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The Riaa And The Unthoughtful Lawsuits

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The RIAA and the Unthoughtful Lawsuits

Imagine a world where music comes to life at the ends of your fingertips. Nowadays that kind of freedom exists through the mainframe of our computer networks. Back in the old days, one would have to go to a record store and buy an entire music album that was only bought for the one song he or she wanted. Since the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, internet file sharing has become a phenomenon in online communities around the nation. For years after, teenagers, college students and even adults have taken advantage of the new music situation involving the internet. It was only a matter of time however, before the RIAA got involved and started suing people for thousands or dollars. Many people feel wrongfully accused on the matter when they are sued but that’s for the courts to decide. The consequences enforced by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for downloading music are unnecessary, unfair and should be changed to something more stable.

People should not have to have a lawsuit staring them in the face in order to change their minds about something they do on their spare time. At least if that something is the simple task of downloading music from the internet. Downloading music has become a popular trend ever since this world entered the twenty-first century. It is wrong to think that a threat is the answer to stop people from downloading. Apparently however, the RIAA thinks it is.

The RIAA has really taken its suing of offenders a step further since about the year 2004. They started targeting and suing every person they could get their hands on. Each person that was caught downloading music through the internet was sued and fined and minimum of five to seven thousand dollars (Fisher). Since then the RIAA has made improvements and adjustments to the way they want to target their “potential criminals”. Depending on how the song was downloaded and which music artist it is by, the RIAA can decide how much a person should be fined for downloading it.

The education of the matter of illegal downloading is force fed to college students who get caught. After students are caught for their first offence, they are instructed to meet their Student Housing Judicial Affairs Conduct Coordinator at any of the given meeting dates they are given (Alex). At the meeting they are given a lecture basically telling the students that what they are doing is wrong and they should not do it again. They are told that if it happens again, they will lose their internet privileges at home. Needless to say, a college student will never download and his or her house on campus again. Even though the risk is very high, it is all too likely that some students will still try to find another way of downloading music without getting caught.

They way the RIAA gets the IP addresses of the internet customers committing the crime is a little flawed. The RIAA hires workers to go on the P2P and Bit Torrent networks and download certain songs and media. While downloading a media from a person on these networks, it is possible to see their IP address. It is all too easy for the RIAA to find someone once they find the IP address of the person they are downloading from (Colbrook). The IP address of someone’s internet is comparable to that person’s home phone number, once obtained it is only a matter of time before someone can find you or send you a big lawsuit in this case.

On the P2P and Bit Torrent networks, it is also possible to see the IP addresses of the people downloading the files as well as those uploading files. The reason the RIAA does not sue the ones downloading files is because they cannot sue someone for a crime they themselves are committing (Alex). For this reason it is only unsafe to upload files to other people and is safe to download files from other people. Therefore, if the program someone is using has the ability to shut off the uploading feature, that person is safe.

Downloading copyrighted music is illegal and the RIAA does have a reason for what they are doing. Copying and redistributing music is the exclusive right of the copyright holder. Anyone violating that right is at fault. Although these are the copyright circumstances, they were more than likely made so that music artists could not steal or copy from one another. They were not made to hurt the average Joe American.

Although the RIAA will never be able to catch and fine the millions of people that are out there downloading music, they do try to make a dent. By suing average Americans for thousands of dollars, the RIAA is forcing these people to go to prison or to file bankruptcy (Fisher). It truly is not fair for some of these people because some of them are innocent of the crime.

Many of the people who have been sued for the crime of downloading music illegally from the internet are not the ones who committed the crime. Usually it is the children of those who are prosecuted. Many parents are down right outraged that the money for the lawsuit that theoretically should be against their children is to be paid out of their own pocket (Robertson). Others are the victims of neighbors who download music through the wireless connection of their router. When cases like these arise there is no sympathy and the RIAA still sues the owner of the IP address.

There have been some cases where the defendant fights back against the lawsuits they feel they have been wrongfully accused of. However, most people just give up after a year or two because the constant court cases and appeals year after year start to affect their lives (Robertson). They end up just settling for the original amount that the court had issued them to pay. There is no real way to beat the RIAA at this game.

There has been only one mother who has prevailed in voiding the lawsuit placed against her for the downloading of music by her son. Her name is Patti Santangelo. It took her around three to four years to get through all the court hearings and it ended up costing her more than 20,000 dollars to show up to all these court cases which was more than what the settlement fee would have been (Robertson). She simply wanted to prove that she was wrongfully accused of something that she did not do.

Currently the RIAA is looking towards a different approach of installing fear into those who download music for free. The RIAA is coming into contact with internet providers such as Comcast and asking them to basically turn in their customers. The internet providers are able to find the IP addresses of their clients and then shut off their connection (Bridis). An IP address is just like a phone number or identity of the internet



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