The RIAA has fought a number of lawsuits against pre-teens and grandmothers, and Ray Beckerman’s “Recording Industry vs The People site has been keeping track of all of them.Â Any time another person is hauled to courty, Ray carries as much detail as he can scrape up, mainly in an effort to catalogue legal arguments, definitions and provide other materials and resources for defending lawyers.
It has proven to be of fantastic value to anyone who has found themselves in the bullseye of the RIAA and will most likely be the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ that ultimately forces the RIAA to find a different approach to its business.
The lesson from this is that in today’s 2.0 world, it’s virtually impossible to play the bully, because anyone and everyone can see behind the curtain and realize that you’re just some withered old man trying to recapture the glory days when audiences went en masse to record stores to stock up on tapes, vinyl albums, CDs, 8-tracks and other formats.Â Everyone skipped down the road, arms intertwined, singing the same boring song.
Information aggregators aren’t new, but I see a new trend coming.Â I’ll call it ‘megalocal’, where people will be able to share stuff on a local basis, but aggregate easily and conveniently to share with other communities.Â Think research and actions related to pesticide bans.Â Most mainstream media groups don’t report on these type of actions outside of their own communities and the flow will reverse to the benefit of people that want to help each other out with various causes and actions.
It puts most companies on guard and will push them to new levels of protection before they start to embrace some of this stuff.
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RIAA Nemesis Defends Blog
Ray Beckerman has been such a thorn in the side of the RIAA that the organization recently asked a court to sanction him for “vexatious” conduct in defending people the group has sued.
Beckerman’s blog, Recording Industry vs. The People, where he posts publicly available motions in lawsuits involving the organization, especially troubled the RIAA. “Defendant’s counsel has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass plaintiffs,” the group wrote in its motion for sanctions.
Today, Beckerman fired back with an answer charging the RIAA with attempting to keep its litigation efforts as secretive as possible. “Plaintiffs’ counsel are not candid about their real problem with the blog, which is that its existence interferes with their tactic of attempting to conceal the litigation events and prior inconsistent statements that they don’t want others to know about from judges, litigants and law enforcement authorities.”
The RIAA has sued or threatened to sue nearly 30,000 individuals for file-sharing. Many agreed to pay around $3,000-$5,000 to settle the allegations rather than risk a potentially ruinous lawsuit. Others chose to fight the charges but without counsel.
Beckerman’s blog about the various lawsuits has helped rally an overworked defense bar. By posting information about legal tactics in one central location, Beckerman has made it easier for lawyers across the country to fight accusations of piracy — some of which have turned out to be unfounded.
With his blog, he’s performed a valuable public service — one that would have been far more difficult even 10 years ago, before the Web 2.0 revolution made it easy for anyone to self-publish online. That the RIAA would think it’s okay to ask for sanctions based on a blog shows just how reactionary the record industry has become.