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Piracy Your Rights Online

MPAA Agent Poses As Homebuyer To Catch Pirates 289

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the as-seen-on-tv dept.
bonch writes "The MPAA used an undercover agent posing as a potential homebuyer to gain access to the home of a British couple charged with running a streaming links site. UK authorities decided not to pursue the case, but the MPAA continued, focusing on a Boston programmer who worked on the site, leading to an unprecedented legal maneuver whereby U.S. charges were dropped in exchange for testimony in a UK fraud case."
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MPAA Agent Poses As Homebuyer To Catch Pirates

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  • I'm confused; who was suing whom? This was a British couple in Britain or... What?
    • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Informative)

      by BeardedChimp (1416531) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:05PM (#40078015)
      Yeah the summary is terrible.

      In essence what happened was MPAA pretented to be a venture capitalist who was interested in the streaming site SurfTheChannel. After meeting the owner in person they followed them to their house. Then a seperate MPAA nob head posed as a home buyer interested in the owner of SurfTheChannel's house.

      The MPAA then turned over pictures of the house and details of the venture capitalist meeting to the police who proceded to raid their house. The police decided not to press charges, so the MPAA went after the US programmer who made SurfTheChannel. He did some sort of plea bargain where they would drop the case against him if he would testify against the British couple.

      The British couple are now in court on charges of fraud.

      • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:35PM (#40078357)

        Sounds like the couple aren't the ones who should be charged with fraud. Verifying the identities of the 'interested parties' would have likely quashed this whole debacle before it progressed into the absurdity it is now.

        If the MPAA/RIAA are going so far as to infiltrate your home with 'actors' to thwart copyright infringement, they really have hit the bottom of the cesspool. That's absolutely disgusting!

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        The MPAA is totally out of control. What we need is some Congressman, Senator, or other 'man of the People' to run the shop and keep them honest. "On March 1, 2011, the Motion Picture Association of America announced that Senator Chris Dodd will head that organization." --- Well %@#$!

        Dodd threatens to cutoff donations to Obama campaign
        http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/19/exclusive-hollywood-lobbyist-threatens-to-cut-off-obama-2012-money-over-anti [foxnews.com]

        MPAA at Cannes
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ar [washingtonpost.com]

      • by Plunky (929104)

        Thanks for your summary, but I have further questions..

        The police decided not to press charges,

        because operating a site linking to other sites in the internet is not a crime

        so the MPAA went after the US programmer who made SurfTheChannel.

        What was he charged with, and by whom?

        He did some sort of plea bargain where they would drop the case against him if he would testify against the British couple.

        and what where they being charged with and by whom? Seeing as how the police decided not to press charges..

      • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Informative)

        by Grumbleduke (789126) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @04:07PM (#40080045) Journal

        Iirc they're on charges of conspiracy to defraud, which is a separate offence to fraud. Fraud is quite narrowly defined (by the Fraud Act 2006). Conspiracy to defraud [wikipedia.org] is one of the most controversial criminal offences in English law as it is incredibly broad and vague, potentially criminalising an agreement to do something that is of itself perfectly legal. It's popular with FACT and the MPAA at the moment as it is far easier to prove than criminal copyright infringement.

    • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Informative)

      by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:06PM (#40078031)

      It is a British couple in Britain being charged (criminally) in the UK for fraud (how they got fraud out of running a linking site I have no idea. The site was SurfTheChannel, BTW, since TFS doesn't say). Testimony is being offered by a Boston programmer who helped set up the site and agreed to testify in return for charges against him being dropped. The whole "undercover" bit was just to figure out where the couple lived: the MPAA first had someone pose as a venture capitalist interested in the site who met with the husband and tailed him back to his house, which was then snooped on by a hired PI (who posed as the homebuyer).

      FWIW I don't think the case is likely to get terribly far. Similar cases against similar sites have failed in the past, but I don't know how bad the UK justice system is so I cannot say.

    • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Informative)

      by SomePgmr (2021234) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:06PM (#40078035) Homepage

      MPAA hired an ex-cop to pose as venture capitalist interested in SurftheChannel.com. He learned how much the owner made from the site.

      Then he tailed him 250 miles to his home, just to find out where he lives.

      MPAA then sent a PI posing as a potential home buyer to the residence, to take pictures of the guys house, paying particular attention to the computer hardware.

      They have the house raided, and the MPAA douches are allowed to take part in the questioning. They were even allowed to investigate the confiscated equipment themselves.

      UK authorities decide not to pursue a case.

      MPAA, not to be denied, went after a programmer in the US that worked on the site. In exchange for dropping his case, he agreed to testify in the UK case and pay the MPAA $10k in go-away money.

      At least that's the take-away I got form the article. It's pretty convoluted.

      • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Insightful)

        by future assassin (639396) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:33PM (#40078321) Homepage

        >They were even allowed to investigate the confiscated equipment themselves.

        \Wouldn't any lawyer be able to get this easily thrown out? The police giving away evidence to the plaintiff to do as they wish with it aster the case was dropped? Isn't that stealing, conspiracy, possession of stolen property, tampering with evidence, etc, etc , etc.....

        • by Cederic (9623)

          I hope the case gets thrown out of court on those grounds alone.

          Shit, the MPAA have admitted fraudulently gaining access to the house in the first place, any evidence must be tainted from the outset.

          Not impressed if this is true - will watch the court case in Newcastle with interest.

        • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Interesting)

          by oxdas (2447598) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @04:57PM (#40080479)

          After the police dropped the charges they turned over all the computer equipment to FACT, even though FACT is not a government agency, didn't own the equipment, and the owners were not being charged with a crime. The couple sued to get their computers back in 2009 and won in the lower courts, but lost in the upper courts. So, in GB it is now legal for the police to seize your computer equipment without filing charges and turning the equipment over to FACT without compensation. crazy.

          • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Informative)

            by oxdas (2447598) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:57PM (#40082421)

            I hate to reply to my own post, but I looked into this a little and while strange to me as an American, I now understand what's going on.

            In the UK it is legal for private parties to charge another private party with a criminal act. It's called private prosecution and we have nothing like it in the U.S. FACT is legally allowed to charge these people with a crime, employ the police to seize their property for evidence (with a warrant), and act as prosecutor in front of the court (they can be sentenced to prison as an outcome). The crown (government) prosecutors can choose to take over the prosecution and even put a stop to it if they want, but they can also do nothing. So, turning the evidence over to FACT is not at all inconsistent with British law.

            Personally, I find the idea of private prosecutions frightening.

            • by dkf (304284)

              Personally, I find the idea of private prosecutions frightening.

              It's an old part of common law, and dates predates the existence of public prosecutors. The Founding Fathers would have recognized them and thought them reasonably normal. In the UK, the legal device is mostly used by local governments (in relation to child protection and certain types of highly antisocial behavior) and the RSPCA [rspca.org.uk] (in relation to animal cruelty). The downside of bringing a private prosecution is that it leaves the accused open to a claim of malicious prosecution [wikipedia.org], which public prosecutors (an

      • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Funny)

        by HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:41PM (#40078427)
        I wonder if I could just go around slapping people until they pay me to stop. That'd be pretty sweet.

        The MPAA would probably sue me for stealing their business model, or something. Guess I'll just have to keep working hard to make my customers happy, instead. Stupid reality and it's stupid applying to me.
      • Re:Clarify (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @03:55PM (#40079905) Homepage Journal

        So the MPAA is guilty of Extortion, gotcha.

        >In exchange for dropping his case, he agreed to testify in the UK case and pay the MPAA $10k in go-away money.

        Yep, very clearly guilty of felony extortion. Arrest all MPAA fucks, or shoot them, either works. Start with Chris Dodd to make the message as clear as possible.

    • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Informative)

      by Grumbleduke (789126) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @03:54PM (#40079891) Journal

      The MPAA (through their UK minions, FACT, a "private commercial organisation, representing the interests of the audio-visual industry") did some investigating to find out who the operator of SurfTheChannel.com was. After various undercover meetings, fake deals and that sort of thing, they were able to identify the operators as a UK-based couple. Then they set the police on them.

      The police turned up, with FACT people, and arrested the couple, seizing a load of evidence, and a FACT specialist was able to copy a load of data from the computers (and may have done so illegally). While in custody the couple were interviewed with FACT people present, FACT were able to examine the evidence, and eventually most of it was handed over to them for analysis.

      Eventually, the couple were released and the CPS (who decide whether or not to bring prosecutions) decided not to charge them. The police then handed the rest of the evidence over to FACT who wanted it so they could run a private prosecution. The couple sued the police and FACT to get their stuff back (after their direct requests were refused). These facts all come from the resulting case (Scopelight Ltd & Ors v Chief of Police for Northumbria & FACT [bailii.org]) which FACT won on appeal.

      The initial arrests were in August 2008, the CPS gave up in December 2008, FACT filed their private prosecution in February 2009 and that appeal was ruled on in November 2009. This new information has come to light because that private prosecution is currently being heard in Newcastle Crown Court.

      The other major fact that emerged was that the US programmer who worked on the site was arrested by US authorities, but managed to get out of being convicted for his part in exchange for agreeing to testify in the UK case. So the US let an alleged criminal go so he could help a private, UK-based company win a private prosecution in the UK.

  • Outsourced eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:57PM (#40077909)

    I guess even police work and evidence collection is getting outsourced these days....

    On a serious note, what right does the MPAA have to place 'undercover' agents?

    • Re:Outsourced eh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by a90Tj2P7 (1533853) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:03PM (#40077993)
      You can hire a private investigator. They've got people who look into cases and gather facts before taking legal action against someone. Would you rather have them waste the taxpayer's money on having a LEO do it? They may happen to be douchebags, but almost every industry's got people like insurance adjustors, inspectors or security officers who check things out in-house.
      • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:25PM (#40078223)

        It can't be legal to gain access to someone's house under false pretences, can it? Its trespassing at the least. If the couple doesn't have recourse to sue the hell out of the MPAA and the local plods, the UK justice system is badly broken. Not to say that what the couple were doing was right, but you can't break the law to catch lawbreakers. Not for moral ground reasons, but if you cross that line pretty soon you start finding lines everywhere are getting blurry.

        • Pretty sure it isn't illegal to pretend interest in buying someone's house. All they would have to do is say the PI truly was interested, but then didn't like the price. How are you going to "prove" he wasn't interested in the house? Regardless pretending you are interested in buying a house when you aren't may be dishonest, but not necessarily illegal. It wasn't like the PI was claiming to be a cop or serviceman or something you could actually get into trouble for impersonating.
          • All they would have to do is say the PI truly was interested, but then didn't like the price.

            Right, so a private investigator hired to investigate this couple is going to convince a judge he was only innocently interested in their house, the sale of which presumably didn't include the computer equipment he took many photos of.

            • No, someone would have to convince a judge that he wasn't interested in buying the house. The whole presumed innocent until proven guilty thing applies in the UK as well I believe.
              • If they were foolish enough to attempt such a plea, it might very well become the first instance of a duly appointed Judge entering "LOL WTF GTFO" in the court record.

          • Pretty sure it isn't illegal to pretend interest in buying someone's house. All they would have to do is say the PI truly was interested, but then didn't like the price. How are you going to "prove" he wasn't interested in the house? Regardless pretending you are interested in buying a house when you aren't may be dishonest, but not necessarily illegal. It wasn't like the PI was claiming to be a cop or serviceman or something you could actually get into trouble for impersonating.

            I dunno. It's only plausible deniability if there's no way to prove that the PI wasn't acting on behalf of the MPAA. But I assume he was paid for the job. And someone told him to do it. If there's a potential crime, records can be subpoenaed, people can be called to testify. At this point, and if TV court drama hasn't lied to me, I'd think that keeping up the "I was just looking for a house" premise would become perjury and/or obstruction of justice, etc.

            • If that defense is even needed. As far as I know they aren't any laws against pretending to be interested in things. The PI wasn't impersonating an officer of the law, or serviceman, or other things that actually ARE illegal. I don't know of any laws against saying you are interested in a house if you really aren't. It would also be tough to "prove" the PI wasn't really interested either. The burden of proof is not on the presumed innocent person, but on the person making the accusation to prove guilt.
          • by DM9290 (797337)

            Pretty sure it isn't illegal to pretend interest in buying someone's house.

            It isn't a crime, but it is a tort. If you waste my time under the false pretense that you might actually accept an offer I am making, but you really have no intention whatsoever of accepting it then you have harmed me. You can be sued for damages. But how much money are we talking about?

            I think the record labels felt that the few hundred dollars of damages one might get for having an hour of their time wasted under false pretenses was an acceptable cost.

            In this case the "harm" was the only fact that the

            • Yes, it could be a tort, but then you would need to prove actual damages to collect. You may also need to "prove" the PI wasn't actually ever interested in buying the house, which could be tricky.
        • by a90Tj2P7 (1533853)
          Trespassing? That has to be non-consensual and cause some kind of harm, nuisance or obstruction.
        • It can't be legal to gain access to someone's house under false pretences, can it? Its trespassing at the least.

          I don't know about you, but when I was selling my house, I invited people in. At that point, they weren't trespassers, even if they didn't end up making me an offer.

    • Re:Outsourced eh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:45PM (#40078505) Homepage

      On a serious note, what right does the MPAA have to place 'undercover' agents?

      Title IV, Section 407 [xkcd.com] (right before the Authorization to use Deadly Force.

    • by DM9290 (797337)

      I guess even police work and evidence collection is getting outsourced these days....

      On a serious note, what right does the MPAA have to place 'undercover' agents?

      The same rights that you have. There is no law that says MPAA employees or agents have to identify themselves on demand.

  • I don't really have an issue with piracy when the media companies make it difficult to view the content legally. I have a major issue when someone is making money off piracy. Screw these people. Throw the book at them.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:59PM (#40077933)

      That is not the problem here. I'm okay with the charges against them, the way they went about DOING it is quite another thing.

      Since when does the MPAA get to play police themselves? Last I checked their are not a government law enforcement agency.

    • Why does it matter if they're making money or not? I hear this statement quite frequently, but I've never understood why someone would care, unless it's just jealousy. If they sell a pirate DVD for $5, does that hurt you more than if they just gave it away? Not trolling here -- can you explain?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Hentes (2461350)

        It's not a legal point but a moral one, there are many communists who believe that digital works should be distributed freely and noone should make money off of them.

        • by ebunga (95613)

          As stated in another reply, if money changes hands, it should go to those who did the work, even if it is a fraction of a percent. Say what you will about big media, but at least they give the talent some of the money.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          You mean "communists" like Thomas Jefferson?

          (quoting from memory): "The thinking power we call an idea appears purposefully designed by nature to be shared with all humans. I can share my idea with others, without depriving its usefulness to myself, just as I can light your tapir with my own fire, without darkening myself. There cannot then be, in nature, a right to exclusive ownership of ideas."

          Should people make money off their artistic works? Sure. Should they have the power to break-into your priva

      • by Firethorn (177587) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:14PM (#40078109) Homepage Journal

        I think it's probably the Profit motive. You're a hero if you are providing access to media not otherwise available. If you are seeking money for it when you're not the copyright holder then you're just a money grubbing dick. You might be a money grubber even if you hold the copyright; but then you're at least legal.

        It's like the story of the vet who sent something like 10k pirated DVDs over to the desert. Yes, he violated copyright, but people have his sympathy. If somebody took those 10k DVDs and tried to sell them for $2 profit each, the view is much different. People view you differently if you're not doing it for profit, especially if you're 'donating' your own resources to the cause without hope of return.

      • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:14PM (#40078111)

        I'm one of those people.

        I believe that an ordinary person should not have to be encumbered with copyright law - even lawyers who specialize in it can't give you firm answers about what is and is not fair use. There was just a story yesterday about something like 57% of the population being "pirates".

        As soon as you make IP part of your business, however, I believe it is fair to require you to know the ropes. It's similar to tax law IMHO - if an individual screws up their taxes, then they should just pay some interest on the money they owe and move on. If H&R block makes a habit of screwing up other people's taxes, then maybe big fines, restitution, and loss of license/certification is in order.

      • by ebunga (95613)

        If money changes hands, it should flow towards the creators and the talent. A major complaint against Big Media is that the middlemen get a disproportionate cut of the proceeds, with a small chunk left over for those doing the actual work. If pirates are making money, it sticks with those middlemen. That is flat-out wrong. Either the talent gets paid, or nobody gets paid.

    • by pla (258480) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:08PM (#40078051) Journal
      I don't really have an issue with piracy when the media companies make it difficult to view the content legally. I have a major issue when someone is making money off piracy. Screw these people. Throw the book at them.

      I would agree with you, except I have a much, much bigger problem with corporations sending UNDERCOVER FUCKING AGENTS into people's homes under false pretenses.

      If you can't gather enough evidence of criminal activity to convince a rubberstamp-wielding judge to issue a warrant, served by people at least superficially trained in such silly little issues as chain-of-custody, then you drop the issue. You don't hire plumbers to break in and go through your enemies' files.
      • by a90Tj2P7 (1533853) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:15PM (#40078127)
        Except they didn't break in, they didn't go through anybody's files, they weren't "agents" in the context of law enforcement. It's not like financial companies, insurance companies, service providers and other industries don't have their own investigators who look into things before taking legal action. While there's definitely a few red flags here, the summary presents this like it was some kind of undercover raid, and the comments like this kind of take that even further.
        • by pla (258480)
          While there's definitely a few red flags here, the summary presents this like it was some kind of undercover raid, and the comments like this kind of take that even further.

          I will agree that the story reads as somewhat less inflammatory than the FP summary. That said, I still have a major problem with the MPAA gaining access to their home under fraudulent pretenses...

          If you or I posed as a VC to take pictures of the inside of MPAA member's offices, they'd put us in jail for corporate espionage. Why d
          • by Elldallan (901501)
            While I don't like the behavior I fail to see how it is different from hiring a PI to stalk your spouse because you suspect that they're cheating and that is legal and have been legal for quite a while.
            • by MrSenile (759314)

              Because you, as co-owner, have authority to grant and revoke someone access to your -private property-, ergo, your house.

              If your PI stalked your spouse inside her work, got caught, and was charged for breaking and entering, that'd be the same thing.

              The issue isn't the 'stalking' per say, it's the locations where these people 'stalked'.

            • by green1 (322787)

              generally in those cases the PI does not enter anyone's private residence. they usually simply document that your spouse spent 2 hours in someone else's house and came out with lipstick on his collar and his shirt un-tucked. If the PI stood in the bedroom and took pictures they might find themselves in some trouble...

      • I agree. We've got the *AA's starting to act as quasi-governmental organizations, and that's Phillip K. Dick novel territory.

        Pay your legislators enough cash and you don't only control governmental actions, you almost become PART of the government apparently. We're WAY beyond the time when the foot should of come down.

        • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:44PM (#40078473) Homepage Journal

          Pay your legislators enough cash and you don't only control governmental actions, you almost become PART of the government apparently.

          Well, corporations are government creations, so it's not entirely surprising. The cycle goes roughly:
          1) create permanent private-benefit corporations
          2) protect individuals in corporations from nearly all consequences
          3) allow corporations to grow much larger than non-corporate business could achieve to gain unnatural economies of scale
          4) allow corporations to squelch their competition through favorable laws, incumbent-protecting regulations, court actions, etc. Be sure to speak boldly about new regulations to control corporations, then let corporations write those regulations.
          5) take small percentage of corporate profits as taxes
          6) take much larger percentage of corporate profits as campaign contributions to ensure cycle perpetuation
          7) GOTO 2

          You'll notice the loop is positive feedback and doesn't halt so long as resources are available to keep it running.

          • by Sentrion (964745)

            You need to work the following into your loop:

            x) As a judge, always find in favor of the bigger business or wealthier individual. Eventually take better paying job at a private arbitration firm where you can crucify the little people, enforce your decisions just the same as US court judgments, all while having no obligation to follow civil procedure, legal precedent, or the US Constitution.
            x) As a regulator, always ignore violations of the largest and most profitable companies you are supposed to be regula

  • Man.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Fuck the **AA

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:11PM (#40078071) Journal
    When discussing a case that includes both the UK and the USA. make it clear where the cities are located. Not only are there probably many cities called "London" in the USA, but more importantly, there is at least one "Boston" in the UK.
    • There's even a London in Canada [google.com] which has a River Thames running through it!

    • When you desire more information from a story mentioned in a summary, try clicking the underlined phrase in the text. This is called a hyperlink and will take you to the full article with all the details.

      Wise posters of Slashdot past shortened this idea into an easily remembered acronym: RTFA

    • When discussing a case that includes both the UK and the USA. make it clear where the cities are located. Not only are there probably many cities called "London" in the USA, but more importantly, there is at least one "Boston" in the UK.

      Good point; I interpreted the Boston in the summary as Boston, UK, which is only a few miles from where I grew up. Damn those American settlers and their laziness.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:11PM (#40078077)

    What the hell, what does the developer of a site has to do with how its owners operate it? That's like making employees criminally responsible if their company does something unethical.

    • by klingens (147173) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:22PM (#40078191)

      Simply blackmail in a legal way: you sue the programmer in the US so he has to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend himself: that will bankrupt him. Or he won't spend that amount of money to defend himself and the torts from the lawsuit will bankrupt him. Now the MPAA has a lever and can coerce the programmer to testify for them.
      Welcome to the legal system of the United States of America. If some people with italian sounding names did such a thing, they'd be prosecuted under RICO.

      • by snowgirl (978879)

        ... the torts from the lawsuit will bankrupt him.

        This phrasing bugs me. It's like saying "the crimes from the criminal complaint will send him to jail". A "tort" is the same as "crime", it is an action performed. If the MPAA used torts to bankrupt the guy, he could sue. However, the judgements from the lawsuits could easily bankrupt him.

        I mean, it's reasonably accurate, but comes across as the language that would be used in a movie. Torts are the standing for a civil lawsuit, rather than what actually bankrupts people. As with anything, a crime isn't pu

        • A "tort" is the same as "crime", it is an action performed.

          A tort isn't the same as a crime.

          A tort is a civil wrong which causes harm or loss to another, but may or may not be illegal. A crime is a violation of law which may or may not cause harm or loss to another. The two definitions overlap, but they are not the same.

          As with anything, a crime isn't punished unless someone is convicted, and a tort doesn't manifest as money or equity unless someone has a judgement levied against them.

          Officially, yes, but paying lawyers to defend against lawsuits is expensive. Those expenses aren't reimbursed unless your defense is successful and you file a counter suit to sue for your legal costs and win, much less while the trial is ongoing.

      • by Phrogman (80473)

        I would love to see a movie made about this sort of behaviour, it might be able to convey the *wrongness* of this sort of situation to the general public. Sadly it would get squashed rather quickly by the MPAA :P

        The reason they get away with BS like this is simply that the average person doesn't understand or care whats going on - until they find themselves on the wrong side of corporate blackmail of course.

  • I feel like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeeEff (2370332) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:15PM (#40078125)

    This is getting too wacky and out of hand. I mean, piracy is one thing, but playing police?

    Next thing you know laws will be privatized for the highest bidder in a location. I think we need to step back and ask ourselves, is piracy really worth letting this crap slip by?

    I think we should start by reducing the amount of legislation and bureaucracy and let the police do their job. Then we write the minimum amount of laws required to protect start up industries, and then we hang all the lawyers anyways because they're ridiculous and will ruin everything (as always).

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:33PM (#40078323)
    where are the laws to stop that?
  • by Tootech (1865028) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:36PM (#40078367)
    This seems like a scheme James Bond would have a wet dream abut at night! The fact that the MPAA went through all this trouble to get these people seems a slight bit more than over zealous one would say. How is it that the MPAA can bring their own investigators and then invite the police along later after they made a complaint... and then to top it off when the authorities decide that their little investigation didnt pass the "sniff" test, they then convince the U.S. authorities to go after the guy who wrote some code for the site. Seems to me the MPAA is acting as their own department of justice and then just asking the goverment to go along and help when they cant get justice another way..shady as hell is an understatment
    • Its obvious that the movie industry is too flushed with cash. They have been able to get fines and punishments in the laws that far outweigh the size of the crime. Like making the fine for say a speeding violation $20,000.

      The is a principle that has been lost here that the punishment needs to fit the crime.

      The other red flag is all the independent detective work by them which ain't cheap.

      We have a classic case of unstable wealth divide where when the wealthy get enough extra cash to start to heavy handedly

  • by Lord of the Fries (132154) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:48PM (#40078545) Homepage

    Mixing these two always seems to lead to bad things. Sigh.

  • And whatever happens, a few more people will buy the licensed product, and a few more entertainers will trust the MPAA or RIAA with distribution of their valuable copyright material.

  • by Luthair (847766) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @02:26PM (#40078945)

    Not only were Hollywood representatives taking part in the questioning, they also brought along investigators who were allowed to examine the equipment.

    Why on earth are they allowed to look at the equipment? Can company X allege something now against company Y in order to look through Y's internal files?

  • separation of... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by djbckr (673156) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @05:06PM (#40080581)
    It used to be "separation of Church and State". Now it should be "separation of Corporation and State". Unfortunately it likely will take another war for that to happen.

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