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Convicted by the Movie Cops

CmdrTaco posted about 13 years ago | from the stuff-to-think-about dept.

The Courts 454

Reckless Visionary writes "Salon has a great article about what it's like to get on the MPAA's bad side. It's a first hand account of what happens when you are accused of violating the DMCA and commentary on the "guilty until proven innocent" nature of today's copyright laws." Pirate movies. Lose access. You are guilty. And this guy was on vacation when it happened, so there's no need for accountability. Hope you don't depend on your net access.

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hrehe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208692)

convict this [] -

2nd pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208697)

boo yahh mommy

Honestly (4, Interesting)

WinDoze (52234) | about 13 years ago | (#2208706)

If my ISP decided to shut me off because someone else accused me of something, and they didn't even bother asking my side of the story, I think I'd be more than happy to terminate my relationship with that ISP.

Re:Honestly (2)

Drone-X (148724) | about 13 years ago | (#2208738)

If my ISP decided to shut me off because someone else accused me of something, and they didn't even bother asking my side of the story, I think I'd be more than happy to terminate my relationship with that ISP.
Oh really? The article states that the DMCA requires your ISP to disconnect you unless they want to be be held liable too. No ISP would risk a lawsuit for someone who probably did violate copyright.

Don't blame the ISP, it's the DMCA that's broken.

Re:Honestly (1)

WinDoze (52234) | about 13 years ago | (#2208796)

No ISP would risk a lawsuit for someone who probably did violate copyright.

...until all their subscribers start cancelling their subscription for getting randomly accused of acts that are none of the ISPs business in the first place.

Re:Honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208826)

Good idea. Perhaps if you all move out of the USA your government will correct the DMCA.

Re:Honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208899)

You're just trying to recruit new members for Belgium, aren't you? Sneaky. :)

Re:Honestly (1)

TooTallFourThinking (206334) | about 13 years ago | (#2208914)

But the point seems to be missed. Just because the ISP or anyone believes someone probably did violate copyright laws doesn't give them the right to take action against you. That is, if you believe in being innocent until proven guilty.

They might allege that you have done something, but until a court of law decides upon it, it still is alleged and thus you are still innocent. Congress and the MPAA seems to have other ideas on your innocence, as shown by the examples of the enforcement of the DMCA.

Copyright law is CIVIL not criminal (3, Interesting)

yerricde (125198) | about 13 years ago | (#2208951)

Just because the ISP or anyone believes someone probably did violate copyright laws doesn't give them the right to take action against you. That is, if you believe in being innocent until proven guilty.

Civil law, not criminal law, governs most copyright cases. The only right the accused gets in a civil case is the right to trial by jury. All that "innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt" and "right to remain silent" jazz applies only to criminal cases.

Re:Honestly (2, Insightful)

BlueTurnip (314915) | about 13 years ago | (#2208921)

Don't blame the ISP, it's the DMCA that's broken.

What's really broken is the fact that most broadband providers have a virtual monopoly. Back in the days of 56K modems, ISPs were a dime a dozen, and if you were dropped by one, it was no big deal to sign up with another. This situation has changed drastically now that people are dependent on broadband access. DSL is not available everywhere which means many people are dependent on cable modems for broadband, and in most cities there is only one choice of provider.

I'm not saying cable companies should be forced to allow competitors to use their lines, but we should be careful that when fiber optics are installed, that whichever company is given the government granted monopoly to dig trenches on public land to lay cables, that this company must, in return, allow other ISPs to hook up to the other end, giving consumers choice. Then if you are dropped by one, it's no big deal to sign up with another.

Re:Honestly (2, Insightful)

ColdCuts (193807) | about 13 years ago | (#2208746)

Makes sense. You can always go with that *other* cable internet access provider,


Re:Honestly (1)

WinDoze (52234) | about 13 years ago | (#2208769)

Just so happens that where I live (metro west of Boston) there IS another cable internet access provider. AT&T or RCN. Admittedly it's the lesser of two incompetents, but hey, at least there is a choice.

Re:Honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208947)

Consider yourself among the fortunate few. Most of us are lucky to even have one choice other than dialup.

Re:Honestly (2)

Pxtl (151020) | about 13 years ago | (#2208752)

Hmph. This is lawsuit time in my world. Whatever service the MPAA used has just committed libel (or is it slander?). Shrink-wrap licenses that say "We can cancel service at any time" are quite questionable. Whats to stop someone from pulling a totally legal con job that way? It never said though, whether they recieved a refund at all for the time lost. If not, then thats a definite issue.

Re:Honestly (1)

joe52 (74496) | about 13 years ago | (#2208755)

What if they were your only option for broadband? I'd be very upset with my provider, but I can't get dsl in my building, so a cale modem with my current provider is my only option for high-speed access. To get similar service from someone else I would have to move. I recently signed a new lease, so moving anytime soon would be very costly.

So I'm stuck with my current ISP. I've been very happy with their service, but if they pulled something like this I would just complain, nothing more. There just isn't much more that I cold do (note that complaining might include complaining about the DMCA to my federal legislators).

Re:Honestly (1)

Monte (48723) | about 13 years ago | (#2208940)

What if they were your only option for broadband?

You learn to live life without it, like the vast majority of people on this planet?

Naw, no principle is worth that much.

Re:Honestly (1)

nilonaut (155600) | about 13 years ago | (#2208759)

... I'd be more than happy to terminate my relationship with that ISP

... even if it's the only highspeed provider.

If your net connection is worth $200,000... (1)

yerricde (125198) | about 13 years ago | (#2208928)

I'd be more than happy to terminate my relationship with that ISP ... even if it's the only highspeed provider

If your net connection is worth USD$200,000 to you, you can always move.

Re:Honestly (2)

mesocyclone (80188) | about 13 years ago | (#2208780)

Bwhen you ISP is your only possible broadband access, and they do this, you don't realistically even have that choice!

In many areas today, there is only one broadband provider.

i'll say it simply, and slowly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208853)

broadband is a want, not a need.

Re:i'll say it simply, and slowly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208919)

BINGO! Not to mention internet access in general.

I'd rather forego it altogether than put up with such nonsense. BFD. Read a book. But not an e-Book.

Re:Honestly (1)

cavemanf16 (303184) | about 13 years ago | (#2208936)

In many areas today, there is only one broadband provider.

Much like their is primarily only one OS (much to the chagrin of all the Linux users out there - it's sad, but pretty much true for the desktop). This article once again shows me why I was in such a foul mood today: There's lots wrong in the world today, and not much we can do about it...

Re:Honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208837)

Um...I think you're missing the point.

They *all* do this. In fact, according to the DMCA they are *required* to do this. Just who exactly do you plan to switch to?

Ranger Inc (2, Interesting)

clinko (232501) | about 13 years ago | (#2208713)

"We never sleep. Our IOS software is constantly searching the Internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our intelligent scanning probes are customized to each client's needs and patrol the Internet searching for suspicious sites."

Isn't scanning illegal now too?

Re:Ranger Inc (3, Interesting)

saider (177166) | about 13 years ago | (#2208777)

You could probably filter out Ranger Inc's IP addresses out at your firewall.

They fingered this guy from a Usenet post. Either someone forged the IP address, this guy had his computer compromised, or he actually did it and is crying 'foul' because he was caught. It's hard to say what is up with this article. But it does bring up perfectly valid points about the enforcement of a penalty without due process.

DHCP (2)

wiredog (43288) | about 13 years ago | (#2208818)

He's probably on a DHCP link, the IP address changes every time you log on with those. Well, not all of them, but that's the default. It allows the ISP to have more subscribers on a node than it has addresses. I suspect that the log got bollixed up and linked the port he was on to someone else's IP addr.

Re:Ranger Inc (2)

sulli (195030) | about 13 years ago | (#2208846)

Well, to paraphrase Jack Valenti: I sleep a little less well knowing that the MPAA is doing shit like this.

Anyone remember.... (1)

SpanishInquisition (127269) | about 13 years ago | (#2208716)

The segment called "Video Pirates" from the film "Amazon Women on the Moon"( don't mod me offtopic if you haven't seen it), I guess we should be scared afterall...

Guilty until proven innocent? Gimme a break (5, Informative)

bconway (63464) | about 13 years ago | (#2208725)

How many times have we seen this before? They had their connection to their ISP discontinued! This is hardly a conviction, nor would I in any way consider an ISP to be a government body. Okay, so it was an inconvenience, and the matter was settled, but the ISP was just doing what they felt was right in trying to resolve a problem, and inadvertantly targeted the wrong user. It's not like they were thrown in jail for visiting the US by Adobe. Come on.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? Gimme a break (2)

Nater (15229) | about 13 years ago | (#2208779)

That's all beside the point. This guy didn't do anything (so it would seem from the article) and yet, as an innocent net user, his time and effort were wasted on behalf of the MPAA.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? Gimme a break (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208827)

Oh god no, an innocent net user lost his cable connection for a week, half of which he was on vacation anyways!! Sorry, but you ain't getting my sympathy on this one.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? Gimme a break (1)

LordNimon (85072) | about 13 years ago | (#2208930)

People are arrested and spend days in jail before the matter of their guilt is resolved all the time. That's what the police do every day: when they think so one has committed a crime, they arrest him. The alternative is to let the person go free, and chances are he'll disappear.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? Gimme a break (5, Insightful)

JoeGrind (324053) | about 13 years ago | (#2208794)

Give you a break? The point that you don't seem to think is a big deal has nothing to do with the punishment. The point is that if you are paying money for a service you expect that service. They expect the money and you expect the bandwidth. If an organization which apparently can't even accurately determine the source IP of the traffic they are monitoring just needs to point a finger to get your access shutdown then that seems to be a violation of the contract you have with the ISP.

Not having the ability to surf for pr0n is one thing. However, lots of people use their connections for business uses. It supports their livelihood. When you consider that, it sounds a little more important.

The last point is that the idea of being innocent until being proven guilty by a jury of your peers is one of the tenents of the US, where this action occured. A lot of people jumped on boats and sailed across the see to avoid this sort of behavior. Without that, this sounds could be the Salem Witch Hunt, the Red Scare, or the Inquisition.

Right now it's just being able to check your email. But as we depend on bandwidth more and more in the future it becomes more important. Consider that.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? Gimme a break (2, Insightful)

Neil Watson (60859) | about 13 years ago | (#2208855)

Yes they targeted the wrong user but:

The MPAA and the ISP did not admit any wrong doing or mistake on their part. The made the guy sign a document stating he would not traffic copywrited materials. As far as they are concerned he did it.

Suppose your cable tv was disconnected because the cable company was told that you were making illegal copies of movies and selling them? What would you do? You are accused of being a pirate and the only way you can get your cable service back is to promise not to do it again. But, you never did it in the first place.

Is that just an invoncenience? How would you feel?

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? Gimme a break (3, Insightful)

KMitchell (223623) | about 13 years ago | (#2208862)

Today this may be an inconvenience, but give it a couple of years. Would you consider it an inconvenience if your phone was turned off for suspected wrongdoings? How about your electricity or water? Hmmm... We think you're growing something you shouldn't be in there... better shut off the water until we're sure that you're not...

While Internet access will never be as "critical" a service as heat or water, some of us would suffer very real economic damages if our net access was interrupted, and this is only going to get more and more common.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? Gimme a break (1)

BLAMM! (301082) | about 13 years ago | (#2208868)

Except the ISP wasn't "doing what they thought was right". They were doing it because "under the provisions of the DMCA, an ISP does indeed have to take action immediately when it is told about a case of copyright infringement". This doesn't make it right. It makes it even worse. If the ISP's buckle under, what chance do the rest of us have?

Ability to communicate (2)

DrCode (95839) | about 13 years ago | (#2208883)

For many, their internet connection is the primary way they communicate with others.

What if your phone service was cut off because you sang a copyrighted song over the line?:-) Or suppose your postal service was suspended because someone accused you of sending or receiving copyrighted material?

Why did this happen? (2, Insightful)

Randy Rathbun (18851) | about 13 years ago | (#2208726)

I think this pretty well sums it up [] .

The lunatic left heard from again. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208771)

That flag represents more ignorant and silly left-wing conspiracy theories. It plays in the Church of Chomsky, but not in the real world.

Re:The lunatic left heard from again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208961)

Yeah, everybody knows that corporations don't have any influence on legislation, right?

What would you do... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208733)

...with five dollars? Imagine... five whole dollars in your pocket (if you're an open-source programmer, you know that five dollars is a veritable fortune). What do you do with it?

Why, if you're a typical Linux zealot, you...


But what do you do with the rest of the money? Three bucks and a quarter is still a fortune (remember, you're an open-source programmer here). There's only one thing to do: you...


But you still have a buck fifty! A vast amount (open-souce programmer, remember)! There's only one thing to do with it: you...


But you still have a buck and a quarter! A huge amount (open-source, yadda yadda yadda)! What do you do but:


So now you have one dollar left. You now own two shares of LNUX [] that are worth a dollar each, you have herpes and genital warts from the ho [] , and a bleeding rectum [] from the losers [] . What do you do? You ... you ... you don't know that to do with it.

Well, since you're an open-source programmer, you won't have to worry about what to do with all that money, since you'll never have five dollars to begin with.

Of course, this particular ISP is in bed with the (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 13 years ago | (#2208740)

Did anybody expect an ISP owned primarily by Time-Warner to act in a responsible manner? After all, the parent company owns several movie studios.

Synergy, hah. More like incest...

Quick (legal) question... (5, Interesting)

Noryungi (70322) | about 13 years ago | (#2208750)

Let me summarize:
  • ISP thinks you are spreading pirated movies through Usenet
  • ISP cuts off the line and tells you rudely you are violating whatever idiotic law they'd like to protect
  • You have no recourse, no information on said pirated movie post and you can't prove anything

I believe that, in such as case, it should be possible to countersue both the ISP, the MPAA and the company doing research for both.

Something like "Unfair termination of service" or "Violation of service agreement" as well as "Slanderous attacks" seem totally possible in this case. Anybody with more legal experience cares to comment?

Chilling, nonetheless... =(

Re:Quick (legal) question... (5, Funny)

isorox (205688) | about 13 years ago | (#2208844)

Anybody with more legal experience cares to comment?

On slashdot?


Re:Quick (legal) question... (3, Funny)

sien (35268) | about 13 years ago | (#2208890)

Yes, as one of the net's chief 15 year old legal experts I'd just like to say that under the 'Really Big Bad Companies' legislation passed by Justice Jon Katz you have recourse to the provisions provided for any geek to sue any company that makes lots of money that you don't like.

Re:Quick (legal) question... (3, Insightful)

thryllkill (52874) | about 13 years ago | (#2208915)

Unfair termination of service" or "Violation of service agreement" as well as "Slanderous attacks"

I have no legal experience but I am pretty sure most ISP service agreements include clauses like, "...can terminate service at anytime, with or without notifying the user, for any reason deemed appropriate." or some such garbage. Take a look at your ISP's agreement, just what did you agree to???

Re:Quick (legal) question... (5, Interesting)

Silicon Avatar (30968) | about 13 years ago | (#2208937)

> * ISP thinks you are spreading pirated moviesthrough Usenet

Not to split hairs ... the ISP didn't necessarily think the person was spreading pirated movies. The ISP, as a corporate entity, has just as much 'right' to fear lawyers as we do. There's a provision in the DMCA that basically says "if tell you a user is pirating, you *must* do something or we'll sue you into oblivion". The ISP didn't throw these people in Jail. The ISP didn't call out the police. The ISP didn't even terminate the account.

I think the ISP did a fairly reasonable thing. They directly cut off any ability for the users to further pirate. If the users had been home to see their service had been disconneted, its entirely possible this entire thing would've been resolved within 24 hours.

Now, another debate is whether or not the DMCA should give anyone the 'ability' to demand an ISP take this kind of action ... I find that reprehensible.

Disturbing (1)

IcebergSlim (450399) | about 13 years ago | (#2208753)

Lawsuits, anyone?

this story makes me wanna (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208758)

+* j a c k * o f f * j a c k * o f f * j a c k * o f f *+
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j | / \ \ j
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c | | \ \ __ c
k / \ \ \/__|__,,..---v--. k
o | |__,,\.--"""\/ | \ o
f | | \ _> f
f| | _ _ _ _ | / f
*| | /_v_v_v_\..---""'`-' *
j| | __,,.| | | | | j
a| / \ \_h_h_h_/ a
c | | | c
k | | | k
o \ |\ | o
f \ | \___/ f
f \ | f
* \ | *
j | | j
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+* j a c k * o f f * j a c k * o f f * j a c k * o f f *+

It's all about the Flerbage (2, Interesting)

Nater (15229) | about 13 years ago | (#2208761)

Harkening back to that interesting, if wierd, article by ESR: DMCA violates flerbage. Innocent parties had the time wasted, perhaps in this guy's case, his money wasted.

I've heard some noises about how stupid the word 'flerbage' is, but you know what? I sure is a good concept to single out. It sure puts the true effects of law into perspective.

It is a profoundly stupid word (2)

FreeUser (11483) | about 13 years ago | (#2208866)

Flerbiage: (n) 1. An incredibly stupid word invented by the Open Source movement as part of an incredible verbal contortion in an effort to discuss Liberty and Freedom without having to openly admit that they are discussing Liberty and Freedom.

Other than that, you make a very valid point: the DMCA does violate fundamental freedoms, liberties, and constitutional rights. See, no new word or verbal contortions required. :-)

Nothing new. (1)

Dreven (207178) | about 13 years ago | (#2208762)

I'm a Sys Admin. When ever i complain about someone trying to hack my system, the ISP i'm calling will almost always shut down the account of the person who's ip is attached to the complaint. The only difference here is that it is required by law. I'm not saying this is right, in fact I think it is very wrong, I'm just saying its has been happening for a long time.

Re:Nothing new. (1)

VP (32928) | about 13 years ago | (#2208916)

The other difference is that you are probably competent enough to gather good evidence, and the ISP can verify it themselves. In the reported case, it seems like the MPAA did not provide any convincing details (after all the guy hasn't received any evidence whatsoever, except his IP address).

Very Interesting... (2, Redundant)

Rackemup (160230) | about 13 years ago | (#2208765)

They traced back the IP, determined that someone was "supposedly" distributing copyrighted materials from that address and notified the ISP.

The ISP therefore HAS TO CUT OFF THE ACCOUNT or risk being sued by the copyright enforcement agency.

And where's the customer (the one actually paying for the service) in all of this? Left without net access even though they didn't actually break any laws since they claim they weren't even at home when the incident occurred (although I admit that's pretty weak, I can run a file server while I'm away from my computer or mess with the clock to change the upload timestamp and then claim I wasn't home when it happened). No one contacted the customer to confirm anything, it was all done because the MPAA claimed they had "evidence"!

Still, it points out HOW MUCH FREAKIN POWER these copyright agencies have. All the ISP's are so afraid of going to court that they give in every time! Yay freedom!

Re:Very Interesting... (2)

MadCow42 (243108) | about 13 years ago | (#2208875)

Shouldn't they have to get a court order to cut off your access? Shoudn't they have to show some level of proof to an official agency before "convicting" you of the offense?

The cops can't come into my house and take away my VCR for a week because they suspect me of illegally copying movies... they need a warrant. Why they heck is it any different for copyright infringement on the Internet?

Big Brother also has a bunch of Little Brothers running around the 'net... anybody else wanna be a Little Brother?

Mad Mad Mad MadCow.

Re:Very Interesting... (2)

jandrese (485) | about 13 years ago | (#2208920)

I remember when you used to have to be a skilled hacker/cracker to shut down someone's account. These days all you need is some offical looking stationary, a small book of leagalize, and the address of their ISP.

I can just see it now. One jerk gets peeved off at someone, so he posts a movie to the usenet with bogus IP packets, then send a letter claiming to be from a major studio to his ISP. The best part is, the first step is completely optional, you can do this all with just the social engineering!

This is why most laws in the US are taken on an "innocent until proven guilty" stance.

When you buy your laws... (1)

smnolde (209197) | about 13 years ago | (#2208767)

You can enforce your laws.

So much for checks and balances.

Re:When you buy your laws... (1)

Mister Black (265849) | about 13 years ago | (#2208856)

Welcome to the United $tate$ of Ame®i©a

Fixing the DCMA (2)

Compulawyer (318018) | about 13 years ago | (#2208772)

Not to sound like a broken record (although I doubt anyone is interested in my comments enough to read all my previous posts, but you never know...) but the only way to get practices like this to end is to become involved.

From reading the article, it seems like the "identification" portion of the pirate hunt process is flawed. I suspect that the reason this person was accused was either because

  1. The person processing the information miscopied the IP address; or
  2. the IP address was spoofed.

Cases like this are prime for exposing the inherent dangers of relying on IP addresses (or any other electronic address for that matter) as identifiers. The people affected must take the time to address the issues head-on. In this case, and IMHLO (the L is for Legal) a little detailed information of how networks operate applied in the right area would shine the great light of knowledge and understanding into some very dark legal corners.

Re:Fixing the DCMA (1)

BLAMM! (301082) | about 13 years ago | (#2208953)

You are absolutley correct. Except you can't stop there. Even with a perfect identification system, simply identifying the IP doesn't prove anything. There is still a difference between identification and guilt. Just because you (think) the machine an alleged "crime" has been commited from has been identified, doesn't mean the person with his name on it is the criminal.

To put it another way, if my car was identified as the get-away vehicle of a bank robbery, that doesn't prove my guilt of robbing the bank. That is a separate process. I might be guilty, but you better prove it before taking action on it.

J'accuse! (3, Insightful)

havachu (108698) | about 13 years ago | (#2208774)

From the article:

If we are accused again of distributing copyrighted material, we lose our accounts for two weeks instead of one, and face banishment from our ISP.

McCarthyism is alive and well in America. A little finger pointing is all it takes, and you are discredited forever.

fight back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208781)

let's launch DoS attacks against spyware services like Ranger Online.

Trend away from "Innocent until proven guilty" (1)

Goldenhawk (242867) | about 13 years ago | (#2208787)

This is a common trend in our society, at least in the US. There is often a good reason for a party to take proactive measures to prevent further crimes from occurring, but that must be balanced against the requirements of liberty. Our entire judicial and legislative system is founded on the premise of "no prior restraint" - in other words, you can't attempt stop someone from doing something illegal, because that would presume that they WILL do so. The only time this premise is routinely broken is when significant physical harm might result.

On the OTHER hand, it's worth pointing out that cutting off access to a service temporarily is not a "conviction". In this case there is no judicial involvement. The person was not convicted of any crime, will not be punished, and will not have any criminal record. I agree, it's an awful thing, but we ought to be careful not to overhype this issue. Until the MPAA gets the ability to send someone to jail or to fine them WITHOUT TRIAL, this proactive approach to copyright enforcement is simply a business issue.

That said, the US needs to pay careful attention to this trend of "guilty until proven innocent" OUTSIDE the judicial arena, so that this kind of excess does not grow further. Although I hate suggesting increasing the reach of government, I believe copyright law could stand to see some carefully written laws limiting or preventing this "prior restraint" practice.

amusing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208788) corporates now have so much power than the justice system is deligating them powers.

I'll be the devils advocate for a moment... (2)

Gruneun (261463) | about 13 years ago | (#2208802)

I'm sure the ISP had a terms of service agreement. The first reaction of the ISP when it becomes aware of something illegal it should be to dump the connection immediately. Try arguing that a child pornographer's site should not be shut down until a court decides that it is, in fact, illegal. You and I both know that could be days, weeks, or months.

People make honest mistakes (even people from large corporations) and when they realize they made a mistake, they fix it.

Re:I'll be the devils advocate for a moment... (2)

Aleatoric (10021) | about 13 years ago | (#2208932)

Sorry, but there is no reason sufficient to override due process.

To bring your 'child pornography' example into alignment with the current discussion, it would be as if you were accused of having child pornography available on your site and were shut down, without even any proof that you actually are hosting it.

The problem is not the whether to determine that the act in question is illegal, the problem is to determine that the course of action taken isn't taken without reasonable evidence that the person in question really is the party providing the illegal items.

I am pondering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208803)

I will be interested to see how the MPAA goes about trying to force this law onto other countries. Say a user within my IP block is 'found guilty' of breaking the DMCA - so they will write me a letter saying (essentially) stop them now or else. But I'm not in the USA so what are there options if I take my chances? Does local law in the UK support US commercial organisations killing me or my users? And more so - what if I don't capitulate under pressure? The article seems to suggest that US ISP have to act on notification or they can get taken to court and sued - that surely can't apply across national boundries....can it? :/
Ps. I would like to thank all Americans for voting in people who then passed laws like this which make the rest of us worried...

Re:I am pondering... (1)

Dimensio (311070) | about 13 years ago | (#2208902)

Keep in mind that the DMCA offers both civil remedy to the copyright holder and criminal penalties against the violator. Also keep in mind what happened to a certain Russian programmer who wrote and sold, in Russia. software that was completely legal in Russia.

You could avoid the US for the rest of your life, but since direct copyright infringement (as opposed to cracking ROT13-based encryption) is probably frowned upon in the UK (and the MPAA likely has allies all over the world) you may still find yourself facing charges.

Been there done that (5, Informative)

isorox (205688) | about 13 years ago | (#2208804)

Something similar happened to me when I ran

The day after I left for a 3 week sail in summer 1999, my ISP received an anonymous tipoff - at least they wouldnt tell me who, although I have an idea.

The ISP shut the account down straight away, including email access. They then emailed me on with an explanation. Naturally it was unreadable, as I couldnt log in.

About a week after I left I popped into an internet cafe to see what was going on, unfortunatly I couldnt read my botf email, hence had no contact with my ISP.

when I got back, eventually it sorted itself out. I refused to pay for the time though, and as the site had pretty much crumbled to bits (3 weeks with no site means people dont come back), I contacted my credit card company and told them to hold payment.

Why did they shut me down? I had 5 mp3's for download - these were mp3 versions of the wavs freely available on microprose's site. I had had permission to mirror the samples on my site.

The (5) samples were also in a zip file.

The ISP had heard about these files, obviously not researched them or contacted me - and just shut the site down ASAP.

I will never use them again, needless to say. I hadnt been with them long, having just moved from a wonderful ISP, that unfortunatly couldnt offer me the facilities I needed. I have 2 domains with them now, and couldnt be happier with allwebco. Unfortunatly I forget the name of the ISP that shut me down - I think they went out of buisness.

These mp3's were legal, but because of the hysteria of "mp3 == bad" arround then (and still arround today), I lost something ver dear to me.

Ahh well, the game sucked anyway :)

Re:Been there done that (1)

DataSquid (33187) | about 13 years ago | (#2208962)

And how many people just looked at the ad? c'mon, admit it...

MPAA & RIAA are Thugs! (2)

YIAAL (129110) | about 13 years ago | (#2208810)

We need to get rid of these extralegal enforcement methods: if they want to punish you , they should have to go to court, not dragoon your ISP into being the executioner. This requires either (1) a court finding the DMCA unconstitutional (likely): or (2) legislative action (increasingly likely).

George Bush should wake up to the fact that everyone hates the MPAA & RIAA already (a recent NY Times profile of Hillary Rosen says that RIAA staffers don't wear RIAA t-shirts in public anymore because of the abuse they get) and that he can make a lot of political hay by beating up on them.

This is getting out of control (5, Insightful)

eyeball (17206) | about 13 years ago | (#2208814)

Has anyone thought of filing a complaint with the MPAA's ISP, and telling them you have found evidence that there are copyrighted materials being pirated from their IP address? Create a dinky little mp3 song, then send a screenshoot of a text-based gnutella session saying it's being offered on x.x.x.x. Hell, why even stop at MPAA.. How would WB feel if they were down for a week? Or Disney? Or your congressman's web site?

What is considered proof of infringement? (2)

PureFiction (10256) | about 13 years ago | (#2208815)

The biggest question that remains in my mind in situations like this is how do they determine that you are sharing copyrighted works?

For something to stand up in court, you would need (i would hope) an IP, a date & time, and the actual content in question itself, that was obtained from your machine illegally.

It looks like the majority of these copyright monitoring services simply check file names and consider this sufficient.

What happens when you are using a client that supports any file type (gnutella/freenet/etc) and they find 'Metallica - A history of the band.html' and send your ISP a nastygram? This is obviously not a video or music file, however, unless they download it, how do they know?

Finally, I am concerned about people who use DHCP to configure their net access. Your IP changes every so often on cable/DSL. How accurate are their methods of finding the exact subscriber?

Perhaps the person who had your current IP before you was sharing files. Now you have that IP, and they accidentally terminate your access. Where are the checks and balances in this process?

The only solution in my mind right now is to switch to an ISP that isnt so trigger happy. Perhaps one that requires actual *proof* of any kind that such an infraction occured (like a copy of the file perhaps? even a description?) before terminated an account.

Does anyone know how various DSL/cable modem providers stack up in this regard?

Innocent until proven Uncooperative (5, Funny)

imadork (226897) | about 13 years ago | (#2208816)

Nigam also told me that if I told him my friend's IP address, he could find out exactly what had happened in his case. I told him I'd have to check with my friend first. Kutner then said that if my friend were truly innocent, he wouldn't have anything to hide.
The thing is, he didn't have anything to hide in the first place, and he was still accused.

I used to think that there was nothing wrong with the "if you're really innocent, you would have no problem with this" attitude. But now I see that it's a rather clever way to get people to give up their rights.

By that logic, since I'm really innocent, I should have no problem with letting the Goverment (or Time Warner) look at all the files on my hard drive whenever they want to. I do have a problem with that, not because I pirate music, but because I just don't want them in my hard drive, and I shouldn't have to cooperate with them if I don't want to. (Remember... I haven't even been charged in a court yet, and they're cutting off my access!)

I also have a problem with the "proprietary" techniques that are used to find copyright violators. How can you determine the difference between an illegal copy of "Titanic" and a two-hour streaming file of my dog on her floating raft in my pool named "Titanic"? The answer is that one has better acting, and the other has a bigger boat, but I can't believe that an algorithm can tell the difference between the two when they're all just bits anyway.

How would you feel if the cop pulled you over and said "You broke the law back there, but we can't tell you how we caught you because that's proprietary."? This is no different.

Re:Innocent until proven Uncooperative (1)

riven1128 (448744) | about 13 years ago | (#2208884)

Yeah and let's not forget, police have to worry about entrapment issues ..

in most places a copy can't park in a dark spot at night waiting to pull someone over, they have to park under a street lamp or have a light on so that you can spot them.

fine (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208819)

fuck the mpaa, I am uploading some movies right now.

The Ultimate Denial of Service Attack (2)

cloudscout (104011) | about 13 years ago | (#2208828)

If you want to shut down someone's network, simply notify their upstream provider that they are distributing your copyrighted works. If the DMCA requires them to shut down the connection immediately as is implied by this article, what is to stop someone from utilizing this in a malicious manner?

Re:The Ultimate Denial of Service Attack (1)

Mister Black (265849) | about 13 years ago | (#2208956)

Call the ISP for some of the members of the RIAA and the MPAA and see if you can get them to shutoff their access. What goes around comes around.

Pirate movies, distribute mp3s (2)

ACK!! (10229) | about 13 years ago | (#2208831)

ISPs have their service agreements written in such a way that they can terminate service simply because they want to. I though /. had put out on more than one article pointing this out.

Sue them? Please you agreed to the silly terms of service when you came on.

Listen it sucks for the wrongfully screwed but what are you going to do? Go to the competition and set up your mp3/movie file server under a different provider of bandwidth.

ISPs are a dime a dozen until AOL/Time/Warner can shut all of them down.

Its harder to hit a moving target folks.

Probably a DHCP problem (2)

ruebarb (114845) | about 13 years ago | (#2208850)

Idiots probably tracked an IP that changed when a DHCP license didn't get renewed...If it's like my cable modem, you don't get a static IP. Two weeks later...hmmm..let's hit this IP...whoops? Wrong one now.

That's the rocket science of the MPAA for you...I feel like killing someone.


Under penalty of perjury (1)

wjr (157747) | about 13 years ago | (#2208851)

If I remember correctly, the letter that the MPAA sends to the ISP is required by the DMCA to contain language like "Under penalty of perjury, we declare that these facts are true". This goes along with the assertions in the letter that IP A.B.C.D uploaded a file and that file contained material copyrighted by an MPAA member, so the ISP should suspend A.B.C.D.

If they're abusing the power granted to them by the MPAA by sending out such letters without performing competent investigations, then whoever signed that letter should by hauled into court and charged with perjury. The problem is that in cases like this, it's the word of insignificant nobodies against the word of a powerful entity - no prosecutor will ever bother to take such a case. If, on the other hand, anyone ever send such a letter alleging a DMCA violation on the part of the MPAA, you can bet they'd be in court so fast it would make their head spin.

The minimal safeguards that the DMCA puts on the power to accuse and convict merely by sending a letter (by requiring it to be sent "under penalty of perjury") are in practice worthless.

Copyright Cops and ISP are the same entity (2)

BierGuzzl (92635) | about 13 years ago | (#2208852)

Time Warner is a copyright cop in their own right... it's more like "When copyright cops join forces" rather than a general indication of how ISP's operate.

Assigning liability to the ISP (1)

VersedM (323660) | about 13 years ago | (#2208864)

The problem that this issue highlights is that the DMCA assigns liability to the ISP if it does not immediately act on *claims* of copyright infringement. Even though no wrongdoing has to be proven, no ISP is going to stand up for a user's rights the way the current law stands. Why should any ISP expose itself to possible liability when it is so easy to just pull the plug on the accused infringer?

Just imagine if other modes of communication were subject to similar provisions. Have you been *accused* (not convicted) of wrong doing involving a phone? Sorry, no more phone access for you until you prove your innocence. Sounds ridiculous, yet if the phone companies were liable for what you said over the phone in the same manner as the ISP's, they would be forced to take similar actions. The problem is the law, not the ISP.

Insider info (2, Funny)

sTeF (8952) | about 13 years ago | (#2208867)

i know from a secret source that the involved ip-adress was in fact:

methods (4, Funny)

twitter (104583) | about 13 years ago | (#2208869)

The MPAA looks for people who are distributing movies in any form that they are not authorized to. It uses Ranger Online's software to monitor multiple areas of the Internet, including IRC, Gnutella, Usenet, Web sites, auction sites and ftp sites. It does this on an international basis. When it finds a location that is distributing copyrighted material, it identifies the owner and the host of the material. Citing the DMCA, it sends a letter and notifies the alleged perpetrators that they are infringing on a copyright.

When I asked exactly how they find an instance of piracy (for instance, what search parameters they use), Nigam told me the methods were proprietary information.

Heh, judging from the results they must be using MS Access to keep their records! Nice work. Just a few minutes ago, I was talking to a looser who likes to traffic in warez and movies. While bragging of getting "Spy Kids" two weeks before opening, he was no more worried about getting caught than my grandmother. GET A CLUE, MPAA!
GET A LIFE, PEOPLE! Run your own ftp/http site and provide original content. Get movies from a theater, if you must, or rent them. Geazer! A whole week of bandwith consumption for something dumb like "Spy Kids"? And that crap is competing with me for Slashdot? GRRRR! You don't need this garbage, and it's providers are powerless when you quit demanding it. Sigh of relief.

I wonder what kind of cyber brains are looking for child porn. Loosing email is one thing, having your house raided and all your stuff broken/confiscated is another.

WTF (2)

clark625 (308380) | about 13 years ago | (#2208873)

Agreeing with a previous poster, just exactly how much damage was done? Sure, the ISP covered its butt and that resulted in a loss of internet for a couple of days. Big deal. The ISP certainly didn't do anything wrong.

The MPAA, however, may be considered big, mean, and nasty for... oh wait they were just protecting their propery rights. And it looks like they made a mistake. Since Road Runner (TW)is like most ISP and uses Dynamic IPs, this sometimes happens. Oops.

If the writer's boyfriend feels like he was treated terribly, then the process is simple: he can send the MPAA a complaint letter via certified mail. He can even ask them to pay for "damages" of about $5.00 since he was without internet for a couple of days. And maybe the MPAA will actually send an appology letter with a check for $2.50. If the boyfriend is really persistent, file a claim in small claims court--it costs about $35 here,and the loser pays. I'm sure he could get a settlement for $40, or win the case and earn $5.00. Big deal. Of course, then the MPAA will have lost in court...

Re:WTF (3, Interesting)

Steve B (42864) | about 13 years ago | (#2208949)

And it looks like they made a mistake.

Nope; it looks like they recklessly fingered a private citizen as a criminal and disseminated that "mistake" for the express purpose of causing damage to that citizen. This is technically known as "libel" (I assume that the message to the ISP was in written rather than oral form; in the latter case, the term is "slander".)

Confiscation (1)

Root Down (208740) | about 13 years ago | (#2208885)

Consider the possibility... (or dont and just forgive my ranting.)

There are laws in the US concerning drug enforcement that allow agents of the government to sieze any property belonging to an individual suspected of violating our nation's policies on illicit drugs. They can take your car, house - anything - and are not obligated to return it even if you are found innocent of the crime. It is merely enough that it was involved in the offense. Will similar legislation arise concerning infringement of the DMCA, hacking, and the like? Confiscation based on accusation might well be around the corner for suspected infringements. (It might already be in place? They are typically closed mouthed when it comes to the aftermath of 'cybercrime'.)

Remember: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not currently searching your website for illegal content.

Where this will go (2)

sourcehunter (233036) | about 13 years ago | (#2208888)

I have a (Scary) theory on where this is headed.

What we will have is a Compliance Bureau - a clearing house for people's information, much like today's credit bureaus...

ISPs will report DMCA and other transgressions to these bureaus.

When you go to an ISP to get a new account, they'll run a "Compliance Check" on you instead of a credit check. If you have a file, they'll see what's in it. Your ISP may decide to charge you a higher premium or require you to post a security deposit for insurance purposes if you have a "bad" file.

Sure, after a while, Congress will pass a "Fair Internet Compliance Reporting Act" much like the Fair Credit Reporting Act that is used by creditors and bureaus today, but how much will that REALLY protect us... How many of you out there REALLY trust your credit card company and credit bureau?

There will be a dispute policy, but ultimately it is the ISPs word against yours... so you will have to wear a scarlet "DMCA" every time you go "apply" for internet access.

Unlike a criminal record, this is completely a CIVIL matter, which means preponderance of the evidence - someone thinks the bureau has a decent case, you're screwed for x number of years.

Who's to say that if I just say "hey Time-Warner, go to HELL I'm going elsewhere" they won't put a mark on my file?

This is breach of contract (2)

JoeShmoe (90109) | about 13 years ago | (#2208892)

I seem to remember reading about this kind of thing during the whole Napster incident. If memory serves me correctly, the DMCA states that if someone finds an incident of copyright infringement, they must first attempt to contact the infringer directly with proof of the infringing action and a sworn (under enalty of perjury) statement that they are authorized to act on behalf of the copyright holder.

If this is not possible or the infringer does not respond, then the copyright agent can contact the ISP and submit the same proof of infringment and swore statement.

AT THAT POINT, the DMCA also states the ISP must give you, the "infringer" a chance to refute the charges with a sworn statment (also under penalty of perjury). If you refute the charges, then the ISP is no longer involved, they leave the content/connection alone and the copyright agent must then file charges against you in court to get a court to issue an order to block the material.

So, if they are cutting access without sufficient proof and without giving you a chance to refute, the ISP is violating the DMCA safe harbor provision and your usage agreement. If the proof doesn't meet the standards in the DMCA then it certainly does not meet the watered-down standards of your average terms of service.

IANAL, just what I remember reading.

- JoeShmoe

What the heck? (1)

FooDog (68645) | about 13 years ago | (#2208895)

I'm incredibly curious as to how they came up with this fellow's IP as the offender. Posting to Usenet with a spoofed IP isn't that difficult really. When I worked for an ISP, yeah, we'd get calls about "So and So is hacking my server" and we'd shut those accounts down only if we could VERIFY that this person was actually doing it. i.e., they were in the PROCESS of doing it or we could track said activity in our logs. We didn't just look at the headers of some printout and
go "Yep! That's the Cretin, get 'em!"
Someone else posted earlier that this isn't a case of "innocent until proven guilty" because no government body was involved. IMHO, this situation is much WORSE because a PRIVATE corporation is sticking it's big nose into someone else's PRIVATE business and getting thier paid-for
services turned off without having to go through any sort of governmental check and balance procedure.

Who said money can't buy everything? (1)

2Bits (167227) | about 13 years ago | (#2208896)

At least, you can buy laws and government. This is just another example.

potential good news (2)

graveyhead (210996) | about 13 years ago | (#2208908)

I posted this two days ago, but of course 2001-08-21 22:16:52 Mainstream DMCA Coverage(articles,money) (rejected) for some unknown reason :-(

The Washington Post [] has a small editorial [] regarding the dangers of the DMCA. Newsweek [] is carrying a similar piece [] [registration required]. Although this news is nothing new for the /. crowd, the Post is read regularly by members of congress and their staff. Maybe this is the kick-in-the-pants that congress needs to take another look at this terrible lobby. There is also a relevant discussion here [] on k5 [] .

They have you where it hurts ... (1)

pgrote (68235) | about 13 years ago | (#2208910)

The things about this is that they have you where it hurts ... your broadband internet access.

In the days of dialup you could literally call and open another account the same day. No issues. Who cared if your ISP cut your access.

With the advnet of ISDN you were a little more locked into your ISP, but you could still move your ISDN account to another provider.

With cable and DSL you can't do that. Your broadband provider is still your ISP. What you end up with is that wait. Oh, the wait. It is agonzing when a DSL line goes down or a cable modem won't sync for more than two minutes. You don't have the ability to tranport your account to another ISP.

To make matters worse, it's usually a one horse town. Most people don't have access to DSL, so cable is the next step. If you lose cable access you are pretty much dead in the water.

What can be done about seperating the ISP and broadband provider issue? I don't know, but I know it's going to get worse as the combo abuses it's power. Yes, I know about TOS, but look at what's happened lately:

1) Access to incoming port 80 cut off.
2) Bandiwdth limitations without notice.
3) Access to external SMTP servers cut off.

It's going to get worse until it gets better.

Of course, I am trying to get the household CFO to sign off on a cable connection as a backup, but I'm not having much luck ...

Attack back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208911)

Couldn't someone get the IP addresses of some of the tyrants who are responsible for this and post those with an MP3 on USENET?

Turnabout is fair play.

"What? Oh that IP address must have been a typo!"

If he did it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208913)

If he did it, then he is a very bad guy. Of course he would have been a VERY VERY BAD PERSON if he had posted the information by sending to a usenet email gateway via an anonymous remailer. That would be the height of evil and depravity.

The Whole Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208925)

Well it's no news to anyone on Slashdot that the DMCA is screwed up. But my sympathy for this person only goes so far. While some people were in the trenches trying to get some grassroots opposition to the DMCA you can bet people like her were cruising along oblivious, too busy to pay attention to what some scroungy hippy or confusing nerd was yapping about. And I'll bet you a million dollars this person has not done one thing except write this article and complain. Has she contacted her representatives? Did she contact trade authorities to try and prevent this legislation from going global? Did she vote?

More to the point of her current problems: Did she and her squeeze read their terms of service when they signed up with a media superconglomerate, exactly the type of organization that brought the DMCA into existence? Did they immediately start shopping for a alternative carrier, someone with more respect for their privacy and presumed innocence? No: they signed their letter like good little clones, yes we promise not to do it again, accepting their juryless, judgeless, trialless guilty sentence.

Guess what, Tinkerbell: this shit doesn't come out of a vaccuum. I for one am glad to see this kind of thing because people are not going to take the evisceration of their rights and the violation of their privacy seriously until it starts fucking with their lives.

What is worse... (1)

Purple_Walrus (457070) | about 13 years ago | (#2208926)

When all of the power is held by the government or when all the power is held by large companies? Seriously though... wasn't America supposed to be about freedom and stuff? Oh well, I could always go back to Russia...

Yeah, but what about... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2208955)

Fucking lameness filter. Take THIS!!!


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Time-Warner Cable & AOL-Time-Warner connection (2)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 13 years ago | (#2208957)

I think part of the problem in this story is that the guy has an account with 'Time-Warner Cable' who happens to be part of the same company that is an MPAA member. It looks like that there is probably a confidential information flow between the various parts of 'AOL-Time-Warner', hence the reason why it never went through the proper legal channels, ie it was all happening within the same company.

I think the best thing this couple can do is go and find another provider that doesn't have the words AOL, Time or Warner included in its name.

Sure this may not be what is happening, but in this case I am going to play by the same rules and insist the company is guilty until proven innocent.
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