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RIAA Wants to Include Song Files it Can't Produce 234

Posted by Zonk
from the hidden-files dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In UMG v. Lindor the RIAA is trying to include song files it doesn't have copies of as part of its 'distribution' argument. The defendant Marie Lindor is asking the Court to preclude them from doing that. She points to the RIAA's own interrogatory response in which the record companies swore that their case was based upon their investigator seeing a screenshot and then downloading 'perfect digital copies'. They produced eleven (11) copies of song files, but want to be able to prove twenty seven (27) other songs for which they can't produce the files."
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RIAA Wants to Include Song Files it Can't Produce

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  • Sounds like.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bchabot (838095) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @04:00AM (#16173135) Homepage
    Sounds like they're going down the same road as Chief Justice William Stoughton's acceptance of spectral evidence [wikipedia.org]...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iamplasma (189832)
      Not really. While I know it's trendy to join in on the usual RIAA-bashing, and as a matter of evidence it's really quite sloppy of the RIAA not to have actually downloaded the copies, and I think the misstatement in their filing is even more sloppy (but, honestly, they don't seem to be trying to actually mislead) I'm not really seeing the grounds everyone is going beserk on here. Basically, the difference is between "we searched Kazaa/eDonkey/whatever and this user was offering Metallica's album for downl
      • Re:Sounds like.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:24AM (#16173743) Homepage Journal
        The RIAA aren't making evidence up here, it's simply the question of if search results are proof enough.

        Don't they also pay companies to flood P2P networks with junk files?

        I don't see how a filename is indicative of anything, other than the string concerned having been distributed. Not even on balance of probability.
        • Re:Sounds like.... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:43AM (#16173823) Homepage
          Well, it may be indicative of something. It's not very good evidence, but it is evidence. The degree to which it is belivable is up to the jury. Clearly, if you were on the jury, you wouldn't believe it. But so long as a reasonable juror might believe it, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with taking it to them. It's their job to decide this sort of thing.

          Besides, even if they downloaded a file and had it, it's difficult to prove that that file came from the defendant's computer. It still largely comes down to how trustworthy a jury would find the RIAA witnesses and evidence to be.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            One thing it is perfect evidence of is the mens rea of the person sharing those files (if we assume the screenshot hasn't been altered). If the person had a file in their share-list, we know they intended to share that file. If that file is undeniably (big if) a file they had no legal right to share, then we've established that the person intended to violate the legal rights of the rightsholder.

            Notice the limitations here: it means nothing if we don't know whether the file was, in fact, a copyrighted f
            • Re:Sounds like.... (Score:5, Informative)

              by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @11:00AM (#16174873) Homepage
              No. First, mens rea is not an element of copyright infringement. Infringement is a strict liability offense. At most, mens rea is only relevant in computing damages. Second, intent to infringe is not infringement or any other offense. There must have been actual infringement to support the case. So the contents of the file are crucial to the case. If the file contents were the plaintiff's copyrighted work, then that helps the plaintiff. If not, then that helps the defendant, since there is nothing wrong with sharing a misnamed file which is otherwise lawful to share, even if it's done unwittingly.

              However, so far as we can discern what the contents were based on the name, which is a jury question, it's still possible to win a suit without actually showing what the contents are. But I wouldn't like to have to do that, since it's not a strong position.
              • However, so far as we can discern what the contents were based on the name, which is a jury question, it's still possible to win a suit without actually showing what the contents are. But I wouldn't like to have to do that, since it's not a strong position.

                I have not seen the screen-shots mentioned, but if they include the file's hash, and the RIAA can produce their own copy of the file that has the same hash and is an actual copy of the work in question, that ought to be sufficient. Unless they wish to ar

            • They may have been intentionally sharing a file they owned copyright to (say a 3 meg picture file of themselves) that they renamed to "stones-gloria.mp3" because they are vehemently against copyright infringement.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by iamplasma (189832)
                They may have been intentionally sharing a file they owned copyright to (say a 3 meg picture file of themselves) that they renamed to "stones-gloria.mp3" because they are vehemently against copyright infringement.

                Heck, it could be a complete fluke of quantum probability, what with there being a non-zero but impossibly small chance that the file spontaneously formed on the hard drive. However, it's not very probable, just as it's not very probable that it's someone hosting a fake file, doubly so when it's a
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by rtb61 (674572)
                  So facts before a court of law become probabilies. Just like the original probability, that a computer in someones house only carries out the desired commands of the person in that house who has the internet account in their name (viruses and trojans and microsoft unwarranties do not exist). Copyright infringement is against the individual, not the individual's computer or their internet account. The RIAA must prove the individual they are suing carried out the infringement, not that they were likley to bas
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by arth1 (260657)

              One thing it is perfect evidence of is the mens rea of the person sharing those files (if we assume the screenshot hasn't been altered). If the person had a file in their share-list, we know they intended to share that file. If that file is undeniably (big if) a file they had no legal right to share, then we've established that the person intended to violate the legal rights of the rightsholder.

              It's a bigger if than most people realise. The record companies don't own any and all performances of a tune --

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Maxo-Texas (864189)
            1) If they had 11 copies they did download.
            2) I'd probably believe that the other copies were real too.
            3) Then I'd jury nullify anyway most likely.
          • by Khyber (864651)
            There's an even larger problem here. Most P2P programs download chunks of a song, not the whole song (usually unless there's only one source) from many different computers. So, she's not even technically giving the whole song, just chunks of it. What means was the RIAA using to access her shared files? If they were using soulseek, I could understand them saying they got the files from her computer. If they were using limewire/kazaa/emule then I'd be a little wary of the evidence. Oh, and as someone else men
        • Re:Sounds like.... (Score:5, Informative)

          by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@becker[ ]legal.com ['man' in gap]> on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:24AM (#16173991) Homepage Journal
          Yes they do flood the internet with junk files which look like song files but aren't. The only way to tell if it's a real song file is to listen to it from beginning to end. See Reply Memorandum of Law [ilrweb.com] at pages 2-4. As you can see from the deposition testimony excerpted there, the company that 'investigates' for the lawsuits and the company that floods the internet with junk pseudo-song files is the same company.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by EzInKy (115248)

            Yes they do flood the internet with junk files which look like song files but aren't. The only way to tell if it's a real song file is to listen to it from beginning to end. See Reply Memorandum of Law at pages 2-4. As you can see from the deposition testimony excerpted there, the company that 'investigates' for the lawsuits and the company that floods the internet with junk pseudo-song files is the same company.


            More curiosity than anything else since I believe our copyright laws are totally fubar'd anyway
            • by Paul Jakma (2677)
              Only creative elements can be copyrighted. I.e. a bunch of random bits can't be.

              That said, I gather sometimes they distribute things like folk music, even porn films rather than junk, under the name of popular albums. So the RIAA (or agents acting on their behalf) apparently are quite happy to violate other people's copyright to "defend" their own (well, their member's copyrights).
              • by evilviper (135110)
                Only creative elements can be copyrighted. I.e. a bunch of random bits can't be.

                So several seconds of complete silence is a "creative element"?
            • by evilviper (135110)
              since everything is copyrighted by default wouldn't even sharing junk pseudo-song files be an infringement?

              No. The people who own the copyright on those files, are explicitly making them available for free download on P2P networks. That precludes them suing others for doing the same, since you have at least implicit permission from the copyright holder.
              • by NMerriam (15122)
                The people who own the copyright on those files, are explicitly making them available for free download on P2P networks. That precludes them suing others for doing the same, since you have at least implicit permission from the copyright holder.

                There's no such thing as "implicit permission" to redistribute a copyrighted work. Either you have explicit permission or you don't have the legal authority to distribute.
                • by evilviper (135110)
                  There's no such thing as "implicit permission" to redistribute a copyrighted work.

                  You're apparently not a lawyer.

                  (not that I am, either, I've just studied the issue)
                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by NMerriam (15122)
                    You're right, I'm a professional artist who consults with intellectual property attorneys on this topic on a regular basis. My entire career is based on copyright. My rent is paid with copyrights and my food is bought with copyrights. 99% of the contracts I've negotiated in the past 15 years of my life have been about copyright.

                    There is no such thing as implicit permission to redistribute copyrighted material. There is Fair Use, and there is explicit permission, but nothing in-between. You could argue in co
                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by NMerriam (15122)
                      It would be a violation for you to redistribute what the author makes available to you, unless the author specifically states that it is okay.

                      Whether or not Bittorrent constitutes redistribution is something for the courts to decide. Assuming the tracker is authorized by the copyright owner to distribute the material, since it is coordinating who is allowed into the peer group it would make sense to say the tracker is really controlling the distribution from a legal standpoint. But we've seen crazier decisi
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by phulegart (997083)
          If the RIAA was paying companies to distribute junk files that were named after legitimate songs, and then attempted to turn around and point to the existance of those "junk" files that appeared to be real songs as proof of people downloading illegally distributed music, that would make the RIAA guilty of fabricating evidence to assist their case.

          It would not be the first time an organization (any Police force, for example) used a fake material (something that looked like cocaine) in a sting operation, for
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Maxo-Texas (864189)
            I agree with your 150 / 200 numbers with this one caveat.

            I read here on /. a while back taht RIAA made $54 million off of suits last year.

            That is a LOT of financial incentive to fake data.
            • by jandrese (485)
              Is that net or gross though. Lawsuits are expensive and it's easy to see how a few stubborn eggs could really increase your legal costs and cut into the bottom line.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by kimvette (919543)
                Independent law firms are expensive.

                Staff attorneys (of which major labels have many) are not, and in all likelihood they have a bunch of paralegal interns doing the grunt work and the staff attorney probably just signs whatever paperwork they produce and shows up at the token court appearances for the few folks who bother to stand up against the tyrants.
          • by matt4077 (581118)
            Don't forget that even the junk files are protected by copyright. Anyway, these are civil cases, meaning they don't need definite proof. And personally I don't find it impossible to believe that people are downloading copyrighted material. People tell me it really happens sometimes.
        • by goldcd (587052) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @02:06PM (#16176651) Homepage
          We locate the spam-seeder - take a screen grab of the file names - report them to the RIAA and watch them sue themselves.
      • Re:Sounds like.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:27AM (#16173753)
        Anyway, guys, quit the RIAA bashing. Complain they're doing sloppy investigating and it's not really an acceptable standard we should encourage, but don't act like they're a pack of liars when they're almost undeniably correct in their accusations and their only flaw is not doing as air-tight a job as they should have.


        Spare me. When you're trying to prove someone is guilty of a CRIME, you need to go the extra mile and make sure it's air-tight. If you can't be bothered to do that, then you've got no business taking your case to court. We're not talking about some farmer assuing his neighbor of stealing horses here. This is a big fat well-funded group that has the resources and teams of lawyers/investigators to gather the evidence correctly.

        Who's to say that the file called "Enter Sandman" wasn't really an audio clip from Aunt Milly's piano recital?

        • Re:Sounds like.... (Score:5, Informative)

          by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:52AM (#16173859) Homepage
          When you're trying to prove someone is guilty of a CRIME, you need to go the extra mile and make sure it's air-tight

          Well, this is a civil case, so as it happens no one is trying to prove anyone guilty of any crime. I guess they dodged a bullet there.

          Who's to say that the file called "Enter Sandman" wasn't really an audio clip from Aunt Milly's piano recital?

          Sure. And a jury can decide which of the two possibilities is most likely to them (since that, and not the stricter 'beyond a reasonable doubt,' is the standard here), and then whichever possibility they find to be most likely is true, for the purposes of the case.

          So if you were a juror, and you were being fair to both sides, and they asked you what you thought the file was based on the name, which do you think it probably would be, even if that probability was only a 51% likelihood?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by oohshiny (998054)
            Well, this is a civil case, so as it happens no one is trying to prove anyone guilty of any crime. I guess they dodged a bullet there.

            Are you simply too stupid to figure out what the GP was saying, or are you deliberately trying to confuse the issue by focussing on this irrelevant technicality?

            The RIAA demands compensation that amounts to more than what many criminal cases result in, and they may well ruin people's lives with that. The least we can ask of them is that they produce decent evidence.

            which do
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by rolfwind (528248)
            Honestly, if I were on the jury, I would first try to see what the little guy is getting sued for (how much $$$). Then I will see if this was someone trading peddling files left or right or if it was someone trading a few files much like kids used to do with CDs in the schoolyard.

            If he was a peddler, I would weigh whether the jury can fine him or if the judge. If the jury can fine him, I'd be willing to put in a guilty verdict and the appropriate fine for a peddler. The person who trade a file here and t
        • I wonder, is there any way to tag files on one's computer with a unique key that stays with the file when it is downloaded and can be modified by others after they have downloaded the file?

          What I mean is, say I download a Metallica MP3 file from eDonkey. What I would like to do is then tag that file with my own little "key" that is based on a key encryption system of some sort. Perhaps I make the tag "rabel" and this tag is then encrypted and the encrypted tag is attached to the file itself. If I then
      • by wfberg (24378)
        Yes, I do know there have been occasions where the RIAA has come up with some possible false positives, and mislabelled files certainly exist, but it's more the exception than than the rule, so on the balance of probabilities, a person who shows up as having a Metallica album on a p2p program more likely than not does, it's as simple as that.

        The problem lies with
        1) RIAA agents areknown to put mislabeled files on p2p programs. Ouch!
        2) they claim 27 files, and voluntarily introduce 11 they downloaded; they ar
      • by dangitman (862676)
        You don't get a legal ruling against somebody because they were "probably" doing something. That goes against everything the justice system stands for. Do you think we should send people to jail because they were "probably" burgling a house, just because somebody says so? I'm not sure why you are beiong an apologist for the RIAA, and for invalid evidence in general.
        • You're mixing up criminal with civil, which have two very different standards for how much evidence is "enough." What would you define the word "probably" as, in terms of a percentage of likeliness? One of the definitions [reference.com] of "probable" is "having more evidence for than against, or evidence that inclines the mind to belief but leaves some room for doubt." Does that sound like at least 51% likely? If so, then it has met the civil burden of proof, which is what the RIAA needs.
      • by cyclop (780354)

        The problem is, it should NOT be a crime.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        I don't think many people would seriously argue that the person being accused here wasn't illegally sharing files based on this evidence. ... so on the balance of probabilities, a person who shows up as having a Metallica album on a p2p program more likely than not does, it's as simple as that.

        For one thing, there is no "person who shows up as having a Metallica album on a p2p". There is a node on a P2P network identified by an IP. Connecting that to a particuar computer, let alone human being, is fraug

      • Basically, the difference is between "we searched Kazaa/eDonkey/whatever and this user was offering Metallica's album for download" and "we searched Kazaa/eDonkey/whatever and actually downloaded Metallica's album from this user". The RIAA aren't making evidence up here, it's simply the question of if search results are proof enough.

        Yes, and it isn't enough. Why not? Because if the RIAA can establish a principle that merely offering a file name that in some way resembles a song is sufficient proof of copy
      • Re:Sounds like.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:37AM (#16174307)
        Anyway, guys, quit the RIAA bashing. Complain they're doing sloppy investigating and it's not really an acceptable standard we should encourage, but don't act like they're a pack of liars when they're almost undeniably correct in their accusations and their only flaw is not doing as air-tight a job as they should have.

        Undeniably correct? Which accusation are you referring to, because I know it wasn't the part about their business being significantly damaged by file sharing. In fact, that claim is undeniably FALSE, as this study points out: http://www.unc.edu/~cigar/papers/FileSharing_March 2004.pdf#search=%22file%20sharing%20record%20sales %22 [unc.edu]. Notice, in the abstract: Downloads have an effect on sales which is statistically indistinguishable from zero, despite rather precise estimates. This would seem to make sense, as most of us should be familiar with the sales reports from Kazaa's high point, which showed the CD sales had more than recovered since Napster's debut -- and Kazaa had far more traffic than Napster, further weakening the claim that the RIAA would be bankrupted by file sharing.

        Perhaps this theory would help: most people who use file sharing networks would not have purchased the album in question anyway, so no actual sales were lost. Think about that statement, and think about who is using file sharing networks. Before Napster came out, were college students out buying hundreds of CDs (the equivalent of the thousands of MP3s that some had downloaded and shared)? Certainly not, most cannot afford to spend upwards of $5000 on album collections. So downloading those tracks should not be counted as a lost sale, any more than sharing CDs in a dorm building should (but I wouldn't put it past the RIAA to count it that way). This is why I am always skeptical of economists who say that millions of dollars per year are lost to piracy, because I am forced to ask whether or not the people using pirated music, movies, books, or software were actually going to buy these things to begin with (especially with software, especially when it costs more than $100). The problem is that basic economics does not apply here; the fact that music is available for free does not mean that people will automatically flock to the free stuff, as we learned that they should in economics 101, and the reasons behind this are still being studied.

        • I'm actually not sceptical that millions of dollars are being lost. It's a big industry.
          I could easily see that they lose 25 cents per customer per year due to music trading.

          For example, when they started charging $20 for a 60 minute CD that i knew cost $1 to physically make, while 2 hour movies with huge budgets were about $15.00, they started losing 2-3 sales per year to me. I chose other locations for my entertainment dollars because they were too expensive.

          And when they started suing customers, they l
          • by Soporific (595477)
            I'd have to say you are right on the money (no pun intended) with that one. I actually just bought 2 CD's for the first time since the pre-Napster era and both were $9.99 which I didn't feel ripped off about. The funny thing was that I mostly did it to feel like I used to when I'd go to Tower Records, buy a CD and plop it in the CD player of my car before driving out. It brought back some memories I'll tell you that.

            ~S
  • RIAA SOP,
    make accusations
    fail to provide solid evidence
    hope pure intimidation works.

    Profit?

    STB
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      This could be important.

      If the copyright cartel enforcers are required to have downloaded copies from the alleged infringer in order to maintain a suit, then something like Peer Guardian becomes more effective: p2p'ers can be seen online, yet they're safe as long as they can succeed in blocking connections to or from all the enforcers' addresses.

      If on the other hand, the enforcers can maintain a suit without showing that they downloaded copies from the alleged infringer, then they really have no logical way
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wfberg (24378)
        If the copyright cartel enforcers are required to have downloaded copies from the alleged infringer in order to maintain a suit, then something like Peer Guardian becomes more effective: p2p'ers can be seen online, yet they're safe as long as they can succeed in blocking connections to or from all the enforcers' addresses.

        Hardly. Peerguardian can only ever block IP addresses that are known to belong to *AA agents. Nothing prevents them from using cable, dialup, wifi, etc. to get online.

        In fact, to the *AA i
        • In fact, to the *AA it would be interesting to see that a certain peer can be contacted from an untainted IP address, but not from a tainted one. That way they know you're using PeerGuardian. If I were them, I'd go after those people just to scare PeerGuardian users. They can even use the fact that you used PeerGuardian to argue that you knew you were doing wrong.

          There's a paper I've skimmed describing exactly that approach. Can't find a link right now, but it was basically what you described--use a kno
      • by DRJlaw (946416) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:43AM (#16173821)
        If on the other hand, the enforcers can maintain a suit without showing that they downloaded copies from the alleged infringer, then they really have no logical way of proving that what the p2p'er was sharing was infringing, rather than something with the same name and maybe filesize.

        I'm sorry, but there is a very logical way of establishing what the "p2p'er" was sharing was infringing, and it's called an inference based on circumstantial evidence.

        Let's be quite clear
        1. The plaintiff's agent, "the enforcer", obtained someone's IP address and a list of shared songs.
        2. The plaintiff's agent actually downloaded 11 of the shared songs, so that the plaintiff was presumably able to verify that the songs actually corresponded to the file's name and/or metatags.
        3. You have a list of shared filenames and quite possibly metadata tags, and concrete evidence that items on the list actually are what they purported to be.
        4. You can quite logically draw the conclusion that the shared filenames really are what they purport to be.

        The burden of persuasion on in a civil case is not "beyond a reasonable doubt," but a "preponderance of the evidence." If you can stand up before a jury or ordinary people and convince them that it really is more likely than not that each file downloaded from this source was really something other than what it claimed to be, then you need to start your own law practice. Also, the defendant in the case is arguing that they shouldn't even have to make that argument to a jury, simply because "the enforcer" did not download each and every file.

        I'm reasonably sympathetic to the defendants in these cases given the haphazard manner in which the license holders are initiating their lawsuits and the excessive penalties, but one you get beyond matching an IP to a subscriber, the arguments that the defendants are making quickly start to become ludicrous. Open wireless access points are attractive nuisances. Children using the office computer to amass a thousand songs are negligently supervised. You can surely argue against these points if there is a de minimis infringement, but when someone is building a trading a library of a thousand songs, it's hardly tenable to argue that ignorance is an excuse.

        Feel free to argue that you must have all the evidence you need to win a trial before filing a lawsuit, and to argue that you must have actual copies or physical specimens of each an every infringing work or device. When a corporation is a defendant, it will be more than happy to use those ludicrous arguments to its advantage to make it even more difficult for individuals to prove and obtain relief for copyright infringement, patent infringement, theft of trade secrets, and the like. It won't actually happen, and the defendants are going to lose these types of arguments, but the intellectual breadth of the typical Slashdot legal analysis continues to astound me.
        • by penix1 (722987) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @10:09AM (#16174441) Homepage
          Feel free to argue that you must have all the evidence you need to win a trial before filing a lawsuit, and to argue that you must have actual copies or physical specimens of each an every infringing work or device. When a corporation is a defendant, it will be more than happy to use those ludicrous arguments to its advantage to make it even more difficult for individuals to prove and obtain relief for copyright infringement, patent infringement, theft of trade secrets, and the like. It won't actually happen, and the defendants are going to lose these types of arguments, but the intellectual breadth of the typical Slashdot legal analysis continues to astound me.


          It goes to damages. The damages are determined on a per-violation basis. The RIAA is arguing that they don't need the actual files to be obtainable to prove damages. I have evidence that says that they do:

          From:

          http://blogcritics.org/archives/2002/10/04/081226. php [blogcritics.org]

          In one case, Warner Bros. demanded a particular subscriber be disconnected for illegally sharing the movie "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." But the computer file identified by Warner Bros. in its letter indicated that it wasn't the "Harry Potter" movie but a child's written book report.


          and...

          Another letter, to Internet provider UUNet, wanted a subscriber cut off because they were sharing songs by former Beatle George Harrison. But some files were not songs at all. One was an interview with Harrison, and another was a 1947 photograph of a "Mrs. Harrison."


          So yes, they need the actual files given this track record especially when they are seeking $150,000+ per file.

          B.


          • It goes to damages. The damages are determined on a per-violation basis. The RIAA is arguing that they don't need the actual files to be obtainable to prove damages. I have evidence that says that they do:

            Seems to me that they saw 38 files which could be music, protected by copyright.

            They then took a sample consisting of 11 of those files to test if they actually were. All of those 11 files were the real thing. Then they conclude that the remaining 27 files with sufficient propability is the real thing to

            • by penix1 (722987)
              A "sample" isn't good enough when you are talking per-violation damages. The only thing the "sample " establishes is that those 11 files are 11 violations (if they can show they hold the copyright that is). They are asking for damages for 38 files so they should be able to show FOR EVERY INSTANCE that they are violations. The second story I posted especially shows why. You are asking a jury to grant you damages for items you can't show are violations.

              B.
            • by topham (32406)

              I caught you speeding yesterday.
              I caught you speeding the day before.

              I'm giving you a ticket today because you must have been speed since you did in the past.

              Thankfully that type of logic isn't actually considered evidence.
              • by Tim C (15259)
                Car analogies should be banned, they're always flawed in some way...

                A closer analogy would be that on 20 occasions, I saw you drive past going at what appeared to me to be faster than the speed limit. I measured your speed on 8 of those occasions, and you were indeed speeding. Therefore, it seems likely to me that on the other 12 occasions you were also speeding.

                Of course, even that isn't really the same, as speeding is a criminal matter, while copyright infringment is civil, and the level of proof required
      • by aussie_a (778472)
        If the copyright cartel enforcers are required to have downloaded copies from the alleged infringer in order to maintain a suit

        But hang on, when you download something, aren't you forced to upload as well on most p2p networks/bittorrent? If so, then does the RIAA have permission from the "artists" to distribute content in such a manner? If they don't, can't they then be sued by the people they're supposedly representing?

        Oh please all of my answers be correct. Then someone find some wealthy artist who isn't
        • I'm pretty sure that the agents the RIAA represent (the record labels themselves) own the copyright to the songs they're chasing, not the artists themselves.
          • Just to clarify, the RIAA companies own the rights to the recording, not the song itself. The rights to the underlying song could belong to the artist but usually belong to a music publisher.
  • download them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by managementboy (223451) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @04:04AM (#16173153) Homepage
    How about starting that donkey and downloading them? A copy is a copy, isn't it?

    Why don't they share with us what format they got the first few "perfect" copies... Monkey Audio?
    • How about starting that donkey and downloading them? A copy is a copy, isn't it?


      Um no. If the RIAA shows up in court with a file with a different checksum or length (diffrent rip) they throw a big shadow over their whole case and the defendants would be all over it like flies. They don't need a Microsoft style demo in a courtroom.
  • Reverse it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidEdge (774076) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @04:25AM (#16173227) Homepage
    How about someone sue the RIAA for having kiddy porn on the RIAA web server? No, I can't prove it. But I just said it was there didn't I?
    • by cp.tar (871488)

      Well, you could show the court some screenshots... who could prove you edited them?

      You don't need the files anyway.

  • stupid court system (Score:5, Informative)

    by JeremyALogan (622913) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @04:53AM (#16173291) Homepage
    If I were them I'd really like to beat my hands against my chest and cry "innocent until proven guilty, mother-fuckers", however this is civil, so they basically don't have to prove anything. We have a broken legal system.
    • by awol (98751)
      Well not really broken in the way that you say. The purpose of the civil system is different to the criminal one. It is designed to redress loss and so the standard of culpability is lower once the loss has been demonstrated. This is a good thing. But not the precursor to the lower standard is "once the loss has been demonstrated".

      In this case (and most others that the RIAA would run) where the brokenness rears it's head is that there is no loss for the RIAA to demonstrate and the presupposition that the ex
    • by Tim C (15259)
      however this is civil, so they basically don't have to prove anything

      Yes they do - they have to prove to a jury "on the balance of probability". In the end, it still comes down to the evidence and the skill of each party's representatives; the bar is just that little bit lower for the plaintiff. It's definitely not the case that you just drag someone to court and take all their money, as you seem to be implying.
  • Evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toba82 (871257) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @05:16AM (#16173347) Homepage
    Evidence isn't needed when you aren't expecting to win. The RIAA doesn't care about winning the case, they care about scaring people. It still works.
    • by babbling (952366)
      Suing people without any evidence works better at scaring other people, in fact. Absolutely anyone could get sued!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sancho (17056)
        See, except that they do have evidence. The question is whether what they have counts when it gets before a judge. They aren't picking IP addresses out of thin air and making up that this person was violating copyright, they're saying, "This person is sharing files which look quite a bit like our music. I'm not going to download it to verify, but I'm going to sue." Realistically, a judge is going to assume that you are actually sharing the file, and I doubt you could convince him otherwise, particularly
    • The RIAA doesn't care about winning the case, they care about scaring people. It still works.

      It works enough I'm afraid to buy a CD anymore. I can't buy enough insurance to protect me for what my kids might do with one. It's another reason to stay on dial-up. It's too slow.

      Most swimming pools no longer have a diving board even though they were about as common as swimming pools due to the legal liability. I'm thinking I-pods and internet connections are next.

      The liability is certainly killing open Wi-Fi
      • by kamapuaa (555446)
        > Has anybody noticed the ripple effect from these lawsuits?

        Does OSHA count? Most people are in favor of consumer protection and civil liability.

  • by Tsuki_no_Hikari (1004963) <tsukinohikari@gm a i l . c om> on Sunday September 24, 2006 @05:24AM (#16173375)
    "Our investigator saw a screenshot of an IP address we traced back to them."

    "We used a reverse DNS lookup to find out that this was the computer used for the downloading."

    "Our investigator downloaded a perfect copy of the file downloaded by the defendant in a process of reverse spectral resonance."

    "We figured 'To hell with it' and crossed the beams. Once we realized the universe didn't end, we found a burn mark that resembled the offending computer's IP address."

    What new wonders of the universe will the RIAA educate judges on next week? :D Oh, I can't wait!
  • Well... (Score:2, Funny)

    by d3m0nCr4t (869332)
    Shoudn't the RIAA start to sue themselves ? They downloaded copies of songs to there computer, and now they are shareing them with a judge...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by StrongAxe (713301)
      Shoudn't the RIAA start to sue themselves ? They downloaded copies of songs to there computer, and now they are shareing them with a judge...

      First of all, copyright protects the right to make copies. So, technically, if I download a file from you, I am asking for you to make me a copy, and you do so. You are the one violating copyright, not I. So if the RIAA gets a file from your computer, they aren't getting you for downloading it, they are getting you for sending it.

      Second of all, the copyright holde
  • not even videos are allowed as evidence in courts, how do they think "I saw a screenshot" could be allowed as evidence? allowing this as evidence in court would be dictatorship!

    do it like the german chaos computer club and pirate party, BOYCOTT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY! LISTEN TO CREATIVE COMMONS MUSIC! it's great music and it's free and the damn music industry can't prosecute you for listening to it for free!

    http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Content_Curators [creativecommons.org]
    http://www.garageband.com/htdb/index.html [garageband.com]
  • by technopinion (469686) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:12AM (#16173949)
    What's really funny is that the RIAA themselves seeded all sorts of fake files mislabelled as songs on the p2p networks. So how is the court supposed to know that what they think are real copyrighted songs are actually songs at all, when the RIAA didn't download them to find out?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Correct. See Gary Millin deposition testimony at pages 2-4 of Reply Memorandum of Law [ilrweb.com], where he admitted making bogus files that looked like song files, and littering the internet with them. He admitted that the only way to tell if it was a real song file was to listen to it from beginning to end.
    • Does not matter the "junk" in the file no matter how little sence it makes is still their copyright "junk". Now one might be able to claim it has little economic value.

  • by aitan (948581) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:57AM (#16174135)
    Well, I'm safe because right now I've made it very clear that I'm not sharing anything with copyright. A screenshot would look like this:
    This is not Metallica - Enter sandman
    This is not Madonna - Confessions On A Dancefloor
    This is not King Kong (Peter Jackson)

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