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RICO Suit Filed Against Skype Founders 155

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the jealous-of-success dept.
Stitch_Surfs writes "Defendant Skype Technologies S A, Niklas Zennstrom, Janus Friis, Kazaa, Bluemoon Ou and a slew of others have been named in a Rico Suit Filed by StreamCast Networks, of Houston, Texas. StreamCast is the company credited with the development of the Peer to Peer Technology called Morpheus. From the little information the courts have released, StreamCast is claiming that the group engaged in corrupt business practices."
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RICO Suit Filed Against Skype Founders

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  • So that's what RICO [wikipedia.org] stands for...
  • Yeah, right. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015)
    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
    • It has been said that in the field of UFOlogy, of all things, that they eat their own young. A strange reference, from a strange field. But what does it mean?

      In this context, it means that in that field, when someone becomes something of a celebrity, for one reason or another, many, if not all of the other celebs and bloggers, etc. in the field have a tendency to gang up on the new comer. If someone is succesful, the others sabotage him as they can. Flame wars and other forms of infighting are routine. The

      • The field never really gains respect, because, to one degree or another, they are off their rockers, and tear each other down.

        Well, yeah. And the fact that there's not one single shred of evidence to back any of the "UFOlogist's" claims might have a little bearing, also.

        BTW, What the hell is UFOlogy? Is that a non-field of study like crypto-zoology?
  • by tehpwn (896928) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @01:15PM (#14998362)
    It's quite scary that a group named Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization is allowed to fill suit against honest companies!
  • Pacer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tester (591) <olivier.crete@ o c r e t e . ca> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @01:20PM (#14998381) Homepage
    Can anyone with a Pacer account get the complaint full text ?
    • Re:Pacer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by evil agent (918566) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:11PM (#14998568)
      Good question. And here's another one:

      Can we please stop linking to these damn blogs. Especially ones that are nearly devoid of any useful info.

      • RICO in a nutshell (Score:4, Informative)

        by aws910 (671068) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:21PM (#14998895)
        Here's your better link. From info in TFA and here [ricoact.com], it looks like Streamcast is alleging that Skype(and others) did one(or more) of many things:

        a. use an enterprise to launder money generated by a pattern of racketeering activity

        b. a victim business owner cannot make payments to a loan shark; upon default, the loan shark says: "you're either going to die or you're going to give me your business." Given the threat to this life, the victim transfers control of his business to the loan shark. Usually, the victim business owner remains the owner on paper but the loan shark controls the business and receives all income from the business. Thus, the loan shark has acquired and maintained interest or control over an enterprise (i.e. the business) through a pattern of racketeering (i.e., loan sharking and extortion).

        c. [Streamcast] has been injured by reason of the defendants' investment of the proceeds of racketeering activity / (1) a defendant person[Skype] (2) was employed by or associated with an enterprise (3) that engaged in or affected interstate commerce and that (4) the defendant person operated or managed the enterprise (5) through a pattern (6) of racketeering activity, and (7) the plaintiff[Streamcast] was injured in its business or property by reason of the pattern of racketeering activity.
    • with some scanning problems at that:

      Skype RICO complaint part 1 [blogs.com]

      Skype RICO complaint part 2 [blogs.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I read the article, but I can't understand StreamCast's involvement.
    How would they have been harmed by the allegations, or what would they stand to gain from a conviction?
    • Re:Looking deeper (Score:3, Informative)

      by jonbryce (703250)
      The founders of Skype previously set up Kazaa, and ran it until they sold it to Sharman Networks.

      Streamcast started life as the largest alternative Napster network. When that was shut down by the courts, they launched a rebranded version of Kazaa.

      Kazaa a bit later on released a non-compatible version of their software which had the effect of kicking them off the network. Apparently they hadn't paid their bills for the use of the software, but Streamcast deny this.

      They then relaunched as a spyware infested
  • Query... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Illbay (700081) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @01:36PM (#14998439) Journal
    Is it possible that SteamCast is a surrogate for a larger organization or consortium?
    • Re:Query... (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Is it possible that SteamCast is a surrogate for a larger organization or consortium?

      Yes. That is possible.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A picture is worth a thousand words...
  • No way (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wkitchen (581276) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @01:37PM (#14998443)
    From the little information the courts have released, StreamCast is claiming that the group engaged in corrupt business practices.
    No way. The good folks at Skype would never engage in corrupt business practices [slashdot.org]
    • Re:No way (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MBCook (132727)
      I read a great piece on that whole debacle. I think it was in Forbes.

      They made that software Intel only when it didn't need to be. This was found out (much to no-one's surprise) and they looked terrible.

      But did it have to be that way?

      The article posited it this way. They should have made that same software, but only bundled it with Intel computers. They wouldn't offer it for download. Other people would find it and put it up for download and it would be discovered that the limit was there and it worked j

      • The idea of reading a great piece on anything in Forbes leaves me a bit suspicious. That could just be because they keep letting Dan Lyons write for them.

        http://wiki.vowe.org/DanLyons [vowe.org]

        • I subscribe to Forbes. It is a fantastic magazine. The writing is insightful and well written (targeted at an adult, not a 7th grade reading level). It's often very interesting, informative, and has quickly become my favorite magazine.

          Every magazine seems to have someone odd working there. Don't judge the magazine based on one opinion columnist.

  • RICO use and abuse (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @01:43PM (#14998462)
    RICO was ostensibly passed to help prosecutors go after mobsters. Mafia organizations were set up so that the guys running them could avoid personal responsibility for the corrupt actiosn of the organization itself, so prosectutors ended up always going after low-level guys, which wasn't right and wasn't productive. So they got RICO which would let them bust the top guys, even if the top guys were not directly involved in the corruption. Prosecutors would just have to show that the organization itself is corrupt.

    But now RICO gets used and abused for many other things. It is used to go after political groups (anti-abortion groups is one case I'm aware of). In this case it sounds like it is being used in a business dispute.

    I swear, if Congress keeps on passing laws that inadvertently (or otherwise) lets law enforcement get involved in what are civil business disputes, this country will be ruined. I was talking with an attorney a while ago who said that these days anyone who is a business leader should have a crim. def. attorney retained or available. There's no way law enforcement can help achieve a fair resolution of a business dispute by getting involved in it.

    ------------
    Contact management, calendar mangement, multiple timezones, sales automation [contempo.biz]

    • Well said! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bobalu (1921) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @01:58PM (#14998521)
      Exactly right, it was originally intended to recover $$$ salted away in mob compounds on Long Island.

      Now they'll use it against kids opening a lemonade stand if they feel like it.
    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:06PM (#14998551)
      It is used to go after political groups (anti-abortion groups is one case I'm aware of).

      I'm not sure that qualifies as abuse of the act. An organized group of people (Operation Rescue) attempting to extort legal businesses (abortion clinics) into either changing or closing entirely through threats (see what is on some of their websites), intimidation (in-your-face confrontations directly in front of clinics), and violence (bombings and beatings tacitly accepted as part of the struggle), simply because their view isn't your view (First Amendment issue of everyone, including clinics have rights to free speech and association and freedom from religion)...

      Yeah, IANAL, but I'd call that a valid RICO case.

      • I'm not sure that qualifies as abuse of the act. An organized group of people (Operation Rescue) attempting to extort legal businesses (abortion clinics) into either changing or closing entirely through threats (see what is on some of their websites), intimidation (in-your-face confrontations directly in front of clinics), and violence (bombings and beatings tacitly accepted as part of the struggle), simply because their view isn't your view (First Amendment issue of everyone, including clinics have rights
        • But telling someone they are evil and going to hell for supporting abortion is not a real threat.

          Exactly.

          KFG
          • by Anonymous Coward
            Actually, telling someone they are going to hell is a threat. But I am glad you don't think it is. It makes the following hypothetical statements purely academic. I hope you go to hell when you die, since you support murdering doctors. I wish for you a short life, since you support murdering women by forcing them to continue medically-unsafe pregnancies. But, please, please, don't consider any of the above a threat. It's not. Really, it's not.

            Exactly.
            • I hope you go to hell when you die, since you support murdering doctors.

              What the fuck are you talking about?

              KFG
        • by Anonymous Coward
          FYI this act has been used agains fringe groups in the pro-life movement that attempt to close clinics through inimidation of their patients. usually they can prove that a group is organizing a blockade of the clinic doors. this is illegal. they are not going after protesters, rather people who think that their rights to free speech include barring enterence to a health provider. if this is your idea of acceptable protest, that is messed up.
        • "Violence is NOT tacitly accepted." The fact that there was discussion (or arguement) before the vote to kill doesn't mean it isn't an act of violence. People who shoot doctors should go to jail for a long time, and the organizations which supported them in their acts of violence are no better. Please understand that such actions have tainted any possible message, and get over it, and find some other way to express your discomfort with the legal actions of others. Thank you.
        • "Not to mention unions, who have a history of being linked with violence and ironically the mob."

          Actually it was business that hired pinkertons to attack the unions. Thus any "link" to violence must begin with unions as the victim of organized and well funded violence. To quote you about yourself: "That is a complete and utter distortion."
      • I'm not sure finding people guilty by whom they choose to associate with is legal.

        Last time I checked, it unconstitutional to prohibit people from peacably assembling.

        With this RICO act, you could be procecuted simply by showing up at a meeting and being seen by an FBI agent who is now allowed to monitor the proceedings without a warrant (also unconstitutional).

        Isn't it funny how these things compound? The government makes booze illegal, a black market forms, then they have to make further laws to combat th
        • "Last time I checked, it unconstitutional to prohibit people from peacably assembling."

          Conspiring to kill somebody doesn't strike me as "peacable."
        • Big difference between "finding people guilty by whom they choose to associate with", and finding people who conspire to commit murder, guilty. Bottom line is that anyone who knowingly gives aid or comfort to those who commit murder is an accomplice.
      • I'm not sure that qualifies as abuse of the act. An organized group of people (Operation Rescue) attempting to extort legal businesses (abortion clinics) into either changing or closing entirely through threats (see what is on some of their websites), intimidation (in-your-face confrontations directly in front of clinics), and violence (bombings and beatings tacitly accepted as part of the struggle)

        A good way to determine if your argument is logically sound is to replace the subject with something you per

        • good way to determine if your argument is logically sound is to replace the subject with something you personally feel differently about. Let's try that, switching anti-abortion with, say, environmentalism:

          Guess what? You're wrong!

          If Greenpeace is supporting ELF (Earth Liberation Front, a designated terrorist group), or their illegal tactics, with money, or even silence where they know of the lawbreakers, send them to jail!

          If PETA is funding the ALF (Animal Liberation Front, also a terrorist group),

          • To add to this, RICO is designed to go after organizations that have IRS filings, be they corporate or NPO. So the users of Slashdot would not constitute a RICO act, because we are merely a loose affiliation of (possible) confederates. And since Slashdot site owners are pretty much hands-off on any sort of endorsements of activity on the site, they will never be charged with RICO for encouraging piracy or civil disobedience or what have you.

            If the PETA officially sanctioned or condoned civil disobedience (o
      • Not to defend the actions of OR, but terminating a pregnancy is hardly speech. It is most definately an act, and while I support a woman's right to choose, spouting off about "freedom of speech, freedom from religion" is just as tasteless and misguided as picketing a clinic. Just different shades of BS...
    • But now RICO gets used and abused for many other things. It is used to go after political groups (anti-abortion groups is one case I'm aware of). In this case it sounds like it is being used in a business dispute.

      I swear, if Congress keeps on passing laws that inadvertently (or otherwise) lets law enforcement get involved in what are civil business disputes, this country will be ruined.

      So you think bombing and the shooting of people who work in abortion clinics are just civil business disputes? Encoura

    • by aminorex (141494)
      > If...this country will be ruined.

      You keep using that subjunctive mood. I do not think it means what you think it does. That horse already left the barn.
      • It certainly doesn't mean what you think it means, since that sentence doesn't use a subjunctive verb. If you want to play grammar nazi, you could insist that the statement is semanticly subjunctive, and that it's a grammatical error not to use a subjunctive verb (if congress continues -> if congress were to continue). Except that's absurdly unidiomatic, like most grammar nazi rules.

        High school English technicalities aside, the author is simply making a statement about the future consequence of current

    • by hunterx11 (778171)
      RICO used against people who aren't the mafia? I am shocked, shocked! Next you'll be telling me that they use the PATRIOT act against people who aren't terrorists!
      • Do they have to be gangsters to be a mafia? In this day and age, with the 'practices' of corporations and such, I'd well imagine quite a few companies count as Mafia. For an Example - Cricket Communications. (Yanno, those 'leave your home phone in your pocket' guys that give you unlimited local and text mesaging that sucks.) They're charging you five dollars to walk into their stores/authorized service dealers to pay your bill with CASH. That's a disadvantage of 'no service contracts.' Basically, they're tr
        • I'm all for more corporate accountability. The problem is that this law gives rather broad powers, and only passed because lawmakers assured everyone that it would only be used to fight organized crime. My point is that every time the government claims that they will exercise discretion when given broad power, they are deliberately and maliciously lying. One cannot honestly support any power being given to government on the pretense that it will only be used in the citizens' best interest; one must assume t
    • I was talking with an attorney a while ago who said that these days anyone who is a business leader should have a crim. def. attorney retained or available.
      a lawyer that thinks that everyone should have a lawyer. does this guy have a name or can we just call him John Q Lawyer?
    • RICO is a free spin on the triple-your-reward wheel. It's almost irresponsible for a lawyer to fail to include RICO in a complaint if it is possible to meet the conditions (interstate trade / multiple people / continuing pattern of activity) and leave it to the court to turn down the triple reward.

      Given the business (interstate phone calls) there's your first hint. "Enterprize" is a slam dunk, and continuing enterprise is self-evident. The trick is to prove unlawful activity - which has yet to be explained.
    • RICO was ostensibly passed to help prosecutors go after mobsters.

      Of course politicans always tell the whole truth...

      Mafia organizations were set up so that the guys running them could avoid personal responsibility for the corrupt actiosn of the organization itself, so prosectutors ended up always going after low-level guys, which wasn't right and wasn't productive.

      Hardly a situation unique to the Mafia.

      So they got RICO which would let them bust the top guys, even if the top guys were not directly in
  • Rico? (Score:3, Funny)

    by sootman (158191) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:03PM (#14998542) Homepage Journal
    Suave!
  • Only Skype? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by anonymous22 (826938)
    This is interesting. Also listed as defendants are other companies that seem to have nothing to do with each other, ie Kazaa, Brilliant Digital Entertainment, etc. Anyone?
  • What is it now? Still pretty much a branding of Gnucleus, or something else? Do they really not have spyware? And I liked them better when they just ran their Music City servers. Or even the spyware-less Kazaa.
  • Is that like when you drop loved ones off or pick them up at the airport and have to go inside the building for about half an hour? You CAN'T park in front of the airport, you are FORCED to park in their lot at high $/minute rates. See, even the government is involved in this dispicable practice. I gues I could just kick my wife out the door of the car and keep rolling...
  • I-K-RICO (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lohphat (521572)
    What's the point of the RICO statutes if it's randomly enforced?

    The Catholic Church knowingly traffiked paedophiles interstate and internationally. Why wasn't it invoked then?
    • Re:I-K-RICO (Score:2, Informative)

      by SierraPete (834755)
      It has been tried [catholicleague.org] as far back as 2002 with little to no success. The US Federal Courts set a very high standard when it comes to tagging an organization with RICO. Even the mob managed to get out from under a prosecution or two because it did not met the strict standard. Likely, neither will this but it gets the issue/complaint out into the media and the publicity/attention is what the plaintiffs are looking for.
    • Re:I-K-RICO (Score:2, Informative)

      by tomcres (925786)
      Because administratively, these matters do not rise above the diocesan level. It comes down to either bad bishops or otherwise good bishops making bad decisions. There has been a lot of hysteria about this. The real facts are that there are only a handful of cases, it's not rampant as the media would have you believe. And secondly, almost all of the cases involved teenage boys, which seems to point not to pedophilia, but to homosexual attraction. Proactively preventing homosexuals from entering the seminari
  • morpheus isn't a "technology", it's a crappy adware app.
  • Mother of God, is this the end of Rico?

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