Isn’t the Internet anonymous? How can the record industry trace those sharing files?
Basically, almost every computer connected to the Internet – excepting only a few- is “marked” with specific identifying information so that it is able to send and receive data. This is how file-sharing networks are able to connect computers to one another allowing them to upload or download files. So there’s no such a great effort for the RIAA to locate the identifiers of file sharers and figure out which Internet service provider is implicated. However, the thing is that only Internet providers can add a name to the data, only they can reveal the identity of the customer.
Why didn’t this happen until now?
Privacy had a great coverage until recently. There were pretty rare the occasions when it didn’t stand prioritar. However, along with recent judicial events as, for example, the Court ruling against Verizon — which is still appealing its case — the things have changed a great deal towards a higher permissivness in what concerns legal requirements for copyright owners to have access to the identities of those suspected of infringement. This is how a number of users have found themselves subjects to cease-and-desist orders from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) after their names had been given out by Verizon and Earthlink. Cease and desist (also called C & D) is a legal term used mainly in the United States which basically means "to halt" or "to end" an action ("cease") and to refrain from doing it again in the future ("desist"). The recipient of the cease-and-desist may be an individual as well as an organization.
Does downloading free music make me an offender?
As RIAA states and court rulings support, sharing unauthorized copyrighted content is seen as "direct infringement." Recently, judges ruled that swap services like Grokster cannot be held legally responsible for the activities their users may conduct online, but that the users themselves can and will be.
Who is the record industry pursuing?
To start, the industry says it’s going after the most "egregious" violators — people who share a large number of files — though the RIAA set no limit. Yet, sharing even a huge number of files is quite easy to do because when users connect to these systems, they have their music folders automatically open and available to anyone who wants to get songs from them; thus an average user can inadvertently have hundreds or thousands of his files shared. To prevent this from happening in Kazaa go to options, click on the "traffic" tab and check "disable sharing of files."
Since so many people are sharing music online, what difference will going after just a few of them make?
The main objective of this such harsh measures is to persuade the usual law-abiding users that altogether swapping files does not pay off however enticing the idea of getting something for free might be as the fines and possibly jail time are very real consequences. The ultimate goal is to determine these users appeal to legitimate alternatives such as Apple’s Music Service (www.apple.com/music), MusicNet (musicnet.com) and Rhapsody (listen.com).
Why is the music industry taking to court its very own customers? Here we are going to let an RIAA statement speak for itself: "The same question can be asked of retailers who go after shoplifters. And retailers do take action against shoplifters because they know the problem could get a whole lot worse if they didn’t. … Remember, this is not a victimless crime. Thousands of record company employees have been laid off, numerous record stores are closing throughout the country and due to declining sales, record companies do not have the investment to make in new artists."
If I burn mix CDs of music I have paid for, am I liable?
Usually, if you pay for music you can make copies for your personal use but offering those copies to others is a pretty delicate matter and selling copies is definitely a NO. The industry’s current campaign is specifically against online file-sharing, which makes large numbers of songs easily available to millions of people at the same time.
If my kids share music online, am I liable?
The answer is positive – If one of your kids is sharing music over the Internet and the record industry manage to track him/her down, you, as a parent may be help resposible.
What is my legal liability for infringement?
The copyright law says that compensation can be up to $150,000 for each song, though recent settlements with some college students didn’t reach that high. However, what damages the industry will seek in the future cases is hard to tell.
What options do I have?
The industry is. If you don’t want to risk being caught and fined, you can start doing what the industry campaigns for: stop using unauthorized swap services (or at least disable file sharing), uninstall the software, and start purchasing music instead of illegally downloading it.