“Recording Industry vs The People” is a good blog

Ty Rogers and Ray Beckerman

I am a compulsive reader of a legal blog called Recording Industry vs The People, which describes itself as a blog devoted to the RIAA’s lawsuits of intimidation brought against ordinary working people. It is about the law as it relates to the Napsterization crisis, mainly in the small scale cases of filesharing lawsuits brought by the RIAA.

I love this blog because of how much I learn about law as it relates to Napsterization. Even though this blog is clearly advocacy, it is more truthful and informative than any other source I know of.

Most of the posts are dry reports on minute developments in one case or another, like this one:

Magistrate Levy has appointed Eli Uncyk, a Manhattan attorney, as guardian ad litem for the defendant Rae J Schwartz, in Elektra v. Schwartz. The appointment was made necessary by conditions arising from Ms. Schwartz’s Multiple Sclerosis.

It’s painfully dry sometimes, but in a way similar to sports scores. You are supposed to be able to place the raw data in the context of some story. The story in this blog is always about a filesharing lawsuit where the specifics of the law are being explored in real time.

I think that the narrative behind this posting is about the limits of who can be considered competent, or maybe its about painting the RIAA member labels as heartless bastards. Ray Beckerman, the blogger, keeps coming back to these posts about guardians being appointed, as part of a general theme of responsibility — what obligations does a person who owns an internet-connected computer have? Should you keep it locked up and tightly controlled? Are you responsible if somebody uses your computer for filesharing?

The reason that this approach to blogging is valuable is that very few court cases related to filesharing have gone all the way through. They get settled out of court because the cost of losing a case could be extreme, and as a result most of what we think we know about the law as it relates to filesharing is no more than a guess. Internet law overall still has a lot of unknown territory, and until case law is established through actual rulings much of the consensus reality on filesharing will be based on bluster and gullibility. In these court cases the reality is being discovered.

Most tech bloggers write regularly about copyright, the RIAA, and Napsterization, but don’t have much to say except that they’re mad as hell. This guy adds light to the conversation as well as heat.