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Court Allows Unmasking of P2P Downloaders 244

bricko writes "A federal appeals court says copyright-infringing downloaders can now be outed. If you use or have used P2P, this may interest you. From Wired: 'The RIAA detected what it claimed to be infringing activity on an IP address the university linked to the student. The unidentified student moved to quash a federal judge’s order that the university forward the student’s identity to the RIAA. The student asserted a First Amendment right of privacy on the Internet, in addition to a fair-use right to the six music tracks in question. The appeals court ruled in the RIAA’s favor (PDF) after balancing a constitutional right to remain anonymous against a copyright owner’s right to disclosure of the identity of a possible “trespasser of its intellectual property interest."'"
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Court Allows Unmasking of P2P Downloaders

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  • Yes, well ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:11AM (#32055548)
    That judge better keep track of what his (or her, I didn't RTFA yet) kids are doing online. This is the kind of ruling that can come back to haunt them. Of course, once the RIAA discovers that it has nailed a Federal judge's kid, they'd drop the case like a hot potato.
  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:16AM (#32055578) Homepage
    I'm poring over the United States Constitution, as Amended, and I can't find where it grants a right to anonymity, either from the Federal government, or from other citizens. Can any confused hippies^W^W Constitutional scholars help me out here?
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:28AM (#32055626) Homepage Journal
    now thats a first.

    i wonder how low u.s. judicial system will sink under the weight of the money of riaa.
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:38AM (#32055688)

    OK, so you're fine with the federal government listening in to any conversation you have with your friends? That's a "community". But hey, you know, it could be justified, because your friends and you could be a terrorist sleeper cell. And when you go to the game, the park or the bar, perhaps you're conspiring to bring down the government. Or maybe conspiring to lend him a DVD and break intellectual property laws. So it's a good idea to automatically eavesdrop on any conversation. What's more in the digital age, with computer voice recognition and word recognition, all of your conversations can be automatically screened for key words.

    And BY THE WAY, any other thought crime you might commit (like speaking against the government, admitting minor laws you broke, threatening someone, etc) WILL be enforced because after all it's a hell of a lot easier to go after YOU and make an example of YOU, than say some illegal immigrant running a drug smuggling operation who is loaded with guns and has nothing to lose.

    We're not there YET, but suddenly the above scenario doesn't seem so far away, and so far fetched. America of today is NOT the America I grew up in. In fact with aggressive police, ridiculous punishments for ridiculous offenses (drawing on school desks, making "finger guns", posting "mooninites" on highway overpasses), and covert surveillance everywhere, it looks a lot like what we used to say Soviet Russia was like. Make sure to get your permit from the municipality before you paint your house comrade. We must ensure you use an approved color.

  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:58AM (#32055794) Journal

    You do that and let me know how that works out for you, m'kay?

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:06AM (#32055844) Homepage

    However, even so privacy and anonymity are not entirely the same. I think it's most obvious if you compare "private letter" with "anonymous letter". Privacy protects the contents, anonymity the sender. Most of the privacy rights come from a reading of the 14th amendment that the state may not restrict your liberty. Some various supreme court quotes:

    "While this court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men."

    "Whatever may be the justifications for other statutes regulating obscenity, we do not think they reach into the privacy of one's own home. If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds."

    "These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define ones own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life....The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. 'It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter.'

    All of those deal with whether the state can regulate your personal life. There aren't really that many cases on whether you have a right to be anonymous while doing it.

  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:25AM (#32055936) Journal

    I am not quite sure about the last bit of your post, but if I am reading it right, you are asking for a catch-22 involving all civil suits and subpoenas.

    The purpose of the subpoena is to gather evidence in a case, but you want the case to be proved before the subpoena is served. If the case is proved, then the subpoena is not necessary, but if the case is not proved you don't want them to be able to get a subpoena to gather evidence to prove the case.

    This would be a double-edged sword because then if one wished to sue a company, one would have to prove the case against the company before getting a subpoena to get evidence against the company.

  • by The Hatchet ( 1766306 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @11:05AM (#32056154)

    He does commit great fallacies, but an improper argument does not imply its results are wrong.

    The fact is that our online interactions can be as private as husband/wife interactions, doctor/patient interactions, or lawyer/client interactions (which are all protected heavily by law). And if you are snooping a connection, you get it all, and violate that privacy regardless of how little you are searching for. We have the right to peaceful assembly, and last time I checked that didn't come with a clause saying "monitored by the government" after it.

    And we do live in a damn police state (USA) whether you want to believe it or not. Children can be sent to prison at the whim of the school principle. Curfews. Drug war. Internet monitoring. Reduction of probable cause to reasonable suspicion to 'he looked funny'. Hell, in middle school I was bullied, and because of 0 tolerance policy they told me for being bullied 5 times I was involved in 5 events and could either go to juvenile detention or anger management. Virtually everything we do is controlled too far.

    Have you ever actually tried to walk around and find a place where you could not be seen by cameras? They are incredibly rare. Traffic cams, if you are within 15ft. of a schools property you can easily be seen, any atm, any commercial building. This has been true whether I was in Fascist NY state, hicktown PA, Nowhere OH, Illinois or Missouri. Try just living at home. Want to walk from the shower to the bedroom naked? Don't, someone could be looking in your windows and press charges, and you could be classified as a sexual predator and the rest of your life is ruined. The standards for searches are practically non-existent, illegally obtained evidence is always used, and your local municipality can tell you what brand of toothpaste you are allowed to buy. We are living in this RIGHT NOW. No slippery slope to the future, no appeal to fear, no false dichotomy. I can walk out my door or IM a friend and this is happening. No two ways about it.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Saturday May 01, 2010 @11:44AM (#32056420) Journal

    Did you even read the first sentence of what you posted? "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;". Jack Valenti's 'Forever minus a single day' may be a limited time where you come from, but for everybody else it is pretty obvious what it is...theft. The theft of our public domains from you, me, and all our descendants.

    The USA copyright system was a contract, nothing more. Not sacred, not a constitutional right to unlimited profits, but a contract where EACH SIDE got something, but not anymore. When a man like Walt Disney can be dead for decades, yet one of his first works, Steamboat Willie, is still under copyright? Then you have "forever minus a single day".

    This has come about because treasonous bribery has been declared legal by the worthless courts under the right to free speech, which of course means that only those with wealth are allowed to speak, by being able to have any law passed that their piggish hearts desire. The contract has been broken and until We, The People, have a seat at the bargaining table again copyrights should be treated as what they currently are, a worthless contract not worth the paper they are written on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 01, 2010 @12:08PM (#32056594)

    I have a quick question for you legal-inclined slashdotters. If the BitTorrent protocol were designed to store IP addresses in an obfuscated manor, would DMCA anti-circumvention prohibit others from unobfuscating those IP addresses?

    Just a thought.

  • Re:Title is nonsense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @01:48PM (#32057426) Homepage Journal

    I can see it being hard to prove that it was the student only if he had an open WiFi connection running at that time.

    Or he was on a NAT device in his dorm room (like I suspect many dorms use), or a block of dorms on his floor were on a NAT device.

    Lesson to be learned: if you're going to use P2P, make sure you have an open WiFi connection to throw a monkey wrench into "beyond a reasonable doubt."

    That hasn't seemed relevant in any of these cases - possibly due to judges and juries not being familiar with how such things work. What one uneducated person thinks is "beyond reasonable doubt" can seem quite ridiculous to those of us here who are more tech savvy. We've seen that over the years as we've picked apart numerous fallacies in methods and/or proof in RIAA cases. Not to mention the times where the RIAA pushed forward even with overwhelming evidence that the "suspected infringer" was not the person they were suing.

    Of course, once that defense is used commonly, there'll be a law passed that says you can't do that anymore... In fact, didn't I read something on /. about that in the past?

    Probably... depends on where the RIAA's lobbying gets them. Though it's not too out of bounds with reality to expect people to secure their own wireless connections - especially since most routers suggest it or even ask the users to do it with an "opt out/cancel/disable security" option as the unselected choice. That'd make the more logical compromise being those who run open networks by choice, could be held liable for what they thusly allow to happen on their networks (unless they've got damn good reason to disable the security features on their wireless routers).

    But any such law/ruling/etc would be ripe for abuse by the RIAA - just as the legal system currently is (or has been) by them.

  • by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @01:58PM (#32057512) Homepage Journal

    Regardless of how you feel about copyright, let's be honest here: The "right to privacy" is a bullshit excuse when you're involved in what is, more or less, a community activity.

    I think we've lost sight of the bare metal workings of what the founding fathers meant them to be.

    I am not saying I agree with either point, but there is a second point that follows your basis but is contradictory to your conclusion. the "right to privacy" is a valid excuse for all of those outside the community you believe you have an expectation of privacy within. Similar to how if you went to group therapy, you would expect (either legally (therapists) or "morally" (other group participants)) that you should have a right to privacy covering your interactions within that group/community.

    Again, I'm not stating a stance on either. I am simply pointing out that there is a counter-argument - whichever turns out to become the prevalent "legal belief" will need to counter the other belief (or lobby it into unimportance or provide sufficient legal standing to make it less important).

  • Re:Title is nonsense (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 01, 2010 @03:19PM (#32058224)

    You *certainly* use your own router.

    Not necessarily. I might offer free wifi to the neighborhood as a service. I don't use it, I let others use it. You know, like a lot of restaurants do these days. Or are you saying Starbucks is responsible for what their customers download??

    You have no proof that these other people are doing it

    I don't need "proof". The fact it was available is enough to cast doubt. It's like a murder being committed with my chainsaw... which I keep in an open, unlocked shed. Yes, I own the chainsaw, yes, it might have been me who used it to kill the victim. But it could also have been anyone else.

    If you want to propose that it's someone else, you will need to provide evidence for that.

    No, I don't. There mere fact it was possible it was someone else is enough to defeat the prosecutions contention that it was definitely me.

    Add to this all the... problems the RIAA/MPAA have had with identifying and suing people (like suing dead people, or grannys who don't own computers, etc), and it's a 'not guilty' from anyone who has a clue.

    Of course the problem is most people don't have a clue.

  • Re:Promised Land? BS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Voulnet ( 1630793 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @05:18PM (#32059068)
    No, the one who cannot think is none other than you. The only thing you can manage is play on words, and here is why:

    Yeah, that and the presence of file sharing software on the computers, and the open admission on the part of the defendant that he was sharing the files 'because he believed it was fair use to do so'.

    Everybody except you (because of a deficiency in how you think) knows that I wasn't talking about this particular case, but in general all cases in which Intellectual Property is taken to court; people are persecuted and blackmailed under nothing but IP addresses. Please don't blame me for your inadequate ability to think straight, you can use more word play here to satisfy your ego, but it won't change the fact about how your brain works, I'm so sorry.

    That a penalty is unjust has no bearing on whether or not the proceedings are unfair.

    Here you conduct more useless wordplay. WTF is the point of a trial if the punishments are 100,000+ times worth the crime (assuming a crime)? Are you saying that since the proceedings of the trial were conducted in a normal fashion, that it becomes a fair trial no matter the absurdity of the outcome? Notice how you play on the words, I did NOT say the proceedings of the trial were unfair, I said that the trial in its ENTIRETY was unfair. Your attempt to falsify my claim (that the trial is unfair) by choosing one side of the trial that was done correctly (maybe) is obvious and is rendered useless because the point of a trial is not its proceedings, but its outcome; which is almost always unfair in all IP-related trials.

    It's a right in every frakkin country in the world except the US and the countries affected by its policies!

    I see. Do you rape 12 year old children because it's a legal in some countries? Do you stone adulterers in your neighborhood because it's legal in some countries? If not, then you seem awfully selective in who you choose to use as a precedent.

    What the hell? How unreasonable can your argument be? How can you liken the right to use a device I bought as I wish to the ability to rape children? You are very reasonable and I offer you a piece of advice: Learn how to compare. Since you can't understand, allow me to rephrase: The right of a customer to hack the shit out of a device he made is a simple right that everybody has everywhere, except in the USA because it conflicts with the interests of corporations; hence the point of my original post: Rights of the people are only applicable when they don't interfere with the interests of those with deep pockets. How can somebody compare this simple right with raping kids, I don't know. If I was citing an unreasonable right, then yeah you can compare it to raping kids, but I'm talking about hacking consumer devices, for God's sake.

    should I remind you of the Patriot Act? Have fun being spied upon for no reason whatsoever.

    Ah yes, and here we see the final act of the play - as predictable as sunrise. After creating 'rights' which don't exist, ranting against the corporations, and gratuitous anti-US blather, comes the completely unrelated preference to the Patriot Act. Not only are you completely disconnected from reality, you're an utter loon without the ability to frame a coherent argument. Instead you substitute slinging everything little bit of dogma you can think of because you can't actually think.

    Ah, here is where you show the true nature behind your entire argument: blind patriotism. That I cannot cure, I'm sorry again. The reason I brought in the Patriot Act is obvious: Your rights and how they are easily taken away whenever convenient. If you still can't understand that my original post was more about your lost rights in general, then you won't understand why the inclusion of the Patriot Act was relevant. The rights I have mentioned above are rights eve

  • Blame the juries (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mangu ( 126918 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @05:42PM (#32059212)

    You are right about the whole of the western world becoming like police states, but that's mostly due to the ridiculous ease with which any individual person can win a million-dollar litigation against an organization, be it a corporation, government agency, or even a professional such as a doctor.

    When juries started to automatically side with the claimant just because the other side appeared to have money, no matter which stupid thing the plaintiff did, the modern nanny state was born. A nanny state is identical to a police state in that privacy does not exist. Parents *must* monitor their babies.

    When citizens stop acting as responsible adults and start behaving like small children it's only to be expected that they will relinquish the rights of adults. With every right comes a responsibility.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI