One of the RIAA’s Law Firms Tries to Scare British P2P Users

There’s some more anti-p2p propaganda starting to circulate as news in Britain, but an investigation into the law firm reveals that there is a connection between the law firm and the RIAA.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

It seems to be the latest thing for the Recording Industry Association of America – hire different firms to pretend to be an unbiased source of information on the debates of p2p. While far from the first time this has happened, it seems as though it has been recently practiced in Britain.

In a report posted on, John McKinlay of the law firm DLA Piper discusses some of the activities going on in Britain. He names the infamous Dream Pinball 3D case from two months ago. He also brings in the case of the Italian government blocking The Pirate Bay from last month and the British ISPs folding to pressure and agreeing to act as the copyright police of two months ago.

While he brings up some older developments, he also furnishes his piece with big scary paragraphs like these:

Secondly, the same technology that is being used to download files is also the downfall of those being caught. Certain programs leave traces on the internet which can be followed all the way back to the offending computer.

Thirdly, the sheer number of people being pursued has dramatically increased. Solicitors involved in these cases are targeting thousands of file-sharers at once. Court orders are being issued in bulk, which allow aggrieved companies to demand payment or see the infringers face the threat of expensive court action.

with massive pressure on bandwidth from the likes of YouTube and, more recently, the hugely successful BBC iPlayer, ISPs have recognised that taking action against illegal file-sharers is very much in their interests too. The reason is simple: it is often those who are engaged in illegal activity who are using the largest quantities of this increasingly scarce resource.

With the tools now in place, content owners are stepping up their campaign to persuade people at a basic level that it just doesn’t add up to share files illegally. Where fines and costs can easily reach four figures for games, songs or videos costing a fraction of that amount, consumers don’t need to be caught every time for the pain to be very real.

First of all, as stated numerous times before, the technology that is suppose to be behind the detection of filesharing has been the downfall of rights holders. That fact alone completely defeats the statement that the technology behind file-sharing is the downfall of the user because it has been shown in at least two studies, one in Australia and one by Internet Evolution, both conclude that Deep Packet Inspection can’t stop unauthorized file-sharing.

Secondly, he states that lawsuits have dramatically increased without naming any specific incident outside of the Dream Pinball 3D case. Have lawsuits dramatically increased? Do tell.

Finally, the piece, particularly with the last paragraph we selected, seems like a simple re-wording of the propaganda campaign by the Motion Picture Association which says that with file-sharing, the risks are not worth it. With deliberately missed points and practically rewording a copyright industries press release or two, it leads one to wonder if this really is someone working for the copyright industry.

A closer investigation reveals that McKinley is a British lawyer, so is suppose to have credentials in British law. Then again, who exactly does DLA Piper represent?

Wikipedai explains, “DLA Piper’s clients range from multinational, Global 1,000 and Fortune 500 enterprises to emerging companies developing industry-leading technologies. DLA Piper represents more than half of the top 250 Fortune 500 clients and nearly half of the FTSE 350 or their subsidiaries.”

So, it’s interest is pretty much in consulting businesses. Rather telling, but that’s not explaining a whole lot. So we did some further investigation on the matter and came acrossed this telling article from earlier this year:

Armey, a lobbyist at DLA Piper, is expected to be on Capitol Hill today with Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and Tom Lee of the American Federation of Musicians to promote the Performance Rights Act of 2007.

Plugged by the musicFIRST Coalition, none of the materials on the event identifies that Armey represents RIAA. And, this isn’t the first time he’s lobbied for the bill without expressly stating his lobbying interests.

In a Washington Times Op-Ed March 6, Armey argued against radio’s exemption, calling it a “baffling and unjustifiable exemption from paying the performers of music when they use their music to make a profit.”

While Armey’s essay was followed by an addendum that included his position at DLA Piper and as a former lawmaker from Texas, it left off that he lobbies for RIAA.

So not only has DLA Piper lobbied the US congress in the interests of the RIAA, but deliberately attempted to hide the fact that the RIAA paid sums of money to act in their legal interests.

While this doesn’t detract from the worrying move that the ISPs caved to pressure and agreed to curtail to certain interests at the expense of their own customers, trying to stretch the truth to the point of misleading isn’t helpful either – especially by those that could very easily have financial interests to do so.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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