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MPAA Agent Poses As Homebuyer To Catch Pirates

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the as-seen-on-tv dept.

Piracy 289

bonch writes "The MPAA used an undercover agent posing as a potential homebuyer to gain access to the home of a British couple charged with running a streaming links site. UK authorities decided not to pursue the case, but the MPAA continued, focusing on a Boston programmer who worked on the site, leading to an unprecedented legal maneuver whereby U.S. charges were dropped in exchange for testimony in a UK fraud case."

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289 comments

What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40077847)

So, what does that mean?

Clarify (2)

Tifer (2644417) | about 2 years ago | (#40077883)

I'm confused; who was suing whom? This was a British couple in Britain or... What?

Re:Clarify (1)

miscGeek (594829) | about 2 years ago | (#40077895)

I'm confused; who was suing whom? This was a British couple in Britain or... What?

Yeah, the summary was a bit confusing.

Re:Clarify (5, Informative)

BeardedChimp (1416531) | about 2 years ago | (#40078015)

Yeah the summary is terrible.

In essence what happened was MPAA pretented to be a venture capitalist who was interested in the streaming site SurfTheChannel. After meeting the owner in person they followed them to their house. Then a seperate MPAA nob head posed as a home buyer interested in the owner of SurfTheChannel's house.

The MPAA then turned over pictures of the house and details of the venture capitalist meeting to the police who proceded to raid their house. The police decided not to press charges, so the MPAA went after the US programmer who made SurfTheChannel. He did some sort of plea bargain where they would drop the case against him if he would testify against the British couple.

The British couple are now in court on charges of fraud.

Re:Clarify (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078085)

the programmer needs to "bump his head" a little bit now, for a complete memory loss.

Re:Clarify (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078357)

Sounds like the couple aren't the ones who should be charged with fraud. Verifying the identities of the 'interested parties' would have likely quashed this whole debacle before it progressed into the absurdity it is now.

If the MPAA/RIAA are going so far as to infiltrate your home with 'actors' to thwart copyright infringement, they really have hit the bottom of the cesspool. That's absolutely disgusting!

Re:Clarify (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078409)

Not true! The MPAA is against proxy servers, fake IPs, copyright violations..... they would never do this

Re:Clarify (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078523)

what's confusing about the summary?

MPAA pursues couple in UK, uses undercover agent to gain access to home (the article says to take pictures of computer equipment), UK not interested in case

MPAA then goes after programmer in Boston who worked on the site, gets him to testify in the UK case in exchange for dropped charges

Slashdotters never read articles (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078793)

You have to realize that Slashdotters never click the links to read articles. They rely on the summary to tell them what reaction to have so they can post comments about it. Actual reading of the article or may or may not occur at a later date.

Re:Clarify (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40078605)

The MPAA is totally out of control. What we need is some Congressman, Senator, or other 'man of the People' to run the shop and keep them honest. "On March 1, 2011, the Motion Picture Association of America announced that Senator Chris Dodd will head that organization." --- Well %@#$!

Dodd threatens to cutoff donations to Obama campaign
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/19/exclusive-hollywood-lobbyist-threatens-to-cut-off-obama-2012-money-over-anti [foxnews.com]

MPAA at Cannes
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/christopher-dodd-extends-mpaas-reach-at-cannes/2012/05/21/gIQANSDJgU_blog.html [washingtonpost.com]

Re:Clarify (5, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#40078031)

It is a British couple in Britain being charged (criminally) in the UK for fraud (how they got fraud out of running a linking site I have no idea. The site was SurfTheChannel, BTW, since TFS doesn't say). Testimony is being offered by a Boston programmer who helped set up the site and agreed to testify in return for charges against him being dropped. The whole "undercover" bit was just to figure out where the couple lived: the MPAA first had someone pose as a venture capitalist interested in the site who met with the husband and tailed him back to his house, which was then snooped on by a hired PI (who posed as the homebuyer).

FWIW I don't think the case is likely to get terribly far. Similar cases against similar sites have failed in the past, but I don't know how bad the UK justice system is so I cannot say.

Re:Clarify (5, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | about 2 years ago | (#40078253)

Sounds like gaining entrance to home under false pretenses should be prosecuted as fraud as well.

Re:Clarify (5, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 2 years ago | (#40078507)

It's only a crime if the people in power say it's a crime. Right now, the people in power are the MPAA.

Re:Clarify (5, Informative)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#40078035)

MPAA hired an ex-cop to pose as venture capitalist interested in SurftheChannel.com. He learned how much the owner made from the site.

Then he tailed him 250 miles to his home, just to find out where he lives.

MPAA then sent a PI posing as a potential home buyer to the residence, to take pictures of the guys house, paying particular attention to the computer hardware.

They have the house raided, and the MPAA douches are allowed to take part in the questioning. They were even allowed to investigate the confiscated equipment themselves.

UK authorities decide not to pursue a case.

MPAA, not to be denied, went after a programmer in the US that worked on the site. In exchange for dropping his case, he agreed to testify in the UK case and pay the MPAA $10k in go-away money.

At least that's the take-away I got form the article. It's pretty convoluted.

Re:Clarify (4, Insightful)

future assassin (639396) | about 2 years ago | (#40078321)

>They were even allowed to investigate the confiscated equipment themselves.

\Wouldn't any lawyer be able to get this easily thrown out? The police giving away evidence to the plaintiff to do as they wish with it aster the case was dropped? Isn't that stealing, conspiracy, possession of stolen property, tampering with evidence, etc, etc , etc.....

Re:Clarify (4, Funny)

HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) | about 2 years ago | (#40078427)

I wonder if I could just go around slapping people until they pay me to stop. That'd be pretty sweet.

The MPAA would probably sue me for stealing their business model, or something. Guess I'll just have to keep working hard to make my customers happy, instead. Stupid reality and it's stupid applying to me.

RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078475)

Why don't you click the link and RTFA?

Outsourced eh? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40077909)

I guess even police work and evidence collection is getting outsourced these days....

On a serious note, what right does the MPAA have to place 'undercover' agents?

Re:Outsourced eh? (1)

Tifer (2644417) | about 2 years ago | (#40077937)

What right does the MPAA have to place 'agents' at all? At least they're bad at it.

Re:Outsourced eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40077975)

Exactly my point. Its not their job or their RIGHT to enforce copyright law, they do that through LEGAL channels, not playing rogue and doing it on their own.

That is the real problem here. They had every right to charge the couple with fraud....they had NO right to go around the police to gather evidence and investigative work.

Re:Outsourced eh? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078039)

Actually they do. Why wouldn't they? The problem with current copyright law is that the burden of policing a work actually falls on the copyright holder, not on the Police or society. If you want to change this, fine, but as it stands they have to do anything they can; all sorts of businesses employ tactics like this to gain information about their competitors etc... its pretty normal, these guys are just stupid for falling for it.

Re:Outsourced eh? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078069)

Read the story: MPAA were the ones that siezed the equipment under police guard, did the investigation of the equipment themselves, and then even were allowed to participate in the questioning.

There is a problem here.

Re:Outsourced eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078129)

I did read the article and it very clearly states the Police raided the house and allowed the MPAA to be present and participate in questioning. They did not seize the equipment under police guard. After the criminal case was declined, the MPAA pursued their own case as is their right.

If the couple had an objection to the MPAA's presence or involvement in questioning, they or their lawyers certainly could have objected or they could have remained silent.

There is no problem here. This is the same as an art appraiser or insurance company representative being present for the recovery of stolen works, or a bank representative being present for financial crimes. If you see a problem, you need to articulate what that problem is. Your lack of understanding of how private parties work in co-operation with Police departments does not mean that it is abnormal or somehow wrong.

Re:Outsourced eh? (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40078205)

Bullshit. Major problem here. The MPAA isn't supposed to be a governmental organization. They have no business participating in a raid.

Re:Outsourced eh? (1)

Ranzear (1082021) | about 2 years ago | (#40078589)

Especially in a different goddamn country than what that second 'A' entails.

Re:Outsourced eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078885)

Which is why the industry organization in question was the UK-based FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), which, while similar in function and objectives to the MPAA, is NOT the MPAA.

They hired the "undercover agents," and they took computer equipment (which they refused to turn back, and were slapped by a court for refusing to return), and they worked with the police.

MPAA's involvement in this case is the suit against the programmer, and twisting his arm into testifying in the UK in return for no charges (catch the little fish, get the big fish). FACT is the one doing all the stuff in the UK.

Re:Outsourced eh? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078637)

Doesn't the second A there stand for America, like another country distinct in borders and laws from UK?

Re:Outsourced eh? (4, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#40078661)

Apple has done the same in the US. Let's face it, our countries are run by these corporations. Politicians are merely corrupt figureheads.

Re:Outsourced eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078217)

I guess we should just fire all those Copright Enforcment Officers that are legally hired and working for the government then.

You see no problem with private investigators coming into your house and searching for evidence? Considering Apple feels Jailbreaking is illegal, should they be allowed to send private investigators to find the people who do the research and development for jailbreaking and prosecute them by their own means?

Re:Outsourced eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078297)

1) http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/copy/c-manage/c-manage-faq/c-manage-faq-howenforce.htm

2) I wouldn't allow them entry. Nor would my attorney. Not the MPAA's fault if these people welcomed them into their home.

Re:Outsourced eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078393)

....the term undercover seems to confuse you. How the hell would you know they were agents?

Re:Outsourced eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078465)

No, I am not confused by undercover. You would know because you would do due diligence on anyone you came into contact with when operating such a site. If I were operating a link site, I wouldn't let anyone who I did not know into my house as a prospective home-buyer. I would have checked out the potential investor, the buyer, and made sure I couldn't be followed from the meeting. I also never would have gone personally. I would have sent an intermediary, potentially an attorney. What they did was pure stupidity and/or greed. This is very basic shit, that they fell for it is laughable.

Re:Outsourced eh? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40078671)

>>>This is the same as an art appraiser or insurance company representative being present for the recovery of stolen works, or a bank representative being present for financial crimes.
>>>
That only happens in movies. In real life it is illegal to touch the evidence. It's called tampering.

Re:Outsourced eh? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40078083)

Why pay a public servant starvation wage when you can pay a private contractor $200 an hour? That's how the corporatist government saves money.

what does uk say about impersonation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40077947)

what does uk say about impersonation?
What are its laws and regulations?
AND this is a lesson to you as hte cable guy drops in, the fireman to inspect firealarms, the city inspector, the home buyer , and that alien space creature that just landed in the back yard.

Re:Outsourced eh? (3, Informative)

a90Tj2P7 (1533853) | about 2 years ago | (#40077993)

You can hire a private investigator. They've got people who look into cases and gather facts before taking legal action against someone. Would you rather have them waste the taxpayer's money on having a LEO do it? They may happen to be douchebags, but almost every industry's got people like insurance adjustors, inspectors or security officers who check things out in-house.

Re:Outsourced eh? (3)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#40078223)

It can't be legal to gain access to someone's house under false pretences, can it? Its trespassing at the least. If the couple doesn't have recourse to sue the hell out of the MPAA and the local plods, the UK justice system is badly broken. Not to say that what the couple were doing was right, but you can't break the law to catch lawbreakers. Not for moral ground reasons, but if you cross that line pretty soon you start finding lines everywhere are getting blurry.

Re:Outsourced eh? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | about 2 years ago | (#40078299)

Pretty sure it isn't illegal to pretend interest in buying someone's house. All they would have to do is say the PI truly was interested, but then didn't like the price. How are you going to "prove" he wasn't interested in the house? Regardless pretending you are interested in buying a house when you aren't may be dishonest, but not necessarily illegal. It wasn't like the PI was claiming to be a cop or serviceman or something you could actually get into trouble for impersonating.

Re:Outsourced eh? (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#40078459)

All they would have to do is say the PI truly was interested, but then didn't like the price.

Right, so a private investigator hired to investigate this couple is going to convince a judge he was only innocently interested in their house, the sale of which presumably didn't include the computer equipment he took many photos of.

Re:Outsourced eh? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | about 2 years ago | (#40078899)

No, someone would have to convince a judge that he wasn't interested in buying the house. The whole presumed innocent until proven guilty thing applies in the UK as well I believe.

Re:Outsourced eh? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#40078683)

Pretty sure it isn't illegal to pretend interest in buying someone's house. All they would have to do is say the PI truly was interested, but then didn't like the price. How are you going to "prove" he wasn't interested in the house? Regardless pretending you are interested in buying a house when you aren't may be dishonest, but not necessarily illegal. It wasn't like the PI was claiming to be a cop or serviceman or something you could actually get into trouble for impersonating.

I dunno. It's only plausible deniability if there's no way to prove that the PI wasn't acting on behalf of the MPAA. But I assume he was paid for the job. And someone told him to do it. If there's a potential crime, records can be subpoenaed, people can be called to testify. At this point, and if TV court drama hasn't lied to me, I'd think that keeping up the "I was just looking for a house" premise would become perjury and/or obstruction of justice, etc.

Re:Outsourced eh? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40078765)

It can't be legal to gain access to someone's house under false pretences, can it? Its trespassing at the least.

I don't know about you, but when I was selling my house, I invited people in. At that point, they weren't trespassers, even if they didn't end up making me an offer.

Re:Outsourced eh? (0)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 2 years ago | (#40078487)

On a serious note, what right does the MPAA have to place 'undercover' agents?
And what right do department stores have to have fake buyers to keep an eye on shoplifters? What right do malls have to hire mall cops? What right does any person on the street have to enlist a private investigator?

A crime was committed, and so the MPAA legally hired a person to uncover the crime, and then pass the information on to the police. Bully for them. I know the MPAA is just supposed to roll over and let everybody steal from them, but they didn't do anything wrong or even questionable.

Re:Outsourced eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078535)

What a disgusting person you are.

Do you know who you are sympathizing with?

Re:Outsourced eh? (2)

BronsCon (927697) | about 2 years ago | (#40078897)

Stores and malls have every right to hire whoever they want to work whatever position they want *on their own property*. Any person on the street has every right to hire a private investigator to investigate somebody *from their own property or public property*. The problem here is that the MPAA hired someone to investigate this guy *in his own home*, and not from within the confines of the MPAA or investigator's own property or while on public property.

Parking your car in front of someone's home and taking pictures through their open window is a gray area; entering someone's home under false pretenses is not.

Piracy, and making money (1)

ebunga (95613) | about 2 years ago | (#40077911)

I don't really have an issue with piracy when the media companies make it difficult to view the content legally. I have a major issue when someone is making money off piracy. Screw these people. Throw the book at them.

Re:Piracy, and making money (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40077933)

That is not the problem here. I'm okay with the charges against them, the way they went about DOING it is quite another thing.

Since when does the MPAA get to play police themselves? Last I checked their are not a government law enforcement agency.

Re:Piracy, and making money (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | about 2 years ago | (#40078025)

Why does it matter if they're making money or not? I hear this statement quite frequently, but I've never understood why someone would care, unless it's just jealousy. If they sell a pirate DVD for $5, does that hurt you more than if they just gave it away? Not trolling here -- can you explain?

Re:Piracy, and making money (1, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#40078055)

It's not a legal point but a moral one, there are many communists who believe that digital works should be distributed freely and noone should make money off of them.

Re:Piracy, and making money (1)

ebunga (95613) | about 2 years ago | (#40078703)

As stated in another reply, if money changes hands, it should go to those who did the work, even if it is a fraction of a percent. Say what you will about big media, but at least they give the talent some of the money.

Re:Piracy, and making money (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40078821)

You mean "communists" like Thomas Jefferson?

(quoting from memory): "The thinking power we call an idea appears purposefully designed by nature to be shared with all humans. I can share my idea with others, without depriving its usefulness to myself, just as I can light your tapir with my own fire, without darkening myself. There cannot then be, in nature, a right to exclusive ownership of ideas."

Should people make money off their artistic works? Sure. Should they have the power to break-into your private home w/ false pretenses? Absolutely not.

   

Re:Piracy, and making money (3, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | about 2 years ago | (#40078109)

I think it's probably the Profit motive. You're a hero if you are providing access to media not otherwise available. If you are seeking money for it when you're not the copyright holder then you're just a money grubbing dick. You might be a money grubber even if you hold the copyright; but then you're at least legal.

It's like the story of the vet who sent something like 10k pirated DVDs over to the desert. Yes, he violated copyright, but people have his sympathy. If somebody took those 10k DVDs and tried to sell them for $2 profit each, the view is much different. People view you differently if you're not doing it for profit, especially if you're 'donating' your own resources to the cause without hope of return.

Re:Piracy, and making money (4, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 years ago | (#40078111)

I'm one of those people.

I believe that an ordinary person should not have to be encumbered with copyright law - even lawyers who specialize in it can't give you firm answers about what is and is not fair use. There was just a story yesterday about something like 57% of the population being "pirates".

As soon as you make IP part of your business, however, I believe it is fair to require you to know the ropes. It's similar to tax law IMHO - if an individual screws up their taxes, then they should just pay some interest on the money they owe and move on. If H&R block makes a habit of screwing up other people's taxes, then maybe big fines, restitution, and loss of license/certification is in order.

Re:Piracy, and making money (0)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40078177)

The thing is the 57% number is *too LOW*. Just about every computer user is a "pirate" under definitions that the *AAs consider valid. Hell, an extreme view of copyright law says that making a copy to RAM falls under copyright laws.

It's broken. The 19th century definition just doesn't fit when everything can be expressed as bits. It just doesn't work.

Re:Piracy, and making money (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40078779)

The thing is the 57% number is *too LOW*. Just about every computer user is a "pirate" under definitions that the *AAs consider valid. Hell, an extreme view of copyright law says that making a copy to RAM falls under copyright laws.

It's broken. The 19th century definition just doesn't fit when everything can be expressed as bits. It just doesn't work.

Fortunately, we've got a 21st century definition, in the form of the recently-updated copyright act, which expressly addressed things like copying to RAM. You may have heard of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, no?

You can dislike it for myriad reasons, but "the act is 200 years out of date" is simply not a valid one.

Re:Piracy, and making money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078633)

I believe that an ordinary person should not have to be encumbered with copyright law

Oh, so you don't believe in the GPL? The GPL is a license for copyrighted code that depends on copyright law.

But as usual, Slashdotters almost always choose the self-serving viewpoint in any given situation. So copyright law is evil when it means getting free stuff through Bittorrent...but then the GPL is great because it means getting software without paying for it. You can't have it both ways.

Re:Piracy, and making money (1)

ebunga (95613) | about 2 years ago | (#40078553)

If money changes hands, it should flow towards the creators and the talent. A major complaint against Big Media is that the middlemen get a disproportionate cut of the proceeds, with a small chunk left over for those doing the actual work. If pirates are making money, it sticks with those middlemen. That is flat-out wrong. Either the talent gets paid, or nobody gets paid.

Re:Piracy, and making money (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#40078051)

I don't really have an issue with piracy when the media companies make it difficult to view the content legally. I have a major issue when someone is making money off piracy. Screw these people. Throw the book at them.

I would agree with you, except I have a much, much bigger problem with corporations sending UNDERCOVER FUCKING AGENTS into people's homes under false pretenses.

If you can't gather enough evidence of criminal activity to convince a rubberstamp-wielding judge to issue a warrant, served by people at least superficially trained in such silly little issues as chain-of-custody, then you drop the issue. You don't hire plumbers to break in and go through your enemies' files.

Re:Piracy, and making money (3, Insightful)

a90Tj2P7 (1533853) | about 2 years ago | (#40078127)

Except they didn't break in, they didn't go through anybody's files, they weren't "agents" in the context of law enforcement. It's not like financial companies, insurance companies, service providers and other industries don't have their own investigators who look into things before taking legal action. While there's definitely a few red flags here, the summary presents this like it was some kind of undercover raid, and the comments like this kind of take that even further.

Re:Piracy, and making money (1)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#40078525)

While there's definitely a few red flags here, the summary presents this like it was some kind of undercover raid, and the comments like this kind of take that even further.

I will agree that the story reads as somewhat less inflammatory than the FP summary. That said, I still have a major problem with the MPAA gaining access to their home under fraudulent pretenses...

If you or I posed as a VC to take pictures of the inside of MPAA member's offices, they'd put us in jail for corporate espionage. Why does this count as any less of a crime?

Re:Piracy, and making money (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40078155)

I agree. We've got the *AA's starting to act as quasi-governmental organizations, and that's Phillip K. Dick novel territory.

Pay your legislators enough cash and you don't only control governmental actions, you almost become PART of the government apparently. We're WAY beyond the time when the foot should of come down.

Re:Piracy, and making money (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#40078473)

Pay your legislators enough cash and you don't only control governmental actions, you almost become PART of the government apparently.

Well, corporations are government creations, so it's not entirely surprising. The cycle goes roughly:
1) create permanent private-benefit corporations
2) protect individuals in corporations from nearly all consequences
3) allow corporations to grow much larger than non-corporate business could achieve to gain unnatural economies of scale
4) allow corporations to squelch their competition through favorable laws, incumbent-protecting regulations, court actions, etc. Be sure to speak boldly about new regulations to control corporations, then let corporations write those regulations.
5) take small percentage of corporate profits as taxes
6) take much larger percentage of corporate profits as campaign contributions to ensure cycle perpetuation
7) GOTO 2

You'll notice the loop is positive feedback and doesn't halt so long as resources are available to keep it running.

the truth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078185)

for each visit they got one eighth of a cent
and it was for traffic not selling the content there is huge difference.
IF i make you pay for each dl then its profiteering. IF you drop in do nothing i still make money so in even terms of true piracy its not the same. and i might reload a page a hundred times waiting for something. YUP hollystupid away....
50000 bucks for 800,000 visits?
in 1996 i was doing 8 million uniques or about 40 million to 50 million hits
that's not much until you build up traffic and its what the mpaa and friends should have done 15 years ago was partner with them all ...but they decided to sue people and thus lost trust for all time.

OH california is broke isnt that funny guess hollywood record box office takes dont help you tax wise....

Re:Piracy, and making money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078581)

Prepare to get modbombed into oblivion. Slashdot is vehemently pro-piracy and has been for years. The RIAA/MPAA are constantly portrayed as bogeymen, and pirates as innocent victims. Meanwhile, not a single poster will ever acknowledge the artists, who aren't getting paid because of piracy. Content creators are non-existent in the thought process because they cause feelings of guilt, which threatens the self-justifying mindset that pirates have established for themselves as good guys fighting evil corporations.

Re:Piracy, and making money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078835)

Pull your head from your ass. If you think those publishers are paying the content creators FAIRLY, you've another thing coming. Why do you think everyone is going Indie?

Wait... (1)

Tifer (2644417) | about 2 years ago | (#40077997)

This sounds a lot like the plot of a wacky romantic comedy. We're on to you, MPAA.

Re:Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078123)

So all I have to do is pose as a realtor to catch MPAA "agents".
Aside - Really? Agents? Is that term suppose to lend credence to their actions? They are no more "agents" than a loan shark's leg-breakers are "agents".

To: Editors (and TFA writer) (3, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about 2 years ago | (#40078071)

When discussing a case that includes both the UK and the USA. make it clear where the cities are located. Not only are there probably many cities called "London" in the USA, but more importantly, there is at least one "Boston" in the UK.

To: Slashdot readers (2)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | about 2 years ago | (#40078677)

When you desire more information from a story mentioned in a summary, try clicking the underlined phrase in the text. This is called a hyperlink and will take you to the full article with all the details.

Wise posters of Slashdot past shortened this idea into an easily remembered acronym: RTFA

Re:To: Editors (and TFA writer) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078763)

If someone mentions Boston without mentioning its location, it's a given that the reference is to the well-known Boston. If it's a Boston located elsewhere, it will be explicitly mentioned as such. This is how daily conversation works. If we had to be explicit about everything, we'd become overloaded with information.

If I said I didn't like the Mac, you'd correctly assume I'm talking about the computer and not the Midlands Arts Centre, in Birmingham, UK that shortened its name to Mac.

Suing the programmer? (4, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#40078077)

What the hell, what does the developer of a site has to do with how its owners operate it? That's like making employees criminally responsible if their company does something unethical.

Re:Suing the programmer? (5, Insightful)

klingens (147173) | about 2 years ago | (#40078191)

Simply blackmail in a legal way: you sue the programmer in the US so he has to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend himself: that will bankrupt him. Or he won't spend that amount of money to defend himself and the torts from the lawsuit will bankrupt him. Now the MPAA has a lever and can coerce the programmer to testify for them.
Welcome to the legal system of the United States of America. If some people with italian sounding names did such a thing, they'd be prosecuted under RICO.

Re:Suing the programmer? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | about 2 years ago | (#40078349)

... the torts from the lawsuit will bankrupt him.

This phrasing bugs me. It's like saying "the crimes from the criminal complaint will send him to jail". A "tort" is the same as "crime", it is an action performed. If the MPAA used torts to bankrupt the guy, he could sue. However, the judgements from the lawsuits could easily bankrupt him.

I mean, it's reasonably accurate, but comes across as the language that would be used in a movie. Torts are the standing for a civil lawsuit, rather than what actually bankrupts people. As with anything, a crime isn't punished unless someone is convicted, and a tort doesn't manifest as money or equity unless someone has a judgement levied against them.

Re:Suing the programmer? (1)

Phrogman (80473) | about 2 years ago | (#40078481)

I would love to see a movie made about this sort of behaviour, it might be able to convey the *wrongness* of this sort of situation to the general public. Sadly it would get squashed rather quickly by the MPAA :P

The reason they get away with BS like this is simply that the average person doesn't understand or care whats going on - until they find themselves on the wrong side of corporate blackmail of course.

Re:Suing the programmer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078485)

basically an offer he couldn't refuse; say what we want to hear in court or we will kill you (with legal fees and general harassment)

about time some one got some of those old medivel tool of justice out and taught a few lawyers a lesson

Re:Suing the programmer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078471)

If I manufacture a gun and sell it to you then you rob a bank with it then I'm not liable. If you say, "Hey, I need a weapon to rob a bank with." and then I sell you a gun for the expressed purpose of you robbing a bank.. well then I'm liable for the robbery as well.

I feel like... (4, Insightful)

DeeEff (2370332) | about 2 years ago | (#40078125)

This is getting too wacky and out of hand. I mean, piracy is one thing, but playing police?

Next thing you know laws will be privatized for the highest bidder in a location. I think we need to step back and ask ourselves, is piracy really worth letting this crap slip by?

I think we should start by reducing the amount of legislation and bureaucracy and let the police do their job. Then we write the minimum amount of laws required to protect start up industries, and then we hang all the lawyers anyways because they're ridiculous and will ruin everything (as always).

Re:I feel like... (1)

berashith (222128) | about 2 years ago | (#40078333)

isnt this part of the law being a civil law ? Crossing over into criminal law is when the government uses their agents to investigate. I did think that the push for the recent online protection acts were an effort to criminalize these civil laws to put the process in the hands of government police.

I dont like the smell of the way they went about gathering information for a police investigation, but if this was a matter of gathering information to sue someone, then this sort of private investigation is probably fairly normal. The pressure on a programmer just goes way too far beyond weird to me.

Re:I feel like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078513)

Next thing you know laws will be privatized for the highest bidder in a location.

I really hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we (in the US) already have the best congress money can buy. PLENTY of laws are written for the highest bidder (also known as "campaign contributor").

Re:I feel like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078533)

Now it's getting out of hand? Not when they were claiming millions in damages while suing grandmothers with ip addresses as evidence?

Re:I feel like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078559)

a system for lawyers made by lawyers governed by lawyers, it is so simple when you make you own rules

James Bond's teenage fantasy come true (2)

Tootech (1865028) | about 2 years ago | (#40078367)

This seems like a scheme James Bond would have a wet dream abut at night! The fact that the MPAA went through all this trouble to get these people seems a slight bit more than over zealous one would say. How is it that the MPAA can bring their own investigators and then invite the police along later after they made a complaint... and then to top it off when the authorities decide that their little investigation didnt pass the "sniff" test, they then convince the U.S. authorities to go after the guy who wrote some code for the site. Seems to me the MPAA is acting as their own department of justice and then just asking the goverment to go along and help when they cant get justice another way..shady as hell is an understatment

Worldwide corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078443)

Worldwide corporations owning all politicians and sending undercover agents all over the place.

Now this is the future I was promised as a kid!

This action was PUBLICITY for MPAA (2)

barv (1382797) | about 2 years ago | (#40078647)

And whatever happens, a few more people will buy the licensed product, and a few more entertainers will trust the MPAA or RIAA with distribution of their valuable copyright material.

kill them (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40078669)

time to start shooting these faggots spies in the face, and kill their families too

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