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RIAA Doesn't Like Independent Experts 258

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the pirates-are-everywhere dept.
Krishna Dagli writes to tell us Ars Technica is looking at the latest in the comedy of errors that is the RIAA's crusade against supposed pirates. From the article: "As one might expect, Arellanes isn't too keen on the idea of sending her hard drive (PDF) to an RIAA star chamber for examination. Citing the RIAA's numerous missteps in its ill-conceived crusade against music fans, she requests that the court require a "neutral computer forensics expert and a protocol protective of non-relevant and privileged information" be used to conduct the examination."
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RIAA Doesn't Like Independent Experts

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  • by legoburner (702695) on Monday September 04, 2006 @06:53AM (#16036966) Homepage Journal
    It seems that every other week I am reading about another flaw in the RIAA's legal cases. Now it seems that anybody who wants to fight and starts getting close to winning has the RIAA cancel the case. Will there come a time when enough people (or their lawyers) get educated as to the ways to win/stop the cases that the RIAA will start using different means of oppression? Am I right in thinking that in the US, the RIAA does not have to pay the court costs for the loser if they withdraw the charges?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by legoburner (702695)
      court costs for the loser

      That should obviously be court costs for the winner.
    • by rolfwind (528248)
      I think a countersuit is necessary to collect that sort of thing. Of course, the RIAA may offer to pay your lawyer fees as part of the settlement if they decide the best course of action is to withdraw and withdraw quickly.

      On the case itself, wouldn't the best course of action be to make a few exact copies of that harddrive, just in case the original craps out if nothing else and also so the data can't be slightly altered by the "expert" witnesses.
      • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:26AM (#16037197) Homepage
        Now for the normal user additional copies of the hard drive is expensive, not to mention the technical ability to create them. There is also the issue of a gross invasion of privacy.

        The RIAA want their expert so they can grossly invade the privacy of the user (an issue which an obviously biased judge seems to forget when looking at personal, rather than business use) so other information can be used to force the issue in their favour.

        Deleted embarassing photos or private letters or even childrens photos (and nobody wants the pervert asshats at the RIAA pawing over the photos of your friends and family), no, you destroyed incriminating evidence.

        They obviously want to go far beyond what they are entitled to, like a bunch of perverted freaks. Deny everything, admit to nothing, make them prove anything.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BakaHoushi (786009)
          Maybe you can clear something up for me. This is a lawsuit, and not a criminal case, but shouldn't the rule still be that you need some type of evidence to even BEGIN a case? I mean, someone can't be charged with murder unless, you know, there's a body that has been murdered, right? I mean, in an ideal world, anyway, it should go like this:
          RIAA: We're suing you.
          Me: On what grounds?
          RIAA: For the contents of your harddrive!
          Me: But you don't know what's on my harddrive.
          RIAA: No, but once you give it to us, we'
    • by dyamkovoy (993805) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:33AM (#16037060)
      It's like a bad poker game.

      RIAA bets 1 bogus charge
      Defendant raises 1 "let me see your evidence"
      RIAA sees "let me see your evidence" and raises 1 "give me your hard drive"
      Defendant raises 1 countersuit
      RIAA folds.
    • It seems that every other week I am reading about another flaw in the RIAA's legal cases. Now it seems that anybody who wants to fight and starts getting close to winning has the RIAA cancel the case. Will there come a time when enough people (or their lawyers) get educated as to the ways to win/stop the cases that the RIAA will start using different means of oppression? Am I right in thinking that in the US, the RIAA does not have to pay the court costs for the loser if they withdraw the charges?

      In gene

  • by elh_inny (557966) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:07AM (#16037005) Homepage Journal
    I live outside US, in an EU country and I constantly see how many basic freedom rights are violated in US.
    With all the recent actions of NSA, RIAA, MPAA, it seems like you hardly care about things like:
    -freedom
    -what is not explicitly banned should be allowed
    -all citizens should be considered innocent unless explicitly proven otherwise, within US agencies, it seems the assumption is the other way around
    Perhaps your life is still very bearable with those restrictions, but I would firmly rebel against such treatment...
    I can't provide you a withsimple solution, but it seems nothing is being done to counteract the wrong-doings of your government, it can only deteriorate form that point :(
    I don't know how many people have changed their minds recently, but I don't want to go to USA anymore.
    • by oclawgeek (861555) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:24AM (#16037043)
      I agree with you, somewhat. First, however, copyright violations are explicitly forbidden, so that argument does not seem terribly relevant. However, the people currently in control of the federal government (as opposed to the governments of at least some of our states), are people who have decided that they prefer safety to liberty, and are perfectly willing to trade most or all of the latter for the illusion of the former. In this Faustian bargain, they will end up with neither - which is only just, as Benjamin Franklin famously (in the U.S., at least) observed. There is a simple word for this, naturally: cowardice. These same people tend to now populate the courts, but with the added vice of intellectual dishonesty so that the rights expressly granted to the citizenry in our Constitution are simply interpreted out of existence; any who dare acknowledge them are branded as "judicial activists" or traitors. But don't give up hope, world: we have a rich heritage of eventual rejection of the kind of nincompoopery you see in our federal government today. Let us hope we reject them soon.
      • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2NO@SPAMearthshod.co.uk> on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:28AM (#16037204)
        Yes, copyright violations are explicitly forbidden; but not every MP3 represents a copyright violation. The idea of "innocent until proven guilty" (we used to have that in the UK once) should still hold: any copy should be presumed to be permitted under the doctrine of "fair use" unless it can be proved otherwise. And the scope of fair use in the USA is quite broad.

        If the US courts still work anything like the UK courts on which they were modelled, decisions in one court can set precedents. If enough people claim "fair use" and win, the scope of fair use will be widened. I guess the RIAA would sooner drop a case than continue prosecuting it and risk further expanding fair use. In the best case, a jury could even decide that P2P filesharing constitutes fair use!

        Also, there are two things very wrong with the US legal system. One is that lawyers are allowed to demand payment before a verdict is agreed upon by all parties. And two is that even if you win a case, you have to pay your own costs. These two make it possible to bankrupt someone in the courts before a verdict is delivered. In a truly fair legal system, the lawyers would only be paid after all appeals were exhausted and both sides' costs would be borne by the losing party.
        • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:18AM (#16037353) Homepage
          In a truly fair legal system, the lawyers would only be paid after all appeals were exhausted and both sides' costs would be borne by the losing party.

          It sounds nice, but if you don't sort of implicitly assume that all cases are resolved in a just manner. Well... Suppose you have $citizen who wants to sue $EvilCorp for being evil. The citizen does so. The citizen loses. The citizen has to pay EvilCorp's lawyers millions. That's a really good way to discourage suing EvilCorp. (Or consider the other way around. $EvilCorp sues $citizen because it's evil. They win. To add insult to injury, the citizen now also loses millions paying for the lawyers.)

          That's the three-second Slashdot version, admittedly, but loser-pays is not all peaches and cream and pretty fluffy bunnies. Here's some random Internet paper that looks to present a few of the issues:

          The fundamental problem with a loser-pays proposal is that it would chill counsel from pursuing cases involving potentially legitimate claims where success is uncertain ... Given the numerous variables that counsel must weigh, and the uncertainty of the outcome, the prospect of facing automatic sanctions for merely being incorrect would undoubtably deter a great number of claims that warrant pursuit.
          -- MARC I. GROSS LOSER-PAYS -- OR WHOSE "FAULT" IS IT ANYWAY: A RESPONSE TO HENSLER-ROWE'S "BEYOND 'IT JUST AIN'T WORTH IT'" [duke.edu]
          • by ajs318 (655362)
            The solution is to insure yourself against losing. If the insurer believes you have a strong case, then they will take the job on. If they don't, then they won't. This acts to weed out time wasters, by keeping cases without merit away from the courts.

            Obviously, it depends on the insurer's ability to predict success or failure; but that's exactly what insurers do for a living anyway. (It occurs to me that insuring is like placing very large bets at very short odds. If you get it right, you win an amou
        • And then neither party would admit defeat because they are betting everything. There is a point where you have to cut your losses even if you might be able to win.
        • by dirk (87083)
          Yes, copyright violations are explicitly forbidden; but not every MP3 represents a copyright violation. The idea of "innocent until proven guilty" (we used to have that in the UK once) should still hold: any copy should be presumed to be permitted under the doctrine of "fair use" unless it can be proved otherwise. And the scope of fair use in the USA is quite broad.
          If the US courts still work anything like the UK courts on which they were modelled, decisions in one court can set precedents. If enough people
        • by westlake (615356)
          The idea of "innocent until proven guilty" (we used to have that in the UK once) should still hold: any copy should be presumed to be permitted under the doctrine of "fair use" unless it can be proved otherwise. And the scope of fair use in the USA is quite broad.

          Let me remind you, for what seems like the 10,000th time:

          INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN QUILTY IS NOT THE STANDARD OF PROOF IN AMERICAN CIVIL LAW.

          In the best case, a jury could even decide that P2P filesharing constitutes fair use!

          CIVIL JURIES ARE PRS

        • any copy should be presumed to be permitted under the doctrine of "fair use" unless it can be proved otherwise. And the scope of fair use in the USA is quite broad.

          Unfortunately fair use no longer exists in the US. It was tossed out when the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, DMCA, was enacted. Many politicans are getting decidely friendly with mass media and an enemy to consumers.

          Falcon
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aadvancedGIR (959466)
        I don't agree, they are not prefering safety over liberty, they are prefering their fortune to your safety or liberty and using the illusion of safety to get their hand on public money.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gilroy (155262)
        Blockquoth the poster:

        However, the people currently in control of the federal government ... are people who have decided that they prefer safety to liberty

        Actually, they've decided they prefer power to either.
      • Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

        As another poster said, the people in the federal government have preferred power to liberty--but limiting it to the current people in charge is silly. It's been going on for at lesat 100 years. Hell, go back to Abraham Lincoln and suspension of Habeus Corpus.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rolfwind (528248)
      From my observations, the continued abuses on our Freedoms comes from the bottom up in society in a lot of situations. I mean, a lot of things ingrained in our basic groupthink (as a country) about things allows this sort of thing to happen. Many of the defiencies in the legal system (mostly that it seems Justice is bought, and that courts seem to care more about protocol than right or wrong anymore) stem from English Common Law and works it's way up from there - sort of like how Microsoft's security prob
      • by Phillip2 (203612) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:49AM (#16037096)
        In general, when people say England is a police state, it's preparatory to a diatribe against either a) speed cameras or b) immigration.

        Holding people without charge for years, shooting unarmed civilians or searching people for having beards or being Asian is fine, of course, and a necessary response to terrorism.

        I'd like to say that such people can be safely ignored as the sad lunatics that they are. But, sadly, they are becoming more of a political force now than they have been for years.

        Phil

        • by CmdrGravy (645153)
          "In general, when people say England is a police state, it's preparatory to a diatribe against either a) speed cameras or b) immigration."

          Absolutely, if you meet these people at outdoor events they will usually try to sell you some sort of magazine and attempt to explain how the current government is directly comparable to Nazi Germany. They will not listen to reason and should be shot out of hand.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by greenechidna (824493)
          A lot of nonsence is, indeed, talked about a) speed cameras or b) immigration. However, as far as I have noticed, only the former gets cited as an example of police state behaviour and then rarely. Normally it is seen as a cynical revenue raising tactic. I don't have a problem with either a) or b). I do have a problem with the proposed ID cards bill, the attempt to limit access to trial by jury and similar initiatives. Your mixing of several points suggests but does not make explicit, that these are a
          • by Phillip2 (203612)

            No, the current government is a right wing cabal:-)

            I agree with your point actually; I was trying to say much the same -- there are signs all around of us of a police state arising, but when it is discussed it generally seems to be speed cameras that come out. I find this depressing; not least, because I like speed cameras. I'm a cyclist and the roads are much better now.

            Phil
        • by lga (172042)
          My local town centre is subject to a police control order.

          A police officer can ask anyone to leave the town centre, and refusing to do so is an arrestable offence.

          Now that, is the genesis of a police state.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Paperkirin (888073)
          My only problem with speed cameras is that on a dual carriageway near my home, the morons in other cars see the speed camera signs and immediately drop their speed to less than 50 mi/h (80 km/h) - ignoring totally that they are still allowed to go at the statutory dual carriageway speed of 70 mi/h (110 km/h). Though I suppose this is more of a problem with people not knowing the highway code than the cameras themselves.
        • by xtracto (837672)
          In general, when people say England is a police state, it's preparatory to a diatribe against either a) speed cameras or b) immigration.

          Well I dont know too much about what a police state is but from the time I have spent here (2 years now) I can say that the government DO have you controlled under a "scared to hell" tactic. I mean, you just have to read the letters I have received from the "TV Licesnse authority", god, although I dont give a shit about the TV license ( as I dont watch TV doh!) I have quite
          • by Phillip2 (203612)
            Actually, the TV license authority is not strictly governmental.

            I do agree somewhat with your point though. I don't have a TV, so have a pile of
            these letters also. I think that the current model is daft -- 98% of households
            do have a TV, so this is clearly a daft way of collecting money. General taxation
            would work so much better, or a tax on the sale of equipment.

            My own worry, of course, is what happens if they put TV cards into laptops
            routinely as happened with wireless. Of course, many people don't use bro
        • by MartinB (51897) on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:44AM (#16037444) Homepage
          Holding people without charge for years,

          28 days is the current limit, although the government wanted 90 days.

          shooting unarmed civilians or searching people for [...] being Asian is fine, of course, and a necessary response to terrorism.

          Replace Asian with Irish and that was the case for a *long* time. Travelling in possession of an Irish Accent was a defacto offence throughout the 70s and 80s, which is why the treatment meted out at airports these days is making me absolutely furious, having had enough friends and relatives who were on the receiving end of this.

          • 28 days is the current limit, although the government wanted 90 days.

            28 days in the UK (although as I understand it, it used to be far less than that prior to the passage of RIPA. Please correct me if I'm wrong.).

            It is 3 days in the US, and yet there are men held as 'enemy combatants' in Guantanemo Bay who have been there going on 3+ years. And yet still nobody raises a loud enough stink to get that behavior ruled unconstitutional.

            I simply fail to comprehend the world we live in.

            which is why the treatme

        • by waferhead (557795)
          Privacy invasion cameras every 100 yards in the US will never catch on,
          as they would suffer greatly from another long standing US tradition,
          the "right to bear arms"...

          At traffic lights? Most people realize they probably do some good.

          Anywhere else they had better be armored like an M-1 tank, and have paint proof optics.
          (especially paint proof optics...)
      • by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:17AM (#16037176)
        "From my observations, the continued abuses on our Freedoms comes from the bottom up in society in a lot of situations. I mean, a lot of things ingrained in our basic groupthink (as a country) about things allows this sort of thing to happen."

        How are gutting judicial oversight, running up the national deficit, invading countries without just cause and removing civil liberties like privacy and free speech coming from the bottom-up?

        I see plenty of people apologising for Bush after he announces each new violation of civil liberties or due process, but very few people campaigning to have cameras in every house and strip-searches every time you enter a building before he announces the ideas.

        "Many of the defiencies in the legal system (mostly that it seems Justice is bought, and that courts seem to care more about protocol than right or wrong anymore) stem from English Common Law and works it's way up from there - sort of like how Microsoft's security problems continually stem from the same sources. Until we address more than the symptoms, the problem continue to happen."

        Hmmm. Our democracy has problems, true, but it's lasted for several hundred years longer than yours so far. You've now got fewer civil liberties than us, your country's younger, and you're already vastly more institutionally corrupt than we are.

        <FLAMEBAIT>
        I'd say your problems stem fro mthe things you did differently, not the things you did the same... >:-)
        </FLAMEBAIT>

        Reversing the 1886 decision to give corporations most of the same rights as people would be a good start.

        "But you should specify where in the EU you are from. I recently hosted an Englishman at my place, and he says that while England is a police state"

        Hyperbole, although it's slowly tending in the same direction as the USA. It's common knowledge in the UK that whatever the US does, five years later the UK is at least seriously debating.

        "and none of the younger generation want to live there any longer,"

        Hyperbole. If the younger generation wanted to leave we all could. People grumble and worry about the government, but not nearly as much as in the USA. TBH, polls indicate we worry more about the US government than our own, as they're much more of a threat to world peace.

        "he's for more draconian reforms since "if you have nothing to hide, what do you have to worry about?" Funny that, since he's moving out of England soon."

        Where's he moving to? Highly amusing if it's the USA.

        Referring you to a quote by Robert Anton Wilson (IIRC): "It only takes 30 years for a liberal to turn into a conservative, without changing a single idea".

        Also, remember the usual caveats about generalising from a single data-point.
        • by MartinB (51897)

          and none of the younger generation want to live there any longer,

          Hyperbole. If the younger generation wanted to leave we all could.

          You didn't see the last census numbers then..? There's a huge hole in men aged 18-30 not explicable through birth & death data, which is analysed as being due to emigration.

          People grumble and worry about the government, but not nearly as much as in the USA.

          Perhaps that's because people aren't really paying attention. Can't see even the most rabid members of PNAC se

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:38AM (#16037077)
      You know, I had a post written up on this kind of thing some time back, but it's too old for me to find a link and I don't really feel like writing another "Welcome to how the US legal system works guide." So I'll summarize:

      1) If you get your news on the situation from /. please stop forming opinions. This is not a balanced source.
      2) Please take the time to enlighten yourself about the US legal system (difference between criminal and civil) before spouting off about it.
      3) Get off your fucking high horse. Are there disturbing things happening in the US? Yes. Are there in your part of the world too? You betcha. I don't know what country you are from and really, it doesn't matter. Wherever it is, I guarantee there's some scary big brother stuff that some people are pushing. Hell, some of it you may already have and are just used to it, you might even think it's normal whereas it'd scare me. Either way this "I'm scared to go to the US," is an attitude that screams ignorance.

      Seriously it is really tiresome seeing Europeans with this high and mighty "We are so free over here and the US has become a horrible dictatorship," attitude. It's as bad as Americans that see the French as weak, cheese eating surrender monkeys.

      I know it's trendy to hate on the US. It's even trendy for many over here. But if you are going to do it, at least be intelligent about it.
      • by zootm (850416) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:56AM (#16037118)

        I'm not one of the "US-hater" crowd, but I think I should at least point out why so many people take America's politics so seriously when, to a US citizen, it probably seems like none of their business.

        Basically, this all comes back to us. If the RIAA/PATRIOT act/name your favourite anti-American act seemingly supported by the federal goverment here prevail in the US, international pressure appears for our countries to adopt similar ("compatible") measures. I get very much up in arms about these things happening on my doorstep (I live in the UK, and we have a lot of equivalent situations, as you point out), but all the while, in order to be conscientious, I have to keep an eye on the goings-on in the US, and I feel the right to speak on them, even though it is not my government, because the decision made will come back to me.

        Of course, the extreme incarnation of this nonsense is people gaining a large resentment of the US, which on the whole it does not deserve. The US is a country whose base principles are those of freedom, and even if it didn't affect the rest of us, the perversion of these principles would be a tragedy to behold for those of us with "more traditional" societal backgrounds.

        But, yeah, don't feed the trolls and so on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pubjames (468013)
        Seriously it is really tiresome seeing Europeans with this high and mighty "We are so free over here and the US has become a horrible dictatorship," attitude.

        You reap what you sow.

        The image your government projects is that of trying to spread freedom and democracy around the world, when they actually just work in the interests of the USA. And many Americans are also under the belief that the USA is the place with the most freedom in the world. These things wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that m
        • by griffjon (14945)
          hear hear. The US has been spreading democracy since WWII (before, too, just not as well marketed). We've had some great successes! I mean, just think of the democratic governments we've replaced with dictators in such culturally diverse locations as the Philippines, Nicaragua, San Salvador...

          Oh, wait. We're supposed to be doing that the other way, right?

          I'm certainly biased, but has there ever been a case where the US has muddled around in the affairs of another nation's government and had it turn into
          • supporting democracy (Score:3, Informative)

            by falconwolf (725481)

            hear hear. The US has been spreading democracy since WWII (before, too, just not as well marketed). We've had some great successes! I mean, just think of the democratic governments we've replaced with dictators in such culturally diverse locations as the Philippines, Nicaragua, San Salvador...

            You left out Chile, where under Gen Pinochet thousands were killed and tens of thousands simply "disappeared". And East Timor [wikipedia.org] where after Indonesia invaded with the support of the US 200,000 were murdered. That

        • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:17PM (#16038272) Homepage Journal
          Living just to the north of the USA in Canada, I can say with much disdain that the USA now resembles very much the land they portrayed the USSR to be back in the Cold War. Government snooping, spying on your own citizens, protection of the oligarchy from legal repercussions, encouraging individuals to spy on each other (1-800 snitch lines), putting people in jail and throwing away the proverbial key, no access to lawyers, no access to Red Cross or other foreign help for non-naturals.

          Welcome to the great empire of the USA.
        • by HiThere (15173) *
          especially when the USA doesn't actually look any freer to us than any other first world country.

          And less free than many. Currently the Nordic group of countries, taken as a whole, look to be the freest, but that *IS* an outside viewpoint. Canada is another good choice, and so is New Zealand.

          One thing these freer countries have in common is a low population density. I'm not sure about Iceland. I believe that it's near the top in freedom, but also that people emigrate. I'm also not sure about Norway, as
      • by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:41AM (#16037232)
        Amen to your points 1 and 2, and everything Zootm replied with.

        However:

        "3) Get off your fucking high horse. Are there disturbing things happening in the US? Yes. Are there in your part of the world too? You betcha. I don't know what country you are from and really, it doesn't matter. Wherever it is, I guarantee there's some scary big brother stuff that some people are pushing."

        There are several things wrong with this position:

        1. You don't know what country your reader is in, and yet you're absolutely sure there are equivalent problems going on. This is clearly bullshit, since you don't know exactly what's going on in every other country on earth. Also, anyone from (for example), Sweden could then bitch about the USA all they liked.

        It also speaks volumes about why the US administration is allowed to get away with it. You blithely assume the US is no worse than everyone else, so by extension whatever the US government does is "normal" across the world. It is not. The USA is the current thought-leader (and worse, arm-twister) pushing this kind of gutting of democracy and abuse of power across the world.

        Tony Blair would be having wet dreams about the kind of police state he could construct, were it not for the US destabilising whole regions of the globe, upping the frequency of terrorism and cultivating the atmosphere of fear TB needs to get his (and Bush's) agenda across.

        2. You appear to not understand the difference between a qualitative and a quantitative difference. Do many/most other countries have problems with lack of education/authoritarian governments/new technology eroding civil liberties/corrupt representatives/corporate interference in politics? Yes.

        Does any other country on the face of the planet have as many problems (and quite as publically) as the USA has for the last decade or so? No.

        3. You reap what you sow. The rest of the world has spent over a century listening to the USA's claims to be the leader of the free world, shining example of democracy and free-market capitalism, and epitome of open-minded tolerance. Although never as white as you painted it, the USA was generally viewed as arrogant, but essentially the "good guy". Now your freedoms are violated and removed, your democracy is tainted and corrupt and your political and legal processes are often an open market for corporations to purchase the results they want.

        And if this wasn't a come-down enough, at the same time your administration is crowing even louder than ever about your "Freedom" and "Democracy" (which seem to be different to "freedom" and "democracy", since both of those are clearly being eroded right before everyone's eyes).

        "Hell, some of it you may already have and are just used to it, you might even think it's normal whereas it'd scare me. Either way this "I'm scared to go to the US," is an attitude that screams ignorance."

        Not if you're asian. Or wear a turban and sandals. Or a muslim. Or expect officials to have any kind of sense of humour. Or don't like instantly acquiescing to authority without explanation. Or vocally disapprove of the administration's policies. Or have a name that sounds like a known alias of a terrorist. Or...

        Sure, if you're a middle-class republican white guy you're laughing. Any different and there's a small (but significant) chance you could end up in legal trouble. And given the world no longer trusts the US legal system, that's a frightening possibility.

        Would I still visit the USA? Yes, but I'd be careful while I was there.

        Would I blame anyone who fitted any of the above descriptions from being wary of doing so? No.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:46AM (#16037714)

          Amen. Mod points won't do you any more good at this point, so I'll vocalize. I am a middle-class (formerly) Republican white guy. And I'm not laughing.

          Things in the US have progressed to the point where our dominant pacifist religion -- not just individual groups of followers, but the very religion itself in the general sense -- is somehow being twisted to create millions of unthinking followers and supporters of our imperial escapades. I think I saw a shirt the other day pointing out this hypocrisy: "Who Would Jesus Torture?"

          Friends ask me why I am down on the US and how can I even consider expatriation... They say, "You are a small business owner, with a beautiful wife, and a high standard of living. What more could you want?"

          Well, as a software developer, patent law keeps me up at night. I'm terrified that by innocently innovating and providing my customers with valuable software, especially software that can provide them with some useful insight into their businesses, that I may be unknowingly stepping into a minefield and risking my future. Abuses of the kind in TFA are pertinent examples of what can happen when you accidentally surface on a large corporation's radar these days.

          My wife is Chinese, and I get to see all the prejudices, stupidity, and xenophobia first-hand. The state of immigration these days is one of "guilty until proven innocent, and even then don't expect humane treatment just because you're innocent." Arcane laws cost us up to two weeks out of the year, getting unnecessary fingerprints and updated biometric tokens. She is forced to carry around a government-issued ID with who-knows-what kind of data encoded into a 3cm-wide (read: frickin' HUGE) magneto-optical strip, 2d barcodes, and holograms that cover it on both sides.

          What more could I want? Liberty. Justice. Freedom. The benefit of the doubt. Rationality. Take your pick.

          And since I'd like not to be harassed when the day finally comes to leave, I'm posting anonymously. Who knows what will happen here while I prepare? In many oppressive regimes, men have spent years in preparation to leave, only to be arrested and executed on the night of their departure. I think learning from history does not make you paranoid, especially given its tendency to repeat itself.

          • Your post reminds me of what will (I predict) one day be a moving token to the freedoms we've lost, and hopefully a spark for what (I predict) is the coming revolution; a book called Vacation [hauntedhousedressing.com] by my best friend's brother.

            The desire to leave.. the desire to walk away, and to be free, is one I have observed becoming more and more powerful as the years wear on. This is how you know an end of some sort is coming. What the end leads to, is impossible to tell; but we know it must be something.

            In our world, thoug
      • by j35ter (895427) on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:34AM (#16037404)
        3) Get off your fucking high horse. Are there disturbing things happening in the US? Yes. Are there in your part of the world too? You betcha. I don't know what country you are from and really, it doesn't matter. Wherever it is, I guarantee there's some scary big brother stuff that some people are pushing. Hell, some of it you may already have and are just used to it, you might even think it's normal whereas it'd scare me. Either way this "I'm scared to go to the US," is an attitude that screams ignorance.

        When my wife (who was a resident of the U.S.) decided to give birth to our daughter in a U.S. clinic, I applied for a visa so I could attend the birth of my first child. Everything was set for the trip, and even though I worked in Austria at that time, had a lot of cash on my account, I was not issues a visa out of concerns that I might not leave the U.S. Oh, btw. I am a Croatian citizen.
        Quite a few Americans I talked to were comparing their democracy to the Romans or the Greek. There is one similarity they quite likely missed: The Greek and Roman treated non-citizens barbaric. Regardless of what you think, your gvt. treats non-US-citizens like shit
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Jedi Alec (258881)
        3) Get off your fucking high horse. Are there disturbing things happening in the US? Yes. Are there in your part of the world too? You betcha. I don't know what country you are from and really, it doesn't matter. Wherever it is, I guarantee there's some scary big brother stuff that some people are pushing. Hell, some of it you may already have and are just used to it, you might even think it's normal whereas it'd scare me. Either way this "I'm scared to go to the US," is an attitude that screams ignorance.

        O
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      It's not much better in the EU with the EUCD... I think the only reason we're doing a bit better against these lobby groups is that they are simply not financed as well or otherwise as influental.
    • by herbiesdad (909590) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:56AM (#16037116)
      To my non-US friends. The RIAA and MPAA are non-governmental, private industry groups. They have nothing to do with the US government, nor do they take direction from the US government. Those groups are formed and run by companies in the entertainment industry. There are no penalties imposed by these industry groups directly; they act only through the US court system, and pursue strictly civil matters (i.e. there is no opportunity for prison time). Outside of the court system they have no direct power. Where someone is suspected of large-scale distribution of copyrighted material, these groups might refer that person to various criminal prosecutors. These are government entities, but it is their discretion alone whether to pursue the wrongdoing and file charges. I hope this clarifies some things; there appears to be some confusion about this on /.
      • by Simon Garlick (104721) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:24AM (#16037193)
        < Outside of the court system they have no direct power.

        When the corporations in question can quite brazenly buy politicians and get laws rushed through Congress specifically to make these charges possible, that's quite enough INDIRECT power to give me the shits.
      • The RIAA and MPAA don't take orders from the US government, they give them, primarily through their bought-and-paid-for senators and congresscritters.

        Oh, and said politicians for hire are actively trying to make copyright infrigment a crime worthy of prison time. One of the reasons for hammering the "piracy is theft" mantra is to equate copyright violations with shoplifting - a crime that is jail-worthy. Already the DMCA makes any attempt to bypass a copy-protection mechanism (such as the CSS encryption on
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WindBourne (631190)
        Outside of the court system they have no direct power.
        Yes, these corps have no real power. [wikipedia.org] It is indirect, but the fact that congress pushed the DMCA and other bills is starting to show who congress represents.

        It is time for Americans to push Joel hefley's ideas concerning how to stop this slide towards corruption and fasicism.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jackjeff (955699)

      I would like to be as optimistic about Europe. But I'm not...

      In most EU countries the EUCD (=local DMCA) has just been voted. Despite the bad example DMCA set, the powerful media industry managed to make the law voted nearly everywhere (ah yeah.. Denmark is a bit of an exception). It's just been voted, so it will take a while before you have the first cases... but there will be.

      And regarding the involvement of the NSA. I'm sure similar practices are used by security services in Europe. You just don't know

      • Don't you think Bush is jealous and dreams about it at night?

        Why should he be? Have you seen the traffic cameras that we are busy installing at stop lights? Most are not just simple snapshots cameras. They can and do stream images.

        Likewise, notice the tollroads? Easy to track a car now.

    • by murdocj (543661)
      Funny, I live in the US and wonder about how people manage to live in EU countries where extreme right wing parties are on the rise as voters get paranoid about foreigners. Certainly the EU can't make any great claims to tolerance right now. And as far as innocent until proven guilty, I thought French law didn't have that concept?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by lovebyte (81275) *
        And as far as innocent until proven guilty, I thought French law didn't have that concept?
        tout homme étant présumé innocent jusqu'à ce qu'il ait été déclaré coupable (26th august 1789).
        You might not know it, but the French, by law, must also eat their first child!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LnxAddct (679316)
      You have to keep in mind that you only see negative things reported. The good things that are happening far outweigh the bad and you're getting a very biased view of the state of affairs in America. Things have certainly been better, but the things you see reported on /. and pretty much any news source (including the BBC in recent times, unfortunately) are extremely biased, twisted, and typically statistical anomalies pushing an agenda or grasping for headlines. Europe has it's own problems, with a lot of c
  • by Mia'cova (691309) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:07AM (#16037008)
    I'm currently using six machines solely to myself between work and personal use. If I were acused of specific infringement, I could easily submit the drive from another machine (assuming that the accusation was true)... I don't see how that evidence is even admissable. Add on friends who use their laptops on my wireless network... I think it all just gets back to the point that there really isn't any proof. Using IPs are certainly going to be accurate most of the time but that's a long shot from proof. I still don't understand how they get away with all this.

    I imagine that they will change their tactics. More deals to deliver bundled music subscription services with internet access, for example. Or perhaps we'll see something like myspace clean up in the next few years. Really, how long does it take to steal market share online?
    • by scsirob (246572) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:21AM (#16037035)
      Following your logic, the best tactic would be to set up an open WiFi access point "by mistake". If you then get an inquiry, it's easy to show that anyone in a 250m radius could have accessed a P2P network through your IP address...
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by madcow_bg (969477)
        Following your logic, the best tactic would be to set up an open WiFi access point "by mistake". If you then get an inquiry, it's easy to show that anyone in a 250m radius could have accessed a P2P network through your IP address...

        And the problem exactly is?

        I mean, with all the spambots and zombies out there, and the viruses, are YOU supposed to be held responsible for bugs in the software, that allows remote exploits and trojan horses? I know the all EULAs disclaim warranty of any kind, but to actually su
      • by Kjella (173770)
        Possible, yes. Probable, well... One thing is reasonable doubt, another is to do it in a civil suit. First of all, you have to feign technical and probably legal ignorance, which also means you need some technical expert witness, plus a lawyer. If you act all knowledgable about how it gets off the hook or an open network invites everybody in the neighbourhood in, it looks like your planned scapegoat. So I'm thinking it'll be a very expensive defense.
      • Following your logic, the best tactic would be to set up an open WiFi access point "by mistake". If you then get an inquiry, it's easy to show that anyone in a 250m radius could have accessed a P2P network through your IP address...

        Y'know, that's just crazy enough to work, in the U.S. at least. The RIAA does have to prove that I possess the material, and not only that, to win a case of willful copyright infringement (as opposed to incidental copyright infringement, which doesn't carry statutory damages), t

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:31AM (#16037055)
      They get away with it because it's a civil dispute. In a civil case it's not your vs the government and the standard isn't beyond a reasonable doubt. Civil court is just for two parties to hash out a dispute.

      Like let's say you are renting a place from me. I claim you've done damage and thus owe me money, you claim you don't. We can't settle it so I sue you for the cash. We then argue it in civil court. So the one that wins will be whoever provides more convincing proof. Doesn't have to be beyond a reasonable doubt, I just have to argue a bit more convincingly than you and I can win, at least a partial judgement.

      Also, there's no real burden for filing a civil suit. You just go to the courthouse and do it. I don't have to present evidence or anything, I just file a suit against you and you have to respond. So that's how the RIAA gets these cases to trial.

      Now in terms of proof, well that's why they drop any case that people actually start fighting. They don't have any good proof. However you don't have to have good evidence to file a case, just to win it.

      The problem arises out of the fact that it's unbalanced. Since it's not the government going after you, there's no right to a lawyer for civil court. In person to person cases, it rarely matters, it's usually just small claims court and lawyers don't enter the picture. That's what you see on things like Judge Judy and such, that's small claims court. Because of the statutory amounts involved with copyright violations, it's not small claims. So you have one side with resources and lawyers, the other just being some person with no special assets.

      Thus it's no surprise most people settle. Responsible or not (civil court determines responsibility, not guilt) it's an expensive proposition, so people take the settlement offer. It's not cheap, but you'd pay that much in legal fees anyhow.

      The good news is in at least one case that someone fought back, the judge awarded her legal fees, even though the RIAA dropped the complaint. However, you can't rely on that. It's up to the judge.

      That's the whole reason this goes on is because it's all civil law. This is perhaps the best example I've yet seen for the need for tort reform. Our civil system was designed so that people had easy access for remedies in disputes. Unfortunately it's being abused by those with resources to bully people to doing what they want.

      So if you want a chance to put a stop to this one of the biggest things you can do, other than refusing to buy RIAA music and encouraging others to do the same (they can blame it on copyright infringement if they want, doesn't matter if their member labes get no money, they go out of business) is to encourage your representatives to get behind tort reform, and to support any that do. When people hear tort reform they think about medical malpractice lawsuits. While that's certainly an issue these shotgun lawsuits are another part of it.

      It is actually something that we can get changed. People on /. love to get all cynical and say only money talks. They are right that having money gets you congress' ear like we normal people can't, however votes talk waaay more than anything else. The RIAA members can toss all the money they like a representative, if that rep believes they will be voted out for supporting them, they won't.
      • by Pieroxy (222434) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:56AM (#16037114) Homepage
        According to wikipedia:
        Coercion is the practice of compelling a person to involuntarily behave in a certain way (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation or some other form of pressure or force.

        So when the RIAA comes to you and say: Sign this paper or I'll sue you (ie, I'll drown you under legal fees you can't afford), why is this not coercion? How is all this legal?
      • votes talk waaay more than anything else

        Unfortunately, voters talk "waaay" more than they vote. Voter turnout in a presidental election year hasn't hit 60% of eligible voters since the Vietnam War; the "off-season" Congressional elections don't even get to 40% of the eligible voters. Heck, at the last election, 20% of the eligible voters didn't even bother to get registered [infoplease.com]!

        Politicians know that the vast bulk of voters don't really care about these issues. Not one politican has lost office over this issue.

      • by zotz (3951)
        "So if you want a chance to put a stop to this one of the biggest things you can do, other than refusing to buy RIAA music and encouraging others to do the same (they can blame it on copyright infringement if they want, doesn't matter if their member labes get no money, they go out of business) is to encourage your representatives to get behind tort reform, and to support any that do."

        You know, I am not necessarily against tort reform, and it might help in this situation, but my take is that this is mainly
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:40AM (#16037079)
    This makes me wonder, what if you had a large amount of communication with your lawyer, letters and emails and such on your computer. Then if the RIAA conducted a search of the computer, would that render the entire search inadmissiable because of the presence of the communications?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      No. It would mean that the information in those messages could not be discussed in court, and possibly that the expert witness who stated he had seen them would be reclused, depending on the mood of the judge. This is not legal advice.
  • by DarrylKegger (766904) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:05AM (#16037146)
    Step 1. Convince humans to grant me the legal rights of a natural person.

    Step 2. Leverage my ability to never die and to farm the responsibilities for my actions out to replaceable 'employees'

    Step 3. Become the dominant cultural organisation to such an overwhelming extent that the majority of humans don't even consider the idea that my powers are illegitimate.

    Step 4. profit!!! (no, really)

    • by TheLink (130905)
      Actually I don't think it's a problem if you have laws that make sure the people at the top go to jail if they do something really wrong AND those laws are enforced.

      The typical sociopaths at the top usually won't want to go to jail.

      Now the problem is when you have a situation where responsibility is "outsourced" and spread over many allegedly distinct entities/organisations.

      Say A promised to people that they will do X, and then outsources it to B who promises to do Y=X*0.95, who outsources it to C who promi
  • Misleading Article (Score:4, Informative)

    by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:52AM (#16037261) Homepage Journal
    This entire article is misleading. The article is trying to make out the RIAA for being bad for having their expert witness examine the evidence and not allowing anyone else to do this. This is BS.

    The way expert witnesses work is that each side always gets to have their own expert witness examine the facts of the case. One expert witness for the plaintiff and another for the defendant. And not surprisingly, the plaintiff pays for and chooses their expert witness while the defendant does the same. Then in court each expert witness presents their findings.

    You don't have a situation where the RIAA pays for and has to use only the defendant's choosing in an expert witness. That's because the defendant could just pick an expert which will say what the defendant wants.

    All rules of evidence allow an expert witness of the own parties choosing. If there is confidential information then what the Judge will do is just issue a protective order noting that information cannot be used in the suit or released.
    • The paper asks for a third neutral party (i.e. Someone the court picks that has NOTHING to do with either party) to do the search.

      In a civil case, that's NOT an unreasonable request- and since the Plaintiff is the one ASKING for the discovery, they have to
      pay for the third party's time; but they don't get to just use their experts unless the Defendant says, "Yes" to that piece of
      discovery.
      • Nope. If the defendant wants a neutral expert witness then all they have to do is pick one (or have one picked for them by anyone in the industry) and then present that witness as their expert in court. You can have as many experts as you want examine the evidence outside of court (you just have to pay for them), but you only get to present one expert testimony in court. There is no need for another *neutral* expert witness when they can just do this in the first place.
    • All rules of evidence allow an expert witness of the own parties choosing. If there is confidential information then what the Judge will do is just issue a protective order noting that information cannot be used in the suit or released.

      That's why in everyone's favorite civil case the litigants get to pay "experts" of their choosing to trash each other's houses, right? I mean, everyone knows that it is absolutely vital in a divorce to get to the bottom of everything so that search warrents are issued for

      • 100 year copyrights have suppressed older content more than it has encouraged it's publication depriving us all of our parent's culture not to mention our own.

        I actually agree with you on this, copyright terms are extortionate. We need a life plus nothing term for all copyright. After all, an author can only benefit from the fruits of his labour while he's actually alive.

        The current set up of government franchises on radio space and anti-circumvention laws seem to have produced two large music publishing co
    • by belmolis (702863)

      First, one of the two things that the defendant is asking for is a protocol specifying exactly what material on her hard drive the plaintiff will be allowed to look at. She is not simply asking for her own expert.

      Second, it is not true that expert witnesses are always chosen by the parties. Precisely because of the problem of partisanship of expert witnesses and, as in this case, the possible invasiveness of the investigation, courts have the authority to appoint their own, neutral experts. They probabl

    • by asuffield (111848)

      All rules of evidence allow an expert witness of the own parties choosing.

      And allow the parties to object to each other's choices in a whole variety of circumstances, including but not limited to compromising bias on the part of the witness (such that allowing that particular choice could prejudice the trial, in which case the judge will tell the party to pick a different witness). This appears to be what the defendant is asking for here.

      You can choose your own expert witnesses, but you can't just choose an

      • Yeah, but if they are trying to bump the RIAA expert on bias it is the wrong way to go about it.

        The way you handle a situation where the opposing expert is blantly biased is that you let them testify and then cross-examine them on their bias showing how un-objective they are. You then bring up a objective expert (yours) and show that they have zero bias. The effect is that all the testimony presented by the bias expert will be discounted and you are left with your unbiased expert.

        You don't bump the biased
  • by beaverfever (584714) on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:30AM (#16037393) Homepage
    "Citing the RIAA's numerous missteps in its ill-conceived crusade against music fans..."

    Setting aside my personal opinions about the RIAA's actions (and yours), I find this one line to show an incredible amount of bias. But wait; there's more!

    "That case aside, the RIAA's history doesn't inspire much confidence in its ability to objectively examine what could be a piece of crucial evidence."

    "Neither plaintiffs or defendants are objective parties in a legal dispute." ...and apparently not Ars News item either.

    "When one of the parties has a history of bullying witnesses into perjury and is seemingly incapable of admitting they were wrong and clearing the names of those they wrongfully accused, it becomes even more crucial." Wow, that is an incredible accusation; bullying witnesses into perjury! How many times has this happened? What did they say to perjure themselves? Were they bullied into lying in the RIAA's favour or in their own favour? If they lied in their own favour, why would the RIAA bully them into doing this? If they lied to protect themselves, then why was telling the truth a less attractive option?

    Much more insight from Ars into this accusation would be very interesting.
    • by kindbud (90044)
      If they lied to protect themselves, then why was telling the truth a less attractive option?

      You're not really this naive, troll. Under threat of lawsuit, the RIAA got people who would otherwise have plead innocent, to sign a statement vowing not to do something again they didn't believe they had done once. It's called a settlement. You can sign the paper and get off with $2000 or more out of pocket in damages, or you can contest it and be out many thousands more in attorney fees.

      So many people have perju
      • What you have said is not what the Ars reporter said, and that is the part of the point of my original post. I am not debating the rights and wrongs of the RIAA's action, but the way which Ars is reporting the story. Perjury is a very serious offense, and so a statement that anybody is bullying anybody else into perjury is a very serious statement. Not providing evidence or background, or playing with words to imply different meanings, is irresponsible and demonstrates shoddy work and on the part of Ars.

        The
    • by twitter (104583) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:54AM (#16037759) Homepage Journal

      bullying witnesses into perjury! How many times has this happened? What did they say to perjure themselves?

      It only has to happen once to put the stink on your organization. If you follow the links you find RIAA representatives threatening a teen to make her lie in court. If you follow the other link where the RIAA tried to bully their media partners into ignoring due process, you find another outrageous violation. When you look at the big picture you see an organization that has bought a lot of crappy laws and then abused them beyond their limits so that they can threaten a lot of innocent people with ruin. The whole thing reeks of abuse.

      The US Constitution established copyright to promote the usefull arts. What the RIAA is doing has little to do with that.

      • My original post is not about what the RIAA has or hasn't done, but about how Ars is reporting the facts. Their skew and bias is incredible.

        Besides that, the perjury accusation is a serious one, and has not been ruled on. It is an accusation from one side of a legal case, and that is all. The accusations of one side cannot be taken as gospel while the other side is rejected out of hand.
  • As some readers have pointed out, the PDF file cited is the wrong one. It was one of the papers in the Motown v. Nelson [riaalawsuits.us] case, in Michigan, where a 15 year old witness testified to the RIAA lawyer's attempting to get her to say things that weren't so. The SONY v. Arellanes documents are here [riaalawsuits.us] and the documents served by Ms. Arellanes objecting to the RIAA's insistence on their own expert are here [ilrweb.com], here [ilrweb.com], and here [ilrweb.com].

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