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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Avril Lavigne representative bashes RIAA

A Canadian organization representing several musical artists including Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, and The New Pornographers has made a very strong statement against the RIAA and DRM. I applaud the coalition for standing up for users and realizing that to succeed in a digital world we need to work with users not against them.

"Lobbyists for major labels are looking out for their shareholders, and seldom speak for Canadian artists. Legislative proposals that would facilitate lawsuits against our fans or increase the labels' control over the enjoyment of music are made not in our names, but on behalf of the labels' foreign parent companies."

The CMCC is united under principles including:

Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical
Artists do not want to sue music fans. The labels have been suing our
fans against artists' will, and laws enabling these suits cannot be
justified in artists' names

Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive (DRM is bad)

Artists do not support using digital locks to increase the labels'
control over the distribution, use and enjoyment of music or laws that
prohibit circumvention of such technological measures. Consumers
should be able to transfer the music they buy to other formats under a
right of fair use, without having to pay twice.

More information about the CMCC (including a more detailed policy
statement) is available at www.musiccreators.ca.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

EMI possibly leaving RIAA

This is great news for music fans. EMI was the first big label to abandon consumer hated DRM on Itunes and is now making another good business choice by distancing themselves from the suit happy and equally disdained RIAA. Now we just need them to embrace a creative web based business model like Magnatune and we will have a new direction for the future of music.

As a reminder EMI is one of the Big 4 in music and has signed many popular artists from multiple genres, including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Maria Callas, Queen, Legião Urbana, Kraftwerk, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Marillion, Tina Turner, Kate Bush, Frank Sinatra, Coldplay, Roxette, Selena and Garth Brooks.

Full story at Arstechnica

"One of the Big Four labels is apparently unhappy with its return on investment when it comes to funding industry trade groups such as the IFPI and RIAA. British label EMI, which was recently purchased by a private equity fund, is reportedly considering a significant cut to the amount of money it provides the trade groups on an annual basis.

According to figures seen by Reuters, each of the Big Four contributes approximately $132.3 million to fund the operations of the IFPI, RIAA, and other national recording industry trade groups. That money is used in part to fund the industry's antipiracy efforts—including the close to 30,000 file-sharing lawsuits filed by the record labels in the US alone."

Look back at our April 1st story, Major Labels Withdraw from RIAA. Maybe it was just early.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Grad Student speaks out against UW's RIAA policy

The following is a letter from Eric Rehm Graduate Research Assistant at UW's Applied Physics Lab to Eric Godfrey vice provost for student life. Rehm does a great job pointing out alternative actions UW could be taking to stand up for students rights or work with students to find solutions instead of allowing the RIAA to threaten students.

Mr. Godfrey,

Instead of indirectly threatening students, why not take some action? For

1. Fight the RIAA, as does the University of Wisconsin.

University of Wisconsin refuses to forward the RIAA letters you are so ready
to forward because they "short circuit the legal process to rely on
universities to be their legal agent", according to Brian Rust of UW's IT

2. Bill the RIAA for these letters, as does the University of Nebraska.

In addition to not forwarding the letters, UN demands reimbursement of $11
it costs Nebraska taxpayers to process each RIAA letter.

3. Tell the RIAA to "take a hike", as recommended by the Harvard Law School.

I cannot say it better than the authors of the Harvard Law School article
mentioned above:

"If the RIAA wants to stimulate conversation, then it should engage in
genuine dialogue. Come join us on campus. Come talk to the digital natives
who are our students, to the faculty who care about fair intellectual
property protections, and to the university counsel and technical teams who
manage our strategies and operations in cyberspace. The RIAA should be
asking, along with the rest of us, if we can come up with models that reward
artists for their work while allowing the maximum circulation and use of
their creations, as our Founding Fathers intended."

Before returning to the U.W. School of Oceanography in 2004 for graduate
studies, I was co-founder and CTO of Singingfish.com, an Internet startup
that indexed the Web (like Google) for links to audio and video files. In
addition to addressing various URL linking challenges (ultimately protected
by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act), I regularly encountered
technologists of the RIAA and IFPI (representing the recording industry
worldwide) at MPEG conferences where we battled over standards for metadata and
digital rights management.

I would be happy to discuss this further with you over some legal beer and
music. You may be surprised at the local expertise (and funds) that would
rise to the challenge of more creative action by U.W.


Eric Rehm
Graduate Research Asst.
Applied Physics Lab, Ocean Physics Dept.
University of Washington
(reprinted with permission)

If you want to let UW know what you think about the policy please write:

Eric S. Godfrey
vice provost for student life
(206) 543-0128;
Box 355831
Vice Provost, Student Life
476 Schmitz Hall
FAX: +1 206 543-2965

Related Stories
University of Washington as RIAA lackey part 2
University of Washington acting as RIAA crony

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

University of Oregon stands up to the RIAA

University of Oregon and the Oregon's Attorney General are fighting against RIAA subpoenas for student names in alleged file sharing cases. This is great news. It is nice to see a university standing up for the privacy rights of students and not enabling the RIAA to harass students with unsubstantiated claims.

EFF has done a great job summarizing the arguments of the college.
In its brief, the University makes 5 arguments:

1) The University is already preserving information, so there is no need for ex parte subpoenas;
2) the subpoena imposes an undue burden because the University cannot tell who the file-sharer was without additional investigation;
3) the language of subpoena is overbroad;
4) the FERPA bars disclosure of the identifying information; and
5) Section 512(h) of the DMCA provides the exclusive mechanism for ex parte subpoenas to ISPs in these circumstances.

The last argument, if accepted by the court, could radically change the nature of the RIAA's 4-year litigation campaign against music fans. Currently, the recording industry's strategy relies on pressuring universities into handing over student targets, either by having the university deliver "pre-litigation settlement letters" to students or, failing that, forcing universities to respond to subpoenas obtained after filing a "John Doe" lawsuit. If these avenues are blocked, the recording industry would have to undertake its own investigatory efforts to determine who to sue.

More at EFF

Znet also has a good article on U of O and the AG's reasons for fighting the subpoenas:

The AG’s office says the RIAA is engaging in unethical behavior towards the court. Despite the fact that deputy AG Randolph Geller told RIAA counsel Katheryn Coggon that the school would preserve all the relevant data, the RIAA said in its subpoena request that:

there was a “very real danger the ISP will not long preserve” the data it wanted.

Having just taken the California Bar’s professional responsibility exam I can tell you such a misrepresentation could result in disciplinary action, IMO.
Since it would take so much effort to ID the students, the RIAA is essentially shifting its own investigatory burden onto the state.

“In short, the subpoena requires the University to create discoverable material to assist Plaintiffs in their litigation rather than merely disclose existing documents,” argues the school, citing case law that indicates that non-parties “are not required to create documents that do not exist, simply for the purposes of discovery.”

More from ZNET

Go Ducks!

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Seattle PI coverage of Students for Free Culture

The Seattle PI made two blog posts regarding Seattle Student for Free Culture last week. The discussion related to the recent RIAA suits and the local copyfight at Seattle University School of Law and at University of Washington. It appears that SU Law is acting to Free Culture while UW has not taken action yet. This is surprising considering both the RIAA suits at UW and UW's recent speaker of Brewster Kahle and up coming speech from Larry Lessig. Where are the librarians and the Ischool in the fight to open up access to all knowledge?

I recommend checking out the articles, I will be reposting here the comment we made on how to get involved in the copyfight in Seattle.

Original article about Seattle Students for Free Culture

Follow up article with interviews with Brian Rowe and Scott Shawcroft

Disclosure: I am the student leader behind SFFC at Seattle Univerity Law and a Graduate of University of Washington.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

What if the music industry starts trolling?

Given the $220,000 windfall that Capitol Records got yesterday, one wonders if their executives aren't taking a closer look at the "patent troll" business model.

Companies like Intellectual Ventures are patent trolls. They create patents and sue others for infringing on them, while never bringing a single product to market.

It would be entirely within the law for Capitol Records to do this as well. A litigation-only business model would relieve them of having to actually sell any of the music to which they have the rights. If they don't make it available to consumers at all, then they can focus their efforts on extracting $220,000 from every person who gets access to their songs.

Sounds like a legal, profitable, easy plan! Right?

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Thursday, September 13, 2007


"Consumers should not be able to listen to any music or enjoy any movie anywhere without our approval," said Sherman.

In addition to coordination of anti-piracy efforts, a key benefit of the merger will also be reduced costs.

"We no longer have to have both the movie and music industries buying up senators and congressmen to get restrictive copyright laws passed," Glickman explained. "Now the representatives will be getting one sack of money from one organization. The cost savings to us will be tremendous."

The first such law that the organization will persue will be the passing of the so-called 0WNAGE Act which specifies that copyrights can now only belong to corporations and that all copyrights, including expired ones, will be reinstated and non-expiring.

Read more at MAFIAA http://mafiaa.org/press_room/

I wanted to post this before commenting on the MPAA's recent comment on the Pirate Party.

atrtibution to John T. Haller

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Copynight Tonight @ Cafe Press

Please join us tonight (Tuesday) at 8:30 PM at Cafe Press in Capitol Hill at 1117 12th Ave. This is a new location with WIFI. The location is also all ages with a good reasonably priced menu and drinks.

Topics will include:

Harry Potter and Pirate Bay


Free Culture in Seattle

See you there,

-Brian Rowe
Freedom for Intellectual Prosperity

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pirate Party US meeting 6pm pst today

The pirate party has been around a year in the US, I am curous to see wht they are doing and where they are headed. With the RIAA's litigation attacks on student and the MPAA's propaganda campaign in full swing I think we are left with few alternatives to aggressive political and social action to protect our rights and add balnce to a broken system.

Pirate Party meeting tonight on IRC 6pm West Coast:

IRC server: irc.pirate-party.us
Channel: #USPirateParty

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

University of Washington as RIAA lacky part 2

I must apologize for the vagueness of my last post. Now that I have calmed down, I can make a reasonable post on why I am so angry with the University of Washington's new policy.

To clarify, this Monday UW sent an email to all student notifying them that UW was cooperating with the RIAA by distributing prelawsuit letters to student who have IP addresses that the RIAA claimed are file sharing copyrighted martial. (at this time I am looking for an official copy of the email, if you still have it please forwarded it to me)

My objections to this practice are twofold; first UW is enabling the RIAA to prey on the student they should be protecting.

The RIAA has set settlement amounts at a level where seeking legal advice is more expensive then just paying the settlement.
The RIAA is missing using a law designed to stop mass market commercial infringement against student who are not profiting.
The RIAA is intimidating students to the point of suggesting that some student should give up college saving and drop out of school to pay the settlements.

Second everything I learned thought the Ischool's Informatics program is in direct conflict with helping the RIAA lock away information.

I was first introduced to John Perry Barlow's article, A framework for patents and copyrights in the Digital Age. (Everything you know about intellectual property is wrong.) Adam Moore's. introduction to Informatics 300. This same class covered "Intellectual Property: A Non-Posnerian Law and Economics Approach,"(warning pdf version)
by Tom G. Palmer. The Ischool focused on the changes in the information landscape and equipping student to understand shape the future. Finlay my capstone project from 2 years ago identified areas of conflict between Human Rights and Intellectual property including distribution of nonrivalrous goods to people regardless of economic standing.

Now that these conflicts are becoming realities in our society it appears the University of Washington is choosing to entrench antiquated economic models of the past instead of becoming a leader in creating real solution to help all access knowledge.

I have a hard time reconciling the academic teaching for the University of Washington, especially the Ischool, with this new policy.

PS More on this next week including the Ischool's vision and some responses from UW's administration.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

University of Washington acting as RIAA crony

This week Eric Godfrey, vice provost for student life at the UW Seattle campus, informed students of the policy Monday through a campuswide e-mail. It said some students have letters on the way, but he was unable in a later phone interview to say how many.

The university will not pass the students’ names to the association, but it will use its server to identify them and inform them of their settlement options.... read more at The news tribune

As an alumni of the Ischool.
As an alumni of University of Washington I aM


If you are outraged also please contact:

Eric S. Godfrey
vice provost for student life

(206) 543-0128;
Box 355831
Vice Provost, Student Life
476 Schmitz Hall
FAX: +1 206 543-2965

PS I will write more on this when I have calmed down!

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