year old RIAA versus Jammie Thomas-Rasset case has resurfaced after a failed third attempt at arbitration. Music labels are complaining about having to cover the costs of the third meeting. The judge, Michael Davis, had ruled that an arbiter, or Special Master, oversee the meeting and the plaintiff (RIAA) cover his payment, at $400 per hour.
Group demands $150K per download
Eight music publishers have sued Limewire for copyright infringement. David Israelite, chief executive of the National Music Publishers’ Association, said his organization decided to pursue its claim after record companies won a similar lawsuit last month. The publishing group is claiming damages of $150,000 per download, the same as the record industry sought.
LimeWire to operate for at least two more weeks
At a hearing on Monday, US District Judge Kimba Wood gave LimeWire lawyers two weeks to respond to a motion filed on Friday by RIAA that would close down the music service. RIAA, which represents the music industry, won a copyright infringement lawsuit against LimeWire. A request from a Lime Group lawyer for two more weeks was denied. When LimeWire responds, RIAA gets two weeks for a response, but Judge Wood can rule anytime after the response.
Editorial: LimeWire win more harm than good
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has claimed victory against LimeWire after a years-long battle. Earlier this week, a US District Court ruled that the file-sharing site was responsible for causing copyright infringement through its service.
RIAA wins copyright lawsuit against LimeWire
A lawsuit that dates back to 2006 has been settled, with a federal court judge finding file-sharing service LimeWire liable for copyright infringement. The judge ruled in favor of the RIAA and its member labels that LimeWire's parent company engaged in 'unfair competition' and induced copyright infringement.
MPAA didn't provide government with data sources
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) may have presented inaccurate information to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding the economic impact of unauthorized file sharing. At the same time, the MPAA refused to reveal how it came up with some of the numbers in its piracy statistics. One major statistic the MPAA was caught red-handed at involves the 2005 claim that 44 percent of unauthorized file sharing comes from universities.
MPAA and RIAA hope users turn in themselves
The MPAA and RIAA have sent a response to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator that would call for software to spy on users for potential piracy. Answering a request for comments, the music and movie studios would like antivirus software to include tools for "managing copyright infringement" and block or report copyrighted material it finds.
Studios wanted iTunes LP, got little sales
The creation of iTunes LP was largely the result of major label pressure on Apple, a series of telling leaks has revealed. Music industry contacts claim that the 'deluxe' albums were a necessary part of the same deal that also forced variable song pricing in exchange for an all DRM-free catalog. The RIAA member labels, not Apple, wanted to resuscitate album sales and thought the bundle of special features would achieve the goal.
Judge says RIAA demands unrealistic
Judge Michael Davis in a decision today shrunk the $1.92 million penalty against Jammie Thomas-Rasset for her alleged music copyright infringement. The change stops short of exonerating Thomas-Rasset but asks a much lower $54,000 in total for the 24 shared songs, or $2,250 per song. In the ruling, Judge Davis also accused the music labels that began the case of asking for a disproportionate sum of money; the requested amount has to "bear some relation" to what was actually lost, he said.
Verizon first major to disconnect for piracy
Verizon today admitted that it has disconnected some users whose connections have repeatedly been seen carrying pirated material. The provider's spokeswoman, Bobbi Henson, wouldn't say how many or after how many notices but said Verizon has "cut some people off" in small numbers. It had already been sending notices on a wider level since April and for the RIAA in particular since November.
Appeals court OKs suit vs major music studios
A Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York today reinstated an antitrust lawsuit accusing EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner of illegal price fixing for digital music. Putting aside a dismissal from October 2008, Judge Robert Katzmann said there was enough evidence to "plausibly suggest" that the music labels might try to keep download prices artificially high through collusion.
RIAA knows ISP notices ineffective
The Recording Industry Association of America's ISP piracy warning deals are nothing but a public relations front, industry sources claimed yesterday. While the music label group had initially suggested it would have a deal that would disconnect repeat offenders, the purported insiders say labels wanted a "scarecrow" that would spook pirates even though the threat of disconnection couldn't legally be enforced. The aim, according to CNET, was primarily to replace the tactic of suing individual customers with an approach that still implied punishment.