After seeing the world of file sharing grow at such an incredible pace, I felt that that there was a lot to be said about the way we’ve reached this point and the future of p2p networks in general. As such, when given the opportunity to submit something creative for my final “PWNED” class project I decided to take use this assignment to answer some questions about BitTorrents, file sharing, and the RIAA.
First, there’s the source: Gary Fung, creator and webmaster of BitTorrent tracker isoHunt.com
Next is “Ernesto,” founding blogger and primary contributor of TorrentFreak.com – the premier source for news on p2p and BitTorrents.
Finally my good friend Landi Guidetti (a USC Student) offers some of his thoughts about being the target of a RIAA lawsuit.What its like to be sued by the RIAA, by Landi Guidetti:
As a sophomore, Landi was one of the 25 students on the USC campus who fell into legal proceedings with the RIAA as a result of illegally downloading mp3’s through the university’s network. After spending the last two years dealing with this problem in private I asked Landi to share his experience and feelings with me for the purpose of this project.
Part of my settlement requires that I refrain from making "any public statement that is inconsistent with any term of [the] agreement" so I will tailor my comments to this requirement, however, care should be taken so that my opinions and relentless sarcasm not be interpreted as pertaining to any part of my settlement.
As a sophomore at USC i did many of the things regular sophomores do; I downloaded music off of the internet, occasionally went to class and once in a while picked up the Daily Trojan to find out what’s going on around south central and on campus.
Mid-April, 2005 I was doing just that, skipping class, downloading music and flipping through the DT and it happened that in that days paper was an article on the RIAA's quest to make the world a better place for recording artists everywhere. The article cautioned that some 25 students at USC had not yet been notified that they were soon to be made an example of.
Call me John Doe number 23. It was like winning the lottery, I was one of only 25 lucky USC students out of everybody who downloaded music that year from their dorms, at Leavey, or some other place where SC serves as the internet provider to be recognized. I received notice from the office of General Counsel at USC that pursuant to a subpoena taken out by the RIAA's fancy team of attorneys, USC would be releasing my personal information based on my I.P. address. As a regular sophomore at USC I didn’t do what you would expect a regular sophomore at USC might do, call mom and dad and have them write a check. Instead, I called the office of General Counsel to see what they could do for me. I was a starving student weighing only 150 lbs, working in excess of 40 hrs a week in addition to a full course load. I imagined that the Trojan Network would be able to offer me some help from their limitless resources, but the best they could do was offer to send my contact info to the other lucky winners so that we could talk group strategy, and gave me the contact info for an attorney who had contacted the University about the situation. It was actually an alumina of Berkeley (not USC) who was so outraged by what the RIAA was doing that she offered to consult with and if we chose, represent myself and several other SC student pro bono (that means free- I guess SC law students skip that chapter).
My really cool free lawyer went over all the options: pay up or fight a long expensive fight for the sake of principal. We could try quashing the subpoena on a technicality (BU did this for its students- USC didn’t even try), but the RIAA would likely re-file. We could take it to court and the RIAA's fancy lawyers would seize my laptop as evidence and comb through my hard-drive and memory (costs all added to the damages). We would have to hire expensive expert witnesses (and the RIAA's lawyers would get even more expensive expert witnesses) and endure a long process that would only piss them off more, and in the end i would have to pay their attorneys fees if i lost (the likely outcome). So- there i was- a sinner among a society of civilized copyright honoring citizens. My atonement; a staggering $3,750 in 30 days (money I didn’t have, and couldn’t get in 30 days unless i resorted to less serious crimes than the one i was already charged with). So i began selling drugs, robbing the old and feeble as well as clergy, and occasionally pimping out drunken sorority girls in order to pay my debt to the suffering artists who's lives had been "irreparably damaged" by my actions. Actually I didn’t do that, I didn’t have to because my lawyer got them to settle on a significantly longer payment date, but i seriously considered it.
I admit to no crime and the suit I refer to was dismissed without prejudice but I must say how ridiculous the whole thing was. I won’t comment on the actual damages internet downloading may or may not cause artists because i am ignorant of the facts, but regardless, a settlement of $3750 for the alleged downloading of an alleged four songs by artists on labels represented by the RIAA breaks down to $937.50 per song. Suspiciously it was students at the
The best part of the story is unconfirmed rumor relayed to my by my former attorney. It seems that the Trojan network had done more for me than i previously thought. Word on the street is that one of the RIAA's fancy lawyers is actually a USC alum, this clever bastard decided to use his old USC email address to log onto I2-hub (which i believe is no longer up thanks to the RIAA- Good work guys, hit the big guys up after you clean me out) and write down I.P. addresses of unsuspecting college students. Students and old lady's (you hear about that one?) should not be targets of the RIAA's lawsuits- IF internet downloading really causes the "irreparable damage" they claim they should go for the services which enable and allow this "illegal" activity. The sad part is that there IS a specific deterrence effect- a legally binding one that was part of my settlement. I am not allowed to "directly or indirectly infringe on any copyright in any sound recordings owned or controlled by the Record Companies, including by use of the Internet to download any of the Record Companies sound recordings...." But who would know if i picked up a few pirates overseas. Just kidding, I promise i won't, i really learned my lesson. Mostly i am just so sorry for downloading "All Apologies" by Nirvana. You see, my actions caused Courtney Love (who I believe still owns the rights to Nirvana) "Irreparable Damage." The 937 dollars and 50 cents I paid for that song will never be enough.
A few weeks ago I got a call from the office of the General Counsel at USC, it seems that the newest round of SC students being sued by the RIAA didn't know where to turn, and they wanted to know if they could give out my email. I got 3 emails from confused students- I tried to make them feel as bad as I could, just because that's how they are supposed to feel after committing such a morally reprehensible act, but I'm under the impression that they didn't really feel bad, and seem to think they had even done anything wrong. It's strange, but they just seemed angry, some might say angry enough to do it again, and more, but making sure they don't get caught- For example, not use USC as your ISP, or subscribe to an equally illegal and supposedly non-traceable service like the Russian 1 cent per song site. I however,
can't condone this behavior.