Labels' Usenet.com Victory Could Set Important Legal PrecedentPlease go to Billboard to read the whole thing.
By Ben Sheffner
The recording industry has racked up another significant legal victory over an Internet-based piracy facilitator.
In a scorching 38-page opinion, a Manhattan federal judge ruled Tuesday that a service called Usenet.com violated copyright law by helping users -- who paid up to $19 per month for access – to download songs illegally, without payment to labels or publishers.
Judge Harold Baer said Usenet.com engaged in direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement, and induced others to infringe. He also found that the defendants, Usenet.com, Inc., Sierra Corporate Design, Inc., and the companies' director and sole shareholder Gerald Reynolds, engaged in a wide array of litigation misconduct, including "wiping" seven hard drives clean of evidence and sending witnesses off on company-paid European vacations to avoid having to testify in the case. As a sanction for what the court found to be "strong evidence of extreme wrongdoing," it refused to allow the defendants to argue that they were entitled to a "safe harbor" from infringement claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.***While far fewer pirates download songs from Usenet services than from peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent, copyright owners are particularly concerned about Usenet pirates because they are people with a demonstrated willingness to pay for online content. In other words, a download via Usenet is more likely to represent a lost sale than a download via BitTorrent, which pirates can access for free.
Ray Beckerman of Recording Industry vs. The People, who is rarely shy about expressing his views that recording industry attorneys are incompetent and unethical, was one of the defendants' attorneys in this case. But you wouldn't know that from reading his post on yesterday's decision.