I know, this is old news, but I thought some of you might want to read the following article.
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If there are errors, I apologize, but it was scanned, and I tried to clean it up as much as possible.
Net music swappers fear wrath of industry
They stop downloads, consult lawyers amid threats of lawsuits
By Benny Evangelista and Todd Wallack
Bob Barnes, a 50-year -old city bus driver and grandfather in Fresno, was shocked to learn this week that the recording industry was hunting him for illegally downloading songs off the Internet.
Barnes learned Wednesday that the Recording Industry Association of America had subpoenaed his Internet service provider for his name and address as part of the group's escalating ground war against online copyright infringement.
‘What the hell am I going to do?' Barnes said Thursday in a telephone interview. "It's a little (nerve-racking) now. ...I have no idea what they will do."
He is one of hundreds of Americans singled out by the recording industry's latest strategy to slow a tidal wave of popular file sharing programs by people using programs such as Kazaa. The campaign is putting a scare into file sharers, causing them to stop sharing any music from their computers, switch to programs that mask their identities or stop downloading altogether.
"We're hearing from a lot of people saying, 'Oh my God. I'm scared. What do I do? How do I know if I've been found?' " said Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation of San Francisco.
An estimated 60 million people in the United States have downloaded songs from the Internet through programs -such as Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster and Limewire - that allow users to find free music files in each other's computers. The system works when there are billions of files available to share. Users who don't share their files are called "leeches."
The record industry sued Redwood City's Napster Inc. into submission in 2001. But the industry has unsuccessfully attempted to stop companies that came up with post-Napster replacements. Now, the group is resorting to lawsuits in its attempts to cut off the supply of songs people make available for others to share.
The RIM is encouraged by initial reports that song-swapping activities have dropped.
"We hoped it would have a deterrent effect," said RIM spokeswoman Amy Weiss. "We are looking at this as a long-term campaign to file lawsuits and send a strong message that we are not going to sit idly by while our industry suffers."
The trade group that represents the $14 billion-a-year U.S. recording industry blames file- sharing for a 3-year-long drop in global CD sales. Critics maintain the recording industry is using file-sharing as an excuse to ignore other factors, such as the poor economy, a lack of songs or artists that consumers want, and stiffer competition for entertainment dollars.
Deleting may not be enough:
Just the fear of being sued is making file-sharers nervous. Sabina Karsan of Glendale (Los Angeles County) doesn't know if she's been fingered by the RIAA, but she isn't taking any chances.
Karsan deleted her entire collection of downloaded songs and swore off file-sharing the day after the RIM announced its latest campaign against copyright infringement.
"Since then, I have not had the nerve to download music," Karsan, 24, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle. "Deleting all the songs and file-sharing software and never using them again was my only way out."
But legal experts say deleting those files may not be enough to save file-sharers already singled out by the RIM from getting hauled into court or from paying high fines and costly legal fees.
The RIM has filed more than 900 subpoenas with Internet service providers and university administrators requesting the names of customers or students the RIM is tagging as file-sharers.
The subpoenas are based on snapshots of information the RIM began gathering on June 26 by scanning the list of songs being offered by users of such popular file-sharing programs as Grokster and Limewire.
The subpoenas, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., include individual file-sharers' Internet Protocol addresses and screen names, plus a small sample of songs they were sharing from their computers.
Tracking down a downloader:
For example, one RIM subpoena said a person using the screen name "fritzbuilding@ kazaa' had shared at least seven songs at 5:58 p.m. on June 27, 2003. The songs included "The Space Between" by the Dave Matthews Band and Snoop Dogg's "Set It Off."
We traced that IP address, as well as at least one other named by the association, to DSL subscribers in San Francisco who are served by or live near an SBC central telephone switching office in the South of Market area.
The industry group wants the actual names and street addresses of file-sharers so it can carry through with its threat of filing lawsuits in August. The group plans to seek as much as $150,000 in damages for each copyright violation.
"We're going after people who are offering up a substantial number of files," the RIM's Weiss said. The industry group has repeatedly declined to say what it means by "substantial."
San Rafael attorney Ira Rothken said he'd been contacted by about 20 people who had received notices from their Internet service providers that the RIM was on their trail.
"They're wondering if they get sued, what happens, how do I send my kids to college, really practical things like would I lose my house," said Rothken, one of several lawyers listed on a Web site - www.subpoenadefense.org - set up to assist people who find themselves caught in the cross- hairs of the RIM.
Two universities, Boston College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are contesting the subpoenas on various legal grounds. However, Internet service providers such as Comcast Corp. say they are complying with RIM subpoenas "in situations in which we are legally bound and when the request meets specific' legal criteria."
Under current copyright laws, sharing unauthorized files is illegal, said the Electronic Frontier Foundation's von Lohmann. The digital rights advocacy group, which has started a campaign to lobby Congress to decriminalize online file-sharing, recommends that file-shares stop sharing to avoid becoming lawsuit targets. "
Cost of CDs blamed:
Barnes, the Fresno bus driver became an avid Napster user partly because he thought it was insane to shell out $15 for a CD
without first sampling the songs. or paying for an entire album when he was interested only in a, single song.
But now, the fear of being sued has prompted him to delete Kazaa from his computers, erase hundreds of downloaded songs
from his hard drive and consult a copyright attorney in Sacramento.
Barnes is flabbergasted that the recording industry is focusing on him instead of someone pirating CDs for sale. "I feel like they
are casting this big net, and they trapped this itty-bitty goldfish, " he said.
Although one research report says file-sharing has dropped by 15 percent, other experts say there has been little effect, especially because there are millions of file- sharers in other countries who may be beyond the reach of the RIM.
"I don't think anybody will be able to stop the public from downloading," said Patrick Jermann, 19, of St. Gallen, Switzerland. 'Trying to sue everybody who's downloading is silly. It's counterproductive," Jermann said as he, his father and two brothers were browsing for CDs inside the Rasputin Music store fu San Francisco.
Chris Dubuque, 31, of Corte Madera says he still uses Kazaa to download but moved his music out of his shared music folder when he "realized they were sending out subpoenas."
Dubuque says the RlAA is ignoring the value of file-sharing, which he says helps to expose music fans to new music.
The lawsuits "amount to taking a sledgehammer to swat a fly," Dubuque said.Hope someone found this to be informative.Users who are most at risk of industry suits:
It's almost impossible to check whether you already are selected for a lawsuit if you have copied music, but some Internet service providers are notifying subscribers who are subjects of a subpoena. The Electronic Fron-1 tier Foundation, based in San Francisco, plans to publish' - at www.efforg - information from subpoenas to help computer users determine whether they have been singled out.
If you are chosen, music lawyers may ignore you, send a stern warning or file a civil suit. The recording industry wants to deter downloaders and expects to file several hundred suits in the next eight weeks, but lawyers say they are willing to negotiate settlements.
The music industry is focusing on Internet users sharing "substantial" collections of songs, It has not said how many might qualify for a suit but the minimum appears to be a few hundred songs.
Once you download a copyright song, file-sharing software automatically makes it available for other Internet users to download, too. It is possible to reconfigure the software to allow downloads and prevent sharing files, al. though this undermines the concept of public file-sharing networks.
The Recording Industry Association of America has said it is pursuing only Internet users in the United States.
ON THE NET:
Instructions for reconfiguring file-sharing software:
www.musicuflited.org or www.efforg/IP/P2P/howto-notgetsued.php