David Weinberger sez, "Charlie Nesson (of the Berkman Center and Harvard Law) and Joel Tennenbaum discuss (it's a podcast) their countersuit against the RIAA on Constitutional grounds. Charlie argues that the RIAA is a private agency enforcing a criminal statute...using the federal court as a collection agency, as he puts it. Charlie is also quite eloquent about the unfairness of the massive apparatus of state being trained on single, unrepresented individuals."
If this doesn't a) fill you with rage and b) fill you with hope, you are dead inside. What a great piece of audio.
Radio Berkman: The “Pay Us” Hotline - Fines and the RIAA
Legendary Harvard law prof fights constitutionality of RIAA ... Read the rest
The formidable Charlie Nesson, founder of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and all-round good-guy law-prof, has taken up the defense of a Boston University student who's been sued for file-sharing. Nesson is arguing against the constitutionality of the record companies' lawsuits, in a winner-take-all suit that could force the RIAA to come up with a better answer than "sue your customers" (remember, the biggest file-sharers are also the biggest music-buyers, concert-goers, etc -- being a music superfan meansyou do more of everything to do with music).
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Nesson argues that the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 is unconstitutional because it effectively lets a private group – the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA – carry out civil enforcement of a criminal law. He also says the music industry group abused the legal process by brandishing the prospects of lengthy and costly lawsuits in an effort to intimidate people into settling cases out of court.
Nesson, the founder of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said in an interview that his goal is to "turn the courts away from allowing themselves to be used like a low-grade collection agency."
Nesson is best known for defending the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers and for consulting on the case against chemical companies that was depicted in the film "A Civil Action." His challenge against the music labels, made in U.S. District Court in Boston, is one of the most determined attempts to derail the industry's flurry of litigation.