Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Brianna - 12
I am sorry for what I have done. I love music and don't want to hurt the artists I love.
So says a 12 year old girl after she is sued by the RIAA for sharing music on the Internet.
Nice job RIAA.


Hey Joi, Monday called, and it wants its blog posting back!


thanks for highlighting this on your blog too Joi...

I'm still seething about this. I can't get over how the RIAA would single out a 12 year old girl to make a point.

Surely a child's right to grow up without being victimized by organizations like this outweighs the couple of bucks they lost in royalty revenues? It's not like she has been convicted of a criminal offence or anything...

I have yet to find a side to this whole thing that justifies the RIAA's actions towards a 12 year old girl... Simply disgusting...

*cough* boycott RIAA labels anyone *cough*

I know I haven't bought a CD from the big 5 in years...

"Flash mobs"? Hell, can you imagine the boycott organizational possibilites we have here? RIAA is bullying us? To hell with them!


OH YEAH, all the big record labels get together and conspire to artificially boost prices for CDs with two good songs and 10 bad ones (and they were successfully sued for doing so and slapped with a teensie fine). But that kind of illegal behavior is OK - its file swapping by little 12-year-old girls that's really wrecking the American economy.

To which I can only add: Let me take time now to renew my almost continual call for a boycott of music appearing on the CD labels of the thug companies who make up the membership of the RIAA.

You guys are ridiculous!

It doesn't matter whether you think copyright infringement is your right (for some strange reason), because it is law. It is also law for a reason, and not just to gratify evil corporations.

It is not fair to take someone else's work without compensating them, especially when they want the compensation. Why is this so hard to understand? Just because a little girl did it doesn't make it any less unfair to the producers of the music. Her parents should have paid for it.

Producers and musicians don't HAVE to sell it for the price YOU want them to sell it for! Jeez! You think the world revolves around your concept of 'price justice' or something? If you want it, you should pay what they want for it, or else don't buy the thing! Maybe I missed the class where they taught that you should just take it anyway if you don't think the price is fair...??!

IMHO, these people are starting to learn a valuable lesson: just because it's easy doesn't mean it's right, or legal.

BTW, there is a big market for music in 12 year old girls. It's not insignificant. They are consumers like everyone else...

It's also "not fair" for a trade group with a $40M+ operating budget to put an aggressive legal team on retainer and task them with suing hundreds of individual customers, knowing full well that most of these people cannot afford to defend themselves and will settle, regardless of the morality and legality of the situation.

It is most definitely not ridiculous for people to be royally pissed at companies which engage in such high-handed tactics.

And it is certainly not ridiculous for people who are disgusted with the conduct of these companies, to suggest that they collectively flex their economic power to cause change.

So I say, write your congresscritters (if you've got em), PayPal the Brianna fund, and boycott the bastards that the RIAA shills for.

YMMV, apparently ;-P

trevor said: "You guys are ridiculous!"

what an opening statement!!! why are we rediculous trevor? because we value the human rights of a 12 year old child over that of a multi million dollar organization?

this whole thing isn't commenting on the rights and wrongs of file sharing. it's about the way the RIAA are holding up victory over a 12 year old girl as justification of their cause. whether she was a 'prolific' file swapper (their words) or not, she could only have cost them a few dollars of royalties at most, but they have branded her a thief at 12, made her identity public and forced her to make statements that use language that displays her lack of understanding about the whole thing. Then they ran to the press with it all and shouted 'aren't we good? we're cracking down on these evil file swappers!'

where are all the artists like dr dre now? he was *so* publicly against file swapping but i don't see any sign of him now... persecuting a 12 year old not good for your image?

the RIAA's actions over this case are simply disgusting. if you can't see that trevor, then *that's* rediculous...

Trevor, I don't think that "if it's legal it is right" is a necessarily the right attitude. Laws are made by our lawmakers to try to reflect rules that represent what's right and wrong. These lawmakers are exceedingly influenced by corporations instead of citizens. I think it is important to point out laws or applications of laws that we do not agree with. If we all said, "it's illegal so don't do it," the civil rights movement and American revolution would never have happened!

As for the economics and the fact that "the law is there for a reason" part... that is a longer discussion on another entry I think. ;-)

First, Joi, I am not saying that if it's legal it's right. I don't know where the quotes in your post came from, but I didn't post that and I didn't intend that particular interpretation...

With regard to the law, I'm just saying that people should obey the law unless it's unconscionable, and in most cases, the law is there for a reason, i.e. there is a reason to follow the law apart from the fact that it is law...

As you say, that's a long discussion, and one in which I'm perfectly willing to admit that some part of copyright law should be rolled back or changed.

Now, Joi, you also said "If we all said, 'it's illegal so don't do it,' the civil rights movement and American revolution would never have happened!" This is probably true for the most part. But does this mean that you're advocating civil disobedience to change copyright law? If so, that's fine, that's a valid opinion. Maybe it would take that to change things from the ground up. But this girl is not someone who is thinking about justifications for civil disobedience. Neither is she thinking about how producers and musicians get paid (unlike you). She needs to learn how to follow the law at this point, like most citizens, although it would have been nice if she could have learned it somewhere other than in the courtroom.

But really, some of the things you guys have said are pretty ridiculous.

"Why are we ridiculous, Trevor? Because we value the human rights of a 12 year old child over that of a multi-million dollar corporation?" No, of course not. This is one of those ridiculous statements I'm talking about. ;)

There is nothing here to do in the slightest with human rights. I would guess that this girl is well provided for and her real human rights are not being violated. It is obviously not a violation of human rights to sue someone under the existing copyright law. If you think otherwise, you're really getting on the fringe. Who is going to agree with you that a law suit is a violation of human rights? I think that's a ridiculous concept. Law suits are the way many laws are enforced, and also the impetus for many laws to be changed. This is the method we have to work with law, if you reject that, you reject the whole legal system.

Well, I've got to go... more later... :)

Passions can get high in these debates -- I just want to include a disclaimer that I keep an open mind about these things, but I do feel the need to express my opinion... ;) I'm not trying to disparage anyone. :)

sorry Trevor - i disagree. I think a child, especially one charged with costing a multi million dollar industry a few dollars at most, should have a right to anonymity unless they are charged and successfully prosecuted for a criminal offence. I still think the RIAA's actions over this particular case is disgusting. whatever sympathy I had for the music industry's current woe's is now completely gone.

BTW, the quote in Joi's original post comes from my blog, and I, in turn, quote a news peice that, in turn, quotes directly from the press statement that the RIAA distributed to the press. By all accounts, this statement was written by the child in question under instruction from the RIAA no doubt. (search for the full text and you'll perhaps get a feel for why this is really getting to me...)

I don't think current intellectual property laws impinge on anyone's human rights. They're on the books and they should either be enforced or changed.

Sure, it's a horrible PR move to single out a little girl, but her rights haven't been violated. I doubt the RIAA intended to humiliate children. Seems like a story that the press granted exposure to.

"I doubt the RIAA intended to humiliate children. Seems like a story that the press granted exposure to."

That comes across as a very naive statement Mike. I think the RIAA specifically chose to make this case so public in order that the press would clamber over themselves to give it exposure. They are clearly trying to demonstrate their willingness to pursue alleged file sharers whatever the situation - to demonstrate just how determined they are. Using a minor to do this? That's what's sick.

And I'm not in a position to comment on whether any specific, legally defined human right has been violated, but common sense dictates that when you expose a 12 year old to this kind of public humiliation you don't have her best interests at heart... A child should be able to grow up without being subject to worldwide scrutiny of this kind whatever the alleged offence.

So, whether or not it can be defined as a legal breach of human rights, to my mind at least, it *is* a moral breach. Made worse by the fact that this is all financially driven - please remember this child has not been arrested by any law enforement agency for a crime. To me, this clearly shows that a corporation's profits outweigh moral decency in some people's eyes. I have no doubt that approaching this family privately would have elicited the same response - an apology and $2000 - so why feel the need to shout about all of this in the media?

Let me say again, this is *no* comment on the rights and wrongs of filesharing. This particular discussion, to me, is about a 12 year old girl and the way the RIAA have heralded their victory over her as something to be proud of...

Well, I don't think it's such a problem that she's a minor.

You know, sharing of copyrighted material is so ubiquitous now, they really have no other choice than to try to make examples of people if they want to enforce their rights. They need to change the perception that copying these works is no big deal. That's what they're trying to do, and I don't really think it's so wrong to try to get a little press on that point.

It is starting to make people think twice about these things. They are starting to think -- oh, maybe I really _shouldn't_ just take this music for free, because there are people who did market research, creative work, production work, strategy, sales, etc, ad nauseum, who only did so in reliance on their rights to sell the product. They have a right to try to make money on that without people just copying it.

But, at any rate, I think a lot of these issues will go away with the advent of MS's DRM technology...

Due Diligence has excellent post on this subject. The clearest exposition of the problem I've ever read.

Hi... erm, first of all I came across this when googling Watson and Behaviourism, but I really wanted to add my comment.

Yes, it's illegal. But is it right to target a twelve year old girl, when there are companies making huge profits from this and adults doing this? It's spiteful and petty. A lot of kids don't even know it's illegal. Let me give you an example.

The other day, in my Mum's computer shop. An old woman comes in to buy a laptop, and she bought her grandson so he can tell her about it.

Boy: It's great, Nan! You can even download music and put them on CDs.
Nan: I'm sure that's illegal.
Boy: No, it isn't! Even the policemen do it.

Do they need to target a child and make them feel like a criminal to cut down on crime run by adults? To me, that's like bullying.

And that's why it's wrong - not because of the case against her, but because of how they've focused on someone more vulnerable than the average member of the public, and whose intentions were innocent.

If they sued the companies making profits from this, or even an adult downloading music, then it would be their right to do so - but is it anyone's right to be a bully?

Anyway, just my opinion.

Trevor wrote
"You know, sharing of copyrighted material is so ubiquitous now, they really have no other choice than to try to make examples of people if they want to enforce their rights."

You are off on so many bases Trevor you miss the point entirely.. What you are endorsing in your backing of the RIAA is their right to make examples of people? So then you are saying this is just thier only option to extort money from people to try to terrorize people into complying with their monopolistic practices? I would disagree. I am not endorsing piracy and agree with just compensation.. since when does 100,000$ for a digitally copied song go along with just compensation?? What’s that you say? thats the penalty not compensation? Well that’s the working they use in thier settle out of court extortion letters.. Where is the fairness in that? There is no such thing as JUST compensation in such outrageous litigious threats and extortion by the RIAA. Setting an example by financial ruin without even proof in a court of law is no ones "right".. Just because the RIAA is deep in the pockets have bought out politicians to make the very LAWS that allow them to extort people doesn’t make it justified or as their "right",,, no more then it is a dictators "right" to put down his people with violence.. Just compensation – Just penalties- and fair proof are utterly nonexistent in this topic.. so before you start spurting off on “rights” lets get on a fair playing field..