According to the
RIAA prosecutors owned by the RIAA, it is all Kim Dotcom's fault:
Meanwhile, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is free on bail, living in his rented home near Auckland and awaiting extradition proceedings to begin in August. Dotcom along with Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Sven Echternach, Mathias Ortmann, Andrus Nomm and Bram Van Der Kolk are charged with criminal copyright infringement and money laundering.
The men -- along with two companies -- are accused of collecting advertising and subscription fees from users for faster download speeds of material stored on Megaupload. Prosecutors allege the website and its operators collected US$175 million in criminal proceeds, costing copyright holders more than $500 billion in damages to copyright holders.
$500 billion is about 3.5% of US GDP.
Apparently the RIAA has demanded $75 trillion in damages from file sharing site Lime Wire. Via Overlawyered.
More absurd legal theories from the RIAA:
So where do government bureaucrats go to learn how to push the frontiers of mindless rules enforcement? Well, there are certain enclaves of the private sector who are pretty good at strict enforcement of silly rules -- The RIAA comes to mind. But where do leading brain-dead bureaucracies, like say, school boards, learn to push the frontiers of pettiness? Perhaps the NCAA can help out:
Just hours after Oklahoma football recruit Herman Mitchell was shot to
death Friday in Houston, Adam Fineberg started raising money for
But after raising $4,500, enough to cover almost half the cost of
Mitchell's funeral, Fineberg stopped. An OU compliance officer told him
his actions would constitute an NCAA rules violation against the
Now, Mitchell's mother likely will never receive that money.
That money is considered illegal financial assistance under NCAA
rules because Mitchell's brother is a sophomore fullback at Westfield
High School in Spring, Texas, and because Fineberg is an OU fan who
attends Sooner football games and solicited donations through an OU fan
Web site. [. . .]
OU spokesman Kenny Mossman said the an official with the
university's compliance office contacted Fineberg on Monday asking to
him halt his fundraising efforts until the OU received a rules
interpretation from the NCAA. That interpretation came Tuesday.
"This is not a permissible expense for OU or someone who could be
construed as an OU supporter," said Mossman, an associate athletic
director for communications. "We're not trying to be the bad guys, but
we have to play by their rules."
Because it's still a recruiting violation, even if the recruit is dead. The NCAA said the college could apply for a waiver. They shouldn't even have to -- the NCAA's reaction should have been to issue a waiver without even being asked. This should have taken a conference call among the key decision-makers about 8 seconds to decide.
Update: I may have been wrong by putting the NCAA over school boards, as a Colorado Springs school board has banned playing tag. So I guess smear the queer is out (we actually called it Kill the Man with the Ball, but I am told that Smear the Queer is the more common and even less politically correct name).
I found this when I went to Pandora today (one of those applications that makes the Internet so entirely cool and worth all the spam and flame wars). I found this message:
Hi, it's Tim from Pandora,
I'm sorry to say that
today Pandora, along with most Internet radio sites, is going off the
air in observance of a Day Of Silence. We are doing this to bring to
your attention a disastrous turn of events that threatens the existence
of Pandora and all of internet radio. We need your help.
Ignoring all rationality and responding only to the
lobbying of the RIAA, an arbitration committee in Washington DC has
drastically increased the licensing fees Internet radio sites must pay
to stream songs. Pandora's fees will triple, and are retroactive for
eighteen months! Left unchanged by Congress, every day will be like
today as internet radio sites start shutting down and the music dies.
A bill called the "Internet Radio Equality Act" has already
been introduced in both the Senate (S. 1353) and House of
Representatives (H.R. 2060) to fix the problem and save Internet
radio--and Pandora--from obliteration.
I'd like to ask you to call your Congressional
representatives today and ask them to become co-sponsors of the bill.
It will only take a few minutes and you can find your Congresspersons and their phone numbers by entering your zip code here.
Your opinion matters to your representatives - so please take just a minute to call.
Visit www.savenetradio.org to continue following the fight to Save Internet Radio.
As always, and now more than ever, thank you for your support.
Apparently there was another payola bust. I'm confused. Why is this illegal? I guess in the 1950's I might understand it, when there was only one way to listen to music anywhere outside your home. But today there are about 20 different ways, including several flavors of radio. If a radio station overplays the same song to the point of insanity, just listen to something else.
Paying for placement in overcrowded distribution channels is routine in many industries and certainly not the subject of federal law. If you don't believe me, try taking your new brand of potato chips over to Safeway and try to get on the shelf. Now, I know folks would argue that this contributes to Safeway's selection being bland. But that is also why new competitors, like Whole Foods, have emerged to serve folks who don't like Safeway's selection of products.
By the way, does anyone think its funny that record producers are in the news for paying for play at the same time they are in the news for charging for play?
Update: More on charging for play:
On March 1, 2007 the US Copyright Office stunned the Internet radio
industry by releasing a ruling on performance royalty fees that are
based exclusively on the number of people tuned into an Internet radio
station, rather than on a portion of the station's revenue. They
discarded all evidence presented by webcasters about the potentially
crippling effect on the industry of such a rate structure, and
rubber-stamped the rates requested by the RIAA (Recording Industry
Association of America).
Under this royalty structure, an
Internet radio station with an average listenership of 1000 people
would owe $134,000 in royalties during 2007 -- plus $98,000 in back payments for 2006. In 2008 they would owe $171,000, and $220,000 in 2009.
One of the problems with us libertarians is that we all sound like a bunch of academic dweebs when we talk. Well, thanks to YouTube and Human Advancement, I saw Mike Lee, who I found unpolished but curiously entertaining as a defender of individual rights (though he's bit hawkish internationally for my tastes). Anyone who can, in about 2 minutes, shift from Duke Lacrosse to North Korea to jury nullifaction has got to be interesting to listen to.
By the way, it is increasingly clear that Google and YouTube don't really want to be a free speech outlet, as they seem to be banning stuff as fast as it can be posted. They are private concerns, and so can do whatever they like, and I can understand from their perspective why they want to avoid controversy (though if they ban everything the RIAA wants banned and political groups of every stripe want banned and end up with just home videos of pet tricks, I am not sure it will remain as popular). This in turn got me thinking about Neal Stephenson (and I accused Mike Lee of rambling?)
In Cryptonomicon, one of the plot lines is a group of guys trying to create an offshore data haven free from threats by government censors, tax inspectors, and, I presume, copyright enforcers from the RIAA and the NFL. While such a comprehensive haven may be out of reach, I do think there could be a great role for an offshore blogging/podcasting/video haven that would protect identities and be immune or out of reach from third party censorship. The problem is that as an officer of such an endeavor, you would likely be subject to immediate arrest in many countries once you landed there. Oh, that would never happen in a free country like the US would it? Yeah, right.