3 Count: Use(d)net

This is daily column on Plagiarism Today where the site brings you three of the days biggest, most important copyright and plagiarism news links. If you want to offer your feedback on the column, use the contact form or just follow me on Twitter at @plagiarismtoday.

1: RIAA triumphs in Usenet copyright case

First off today, the RIAA scored a big win over Usenet.com. Usenet is an online network that is over two decades old and predates the Web. It was, and still remains, one of the most popular ways to share files and content online and Usenet.com is a service that charges a monthly fee for easy access to that network, including the files.

The fact Usenet.com lost may not be as important as why it lost. The company was accused of massive amounts of misconduct during the discovery process including, allegedly, destroying seven hard drives, sending witnesses to Europe so they can’t be deposed and otherwise obstructing the RIAA from gathering information.

In the end, the judge ruled that Usenet.com can not use the Betamax ruling in its defense, which said that the creator of a product can not be held liable if it has significant non-infringing use, due to the fact that Usenet.com’s relationship with the customer continued after the sale. Also, due to the misconduct, the judge barred the company from raising a defense under the DMCA, which protects Web hosts from liability if they expeditiously remove infringing material following notification.

In the end, it seems as if Usenet.com had a better chance at success before the alleged misconduct and only narrowly escaped a judgment against them on those grounds alone.

2: The Pirate Bay’s Revolt

Next up today, The Pirate Bay users, in a move that was pretty predictable, have revolted in a significant way against their former favorite Bittorrent tracker following its recent sale to a Swedish software company.

Though no one is really sure what will happen to the site, users have been asking for the ability to delete their account, while others have been calling for attacks against the site to bring it down.

However, even if The Pirate Bay is able to complete itself and survive this revolt, its odds of becoming a successful, legitimate business (if that is indeed the plan) are slim. Grokster, Napster and other services have shown have difficult it is to “go legit”.

3: Music copyright lawsuit targets Microsoft, Yahoo, Real

Finally today, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Real (though not Apple) are all being sued by Music Copyright Solutions (MCS) for allegedly not obtaining all of the correct rights to some of the songs in their catalogs. At odds specifically are the rights to some 200 compositions that MSC claims the companies correctly licensed the performance rights to, but not the composition ones. It is the composers that they are representing.

The case would be fairly dull but MCS is suing for each copy of every recording. So if a song is on four different albums, it is listed four times and MCS is seeking the maximum damages possible, $150,000 per infringement, putting the potential liability into the billions.

Now the odds of the judgment/settlement reaching anywhere near that is slim to none, but the numbers are eyeball-popping. Still, it will most likely be settled for a tiny fraction of the requested amount.


That’s it for the three count today, we’ll be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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