This Washington Roundup takes a look at the recent follow-up hearing on Grokster, the RIAA's new round of "John Doe" lawsuits against 765 illegal file sharers across the country--that brings the total
The Senate and House adjourned July 29 for the annual August recess. Members traditionally leave D.C. to take care of business--including fund-raising--in their states and districts. September 6 is the scheduled date to reconvene. Remaining on the calendar for the fall session are follow-up hearings on the MGM v. Grokster Supreme Court case for P2P companies and drafting of legislation to reform digital music licensing.
In related news, an obviously irritated senior Senate leader concluded the first of two followup hearings on Grokster July 28 by warning witnesses representing P2P companies and internet service providers to modify their business models and shape up--or else.
Blunt-spoken Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the conservative co-chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, also dangled a worst case scenario if they don’t step forward--joining forces with committee member Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Cal., a liberal Democrat, to force them to change their game plan.
Boxer has forwarded a plan for P2Ps to voluntarily step up efforts to come into compliance with the high Court's ruling that companies that make their money by encouraging and inducing illegal downloading are doing so outside the law.
"Senator Boxer and I rarely agree, but when we do, I think people ought to listen," he cautioned.
Stevens, who is 81, seemed unconvinced that ISPs are simply "pipes" and can't snag bad-player activity.
"I hope you're listening," he barked to Adam Eisgau, who represented P2P companies including Grokster, "Senator Boxer has provided me with a good example of the comments I’ve gotten (from other senators)."
The question posed to Stevens from other senators -- 'Why don't you do something to follow up the Supreme Court case?'" -- is one he is ready to confront fully if the P2P community doesn't.
Stevens said he held the hearing "to listen to you, to see if there's any indication" that the industries have a plan to modify their behavior. He said he'd heard little.
"We've got to find some way to meet this concept to protect our intellectual property," he said. "We can hardly accuse the people abroad of stealing our intellectual property if we can't protect it at home. That's the message we have to give you."
And with that remark, Stevens slammed down the gavel. Stevens said he will hold a second hearing this fall with the focus on child pornography and spyware attached to P2P activity.
Across town, the Recording Industry Assn. of America (RIAA) on July 28 filed a new round of "John Doe" lawsuits against 765 illegal file sharers across the country. That brings the total number of RIAA lawsuits to 13,300 since September, 2003.
The Future of Music Coaltion (FMC) has announced September 11-13 as the dates for its annual convention here. The FMC’s confab draws players from major and indie labels, artists, internet communities, and more IP and music lawyers (and law students) than are usually seen in one room. Once again, it’ll be held at Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st. St. N.W.