back to article Bush Obama sides with RIAA in P2P fight

Barack Obama's Department of Justice (DOJ) has sided with the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) in its lawsuit against a Massachusetts man accused of illegally downloading seven songs. Here we go again. The previous occupant of the White House also sided with the RIAA, in a similar case that ended in a mistrial - but …


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  1. Tam Lin

    A freebie a day keeps Monica away

    The same media that deigned Obama able to run - particularly by attacking Hillary - is now getting freebies in the oval office? Well, they've owned it since 1981.01.20, so it only seems fair.

    On a side note - I bet Obama, like Bill, asks if he's better than George was.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get over it

    He did the crime, he admits he did the crime, now it's time to pay up. The whole point of punishment for a crime is that the punishment should be a deterrent. Obviously the perp doesn't want to caugh up the money even though he's getting off easy. The fine should be the legal $10,000 per copy. The perps circle jerk means the punishment IS a deterrent, as intended. Now the perp should pay the full $10K per, plus all court costs and get a year in the slammer. That is how the judicial system should work when an admitted criminal tries to circumvent justice for their crimes.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pointless comments from the White House

    Who cares what opinion the White House has on the matter, whichever administration it is? It is a matter for the courts, and is not the business of the executive branch.

  4. David

    Shut your face, you moron

    I think you'll find AC @ 05:20, that what concerns those still interested in the ephemeral nature of justice, not the spiteful revenge and petty schadenfreude the noble concept has been twisted into between your ears, is that the punishment should fit the crime, and when a private organisation - anyone see the parallels with an august British institute? - is entitled to demand sums of money the defendant couldn't make in their LIFETIME as restitution for a crime that is more misdemeanour, then everyone still left with an ounce of moral fibre should resist with every such ounce.

    F***ing jackass troll.

  5. Mike Street

    @Get over it

    You are an idiot. Copyright infringement is not a crime. Neither is it theft. It is a civil tort, and as such the onus should be on the complaining party to prove the amount of damage done. Since they can't do that - in fact the evidence is that they may benefit from it - there should be no damages.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better start taking your meds again...

    @i wonder

    Sounds like you need to get back on your meds again. Denial doesn't change reality.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    and your proof that Obama is even aware of this case let alone telling the justice department what to say is??

  8. Ash

    This is not news

    Obama and Bush (Democrat and Republican) have always been "in" with the media corporations. What the US citizenship didn't realisen was that there were more than the two parties which they could vote for, as EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of them thinks "Well, they don't have a chance at winning, so I'll vote for the one of the two major parties which I agree with most (won't screw up the things *I* like TOO much)."

    You can't get them out of this habbit either, as none of the media corps will cover parties without corporate sponsorship.

    Anybody here heard of Ron Paul? Never received a dime from coprorations to fund his campaign. He made the most sense, but was shot down by the media. Obama is not the saviour everyone makes him out to be; He's still just another corporate whore.

    Ron Paul would have been.

  9. gareth

    @ac re get over it

    no the punishment doesn't fit the crime

    he stole 7 songs which can be argued is approximately a cd

    i bet you cann't find 1 person who has stolen a cd that has to pay a $70,000 dollar fine

    i'm sure there are instances where a fine of $10,000 per digital theft is probably getting off lightly ( say hacking into a aircraft designers computer system and stealing designs for a new prototype as they would be worth well in excess of the fine) but for the theft of a 3 min audio file thats worth around $1 a $10,000 is excessive

  10. Arnie

    @ Anonymous Coward

    So what your saying is he should do time for sharing songs.... Fuck off I got stabbed outside my home and the "perp" got 3 months suspened and his fine wasnt anything like 10k infact i recieved no "damages" except this aching wound in my stomach. Slighty different from downloading the latest shit from the riaa.

  11. motoh

    Civics class for El Reg

    Despite being appointed by the man (and has the DOJ shifted all that much since he came into office?) the legislative branch is a seperate entity, not a subordinate one, from the executive, which is the President's domain.

  12. Scott
    Thumb Down

    @A/C Get Over It

    I bet its not $10,000 a song if he just stole a CD from a seven?

  13. Goat Jam
    Paris Hilton


    Barack Obama is a politician and he can be bought!

    Shock, Horror!

    Get over it people, politicians are all the same.

    Just because Bush was a monster it doesn't make Obama a saint.

    It's about time people realised this.

    If Paris were President, we wouldn't have any of these problems

  14. Anonymous Coward

    @I wonder

    "The RIAA is responcible for destroying more american lives and families then any other terrorist group ever did."

    There's a statement that could do with some evidence to support it

  15. Danny

    Why would it be a deterrent?

    He will simply claim bankrupcy. He's a student. $500 would be worth more to him as he would pay it. tens of thousands would not be payable by him, he would simply claim bankrupcy and carry on. It will certainly cost more in legal fees for the RIAA

  16. Anonymous Coward

    The Powers that be...

    Bowing to big bussiness.. really... what a shock. Especially in the U.S

    "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." - Mussolini

    *\. Same sh*t Diffrent Day! - Still flying the Flag for the Revolution.

  17. Ivan Headache

    So what has he actually stolen?

    Seven pieces of intangible ephemera, and they want to sting him $150,000 for each.

    So what's the penalty for going into a record shop and lifting a CD? (or even 7 CDs). Probably a $50 dollar fine and a couple of hours cleaning the streets.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    ...comes the new boss, same as the old boss!

  19. Lager And Crisps

    ...change you can believe in?

    The more things change, the more they stay the same...I'm running out of cliches here.

  20. DZ-Jay

    Re: Get over it


    Did you not read the article? The point is not whether he should pay for his crimes or not, but that he is been forced to pay to the RIAA whatever *they* deem is proper punishment. The defendant's position is that he should be processed duly, tried for his crime, and served an appropriate punishment by the courts--as the constitution demands.

    The way things worked on this case, the RIAA served as police, judge and jury, and made all decisions regarding guilt and punishment by its own devices. The RIAA clearly is overstepping its position by acting as a de facto government agency. But even if this were allowed and warranted, it is still a single organization taking the roles of various branch of government at once.


  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Get over it

    Actually punishment shouldn't be a deterrent it should be in line with the damage caused. It's either a punishment or a deterrent. Tyrants tend to use deterrants (if you dare go against the state we'll cut your arms off/financially cripple you/chase you down for all time) "just" societies are supposed to use punishment (you caused damage and now you have to pay in some form to offset that damage becouse you did something wrong). The reason people shouldn't commit crime is becouse they've been brought up correctly and respect those around them.

    Of course if someone does have a good sense of right and wrong, and they still commit a "crime" you have to start wondering why they did it and what the real problem is.

    Also I don't think I know of many just governments anymore.

    And neither the colours of the mans party or skin are going to change the fact that he's a president of the Incorporated States of America, the hymm sheet changes but the choire and church stay the same.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Get over it

    Is this an impressive use of irony or just random trollage?

    Breaching copyright should be considered a civil matter causing damages not a criminal one requiring a punishment. This is the key argument in this case I believe...

  23. Lionel Baden


    Yup i agree its kinda sad to see he's been bought out over something as pathetic as this !!

    i mean seriously

    The president is involved in some court case involving a bloke who downloaded some music !!


    I can see his cred ratings dropping very quickly !

  24. George

    Excellent....found the first Obama hater.

    So now the internet will return to the usual business of slagging off Presidents based on ill informed internet gathered information.

    And all is well with the world.

  25. Steve

    Re: Get over it

    "The fine should be the legal $10,000 per copy. The perps circle jerk means the punishment IS a deterrent, as intended."

    How do his actions prove that it is a deterrent? It hasn't retroactively stopped him committing the crime and the fact that people are continuing to break that law shows that it clearly hasn't worked as a deterrent to other people.

  26. Anonymous Coward


    $150,000 per infringement is absolutely fucking absurd. It is plainly obvious. If I steal one song I am liable for up to that much? Suppose I shoplifted the equivalent (lets say 2 snickers bars) from a convenience store. You think the fine would be 150K? You think the fine would even be $5K? Hell no. This pisses me off so much I can barely contain myself. Death to RIAA!

  27. jonathan keith

    Re: get over it

    @ AC

    The entire point of the defence case is that the punishment is grossly disproportionate to the crime. I agree with them, and I'm prepared to say so without the convenient balnket of anonymity.

  28. Jim Carter
    Thumb Down

    @ AC

    I suppose there is a reason you posted as that.

    But, to my point. He may have admitted it, but not in court. Besides, fines that like are incredibly steep for a song that on itunes would sell for £1 approx. Perhaps they should be more in touch with reality?

  29. Charles Silver badge

    It may not end there.

    Since the case is still at the District Court level, any decision made in either way could well be appealed up to the US Court of Appeals and perhaps even up to the Supreme Court.

  30. alan

    @get over it

    so what? I'm all for tough punishments for breaking the laws designed to protect people (copyright doesn't really enter into this in this case IMHO*), but when it comes down to difficult to prove acts like getting a free mp3 off the interwebs, I'm not so sure. Add to that the fact that the ONLY reason the Arse of America is doing this is to make an example, not because this guy actually damaged their business. Plus, I very much doubt that the artists who made the tracks will see a penny of whatever ludicrous amount they think this guy owes them.

    *When it comes to an Arse like the Arse of America, they really dont need any more money. They already have enough, IMHO if this guy broke the law then send him to jail. Fining him more money than he has will not solve the problem and will probably just piss him off and make him want to rip them off as much as he can in future. Also I don't think copyright is really the issue here, considering that the Arse didn't MAKE the tracks. If it was the artist themselves suing, I would consider that to be a copyright issue. These bastards just want as much money as they can screw out of anyone, whether thats selling them a cd or suing them for not buying a cd.


  31. Nicholas Wright
    Thumb Down


    In the English courts, a deterrent of jail time or a fine is fine - questionable whether it works, but I guess the thought is good.

    The thing with the RIAA, is that this deterrent money is going straight into their pockets. Not to the state, charity, etc.

    "Press Release from RIAA and DOJ: From now on, everybody convicted will be fined $1 million. This may seem large, but it's a deterrent. Er... of course that money goes to the RIAA, regardless of how much they've really lost."

  32. Marcelo Rodrigues
    Thumb Down

    A little too harsh?

    Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 24th March 2009 05:20 GMT ->

    Shure he should pay. But isn't 10k a "little" too much? Let me explain.

    One should pay to cover the damage caused. One should pay, too, a little extra - as punitive damages. So far, so good. But to charge 10k for each song is ridiculous AND unfair.

    How much costs a CD? US$ 20,00? With, let's say, 10 tracks? Well, this amounts at US$ 2,00 for each track.

    Now, let's say he should pay for each time a whole copy was downloaded from his machine. Wait, whole copy? Sure. No one will keep a half downloaded music.

    So, how do we know how many "whole songs" where downloaded? We are talking P2P here. A handful of bytes downloaded from hundreds of machines. How about look to the upload/download ratio? This way we can make a reasonable assumption.

    Good. Now, the punitive damages. Of course, the higher the damage, the higher the fine. I'd say... 3 times the damage caused - as a fine? How about? This way he would end up paying 4 units of money to each unit he "damaged". Good.

    Now, tell me honestly: Do you REALLY believe each song was downloaded 1250 times from his own computer? Because i don't.

    He should be fined? Yes. He should go to jail? No, I don't think so. It would be unfair and a waste of human resources. Is the fine value fair? Absolutely not.

    But that's just my opinion - and not as "Anonymous Coward".


  33. Hollerith

    Punishment or commensurate restitution?

    What were the seven songs worth? What rap-across-the-knuckles dollar amount would be a 'punishment'? $500 seems adequate. $5000 pretty darn steep. But no stolen song is worth $10K and upwards. It's like being hung for stealing a loaf of bread, and that sort of law has been considered draconian for a while.

  34. Don S.


    The value of a down loadable electronic version of a song is the rough equivalent to that of a candy bar.

    The usual punishment for nicking a candy bar is to be forced to apologize to the store owner and make restitution.

    Therefore, Tannenbaum should apologize to the RIAA and give them their 7 bucks.

  35. Juillen
    Dead Vulture


    The whole point of Justice (which the legal system is _supposed_ to deliver, though in reality, it's just a system of legalities now, not a system of justice) is to make a punishment fit a crime.

    By your calculations, sharing the average album to maybe no more than a few people (possible; nobody really tracks the numbers) should get you a year in jail (taxpayer's expense, probably costing you and I about £50k), and the judgement costing the sharer around £70k.

    Now, the price for muggings, and violent assault is maybe 6 months in jail, and no fine (maybe a token couple of hundred).

    The costs of that latter (to the NHS, and police and so on) are FAR greater, and actually concrete, than the _potential_ loss (which in reality comes to no loss, as research shows a strong correlation between increased file sharing and increased sales of physical media, and very few of those shares would have actually purchased blind anyway).

    So, for real damage, and very real monetary loss, you propose that the penalties should be several orders of magnitude greater than something that does no physical damage, and is of unproven financial loss.

    Way to go. Are you a lawyer perchance?

    The Tombstone of Common Sense comes to visit again.

  36. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Shock! Horror!

    Well, I will try very hard to contain my amazement that a top ranking US politician was bribed by a big business consortium to do it's bidding.

    FACT: Justice is for the rich. Always has been and always will be!

  37. Anonymous Coward

    @AC Get Over It

    I'm with AC (05:20 GMT) these freetards need to be punished. As AC says "The whole point of punishment for a crime is that the punishment should be a deterrent." So for 7 tracks maybe a public flogging, for serial dowloaders - how about cutting their f'ing hands off. That'll stop them from downloading any more songs!

    God save the RIAA

  38. IR
    Thumb Down


    "Fortunately, however, the US executive branch can't tell the judicial branch what to do. It can only use its legal arm - the DOJ - to make its opinions known."

    So the Obama-bashing is pointless in this context, and that makes 90% of the article pointless. Thanks for wasting my time!

    If only there were a few more news articles that can actually criticise Obama for reasons other than not bringing world peace in the first few weeks of taking office.

  39. Charles Silver badge

    Re: @AC Get Over It

    What about those who train themselves to operate computers with their feet? Or their heads using pointing devices? What happens when computers can be controlled cybernetically? Taking your approach, it would mean cutting off organs vital to existence--in essence, a death sentence. What then?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    you have to understand

    The law was originally designed to punish COMMERCIAL infringers...those who set up their own CD copying business and were turning out fake copies of the original CD. The RIAA and their ilk were able to get this perverted to cover "downloads"; which aren't commercial in any way.

    This is why this entire proceeding is so out of line and the RIAA behaviour is particularly egregious.

  41. Bounty


    We should totally execute all people who steal ideas. Since ideas come from our brains, we should have their brains cut off.


    (p.s. Don't steal my idea though....)

    This idea and its content is copyright of Bounty Systems (BS) - © Bounty Systems (BS) 2009. All rights reserved.

    Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:

    •you may print or download to a local hard disk extracts for your personal and non-commercial use only

    •you may copy the content to individual third parties for their personal use, but only if you acknowledge the website as the source of the material

    You may not, except with my express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.

  42. Danny

    Shock? Outrage?

    Why? The "entertainment" community is among Obama's biggest supporters. Why wouldn't he continue the policies that made them so much money?

    Beyond that, DOJ isn't known for major policy shifts regardless of who is in the White House. Shouldn't come as any surprise that their position hasn't changed.

    Flames because LA could stand another burning.

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