Sony v. Tenenbaum, only the second copyright infringement case brought to trial out of approximately 18,000 individuals targeted by the RIAA, concluded late Friday afternoon with the RIAA awarded a penalty of $675,000. That’s a tough pill for a Boston University graduate student to swallow, though significantly less than the $1.92 million Jammie Thomas-Rasset currently owes.
According to the labels’ attorneys, there remain about 100 cases pending where the defendant has filed an answer, about a dozen of which are being actively litigated in the discovery stage. Following these cases, the RIAA has promised to stop suing individuals (though they will ask your ISP to cut you off).
Oh, and for those asking: no, the artists whose songs were infringed in these cases see none of the money.
While the second-ever P2P civil trial took significantly longer than its predecessor to settle on a jury, the case of Sony V. Tenenbaum is racing to a much speedier finish than the drawn out, appealed Captiol v. Thomas-Rasset. Of course it always helps speed up a trial when your defense attorney is admitting liability by day three.
This morning, one of Tenenbaum’s own attorneys acknowledged—though outside the presence of the jury—that Tenenbaum is essentially defenseless on the issue of whether he committed copyright infringement. During a discussion… Tenenbaum attorney Matthew Feinberg blurted out: “We’re admitting liability, your honor.”
The seemingly off-the-cuff remark did not constitute a formal throwing-in of the towel; the case will proceed, and liability will still be decided by the jury. But now it’s out in the open: this is really a trial about how much, not whether, Tenenbaum will have to pay.
But the plaintiffs remain determined to show just how liable Tenenbaum actually is…some of the most damning evidence against Tenenbaum… appears to show that he continued his use of peer-to-peer software to obtain and disseminate music even after he was contacted by the plaintiffs’ lawyers in early 2005, then sued in August 2007.
This is important not just for liability (which the defense appears to have conceded), but for the issue of the “willfulness” of Tenenbaum’s conduct—which could have a dramatic impact on the amount of damages awarded by the jury.
What kind of moron keeps file swapping after they’ve been caught and threatened with legal action? This cutting to the chase doesn’t mean we won’t see some courtroom drama, as Tenenbaum counsel Charles Nesson continued well, being a lawyer:
Nesson suggested through his questioning that the 25 partial files might not actually represent song files, but instead “spoofs” released by copyright owners to frustrate peer-to-peer users. Jacobson countered that he is confident they were real song files… and he testified that he cannot recall ever encountering a spoof in his years of work investigating allegations of copyright infringement.
Turning to the critical issue of harm, plaintiffs called their expert Stanley Liebowitz… [concluding] that the real culprit [in the music market's downturn] was consumers’ newfound ability to obtain music on the Internet without paying for it.
On cross, Nesson’s interest in big theoretical questions returned. “What is property?” he asked to begin his examination. “Do you have a more pointed question?” retorted Judge Gertner, as she rested her face in her hands.
The attorneys ended the day by assuring Judge Gertner that they remain on track to conclude their presentations and give the case to the jury this Friday. We’ll keep you posted on this story as it develops, but for a worthwhile in-depth look, we recommend checking out Ars Technica’s superb coverage.
One day after word broke that the much-discussed sale of The Pirate Bay (and subsequent legitimization of the file-sharing site) to Global Gaming Factory was on the rocks, GGF is now insisting the acquisition is scheduled to be finalized on August 27.
“The Board of the Global Gaming Factory X AB (GGF) announces that the acquisition of The Pirate Bay will be completed August 27, 2009,” the company said in a very confident-sounding statement.
But what about the investment that [exiting executive] Wayne Rosso said he doubted would become available?
“A group of investors are prepared to inject 30 million [SEK] relating to the cash portion of the purchase price of The Pirate Bay at the date of acquisition. The company has also established its legalization plan and will execute it at the date of acquisition,” says GGF.
Precise details on the “legalization plan” will be made available to the shareholders in a couple of weeks.
After apparently traveling all around Europe and meeting with Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music and EMI, Pandeya says they are in “final negotiations” with a “global player” on implementing some sort of “file-sharing agreement” which GGF claims will serve as a model for the entertainment industry.
“The Pirate Bay is back. We look forward to a successful completion of the acquisition of The Pirate Bay, one of the world’s top 100 sites, and its listing on the stock market,” said GGF’s CEO.
Somehow this doesn’t feel like the final word. We’ll keep you updated.
I couldn’t help myself.
This Pirate Bay sale was never going to be all smooth sailing (sorry, too easy!). We already knew would-be purchaser Global Gaming Factory had yet to raise the nearly $8 million it needed by the end of July. And as the 31st draws near, Torrent Freak is reporting Wayne Rosso, the former Grokster CEO who was brought in to design a legitimized Pirate Bay’s business plan, says the sale is now unlikely as he exits the company. Meanwhile, The Pirate Bay is giving GGF one week before terminating the deal.
However, Rosso has already quit his position, claiming GGF’s CEO Mr. Pandeya was not straightforward with him.
“We decided that we’re not going risk our reputation further,” Rosso told TorrentFreak. According to Rosso he and his partners never received the payments promised to them and Mr. Pandeya made several other promises he couldn’t keep either.
“The more time we spent with Mr. Pandeya, the less confident we were,” Rosso said, adding that he feels the funding required to close the deal is not going to be raised based on the current lack of workable plans.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any money raised with GGF’s current (lack of) plans,” Rosso told TorrentFreak. Besides Rosso and his partners, the people who were supposed to finance the acquisition were also misinformed.
What? A company interested in purchasing the world’s most notorious torrent site is acting shady? Get out!
The punchline here really writes itself if you’ve ever seen how large the average American metal industry flack is (I’ll include myself). Anyway, a collection of music industry groups battling piracy in Nigeria is hoping to attract the attention of the country’s president with some dramatic gestures. They are hoping to partner with broadcasters for a “no music day” (again, if only we could do that with most US radio stations!) and also calling for a “mass hunger strike”.
While most of us know Nigeria has its fair share of problems with poverty, political instability and corruption, apparently they’re just like us – their music industry also wants everyone to feel bad for them:
Even if you take her comments with the usual pinch of salt, last year US Department of Commerce Representative Karen Burress painted a fairly bleak picture of the [copyright infringement] situation. She claimed that Nigeria was the largest market in Africa for infringing goods, with around 80% of the available international music CDs in the country and around 40% of local music sold as pirate copies.
The coalition claims that after several weeks of talks preceded by a lack of meaningful help from the government, they have no choice but to take drastic action.
“We are, therefore, forced to request Mr. President to declare a state of emergency with respect to the fight against the scourge of piracy and muster the necessary resources to eradicate this monster,” they said.
They should enlist Dino Cazares for the cause – that guy’s been training his entire life for a hunger strike.
After last month’s announcement of Global Gaming Factory X’s intent to purchase iconic torrent site The Pirate Bay and turn it into a legitimate business, no one was really sure what to expect. Yesterday, Torrent Freak reported one major change that’ll enrage the internets, as the new owners plan to charge users a monthly fee.
Newly appointed exec and former Grokster president Wayne Rosso confirmed an interesting model: users must pay a monthly membership fee in order for the site to pay off copyright holders, but the price can be lowered by donating personal hard drive space to The Pirate Bay’s cloud.
“The more of your computer resources you contribute to the network, the less you pay down to zero,” Rosso told CNET. “The user is in control.”
No exact prices have been announced, and GGF’s purchase of The Pirate Bay is far from complete. The takeover is planned for the end of this month, but GGF still has to raise $7.8 million in funding as well as seek the approval of its shareholders.
What do you think of paying a monthly fee to file share, and the idea of lowering that fee by leveraging your PC’s resources? Let us know in the comments!
The Los Angeles blogger who leaked new Chinese Democracy songs before their release was sentenced to two months of home confinement on Tuesday. Kevin Cogill also received one year’s probation and must appear in an anti-piracy commercial, expected to air during next year’s Grammys, under the terms of his plea deal. Cogill pleaded guilty last December to a single misdemeanor count of violating federal copyright laws and agreed to help authorities identify the original source of the leak, which has still yet to be identified.
Apparently, it could have been way, way worse for Cogill – he was facing a maximum punishment of $100,000 and one year in jail (!), not including a potential civil trial. Why so harsh? According to a Wired article last year, there’s a specific law for pre-release material, because leaking a record is viewed as extra evil than just regular piracy:
“There’s a specific law, the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, that deals specifically with pre-release material — the rationale being that (leaking this material) prevents the owner of the copyright from getting the first release,” says entertainment lawyer Howard Rubin, a partner at Goetz & Fitzpatrick in New York. “The first release is always the one that’s going to get the most profit for the person who owns the copyright. To take that first opportunity from someone is more serious, and is usually pursued criminally to try to prevent that (from happening again).”
Luckily for Cogill, a lesser punishment was determined as U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul L. Abrams said there was no profit motive, the tracks were taken off the blog after a short period of time and his cooperation proved useful.
Honestly, shouldn’t he have been given a harsher punishment for being the first person to unleash that dreck on the world?
Well this story should continue to unfold swimmingly. Global Gaming Factory X, the company that plans to purchase the massively popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay, is now under investigation for insider trading.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, massively popular torrent tracking site The Pirate Bay has announced it is in the midst of being acquired by software company Global Gaming Factory X for approximately $7.8 million. The new owner allegedly plans to re-launch as a legal, content provider-friendly portal.
This follows a rather public and dramatic trial that found the site guilty of assisting copyright infringement to the tune of $3.5 million, and being summed to Dutch court through a process server over Twitter (which has to be a first). Interestingly, and though we have reports to the contrary, the official Pirate Bay blog maintains its acrimonious, defiant tone with a promise of continued no-holds-barred file swapping:
If the new owners will screw around with the site, nobody will keep using it. That’s the biggest insurance one can have that the site will be run in the way that we all want to. And – you can now not only share files but shares with people. Everybody can indeed be the owner of The Pirate Bay now. That’s awesome and will take the heat of us.
Meanwhile, GGFX CEO Hans Pandeya is singing a different tune:
“We would like to introduce models which entail that content providers and copyright owners get paid for content that is downloaded via the site.”
“The Pirate Bay is a site that is among the top 100 most visited Internet sites in the world. However, in order to live on, The Pirate Bay requires a new business model, which satisfies the requirements and needs of all parties, content providers, broadband operators, end users, and the judiciary,” said Pandeya.
The move is scheduled to be finalized in August. As our pals at Idolator point out, the timing of these events and the site’s future plans to compensate copyright holders takes place on an interesting stage, given their current legal messes and notoriously indignant and unwavering attitude. While most piracy cases, even the more heated ones, shut down sites rather quickly, The Pirate Bay always managed to outlive its peers, and with a “devil may care” attitude and flamboyant flair for rhetoric. It has been interesting waiting to see when its story would come to an end, and it now appears at least the end of a chapter nears.
Fans of the last.fm music streaming/personal playlist program/social network may remember a story from February, where TechCrunch claimed Last.fm handed over personal user data to the RIAA after the latter noticed a leaked U2 album popping up on users’ personal spin charts. Last.fm was quick to shoot down the accusations.
The story has flared up again, this time with Last.fm parent company CBS chiming in:
Both CBS and the RIAA have already stated quite clearly, for the record, that absolutely no individual user or listener information was supplied to the RIAA by last.fm or any division of CBS Corporation in the past, nor do we plan to do so in the future. The story posted by the website was based on an unnamed tipster. No inquiry was made to CBS or last.fm about the veracity of the anonymous source. Those who consult such blogs should be aware of the standard by which such postings are sourced and published.
There you have it. Regardless, an announcement on your personal page just saying that you’ve listened to leaked music is likely not enough evidence for a warrant, so don’t go rushing to delete your Audioscrobbler plug-in, dummy!