Would SOPA Be Better Without The RIAA’s Influence?

    January 6, 2012

While much of the focus concerning the SOPA/PIPA bills points towards the government officials who are sponsoring these acts, are there other potential, perhaps obvious contributors that have escaped scrutiny? Or is everyone resigned to the fact the entertainment industry has their collective hands all over the composition of these bills?

In a report at ITWorld, Kevin Fogarty asks a simple question: should we turn over control of the Internet to a group that sued a dead grandmother? When phrased in such a manner, the answer is obvious, but Fogarty takes a closer look at how the RIAA conducts its business, if, for nothing else, to serve as reminder of what’s at stake if SOPA/PIPA becomes law.

Are the would-be caretakers, in Fogarty’s case, the RIAA, competent enough to help legislate the Internet? A look at their track record is enough to give pause, at least to those who don’t want the web managed in such a manner:

    The RIAA is an enforcement organization, that, among other sins:

  • Once tried to sue a dead grandmother to extract what it felt was its rightful pound of flesh for files allegedly downloaded to a house in which the dead woman wouldn’t even allow a computer to be installed.
  • The RIAA sued a homeless man because someone was allegedly downloading files from an apartment the man once occupied.
  • It sued a Vietnam Vet, and allowed the family 60 days to grieve following the man’s sudden death, before demanding they return for depositions and threatening to lodge charges against them as well.
  • It sued a 42-year-old single mother who had to retire from the Justice Department due to a disability, charging that she had illegally downloaded a rap song called “Shake that Ass Bitch” at 4:24 a.m. under the username Gotenkito. When she told RIAA lawyers she would counter-sue for harassment, RIAA operatives threatened to confront the woman’s 10-year-old daughter and interrogate her in their offices if the woman didn’t drop her effort to resist their bullying and extortion.

That’s not the most sterling track record by any stretch of the imagination, but yet, the RIAA clearly has influence in regards to these protection acts. Sometimes, the influence is more direct than others. With that in mind, how much better would these acts be without the influence of the entertainment industry? Considering the distinct lack of technical savvy some representatives have shown during the SOPA hearings, could such a group even create such a piece of legislation without the outside influence?

As for the RIAA, they made their position quite clear by indicating online piracy is a threat to national security. If you can’t get the people to support you with pleas, try fear, I suppose.

Hat-tip to Geek and Poke for the lead image.