Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

RIAA Wins Against Usenet.com

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 32 comments

The Recording Industry Association of America came out as the victor in its legal battle against Usenet.com.

Late yesterday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Harold Baer of the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of the record companies listed in the federal lawsuit against newsgroup provider Usenet.com.

According to court documents (PDF warning), the Usenet service is guilty of direct infringement, inducement of infringement, contributory infringement, and vicarious infringement. The ruling also said that Usenet.com cannot claim protection under the 1984 Sony Betamax decision which states that companies selling devices cannot be held liable for infringement despite the actions of the buyer.

In addition to the Sony Betamax decision, Usenet.com attempted to find refuge under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 'safe harbor provision' that keeps internet service providers from taking the blame for illegal activities conducted by subscribers. However, the DMCA plea was denied, leaving Usenet.com wide open for prosecution. As reported by CNET, Baer said that Usenet.com failed to understand the difference between Sony selling a Betamax and terminating a relationship with the end-user, and Usenet.com keeping a relationship open with the end-user while also retaining some control over the service.

The RIAA's lawsuit against Usenet.com began back in October 2007, and accused the company behind the newsgroup service of enticing potential subscribers with copyrighted music, and enabling them to download the illegal files via one of its subscription plans. Recently Usenet has been a hot topic for many organizations as of late, and several internet service providers have discontinued newsgroup access to subscribers because of their inability to police child pornography. Because of Usenet's overall worldwide network structure, the RIAA has had trouble tracking down pirated music sources despite its success with peer-to-peer networks.

But now the RIAA celebrates a small victory. 'This decision is another example of courts recognizing the value of copyrighted music and taking action against companies and individuals who are engaging in wide scale infringement,' said Steven M. Marks, the RIAA's executive vice president & general counsel. 'We hope that other bad actors who are engaging in similar activity will take note of this decisive opinion.'

Looking back over the last few years, it seems that RIAA's victorious outcome was inevitable. Usenet.com tactics were questionable, with the judge issuing several counts of discovery misconduct. According to evidence provided by the RIAA, Usenet.com intentionally destroyed evidence on seven hard drives, sent many employees to Europe in order to avoid depositions, and even provided false information. Obviously, the Fargo, North Dakota newsgroup service was clearly hiding something.

The court documents go into further detail, labeling the music companies behind the lawsuit:

This action arises out of allegations of widespread infringement of copyrights in sound recordings owned by Plaintiffs Arista Records LLC; Atlantic Recordings Corporation; BMG Music; Capitol Records, LLC; Caroline Records; Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.; Interscope Records; LaFace Records LLC; Maverick Recording Company; Sony BMG Music Entertainment; UMG Recordings, Inc; Virgin Records America, Inc.; Warner Bros. Records Inc; and Zomba Recording LLC (“Plaintiffs”), copies of which are available for download by accessing a network of computers called the USENET through services provided by Defendants Usenet.com, Inc. (“UCI”), Sierra Corporate Design, Inc. (“Sierra”), and spearheaded by their director and sole  shareholder, Gerald Reynolds (“Reynolds”) (collectively, “Defendants”).  Specifically, Plaintiffs brought this action alleging (1) direct infringement of the Plaintiffs’ exclusive right of distribution under 17 U.S.C. § 106(3); (2) inducement of copyright infringement; (3) contributory copyright infringement; and (4) vicarious copyright infringement.

Yesterday's ruling could spell trouble for other Usenet newsgroup providers. As previously mentioned, ISPs are quickly shutting down access to the twenty-year-old Usenet network, leaving consumers no other choice but to choose external subscription services such as Usenet.com.

Discuss
Display all 32 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 25 Hide
    brendano257 , July 1, 2009 9:01 PM
    Rich Industry Assholes of America?
  • 20 Hide
    chripuck , July 1, 2009 8:30 PM
    **Yawn** No worries for me, I haven't bought a new CD in years. I don't download illegally, I just buy them used. Of course leave it to the RIAA and that would be illegal too.
  • 20 Hide
    chripuck , July 1, 2009 8:32 PM
    macer1waits for everyone to flame the courts for ruling in favor of the RIAA. Laws are laws, live with it.


    Waits for you to get sued by the RIAA because you decided to copy your own legally bought CD's to your computer.

    http://www.upi.com/Entertainment_News/2007/12/30/Recording-industry-ups-ante-for-downloads/UPI-14291199046551/

    The RIAA is the devil. When will they learn that people didn't stop buying the CD's because of pirating but rather because they have 90% filler on them that are nothing but crap music.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    chripuck , July 1, 2009 8:30 PM
    **Yawn** No worries for me, I haven't bought a new CD in years. I don't download illegally, I just buy them used. Of course leave it to the RIAA and that would be illegal too.
  • 20 Hide
    chripuck , July 1, 2009 8:32 PM
    macer1waits for everyone to flame the courts for ruling in favor of the RIAA. Laws are laws, live with it.


    Waits for you to get sued by the RIAA because you decided to copy your own legally bought CD's to your computer.

    http://www.upi.com/Entertainment_News/2007/12/30/Recording-industry-ups-ante-for-downloads/UPI-14291199046551/

    The RIAA is the devil. When will they learn that people didn't stop buying the CD's because of pirating but rather because they have 90% filler on them that are nothing but crap music.
  • 14 Hide
    Kami3k , July 1, 2009 8:45 PM
    macer1waits for everyone to flame the courts for ruling in favor of the RIAA. Laws are laws, live with it.


    Yea we shouldn't complain about a company that has no people suing anyone, including 7 year old girls. That and refusing to change their decade plus obsolete business model.
  • 12 Hide
    The_Blood_Raven , July 1, 2009 8:51 PM
    Can we burn the RIAA and kill it's CEOs? Am I going to get sued now?

    Serious, burn it to the ground.
  • 16 Hide
    tenor77 , July 1, 2009 8:58 PM
    macer1waits for everyone to flame the courts for ruling in favor of the RIAA. Laws are laws, live with it.


    I would have no problem with the courts siding with an artist who was getting ripped off. A bunch of lawyers who claim they're supporting the artist but pocket the money themselves should have no right to sue anyone.
  • 7 Hide
    ckthecerealkiller , July 1, 2009 9:01 PM
    Quote:
    This decision is another example of courts recognizing the value of copyrighted music and taking action against companies and individuals who are engaging in wide scale infringement.


    In other words this is how deep our pockets are.
  • 25 Hide
    brendano257 , July 1, 2009 9:01 PM
    Rich Industry Assholes of America?
  • -1 Hide
    1haplo , July 1, 2009 9:30 PM
    No Tapes, CDs, or MP3s. Vinyl, The Way It's Meant To Be Played!
  • 4 Hide
    mavroxur , July 1, 2009 9:56 PM
    God help us all, the RIAA Gravy Train has been set in motion.
  • 4 Hide
    The_Blood_Raven , July 1, 2009 10:02 PM
    1haploNo Tapes, CDs, or MP3s. Vinyl, The Way It's Meant To Be Played!


    No the f&%king RIAA would sue because "records" are violating their company name.
  • 10 Hide
    gorehound , July 1, 2009 10:08 PM
    Rich Industry Assholes of America? hehehehe great comment

    i would definately not buy any music that comes from a corporate label or buy from any artist/label who signs with the RIAA.

    if every one works together we can really hurt these bastards.
    these folk do deserve to get it in the ass.i hate these blood leeches.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 1, 2009 10:15 PM
    Direct infringement, inducement of infringement, contributory infringement, and vicarious infringement. OK I know I'm stupid, but come on them some big words up there. The RIAA can do this because they have the money to do it. Wait? Didn't they say that pirating taking money away from them???? I guess they need another 50 room house. I think if you put something out for the public. There should be no such thing as copyright laws, but what do I know. I'm just a dumb POOR hick, well not a hick, and they fell they need to take every last bit of our money. I guess it's fine. Not like I have the money to say anything.
  • 2 Hide
    noobinberg , July 1, 2009 10:19 PM
    brendano257Rich Industry Assholes of America?

    HERE HERE!!!!
  • 9 Hide
    Anonymous , July 2, 2009 12:09 AM
    If usenet.com hired lobbyists and made bribes... errrr.... I mean campaign contributions, it might be a different story....
  • 3 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , July 2, 2009 1:29 AM
    leafman420There should be no such thing as copyright laws....

    Jesus fuck NO.

    There should be sane copyright laws (i.e. not "life of the author +70 years," more like "10 years from date of publication" or something), but not NO copyright laws.
    I don't know about you, but I'd like the ability to get paid for people buying something I created instead of being ripped off by everybody. If creators want to give it away they can copyleft/Creative Commons it or whatever, but that should be optional.

    Also, just to remind people that this doesn't have anything to do with Usenet, but Usenet.com, which was to Usenet what Pirate's Bay was to P2P only more blatant. They advertised and encouraged piracy with their service.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , July 2, 2009 2:36 AM
    Usenet.com did something stupid. Fine. But Usenet as a whole has nothing to do with Piracy. There are over 100,000 groups there is what... a handful of pedo & piracy groups? Going after Usenet is like going after the entire web... or even Walmart for sellin Billy the PC used to go onto Pirate Bay or P2P to steal some crappy Jonahs brother CD.
  • 0 Hide
    okibrian , July 2, 2009 5:10 AM
    1haploNo Tapes, CDs, or MP3s. Vinyl, The Way It's Meant To Be Played!

    Not for new music, but for anything made before the early 80s hell ya. All that classic and mowtown music belongs on vinyl ONLY. It needs that pop and cracking sound. It's like hot dogs and a cold beer at a ball game. It's just the way it should be.
  • 0 Hide
    velozzity , July 2, 2009 6:41 AM
    Come on everyone lets get real it's always been about money and greed, I am in my mid thirties and all i remember since I was young is the price of digital media constantly increasing in price. I was suspect that the cost of making a DVD or a CD over the years has substantially decreased to a few cents per each unit. I have not bought any cd's and purchase a few DVD's a year due to their outrageous price. Guess what I spend the most of my time here, thats right, on the internet where I can entertain and challenge my mind for free, but I guess the pricks at RIAA will find a way to make money off of the internet too, once they've ruined the Digital Recording Industry. For Gods Sake, Drop the Price of a CD to about 5 Dollars and Dvd's to about 10 and I'll be glad to buy my share a year, but until then keep your COPYRIGHTS
  • -1 Hide
    tenor77 , July 2, 2009 12:41 PM
    WheelsOfConfusionJesus fuck NO.There should be sane copyright laws (i.e. not "life of the author +70 years," more like "10 years from date of publication" or something)



    I have my own idea for copyright laws.
    Music: 5 years for a performance/recording; 50 years for the actual music
    Movies: 10 years for the actual movie; 50 years for the IP from the date of last publication (ie sequels/books would extend the IP life)
    Software: 3 years from the date of release while retail expansion packs would restart the the 3 year timeframe; IP would be 50 years from the date of last publication

    I've always thought that this would be more reasonable. It protects the creative people, and allows them to continue to use their own IP while being up to date on where we are in a society. Besides, with a few exceptions how many people are buying 99% of the music 5 years out, software older than 3 years or movies that are 10 years old?
Display more comments
Tom’s guide in the world
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • UK
Follow Tom’s guide
Subscribe to our newsletter