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RIAA Doesn't Like Independent Experts 258

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?
  • by legoburner ( 702695 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @06:56AM (#16036972) Homepage Journal
    court costs for the loser

    That should obviously be court costs for the winner.
  • 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...
  • 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 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.


  • 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?
  • 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.

  • 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 cruachan ( 113813 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:08AM (#16037156)
    ...usually try to sell you some sort of magazine...

    You are of course refering to the Daily Mail?

  • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:09AM (#16037158) Journal
    They have more money than you.

    Next time, stay awake in Civics class.
  • by jackjeff ( 955699 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:09AM (#16037160)

    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 it. A story similar to the watergate failed to impeach the President in France. And the press simply does not have the power here than it has in the US. Odds are that newspapers would be pressured one way or another not to publish such information. Remember. We're 25, with different languages. Newspapers belong to press groups, which are divided among nations... and some of them belong to Universal in the end. Got the picture?

    And how about those automated cameras in London and UK which take pictures of license plates/people in the streets? Don't you think Bush is jealous and dreams about it at night?

  • 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.

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

    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 Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:21AM (#16037183)
    If the result should be that the lion won't attack another guys based on this 'bad taste' experience, then yes, he won, as did we all.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <`sd_resp2' `at' `earthshod.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 greenechidna ( 824493 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:32AM (#16037215)
    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 set of views expressed by a reactionary right wing cabal. Such people do exist but I think placing the blame for the latter, more important points, avoids placing the blame where it belongs: the police and the current government.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:35AM (#16037221)
    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 many Americans, and even your leaders, tend to mock and berate the rest of the world about this issue. This is of course annoying for the rest of us, especially when the USA doesn't actually look any freer to us than any other first world country.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:35AM (#16037222)
    You expect the submitter to copy, paste, AND edit?!

    I know that you meant this as a joke, but basically: yes! If it is not done by the submitter, this should at least be done by the editor. That's what editors are for, after all.

    And now I expect dozens of comments saying: "this is Slashdot, blah blah..." or "the editors never do their job anyway". Sigh!

  • by Shaper_pmp ( 825142 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:41AM (#16037232)
    Amen to your points 1 and 2, and everything Zootm replied with.


    "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 aadvancedGIR ( 959466 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:52AM (#16037262)
    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:55AM (#16037271)
    The reason why it goes on and on is because lawyers do not consider the RIAA as rogues like the rest of the world does.

    If the RIAA were a rogue legal outfit in the way that SCO is a rogue computing outfit, then they'd get criticized, disowned and marginalized by their own legal community.

    That's not happening though --- lawyers throughout the US (and beyond) are almost 100% quiet about the antics of these "brothers" of theirs. That's tacit approval.
  • by Paperkirin ( 888073 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:25AM (#16037372)
    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 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 Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:41AM (#16037433)
    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.

    Oh, definitely. The big difference is that the US of A is by far the leader in the field when it comes to flagwaving, touting the "home of the brave, land of the free" and showcasing that constitution you seem to be so terribly proud of. You see, the rest of us don't go around pretending we're the beacon of hope and salvation for all mankind, and seeing the US say one thing and then turn around and do something completely different starts to get a bit old by now.
  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:40AM (#16037689) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • 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.

  • by delinear ( 991444 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:56AM (#16037773)
    Or "If RIAA had their way they'd take this shirt from my back".
  • 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 BakaHoushi ( 786009 ) <Goss,Sean&gmail,com> on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:20PM (#16038647) Homepage
    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'll prove you have illegal things on it.
    Me: Why would I give it to you?
    RIAA: So we can prove you're a criminal?
    Me: As soon as you work your way out of that circle, we'll talk. So long and thanks for all the fish.

    I'm just saying, maybe I judge should need to see this sort of stuff BEFORE a lawsuit notifcation can even be sent out. And if they don't have any (legal) justification for believing I infringed on their copyrights, why should I have to even dignify them?

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake