The RIAA vs. The EFF

Ars Technica has a quick rundown of the issues involved in Elektra v. Barker, one of the current 19,000 lawsuits the RIAA is prosecuting against its customers:

To recap briefly, the EFF has caught the RIAA and their allies (the MPAA and the US Attorney General’s Office) trying sneak through the courts a complete overhaul of existing copyright legislation. The change in the definition of a copyright owner’s exclusive right of distribution that the RIAA seeks to have the court acknowledge is at once troubling and fascinating—troubling because, hey, it’s the RIAA that’s pushing this, and we all know they’re Pure Evil(TM), and fascinating because in its own odd way the attempted alteration would
“update” copyright law to take account of the reality of digital distribution in a manner that it currently does not.

The article asks the question of who will get to redefine copyright law for the 21st century, which is basically what’s at stake here. Of the opposing visions of the EFF and the RIAA, which will prevail? I can’t answer that question; I don’t know enough about the workings of the court system and the legal issues at stake to hazard a guess.

The one question I can answer is who should decide it, which clearly, I’d be more comfortable with the EFF doing. A major conglomerate vs a civil liberties organization, a dinosauric business model vs the progress of technology, it’s fairly clear who should have the larger say. Let’s just hope the courts agree.


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