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Justice Dept. Raids Homes of File Swappers 1173

Posted by timothy
from the reasonable-suspicion dept.
Cryofan writes "Reuters is reporting that the Justice Dept. has raided the homes of 5 people in several states for trading music on p2p networks. The traders were, however, not arrested. 'P2P does not stand for 'permission to pilfer,' Ashcroft said. The Reuters story says that the 5 'were people operating hubs in a file-sharing network based on Direct Connect software,' and who had provided between 'one and 100 gigabytes of material to trade, or up to 250,000 songs.' 'They are clearly directing and operating an enterprise which countenances illegal activity and makes as a condition of membership the willingness to make available material to be stolen,' said Ashcroft."
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Justice Dept. Raids Homes of File Swappers

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  • wth? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by micronix1 (590179) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @05:55PM (#10073282)
    how is 100 gigabytes of music 250,000 songs?
  • by TroyFoley (238708) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @05:56PM (#10073299) Homepage Journal
    You know how it goes.

    Long story short, so long as the letter of the law has you down, the best route is to change the letter of the law. Whilst minor fixes here and there can suffice in the short run, I've long wondered if there are any moral/philosophical arguments against copyright (communist "Property is theft" notwithstanding) as a whole. Lately, the practical nature of it as a boon for innovation has been falling short and shown to be a bane in certain instances, but there really ought to be a general argument against the entire concept.

    I'm just too lazy to develop one.
  • by thedogcow (694111) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @05:58PM (#10073319)
    According to Sen. Hatch, they are going after terrorists (peer 2 peer users).
  • A show of force... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @05:59PM (#10073332) Journal
    The RIAA obviously took it seriously when pople said that they would go underground after they started to sue the Kazaa crowd. This is a show of force when they can bring in the feds to help in their cause. Now that the feds are in on the big ones, how long until they start to move on the little guys?
  • Diskless Servers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:03PM (#10073368)
    Times like these are when running a diskless [jct.ac.il] server really pays off. Sure, you're limited in the amount of storage that can be made available over p2p, but when they seize your server, there's no evidence whatsoever.

    Just imagine the news story for that one: "Teenage File Trader's Computer Seized by FBI, Exercise in Futility"
  • JUSTIN BAILEY (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Graymalkin (13732) * on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:06PM (#10073407)
    'P2P does not stand for 'permission to pilfer,' Ashcroft said.


    I bet he thinks he's so clever. However I find this story a little strange, the article claims that the five hubs each contained 40 petabytes (7200 Libraries of Congress) which at my count is about 160,000 250GB hard drives. That's ~$26m worth of hard drives per hub. The article is written in such a way to suggest these five hubs were run by people in their basements while the supposed retail value of their setups is anything but basementable.

    I guess this shouldn't be surprising though. It is a well known fact al-Qaeda is trying to topple the American government by supporting music piracy over the internet. The RIAA member companies are practically bankrupt from their tremendous losses due to piracy. They're such excellent role models for young people, persevering in the face of such insurmountable odds. The movie industry is soon to be entirely out of business from online trading of hits like Gigli. I feel really bad for those gaffers that only make $250,000 a year that can barely make ends meet because someone downloaded a movie.
  • by the arbiter (696473) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:06PM (#10073412)
    This is an extremely disturbing development, seeing as these folks are not guilty of a crime, merely a civil offense. An egregious and large-scale civil offense, to be sure, but a civil offense nonetheless. Which is why there were no arrests. So why is the Justice Department involved?

    Oh that's right...I forgot. Herr Reichsmarshall Ashcroft IS the law.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:09PM (#10073435)
    "Information wants to be free" and "monopolies are bad" would be those general arguments you're looking for, I think, along with "copyright was considered a necessary evil from the beginning* and now isn't even necessary."

    *see the writings of Jefferson and Madison
  • by Izago909 (637084) * <tauisgod@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:10PM (#10073445)
    Check again. The reason no charges were pressed was because they can't. It's a civil matter, despite what the media conglomerats want you to believe.
  • by Alaren (682568) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:10PM (#10073446)

    Okay, so we're cracking down on copyright infringers. Jokes about "petabytes" aside, there was doubtless a lot of infringing going on.

    But this whole thing is starting to look more and more like the enforcement of prohibition back in the roaring twenties, or like the religious persecution that started the American colonies. When something is illegal even though most people don't consider it "wrong," bad things happen. Small-time infringers are getting sued, big-time infringers getting raided, and a fair number of innocent folk get caught in the middle. Some of the Warez folk are looking more and more like the gangs of Chicago back in the day... and like those gangs, there are as many or more doing it for the thrill and the challenge than for the money.

    So when do we get a constitutional amendment? When do we get a "digital revolution?" Where are the folk who realize that there is something seriously wrong with the way we understand the words "intellectual property?" When millions of people engage in an activity that bucks the status quo yet somehow remains illegal enough to warrant armed attention from the DoJ, you no longer have a government A)of the people, B)for the people, or C)by the people of the U.S.A.

    Once upon a time, conditions like these would start mass emigrations. When the world was still largely unexplored, people packed up, moved out, and started their own countries.

    But where can the persecuted flee today?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:10PM (#10073452)
    That's what I'd like to know too. What was their basis for the warrant?

    Since it was an essentially private hub, did they infiltrate it to establish that file sharing was going on? (That would mean sharing >1GB of stuff themselves!)

    What I'd like to know is whether the feds can search company/educational subnets without a warrant. Now that would be scary.
  • by sangreal66 (740295) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:11PM (#10073461)
    Companies don't vote. Invididuals do. PS - Companies are not Sentient, they are made up of Individuals.
  • priorities (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:16PM (#10073525) Homepage Journal
    Hey Ashcroft, WHERE'S OSAMA?
  • china? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chuckfucter (703084) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:20PM (#10073572) Journal
    I know it's been said before, but I feel realy crappy when our citizens get raided and China (the government) gets to pirate anything it wants. How do we reward a country that RIAA and MPAA should really go after (not to mention human rights issues) we give them the olympics. okay, sorry, back on the topic - this is bad, how long before any email with a copyrighted song, any newsgroup post with a copyrighted picture or anything else someone could dream of land normal people in jail. With flagrant abuses of the patriot act and federal wiretaps becoming an issue who knows what may happen. BTW - I though a song that is over 25 years old is public domain, why does Mikey Jackson own the rights to the beatles songs, they should be public domain.
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:35PM (#10073722)
    the police will do nothing, because I am not a wealthy man. This happened to my brother. His apartment was robbed. The criminal was caught only because the apartment manager inspected the crook's apartment and found some of my brother's music cassettes (his own recordings, he's a musician, so there really wasn't any doubt). The man responisble was arrested and promply released. He was still living next door when my brother moved out of those apartments. There's no room in America's prisons for people who victimize the poor.

    My definition of "theft" is something physically taken. This is also yours, if you live in the United States and choose to be bound by our laws. For what I hope is the last time, copyright infringement is _not_ theft.
  • Permission to Pilfer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LuYu (519260) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:40PM (#10073771) Homepage Journal

    'P2P does not stand for 'permission to pilfer,' Ashcroft said.
    No. It stands for:
    Permission (
    for the Injustice Department) to pilfer (your computer).

    File swappers -- even if guilty of infingement -- are NOT stealing. Period.

  • by iamatlas (597477) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:59PM (#10073930) Homepage
    40 Petabyes = 42,949,672,960 megabytes


    42,949,672,960 megabytes / 60,000 movies = 715,827.883 megabytes per movie, or 699.050667 gigabytes per movie.

    All math for this comment was done using the all-powerful web interface to the god Google using its conversion feature, i.e., "40 petabytes in gigabytes" don't believe me? try it for yourself [google.com]

  • Re:Strange wording (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gargonia (798684) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @07:00PM (#10073947)
    I've heard stuff like this suggested before, and it makes a lot of sense. I think some bands ought to post the cost of recording an album (including paying themselves for their time doing so) on a website and then start begging for the funds via paypal or something. Seems like it would be really easy to put up some sort of chart indicating how much money had been received by any band and how close that put them to being able to record an album. The albums would be released for free via the band's website and the P2P networks, of course, since the fans had already paid for them in advance. Bands that suck won't make enough money to record... bands that people like would get to record as often as the public continues to fund them. The same process should work for movie production now that the means to shoot and edit a professional movie is within reach of a lot of people.

    I think what scares the hell out of the movie and recording industries is that this would take them out of the catbird seat. It would no longer be necessary to pay for large chunks of the current apparatus for making movies, recording albums, and distributing content, and that makes a lot of executive types sweat bullets. The recording and movie industry as we know it would most likely shrivel up and float away on the wind. There's really no reason why artists cannot be supported directly by the public, and probably better supported than they currently are by a lot of media companies.

    The democratization of these industries is coming, whether the media companies like it or not... the handwriting is on the wall, whether or not they choose to look at it.

  • by zenyu (248067) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @07:07PM (#10074018)
    News flash: you don't have to be convicted of a crime to have evidence seized. If someone steals your wallet and the cops catch the guy, guess what -- you don't get your wallet back! IT'S EVIDENCE. Once the court case is over and the appeals process has run its course, THEN you get your wallet back. DUH.

    Actually under current law, upheld by the SCOTUS, the FBI and local law breakers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H enforcement can sieze property and declare it guilty of a conspiracy to commit a crime. Now you can always sue the government to get back the stuff they robbed you of, but it will cost you at least $20,000 to try. Only the most stubborn go through that hell. Sane people just say "to hell with the American fascist state" and continue their lives as if it were an act of nature that injured them.

    The stories of those that fight back are heart breaking, professional photographers that have 20 years of negatives maliciously scratched beyond all recognition by the time they are returned. Men who have their hard won businesses destroyed and their unfortunate employees. Charities that lose all the funds intended for good work. They usually win their court cases eventually, but it is always a pyrrhic victory, years of their life are gone. The cost of fighting against an evil force with the almost unlimited purse of the American tax payer far outweighs the initial losses.
  • by keyshawn632 (726102) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @07:08PM (#10074032) Journal
    uhh...actually the site currently says as of now "11792.07 TB" and according to google;

    11792.07 TB = 11.5156934 petabytes

    So yeah, the DOJ is lying, but hey - look on the bright side, it's not as much as we thought ^_^
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @07:12PM (#10074077)
    Copy != Take.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @07:36PM (#10074226)
    You are arguing semantics, and completely ignoring the fact that THE INFORMATION is what is being offered for sale, not the medium.

    Then why are "they" trying to make it illegal for me to use the information in a legal manner? Such as outlawing the tools necessary to exercise my fair use of the information?

    Why are "they" not providing low-cost replacements/upgrades? I buy a game and updates come out, I get them for free. There were lots of software that was available in multiple media forms in the same box (or free with coupon) for those that needed floppies instead of CDs. When is the last time you bought a song that was on both tape and CD for your convenience?

    They want the best of both worlds. They pretend they are selling IP only when that is most beneficial to them. They pretend that they are selling physical disks when that is most beneficial to them. They pretend they are selling licenses when that is most beneficial to them. But it is impossible (and illegal) for that to be the case.

    Of course, it is also not "theft" because the copyright holder is not deprived of anything. Yes, that is arguing semantics. The definition of symantics is the meaning of words. You are using the word in a manner inconsistent with its actual meaning. Correction your incorrect usage is symantics by default. Just as if I said the sky is red and you corrected me and said it was blue. That is also a matter of symantics. I used the word incorrectly.
  • by Abjifyicious (696433) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @08:38PM (#10074638)
    Probably not more than a few hundredths of one percent.

    I wouldn't be so sure. The number of scrolls in The Library is estimated to have been somewhere between 400,000 and 700,000. Now let's make a very generous allocation of 5MB for each scroll. I've got a 700 page PDF on my desktop that's only 2.5 MB, so this is probably a bit high, but I'd rather guess too high than too low.

    5MB for each scroll times 700,000 scrolls comes up to about 3.5 terabytes. 5 hubs that each contained 40 petabytes of data is 200 petabytes. 200 petabytes divided by 3.5 terabytes is 58514.

    In terms of raw data, they destroyed more than fifty thousand Libraries of Alexandria.

    Now admitidly, scrolls are a more efficient medium for conveying information than movies, and the information stored in The Library was far more important than what was probably stored in these hubs. Nevertheless, it makes our current culture seem hippocratic when you compare this sort of thing to the general opinion that the burning of The Library was a tragedy. Many of the manuscripts contained within The Library were aquired by means no more legitimate than today's file sharing; copying without permission.

  • by nevada-bill (657074) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:00PM (#10074782)
    Ok, I've waited long enough. Here is my suggestion.
    People are used to being entertained for free. For example flip on the radio out pops music, didnt cost me a dime. TV, same thing. Who pays for this?
    Advertisers!
    Companies, get a clue. Buy some songs, add a 5 second clip and release it to the public.
    Sure a lot of people would strip the add but most probably would'nt especially if it made it legal and was kept short.
    Like "Garth Brooks singing I've got friends in low places brought to you by the law firm of..." well you get the idea.
  • by kiddailey (165202) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:42PM (#10074999) Homepage

    I'm seeding about 9GB of non-commercial, freely-distributed game mods to Gnutella (custom user-made maps for UT2004, Doom3, etc).

    Every time I see one of these reports I get nervous thinking that they'll come busting my door down on the mistaken idea that because of the bandwidth I'm using that I must be swapping illegal content.

    Of course, I have nothing to worry about, but the abuse of power is disgusting and there are much more important things in our country that need attending to.
  • by Cyberllama (113628) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:15PM (#10075184)
    Yes, but these were just hubs. The actual data was still stored on the computers of the people sharing the files -- and they are ultimately the ones responsible for the data they're sharing. These individuals are essentially doing the same thing Napster did -- provide a conduit by which others can exchange data (legally or illegaly by their own choice) and then not policing it to ensure the content is kept legal (or perhaps even actively encouraging illegal content).

    Does anyone else but me think that at MOST this should be a civil issue? Just becuase they've given people the means to violate copyright doesn't mean their as guilty as the people who do it. Last time I checked there was no such thing as "conspiracy to violate copyrights" charge. . .
  • Re:Terminology (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sj0 (472011) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:25PM (#10075238) Homepage Journal
    Directconnect hubs generally have far fewer machines than that.
  • by nanojath (265940) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @11:28PM (#10075540) Homepage Journal
    They are clearly directing and operating an enterprise which countenances illegal activity and makes as a condition of membership the willingness to make available material to be stolen

    Yeah, I mean, I gotta admit, I find it difficult to dredge up that much sympathy for people who knowingly and egregiously violate the law... I mean they're not running the underground railroad here, you known? But it's pretty damn dissapointing when your attorney general doesn't know the legal definition of theft.
  • Re:Your Arguement? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tom's a-cold (253195) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @11:46PM (#10075611) Homepage
    Let's not forget that copyright property is a state-sponsored temporary monopoly which creates a scarcity which does not correspond to any state in reality. No such scarcity exists or would exist except as created by law.
    While I believe that filesharing should not be illegal, I can't help noticing that one could formulate a similar argument about all property. That makes me suspect that your argument is either invalid, or something extremely radical should happen that's not restricted to file trading.

  • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross.yahoo@ca> on Thursday August 26, 2004 @01:51AM (#10075982)
    Here is your answer:

    A democracy, like Switzerland! Not a representational government.
  • "underground"... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kjella (173770) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @03:50AM (#10076227) Homepage
    ...my ass. If you had enough GB to share, join one of their hubs. If you have a real share, you'll get a transfer to a "real" hub quite fast. This isn't exactly a secret society, it is more like a trivial screening to keep out the shitheads with spam messages, fake files, upload throttling and other crap.

    Kjella
  • by HeghmoH (13204) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @05:55AM (#10076524) Homepage Journal
    Yes, but they don't want to deliver content. They want to receive money. The fact that they have to deliver content in order to receive money is just a side issue for the modern RIAA.
  • by Ashyukun (551101) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:21AM (#10077177) Homepage
    Whether it's 40PB or 200TB is fairly irrelevent at this point. These people are commiting atrocious amounts of piracy and should be locked up in prison for the rest of their lives for their crimes against humanity.

    Agreed. Noone should be inflicting that much Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys on the world. And heaven help us if someone had Gigli up on the network!

    Crimes I'll concede and not argue with- what they were doing is currently illegal. But against humanity? Unless you're defining "humanity == RIAA/MPAA Profits", I'd say, 'Nope.'

  • by blackSphere (641407) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @10:39AM (#10078739)
    1MB = 10^6 bytes 4000MB = 40 * 10^6 * 10^ 3 = 4 * 10 ^ 10

    Could be wrong, but in this line you're saying 4000=40*10^3

    Think that should be 4*10^3.

    In your later post you say that means 4GB per song. Since the factor's off by 10, I guess that means it's really 400MB per song.

    But then again...
    40 * 10^15 (40PB) = 4 * 10 ^ 16 bytes then becomes
    (40 * 10^16)bytes
    So I guess that all evens out back to 4GB
    But then again, I'm a geer, so I can't do simple math without a calculator and could be way off!

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