Downloaded Music, Copyright Infringement, and RIAA – an Onsite Observation

June 24, 2008

An Onsite client, whose daughter attends Loyola University, recently inquired about potential legal action by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for posting, downloading and possessing copyrighted music and movies from the Internet.  This is a common concern since the RIAA started legal action to punish possession and distribution of illegal MP3s and movies. 

From Onsite’s experience there are two popular methods to share ‘free’ music and movies via the Internet: peer-to-peer file sharing services and Usenet newsgroups.  Due to the expense, legal implications and technical considerations, the RIAA does not monitor traffic to one’s PC.   

Thus far the successful RIAA cases involved individuals who posted the content of their PCs on the Internet with peer-to-peer(P2P) file sharing services.  Essentially, individuals sharing their music with P2P services are opening their PCs to inspection by anyone on the Internet, especially RIAA investigators.  RIAA investigators can examine the files located at a certain IP address, and KNOW if the file sharer possesses illegal material.  Once the RIAA knows your IP address, it is a simple task to examine log files of transfers or downloads by others.  If one plans to download music, the best way to avoid RIAA problems is to avoid the P2P services. 

The other popular method to acquire ‘free’ music from the Internet is via Usenetnewsgroups.  The only way the RIAA can monitor illegal activity is to use a court order to force the Usenet server operator to allow the RIAA to install monitoring software on the Usenet news server, monitor the download of a complete set of posts to form a binary file, and identify that you have recombined those posts into an MP3 or avi on your PC.  Since this is more involved than viewing shared files through a P2P network, the chance of RIAA action from downloads is greatly reduced.  Posting mp3 or movie files to Usenet newsgroups is a different matter and a risky proposition as your IP address is included with each post.  Once they have your IP address, the rest is simple for the RIAA investigator.

If your child or you use the Internet to collect ‘free’ music and movies, avoid posting and concentrate on downloading from Usenet newsgroup servers.  At present this is the safest activity; however this situation is likely to change.  Stay tuned for more information regarding this important issue.

If you’re searching for New Orleans computer service or repair of your Microsoft based system or network, then call the Microsoft specialists at 504-469-6991. Onsite Computer Services, Inc. in New Orleans

You may also be interested in Onsite Computer’s Blog.

This New Orleans On-Site Computer Service post was provided by Eli Lucas. Eli can be reached at Onsite Computer serves the Microsoft computing needs of small businesses throughout the Greater New Orleans area including Uptown, Lakeview, Broadmoor, Mid-City, Metairie, Jefferson, Kenner, Westbank, French Quarter, and the Warehouse District. Please visit our website for New Orleans Computer Service.



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