Tuesday, January 20, 2009

RIAA Lawsuits Winding Down Precariously

Keeping Justice Opaque: RIAA Wants Private Hearing

(Daily Online Examiner) The record industry is winding down its litigation campaign against file-sharers, but the few cases that remain could still influence online media for years to come.

In one lawsuit under way in Boston, the most heated issue this week concerns whether to allow a Webcast of the proceedings. Federal district court judge Nancy Gertner authorized the Courtroom View Network to Webcast at least a hearing scheduled for Thursday. Harvard's Berkman Center, founded by the defendant's lawyer, Charles Nesson, agreed to host the Webcast.

But the Recording Industry Association of America filed an emergency appeal, arguing that a Webcast of court proceedings could prejudice it with the public. The organization contends that users might re-edit clips of court proceedings in a way that distorts the group's positions.

Even if the group is right and someone, somewhere, re-edits the Webcast to mock the RIAA, that's not a valid reason to ban the Internet from the courtroom. If RIAA feels it's being portrayed inaccurately, the group's remedy is to address that with the truth; if the group thinks clips have been taken out of context, it can post the video in its entirety on its own Web site.