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How the RIAA Targets Campus Copyright Violators 280

Posted by timothy
from the lures-them-in-with-jim-hawkins-dolls dept.
jyosim writes "The Chronicle of Higher Ed got a briefing at RIAA headquarters on how the group catches pirates. They just use LimeWire and other software that pirates use, except that they've set up scripts to search for songs, grab IP numbers, and send out notices to college officials. They claim they don't target specific colleges, though many feel that they do."
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How the RIAA Targets Campus Copyright Violators

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  • Jeoparody (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:26PM (#23392832)

    How the RIAA Targets Campus Copyright Violators
    I'll take "with Lawyers" for $200 Alex.
  • by gentimjs (930934) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:27PM (#23392844) Journal
    I doubt they are 'targeting' any specific school, but I strongly suspect IPs resolving to unilag.edu.ng are handled differently then those resolving to yale.edu , where the students are more likely to just pay a settlement rather then wipe their arse with the notices...
    • Harvard anyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @02:36PM (#23393844)

      I seem to recall reading somewhere that Harvard has never been hit with one of these RIAA money grabs. Most probable reason being that there is enough talent there to rip the RIAA to tiny ribbon sized shreds in front of the judge, which would pretty much end their extortion racket.

      So, does that still hold true? Anybody at Harvard ever been hit with one of these?

      • Re:Harvard anyone? (Score:5, Informative)

        by SlickNic (1097097) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @04:17PM (#23395190)
        Harvard has yet to see a single take down notice or legal action seeking the identity of someone on the Harvard network as of 5-02-2008. http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/05/riaa-says-harva.html [wired.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lord Byron II (671689)
      Where do they get off saying that they don't have the technical means to target? If they can tell what IPs belong to which schools then they absolutely have the means with which to target.
  • How (Score:5, Funny)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:31PM (#23392898) Journal
    Judging from the number of elderly, children, blind people, dead people, etc. that the RIAA labels have targeted, I'd say most likely they do it with a random number generator.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jrothwell97 (968062)
      Is this seeded or unseeded?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Judging from the number of elderly, children, blind people, dead people, etc. [...]

      Judging from the "quality" music they produce these days, it is only logical that they do first check from their captive audience.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Judging from the number of elderly, children, blind people, dead people, etc.
      Why would the blind be any less likely to download music than the rest of us? They use computers too...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:33PM (#23392924)
    Sounds like entrapment to me, like the mafRIAA is "making avaible" the same mp3s they are accusing people of downloading... bastards.
    • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:45PM (#23393116) Homepage Journal
      Not to side with the RIAA and similar, but wouldn't you figure, if they have the power to use a copyright of a given item to sue you, that they also have the legal right to "distribute" said copyrighted material?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by closetpsycho (1175221)
        IANAL, but I believe that they would only be able to if that particular method is laid out in the contract with the band. Otherwise, the bands could sue them for breaking the contract AND copyright infringement.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          That isn't how the whole music industry works. When any random band signs a typical contract with the "Big Nasty", they essentially own your soul. They own the music, possibly the band name, and likely the logo and art that go along with it... and they have the right to do pretty much anything they want with it. They are a predatory bunch. Imagine all of this, and THEN finding out that YOUR on the hook for production costs of your albums too. It should be a crime. Unfortunately, they have more money than Go
          • by mpathetiq (726625)
            I hate playing devil's advocate, but if a band doesn't read AND understand their contract to realize they are selling their souls, they deserve what they get. Everyone knows big record companies are just trying to make money (and some small record companies) are going to do what it takes to make money. It's your own damn fault if you bought into it.

            PS - It's pretty common knowledge among musicians that you are on the hook for production costs not to mention advertising and all sorts of other costs.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mea37 (1201159)
          Yes, but if they do, then downloading the copy they distribute within their rights is not illegal. If I offer you something I own for free, then it is legal for you to take it.

          Doesn't matter, though. That's not how they're using LimeWire (or other P2P clients), as the GP would've known if he'd RFTA.

          They're not making the music available; they're using the client to search for others who are making the music available.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by arminw (717974)
            .....to search for others who are making the music available.....

            Recent court cases indicate that "making available" is not against the copyright law. The **AA would certainly like that to be the case, so they and they alone are able to "make available" and nobody else. To violate copyright, there has to be an actual copy made by someone.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:56PM (#23393272)
        Does that mean you could legally obtain free content using a P2P client with a script that only downloads from RIAA IP addresses?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by element-o.p. (939033)

        Not to side with the RIAA and similar, but wouldn't you figure, if they have the power to use a copyright of a given item to sue you, that they also have the legal right to "distribute" said copyrighted material?

        In which case, if you download the music from them (the RIAA), then it would seem (IANAL, etc.) that they couldn't possibly charge you with copyright infringement since they, the copyright holder, offered the MP3 for download. Or am I missing something?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Shagg (99693)
          You're correct, but they're not suing people for downloading from the RIAA. It's the unauthorized people who are uploading that are illegally distributing the files.
    • by Danse (1026) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:54PM (#23393248)

      Sounds like entrapment to me, like the mafRIAA is "making avaible" the same mp3s they are accusing people of downloading... bastards.
      You can't entrap someone unless you're a government agent. They aren't suing people for downloading anyway, they're suing them for uploading.
    • Sounds like entrapment to me, like the mafRIAA is "making avaible" the same mp3s they are accusing people of downloading

      My understanding is that they search for songs, not serve them...seeing as they usually sue people for serving and not downloading. So I don't think there's any grand kind of entrapment conspiracy going on. They're just doing what normal Limewire users do only capturing the IP address instead.

      Of course, the lesson here is to either not serve or use an anonymous proxy (or several) if you'
    • ...now try to prove that they set you up. Not to be pessimistic, I believe you, but big business knows big dirty tricks. They enlist armies of those schooled in the dirty arts and they use them on a daily basis, on a much greater scale than you do. Could you think of a bigger and better schemer than the cancerous offspring of Hollywood? Why is it so easy to launch bullshit-campaigns against people?

      Easy answer: War [blackwaterusa.com] by proxy [slashdot.org]...or, to put it in /. terms, being an AC modded -5 troll and still getting away wit
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Yogiz (1123127)
      If you RTFA then RIAA doesn't make the mp3s available for download. It searches them and then checks who downloads.

      The RIAA maintains a list of songs whose distribution rights are owned by the RIAA's member organizations. It has given that list to Media Sentry, a company it hired to search for online pirates. That company runs copies of the LimeWire program and performs searches for those copyrighted song titles, one by one, to see if any are being offered by people whose computers are connected to the LimeWire network. --- The LimeWire software allows users who right-click on any song entry and choose "browse host" to see all of the songs that a given file sharer is offering to others for download. The software also lists the IP address of active file sharers. --- Using public, online databases (such as those at arin.net or samspade.org), Media Sentry locates the name of the Internet-service provider and determines which traders are located at colleges or universities.

      They do however download (and perhaps unintentionally share as well) the mp3s that they're not sure are the right ones. I doubt that RIAA will sue it's own investigators for copyright infringement but on the other hand, they seem pretty desperate. I wonder about "unintentional entrapment" however.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by monxrtr (1105563)
      Well the RIAA claims in TFA that they only download.

      The RIAA, in so far as they are also "making available", are making available with no clear demarcation of copyright, further complicating their liability well beyond mere "entrapment". So all those downloads from RIAA hosted files are perfectly legal. Making available man_on_the_moon.mp3 is no different than making available kennedy_moon_speech.mp3 whilst sneaking in a secretly copyrighted song into a title of a public domain presidential speech about put
  • Hate Emails (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRedSeven (1234758) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:34PM (#23392938) Homepage

    The demonstration was given by an RIAA employee who would speak only on condition of anonymity because of concern that he would receive hate e-mail.

    If you risk getting hate mail simply because you work at a certain company, perhaps it's time to look for a different job?

    On the other hand, if this guy actually stuck his neck out and shared how the RIAA really finds their suckers, he'd probably get thank you letters rather than hate mail.

    In either case, he probably needs to do some deep self-examination to see why he stays at this job.

    • by ArIck (203)
      Who said he would get hate emails from the general public. The public would adore him for speaking out. He would receive hate email from RIAA (possible even a couple of notices or so) plus hate emails form all those 'really poor artists' represented by RIAA.

      Come on, think about Britney Spears
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      The hate mail would read:

      "You're fired"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RobBebop (947356)

      In either case, he probably needs to do some deep self-examination to see why he stays at this job.

      I often question why people would work at companies that have questionable business practices. I assume that it is similar to the reason why I work at a company that doesn't. (a) They gave me an job offer, and (b) they consistently provide me with a paycheck.

      Sadly, there are not enough jobs to go around within companies who have strong morals and upstanding business practices. It is Supply/Demand... and when the demand for employees is highest in immoral organizations, it is no wonder why people end

  • Target selection (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Walpurgiss (723989) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:34PM (#23392940)
    Like article says, they ensure that the infringer is in the US before bothering to send a notice, but I'd be willing to bet there are some US schools too that they try to avoid spamming with notices. Not so much selective targeting, but selective non-targeting.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      I noticed that, I also noticed that:

      While the process for generating both takedown notices and settlement letters is largely automated, the RIAA said that before each warning is sent out, a full-time RIAA employee reviews each case to make sure the claim is legitimate and that the alleged pirate is in the United States. Thanks to the speed and ease of the automated process, though, the RIAA is "able to identify hundreds of instances of infringement on a daily basis," according to RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth. She also acknowledged that the RIAA can tell only when a song is being offered for users to illegally download; investigators have no way of knowing when someone else is actually downloading the song.

      As well as:

      On listservs and in interviews, some university administrators have recently questioned the validity of some of these takedown notices because they say they do not have any record of a download at the named IP address at the specified time. RIAA officials said this is because investigators performed only a "handshake."

      And the obvious problem that mediasentry still doesn't have a valid license to engage in this type of work. This is neither evidence of offering nor evidence of distribution, this is nothing at all to see here.

      This still sounds like racketeering to me, they never did answer the question of why they're singling out Universities in general rather than everybody they "catch" if the evidence is what it is, then they shouldn't be capable of singling out the educat

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:36PM (#23392970) Journal
    Prohibit using LimeWire to harvest tracking and identifying information!
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      And discover with shock that no one reads EULA ! Well it won't solve the RIAA problem, it will at least make a strong point against EULAs...
    • by Amouth (879122)
      that was my first thought - most programs now days have the no scripting/modifying thing in the EULA

      (most non open source that is)

      i wouldn't touch limewire except to punch it but someone else can check
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)

      Change LimeWire EULA now!
      And you think that the RIAA would follow the new EULA? Remember that they us a PI company that is not even licensed to practice in many of the states they do "investigations" in. Interestingly, they have not suffered any repercussions for breaking the law. Conclusion: They are above the law.
    • by blueg3 (192743)
      They don't need to use LimeWire -- it's just the Gnutella network, and that's all information LimeWire happily and freely provides to anyone on the network. Technically they could use (or are using) a custom Gnutella client.
    • by number11 (129686)
      Prohibit using LimeWire to harvest tracking and identifying information!

      BearShare actually did have a EULA that prohibited using it to collect information. It didn't help in any noticeable way. And then the RIAA lawyers beat the bear to death.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:37PM (#23392986) Journal
    ... for making available the IP addresses and tracking information.
  • Using public, online databases (such as those at arin.net or samspade.org),
    They leech off websites instead of using the whois service directly?
  • by joocemann (1273720) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:37PM (#23392994)
    Since when can a person be held directly responsible for activity that occurs on their IP address? The RIAA is throwing charges for crimes without sufficient evidence that the person they are charging committed the crime. There are a million ways an IP is shared or used by multiple persons. Without substantial evidence, the RIAA is merely throwing litigious paperwork around at tons of innocent people. When will our government establish a recourse for recurring wrongful litigious activity? The ability to sue, blame, and then settle out of court is being so heavily exploited because lawyers know that most people would rather settle than pay the $$$ to prove themselves innocent. We need to either: 1) Not allow settling, thus making false accusations apparent, and thus the obvious waste of our judicial resources. This would be the cause of an impending need to reform and disallow repeat false accusers. or 2) Allow individual accusers or accusing bodies (such as the RIAA) a limited amount of legal cases, for which an appeal must be done to be allowed more.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aranykai (1053846)
      The sad likelihood is that IP's will become tied to our identities by laws pushed by RIAA and MPAA interest groups.

      They will stand on the side of Hollywood, not the side of the citizens. Just like they always have.
    • by lysse (516445)

      The RIAA is throwing charges for crimes without sufficient evidence that the person they are charging committed the crime.
      Well, if it's good enough for criminal trials [wikipedia.org]...
  • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:40PM (#23393044) Homepage Journal
    The article details MediaSentry's tactics but wasn't there a bunch of fuss earlier this year on how MediaSentry may actually be illegal in some states because they don't have an investigator's license? Does this mean MediaSentry is filtering out schools from states where they can't investigate people from? Or are they still collecting everything they can and forwarding it on to the RIAA, which still seems illegal on their part.

    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/03/11/1427257 [slashdot.org]
    http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/04/10/1542222 [slashdot.org]
  • by Drakin020 (980931) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:41PM (#23393064)
    After all Azerus has a section where you can see who is seeding and leaching. It shows IP info if I'm not mistaken. Can they not do this with Torrents? How does that differ from Limewire?
    • by blueg3 (192743)
      It's pretty trivial with torrents, but it's probably less effective because there isn't a search mechanism that spans the "whole network". Finding people downloading / sharing a particular (predetermined) torrent or using a particular tracker is fairly easy, but it doesn't facilitate making an enormous sweep for "anyone sharing one of these hundreds of files".
    • I'm sure they can but if they want to see who is seeding/leaching they probably need to connect to the tracker (I'm not exactly sure how DHT works). Limewire essentially serves as a tracker for Limewire and they obviously don't care that MediaSentry IPs are trolling for sharers, but Pirate Bay, etc. undoubtedly would be interested and probably respond in some (hilarious) way. Maybe by giving MediaSentry bad IPs which then lead to the RIAA falsely accusing someone and getting a ton of bad press. Who knows,
    • by number11 (129686) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @03:23PM (#23394500)
      Azerus has a section where you can see who is seeding and leaching. It shows IP info if I'm not mistaken. Can they not do this with Torrents?

      Easily.

      How does that differ from Limewire?

      With a torrent there isn't any way to "see all of the songs that a given file sharer is offering to others", just that one. And in fact, most people only do a few torrents at a time, so even if the RIAA could detect them, it wouldn't sound very impressive. They'd prefer to be able to go into court and say, "Look at this list! This criminal mastermind was distributing 2000 files! But we're only asking money for the five that we actually downloaded."
  • by DodgeRules (854165) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:47PM (#23393140)
    From the article:

    "We have no capability of targeting any school at all," said the RIAA representative, who argued that there is a large "misperception" among university administrators that individual colleges are being picked on. "Technically we can't do it. We find what we find with this process, and that's what we send to schools."
    Technically we can't do it? BULL***T! A simple filter that throws away all schools not A, B or C is very easy to create. It is possible that they CHOOSE not to do it, but it is technically possible.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      By "Technically" they probably mean "because of a legal technicality".
    • by compro01 (777531)
      more like a filter that throws away all schools that ARE A, B, and C, where A, B, and C have lots of lawyers-in-training, which could handily turn their methods and arguments into legal confetti.
  • I assume the RIAA are already polluting filesharing networks with fake files, so why not do the same?

    Create an audio file with the same name as a popular song, have the first 7-8 seconds or whatever is legal be the same as the song, followed by an oral essay that critiques the song.

    Now, when they sue, not only will you have a bulletproof argument that the suit is without merit, you will have a good counter-suit on the grounds that they are trying to suppress legitimate free speech.

    At the very least, this wi
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blueg3 (192743)
      You must've missed the part in the article where they describe how they determine if it's actually one of their songs or not.

      Hint: neither file name nor first few seconds being the same will do it.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      They used to do that, I'm not sure if they do it anymore. I can't recall it being to widespread, but I think some of the Barenaked Ladies tracks were so tainted for a while.
  • This declaration now that they just use Limewire (and other P2P programs it would seem given the lawsuits filed) with a few simple scripts is greatly at odds with their court declarations that their proprietary methods are the result of "tens of thousands of man-hours of development" and constitute trade secrets.

    So which is it?

    And do Slashdot readers know what the legal term "estopple" means?

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @02:15PM (#23393574)

    ...according to RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth. She also acknowledged that the RIAA can tell only when a song is being offered for users to illegally download; investigators have no way of knowing when someone else is actually downloading the song.

    This is why the RIAA has no legal case, and why they must resort to bluffs, threats, extortion, smoke, mirrors, and press releases.

    The song file has to be downloaded by another unauthorized person (RIAA investigators don't count) for it to be infringement. The RIAA itself admits here that they have no way of knowing if anybody else has ever downloaded this song. To properly win in court they have to convince judges and/or juries that despite this complete lack of proof that they were infringed anyway.

    It's all the Big Lie on their part.

    • Is it reasonable to assume that if a search for a particular song returns hits that it has probably been downloaded?
      • by Shagg (99693)
        Not really, and this has already been addressed by the courts in shooting down the "making available" theory.

        Basically "attempted copyright infringement" does not exist. If the song was never distributed, then infringement did not occur.
      • Is it reasonable to assume that if a search for a particular song returns hits that it has probably been downloaded?

        No, Mr. Troll! The song that a search returns could have gotten on that computer by many other methods (ripped from CD, loaded from a memory stick, downloaded from an authorized on-line music store, copied from a previous hard drive, placed there by a trojan) than being illegally downloaded.

      • by compro01 (777531)
        in a legal sense, no.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Sechr Nibw (1278786)
      It is being downloaded by RIAA's unlicensed PI firm. Does that count?
      • It is being downloaded by RIAA's unlicensed PI firm. Does that count?

        No, that was an "authorized" copy. Authorized by the copyright holders themselves as part of the investigation. The work has not been infringed by authorized copies.

        And I think you already knew this since you know that MediaSentry is unlicensed in every state.

  • A humorous solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dyslexicbunny (940925) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @02:25PM (#23393734)

    In collecting evidence for those takedown notices, Media Sentry investigators do not usually download suspect music files. Instead, the company uses special software to check the "hash," a sort of unique digital fingerprint, of each offered file to verify that it is identical to a copyrighted song file in the RIAA's database. In the rare cases in which the hashes don't match, the investigators download the song and use a software program sold by Audible Magic to compare the sound waves of the offered audio file against those of the song it may be infringing upon. If the Audible Magic software still doesn't turn up a match, then a live person will listen to the song.
    So they have to check popular songs audibly if they don't match their automated tests. It is quite likely that RIAA pays Mediasentry for work hourly or files searched. So I had an idea and propose we need the following tools: microphones, bored people, and lots of computers to host.

    1) Figure out what music is currently quite popular.
    2) Make your own covers of it without instruments. Sing both the lyrics and the melody with interpretive musicianship. The worse it sounds, the better.
    3) Host as the file name.
    4) ????
    5) Waste their time!

    IANAL but I don't think you could get in trouble for posting fake songs up. Technically, you could claim you're helping fight piracy while making Mediasentry's job harder. I imagine the in worst case they ask you to cease and desist. Perhaps someone more versed in law can say if this is valid.

    Another option could be to simply use the band's name and make up fake songs with similar names to original songs with fictitious lyrics. This would replace step 2. Granted I believe they are solely looking for song titles.
    Ben Folds - Rocking the Penguin
    Beastie Boys - Ubuntu in Effect
    Whitney Houston - OSX will save the day
    • by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @03:18PM (#23394418) Journal
      That would only play right into their hand. The network would become useless because someone searching for songs by Amy Winehouse will receive thousands of hits for files of idiots humming the song "Rehab" instead.

      You are correct that the easiest way to defeat the methods they deploy is to flood them with garbage, but how is the casual user supposed to filter out the garbage without The Man doing the same?

      The closest analogue I can think of would be currency. The Treasury Department changes the design every few years because it takes a while for counterfeiters to, reverse engineer, develop copy techniques, and perfect methods for mass production. By the time that's complete a new bill is in circulation.
  • Thats why they have been avoiding messing with Harvard like the plague.
  • Make your own song (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ninjapiratemonkey (968710) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @02:39PM (#23393880)
    1) record your own song
    2) rename it as a popular song: eg. Madonna - 4 Minutes
    3) they download it after it fails hash check
    4) sue them for copyright infringement
    5) ?
    6) Profit!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shagg (99693)
      It's not copyright infringement if you're distributing your own material.
  • Acto TFA:
    =======
    If there is a match, Media Sentry investigators will then engage in a so-called TCP connection, or an electronic "handshake," with the computer that is offering the file to verify that the computer is online and is ready to share the song.
    =======

    If they're going so far as to verify that the "computer is online and is ready to share the song", then explain to me how they can make the sort of mistakes they do, what with some targets having not engaged in filesharing at all?
    Remember, if they ar
  • by Rockoon (1252108)
    Put your own copyrghted material up, but name it the same as something that they are looking for. Let their cronies download it in their "validation" sweep (the article didnt actualy say that they validate??) Immediately have someone else download your copyrighted material from them. Instant lawsuit against the RIAA, am I right?
  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @02:54PM (#23394092)
    "We find what we find..." suggests that many schools do a better job of protecting their students from predators like RIAA, either by IT means, enforcement or policies. Perhaps we should be posting such valuable insights about IT safety at places like CollegeConfidential. e.g. "College X had 14 students mugged by the RIAA last year." Also it would be interesting to find out if any of the suicides or beserkers had RIAA extortion letters.

    Although some kids may need to reign in their activities, the RIAA methods' technological and litigation basis are unsound and dangerous. RIAA and their overlords need to be made recipocally accountable with the colleges taking more responsibility too.

  • Deception? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cipher_null (1286326)
    I wouldn't be surprised if they "leaked" this article to misinform people to their detection methods. If you think this is their whole routine, then you let your guard down on other levels. Or it could be directed at Limewire. What better way to take out adversaries than "focus fire them"? "We find people using scripting methods mining Limewire data". People shy away from Limewire. /dust off hands Well one down.
  • ... because I hate all current music! That's the last thing I'd download, the latest pop or rock song! The MPAA, however.........
  • In collecting evidence for those takedown notices, Media Sentry investigators do not usually download suspect music files. Instead, the company uses special software to check the "hash," a sort of unique digital fingerprint, of each offered file to verify that it is identical to a copyrighted song file in the RIAA's database.

    What is this all about? It makes it sound like they have a checksum for the digital recording of each RIAA song, and compare it against the files on the P2P system. But there are an unlimited number of files that a given song might be made into, by using different formats, bitrates, encoders settings, ID3 tags, and so on. What exactly are these hashes of?

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @04:20PM (#23395242) Homepage
    "In collecting evidence for those takedown notices, Media Sentry investigators do not usually download suspect music files. Instead, the company uses special software to check the "hash," a sort of unique digital fingerprint, of each offered file to verify that it is identical to a copyrighted song file in the RIAA's database. In the rare cases in which the hashes don't match, the investigators download the song and use a software program sold by Audible Magic to compare the sound waves of the offered audio file against those of the song it may be infringing upon. If the Audible Magic software still doesn't turn up a match, then a live person will listen to the song."

    In other words, they do not engage in unauthorized downloading and copyright infringement. Except when they do. Because they what sounds to them like a really good rationalization for their behavior.

    Which is exactly what their victims do.

    If the RIAA being straight arrows, they'd forego the downloading in those "rare" cases. Why is it so important to nail these "rare" that they will compromise their own principles?

    Perhaps, if the truth were known, those "rare" cases aren't really all that rare.
  • To my mind the key points in the article [blogspot.com] are:

    1. MediaSentry is a customer of Audible Magic software, the software in which Dr. Jacobson has an indirect financial interest, and uses Audible Magic software as part of its investigation. So when Dr. Jacobson testifies about how reliable MediaSentry is, he's talking about his customer, and when he testified that he doesn't know what their procedures are, he was lying.

    2. The software process used by MediaSentry differs markedly from the way Richard Gabriel has sought to describe it in his representations to various courts.

    3. Cara Duckworth, the RIAA's spokesperson, admits that

    the RIAA can tell only when a song is being offered for users to illegally download; investigators have no way of knowing when someone else is actually downloading the song.

"The greatest warriors are the ones who fight for peace." -- Holly Near

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