RIAA Loses? Music Industry Enforcers Drop Case
In a surprising turn of events considering its recent successes, the Record Industry Association of America has actually dropped a case against an alleged file sharer. It seems the strategy for defeating the dreaded RIAA might be to simply stand up to them, which is exactly what the defending Paul Wilke did. Although Wilke's case is a small landmark considering RIAA's success against major file sharing protocols like Napster and Limewire, it is still a fascinating suit that could lead to new twists on the digital rights management legal war.
In most of the cases initiated by the RIAA, the defendant has simply pleaded guilty or sought to settle the matter out of court. In the case of Kazaa, one of the more notable file sharing networks, that meant the service would have to pay a substantial amount to the RIAA whilst also promising to offer completely legal downloads in the future. At the center of that settlement is the acknowledgment that Kazaa was in the wrong. Paul Wilke simply refused to make that admission.
Facing an accusation that he excessively shared music over a peer-to-peer file sharing network, Wilke simply denied that he ever used such protocols, that he owned any of the songs designated by his accusers, and that, interestingly enough, he was even the "Paul Wilke" named in the complaint.
It remains unclear whether Wilke or his lawyer was behind the decision to attack the RIAA aggressively in defense, but whomever came up with the strategy should be applauded. At first sight that the RIAA's case was not progressing at leaps and bounds, Wilke made the argument that the organization simply held too little legitimate evidence to continue the case against him. The RIAA, surprised by the tactic, acknowledged that they were lacking hard evidence and requested an authorized and thorough search of Wilke's computer. The exploration of the accused's hard drive was demanded so that the RIAA could find "evidence of copyright infringement."
Instead, the substantiation of wrongdoing was simply not there. As a result, the RIAA has apparently dropped the case; proof that the record industry may not be able to attack individual file sharers. Since 2003, no case against a single person accused of excessive file sharing has ever landed in the RIAA's favor. In fact, in that time no such case has ever actually reached trial.
It won't be the last attempt by the RIAA, however. They will be seeking a much more encouraging outcome when they launch UMG v. Lindor in the next few months.
And you wondered who was clogging the American legal system.