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Aimster Sues RIAA?
By LTVNET
(more articles from this author)
2001-05-09
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For months, I have wondered, "How has Aimster avoided Napster's legal turmoil?" After all, they are a file-sharing company. They have 4 million registered users. They're generating revenue via the L90 ad network. They have a hot teenage spokesmodel pumping the Aimster brand at sexy "in crowd" parties and events.

Now, they even have the balls to call the RIAA's bluff. I absolutely love it.

The RIAA sends Aimster a letter saying, and I paraphrase, "You Napster clone! Remove our songs from your network or else!"

I'm sure the RIAA expected Aimster to obey their wishes. After all, there's no way a tiny P2P company would ever do head-to-head battle with the big bad music industry, right?

Wrong! Instead, Aimster shocks the new media world by suing the RIAA, asking the court to declare that they are not in violation the law.

Aimster's chances for near-term victory are favorable.

A couple of months ago, famed lawyer David Boies helped the company position itself by way of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Ironically, a copyright law sponsored by the RIAA.

Breaking it down: If the RIAA wants to prove Aimster's network is guilty of "whatever," they would have to monitor Aimster's network. Unfortunately for the RIAA, Aimster encrypts its network, and the code they use to encrypt the network is copyrighted. So the only way the RIAA can monitor Aimster's network is by breaking the code, and breaking into their network, and spying on the activities of its users.

Surely the RIAA wouldn't feel too comfortable breaking copyright and privacy laws.

Of course, eventually, time will tell the whole story.

Last August, I interviewed Johnny Deep, CEO of Aimster. Even back then, he was confident about the legal legitimacy of his company, explaining how Aimster only allows sharing between users who know each other, and therefore, maintained legal standing via the "fair use" doctrine.

Interview w/ Johnny Deep (MP3 snippets - 1.5M)

These are the kinds of legal twists and turns that illuminate the tenuousness of our copyright laws in the digital age. It's looking more and more like a continuous game of loopholes and positioning.

Perhaps it's time for all sides - the artists, the labels, the P2Ps, etc. - to cut a mutually beneficial deal and move on?

Linkography

Aimster - www.aimster.com
RIAA - www.riaa.com


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