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RIAA Can't Have Defendant's Son's Desktop 283

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA's attempt to get Ms. Lindor's son's desktop computer in UMG v. Lindor has been rejected by the Magistrate Judge. The judge said that the RIAA 'offered little more than speculation to support their request for an inspection of Mr. Raymond's desktop computer, based on ... his family relationship to the defendant, the proximity of his house to the defendant's house, and his determined defense of his mother in this case. That is not enough. On the record before me, plaintiffs have provided scant basis to authorize an inspection of Mr. Raymond's desktop computer.' Decision by Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy. (pdf)"
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RIAA Can't Have Defendant's Son's Desktop

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  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @02:43AM (#18570923)
    This has been a bad week for the RIAA, with more going against them than ever before. If you'll allow me a moment...


    Now back to our normal post. The RIAA is like a bacteria that has multiplied to infect many hosts. However, like a simple bacteria that replicates perfect copies of itself, the RIAA lawsuits are all exact clones. What this means is that, if you can kill one of them, you can kill all of them. Reading the postings just this week on Ray's blog will tell you that the many enemies (a.k.a. innocent defendants who are fighting back) of the RIAA are coordinating and refining their tactics in search of the magic bullet that will kill this plague once and for all. And from the looks of things, they're getting mighty close.

  • by asninn ( 1071320 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:05AM (#18570993)
    Forgive my ignorance, but... can someone who's actually from the USA explain why the RIAA would get *anyone's* computer at all? Even if there is a reason why it should be inspected at all, shouldn't that be done by a (hopefully) neutral third party, like the police? It seems like a bad idea to me to give someone who's got a vested interest in finding evidence against you an opportunity to plant it.
    • by cyphercell ( 843398 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:10AM (#18571013) Homepage Journal

      *Plaintiffs may not have access to the defendant's hard drive; the hard drive must be turned over to a mutually acceptable neutral computer forensics expert; and his report must be done at the RIAA's expense. (SONY v. Arellanes)

      they can't []

    • No, that's not the reason. The primary reason the police are not involved is that the RIAA is not pursuing these as crimes, but as civil offenses (or something like that).

      I'm having trouble right at the moment trying to define the difference in a way that makes sense in these cases.
    • by sgent ( 874402 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:38AM (#18571087)
      No problem.

      The RIAA action is a civil tort case -- not a criminal case. In civil cases in the US both sides are essentially required to turn over all relevant evidence to each other, and then they argue in court which one has the better evidence for their side (preponderance). This is the same type of case that IBM vs SCO is undergoing, and is two private parties.

      In criminal cases, the state is the prosecutor (not plaintiff), and jail time may attach. You need a unanimous jury rather than a majority decision. RIAA cannot initiate a criminal case other than to make a complaint to the local police.

      • Just to be a bit pedantic, a jury isn't required for criminal trials. The court is required to bring in a jury if the defendant requests one, but the defendant is also allowed to give up their right to a trial by jury and have the case decided by just the judge instead. In some cases, it's easier for the defendant to convince a judge than it is to convince even a single juror. It's also pretty common in misdemeanor cases where it simply isn't worth the time and money to bring in a jury.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shakrai ( 717556 )

        In civil cases in the US both sides are essentially required to turn over all relevant evidence to each other

        What happens if that evidence may prove that I'm guilty of a crime? I.e: They want my computer to inspect for copyright infringement (civil matter), but it's loaded with kiddie porn * (criminal matter)? If I willingly turn it over to them I might as well walk down to the local police station and confess. Seems to violate the spirit of the 5th amendment, if not the actual text.

        Likewise, what ha

    • You are exactly right about that. At least one judge has held that they cannot have access even to the defendant's hard drive, that it must be done by a neutral third party. SONY v. Arellanes [].
  • The problem with OMGPonies-day at /. is that I begin to doubt even pleasant, plausible news by proximity . . .
  • by Builder ( 103701 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:13AM (#18571021)
    Please note that the following artist's revenue is helping to fund this action by UMG and the RIAA:

    Amy Winehouse
    Bon Jovi
    Counting Crows
    Limp Bizkit
    Ocean Color Scene
    Puddle of Mudd
    Sonic Youth
    The Who

    By buying anything from these or any other UMG artist, you are helping to fund these lawsuits. Please stop!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Good Lord. Anyone purchasing these artists should have a lawsuit brought against them. Slightly ironic that the artists helping to fund this haven't had a hit in years. I'm sure Fred Durst needs all the cash he can get at this point...
    • It's sad and telling, isn't it? When I haven't heard half those names on that list, and the ones I do know I wouldn't listen to even if they were offered freely.

      I must be getting old.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That's why I download all my music. Don't want to fund lawsuits against... myself.
    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )
      I've only heard of "Limp Bizkit" from that list, the only reason why I know them is because my sister was playing their music a lot and it annoyed the hell out of me.
      • You have never heard of Bon Jovi? Where have you been living for the past 25 years?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Charlatans? Is that a group made up of the RIAA's lawyers?
      • Its an apt name alright but in fact I think the Charlatans are from Manchester and had some hits in the late 80's early 90's.
    • It's much simpler. Simply stop purchasing music. That's what I've done.
      • Not me. I got my Emusic account, and just got the new Manowar Album off of it for $3.00 (on Magic Circle, thier own label.) Also got just about everything Fugazi ever wrote too...

        There's enough good music for me to keep paying Emusic for DRM-free MP3s.
    • by Builder ( 103701 )
      For a complete list of the bands financing this terrorism, please see the following URLs: [] [] [] [] []

      Who knows - there might actually be someone you lot actually like in there :D
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by houghi ( 78078 )
      It is good to see Metallica is still one of the bands not named.

      Perhaps it is better to sum up the one you DO can buy. Or look at ZAPP [] and be happy not all are the same. Pitty he is no more, because he would certainly be shouting to copy his music now and would be a lout voice against **AA.
  • Where I live, evidence that can be easily manipulated is worthless before court unless collected by an party that's considered impartial, like the police. And even they have been shown to screw up when it comes to examining computers, changing files on the hard drive and rendering the evidence basically useless, therefore casting doubt on the police's general ability to handle computer evidence. Someone care to explain to me how disk content can count as evidence if the prosecutor had write access to it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cyphercell ( 843398 )
      The problem with this in the US is that the defendant has to understand that and bring it up in court. A green lawyer might easily be intimidated by some of the RIAA's paper work and anyone representing themselves is usually SOL on properly discrediting bad evidence, we tend to understand the theory, but not the procedure.
    • by dfoulger ( 1044592 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:51AM (#18571137) Homepage
      Actually, the big thing that emerged in discovery is that they hadn't done any real police work.

      All they had was one expert witness who wrote three statements, all of them questionable on a number of grounds, based on a ten minute examination of a hard drive and additional examination of IP records generated by software that has dubious reliability and a statement from Verizon about an IP address that could easily have been wrong in several different ways.

      That's one of the big reasons this case is crumbling and, from all appearances, taking a lot of RIAA cases with it.

      The truth is that this was never about good "police" work. It was about intimidation; about identifying people who could be easily intimidated and railroading them with a blizzard of impressive looking paperwork; about using their settlements to intimidate others into not accessing online audio files, even when it was perfectly legal to do so. The intimidation worked (and continues to work to some extent) because the legal costs of fighting this RIAA paperwork were much higher than the price of a settlement.
  • Congratulations (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dfoulger ( 1044592 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:24AM (#18571055) Homepage
    This is a big decision, because it finally sets some limits on the scope of RIAA's fishing expeditions. Its not a surprising decision, given the outcomes of your discovery process with RIAA's witness, and one can only presume that the other shoe, dismissal with prejudice and a court ordered payment of Ms Lindor's legal expenses by the RIAA will soon follow. It will, unfortunately, take a lot more than this to deter the RIAA from this scorched audience policy, but its a step in the right direction. Well done.
  • Soo...some ideas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:59AM (#18571165)
    Posting anonymously....

    In discussions with a real lawyer about all this, my lawyer friend and I came upon the solution...

    Should you get The Letter, which has no legal value whatsoever, put a bullet through the drive, do a Jeff Merkey and bash it against a rock, melt it in a Sentry heat treating oven at 2250F (FUN!!). "We're sorry, but the drive no longer exists"

    Should you get The Subpoena, it's too late and you're hosed. Bend over and take it or mount a real defense, because if you destroy the drive, it's spoilation of evidence and the court really frowns on that. That's what hosed Jeff Merkey when Novell subpoenaed him.

    Timing is everything.
    • Re:Soo...some ideas (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian.wylfing@net> on Monday April 02, 2007 @10:39AM (#18573613) Homepage Journal

      What if you have three HDs, where HD #1 is your main drive, HD #2 is a decoy with, say, some old photos on it, and HD #3 is the P2P drive. (I run Linux, so keep up here.) You don't have anything listed in /etc/fstab about the partitions on the P2P drive, you mount that manually when you want to do some filesharing. It includes all the applications and data, so that nothing about filesharing appears on HD #1.

      Now if you are asked to provide your HD, you make an image of HD #1. No evidence of filesharing there, assuming they figure out what ext3 is. That might be the end of it. But wait, they bring in an expert who actually understands the filesystem and says whoah! the logs say you were mounting some other partitions that don't appear in fstab. Oh, that's right, I sometimes mount HD #2 to fetch old pictures off it, here's an image of that.

      It seems to me you'd really have to have your forensics hat on tight to figure out there was actually a third HD in the mix. Even if you did figure it out, think about how the legal proceedings would have gone: (1) We demand to see your HD, judge okays it, no evidence. (2) We "cracked" your scheme and demand to see HD #2, judge reluctantly okays it, no evidence. (3) This time we really cracked it and demand HD #3, judge says this is getting stupid, go screw yourself.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:25AM (#18571223)
    Watch, in fascination, as the RIAA "expert" in the Lindor case is eviscerated.... 73736822 []

    This is why the RIAA wants to go on a fishing expedition. They have no case, and what they have is ...less than unassailable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mandelbr0t ( 1015855 )
      Definitely an interesting read. I'm glad there was a considerable technical discussion -- it laid some good groundwork for discussing very technical details among computer illerati. Curiously, the expert witness is very adamant about the fact that matching the IP address in the source header to the IP address received by the MediaSentry server was proof positive that there was no router being used. My understanding of NAT is a little different than his. I'm certain that my network traffic does not contain a
  • by viking80 ( 697716 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @05:30AM (#18571409) Journal
    Every time you buy an album or a movie through these big companies, your money will be used to sue you or your friends.

    If you stop paying them they will fold with less collateral damage, and music will be free sooner.

  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @01:59PM (#18576663) Homepage
    The issue is whom exactly is the RIAA going after and what level of responsibility do they have? Somehow, some fairly bright guys seem to have messed this up. Unbelieveable!

    So the mother is the holder of the Internet account and denies any knowledge. Some folks come along and pretty much say that there is no evidence on that computer. If the holder of the Internet account has no further responsibility, then there is clearly no point to trying any legal action whatsoever - anyone could have used the "account resources" and provide a quite adequate defense.

    Obviously what the RIAA would like to have is what any sane individual would want - the account holder is responsible for activity using the account. This is especially true since the true user of the account is invisible.

    If only the "end user" (anonymous and unknowable) is liable, then there is no point to any prosecution involving the Internet. I can always claim that it was a son or daughter or a neighbor and they cannot prove otherwise.

    Now, this business of going after other potential user's computers to prove that the activity took place on the account would seem pointless. They (obviously) have proof that the account was used. That should be all that is needed to prove - the account holder is responsible. This would seem to be going down the road of the account holder not being responsible. Then it is clearly just a fishing expedition and there is no legal basis for holding anyone at all accountable.
  • The record labels persecuting Ms. Lindor are:
    -Warner Bros

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller