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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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May 25, 2005

Copyright Infringement Insurance for Filesharing: An Idea Whose Time Has Still Not Come

Posted by Ernest Miller

Derek Slater points to a press release from p2p company RazorPop that claims similarities to Yahoo! Music and Napster and will also provide copyright infringement insurance to its users (File-Sharer Insurance? Huh?).

Read the press release: RazorPop Announces P2P Subscription Music Offering - Comprehensive Plan Protects Consumers And Can Pay Billions To Record Labels

Slater is completing finals, so he asks if anyone can fill him in. I can. It is all smoke and mirrors and a seemingly desperate attempt for attention. First off, there are no licenses from major record labels noted and it doesn't appear as if there are serious negotiations to obtain any:

RazorPop offers [emphasis added - doesn't sound like they have any deals yet] music rights holders, including labels, composers, and publishers, a percentage of the subscription revenue, similar to licensing deals that have been entered into with iTunes and other centralized online music services. An independent clearinghouse will hold and disburse licensing fees. An industry research firm will sample network downloads and allocate payments among rights holders....

The music subscription launch is predicated upon execution of licensing agreements with music industry rights holders. [I won't be holding my breath.] RazorPop is providing a simple form agreement that can be executed electronically to expedite clearances and to avoid the need for regulatory intervention that would not be in the best interests of content owners or distributors. [Ooooh, I'll bet recording companies just can't wait to fill out an easy form agreement] RazorPop will not comment on the status of in-progress confidential negotiations, but music industry receptivity has been encouraging. [I bet.]

The other interesting thing, of course, is the offer for copyright infringement liability insurance:
The music subscription service includes copyright infringement insurance. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) may continue to target non-subscribing P2P users with lawsuits, and inadvertently sue RazorPop’s paying customers. The insurance will be capped at $5,000 per subscriber, which is above typical RIAA settlement amounts to date.
Who knows what the insurance covers, but the RIAA isn't the only copyright holder's group suing people. In any case, if there are licensing agreements, why would there be settlements that require insurance?

Finally, the whole idea of copyright infringement insurance is not a new idea, simply a bad one, as I explained in October 2003: Copyright Liability Insurance for File-Sharers: An Idea Whose Time Has Not Come and Copyright Liability Insurance: A Response to Dan Fingerman.


Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: File Sharing


1. SFix on May 25, 2005 11:03 AM writes...

"The insurance will be capped at $5,000 per subscriber, which is above typical RIAA settlement amounts to date."

Even if the company did pony up the $5,000, this "insurance" is useless since the RIAA requires settlers to *admit guilt* in order to settle for these "low" amounts. A plan that doesn't allow you to fight the allegations is no insurance at all.

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