October 2, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 20  

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Music industry strikes back

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

Downloading music files off the Internet has become an increasingly large phenomenon around the globe. Obviously, the music industry has not taken well to mass quantities of people obtaining music for free and over the course of the past few years have attempted to curb the downloading craze.

The following is a brief summary of some of the important actions taken by music industry officials, culminating in the personal cases of copyright infringement this fall.

1998 - Before the mp3 downloading craze took off, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed, allowing music companies to force Internet providers to give names of subscribers suspected of pirating music.

2001 - Music file sharing system Napster is permanently shut down.

Summer 2003 - With the downloading of mp3 files a staple for many Internet users and music lovers, the music industry decided to take action. Under the DMC Act, the Recording Industry Association of America issued approximately 1,500 subpoenas against people, including college students, for illegally distributing music via mp3 files.

September 2003 - The RIAA filed 261 lawsuits against some of those initially subpoenaed who were described as "major offenders," downloaders sharing more than 1,000 copyrighted files each.

Sep. 15, 2003 - Brianna LaHara, a 12-year-old from New York, was hit with a civil suit for illegally downloading mp3 files. LaHara paid $29.95 US for a program she thought would allow her to acquire music legally. LaHara's family paid $2,000 US to settle the suit with the RIAA.

Sep. 16, 2003 - the United States Court of Appeals challenges the RIAA's ability to use special subpoenas to search out and sue computer users who download and distribute (or share) mp3s off the Internet.

Internet providers, such as Verizon, felt they should not have to disclose names unless users have setup Web sites to distribute music and are not simply sharing files from their personal computers.

Sep. 24, 2003 - A 66-year-old woman faced a civil suit for illegally downloading over 2,000 mp3 files. The RIAA withdrew their suit as a result of mistaken identity.

Sep. 29, 2003 - The RIAA announced they settled 52 of the 261 civil suits. The terms do not include an admission of wrongdoing, but force Internet users to destroy illegally obtained mp3 files. According to lawyers, payments ranged from $2,500 US to $7,500 US.

According to the RIAA, a dozen other users decided to pay unspecified amounts upon hearing of the civil cases. The RIAA also said 838 users requested amnesty from any future civil cases by signing a document which admitted wrongdoing and required the deletion of mp3 files.

October - Sources say the RIAA plans to launch hundreds of more suits against computer users distributing mp3 files.

-Source files: www.canada.com., www.time.com



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