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05/17/2003 Archived Entry: "Foiling RIAA abuse"

IF YOU'VE BEEN FOLLOWING THE BATTLE between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharers, you know that, in its zeal to track down copyright violators, the RIAA has falsely identified -- and sent lawyerly nastygrams to -- a lot of innocent people

That's because the RIAA bases its accusations on the findings of brain-dead spiders and apparently doesn't check the accuracy of findings before making threats. Just this week (as reported by Declan McCullagh), the RIAA was forced to apologize to Penn State University's department of astronomy and astrophysics for having falsely accused them of pirating songs from the artist Usher.

Penn State has no songs by Usher on its servers. What it does have is a Professor Usher, whose name appears on the site, and a collection of perfectly delightful songs about astronomy, the "Astrocappella Project," sung by a group of scientists and techies.

The RIAA made a fool of itself. But that doesn't seem to stop it from using its heavy-handed tactics to bully the innocent.

Now somebody has come up with a way of driving RIAA robots a little crazy. You'll find the deviously funny plan "The RIAA Pit of Confusion" at Kuro5hin: Technology and Culture from the Trenches. Note that this plan is aimed at protecting the innocent against RIAA harassment, not at shielding "pirates."* Declan points out that the plan is flawed, in that it addresses only Web sites, not FTP sites. But still, if it helps the RIAA develop a sense of responsibility in place of its current mindless ruthlessness (hm, is the RIAA studying to become a government when it grows up?), we'll all benefit.

* (FWIW, although I do believe in copyright protection, I think the software and music industry groups are trying to hold back the tide & are ultimately hurting themselves by attempting -- with government help -- to impose a 20th-century marketing model on 21st-century technology and culture.)

Posted by Claire @ 04:01 PM CST

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