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Anti-Piracy Lawyers Accuse Blind Man of Downloading Films 302

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-wouldn't-download-a-seeing-eye-dog dept.
souravzzz writes "As the mass-lawsuits against BitTorrent users in the United States drag on, detail on the collateral damage this extortion-like scheme is costing becomes clear. It is likely that thousands of people have been wrongfully accused of sharing copyrighted material, yet they see no other option than to pay up. One of the cases that stands out is that of a California man who's incapable of watching the adult film he is accused of sharing because he is legally blind."
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Anti-Piracy Lawyers Accuse Blind Man of Downloading Films

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  • by SpeZek (970136) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @10:26PM (#37114702) Journal
    What if the movie he downloaded caused his blindness in the first place!? Check his palms!
    • by EdIII (1114411)

      I was just thinking he was a pervert listen to women masturbating and might actually be guilty of the crime.

      Not that I have a problem with him being a pervert, listening to women masturbating, or pirating the film.

      Really just curious how big is the collection of this dirty perverted and blind pirate.

      • by Dunbal (464142) *
        How does any of what you said make him a pervert? I'm sorry but the one who falls a couple standard deviations out is YOU. Go back to your church/mosque and fantasize about raping little boys and all the other things you know you're "not allowed" to do, and leave us non perverts alone.
        • Didn't you know? A pervert is any man whose sex life consists of anything other than fucking his wife, with the lights off, in the missionary position, while still wearing as many clothes as possible, and with no dirty talk.

  • by iYk6 (1425255) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @10:28PM (#37114720)

    Was the film in braille?

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @10:36PM (#37114754) Homepage Journal
    Maybe he just wanted to listen to the deep conversation and intricate plot points. You know, just like some people buy playboy to read the articles...
    • In all seriousness, the Playboy issues I've read really do have some good articles, it's just kinda odd to have that kind of material and the pictures of nekkid women int he same magazine.

      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        In all seriousness, the Playboy issues I've read really do have some good articles, it's just kinda odd to have that kind of material and the pictures of nekkid women int he same magazine.

        That's nothing compared to 4chan.

    • by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @11:31PM (#37115094) Homepage Journal

      You're joking, but blind people do listen to movies, and even go to movie theatres. The sound is still there, and your imagination does the rest.

      And this person isn't totally blind either - he is able to use a computer monitor with a magnifying lens. That can just as well be used for video as for text.

      Whether he's innocent or not, we'll never know. He settled.
      If he hadn't, I would have considered him innocent unless he was proven guilty, but now we'll never know.
      We know he lied about not being able to enjoy movies, though, because many completely blind people do.
      And I know I wouldn't hire him as a computer security expert, if he claims that his wi-fi setup was done by his wife clicking OK a few times.

      • by hozozco (856621)
        My 3 year old daughter is legally blind. She is currently watching here favourite TV programme (ABC Playschool). She also loves the Wiggles. She watches at a distance of about 10cm (4 inches), but certainly sees a lot.
      • We know he lied about not being able to enjoy movies, though, because many completely blind people do.

        What kind of fucking twisted un-logic is that? Because many completely blind people enjoy movies, therefore this person also must enjoy movies? I just happen to do charity work with visually impaired and blind people, and know that the majority of them do not enjoy movies, specifically because they can't see them.

      • I did know some blind people, granted fully blind as in being unable to see anything at all and while they did indeed hear tv and movies they did so mostly to fit in. It just isn't a medium aimed at them. Just as a deaf person might go to a concert just to experience it so he at least has some idea what everyone else is talking about or someone with no taste might go to a fine restaurant because that is where the party is being held.

        The idea that a person with a very high degree of blindness watches porn is

      • >And I know I wouldn't hire him as a computer security expert, if he claims that his wi-fi setup was done by his wife clicking OK a few times.

        I wouldn't be so sure about that one. Have you noticed how many great plumbers have horrible plumbing in their own houses? Hell a lot of geeks I know have their own computers in a complete mess with cables all around the place. Why ? We work on this stuff all day, we get home, the last thing we want to do now is spend more time setting up computer stuff. We instea

      • by umghhh (965931)
        As for his wife doing the stuff and as a consequence he not being a security expert - you never heard of marriage and about parting things to do? His wife obvioulsy did something and he was possibly doing something else - how is this an argument for his qualifications? Another thing your assumptions that he could "considered him innocent unless he was proven guilty" is probably wrong either. The justice system does not work like this and costs that are gathering during due process can force him into bankru
    • by Goboxer (1821502)
      Who would buy playboy for the naked ladies? You can get that shit free on the internet.
  • Free Internet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @10:41PM (#37114790)

    the network-security professional recounts the rookie mistake that got him into this mess.

    "I didn't have time to set up the wireless network in my old apartment,"

    This is not a mistake. Providing a free wireless Internet connection to neighbors is legal. An IP address is not a person.

    • An IP address is not a person.

      Yeah but it's close enough for law enforcement work :-P

  • by l2718 (514756) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @10:42PM (#37114794)

    Currently the minimal threshold for filing suit is way too low. The "rights holders" here surely have some colorable claim that infringement happened (i.e. some kind of network monitoring log, and a claim from an ISP that the monitored IP address belonged to this guy). So far US courts have decided that this is enough to file a lawsuit, something which creates a lot of work for lawyers and greatly advantages those who file extortionate suits -- the cost of actually defending a suit like this (tends of thousands of dollars) is much higher than the cost of settling. Worse, by filing suit the plaintiffs get the right to use the courts to coerce the defendant into assisting in the investigation (and to pay the costs of that!).

    A second problem is that even if you are successful in defending a lawsuit you are unlikely to get your legal (let alone indirect) costs reimbursed.

    So, the solution is: first, to require more evidence before a lawsuit can be filed, and, second, to make cost shifting the default when a lawsuit is dismissed on the pleading.

    • by dkf (304284)

      So, the solution is: first, to require more evidence before a lawsuit can be filed, and, second, to make cost shifting the default when a lawsuit is dismissed on the pleading.

      Actually, it's the reimbursement of reasonable costs that is important. If a plaintiff withdraws their suit, they should have to make the defendant whole (pay legal costs, etc.) though only if those costs are proportionate to the action. (This is vital: lawyers must not be encouraged to pad out costs, and everyone needs to use an appropriate level of legal representation, and not jump straight to the most expensive method in the hope of scaring off the other side.) Similarly, if a plaintiff wins their case

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @10:55PM (#37114882)

    Just because someone is legally blind, does not mean they have no sight whatsoever. There is a massive difference. I do know people who are legally blind who download and watch plenty of things. They can see, but just not very well. It is possible this guy could watch porn, he just can't legally drive a car.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      Just because someone is legally blind, does not mean they have no sight whatsoever. There is a massive difference. I do know people who are legally blind who download and watch plenty of things. They can see, but just not very well. It is possible this guy could watch porn, he just can't legally drive a car.

      Being legally blind doesn't necessarily hinder one from driving a car either. The blindness can be situational, for a situation that never occurs in a car.

      But more to the point, this movie is a moaner, and blind people enjoy listening to porn as much as seeing people enjoy watching it, so even if he had had no vision at all, he could still "enjoy" the movie.

  • So far they've brought lawsuits on dead people, children, and now a blind guy. What's next, someone who doesn't even own a computer? Oh wait, they totally did that already. [arstechnica.com]
  • by Jodka (520060) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @11:28PM (#37115082)

    A former RIAA lobbyist, Beryl Howell, is a now a federal judge ruling on these copyright extortion cases and siding with the extortionists:

    Most cyber-pirates are prosecuted in the nation's capital. More than 85,000 John Does are currently caught in ongoing litigation in the district's federal court, according to the EFF. Not only is D.C. the home court of Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver, it is also the jurisdiction of Judge Beryl Howell, who worked as a lobbyist for the RIAA from 2004 to 2009, during the peak of the organization's anti-piracy campaign....

    Naturally, Howell's background has prompted skepticism about her impartiality when it comes to ruling on John Doe cases. She was paid $415,000 to lobby on the RIAA's behalf as the Executive Managing Director and General Counsel at Stroz Friedberg LLC, a consulting firm, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and the implu Corporation, a company that tracks spending by lobbying firms.

    This appointment mischief was covered previously [slashdot.org]on Slashdot.

    As pointed out previously [slashdot.org], Beryl Howard is a Obama appointee, and not his first RIAA appointee.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      I've always found this strange about the american justice system.
      Could you please explain why a judge is elected through politics? It practically guarentees them to be partial.
      There's supposed to be three independant branches of government, yet the legislative seems to control the judicial branch.

      • by Solandri (704621)
        Back when the U.S. was founded, the country was mostly rural and agrarian. Education was spotty, and it was assumed that most people weren't smart enough / not educated enough to make a good political decision. Voting was initially limited to white male landowners.

        Against this backdrop, the founders wanted government powers not just split 3-ways, but with different sections of government less responsive to the "heat of passion" of the electorate. The House of Representatives was to be most responsive
      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>Could you please explain why a judge is elected through politics? It practically guarentees them to be partial.
        >>There's supposed to be three independant branches of government, yet the legislative seems to control the judicial branch.

        Popular elections elect a lot of local judges, not congress.

        Judges rarely face challenges in a lot of districts, but sometimes they'll do something that pisses off the electorate so much they lose the next election. It's a check-and-balance type thing.

      • I am confused. How would you select judges?
        However, your perception of how American judges are selected seems to be distorted. The first thing to realize is that there are two completely separate categories of judges in the American judicial system. The first two groups are state judges and federal judges (this particular judge is a federal judge). Federal judges are appointed by the President, subject to approval or rejection by the Senate. Once they are approved, they hold that seat for life unless they
  • For those that do use bittorrent for movies, why do you still do it ? The question isn't about the propriety but rather the risk. It takes a $1 to rent a movie from Redbox and about an hour to rip it on a Core i7. That's as opposed to 3 hour/day/months to download it from the Net and you could wind up getting a bad encode as well as a case of the lawyer - ISP crabs. Granted Redbox doesn't do porn, but places like SugarDVD do and you get to choose what you want.
    • The question isn't about the propriety but rather the risk.

      The risk is probably pretty small if you know what you're doing.

      It takes a $1 to rent a movie from Redbox and about an hour to rip it on a Core i7.

      Well, for people that do pirate these movies, they might not want to make any trips or sign up for any services. Or, if they're "greedy" by most peoples' standards, they might just want to save a dollar.

      And perhaps the time it takes them to download it and such is irrelevant to them. All they're really doing most of that time is waiting, and typically, they can do other things while they wait. Maybe it just doesn't matter to them if it'll take

    • by Jiro (131519)

      If you don't do it, that won't get rid of your risk. Cue the stories about people without computers being sued.

    • by travbrad (622986) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @01:20AM (#37115632)

      I think the biggest reason people pirate movies is simply convenience. It's the same reason people use Redbox and Netflix. The problem with Redbox is the selection is extremely limited. It really only works if you are interested in the newest and most popular movies. Redbox also requires a physical trip, and while a few mile drive may not seem like much, a few miles is still a lot more than none (particularly if you live through Minnesota winters like me).

      Netflix has a lot better selection, but it still doesn't come anywhere close to what is available to pirate (there are even out-of-print movies). A lot of Netflix's movies aren't available for streaming either, so a 15min torrent download is about 2 days faster than waiting 2 days for mail. I'm not sure what kind of internet you have that it takes days to download a movie, but a typical ripped/encoded movie torrent is only about 2GB.

      Now I'm not saying these reasons excuse/justify movie piracy, I'm just giving some thoughts on why people still do it. I bet a lot of people don't even know about these anti-piracy lawsuits either (it seems like common knowledge to a slashdot user), and probably assume they aren't going to be sued for millions of dollars because that would be insane. ;)

    • Answer: there is no Redbox DVD rental service in my location, you insensitive clod. :) The (legal) DVD stores in my location only sells old movies. The legal stores have actually reduced their price to match the price of an illegal DVD, but they still don't have the advantage of being able to sell the latest movies.
  • "because of the nature of the swarm downloads . . . every infringer is simultaneously stealing copyrighted material."

    No, not stealing. Stealing copyrighted material is going into the store and shoplifting a DVD. Don't they teach grammar in law school?

    • So, because the word "Stealing" was invented/defined before the internet was created, crimes committed online cannot be stealing?

      What if you interpret stealing to be "Obtaining non-free content without paying for it". Now it doesn't matter whether you shoplift it, or download it. No matter which way you try to bend words, downloading movies is a form of theft. Do not be under the allusion that it isn't, or try to quote "Information wants to be free".

      "Sticking it to the Man" is also not acceptable. If you do

      • by GauteL (29207) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @07:56AM (#37117594)

        "What if you interpret stealing to be "Obtaining non-free content without paying for it". Now it doesn't matter whether you shoplift it, or download it. No matter which way you try to bend words, downloading movies is a form of theft"

        Interpretation would not be enough. You would have to redefine the word theft.

        You commit two major sins in this debate. The first is the straw man of assuming that just because someone objects to equating copyright infringement with theft that they approve of copyright infringement. The second straw man is that in your attempt to ridicule to opponent you misrepresent him by mentioning a coupel of his possible lesser important arguments, leaving out the biggest reason that copyright infringement is not theft.

        Theft takes an object away from the original owner. If someone steals my car, the spiteful part of me may hope that the thief won't enjoy it, but the major reason I'm feeling pissed off is that I no longer have a car. Copyright infringement does no such thing. Since copyright infringement doesn't share the most important property of theft, it is not theft.

        Copyright infringement, may take a sale away from the copyright holder. This is by no means certain, the infringer may not have legally licensed/purchased even if he couldn't get it for free. At best you can say that copyright infringement take away a potential sale. In some cases this is not even true, since some infringers does indeed end up purchasing the product.

        So these two actions are different and the reason copyright holders want to equate them is an attempt to get more sympathy from the public. This attempt at redefining the word "theft" is disingenuous but you seem to have fallen for it nonetheless.

        Note that this post does not mean that I approve of copyright infringement. It is a different action, but it may still be objectionable.

      • The quote said, "stealing copyrighted material". In English, this means one was stealing something that was copyrighted, since "copyrighted" is an adjective. All definitions of stealing accepted that I'm familiar with regard stealing as "taking away wrongfully". Stealing a DVD from a store is an example of this, since it satisfies that that the material stolen is copyrighted.

        However, even if we were to look past this grammatical error and say, "they're also guilty of stealing," we create the problem touc

      • by Fned (43219) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @12:59PM (#37120588) Journal

        Now it so happened in the days of old Edo, as Tokyo was once called, that the storytellers told marvelous tales of the wit and wisdom of His Honorable Honor, Ooka Tadasuke.

        This famous judge never refused to hear a complaint, even if it seemed strange or unreasonable. People sometimes came to his court with the most unusual cases, but Ooka always agreed to listen. And the strangest case of all was the famous Case of the Stolen Smell.

        It all began when a poor student rented a room over a tempura shop - a shop where fried food could be bought. The student was a most likeable young man, but the shopkeeper was a miser who suspected everyone of trying to get the better of him. One day he heard the student talking with one of his friends.

        "It is sad to be so poor that one can only afford to eat plain rice," the friend complained.

        "Oh," said the student, "I have found a very satisfactory answer to the problem. I eat my rice each day while the shopkeeper downstairs fries his fish. The smell comes up, and my humble rice seems to have much more flavor. It is really the smell, you know, that makes things taste so good."

        The shopkeeper was furious. To think that someone was enjoying the smell of his fish for nothing! "Thief!" he shouted, "I demand that you pay me for the smells you have stolen."

        "A smell is a smell," the young man replied. "Anyone can smell what he wants to. I will pay you nothing!"

        Scarlet with rage, the shopkeeper rushed to Ooka's court and charged the student with theft. Of course, everyone laughed at him, for how could anyone steal a smell? Ooka would surely send the man about his business. But to everyone's astonishment, the judge agreed to hear the case.

        "Every man is entitled to his hour in court," he explained. "If this man feels strongly enough about his smell to make a complaint, it is only right that I, as city magistrate, should hear the case." He frowned at the amused spectators.

        Gravely, Ooka sat on the dais and heard the evidence. Then he delivered his verdict.

        "The student is obviously guilty," he said severely. "Taking another person's property is theft, and I cannot see that a smell is different from any other property."

        The shopkeeper was delighted, but the student was horrified. He was very poor, and he owed the shopkeeper for three month's smelling. He would surely be thrown into prison.

        "How much money have you?," Ooka asked him.

        "Only five mon, Honorable Honor," the boy replied. "I need that to pay my rent, or I will be thrown out into the street."

        "Let me see the money," said the judge.

        The young man held out his hand. Ooka nodded and told him to drop the coins from one hand to the other.

        The judge listened to the pleasant clink of the money and said to the shopkeeper, "You have now been paid. If you have any other complaints in the future, please bring them to the court. It is our wish that all injustices be punished and all virtue rewarded.

        "But most Honorable Honor," the shopkeeper protested, "I did not get the money! The thief dropped it from one hand to the other. See! I have nothing." He held up his empty hands to show the judge.

        Ooka stared at him gravely. "It is the court's judgement that the punishment should fit the crime. I have decided that the price of the smell of food shall be the sound of money. Justice has prevailed as usual in my court."

    • I know that this a meme among many people here on slashdot, but it is wrong. The use of the words "steal" and "theft" to apply to making copies of copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright owner goes back as far as I can track. I found a contemporary record mentioning someone "stealing" Shakespeare's work (which I believe predates all copyright law).
  • ...because of the loss of 'civic virtue'. Me, I'm trying to figure out whether the institutionalized acceptance of any immoral act as long as it is for profit is a separate and distinct cause, or just a symptom of the loss of 'civic virtue'.
  • I know for a fact atleast some blind people go to the movies because they can still hear the story.
    Some movies (with actual stories and dialog) are better suited for this than others (from Hollywood), but the sounds of a typical porn might just get the job done for some blind folk.

    • And because there's generally someone in the row behind you giving a full running commentary of what's going on.

  • First:
    "He is able to work using a pair of computer programs that read his e-mails aloud and magnify a portion of his computer screen."

    Then:
    "At least at the outset, he could remain anonymous. "

    Yeah anonymous among all the other blind people going to work for a security company that uses an e-mail and a special computer screen.

    The writer should have left his tools and the fact it's a IT firm.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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