The War on "Piracy": A Fight for Industry Survival or a Failed Approach?

Please join us for a panel discussion between attorneys from Holme Roberts & Owen and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. HRO is a Denver-based law firm that represents record companies in their attempts to stem online music copyright infringement, including actions targeting individual university students. The EFF is a nonprofit organization that frequently questions the RIAA’s tactics and opposes it in court.

Tags: Content/IP

Please join us for a panel discussion between attorneys from Holme Roberts & Owen and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. HRO is a Denver-based law firm appointed national lead counsel by the Recording Industry of America Association (RIAA) in its attempts to stem online music copyright infringement, including actions targeting individual university students. The EFF is a nonprofit organization that frequently questions the RIAA’s tactics and opposes it in court.

In the nine years following the development of Napster, the music industry has changed dramatically. To match the new methods of downloading music illegally, there are new means of detecting such activity and new legal ramifications. The ethics of downloading music illegally and who should be responsible for such activity continue to be debated. This debate relates to the broader question of whether the music industry’s business model-i.e., charging for the distribution of music-faces an existential threat not merely from piracy, but the proliferation of artists willing to share their music for free.

Whether or not individuals can justify downloading copyrighted music from peer-to-peer networks or other outlets, the fact remains that this conduct is illegal. To underscore that message, the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) has brought thousands of lawsuits against individuals who have violated the copyright law, seeking to invoke the substantial damage remedies available under that statute. At the same time, organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have suggested that the advent of file sharing cannot be stopped by litigation and that the focus should be on finding alternative ways for artists to make money.

To address the issues at the heart of the debate over digital piracy and its impact on the recording industry, Silicon Flatirons will host a panel discussion, featuring attorneys from the EFF as well as from the RIAA’s outside counsel (the Denver-based law firm, Holme Roberts & Owen). Over the course of the discussion, the participants, along with moderator Paul Ohm, will discuss the ethics behind downloading music illegally, the soundness of copyright law in general and its application to digital content in particular, the appropriateness of the lawsuits brought by the RIAA, and the fate of the music industry.

A reception will follow.

Featured participants include:

Fred von Lohmann

Fred von Lohmann is a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, specializing in intellectual property matters. In that role, he has represented programmers, technology innovators, and individuals in a variety of copyright and trademark litigation, including MGM v. Grokster, decided by the Supreme Court in 2005. He is also involved in EFF’s efforts to educate policy-makers regarding the proper balance between intellectual property protection and the public interest in fair use, free expression, and innovation. Before joining EFF, Fred was a visiting researcher with the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology and an associate with the international law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP. He has appeared on CNN, CNBC, ABC’s Good Morning America, and Fox News O’Reilly Factor and has been widely quoted in a variety of national publications. Fred has an A.B. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Cindy Cohn

Cindy Cohn is the Legal Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as its General Counsel. She is responsible for overseeing the EFF’s overall legal strategy and supervising EFF’s 9 staff attorneys. Ms. Cohn first became involved with the EFF in 1995, when the EFF asked her to serve as the lead attorney in Bernstein v. Dept. of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to the U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. Outside the Courts, Ms. Cohn has testified before Congress, been featured in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere for her work on cyberspace issue. The National Law Journal named Ms. Cohn one of 100 most influential lawyers in America in 2006 for “rushing to the barricades wherever freedom and civil liberties are at stake online.” In 2007 the Journal named her one of the 50 most influential women lawyers in America.

Richard Gabriel

Richard L. Gabriel, a partner in the Denver office, came to the firm in 1990 and chairs the firm’s Intellectual Property Practice Group. He concentrates his practice on general commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation, probate litigation, and products liability litigation, including appeals, and has significant experience representing companies in a wide variety of industries including health care. He also serves as Knowledge Management Partner for the firm.

Mr. Gabriel currently serves as lead national counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America in connection with the recording industry’s lawsuits against those who illegally copy and distribute the record companies’ sound recordings through unauthorized file-sharing programs. In October 2007, Mr. Gabriel tried the first of these cases to go to trial and obtained a judgment of willful infringement in the amount of $222,000 for the plaintiffs. Mr. Gabriel also has defended and prosecuted trademark and copyright claims for such clients as Sony Music Entertainment Inc., Zomba Music, Michael Jackson, the Colorado Rockies, Build-a-Bear, and Coors, and he has litigated a number of patent cases, including cases involving patents for the Lasik laser eye surgery, artificial heart valves, and several different medical lasers. In addition, Mr. Gabriel has substantial experience in the defense of securities fraud, products liability, and toxic tort cases, and in the prosecution and defense of commercial contracts, business tort, probate, and personal injury actions. Mr. Gabriel has also served as city prosecutor for the City of Lafayette, Colorado.

Mr. Gabriel’s pro bono and community work includes ongoing representation of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, where he undertakes representation of children in dependency and neglect cases. Mr. Gabriel was named one of the Center’s 1997 Champions for Children for his hundreds of hours of pro bono service to the center. In addition, Mr. Gabriel has represented the Fort Lewis College Political Science Club alleging violations of the First Amendment, and he has represented an Oklahoma death row inmate through the ABA Capital Representation project. Mr. Gabriel has also had a long relationship with Volunteers of America, coordinating a firm-wide food drive that has delivered over 20,000 Thanksgiving dinners to needy families since 1987. Other community activities include his service as president of the board of the Colorado Wind Ensemble, with whom he performs on the trumpet, and his service on the boards of the Colorado Judicial Institute and the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center. In June 1998, Mr. Gabriel was selected to perform the Star-Spangled Banner prior to a Colorado Rockies baseball game as part of pre-game festivities honoring Holme Roberts & Owen on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.

In 2002, Mr. Gabriel received the Richard Marden Davis Award, given by the Denver Bar Foundation and the law firm of Davis Graham & Stubbs to a lawyer under the age of 40 who combines excellence in the practice of law with creative community leadership. Mr. Gabriel has been recognized as a Colorado Super Lawyer and has also been listed in the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. In addition, Mr. Gabriel was named the 2007 Intellectual Property Lawyer of the Year by Law Week Colorado and a 2007 Lawyer of the Year by Lawyers USA.

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