Music Industry Obtains 871 Subpoenas

Stereophile, among other sources, says that as of July 19, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had sought and obtained “at least 871 federal subpoenas against computer users . . . with 75 new subpoenas being approved each day.”

Some of the subpoenas mention as few as five songs offered or downloaded; under US law, the RIAA could seek damages ranging from $750 to $700,000 each.   Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, subpoenas can be obtained from any US District Court clerk’s office no judicial signature required. The clerk’s office in the US District Court in Washington—a “clearing house” for subpoenas nationwide—is reportedly so busy with RIAA requests that workers had to be recruited from other departments.

Part 2: On July 16, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced a bill that would subject copyright violators to incarceration.  The Conyers-Berman bill would define the sharing of movies, music, and other intellectual properties over computer networks as felonies—criminal acts punishable by up to five years in jail.

Many estimates show that, in the United States alone, over 57 million people (about 25%) have downloaded music.  One government survey estimates 83 million (about 37%) of those 12 and over have tried pot.  (Possible conclusion: more file sharing is needed?)  The jails are already full with smokers (nearly 60% are in for drug-related offences), so I guess we will just have to keep building more prisons to keep up with this file sharing craze.  How about a goal of 50% of the USA in jail by the year 2005?