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Comcast sued for giving subscriber info to RIAA

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 15 Apr 2005 21:23 User comments (25)

Comcast sued for giving subscriber info to RIAA A Seattle-area woman is suing Comcast, one of the United States' best cable TV network operators for disclosing her personal contact information to the Recording Industry Association of America. Dawnell Leadbetter who has two teenage children was contacted by a debt collection agency telling her she had to either hand over $4,500 for downloading copyrighted music or face a lawsuit that could mean she would have to pay up hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Leadbetter later learned that the company, Settlement Support Center was using information that they obtained from the RIAA in a Philadelphia Copyright Infringement lawsuit. Just like thousands of other Internet users in the United States, Leadbetter was accused of illegal file sharing through P2P networks. However, no court authorised Comcast to hand over her contact information and Comcast didn't even contact her to inform her that they had.

"Comcast should respect the rights of privacy who pay them monthly bills," Lory Lybeck, the lawyer representing Leadbetter said. Also the debt collectors, Settlement Support Center, had apparently informed her that she had to pay the $4,500 for downloading copyrighted music. This is strange because generally the lawsuits filed by the RIAA are against people who are sharing copyrighted files illegally (not Download… but Uploading!). I'm sure that is what she is really being accused of. The RIAA has filed thousands of lawsuits against P2P users in the United States so far in its campaign against illegal file-sharing.


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25 user comments

115.4.2005 22:36

Would be strange if it was for download and not upload, she should really just pay up rather than a legal case against her.

215.4.2005 22:45

Well not really. You have to remember she has two kids to take care of. Also, she is not suing the RIAA, or denying anyaccusations about Copyright Infringement, she is only suing her former ISP (i would assume it is former by now) for disclosing her personal information without permission (or a court order) and also for not alerting her about it. I would assume she will pay up the $4,500, but I would also assume she hopes to get the $4,500 from the Comcast lawsuit :-) And yes, if it was for downloading, I would love to know how the RIAA would have caught her. It is possible that they had access to logs on whatever network she was using (but VERY VERY VERY HIGHLY unlikely) and it is also possible that she downloaded it from the RIAA who then logged the IP and filed a lawsuit BUT if that was the case, the RIAA's claims would go against them because they accuse people of knowingly offering copyrighted content on P2P networks. Now think about that, that means they have to prove that just by you putting music in a "shared folder" you are KNOWINGLY commiting copyright infringement. THis means if you downloaded from them, technically, they KNOWINGLY offered the file to you at their own free will? I'm not sure if my viewpont is legally correct, but thats just my observation. :-)

316.4.2005 1:08

I agree, it should be very difficult to catch someone downloading copyrighted material unless you are the uploader. And if the RIAA is uploading copyrighted files to the networks I'm really going to enjoy watching it backfire on them as they get sued by the artists whose content they were sharing. LOL

416.4.2005 6:38

0.02€: if uploading is prohibited, how can i control what i upload? i mean if i leave my bike unlocked, nobody is allowed to take it, right? so, if i leave my files "unlocked" and visible in p2p, nobody is then allowed to take them, right? ...especially since i have no right to upload them. but, since downloading is legal, actually nobody is doing crime.

516.4.2005 8:25

Thats a very intresting point of view pevelius! Who then is at fault? The P2P software/network developers?

616.4.2005 10:28

but, since downloading is legal, actually nobody is doing crime.
It depends on where you are, as far as I know downloading copyrighted material from the Internet in the U.S. is illegal? In some European countries it is in fact legal though. pevelius, in the argument you put forward, you "Own" your bike, so if you leave it unlocked and somebody steals it, then thats theft and they have broken the law by taking your bike. In the question of copyright however, you might have a CD or MP3 files, but the record labels own the copyright, so essentially they own the music. Therefore copyrighted music on your computer is not really "your" music. It's annoying I know, but it's the way copyright is. All we have on our side is fair use, but uploading music to other users through P2P networks, technically isn't fair use. You have to remember also when you install P2P software you have to agree to several terms and accept the license agreement. If you read through those terms you will find out that you are responsible for whatever files come from your computer, not the P2P software you are using. Most P2P software works on the principle of a "Shared Folder" and in order for you to share files, you have to put the files in that folder. In the United States, as far as the courts are concerned, if you place copyrighted files into that folder, you are intentionally placing them there to be shared to your peers when your P2P software is running. However a Canadian court wasn't convinced that was enough and ruled in favor if the P2P users. I think the Recording Industry's main point is, its very easy to move copyrighted files OUT of a shared folder, just as easy as it is moving it into it... Now you could just play dumb and say you didn't know, but I suggest you read over what you agreed to when you installed the software! I'm pretty sure it mentions shared folders on several occasions and a lot about where the liability lies for any illegal actions. You are basically accepting responsibility for what leaves your computer on most P2P software. One good idea though I think, would be to claim your compuer was hijacked by hackers and ten used as a file-server on a P2P network. If they ask to examine your computer, simply say "I'm sorry, I formatted my HDD's, I couldnt clear the infection, it was infested with trojan" :-) I don't know why nobody uses this defense and I'm, pretty sure at least some of those people sued did fal victim to hackers who planted files there... but usually they would be used as a file-server on IRC, or as a kind of "Dump" to store files.

716.4.2005 10:29

but you can control which folders are available for sharing and which aren't

816.4.2005 10:35

Yes, but that just further proves my point, you could have a "music" folder that you decide to share - you must intentionally add that folder as a shared folder! That would be enough in a U.S. court tom get a ruling that you intended to share any music in tht folder with your peers on a P2P network. I do believe though that you hve to have at least 1 shared folder for most networks? if you didnt have one, then how could you download files? they have to go somewhere, so usually the folder you choose as your download folder is shared by default!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 16 Apr 2005 @ 10:36

916.4.2005 16:04

In the question of copyright however, you might have a CD or MP3 files, but the record labels own the copyright, so essentially they own the music. Therefore copyrighted music on your computer is not really "your" music. It's annoying I know, but it's the way copyright is.
That sounds too weird... To me thats like saying GM owns the copyrights to many vehicles and even thought you bought it and own it, you really don't.

1016.4.2005 18:26

damn I live in seattle and have comcast!

1116.4.2005 20:35

rosedog, yes it is very weird. But thats the entertainment industry for you! if you buy a CD from a store, you cannot edit it, distribute it etc... because the copyight is owned by the label, they own the rights to the music. Hell, the RIAA even want a cut out of CDs that are resold! If I sold a CD to you, the RIAA would argue that they didn't get compensated for you purchasing "their" music from me! However, you cant really put vehicales against music, because right now its not exactly possible to share your vehicles over P2P networks, and its not that easy at all to make copies of them (I wonder would they be coered by fair use and would we be legally allowed to make 1 backup? just for personal use!). However, if it were possible for vehicles to be traded like music is over a P2P network - do you think the auto-industry would be happy and say "oh they bought the car from us, so they own it, not our business what they do with it?" - ye right, they'd have the P2P networks in he Supreme Court just like the RIAA does. You have to remember that music is "copied" ebvery time it is uploaded - so your vehicle would also be copied every time you upload it!(Sounds crazy... but maybe one day ;-) would make a good sci fi flick!) Personally I believe in copyright - why shouldn't artists have the rights to their own music (so that some guy doesnt rip their music off) and also why shouldn't they make a living from it? However, I think that the copyright today is a lot different to the original idea of copyright. I also dislike the monopoly that has taken over the music industry - having 4 corportions controlling that much music distribution and having that much power really could never be a good thing... could it?

1216.4.2005 21:16

I like people that sing that are not from the riaA... the riaA should not have caps!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 16 Apr 2005 @ 21:17

1316.4.2005 21:32

Oh hell ye! It's importabnt for all to remember that the RIAA represents a HUGE portion of the recording market, but even that massve anmount of music is miniscule to the amount of music thats out there :-) Every second person you see is a musician, and most people can sing - therefore claims that P2P will kill music are kinda stupid to say the least!

1418.4.2005 7:18

you could screw with the RIAA by sharing a bunch of MP3's from independant artists and changing the file names to main stream artists songs. I know this would mess with the downloaders a bit but the RIAA puts out seed MP3's anyway right? so let them try and sue someone with MP3's that are not really theirs! LOL they would have even more egg on their collective faces!

1520.4.2005 20:21

As far as I'm concerned the RIAA can go screw it's collective self. File shareing, illegal shareing of copyrighted material, boloney. I download a lot of anime and if the RIAA and anybody else wants to take a shot at my bow, I've got the antiaircraft guns and torpedos at the ready. I don't "share" stuff I download by making copies of it and then selling it for a profit. Comcast is my isp and if they ever pulled a boneheaded stunt like that I'd sue em' for every penny they have for breach of public trust. Well, enought ranting for now.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 22 Apr 2005 @ 6:55

If Life Is Wonderful-How Come Mine Sucks?

1620.4.2005 20:26

I'm kind of fed up with comcast they cost to damn much.

1720.4.2005 21:13

I think we are all missing the Main point.... this debt collection agency obtained her information in an attempt to extort money from her. They are playing on her fears of "the RIAA knows your downloading, pay up and nothing further will happen" Out of all the law suits filed, the RIAA directly deals with the settlements, not some scuzzy debt collector. They should be sued as well.

1822.4.2005 6:53

I agree that we're all missing the point, but I think the thing that we all should be concerned with is the steady erosion of our rights in the wonderful world of file sharing and modern media. If we have no right to be notified if our isp willingly decides to give information out without our consent, how secure does that make you feel? I think not very.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 22 Apr 2005 @ 6:56

If Life Is Wonderful-How Come Mine Sucks?

191.7.2005 9:01

omg man these day i never DL stuff from my house only use school's internet connection for use w/ p2p that way i'm sure i never get caught -i don't use it on my dorm either-

201.7.2005 17:30

I recieved one of these nasty notes from the RIAA and I told them to shove it up their a** with a damage control plug and if they wanted to come and look at my hard drives I'd be waiting for them with a couple of loaded 12 gage shotguns. No reply-dead slience at the other end!!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 07 Oct 2005 @ 15:32

211.7.2005 23:48

I'm sure at least half the cases the RIAA builds have no concrete evidence what-so-ever. They probably just have lists of suspects that they target and hope they get lucky with people who will just give in and settle.

222.7.2005 11:02

Indeed I wonder how RIAA can prove their case in court. After all they can't present hard evidence of particular songe that were either DLed or ULed, only *their* list of "alleged" songs that one DLed or ULed, and since mistakes and errors can happen, why would the court will give RIAA the benefit of the doubt where evidence and proff isn't presented? I wonder also what happened if one contests the allegation. Does RIAA go after him/her always or they focus on those that play ball and pay willingly? If someone was contacted by RIAA and declined their request to settle - please post here and let us know what happened next.

237.10.2005 5:21

hi i just got a little question, copyright is thrown out the window when the creater of a piece of art dies. like it is not illegal to recreate a dead painters piece of art and sell it for a profit,. so is it leagal to share the music of dead musicians. i.e if i rip a bob marley cd and share it through p2p could i still get sued. a stupid question i know but its one of those little things that bug me and keep me awake at night,

2423.5.2007 18:32

how do comcast subscribers know if their information has been given to the RIAA? If so, How can they get in on the lawsuits? hey, it has to happen. so why not get in on it?

2524.5.2007 10:22


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