Anti-MAFIAA Manifesto (v3.03) (V for Vendetta style)

A ran across this little gem while browsing a P2P news site that i visit every now and then. I thought it was a *masterfully* done piece of literature, as the author describes it: “Written in the V for Vendetta style.” I thought it definitely worth sharing:

Market Momentum. A marginal improvement in a massive move of millions of monetary units. Mobs maintaining their millionaire manors with a martial ministry, marauding and muzzling the melomaniacs who made the mistake of mounting multi-user music-sharing programs onto their microprocessors, mostly for an ear-mashing, mundane and monotonous munch of music, with a miserable “remasterized” dynamic range.

The Machiavellian Music Industry, the Movie Masterminds and their malevolent minions, muscled by the majority of the media, masquerade their managers as martyrs to maintain a megalithic marketing model, misleading the masses into malls like mules, macerating -no, milking- their income and molding them: With mesmerizing melodies, moronic mottos, mountains of merchandise and meticulously mannered nominations, those monsters mutilate the masses’ minds, melding them into not more than mere mammals, with a microscopic mental magnitude, matching the mud and the moss.

Myth? Misstatement? Madness? MATERIALISM!

Meanwhile, in their magnificent mansions, the mink-mantled magnates morbidly mock the minorities’ misfortune, while moistening their mouths in martinis under the moonlight, and masticating their meat and marshmallows like no tomorrow.

Those mischievous moguls magnify their monumental monopolies by multiplying their machinery: Digital Rights Management, DMCA, “Trusted” Computing (Mr. Stallman was not mistaken). Maltreating musicians, misusing copyright to the max, mirroring the Matrix by mining the government to monitor communications, marching like the militia to school meetings in the mornings with menacing memos, mirthfully mismatching mortified mothers for maleficent mobsters, mandating most into misspending more and more (or be imprisoned). Their main motivation is no mystery: Money.

Money! A metastatic misery, a muddling myopia, a momentary make-believe, a magnetizing mirage! A manipulating mephisto, which metamorphoses the meek into mercenaries and murderers, making them moan like Midas in a maniacal manner: “mine, mine, mine!!” Is modesty no more?

MONEY! MAY OUR MAKER MALEDICT THEE!

(Meditate my musing for a moment)

This melee, to maximize their market share. Most of mankind’s malignancy is merged into a man-made monster of mastodonic measures. A mammoth called MAFIAA. Months pass, and the multitudes mourn the ever-minimizing mobility of their mediocre minds, amidst marred music, meaningless media transmissions, and miniaturizing freedom. This multinational massacre must be terminated, but most men make meager or no moves, at most mimetizing their communications with muTorrent, masked by the mist of encryption. Is this illegal? Maybe. Morally wrong? Maybe, maybe not (memorize this term: Civil Disobedience).

IT IS MANDATORY THAT WE DO MUCH MORE, OR THIS MACABRE MELTDOWN WILL MOVE ON!!

Militate and manifest yourselves in the metropolis! This is a major command! Miraculous modifications start as a minimal idea in a man or a woman’s mind. Maintain your might! Manly move forward, and donate money to your magnanimous comrades, the EFF and FSF, for their mission is not minor! But if you malinger…

Memorize my message, merciless mice! You might enjoy your freedoms for a minuscule moment – you shall miss them in melancholy for millennia, after they become but a marooned, mummified memory in a mausoleum named morgue. Misunderstand me not: this moderate memento, amusing to many, may be a premonitory ultimatum.

A MAYDAY!

Merry to meet you, I’m merely a man behind a mask with a mystifying moniker. I am M. – [p2pnet.net]

Nicely done. And all the more impressive because it conveys it’s message in both an inspiring and profound way. That’s right. There is a message in there. I hope you got it… :)

Myth? Misstatement? Madness? – [p2pnet.net]

The RIAAs Worms Turn!

The RIAA seems to be a prominent fixture in the online media these days. And given that they seem to have adopted the rather short sighted strategy of knowingly suing both guilty as well as innocent members of the very demographics that they could have been legitimately making a lot of money from, it isn’t hard to see why. But now it seems that they may truly be getting ready to experience a full size serving of their own brand of justice:

In cases which should by rights have been initiated by the Bush government on behalf of innocent families across America, falsely attacked by Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, RIAA victims Tanya Andersen and Michelle Santangelo are determined to make the Big 4, as well as companies involved in the sue ‘em all morass, pay, literally and figuratively, for the distress they’ve caused and are still causing.

Go Tanya and Michelle! Though I have some reservations about the long term repercussions of Michelles’ legal approach, ( I think the justification for her claims and the resulting targets are only half right) , I was suitably convinced by Tanya’s list of complaints:

Her amended complaint is impressive. She’s citing negligence, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, federal and state RICO, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, trespass, invasion of privacy, libel and slander, deceptive business practices, misuse of copyright law, and civil conspiracy. – [p2pnet.net]

Wow. It looks like the RIAA is getting ready to have the book thrown at them. As I have said on many occasions, I have always felt that the big entertainment industries had all the right in the world to try and protect their business from pirates.

However I think they crossed the line when they started attacking any technology that could be used for file sharing, especially when these same technologies have proven so beneficial for so many other legitimate purposes. Even more heinous was the decision to sue people, en mass, without any kind of conclusive evidence, and use their legal and financial clout to extort them into settling.

What was the worst was when it became obvious that they were knowingly subjecting innocent people to this form of legalized extortion. I kinda think that they were definitely asking for this. And to be honest, the first line of the article actually echoes my sentiments exactly. Why has this obviously monopolistic corporate activity been ignored by the federal government? I am really interesting in seeing how this turns out.

RIAA named in first class action – [p2pnet.net]

The “Pirates” take a stand…

An interesting movement seems to have spawned the desert of Utah. The US arm of a group calling themselves the “Pirate Party”, has proclaimed their intent to become a legitimate political party:

Yesterday, the Pirate Party of the United States announced its intention to register as a political body in Utah, its first move into American state politics. The fledgling Utah operation is now accepting “statements of support,” needing 200 voter signatures for official registration.

“Our basic mission is to restore a lot of the civil liberties that have been eroded in the name of profit, including privacy, free speech, and due process,” Ray Jenson, the interim administrator for what may become the Pirate Party of Utah, told El Reg.

He has his sights set on the DMCA, the U.S. law that protects online intellectual property, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that quite likes the DMCA. “Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there have been numerous erosions of liberties since it went into effect almost a decade ago,” Jenson said. “Number one on the list is the RIAA’s litigation” against P2P services and the people who use them. – [The Register]

Given the amount of abuse the entertainment industry has been dishing out lately, it is almost no surprise that this group exists, though I will admit I had never heard of them until today. However, I honestly believe that the entertainment industry, in particular the MPAA and the RIAA have been abusing the law.

I do agree that the RIAA and MPAA have the right to take actions to protect their investments. However I also believe that they have been using this as an excuse to violate the rights of others. They have embarked on what is little more than an extortion campaign, or litigation terrorism, in the name of curtailing piracy.

While I agree that piracy is a problem, it seems like nobody has been looking out for the innocent victims that have been needlessly terrorized by the MPAA/RIAA. While groups like the ACLU have been vocal about the issues, it appears that their efforts have done little to helped those who have been the unjust focus of the entertainment industries legal might. It’s about time there was an organization dedicate to this cause. I will be watching these “Pirates” closely…

Pirate Party invades Utah – [The Register]

The RIAA is crazy… Like a fox…

I just read an article talking about how the RIAA is now going after the Universities for failing to forward pre-litigation settlement letters to suspected file sharers:

Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG’s RIAA has come up with another tactic in their attacks on American university students.

It’s now blaming the schools themselves.

The Big 4 enforcement unit is after 16 Philadelphia students, completely ignoring mounting universal outrage against the ongoing harassment.

Actually, this is not so surprising. It fits perfectly with their current modus operandi of suing anyone they possibly can, notwithstanding the legal dilemma of actually trying to prove anyone actually did anything. What is not so obvious is what thier strategy is, and what it does and does not accomplish:

An RIAA ‘press release’ says “unsettled cases” were, “either because the university failed to forward a pre-litigation letter to the student or because the record industry’s initial settlement offer of a discounted settlement was ignored”.

As p2pnet posted, until fairly recently, the Big 4’s practice, “was to have about 750 subpoenas aimed every month not only at adults they were accusing of being massive online distributors of copyrighted music, but also very young children,”… – [p2pnet]

Now here are the important numbers. 750 subpoenas/pre-litigation letters a month. At around $3000 – $5000 per settlement. If we assume the minimum of $3000 per suit and 100% successful settlements, then relying on my rusty math skills that gets them somewhere in the region of $2,250,000/month. $2.25million a month. Thats $27Million a year. How exactly did they come up with these settlement figures?

Now given that file sharing does not seem to have been affected in any significant way by any of this, it seems to me like these lawsuits have taken on another purpose. Like a secondary income. And not just from illegal file sharers, but from anyone they think they can get away with suing. P2P software providers, P2P sites, college students, universities, parents, kids, it doesn’t seem to matter any more whether the people being slapped with pre-litigation papers were actually engaged in the practice of illegal file sharing or not.

The unfortunate thing about this is that you do not even have to be guilty for the RIAA to slap you with a suit. The RIAA knows full well that for the average citizen, it will be cheaper to settle, than to try and retain legal counsel to defend themselves in court, no matter how innocent they are, and are taking full advantage of that fact. The RIAA has adopted the methodology of a crime syndicate that moves into a bad neighborhood, and starts charging all the store owners, both good and bad, for “protection” money.

I can understand the need to prosecute those who are engaged in illegal file sharing, but it doesn’t even seem like they are even really going after file shares any more. Given the nature of some of the targets of these litigation letters, some of who are clearly innocent, it almost sounds like they are pretty much just pulling names out of a hat. Don’t any of the governing authorities see this is getting out of control?

RIAA blames universities for lawsuits – [p2pnet]

A SLAPP in the face of a fair legal system…

I read an interesting article about the MPAA and RIAA strategy for dealing with copyright infringment and, in particular, file sharing:

Going up against big guns
For insight into how tough it is to oppose the entertainment sector, consider the conclusions of some long-shot copyright cases Rothken worked on: RecordTV and ReplayTV ran out of funds before their cases were heard, and MP3Board.com settled.

There’s no telling whether the start-ups would have survived had their cases gone to trial, but Rothken argues that shouldering legal fees and bad press didn’t help.

Applying financial pressure is only part of Hollywood’s strategy, Rothken said. Another tactic is to sue founders as well as their companies. In 2000, the RIAA filed a copyright suit against MP3Board.com, a music-file search engine, as well as the company’s founders.

Instead of risking their own income, the operators of MP3Board.com settled the case and decided to stop linking to MP3 files, Rothken said.

“I can’t say what the MPAA’s strategy is,” said Gary Fung, founder of IsoHunt, a TorrentSpy rival and Rothken client who also is being sued by the MPAA for copyright infringement. “But they do know they have more time and money than we do.” – [C/Net News]

There is no doubt that file sharing technologies have contributed to the illegal piracy of music and video. I also cannot argue that the MPAA and the RIAA have a right to file suits against those who decide to share copyrighted works illegally. That being said, this is decidedly not what they are doing. They have taken the decidedly unrealistic approach of attacking the technologies rather than the people doing the file sharing.

The various entertainment associations have sued numerous torrent tracker sites, on the basis that they are helping promote illegal file sharing. Now it may just be me but this seems to me no better than suing the gun industry for the common use of firearms in the commission of crime, or automobile makers for the high incidence of drinking and driving. And as usual, those who use the technology for legitimate purposes are always the ones to suffer.

What is even more distressing to me is not simply the fact that these suits are brought at all, but rather the strategies being used to win these suits. Rather than relying on the strength of the case, the RIAA and MPAA have begun a the methodical practice of SLAPPing defendants into submission. The SLAPP or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, is designed to ensure a settlement not by virtue of any legal argument, but by wearing down the defendants financial resources until they are unable to afford to continue their defense.

This to me, is the ultimate abuse of the legal system. The fact that this type of activity is legally allowed to happen should be a cause of great concern, even for law abiding American businesses and citizens, because it means that the outcome of future suit brought against you may not be determined by the validity or legal strength of the suit, but rather by who has the most money. And that situation is fundamentally anathema to the concept of a fair and equitable legal system.

TorrentSpy lawyer battling ‘copyright extremism’ – [C/Net News]

Government intelligence goes P2P (and is apparently also an oxymoron…)

Just read a jaw dropping article that described how government employees had inadvertently shared sensitive documents on a P2P network:

Robert Boback, CEO of P-to-P monitoring service vendor Tiversa Inc., and retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, a Tiversa board member, said the company found more than 200 sensitive U.S. government documents during a recent scan of three popular P-to-P networks. The two testified earlier this week before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee. …

… Many lawmakers directed their criticism toward the Lime Group LLC, distributor of the popular P-to-P software Lime Wire, during a contentious hearing Tuesday. But Boback, in a later interview, said his testimony wasn’t intended to cast blame on Lime Wire.

In many cases, P-to-P users override the default security settings in the software. In Lime Wire, the default setting allows users to share files only from a “shared” folder, but many users apparently override the default settings, ignore warnings from the software, and share their entire “my documents” folder or other folders, Lime Group CEO Mark Gorton testified.

In other cases, government employees or contractors apparently ignore policies prohibiting the use of P-to-P software on computers containing sensitive government information, witnesses testified. – [Yahoo/PCWorld.com]

And to top it off, some government officials tried to blame the P2P provider for the breach in security. You know what? I’ve got nuthin’. Just dunno what to say. Either someone has been slippin’ crazy pills into my food, or people are actually thinking less these days. I would much prefer the first alternative to be true…

P-to-P Users Expose U.S. Government Secrets – [Yahoo/PCWorld.com]

More RIAA College Shenanigans.

The RIAA is at it again:

Under the new scheme, the RIAA sends out what it calls ‘pre-litigation’ settlement letters. Actually, they’re self-incrimination documents and they’re designed to extort preset amounts of around $3,000 from students with the empty promise that by paying up, they’ll remove the threat of being hauled into court on charges of copyright infringement.

In reality, all the students are doing is providing the RIAA with personal and private information which can conceivably be used against them at some point in the future when the Big 4 agency ramps up to a new level of intimidation.

In the sixth wave of blackmail, the RIAA is targetting 23 universities nationwide with 408 ’settlement’ letters. – [p2pnet.net]

Yet again, the RIAA has resorted to mass mailing “pre-litigation” letters to specific colleges in an attempt to intimidate students into settling. I have, in a previous post, pointed out some of the legal pitfalls of this methodology, and why the RIAAs proposed case should never hold up in any but the most technologically ignorant court.

But the article above brings up even more reasons why such a case would be hard to prove, such as the possibility of spoofed IP packet addresses, where the IP address present in an IP package is not necessarily that of the computer that sent it. This and other factors, make identification by IP address, especially in a communal environment, with technologically savvy participants, a near worthless form of identification.

And it would appear that the RIAA knows fully well that this is the case, as it appears that many of the more prestigious, (and presumably more technology/law happy/savvy) colleges, such as Harvard, Yale, etc are conspicuously absent from the list, in spite of the fact that they would almost certainly have had a large number of file sharers among their populace.

It would appear that these “pre-litigation” letters amount to little more than blatant attempts to make suspected file sharers engage in self incrimination. If I were a student, staff, faculty or member of the administration at any of these 23 universities, I would consider this a great insult to my intelligence, and would refuse to cooperate with the RIAA simply on principle. But then again, that could just be my antisocial tendencies rising to the fore…

RIAA student victimisation campaign – [p2pnet.net]

What Goes Around Comes Around…

Looks like the RIAA is finally getting a taste of it’s own litigious medicine.

Former RIAA target Tanya Andersen has sued several major record labels, the parent company of RIAA investigative arm MediaSentry, and the RIAA’s Settlement Support Center for malicious prosecution -  [ARS Technica]

Apparently they continued to press her with settlement calls, letters, attacked her character (on the basis of the shared music in question being misogynistic rap? This one caught me by surprise!) etc. even after she provided them with proof that she had no involvement in the act. They even harassed her granddaughter about it. If she wins this case, it will open the door for numerous other counter suits, and as I see it, they will deserve every single one.

The truth is, the reason that they are in the position they are in now is because they refused to innovate. They refused to recognize that the Internet has changed the way that people buy, listen to and share music. They viewed the Internet and more importantly, file sharing, as a direct competitor to their aging brick and mortar sales model, rather than as a possible source of complementary income.

And as if that were not enough, they shot themselves in the foot by adopting an adversarial stance against the members of the very market they were supposed to be making their money from. They then proceeded to hammer the final nails in their coffins from the inside by going after the file sharing technologies in addition to the file sharers themselves. They might just as well have filed suit against the “intarweb”. Even the large entertainment execs have begun to realize the error of their way of thinking:

 So who killed the record industry as we knew it? “The record companies have created this situation themselves,” says Simon Wright, CEO of Virgin Entertainment Group, which operates Virgin Megastores. While there are factors outside of the labels’ control — from the rise of the Internet to the popularity of video games and DVDs — many in the industry see the last seven years as a series of botched opportunities. And among the biggest, they say, was the labels’ failure to address online piracy at the beginning by making peace with the first file-sharing service, Napster. – [Rolling Stone]

The Rolling Stone article is an excellent read, that demonstrates exactly why the RIAA is in such dire straights. And it ain’t all about the piracy. The lesson is simple. Those who do not adapt, perish.

Exonerated defendant sues RIAA for malicious prosecution – [ARS Technica]

The Record Industry’s Decline – [Rolling Stone]

P2P Suit Abuse…

Ok, I just read yet another article that all too painfully demonstrates the lengths that the RIAA will go to bolster it’s income, for lack of a better description. The article below referred to a case of P2P file sharers on the University of Washington campus. The RIAA alleged that members of the student body had been engaged in file sharing, and had approached the university on the issue. After mulling it over, this is what they decided:

“UW said it will forward notices of pending lawsuits from the Recording Industry Association of America to students who engage in illegal downloading on the university’s computer network.

The notices say offending students have 20 days to settle with the association by paying it about $3,000 to $5,000 or be taken to court without possibility of a settlement…

…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 before they get stuck with a lawsuit, Godfrey said.” – [The News Tribune.com]

Now I see quite a few issues here. First, while it is theoretically possible to identify which computers may have been involved in file sharing, there is no way to verify that the actual owner of the computer was actually the one who did the file sharing. Unlike a home or office, where the number of different people that would have access to any given computer is usually limited, in a dorm room, it is usually a free for all. Most dorms are fairly accessible, and any one of a given residents friends or roommates could generally and reasonably be expected to have access to anothers computer.

Next there is the base assumption by the RIAA, upon which this massive anti P2P campaign is based, that all of this file sharing means lost sales. OK, let’s think about this for a second. The fact that someone downloaded an album does not mean that they would have bought it, regardless of whether or not they could afford it. That is an illogical assumption. The mount of music piracy that occurs is not, by any means, directly proportional to the number of lost sales.

Which brings me to the other point that makes no sense. I cannot blame them for filing suits against illegal file sharers, but where is the RIAA coming up with the settlement figure? An average CD can be had for about $20 from any one of the myriad of online music vendors and clubs that distribute music. $30, maybe for a hot item at full price. At $3000, each defendant would have had to have pirated at least 100 full priced CDs each. At $5000 they would have had to download over 166 CDs (at full price), or at the very least, 250 regularly priced CDs. And thats not counting additional promotions and discounts, etc.

Now that’s a lot of CDs, I don’t care how fast your connection is, and it’s unlikely that any of these students could possibly have downloaded that much music in the time frame given. And I think it’s a fair bet that the RIAA knows this. I think this is nothing more than the RIAA using the law to intimidate people into a reduction of file sharing, and, more heinously, recoup their losses from slumping sales. Yet another example of a $67 million pair of pants… just on a smaller scale. Or larger, depending on how you look at it…

UW will abet file-sharing lawsuits, it says – [The News Tribune.com]