May 30, 2024

RIAA Saber-Rattling against Antispoofing Technologies?

The RIAA has fired a shot across the bow of P2P companies whose products incorporate anti-spoofing technologies, according to a story (subscribers only) in Friday’s National Journal Tech Daily, by Sarah Lai Stirland. The statement came at a Washington panel on the implications of the Grokster decision.

“There’s definitely a lot of spoofing going on on the networks, and nobody thinks that that’s not fair game,” said Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, on Friday. “Some networks actually put out some anti-spoofing filters to enable people to get around the spoofs, and that may well be a sign of intent.”

The comment came in answer to a question about the kinds of lawsuits that might be brought in the wake of the high court’s decision.

What Sherman is suggesting is that if a P2P vendor includes anti-spoofing technology in their product, that action demonstrates an intent to facilitate infringement, making the vendor liable as an indirect infringer under Grokster.

Perhaps Sherman is asserting that anti-spoofing technologies lack substantial noninfringing uses, and so do not qualify for the Sony Betamax safe harbor. This is wrong in general. It’s well known that some of the files on P2P systems are of low audio or video quality, or are mislabelled altogether. This is true of both infringing and non-infringing files. A technology that can predict which files will have low quality, or which users will be sources of low quality files, will help users find what they want. Spoof files are just low quality files that are inserted deliberately, so technologies that reject low-quality files will tend to reject spoof files, and vice versa.

Of course some particular vendor might introduce such a filter for bad reasons, because they want to abet infringement. But one cannot infer such intent merely from the presence of the filter.

One popular interpretation of Grokster is that the Court said a company’s overall business practices, rather than its technology, will determine its liability. That seems to follow from the Court’s refusal to revise the Sony Betamax rule. And yet Sherman’s complaint here is all about technology choices. Is this the precursor to lawsuits against undesired technologies?


  1. I figerd out way protest radio bribery that the riaa is into simply devaule radio avertising you hear a radio advert avoid the pruduct in qustion at all costs this way radio staions are presherd to change thare way s and that then simply dont turn on the radio and use internet radio simply put people dont listen they have no power the riaa can restrict thair content but not what they dont repesant so internet radio stations dont play riaa content mor e artist are leaving riaa contracts as they are non profitable and other recerd groups do exsit and are gaining suport the riaa wants to hide the truth behind a wall of complexity so reserch speak up and break it down

  2. If they are permitted to do this then I see no reason why I cannot sue the spoofer’s for waisting my bandwidth when fake results are returned for CC’ed /free/legal content and I wind up downloading them.

  3. Ping.

    I wonder if the RIAA will ever realise that this kind of nonsense serves only to damage their credibility. The BSA have been saying similarly silly things about software patents.