War on Sharing: RIAA moves to block new FSF court brief
Yesterday, while we were publishing our response to the RIAA's recent attack on the merit of organizations who represent the public's interest filing informative briefs in cases that threaten to negatively affect the public's interest, the RIAA was attacking us again.
In response to our proposed revision of our amicus curiae brief in the Tenenbaum case, the RIAA is attempting to block our submission to the court, saying, "...FSF’s latest brief demonstrates even more strikingly the deep animus FSF and its counsel hold for Plaintiffs, their counsel, and the recording industry. Such a biased organization cannot properly assist the court in providing neutral information and analysis."
Our attorney, Ray Beckerman, confirmed, "The RIAA's opposition to our filing of a revised amicus curiae brief contained no meritorious legal argument. It is a wonder why they filed it at all, other than to demonstrate to the judge that they have no response to the well-settled law that punitive awards which are disproportionate to the actual damages sustained are unconstitutional."
It's certainly unclear how opposition to the claim that $750 to $150,000 in damages per music file is appropriate makes us opposed to the entire recording industry. Our central purpose as an organization is to protect free software. We do this by lending our support, as a public charity, to an international community of authors and programmers. What we oppose is the effort by this particular corporate cartel to extend copyright law far beyond its historical and current borders, in the process blatantly robbing the public of important freedoms:
...it is the public's interest that we are defending, not our own. While we don't agree -- as the RIAA claims -- that we are more "virulent" than an organization that intimidates everyone from the elderly to college students to the severely disabled into either paying "settlement" money or facing the crushing expenses of defending against unwarranted prosecution in faraway jurisdictions, the RIAA is correct that the FSF does have a position on copyright. Although we are primarily concerned not with music, but with how software can be made and shared so as to benefit and empower everyone, neither are the impacts of the RIAA's actions restricted to the distribution of music. Their lawsuits are a deliberate campaign to rewrite copyright law through the courts. They are attempting to set precedents which will affect all works governed by copyright law, including software.