The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the developers of peer-to-peer software are not liable for copyright infringement committed by users of the software. In a strongly worded opinion, the court warned the recording industry and Congress not to act hastily to protect the industry against the effects of disruptive technology.

This was a defeat for the recording industry but not entirely unexpected – although the recording industry scored an early success when it litigated Napster out of existence, many of its efforts directly against software developers since then have been rebuffed by courts around the world.

You’re probably thinking the RIAA reacted by promising to rebuild its relationship with music fans, heal the wounds, stop the name-calling, and work on a new business model built on online music distribution at reasonable prices with reasonable terms.

Ha ha! I was just kidding. Yesterday the Department of Justice raided five homes and an office in three states, using search warrants to investigate peer-to-peer file traders and obtain evidence to send “online thieves” to jail. It’s the first time the DOJ has applied such drastic measures against evil file swappers, but John Ashcroft hinted that investigations were continuing. Here’s an article about the raids.

And today the RIAA sued 744 more music fans who used file sharing programs, making a total of more than 4,000 lawsuits to date.

I don’t like them, not one little bit. I’m making an effort to support artists selling music outside of normal channels. Remember Roger McGuinn, former leader of the Byrds? He recorded an album himself and is selling it from his website. It’s marvelous. Sample it here, buy a copy. Keep the money out of the hands of the RIAA!

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