Harvard prof on RIAA anti-piracy tactics

The number of challenges to the US recording industry's approach to copyright infringement is on the rise. But a new challenge, by Harvard law professor Charles Nesson, has "opened a new front" in the battle between the RIAA and music file-sharers, Computerworld reports. It challenges the constitutionality of the statute the RIAA has used in thousands of cases against file-sharers. Nesson argues that it's a criminal statute unlawful to use in civil cases. "He also challenged the constitutionality of the steep penalties for copyright violations that are provided under the act. The penalties range from $750 to $30,000 per infringement, with a maximum of $150,000 for certain willful violations," according to Computerworld. Nesson likens the tactics to the creation of a "private police force giving out million-dollar tickets … using the courts as "collection agencies." So far legal challenges to the RIAA's campaign "have tended to focus on the constitutionality of the statutory fines provided under the copyright act," Computerworld adds. BTW, for your kids or students, here's a fun, animated explanation of fair use in copyright law, "A Fair(y) Use Tale" at YouTube. It's by Prof. Eric Faden of Bucknell University and, as he puts it, "delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms." See also "Defending remixers, future artists."

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