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paidContent - RIAA Wins Long-Standing Copyright Case Against Usenet

This story was written by Tameka Kee.
The RIAA has won a nearly two-year-old copyright infringement suit against news-sharing and communication network; the verdict comes on the heels of a similar win against file-sharer Jammie Thomas (to the tune of $1.92 million). In 2007, the RIAA accused Usenet (a precursor to social networks like Facebook and MySpace) of using pirated music to entice its users to pay monthly fees; CNET reports that U.S. District Judge Harold Baer found the company guilty of “direct, contributory and vicarious infringement.”

Baer ruled that Usenet’s actions weren’t protected under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) safe harbor, which protects ISPs from being held liable for users’ illegal activities—nor the Sony Betamax decision, which says companies aren’t liable for users’ illegal behavior if the device they create is primarily geared toward legal use. (The cases are commonly cited by defendants in rights management suits). The judge also found that Usenet engaged in legal misconduct by destroying evidence and failing to produce witnesses as required.

By Tameka Kee

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