From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
Subject:      Tourbus - 16 Oct 03 - How Not to Get Sued by the RIAA

TODAY'S TOURBUS STOPS: How Not to Get Sued by the RIAA

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, whose minty tingle gets your breath clean and fresh. :P

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On with the show ...

How NOT to Get Sued by the RIAA

Back on June 25th, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) threatened to file copyright infringement lawsuits against anyone who distributes large numbers of copyright MP3s through peer-to-peer programs like Kazaa and Gnutella. The RIAA backed up that threat on September 8th, filing lawsuits against 261 people who were sharing 1,000 or more songs online for people to download.

These lawsuits were not a one time thing. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the RIAA is already threatening a new round of lawsuits against even more file sharers []. And while it is hard not to laugh at some of the RIAA's recent ham-handed blunders - the RIAA withdrew the lawsuit it had filed against a 65 year old grandmother (and Mac user) who the RIAA had falsely accused of downloading and sharing countless rap songs - don't lose sight of the fact that the US penalty for copyright infringement is $750 to $150,000 per work.

That's $750 to $150,000 PER song, folks!

And since the Kazaa file sharing program has been downloaded 285 million times, Morpheus 119 million times, iMesh 59 million times, LimeWire 16 million times, and Grokster 9 million times [source:], the RIAA has a *HUGE* pool of people they could potentially sue for disgusting amounts of money. And that pool could very well contain you.

So, let's see what we can do to help you swim to the side and climb out of the RIAA's little piddle pool.

Our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation recently created a wonderful, free guide titled "How Not To Get Sued By The RIAA For File-Sharing (And Other Ideas to Avoid Being Treated Like a Criminal.)" You can find the guide online at

You *MUST* read this document if you have *EVER* downloaded songs off of the Internet using Grokster, Morpheus, Kazaa, Aimster/Madster, Mactella, Gnucleus, Gnotella, LimeWire, BearShare, iMesh, or WinMX.

I recently heard a computer "expert" say that one way to keep the RIAA at bay is to simply stop using your peer-to-peer program. That advice is both incorrect and dangerous. Even if you have not used your peer- to-peer program in months, that program may still be running in the background on your computer ... especially if you installed that program using its default settings. In other words, your computer could currently be sharing songs with the entire planet - and the lawyers at the RIAA -- without your even knowing it. That's a potentially bad thing.

Fortunately, the EFF provides links to sites that show you, step-by- step, how to disable the sharing and uploading features on your peer- to-peer application, features that could possibly get you in trouble with the RIAA.

If you are concerned that your children or grandchildren have installed a peer-to-peer program on your computer without your knowledge, go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs and see if one of the programs listed above is listed in Add/Remove Programs. If it is, remove it.

And, for those of you who compute with fruit, just search your Mac for Aimster, Madster, Morpheus, or LimeWire. Those are pretty much the four biggies on the Mac (I think.)

Apple iTunes

Turning off sharing and uploading in your peer-to-peer program will probably keep the RIAA wolves at bay. For now. But eventually you have to recognize that "creatively acquiring" a huge collection of MP3s from Kazaa is a little on the illegal side.

Technically, you're breaking the law. But, like speeding (which is also, technically, breaking the law), the chances of your getting caught are slight. Does that make file sharing (or speeding) right? No. Should you stop downloading music files off of the Internet? That's something you're going to have to decide for yourself.

[I would find the RIAA's arguments about the harm caused to artists by file sharing more compelling if the RIAA actually distributed some of the money it collected in its lawsuits to the artists who were allegedly harmed. While the RIAA is suing on behalf of Madonna, Britney Spears, and countless other artists, those artists have yet to receive a penny of the money the RIAA has collected in these lawsuits. It's a little like a county sheriff pulling you over for speeding, lecturing you on the harm that your speeding is doing to the county, and then asking you to make your payment out to "cash." Pretty duplicitous.]

If you still want to download music without being rogered by the RIAA, you might want to check out some of the pay music sites that have popped up over the past couple of months. Apple is the 800 pound gorilla in this market, selling over 13 million downloadable songs through its iTunes music store over the past six months.

Now for the bad news. To be able to purchase and download music from the iTunes music store you needed both a Macintosh computer and an US billing address. Apple fixed the part of that yesterday: Apple's free iTunes software (which you need to purchase and download music from the iTunes music store) is now available for BOTH the Mac and Windows 2000, Windows XP Home, and Windows XP Professional. You can download iTunes for free at

Unfortunately, you still have to have a US billing address. Apple is working on making the iTunes music store available in Canada later this year and in Europe shortly thereafter. So stay tuned.

The Apple iTunes music store doesn't sell MP3s. Rather it sells a file format called "M4P" (a.k.a. "MP4/AAC"). Right now the only portable MP3 player that can also play MP4/AACs is (what else?) Apple's iPod. So if you are looking to download a lot of MP3s to play on your Nomad or Rio, skip the iTunes music store. But, if you have an iPod or just want to download some songs that you can burn onto a CD that you can listen to on your CD player, give the iTunes music store a shot. Their songs only cost 99 cents a piece, and within the next two weeks their music catalog will include over 400,000 songs and 5,000 audiobooks.

The secret is Apple's free iTunes software which lets you not only purchase, download, and play songs from the iTunes music store but also

  • Rip and encode both MP3 and AAC files
  • Listen to over 200 free online radio stations (a la Real Player
  • and Windows Media Player)
  • Burn playlists to CDs and DVDs
  • And much more.
  • The songs that you purchase from the iTunes music store can be transferred to three other PCs and you can burn those songs to an unlimited number of CDs (although you can only burn the same playlist to 10 CDs.)

    And, best of all, the RIAA won't sue you.

    St. Claire Safety Sign Builder

    If you have a pretty good printer and a copy of Adobe's free Acrobat Reader installed on your computer, you really should check out St. Claire's free Safety Sign Builder at

    This is a free online application that automatically makes safety signs in PDF format. If your company or organization needs to make an ANSI- or OSHA-compliant safety sign -- do not enter, no smoking, poison, etc. -- St. Claire's Safety Sign Builder is a godsend.

    It's also great fun. All you need to do is choose a sign header and pictogram, key in a sign message, and click the "Build Sign" button. For example, try this:

    Sign Header: DANGER (ANSI) Pictogram ID: 117 Sign Message: DUKES OF HAZZARD EPISODE AHEAD

    The possibilities are endless! :P

    Seriously, though, to view the different sign headers and pictograms, just click on the appropriate "View Catalog" button.

    St. Claire also offers an ANSI sign builder (which I kind of like a little better than the regular sign builder), a Hazmat sign builder, and a lockout tag builder at

    If you do try the ANSI sign builder, let me recommend the following:

    Sign Header: WARNING (OSHA) ID: 33 Sign Message: EXCLAMATION POINT

    That's it for today. Have a safe and happy week, and we'll talk again soon.

               .~~~.  ))
     (\__/)  .'     )  ))       Patrick Douglas Crispen
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    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
    Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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