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Programmer Challenges RIAA Investigators 238

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the not-so-fast dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In court papers filed today in Manhattan federal court, programmer Zi Mei has slammed the investigation on which the 'ex parte' orders obtained in the RIAA's cases against consumers are based. Armed with Mei's affidavit, a midwesterner -- sued in Atlantic v. Does 1-25 in New York City as 'John Doe Number 8' -- has asked the judge to vacate the 'ex parte' order on the ground that the RIAA doesn't have the evidence it needs to get such an order. If Doe wins, the RIAA's subpoenas to the ISP, for its subscriber's identities, will be thrown out."
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Programmer Challenges RIAA Investigators

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  • IMPRESSIVE (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2005 @07:39PM (#14361686)
    but probably not effective, young master.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2005 @07:40PM (#14361692)
    You will be crushed by RIAA! Rocket-subpoena arms-- ACTIVATE!
  • ex parte (Score:5, Informative)

    by Black Parrot (19622) * on Thursday December 29, 2005 @07:42PM (#14361697)
    Here [lectlaw.com] is an explanation of "ex parte".
    • Re:ex parte (Score:4, Informative)

      by eatmadust (740035) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @07:50PM (#14361730)
      or here [wikipedia.org] on wikipedia.
    • Thanks.
    • Re:ex parte (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Husgaard (858362) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @10:18PM (#14362377)
      You US people are lucky that ex parte decisions are only allowed for giving the identity of someone with a certain IP address.

      A few years ago, the US government bullied my country into making new law under the threat of a trade war.

      This new legislation allows copyright holders to obtain an "ex parte" court order to enter and search private homes without informing the people living in these private homes if the copyright holder can show that it is "probable" that someone living there has infringed on a copyright. There is no requirement that the police be involved in such searches of private homes (first time this has been allowed in my country), and the law gives the copyright holder a right to be present at the search (never before have the other side in a civil case been allowed to be present during a search of a private home in my country).

      This has regularly been abused. In very few cases the "evidence" found in such searches has ever been used in a court of law. Instead most cases have been settled before court by the people searched in fear of the copyright holders releasing information on what was found during the search (legal or not).

      I used to have a hard time understanding why some people were thinking the US was imperialistic and why the US had to be opposed in any way possible, but no longer.

      Tomorrow it may be my door that the US entertainment industry kicks down.

      Does somebody want to take a guess if I still like the US?

      • Re:ex parte (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eccles (932)
        And you wonder why so many Americans seem so fond of the Second Amendment... (Not to mention the Fourth, of course.)
        • Re:ex parte (Score:4, Insightful)

          by inc_x (589218) on Friday December 30, 2005 @02:21AM (#14363255)
          Yes, I do indeed. Because despite all the second amendment puff talk, I don't see any organized armed resistance in the US against illegal police searches or government agencies who are overstepping the law at the direction of the US president. I do read about the occasional meth addict shooting at the police and/or his neighbours, I have never seen that having any positive effect though, such person tends to end up either getting shot himself or spending 20+ years in jail. Can you explain me how the second amendment helps americans?
          • Re:ex parte (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TallMatthew (919136)
            Organizing an armed resistance against the police or the US government is an easy way to make your life go bye bye, either via death or imprisonment. Throwing a shot at an elected official or law enforcement is frowned upon in these parts. Revolution is a romantic idea, but in practice it's brutal. There are no soundtracks playing in the background, no Mel Gibson, no speeches. Just a bunch of people getting smushed.

            I like it here, but I like doing my thing as well. I'll do it somewhere else if I have

          • Re:ex parte (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Procyon101 (61366) on Friday December 30, 2005 @03:35PM (#14366778) Journal
            Of course no sane person is going to directly attack the US government with handguns. Of course that is silly.

            The purpose of the armed populace is as a deterrent. The government cannot suppress the population by force without armed conflict. Armed conflict against their own homes causes dissent amongst the military, splitting it into rebellious factions and leading to greater conflicts, eventually overthrowing the government by it's own military since militia siding with the oppressive government face hostile evironments even without direct conflict whereas the populaces militia is supplied and reinforced at every turn. Because this is such a stupid position for a government to get itself into, it would never do so as long as the populace remains armed. So the point of ownership is not to fight the US military head to head, but to ensure you never have to.
        • Not to mention the Fourth

          I am sorry, but the number you have dialed:
          "4th Ammendment"
          has been suspended by the President due to wartime. Please hang up and try your call again in 3 years.

          -Eric

      • Re:ex parte (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ossifer (703813) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @11:25PM (#14362620)
        Sounds like a Danish problem to me--why blame the US? "Under the threat of a trade war" with an E.U. country? That happens every day...
      • Re:ex parte (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yeah that seems to be a popular tactic of the tyrannical leaders of certain third-world countries these days. Pass a law that gives said leader more power and blame the US for "forcing" him to do so.
      • Re:ex parte (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cnerd2025 (903423) on Friday December 30, 2005 @12:01AM (#14362759)

        Sorry for looking out for our own interests. Oh, wait, Denmark and the EU does the same thing. And the threat of "trade war"? Is Europe really so arrogant it thinks it has some "God-given" right to trade with the US? We can trade with or without whomever we wish and cease at any time.


        If you read even the description, you'd realize that the "ex parte" order is really "ex parte Doe", used to execute the Writ of Habeas Corpus. "Ex Parte" is generally illegal in the US, and should be. This "ex parte Doe" means that the Doe, in this case the accused, believes that he or she is being held without legal cause. "Ex parte" basically means that one party is using an unfair advantage over another and thus justice is not being served.


        I'm no fan of the entertainmaint industry. However, keep something in mind, friend: every state, be it municipal, regional, national, or supranational, has the right to look out for itself. The EU sure does. If you have beef with how the US executes trade, then do something about it. We aren't holding a gun to your head to force something upon you. You elected the leaders who passed your laws. We didn't set up some revolution in Copenhagen or Brussels to execute our will. Your government chose that trade with the US was more important. If you dislike what your government does, then elect new people. And if you dislike the entertainment industry, then don't buy their things. You didn't make any coherent argument against them. In the US, the RIAA oversteps its legal rights, and therefore legal injunctions must be placed on them. But they are a trade union, and they do have some legal rights. Your arguments place them in no violation of yours or anyone else's rights, nor the overstepping of their rights.


        Now you make some very very incoherent arguments about the US "breaking down your door". I don't know how it works in Europe, but in the US, the police run all searches and seizures. And issuance of search and seizure warrants are Ex Parte, for good reason. Entertainment industry thugs don't just break and enter, searching for "copyright violations". That is strictly against the US Constitution.


        Please, I'm tired of people blaming the US for this or that or the other thing, when the real problem lies in the peoples' own country. We have messed up lots of stuff, but to bitch at us just means that you're too lazy to do something about it.

      • I sympatatize with you. However, such law has not been implemented in many EU countries.

        Fact is that the US regularly forces countries around the world to "respect" US laws under threat of economic sanctions. Of course the US is free to choose with whomever it trades.

        The problem is that many countries don't have the guts to do without US trade. Many are too small and/or poor to risk that.

        For the EU however the case is different. I think it would harm the US just as much as the EU if trade between the two we
        • I can only hope that one day the US threats will become void, since the rest of the world will happily trade with each other and not need the US at all, i.e. the situation reverses and the whole world except the US have trade, and the US becomes isolated and poor.

          While I don't quite share your ill-will towards the US (simply don't wish ill on anyone) I do forsee a day when the American influence is severely limited from what it is today.
          No empire is forever (ask the Romans, the Brits, the Egyptians, , ,

    • Most motions are made to the court with notice to both sides. Non-moving party gets to respond. But in certain circumstances, such as when you do not know who the other side is yet, you can make a motion with the court without the other side present or aware, or ex parte. This can be unfair at times, because you can get a restraining order or the like to accompany your ex parte motion. Hence the attorney and the moving party has an added obligation to tell the truth and disclose things that may stop them fr
  • Ex Parte (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Thursday December 29, 2005 @07:42PM (#14361699) Homepage Journal
    IANAL, but have been paralegalling for a few years now. Ex parte is the term used when one side in a case speaks with the Judge without the other side being privy to what is said.

    If he can get this tossed it would be a pretty big blow to the RIAA's case.

    • Re:Ex Parte (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheHawke (237817) <{rchapin} {at} {pelicancoast.net}> on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:13PM (#14361820)
      A Big Blow? It might be the Mike Tyson-style knockout punch that the defendants have been looking for. It will establish a precident for the rest of the "John Doe" lawsuits that the *AA's have slathered all over the nation.

      About bloody time someone found a way to cripple these borderline-illegal 'suits once and for all... That is, IF the judge sees it the right way.
      • That is, if the judge sees it the right way.
        In the modern "justice" system, "the right way" has become a synonym for "whoever has {more/the most} money and/or connections."

        :/
    • Represent yourself? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689)
      Question: How does a 'John Doe' fight a lawsuit?

      My guess: At some point, their ISP notified him, they retained a lawyer and the lawyer is making motions and appearing on his behalf.

      This works, but only for people who can afford a laywer .

      How are you supposed to represent yourself in a John Doe case?
  • by E8086 (698978) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:01PM (#14361772)
    Chances are the majority of accused John Does are guilty but there's always the chance of a false positive(Mythbusters drug test), incorrect data reporting, creative accounting practices, wait that was Enron, I mean creative data reporting, MediaSentry: if we add to this big list of shared songs to the small one we just found the RIAA will may us more money.
    I don't recall hearing the results of any challenge to their data mining, but if they go with the closed source/proprietary code/industry secret response I hope it results in all their "evidence" being tossed.

    unfortunately the pdf link is broken or has been slashdoted
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:21PM (#14361845)
      the majority of accused John Does are guilty but there's always the chance of a false positive

      I absolutely disagree. I'm the registered agent contact for a regional ISP and routinely receive RIAA communications regarding their allegations of offenses within our address space. Here's a few aspects of my ongoing experience with the RIAA and other intellectual property protection parties (mostly publishers in my experience outside of the RIAA):

      • ignoring the registered agent requirement: In almost every single case since the change in the law, the RIAA has ignored the registered agent provision. They are required to go through this party and follow certain notification requirements to comply with the law and obtain their ability of recourse by demonstrating this compliance. They repeatedly and intentionally ignore the law. Typically, they will notify helpdesk or receptionist employees at the company via telephone, or notify our upstream ISP with a demand for compliance inconsistent with the law's specifications (e.g. they will file a suit within two business days if the address in question is not shut off).
      • They do not provide evidence required by the law. I've been repeatedly demanded to shut off a subscriber, name the subscriber and provide contact information (name, billing address, phone, and other items that would clearly violate Gramm Leach Bliley if there wasn't legal grounds for giving it out) on evidence like this: "We've discovered IP address 192.168.3.3 has copied our intellectual property." Name of file? Evidence that the filename is actually property-holder's IP and not just another file with the same name? Evidence that the alleging party holds the IP rights to this property? Time/date and details of the event? (I've *yet* to be given timestamps from the RIAA - wtf? Somebody give them a dollar so they can buy a freaking clock).
      • Threats that exceed legal authority and actually may encourage legal recourse when a response is made notifying them of their obligation to comply under the law. I've even had RIAA attorneys contact our upstream and notify them that we "hadn't complied" (with a noncompliant request with zero documentation, ignoring the law) and the upstream was given hours to shut our connection serving 1/3 of a state off or face lawsuits.


      The appropriate response is a legal one, and mind you, a legal one that has a letterhead of partner names that spans the top of the piece of paper (meaning not a small private practice, but a large firm that is enough to scare the RIAA into understanding your counsel has deep resources that can counterclaim and hurt them).

      Another strong recommendation is for all smaller ISPs to provide their upstream with a letter on the lawfirm's letterhead just briefing them on your compliance with the registered agent provision, requesting evidence of their compliance, and a subtle reminder that if they ever fail to follow the law, they'll get to know your counsel really well as you recover damages from business interruption, damage to goodwill and all sorts of exciting, expensive claims.

      This letter will probably cost you $300 to $500 depending on your firm, but it'll save your ass. It has done so for us at least two times when the RIAA completely ignored the law and sent its night-school, white-shoe attorneys after our upstream carrier.

      Oh... and in my investigation of the John Does, I've usually found P2P running in a bit more than half the cases with parents unaware that Bearshare was loaded by their minor child, and in about a third the cases, no evidence in traffic flows of any P2P (nor any historical data from NIDS monitoring). Not that we'd ever keep such data (don't and have a policy of wiping it weekly).
      • They do not provide evidence required by the law. I've been repeatedly demanded to shut off a subscriber, name the subscriber and provide contact information (name, billing address, phone, and other items that would clearly violate Gramm Leach Bliley if there wasn't legal grounds for giving it out)

        Are ISP's covered by Gramm-Leach-Bliley?

      • Gramm Leach Bliley (Score:3, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689)
        http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/privacyinitiatives/glb a ct.html [ftc.gov]

        The Financial Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the "Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act" or GLB Act, includes provisions to protect consumers' personal financial information held by financial institutions. There are three principal parts to the privacy requirements: the Financial Privacy Rule, Safeguards Rule and pretexting provisions.

        The GLB Act gives authority to eight federal agencies and the states to administer and enforce the Financial Privacy Rule

        • by jrockway (229604) *
          > My ISP doesn't provide a financial service...

          Your online banking information magically appears on your computer, then? Funny... I thought it went over your ISP's wires.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          I'm not sure how this applies to ISPs in any way shape or form.

          Anonymous ISP here... good question! My understanding of GLB as explained by the law-speaking guys is that it doesn't usually apply, but we offer a package of enhanced services to community banks including managed VPNs and their auditors are pretty inclusive on who's doing what. It's like SAS-70 - I'd probably never initiate one myself but we have to do it since our customers (and their auditors) expect us to. You'd be surprised how many compani
      • I believe that the "registered agent" is a person to contact to have copywritten information removed from a computer owned or otherwise control by that person's organization.

        If a customer of the ISP has the material on their own computer, not the ISP's computer, I don't understand why they would contact the registed agent. Maybe it's because that's the only name and address they can readily identify for a person at the ISP.
      • by Sancho (17056) on Friday December 30, 2005 @01:34AM (#14363099) Homepage
        Exposition: I am a network security analyst for a university. We have a group that solely handles "incidents" such as copyright infringement, spam notices, etc. That team delivers (and probably filters) incidents to the security group, who then scan the firewall logs for any evidence of network activity with the intersection of the timestamps, IP, and ports reported. We then return that information plus the name of the alleged infringer to the incident team.

        I don't know if the RIAA uses multiple firms or if the incident team filters out the infringement notices, but I have never once received a notice without a timestamp. The notices I receive have the IP, timestamp, ports, p2p network, and infringing filename. We occasionally get the IP address that detected the infringement, too.

        This tells me one of two things: 1) You're exaggerating or outright lying, because every notice I receive has the appropriate information.
        or
        2) The incident team returns notices which do not include the necessary information, in which case your ISP could do the exact same thing.
      • Would you be willing to say what ISP you work for?

        Or, alternatively, I'm looking for an ISP. After reading your post, I have significant respect for your opinion on the matter. Is there any particular ISP you would like to recommend?
      • If the RIAA followed the letter of the law, maybe they wouldnt cop so much flack for all their lawsuits.

        They would have actual evidence that machine x was serving file y (and that file y IS actually something they hold the copyright to) at time z which would be presented to the ISP (who could take whatever action is appropriate, either handing over the information or telling the RIAA to get a court order which would be much easier if they have proof of the flie sharing)

        As for the issue with kids loading p2p
    • " Chances are the majority of accused John Does are guilty..."
      at best, they can nly see that there are music files on a computer.
      Who put them there? are they legal? How many people use that computer?
      • "Chances are the majority of accused John Does are guilty..."

        at best, they can only see that there are music files on a computer.

        The GP is talking about actual (as in known to deities) guilt. You are talking about RIAA's ability to prove it.

        Yes, maybe 1 out of the 25 John Does wanted to share new Debian CD-images, but had her computer hijacked by the evil mp3-sharers. Chances are very good, however, every one of them was illegally sharing the protected works knowingly.

        Objectively, RIAA is being wron

    • unfortunately the pdf link is broken or has been slashdoted

      I even changed the prefs in ff1.5 to use acroread, version 7 on this linux box as opposed to the default of ggv. Acroread was a bit more imformative in that it said the file was not a supported filetype, or that it had been sent as an email attachment and not properly decoded, meaning the mimetype received wasn't matching.

      In any event, I've sent the site managers a request that it be fixed.

      --
      Cheers, Gene.
    • You're using the same flawed logic as the **AA's. You're assuming that since they claim that the people have commited the infringement that they must have. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff. The defense has the opportunity to defend but the best defense can sometimes be based on the fact that the plaintiff may not be able to prove the allegation based on a preponderance of the evidence. Since MAC addresses and IP's can be spoofed and hijacked and even firewalls can be penetrated, unless there is a
    • I think anyone who settles with RIAA, should demand 100% of the settlement goes to the artists, and NOT ONE CENT
      goes to RIAA or the lawyers, and that you want proof with zero cost.

      Then I would tell the RIAA, "Well If I loose $3000, im never going to buy CDs ever again in my life time, neither my children, parents, friends,
      we will find alternative music sources with zero trace, ie CDR swapping at home. So you may gain the $3000 today, but loose $30000 over 50 years."

      Suck on that RIAA.

      Real artists make money
      • "I think anyone who settles with RIAA, should demand 100% of the settlement goes to the artists, and NOT ONE CENT goes to RIAA or the lawyers, and that you want proof with zero cost."

        Ever faced a judge? They don't take too kindly to the other people demanding things in their court.
  • documents (Score:2, Informative)

    by hylander_sb (181045)
    Any mirrors of these documents? I'm getting empty files on their site.
  • by TheSkyIsPurple (901118) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:04PM (#14361782)
    The ex parte orders are being used to figure out who exactly to sue... with out them there's no way anyone would be able to have any sort or recourse since ISP's tend not to share subscriber info without a court order. They could require that each ISP be formally sued for the info, in which case they have to come in to court... RIAA wouldn't have much of a problem with this, but ISPs would lose out HUGE time. The ISPs still have some recourse after the order is entered as well, and as we see here, even the person getting sued can take some action as well as soon as they are identified. (Some ISPs will notify you before they answer, and give you a chance to try to quash before they answer) Alot of the rest of their tactics are crap, but this is a legitimate use of ex parte, and I dread what the alternative would be.
    • by Krach42 (227798) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:10PM (#14361805) Homepage Journal
      While I agree that this is what ex parte is intended for. It's perfectly reasonable for the person to fight against it, and ask, is this really what we should be allowing?

      But in some ways, it could be misused. Say someone walks past my front yard and throws a bag on my lawn. I didn't see them, but when I get the bag, there's a reciept in there with a date and time of where he bought something. If I wanted to sue the person should I be allowed to ex parte sue them as a John Doe on the first hand, so that I can then contact the store and force them to reveal who the person was?

      The question is just how much justification need be shown to grant an ex parte order of this nature (they're arguing it's insufficient).
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:11PM (#14361807)

    Right, let's be clear. I think a lot of behaviour by the RIAA and its ilk is disgusting.

    Now that I've got that little disclaimer out of the way, let me ask: is this use of ex parte tactics really so unreasonable? From the RIAA's point of view, the law has been broken. They just can't find out who did it to take legal action against them directly, because the ISPs and such (quite rightly) won't disclose confidential information to the RIAA on demand.

    So, the RIAA do what any sound legal system should require them to do if they want to proceed: they must go to a court, and make a case that there is a reasonable need for them to have that information, and ask the court to give them the authority to get it. The court can consider their argument -- which, if they've got information that someone was swapping songs, almost certainly illegally, is a fairly solid one -- and grant the permission if it finds it appropriate.

    At that point, no individual has yet been brought to court to face any claim, so no individual has been harmed. The RIAA just has a name, and it's up to them to demonstrate, in a separate court action with the defendant given due process, that the named person committed some illegal act and should be required to pay compensation or whatever.

    Now, personally I think the US "everyone pays their own fees" system sucks, because it's wide open to abuse by large and well-funded organisations in this sort of context, but that's a separate problem. With US law as it is right now, what would be a more reasonable way for one party that has genuine evidence that they may have been damaged by some other, unknown party to seek fair compensation than by asking the courts to agree with them based on their evidence to date, and to enable them to find the person likely to be responsible so that they can be properly taken to court?

    • by Spock the Baptist (455355) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:30PM (#14361883) Journal
      Now, personally I think the US "everyone pays their own fees" system sucks, because it's wide open to abuse by large and well-funded organisations in this sort of context, but that's a separate problem.


      The real problem with the state of civil litigation is that corporations are allow to act as a "person". It's a matter of an inequity of resources. A corporation typically has enormous financial, and legal resources compared to an individual.

      The real solution is to treat corporations as the commercial organizational entities that they truly are, rather than as persons. For that matter governmental organizational entities also ought to be treated as such.

      There needs to be a change to the civil standard between individuals from *proof by a preponderance of evidence* to a more rigorous standard. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is too strong a standard a civil standard between individuals, or between organizational entities. In a civil case between an organizational entity, and an individual where the organizational entity is the plaintiff, then the *reasonable doubt* standard ought to hold.

      Part of the reason for the *proof beyond a reasonable doubt* standard in criminal cases is to prevent malicious prosecution. A high standard for burden of proof in criminal cases reduces the potential for false witness to be used as a means to 'get even with', harass, or intimidate individuals. The high standard lessens the potential impact of 'frame ups'.
      • "The real problem with the state of civil litigation is that corporations are allow to act as a "person". It's a matter of an inequity of resources. A corporation typically has enormous financial, and legal resources compared to an individual."

        You just gave me my million dollar idea. I wonder what would happen if someone started a law firm that operated like an insurance company? People buy legal protection much the same they would car insurance...regular monthly payments and perhaps a deductable should the
    • and ask the court to give them the authority to get it.

      In Belgium it works differently. A company notices something illegal going on. Naturaly the ISP is not allowed to give anybody any information. So The comapny files a lawsuit against unknown people. It is then up to the law to identify the individual.

      A layer would have a fieldday if the ISP had given the information to the company. So either you start a courtcase go on, or you don't. The courts won't be very pleased if you give them work all the time a
    • by THE MAC GOD (647860) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:47PM (#14361960) Homepage
      The Problem isn't that they are seeking money lost on pirating... Anyone who's owed money that isn't getting it. has a right to be pissed off (just ask the artists that are under the RIAA). The Problem is that they, the RIAA, are hypocritical. They are attacking run of the mill people who have pirated a couple songs... When they should REALLY be going after the massive black markets in indonesia, malaysha, china, etc. But, it's a lot easier to sue 80-year old women, or 20-year old guys with no money than to run up against the Triads. You know, another thing, obtaining music isn't really the crime, it's listening to music you haven't paid for. If it was just HAVING the music, then every person in the world could get sued as a potential distributor. Also, RIAA should be forced to go back and sue everyone who ever made tape copies BEFORE going and suing people who are downloading songs off the net. It's unfair that they are able to pick and choose who to sue when it should be an unbiased, across-the-board thing. But, NO, IPs are easier to harrass people with. Shoot, most people who pirate go and actually buy the music. And the harder and harder they make CD DRMs (aka SONY), they will only be making things harder for the honest people when hackers will ALWAYS find a way around it. I don't care what kind of scheme you have. It will be hacked... sooner or later. Usually sooner... look at the 'unhackable 360' as evidence for that-and just wait for dvd-John to get into the mix. Anyway... my rant... people who make billions in profit and bitch about not making another billion piss me off... like they need another hot tub in their jet.
    • It *is* unreasonable, simply because the RIAA is not the police. If you want to sue someone but don't know their name, go to the police and file a complaint; then, the police can handle the actual investigation.

      Nothing unreasonable about that, is there? The moral of the story: the RIAA, or any private organisation or individual for that matter, does not and should not wield any police power. Period.
      • The moral of the story: the RIAA, or any private organisation or individual for that matter, does not and should not wield any police power.

        It's not that easy. Some private companies actually do have private police forces. Railroads, for example, with their huge land and long rail lines; they carry valuable cargo that is naturally the target of many theft attempts (for examples, all automobiles carried by train carry their own legal papers and are unlocked. If you can get hold of one, it is virtually im

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Now, personally I think the US "everyone pays their own fees" system sucks, because it's wide open to abuse by large and well-funded organisations in this sort of context

      No, what sucks is the complex legal system that requires expensive representation. It's a de-facto standard and nothing more, by lawyers for lawyers. Everyone pays their own fees is the epitomy of fairness; it is simply an unfortunate and unavoidable byproduct of the ability of groups to leverage their power over individuals combined with o
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:30PM (#14361884)
    er, anonymous connections?

    As in the ISP activates a particular access key to a wireless network in an area of town assuming that X much money is deposited in Y postbox in a brown envelope.

    That way the ISP ceases to have the names/addresses of it's subscribers however much they get subpeonaed for them.

    Or is that illegal (since they won't have a proper paper trail for where the money is coming from).

    Could they handle billing offshore so the data wouldn't be in the US?
    • Personally, I think that's a fantastic idea. There's this expectation in our society that everything should be traceable, but as far as I know (IANAL) it's not based on any solid legal ground. The hypothetical ISP you describe would probably still be required to provide FBI wiretapping capabilities, but if their structure is such that they themselves don't know their users identities, they might get away with it.
      • There's this expectation in our society that everything should be traceable, but as far as I know (IANAL) it's not based on any solid legal ground.

        It would really set the cat among the pigeons to agitate for a constitutional amendment that clearly spells out that individuals have a right to anonymity that can only be breached when very strong evidence of crime is presented. I'm thinking a standard like "probable cause." If you can't convince a magistrate it's a criminal matter, you don't get to snoop.

        I

  • by redwoodtree (136298) * on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:33PM (#14361899)
    programmer Zi Mei has slammed the investigation on which the 'ex parte'

    No.... actually, progammer Zi Mei's LAYWER has slammed the investigation. Unless he's a lawyer and a programmer of course, in which case it should say "programmer and lawyer..." But I digress.

    What I'm trying to say is, I'm no fan of laywers, but let's give them a little credit here and say that they've come up with a good way to defend this Mei guy. If anything Mei can afford a good lawyer, yay!

    ...........Anyway... back to digging for slugs....

    • Also..EFF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by redwoodtree (136298) * on Thursday December 29, 2005 @08:36PM (#14361913)
      Also, one more thing before I go back to the slugs...

      It would have been nice to mention the Electronic Frontier Foundation and how much they deserve YOUR support (as well as mine... and everyone elses.) For it is through the EFF that we have even the slightest hope of regaining some sanity in the digital world.

    • No, actually, Zi Mei is a programmer hired by lawyers for John Doe #8, party to Atlantic vs John Does #1-25, to investigate and give expert opinion upon the RIAA's evidence gathering. Mei hasn't been accused of anything.

      Read before you pick.

    • I didn't RTFA, just the summary, so I may be wrong. However, it sounds to me as if Zi Mei is not the John Doe, but instead is an expert witness or something (a third party, at least), who filed an affadavit saying that technically, the RIAA doesn't have enough evidence to file the ex parte orders.
  • I keep getting 0 bytes files... even from coral cache...

    I really want to read what was filed for this
  • Albert Einstein (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this county is closely related with this.
      - Albert Einstein
  • Did you ever read an article summary and just have no clue at all what they were talking about?

    What is "slammed the investigation" supposed to mean?

    Is Mei the midwesterner? Who's this "Atlantic" character? Is he the big boss?

    Is there someone codenamed "Does 1-25"? Maybe that person is playing "John Doe Number 8" in the off-Broadway version of this article submission?

    Also, I think that last sentence about about the RIAA's subpoenas could've used some parentheses in there somewhere.
  • by Anon E. Muss (808473) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @09:45PM (#14362242)

    The motion to sever the defendants may well succeed. In that case the RIAA will be forced to file separate lawsuits against each John Doe, costing them additional filing fees. This may slow them down for a few nanoseconds, but it won't stop them. They'll refile.

    The motion to quash the subpoena is more interesting. Can the RIAA document the alleged copyright infringement with greater specificity? If not, the subpoena could be quashed, and this John Doe will skate. That won't stop the RIAA from suing other John Doe's using similarly flawed evidence. It will still be up to each John Doe to fight back, using their own time and money.

    Remember, it's the legal system, not the justice system.

  • by Djarum (250450) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @10:29PM (#14362425)
    Around Thanksgiving I was having this exact idea while talking to a friend of mine.
    I am quite a law buff and I was arguing that the "ex parte" orders were illegal and if someone were to challenge them they would win. The counter that "well the person is breaking the law", you would have to remember that even though you have proof of a crime you can not arrest nor charge another.

    Lets say your neighbour is making drugs next door. You see crackheads walking in and out of the house. There is weird chemical smells, and empty bottles of chemicals around. Hell lets even say he tried to sell you some and have it on video tape. Can you go across the street, knock down his door, arrest and charge him with a crime?

    No, of course not. You call whatever Backwoods Nazi Law Enforcement Agency you have, they will conduct their own investagation, and then if they have enough evedence they knock down his door, arrest and charge him.

    Now if the RIAA would want to follow the laws put into place in the United States they would report the person to the FBI's Copyright Infringement division and let them do their own investigation and charge the person with a crime. Most likely the FBI would take a look at the 13 year old with 300 mp3's on their drive and file it away far, far away.

    The person that said that the RIAA should be charged under the RICO Act is indeed onto something. It is a form of racketeering. Also the RIAA should have to be forced to show the actual loss in revenue from each song, and where do they come up with the numbers they sue people for.
    • ...the RIAA should have to be forced to show the actual loss in revenue from each song, and where do they come up with the numbers they sue people for.

      This Harvard Business School/UNC-Chapel Hill study tackles this question of whether the RIAA's bellyaching is warranted, and is quite interesting.
      To sum it up, it found that file-sharing actually increased the sales of albums which contained the most popularly downloaded tracks, contrary to the findings of an earlier study.

      From the Oberholzer/Strump

  • How can we help :-)
  • I read Zi Mei's affadavit, and if I were counsel for the plaintiff, his credentials as an expert witness would be shredded to dust. His points are generally valid, but he makes some technical errors, such as calling an IP address "a twelve digit code." Make no mistake, I'm defending the RIAA, but its opponents may have to do a bit better than this.
    • "a twelve digit code." Technically that is correct. I can use 192.168.001.001 to access my router, just as well as I can use 192.168.1.1 to access the same router. Twelve digit is indeed proper.

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