A while ago I joked that perhaps the RIAA had secretly recruited Charlie Nesson to be its court opponent. Everyone from Ray Beckerman at the “Recording Industry vs The People” blog to Nesson’s old pals at the Berkman Centre at Harvard had advised him to knock it off – or at least not pursue a crackpot defence. But when it comes to the technology utopians, all jokes come true eventually.
Nesson has achieved something I thought was completely impossible in 2009, and that’s to allow the US recording industry’s lobby group to paint itself in a sympathetic light. No longer must the RIAA explain why their biggest members are not using technology to make money for the people they represent. The Boston case allowed the four major labels to justify an enforcement policy against opponents who appeared compulsively dishonest, irrational, paranoid, and with an abnormal sense of entitlement.
Nice work, Charlie.
Nesson failed in his avowed mission “to put the record industry on trial”. He failed to show why disproportionate statutory damages are harmful, which could have had a lasting constitutional effect. He failed to paint the defendent as sympathetic, or “one of us”. He failed to demonstrate why copyright holders make lousy cops. He even had a Judge noted for her antipathy to the big record labels. In short, he ceded the moral high ground completely and utterly to the plaintiffs, the four major record labels. The labels’ five year campaign against end users is finally at a close, but Nesson’s performance leaves it looking (undeservedly) quite fragrant.
Read more at The Register