2A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 22, 2004
Record industry files 532 lawsuits NEWS IN BRIEF
WASHINGTON (AP) -Yesterday
the recording industry sued 532 com-
puter users it said were illegally dis-
tributing songs over the Internet, the
first lawsuits since a federal appeals
court blocked the use of special copy-
right subpoenas to identify those being
The action represents the largest
number of lawsuits filed at one time
since the trade group for the largest
music labels, the Recording Industry
Association of America, launched its
legal campaign last summer to cripple
Internet music piracy.
Music lawyers filed the newest cases
against "John Doe" defendants -
identified only by their numeric Inter-
net protocol addresses - and expected
to work through the courts to learn
their names and where they live. All
the defendants were customers of one
of four Internet providers.
The 532 new defendants represent a
fraction of the estimated tens of mil-
lions of U.S. computer users who regu-
larly download music illegally across
the Internet, but the recording associa-
tion described each one as a "major
offender," distributing an average of
more than 800 songs online. Each
defendant faces potential civil penal-
ties or settlements that could cost them
thousands of dollars.
The resumed legal campaign was
intended to discourage music fans
emboldened by last month's federal
appeals court decision, which dramati-
cally increased the cost and effort to
track computer users swapping songs
online and sue them.
"Our campaign against illegal file
sharers is not missing a beat," said Cary
Sherman, president of the recording
association. "The message to illegal file
sharers should be as clear as ever."
All 532 lawsuits were filed in Wash-
ington and New York - home to Veri-
zon Internet Services Inc., Time Warner
Inc. and a few other prominent Internet
providers - although the recording
association said it expects to discover
through traditional subpoenas that these
defendants live across the United States.
"These are soccer moms, immigrant
families, just ordinary citizens trying
to reap the benefits of what appears to
them to be nifty technology," said Jay
Flemma, a New York lawyer who rep-
resented eight people sued in previous
"These are soccer moms, immigrant families,
just ordinary citizens trying to reap the benefits
of what appears to them to be nifty technology."
Lawyer representing eight people
- Jay Flemma
previously sued by the music industry
rounds by the music industry. "They're
scared and they're frustrated and they
really don't understand the nuances of
The RIAA said that after its lawyers
discover the identity of each defendant,
they will contact each person to nego-
tiate a financial settlement before
amending the lawsuit to formally name
the defendant and, if necessary, trans-
fer the case to the proper courthouse.
Settlements in previous cases have
averaged $3,000 each.
Verizon had successfully challenged
the industry's use of copyright subpoe-
nas, one of its most effective tools to
track illegal downloaders. The U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia ruled last month that the
recording industry can't use the sub-
poenas to force Internet providers to
identify music downloaders without
filing a lawsuit.
The court said the copyright sub-
poena process available under the
1998 Digital Millennium Copyright
Act "betrays no awareness whatsoever
that Internet users might be able
directly to exchange files containing
The appeals decision and yesterday's
new lawsuits threw into legal limbo
hundreds of computer users previously
identified as illegal downloaders.
The RIAA said that, for now, it will
not file new lawsuits or demand new
financial settlements against computer
users whose names were previously
turned over under the disputed copy-
Congress may extend Bush's tax cuts
Congress may extend some tax cuts that are due to diminish at year's end,
including new child tax credits and a bracket expansion that lowered taxes for
wage earners. But lawmakers have concluded that making all of President Bush's
tax cuts permanent will have to wait until after the fall election.
The reductions passed in 2001 and 2003 are to go away entirely in 2011. Some
will shrink on Jan. 1, 2005. President Bush renewed calls in his State of the
Union address to make all of the cuts permanent this year.
The most urgently pressing changes will come next Jan. 1, when some of the
most politically popular tax cuts recede.
Those tax cuts include an expansion of the bottom 10 percent tax bracket that
lowered taxes for virtually every worker. Also expiring then are some changes
lessening the marriage penalty, which causes some couples to pay more than they
would as two single individuals. The child tax credit that was raised from $600 to
$1,000 per child last year is due to drop back to $700.
"I think that those are very popular items in the tax code," said Paul Wein-
stein, a senior fellow at the liberal Progressive Policy Institute. He said it was
interesting that the authors of the legislation picked an election year for the
measures to expire or diminish. "I think some thought was given to that,"
Court upholds EPA veto over state officials
Federal regulators can trump more permissive state officials in some disputes
over costly measures to limit air pollution, the Supreme Court said yesterday in a
ruling that departed from the court's trend toward granting state governments
Alaska's governor wanted to allow the world's largest zinc mine to use cheaper,
less effective anti-pollution equipment, but the federal Environmental Protection
Agency said no. The Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling upholds EPA's veto power in
"The highest court in the land has made it eminently clear that the EPA has
ample authority to protect the public health and the environment from the harmful
effects of air pollution," said Vickie Patton, a lawyer with the interest group Envi-
The victory for environmentalists may be more symbolic than substantive. The
portion of the Clean Air Act at issue has not been front and center in court fights
over pollution, and the court majority kept its ruling narrow.
Last march 1
database is privacy threat
NEW YORK (AP) - A seven-state crime
database launched with $12 million in federal
funds is a more powerful threat to privacy than its
organizers acknowledge, the American Civil Lib-
erties Union alleged yesterday after obtaining
documents relating to the program.
The law enforcement officials and private data-
base company behind the Multistate Anti-Terrorism
Information Exchange, or Matrix, contend it is
merely an investigative tool that helps police quick-
ly gather already-available information on suspects.
But the ACLU and other privacy advocates
allege that the program too closely resembles a
scrapped Pentagon program that aimed to mine a
vast pool of data to spot patterns useful in terror-
ism investigations. Congress cut off funding last
year for the so-called Total Information Aware-
ness program after a privacy outcry.
A Freedom of Information Act request filed
with Pennsylvania yielded several documents that
the ACLU says clearly show the Matrix's data-
mining abilities. Among them were minutes of a
2002 planning meeting that said the FBI, the
Secret Service, the Immigration and Naturaliza-
tion Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency
helped craft data-mining software for Matrix.
That represents more federal involvement in
Five hundred combat boots representing more
than 500 American soldiers killed to date in Iraq
line Chicago's Federal Plaza.
the program than previously known, though the
Departments of Justice and Homeland Security
invested $12 million to get the system running.
The Pennsylvania documents include security
and privacy policies that say Matrix is usable only
in active criminal or intelligence investigations.
Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's technol-
ogy and liberty program, calls those guidelines
too broad and susceptible to abuse.
Clay Jester, Matrix coordinator for the Institute
for Intergovernmental Research, the nonprofit
group helping to expand the project from its orig-
inal implementation in Florida, called any com-
parisons to the defanged Pentagon data-mining
program "a fallacy" resulting from misconcep-
tions about Matrix.
Matrix lets states share criminal, prison and
vehicle information with each other and cross-
reference it with up to 20 billion records in data-
bases held by Seisint Inc. The Seisint records
include people's property, boats and Internet
domains, their address history, utility connec-
tions, bankruptcies, civil court history, liens, voter
registration and business filings.
For now the project involves Connecticut,
Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania
Continued from Page 1A
it's not. You're exaggerating." The
implicit subtext implies 'I know your
reality better than you know your reality,
so trust me and not your lying eyes.' And
my friends, that denial is a form of
racism," Wise said.
But for Wise, what was more alarm-
ing was how this denial was intergenera-
He said whites were practicing
denial back in the 1930s when black
people were not allowed equal access
to jobs, public facilities and schools.
This trend has continued when white
people persistently think things are
fine, Wise said.
"But when white folks are saying
it isn't a big deal anymore ... we are
basically saying colored folks as a
whole don't know truth from fic-
tion," Wise said.
Wise also discussed what he
called the "flip-side" of racism -
privilege - then adding that whites
have always been the most privi-
leged in society and continue to
expect those privileges, while other
He gave the example of Universi-
ty students who claimed ethnic
minority students were stealing
seats from white students under
But Wise questioned how white stu-
dents knew less qualified minority
applicants were taking their spots
when they had no access to student
"How do they know they are
under-qualified students? It's an
He also criticized lawyers and the
U.S. Supreme Court who, he said,
looked only at the 20 points given
to people of color and consequen-
tially ignored the points given to
certain areas and schools - which
predominately have white students,
Yet no one criticized those areas
of the admission system, he said.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Who was the
Ministers resign to
Iran's worst political crisis in years
deepened yesterday, with the govern-
ment saying most of its ministers and
vice presidents have submitted resigna-
tions to protest the barring of thousands
of would-be candidates from upcoming
Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi
warned that unless the candidates are
reinstated, "the country will face many
problems, both at home and abroad"
"Such disqualifications of prospective
candidates is against democracy," Abtahi
said after a Cabinet meeting. "Such
methods damage our Islamic democracy
and turn elections into sham elections."
Government spokesman Abdollah
Ramezanzadeh said most of Iran's six
vice presidents and 24 ministers have
handed letters of resignation to Presi-
dent Mohammad Khatami.
Lawmakers pass bill
to ban gay marriage
Lawmakers gave final approval yester-
day to a measure banning gay marriage
and prohibiting state employees from
getting benefits for domestic partners.
The bill is considered among the
most far-reaching in the nation because
of the benefits ban, which applies to
unmarried heterosexual and homosexu-
The Senate passed the legislation on
an 18-15 vote yesterday. The House has
already approved the bill and Gov. Bob
Taft has said he will sign it, pending a
legal review. The measure says same-sex
marriages are "against the strong public
policy of the state," and aims to counter
a 1934 U.S. Supreme Court ruling
requiring states to recognize marriages
from other states in most circumstances.
ticket Mass. minorities
A study of racial profiling, based on
state statistics, shows minorities receive
a disproportionate amount of traffic tick-
ets in some Massachusetts communities.
The study, conducted by Northeastern
University's Institute on Race and Jus-
tice and released Tuesday, shows that
247 of the 341 agencies examined gave
a greater proportion of tickets to minori-
ties than expected given the racial make-
up of the driving population.
Some communities gave only a slightly
disproportionate number of tickets to
minorities, but in others the numbers
were striking. Milton, just outside Boston,
had the widest disparity. Fifty-eight per-
cent of the people ticketed in the city
were minorities. The study estimated only
15.8 percent of drivers were minorities.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports.
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