April 05, 2003

Extremism and the "RIAA 4" megadamages, vs. three-strikes laws

Lawrence Lessig has an interesting comment about the "RIAA 4" lawsuits and the absurd damages sought (see Tim Hadley's Math class for poets Law and Life for a very extensive explanation). Lessig starts off:

They say I'm a pessimist about the future of freedom on the net, and they've got two books of mine to prove it. But the report that the RIAA has now filed suit against four students for sharing content over a university network is a moment of hope. If we work hard to report the details and reality of this suit, then the extremism of the RIAA's tactics will finally get through.

Then he discusses compulsory licensing as a solution. But I'm more struck at the "hope" - is it true? Is it really the case that: IF details and reality are reported here, THEN extremism of the RIAA's tactics will finally get through?

I'm pessimistic. Just think about the "three-strikes" cases. There were plenty of horror stories reported, of people being imprisoned for decades for very petty crimes. Yet, the Supreme Court upheld these laws, and my impression is that legislative reform movements have not made much headway.

I just can't see these lawsuits turning around people who are on the fence or opponents. I fear it'll go down into a mental slot of "Those students were BAD GUYS, so whatever is done to a BAD GUY, they deserve it". I can hear the rants already, the "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time". Proportionality is a sophisticated concept, and not exactly a popular one.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in copyblight | on April 05, 2003 11:53 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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