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Hot off the Press - News

RIAA Slammed in Court Twice in one day!
Decmber 19th, 2003

RIAA Suffers a Setback in Court and the Dutch Supreme Court Rules Kazaa is Legal, two stunning findings in one day.

According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in an decision which overturns a trial judge's decision to enforce copyright subpoenas, the recording industry can't force Internet providers to identify music downloader’s. This is a major decision shielding online privacy while undercutting the industry's anti-piracy campaign.

Verizon was the original subject of this court battle when they had refused the RIAA’s demands to identify downloading site owners on their service. The ruling does not legalize distributing copyrighted songs over the Internet, but it will make more difficult the effort for the Washington-based Recording Industry Association of America to track such activity and sue those who are swapping music online. It will probably cost them a considerable amount more to take this avenue, say many legal analysts.

Most legal experts do not expect the appeals ruling to affect the 382 civil lawsuits the recording industry has already filed since it announced its campaign six months ago. Its also not expected to affect financial settlements of $2,500 to $7,500 with at least 220 computer users who agreed to pay penalties.

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Meanwhile in the Netherlands, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands has upheld a lower court's ruling that the creators of Kazaa can't be held liable for the copyright-infringing actions of users of the popular file-sharing application. This is another serious blow to the RIAA, particularly in Europe where downloading of copy written material is rampant and where Kazaa is based.

Buma/Stemra, the Dutch music rights body, took its case against Kazaa BV to the Netherlands Supreme Court last year seeking to overturn a March 2002 ruling by the Amsterdam Appeals Court. That court found Kazaa not responsible for unauthorized downloading of copyright-protected music conducted using the software it developed and markets.

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands is the highest European body yet to rule on file-sharing software. In its decision Friday, the court cites international rulings including the 1984 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the so-called Betamax case. In Sony v Universal, the U.S. Supreme Court said device makers--in this case, VCR maker Sony, can't be held liable when people infringe copyright using Sony's equipment.

The Dutch Supreme Court decision also cites a Los Angeles federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit against file-sharing services Grokster and StreamCast Networks last April. U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson decided the two companies could not be held culpable for illegal file trading done over their networks.



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