Blown To Bits

Bye Bye, MediaSentry

Monday, January 5th, 2009 by Hal Abelson

About an hour ago, the Wall Street Journal confirmed that the RIAA has fired MediaSentry. That’s the company, as explained in B2B, that the RIAA has been using for gathering evidence in the lawsuits against accused file sharers.

One case mentioned in the book was that of Jammie Thomas, who was fined $222,000 in October 2007 for allegedly sharing 24 songs. The judge in the case subsequently set aside the jury’s verdict, as I noted in this blog last September. Thomas is currently awaiting retrial. Only this time, the RIAA would have to prove that she actually distributed music from her computer, not merely that there were music files on her hard drive (which was basis for setting the original verdict aside). Going along with this, the RIAA has claimed that it’s stopped filing new lawsuits, although suits already filed are still ongoing.

As hinted in chapter 6 of the book, we may be on a path to de-escalation in the copyright wars, at least in music, now that there are an increasing number of legitimate ways to obtain DRM-free tracks. Of course, the film industry still seems ready to continue the “file sharing as threat to civilization” drumbeat, and Congress still seems all too willing to listen.

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