Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Questions for DoJ IP Attorneys Asked and Answered

Roblimo posted more than 11 years ago | from the real-pirates-have-swords-not-computers dept.

The Courts 641

These answers are from the lawyers in the U.S. DoJ's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) -- the people who prosecute criminal file-sharing cases. Michael O'Leary, Deputy Chief for Intellectual Property at the DoJ, submitted the answers, but other lawyers in the section worked with him to write them, all under the ground rules laid out in our 'Meet the DoJ's 'Anti-Piracy' Lawyers post last week.

INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS

Thank you all for posing such interesting questions. We have answered nine of the ten submitted questions below, but we are not in a position to answer number ten because it is specifically related to a civil case (that does not involve the Department of Justice). However, in an effort to give you your money's worth, we have answered two additional questions which you posed in the comments accompanying the original interview, but were not submitted to us by the Slashdot moderators.

1) What services for an open source copyright holder - by bwt
First, thank you doing this interview. Most people here take IP very seriously and want laws and law enforcement that do what the Constitution intended.

Contrary to what many lay-people believe, open source software relies (heavily) on copyright and the legal system that assures those rights. In fact, among Slashdot readers are a large number of people who own copyrights to open source software. My question is what services your organization offers in practice to "real people". Our community creates software whose quality competes with that of multi-billion dollar corporations, so we clearly have a significant interest in having our own rights as authors protected. We all have no doubt that if Jack Valenti finds a website selling pirated versions of his movies that law enforcement will descend upon the infringer with a fury comparable to that wielded against drug smugglers and violent criminals.

Few among us would really object to enforcing the law against such a clear violation, however, I cannot help but wonder if there is equity in the system. I wonder whether an individual author's rights as a copyright owner would be similary protected? For example, if substantial quantities of code that one of us has written ends up in a company's product in a way that clearly violates the terms of an open source licence, how would the infringed copyright holder go about seeking your services?

What policy governs your decision whether or not to act on behalf of a copyright owner when a complaint is raised? What assures that the heavy hand of the law protects an individual's rights with the same fury that it defends those of the RIAA or a major software corporation?

O'Leary:
Thanks for your question. The issues you raise are ones that we confront from time to time and we welcome the chance to address them here on Slashdot. In reviewing your question, and many that follow, it appears that some Slashdot readers feel that the Department of Justice only protects the IP rights of big corporations. That simply isn t the case. There is no doubt that large multi-national corporations are often victimized by piracy due in some measure to the popularity and pervasiveness of their products. But at the same time, there are also many others who are victimized, such as small mom and pop operations, and young developers trying to break into a crowded and competitive market. I imagine many Slashdot regulars fall into these categories.

In deciding whether or not to prosecute an intellectual property case, we undertake a thorough examination of a number of factors. These include the nature and seriousness of the offense, the deterrent effect of the prosecution, the potential defendant s culpability, the potential defendant s history with respect to criminal activity, the likelihood of the prosecution leading to additional investigations of others, and the possible sentence or other consequences. Factors such as these, and not the identity of the victim, are the basis for prosecutorial decisions. We have made strong intellectual property rights enforcement a priority and we will continue to do so without regard to the size or market share of the victim(s).

The prosecutions we undertake do in fact benefit real people. If you look at the people and organizations who have been victimized by the defendants we prosecute, you will see that we enforce the law without regard to who the victims may be and we have protected the rights of victim companies of all sizes.

In one recent case, for example, we prosecuted individuals for pirating a significant amount of high-end application software. There were literally hundreds of victim companies, the vast majority of which were not large corporations. One victim company was a small software manufacturer located in the Midwest. They had one or two viable programs that sustained their entire operation of about ten employees, many of whom were family members of the owner. The company had spent many years developing its software, so the owner, of course, was devastated to find that his product had been pirated and was available for free on the Internet. His livelihood depended on the legitimate sale of only one or two software programs. If anyone thinks that piracy does not affect everyday people trying to succeed in business, they need look no further. The earnings of small operations like this are all put back into the business, to defray research and development costs and support further development. They do not have the resources to employ investigators to track pirates or lawyers to vindicate their rights civilly. They simply have an idea and a product a product which was, in this case, pirated and distributed around the world.

In regard to open source products, depending upon the facts, open source developers may seek to enforce their legal rights civilly, or, in cases where there has been willful infringement and certain criminal thresholds have been met, criminal prosecution may also be warranted. At this time, we are unaware of any referrals to law enforcement for open source license violations. As for reporting potential criminal infringement to law enforcement, the best way to do that is to contact your local FBI office.

2) This won't be taken seriously, but... - by Maul
.... I find it extremely hard to believe that your division truthfully represents the "people" of this country. It seems that your job is to help mega-corporations make "examples" out of college students and others who are too poor to defend themselves.

Yes, sharing copyrighted music and films is a crime. However, I see no justification for the insane penalties associated with file sharing and priacy. It seems that companies can make up some absurd figure in the billions, claiming it to be actual damages, without any sort of proof they have really lost that much at all from file sharing.

Can you please enlighten me as to why software and media "pirates" as well as other "computer criminals" are in many cases treated worse than rapists and violent criminals who use weapons?

O'Leary:
Before answering your underlying question, which we do take seriously, let me address what has become a common misconception. The recent cases involving college students were civil suits brought by private parties, such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The Department of Justice is not a party to these suits. We enforce our federal intellectual property laws through criminal prosecution, not through civil suits.

Your question argues that the current sentencing structure for criminal intellectual property crimes is too severe and is based upon damage amounts that cannot be supported. First, note that the federal sentencing structure is established by Congress and the United States Sentencing Commission. As federal prosecutors, we work within these guidelines. Second, the sentencing guidelines reflect the serious harm that is caused by piracy. In our answer to the first question above, we gave just one example of a small developer who has been harmed by piracy. That situation is not unique. The amount of pirated material available online today is staggering. In the course of prosecuting piracy we have found servers containing over 20,000 titles of pirated software, movies, music and games. The value of the copyrighted material on servers like this is frequently in the millions of dollars. Factor in the number of times those titles are distributed over the Internet, and the damage amounts skyrocket. The sentencing structure reflects this harm.

Further, deterrence is a significant element in criminal sentencing not just in IP crimes, but in all crimes. Until recently, many people believed that piracy was a consequence-free activity and that it did not harm anyone. The sentences that have been handed down in recent prosecutions have begun to change that impression, and will deter others from engaging in similar conduct.

By statute, a person convicted of one felony count of copyright infringement faces up to 5 years in prison (or 3 years, if convicted under the NET Act when the piracy was not done for commercial advantage or private financial gain). However, there are a number of factors that determine the actual criminal sentence a defendant receives, including the volume and retail value of pirated material involved, whether the defendant uploaded material to the Internet, and whether the defendant had a leadership role in a larger criminal organization. Also, a defendant's sentence may be reduced if, for example, he had a minor role in the criminal operation, or he accepts responsibility for his illegal conduct.

The single biggest factor in determining a sentence under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines is the infringement amount attributable to the defendant. While your question correctly notes this, please understand that neither industry nor the government has the ability to dictate this amount. In determining the amount of damage, the United States must provide evidence of the number and value of the copyrighted works infringed by the defendant to the Probation Office and the court prior to sentencing. The United States must provide evidence to support its position such as evidence of the value of the pirated works infringed by the defendant, the number of times the pirated works were reproduced or distributed, or, in some instances, the amount of money the defendant earned from his illegal activity. At the same time, the defendant may introduce evidence to establish what he believes is the appropriate valuation for sentencing purposes. Neither the U.S. Probation Office, which ultimately recommends a sentencing range to the court in what is known as a pre-sentence report, nor the sentencing judge is bound by the government's claimed damage amount. The government's recommendation for a particular sentence is subject to multiple checks and balances. It is not simply the by-product of numbers offered by industry. We have to support and defend our position in a court of law which is the way it should be.

Finally, while people convicted of intellectual property crimes do face serious consequences for their actions, they are not treated more severely than violent criminals such as rapists. The vast majority of prosecutions of violent criminals take place at the state and local level, not the federal level, which is where DOJ s jurisdiction lies. However, in those instances where there are federal violent crimes, the penalties are more severe than those imposed for copyright infringement. For example, as mentioned, the *maximum* sentence you can receive for one count of copyright infringement is 60 months, while the *minimum* for someone convicted federally of aggravated sexual assault is generally between 70 to 87 months.

3) Question regarding the DMCA and copyright terms - by rhadamanthus
If DRM-included hardware does become the law via the CBDTPA (SSSCA) or any other legislation, how does this interact with regards to copyright expiration? The DMCA makes it illegal to circumvent such DRM, thereby basically enforcing perpetual protection of the work. If the work is perpetually protected via this combination of law and technology, how can it be copyrighted legitimately, since the work will never *really* be able to join the public domain? This is analogous to trade secrets vs. patents, unless measures are taken to ensure the DRM encryption is removed once the copyright term is over. Or would that be illegal through the DMCA as well? The DMCA states, "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title." The title referred to is title 17 of the US Code, which covers copyright. I can therefore assume that removing copyright protections on expired copyrights would not be against the law. However, the DMCA also forbids the selling of tools to circumvent the very same DRM. I find it hard to believe that the RIAA/MPAA would let these tools become available regardless of the user's intent and/or rights under copyright expiration rules. Any comments about this apparent paradox?

O'Leary:
I don t believe that the CBDTPA is under consideration in the current Congress, nor are we aware of other pending bills that would mandate the use of digital rights management systems. However, your question seems more focused on the DMCA, specifically the portions of the DMCA that govern anti-circumvention technologies, i.e. Section 1201 of Title 18. For purposes of answering this question, the term DMCA refers specifically to Section 1201.

The DMCA prohibits trafficking (which includes manufacture, sale, distribution, importation, etc.) in tools (i.e., technologies, products, services, devices, etc.) that:

(a) are primarily designed to circumvent,

(b) are primarily marketed for use in circumventing, or

(c) have limited commercially significant purpose or use other than circumventing,

either one of the following:
(1) a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title [i.e., the Copyright Act] (see 18 U.S.C. Section) 1201(a)(2); or

(2) a technological measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright holder under this title (see Section 1201(b(1)).

The first type of control above will be referred to as an access control, the second as a copy control. In addition to the restrictions on trafficking, the DMCA also prohibits actual circumvention of access controls (see Sec. 1201(a)).

The DMCA s main purpose is to help protect the rights of copyright holders. However, the DMCA was also designed in part to protect and preserve the rights of people who use copyrighted works. First, the DMCA expressly states that it is not intended to affect limitations on copyright or defenses to infringement such as fair use. Second, the DMCA contains a number of exceptions and exemptions that, for example, allow in some circumstances reverse engineering, encryption research, and certain actions by libraries and certain educational institutions. Third, while the DMCA prohibits the actual circumvention of access controls, it does not prohibit the actual circumvention of copy controls. As the district court in the Elcom case noted, Congress omitted a prohibition against circumventing copy controls specifically so that users could engage in fair use (and, presumably, to use works that enter the public domain). (See U.S. v. Elcom, Ltd., 203 F.Supp.2d 1111, 1020 (N.D.Cal. 2002)).

Your question deals with how the DMCA might affect works that have entered the public domain. As you know, copyright law grants copyright holders certain exclusive rights, such as the right to copy and distribute their work for a period of time. Currently, the length of the copyright term is the life of the author plus 70 years; for works made for hire, it is 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation of the work (whichever comes first). After this term expires, works enter the public domain and are presumably available in some form that can be read, viewed, heard, etc., by the public.

While a court could find that the DMCA allows the circumvention of protections on works in the public domain, the statute nonetheless prohibits trafficking in tools intended for use in circumventing controls on protected works. While those same tools could potentially be used to remove access or copy controls on works in the public domain, it may still be unlawful under the DMCA to traffic in them.

We have not encountered any criminal case that involved this specific issue. Indeed, we are not aware of a court case either civil or criminal that has addressed this issue directly (although the district court in the Remeirdes case - the 2600 magazine case - acknowledged this issue, but because it was not central to the case before it, the court declined to elaborate).

It is possible that the interplay between the DMCA and access to public domain works will be addressed through rule-making or legislation. The DMCA provides for a periodic review process by the Librarian of Congress, and the issue of circumvention of technological protections on public domain works was one of the issues raised in the most recent review session earlier this spring (See http://www.copyright.gov/1201/).

4) Going Native? - by Andy_R
Here in Britain, we recently shut down the governemental body that regulated our train services because they were tending to take the side of the small number of contact personnel at the train companies that they dealt with on a day to day basis rather than the side of the faceless multitiude of passengers who they only knew through a few angry mails.

Given that your department will (in the vast majority on cases) be working on behalf of a very very small number of copyright-holding organisations against potentially millions of nearly anonymous file sharers, how will you prevent this 'going native' phenomenon biasing your investigations in favour of people you having a close working relationship with, and how will you defend yourselves against the inevitable accusations that you have 'gone native' and are a 'private police force' for the copyright holders?

O'Leary:
You ask an excellent question: how do we, as federal prosecutors, ensure that we retain independent judgment throughout the prosecutorial process? The decision to bring any criminal prosecution is significant and has serious consequences. For this reason, although we work with victims frequently, we work diligently to preserve our independent prosecutorial decision-making authority.

As attorneys for the Department of Justice, our mission is to enforce the laws fully and fairly on behalf of the people of the United States. This is a responsibility we take very seriously. While we work with a wide range of victims, from large multi-national corporations to small mom and pop businesses, the ultimate responsibility for making prosecutorial decisions remains solely with us.

Throughout the criminal justice process, there are checks on how we exercise our authority, including the citizens of the grand jury (who can reject our allegations), judges (who can dismiss charges or rule evidence inadmissible), and ultimately the citizens on the trial jury (who can acquit the defendant). However, even though these checks and balances are in place, from our perspective, it is still our responsibility to maintain appropriate boundaries at all times.

As a result, we try always to exercise independent, unbiased prosecutorial judgment when reviewing cases referred to our office for prosecution. Although you may not hear about it, we frequently decide not to move forward with criminal charges even in instances where the victim wants us to do so. The public doesn't hear about the prosecutions that are declined, only those that go forward. The decision to prosecute or not is a decision based upon a full and independent evaluation of the facts, the evidence, and the law. By maintaining this standard, we work to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice process.

5) Background - by TrekkieGod
Given that as IP lawyers at CCIPS part of your responsibilities is not only enforcing current laws, but also "reviewing new policy proposals, legislation, or international agreements related to IP", I'd like to know something about your overall technical background.

A frequent gripe with the geeks here at Slashdot, myself included, is that apparently legislators are not sufficiently well informed to create IP laws, frequently proposing and enacting laws which either constrain individual rights in favor of protecting those of big corporations (like the DMCA), or are simply not effective, because they can never patch the frequently referred to "analog hole" which is always a required step for humans to get to the information.

Given that for ethical reasons, you may not give your honest opinion on said legislation since you are required to enforce them, I'd simply like to know if I can trust that you are sufficiently well-informed to give council on these ever emerging new IP legislations. Do you feel that you truly have sufficient technical experience as opposed to your obvious legal ones? Can you elaborate on what type of experience you feel helps to qualify you to truly understand the ramification of these legislations?

O'Leary:
Interesting question. While we are all lawyers at CCIPS, we come to our current positions from a wide range of backgrounds. We have attorneys who have policy and legislative experience. Other attorneys are former Assistant United States Attorneys with years of criminal trial experience. Others came from civil practice before joining the Criminal Division, and a number of us represented technology companies in private practice. Still others have substantial technical backgrounds apart from being lawyers. As a general rule, however, almost everyone in CCIPS is curious about technology and how it intersects with the law. Our interest in technology explains why so many of us are frequent Slashdot readers, and why working at CCIPS sparked our interest in the first place.

One of the biggest misconceptions we confront regularly is that because we are law enforcement we must be opposed to technological innovation. This is simply not the case. The benefits of technology are numerous. We support and enjoy them. Yet, just as law enforcement must conduct itself so as not to unduly limit innovation, so too must we respond when technology is misused for illegal purposes.

Because of our interest in technology and its effect on the laws we prosecute, the attorneys assigned to prosecute IP crimes spend time learning about new technologies as they are developed. This helps us not only keep pace with the latest innovations, but enhances our investigative and prosecutorial skills as well. As your question suggests, you can t determine how (or if) the law applies to technology unless you understand how the technology works. We learn a great deal about technology in the course of online investigations, many of which involve extremely sophisticated technology. We are also trained on an ongoing basis on various aspects of networks and technology in order to continue to develop and refine our skills. Finally, we draw upon the knowledge and perspective of technical experts from the investigative agencies as well as from the private sector.

All of these factors combine to give us a better perspective on the relationship between law and technology. We are frequently called upon to review and consider various legislative proposals. In instances where we are asked to comment on a proposal, we have the requisite technical and legal background necessary to provide a detailed and comprehensive analysis of the proposed legislation. We view providing this type of input as one of our core responsibilities, and we work very hard to stay in touch with emerging technologies for this very reason. Thanks for your question.

6) Terminology and newspeak - by kafka93
Given that from a legal standpoint (and, many would argue, an ethical one) there is a distinction between "copyright infringement"/IP violation and "theft", what views do you have on the regular and incorrect/misleading application of the latter term by such people as the RIAA and law enforcement? Such misuse of language seems disingenuous, and taints the arguments of those who might otherwise have valid points to make about the morality of misuse of intellectual property rights.

It seems that if there are ethical arguments against piracy and other forms of copyright misuse, those arguments can and should be made on their own merits without the introduction of psychological wordplay apparently designed to confuse the public and cloud the debate. Accordingly, what steps are being taken to clarify the correct terminology and to avoid jingoistic use of words like 'theft', 'thieves' and 'stealing' amongst law enforcement and elsewhere?

O'Leary:
You're correct that words are important, in particular as they apply to characterizations of specific conduct. As you suggest, people with differing views on intellectual property enforcement should be careful not to overstate their case, nor should they do the opposite in an effort to minimize the effects of their conduct.

Traditionally, theft involves taking something from another person without their permission. In short, you deprive that person of their property and they can no longer enjoy its use. Some have argued, particularly in the context of online or digital piracy, that infringement or misappropriation really doesn't deprive the victim of their product because it is merely being copied, so infringement or misappropriation is not truly theft.

As criminal prosecutors, we focus on the conduct, regardless of the label that might be applied. That said, in the cases we prosecute, we believe that using the term theft is not misleading. While there may be technical differences between certain types of infringing activity, conduct that triggers the criminal statutes is analogous to theft.

In some instances, piracy can actually be more damaging than traditional theft. Unlike traditional theft, where a person steals a specific number of tangible objects, one product in digital format can alone be used to generate hundreds of thousands of near-perfect digital copies within hours. In the case of software piracy, for example, the developer has not been deprived of his product in the traditional sense it has merely been copied. Yet, he faces the grim reality that his product is now available around the world, often for free, to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. In very real terms, even though he retains his property, the digital victim is in a much worse position than the victim of a more traditional theft. To him, the theft is clear and the harm couldn t be more real.

7) Fair Use - by El_Smack
I hear the term "Fair Use" bandied about all the time in these discussions. From a legal standpoint, does it exist? Do I have a right, that will stand up in a court of law, to make a copy of software/music/data for my own personal use? If I do, does making an "uncopy-able" product violate that right?

O'Leary:
Great question. The term fair use is frequently misunderstood, and with good reason. The short answer to your question is that fair use does exist. It is an important and longstanding aspect of our intellectual property rights regime. Fair use is a doctrine that holds that although copyright laws grant the creators of copyrighted works certain exclusive rights in their works, the law must simultaneously allow citizens to engage in a degree of copying (or other conduct that would otherwise be infringing in the absence of a fair use doctrine) to allow for such things as comment, criticism, scholarship, and news reporting.

The doctrine of fair use was originally adopted by judges ruling in early copyright cases. Ultimately, Congress incorporated the doctrine into the Copyright Act of 1976, where fair use is now codified at Section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. In creating section 107, Congress listed four factors to be considered in determining whether a use is fair or not:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

These factors are essentially the same factors that had been used over the years by judges, and Congress's stated intent was to preserve the fair use doctrine as it had evolved. However, as many courts have pointed out over the years, whether something constitutes fair use is very fact-specific. It is difficult to craft a clear, bright-line rule that explains which particular uses of a work are fair use and which are infringement. In short, the exact parameters of fair use are often determined based on the facts of specific cases.

So yes, fair use does exist. Does it allow for some uses of copyrighted works that would otherwise be infringing in the absence of a fair use doctrine? Yes. Does fair use give a user a blanket license to infringe copyrighted works with impunity? No.

Fair use is among the many factors that prosecutors consider when determining whether or not to bring criminal charges. Having said that, however, fair use is not typically at issue in the cases we decide to bring as criminal prosecutions. Rarely do the facts that we would consider for prosecution give rise to a (sustainable) fair use argument by the defendant or defendants although we certainly hear them from time to time. As to your final question, while there certainly is a right to fair use, it is not a violation of that right to make products that cannot be copied. Although such features may prove unpopular to some, ultimately it is for the marketplace to decide the viability of those products.

8) distinctions - by newsdee
Is a distinction made between different levels of IP infringement?

I imagine that, from a legal standpoint, there should be a different point of view between a student that copies one software for personal use and a blatant thief who makes money out of selling the same copied software.

However, this question has two assumptions:

- The student would not use the software if it was not available (i.e. it is not a lost sale)

- Both activities are infringing (i.e. this question is not seeking to justify the first case)

I think this question is especially relevant since there are reports that the RIAA is now prosecuting students for "infringements" that are mostly gray areas (i.e. the infringement does not seem proven beyond a reasonable doubt, at least to the public).

O'Leary:
Yes, there are distinctions made between different levels of infringement. Perhaps the most significant distinction is the difference between civil and criminal infringement. Historically, the vast majority of disputes about intellectual property rights enforcement have been dealt with in civil lawsuits, with the criminal law dealing with only a narrow subset of activity. Although there has been increased emphasis on criminal prosecution in recent years, it is still the case that most intellectual property enforcement is civil. The criminal copyright statutes don't allow anyone to be prosecuted unless he infringed a copy willfully, which is the most difficult type of intent to prove. The civil statutes, on the other hand, address infringement even if it was negligent or unintentional. Because we focus on the criminal IP laws, I will answer your question from that perspective.

There are two levels of criminal violations within the criminal copyright code. There are misdemeanors, which carry a prison term of one year or less. And there are felonies, which carry prison sentences of over one year (more on this below).

In general terms, infringement becomes a criminal matter (as opposed to civil) when it reaches a certain magnitude and when the conduct is willful. Within the criminal copyright statutes (17 U.S.C. sec. 506 and 18 U.S.C. sec. 2319) there are thresholds which must be met to trigger potential criminal sanctions. Simply put, these thresholds deal with the quantity and value of the works that are infringed.

Your question talks about the blatant thief who makes money out of selling copied software. This highlights another important area within the criminal law. The criminal statutes make a distinction between for-profit and not-for-profit piracy. Someone who is convicted of piracy for commercial advantage or private financial gain is subject to a felony penalty of up to 5 years in prison. By contrast, someone who infringes for reasons other than commercial advantage or private financial gain faces a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison (under the NET Act). Be aware, however, that the term private financial gain can encompass situations where pirated products are distributed or reproduced for anything of value, including other pirated products. In those instances, defendants will be subject to the 5 year penalty.

As we discussed earlier, there are a number of variables that determine a defendant s sentence in any particular case. However, these are the general distinctions made among various types of conduct which would be considered criminal in nature.

Finally, your question references cases being brought by the RIAA. As we've noted above, the cases filed by the RIAA are private civil actions which do not involve the Department of Justice. Also, you referenced the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard within your question. In a criminal trial, the government must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to every member of a jury of twelve citizens. However, this standard is applicable only in criminal cases, not to civil actions like those brought by private industry. Civil actions are governed by a lower standard of proof.

9) "... under penalty of perjury ..." - by OWJones
In copyright law, 17 USC Section 512(c)(3)(vi) states that all notifications of copyright violations sent to ISPs must contain

A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
(emphasis mine).

Do you know of any cases in which the sender of an invalid takedown notice -- such as the RIAA claiming Penn State University Emeritus Professor Peter Usher's lecture on radio-selected quasars was, in fact, an mp3 from the musician Usher -- has been successfully charged with perjury? Or do you allow copyright holders some "fudge factor" with the perjury aspect, since

1. It was an mp3.

2. It did have the name of an RIAA-represented artist in the title, and
3. It was at a university.
If copyright holders are allowed leeway, can we expect to see similarly loose definitions of perjury creep into the legal system? If the police are looking for a "Caucasian male, age 50-60, bald, 200-225 pounds," can I testify in a court of law that the 18 year-old caucasian male with a ponytail, weighing 140-150 pounds, is in fact the suspect since he is, after all, a caucasian male?

I realize that's more than one question and that they're slightly loaded, but I'd appreciate any comments on how seriously the DoJ takes the perjury clause of the takedown notices.

O'Leary:
Your question raises an important point. We feel strongly that everyone should comply with the requirements of all laws. Legal process under the DMCA or any other provision of law should be undertaken with the utmost care and good faith. Failure to do so undermines the credibility and effectiveness of our legal system.

Having said that, it appears your interpretation of the language in 512 (c)(3)(vi) is in error. The phrase "under penalty of perjury," applies to the representation that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner. It does not apply to the accuracy of the information about the alleged infringement. Quoting federal district Judge Bates in Verizon v. RIAA, The DMCA also requires a person seeking a subpoena to state, under penalty of perjury, that he is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner, 257 F. Supp.2d 244, at 262. In other words, the perjury clause may be violated if you seek a DMCA subpoena without the authorization of the copyright owner.

We are unaware of any prosecutions for violating this provision of the DMCA at this time.

10) Daniel Peng's "MiniNapster" - by Pxtl
What is your opinion on the case of Daniel Peng? The internet at large is angry at the treatment of Peng by the courts - many consider sites like the one Peng created to be "common carriers" - that is, all Peng's site did was list the files other users had chosen to put on the academic network to be freely downloaded. Was it his responsibility to ensure that all the files listed on the academic network (which, unlike Napster, was a network he did not operate or design) were legitamate? While he may have been personally involved in pirating files (that is, he may have personally downloaded files to his computer) that was not the focus of the lawsuit. Peng was placed into a legal battle where he had no chance at victory, and as such had to settle out of court. What is your opinion on this case, and ones like it?

O'Leary:
The litigation involving Daniel Peng was a civil matter between private parties. I don't know any more about the case than what has appeared in the public press and other media. Therefore, as I mentioned at the outset, we simply cannot comment. However, as promised, we answered two additional questions which were not submitted to us by Slashdot moderators to make up for not answering this one.

11) Copy protection? - By Jucius Maximus
I am aware that companies spend large sums of money on holograms, authenticity cards, product activation schemes, anti-CD-copying schemes, serial numbers and so on. When investigating alleged copyright infringement, do you find that these anti-IP-infringement techniques have a real effect on preventing such things from happenning? Does copyright infringement go down when companies put up roadblocks like these or do the infringers get away with it nontheless?

O'Leary:
Copyright owners have indeed implemented a variety of methods for deterring unauthorized copying or counterfeiting of their works. Software makers in particular often apply very elaborate authentication features to the packaging and media for their software in order to distinguish genuine copies from counterfeits.

In our experience, it appears that many of these methods have been effective at discouraging infringement and counterfeiting. For example, the use of unique authentication codes or serial numbers seems to have helped discourage some copying of software. The copy protection system used on DVDs seems to have been effective in discouraging many people from copying DVDs. And the advanced authentication methods used on software packaging (like holograms, watermarks, and edge-to-edge printing) have made the task of manufacturing counterfeits more difficult. In fact, some counterfeiters appear to have given up trying to beat the software makers at the authentication game, and instead now simply try to steal genuine packaging materials to package their counterfeit discs.
Have these copy-protection or authentication features eliminated infringement and counterfeiting? No, but they have had a deterrent effect.

12) Foreign Agencies - By mitd
As a Canadian I am curious as to the co-operation you receive (if any) from agencies outside the US? Specifically Canada but also internationally in general.

O'Leary:
Great question. For too long, people have believed that geographic boundaries shield them from the consequences of piracy. Over the past few years, we have been working to change that belief. The Department recognizes that in order to deal with piracy effectively, we must respond globally. This is true regarding both online piracy and traditional hard goods piracy cases.

CCIPS has made international enforcement a priority. We have a number of tools, both formal and informal, for working internationally, including Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty Requests and Letters Rogatory. We are also able to employ the network of legal attaches stationed at U.S. Embassies around the world to help strengthen relationships with our foreign law enforcement counterparts and help build strong international cases. In general, international cooperation on intellectual property cases is becoming more effective each year. We do work on intellectual property cases with Canada and will continue to do so in the future. We are also currently working on cases in over a half a dozen other foreign nations. Over the past two years we have worked closely with investigators and prosecutors overseas in order to strengthen our own domestic prosecutions as well as support foreign prosecutions. We have traveled overseas to assist our foreign counter-parts and have welcomed foreign agents to the U.S. to learn more about evidence we might have to support their prosecutions.

Our office is currently working with the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia on the extradition from Australia of Hew Raymond Griffiths, a.k.a. bandido, the former leader of various warez groups, including DrinkOrDie and RiSC. In March 2003, a Federal Grand Jury sitting in the Eastern District of Virginia indicted Griffiths on charges of conspiracy to violate U.S. copyright laws; his extradition is being sought to face these charges. This is the first extradition of a foreign national for online copyright piracy.

Although working internationally is time and resource intensive, it is essential to effective enforcement of intellectual property rights, and we are committed to addressing piracy wherever it occurs.

Addendum:

Thanks again to everyone for submitting your questions. There were some great ones, and we regret that we cannot answer all of them. Thanks also to Slashdot for the opportunity to discuss these important issues. We look forward to additional opportunities to work with members of the online community to ensure that intellectual property rights are sufficiently protected.

cancel ×

641 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Which is better? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522449)

A: answers from lowlifed government IP prosecutors

or

B: sex with a mare?

Re:Which is better? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522484)

From personal experience I would definitely have to say B - sex with a mare. [equine-reproduction.com]

-Rob Malda

The moderators are humorless tools (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522817)

Most mods here are groupthinking whiners who love mashing the mouse button on "Flamebait" or the abused "Overrated" (so they can't metamod me!) while sipping their $4 chai drinks.

One said the OP was funny, so someone has a sense of humor and is enjoying life a bit. Calm down all you raging geeks.

willful infringement. (3, Funny)

sbuckhopper (12316) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522458)

In regard to open source products, depending upon the facts, open source developers may seek to enforce their legal rights civilly, or, in cases where there has been willful infringement and certain criminal thresholds have been met, criminal prosecution may also be warranted. At this time, we are unaware of any referrals to law enforcement for open source license violations.

Guess he hasn't been keeping up with SCO's new licensing options...

Re:willful infringement. (1)

kilonad (157396) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522545)

Or maybe SCO hasn't tried reporting any individuals to law enforcement for infringement. SCO's just running their mouth off to IBM and the press, but so far no subpoenas have been issued for the developers who allegedly slipped in their code. As of yet, SCO vs IBM is a civil case anyway.

Re:willful infringement. (1)

Grey Fox LSU (630480) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522679)

Unfortunatly, SCO's case aginst IBM is a civil case, not criminal

Re:willful infringement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522784)

I think the original poster was thinking the other way round. The DOJ should be investigating SCO's criminal extortion posing as a "licensing" scheme

.....blrrrrr (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522466)

blah.. blah.... blah.

thank you all for your quest0nz!

Ashcroft is watching (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522475)

and he's gonna come get all you damn dirty hippies. So mind your manners.

Wow that's a long post! Have some toast! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522492)

toaster,toaster toaser, do you have toast in you yet i think [rowdyruff.net]
so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Im not a toaster!!!!!!!!!!And one more
thing........YOUR A TOASER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND A COOKIE WITH MILK SOAGE
MILK!!!!!!!!!!AND A BUTT WITH POOP IN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

awl (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522517)

.....Thanks again to everyone for submitting your questions. There were some great ones, and we regret that we cannot answer all of them. Thanks also to Slashdot for the opportunity to discuss these important issues. We look forward to additional opportunities to work with members of the online community to ensure that intellectual property rights are sufficiently protected.....

what a bunch of tools.

Which is better? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522524)

1) Questions for IP Attorneys?

Wearing diapers and drinking from a baby bottle and having a pacifier!

DOJ never touched on this... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522532)

Little Eddie Gentry was a misunderstood teen. At age six, his parents divorced in a messy court battle. His mother ended up winning 95% custody due to his father's "questionable" habits and employments, all of which centered around Slashdot and the Open Source community.

By the time Eddie was 15, he had quite a few hobbies but no real friends. Eddie spent most of his time coding on a new system called "Linux" and posting informative and interesting comments on Slashdot. Living in his mother's basement, Eddie stayed up all night learning new tips and tricks, desperately trying to become 1337 in a world in which he felt negelected.

Eddie's mother had been working two jobs since he could remember, and now that Eddie was about to start driving, she was going to look for another and had also been suggesting to Eddie that he start perusing the want-ads for a job for himself when he got his license. Naturally this left Eddie's mother with little time for Eddie; she rarely even dated for all she had time for was work, work, paying bills, and keeping up their two-bedroom condo. Without a male rold-model, Eddie was socially and personally confused and so felt more comfortable shirking the world and staying in his dark, musty basement most of the time.

Months after Eddie got his license, he grew even more disenchanted with the world. Thinking his license would lead to a more active social life, Eddie was disappointed when no girls were interested in the '85 maroon Dodge Omni he drove around; his homemade MP3 player he installed in his car didn't impress any of the guys in school either. The great gas mileage was no consolation. He grew more depressed and his grades slipped. The world was becoming dark in little Eddie Gentry's eyes. He sank into his Linux programming and Slashdotting more and more until he was ignoring his homework completely and regularly came to work (at a QuikTrip gas station) 20 or 30 minutes late just so he could post a few extra comments here or there on Slashdot.

Eddie was now 16 years old and knew only the feeling of the cold, damp basement and and hard work at the nearby QuikTrip; he never had felt the warmth of a woman's touch or the firm hug of a caring father. He'd never felt the burst of adrenaline the goalie feels in football when he sees the other team heading towards him; he'd never felt the teasing itch of a healing sunburn on his back. And at 16, Eddie was beginning to grow bitter and feel cheated by the lack of experience he had in life. He damned his father for being a sadistic asshole towards him as a baby, and he blamed his mother for worrying too much about him and the bills she always seemed to be talking about. He also blamed himself, though he didn't know why. And it showed in his Slashdot posts...

Re: Linux Kernel 2.4.12 Available (Score:-1, Flamebait) by F4st Edd1e on Thursday January 10, @01:13 (#2848943) (User #578209 Info) > time to download and compile, guys! this fixes that nasty SCSI bus bug! > Propz to Alan Cox and da man, Linus! Who cares? This is the pits. -F4st Edd1e [mailto]

After several months spent in a non-stop downward spiral, Eddie gave up on real life and began writing CmdrTaco in desperation and loneliness. He talked about his life, the people he thought were cool, and also quietly looked for approval from Rob Malda. What a poor thing to have attempted:

From: Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda Date: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 03:13 To: F4st Edd1e Subject: RE: LOL Is This Cool? > so i was wondering if you could let me start coding SLASH components, maybe > i could be an author or somethingthat'd be so fuckin' cool i couldn't even > imagine it all the guys in my computer club would be sooo jealous Eddie, I have no idea who you are. Why do you keep emialing me? I really don't give a shit what CDs you stole from Best Buy or that you cut yourslef to see if it hurts. I'm ading you to my killfile. -Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda

After getting similar responses from the other Slashdot editors, and realizing no one real or electronic would ever care about him, Eddie's resolve steeled. Unfortunantly, it was with a poor solution to his problems that he began planning for. But for the first time in his short life, Eddie felt the weight of the world ascend from his shoulders. He smiled for the first time in a long time, and people noticed. Especially Marie Swanson, a schoolmate and neighbor. Eddie noticed little and cared less, however, because his plan was so clever and would solve so many problems. He was proud of himself for the first time ever and it was all going to happen soon. Very soon.

It was April 19, 2002 when Eddie pulled into the gravel driveway late at night. Killing the lights, Eddie grabbed the brown paper bag in the driver's seat and sashed it under his black trenchcoat. He attempted to slide by his mother but she halted him, holding his hands in hers. She told him she was happy for him and that she was relieved hat he was "coming out of his shell." Eddie weakly smiled and told his mom things were hard sometimes. If only she knew. Eddie told her he'd be back up for dinner and quickly ran to his Linux workstation in the corner of the basement, and launched Mozilla 0.9.7.

12 minutes later, Mozilla and Slashdot were finished loading, and Eddie was looking for the latest story. Perfect! This new one, regarding more VA Linux^H^H^H^H^HSoftware downsizing, was brand new and had no comments yet... With bated breath and sweaty palms, Eddie clicked the link and started typing his message into the text field. He trembled and shook as he typed, his fingers a blue on the keyboard. The intensity in his eyes was matched only by the emptiness behind them.

It had been an hour since Eddie came home and as usual, not a peep was heard from the basement. Eddie's mother stared at the sink, quietly going over the ingredients for tonight's dinner, Eddie's favorite dish: hot-dog and bean casserole covered in melted American cheese. She wanted to make something special for her little boy. She jumped as she was brought out of her trance by the phone ringing. She waited, thinking Eddie would pick it up, but as he sometimes wore headphones and listened to his music very loudly, she picked it up herself on the thrid ring. It was Marie Swanson, the neighbor girl.

"Is Eddie there?" came the timid voice on the other end. Eddie's mom said she'd get Eddie, but first she asked if she could tell him what it was regarding-- Eddie was often stubborn about coming to the phone sometimes.

"I just wanted to ask Eddie if he'd like to join me and Lisa and her cousin Mike at the movies with us tonight. Tell him he can call me back later if he's busy, we didn't want to go until the seven-o-clock show anyway." With that, Eddie's mom was on her way down the stairs and calling Eddie's name. No reply came, so she assumed that this would be another round of turning the sound down on his stereo to get his attention. She couldn't have been wronger. What met her eyes was the worst site a mother could ever hope to see in her life. Even though he could have been asleep, she knew better.

Eddie was laying slumped over with his head restng on the keyboard, one arm under his head and the other, his left, hanging limply straight down. Spittle was slowly drying on his lower lip, and his eyes bulged out of his head in a ghastly manner. His skin was a sick light blue-purple color, which was obscured by the thick, clear plastic bag taped firmly around his neck. Attached to the bag by some tape was some fishtank air-pumo tubing, which at its other end was connected to yet another bag containing some misty substance. The basement smelled like almonds.

Eddie was dead, a victim of himself.

The shrieks and cries heard that night were never forgotten by any of the neighbors. Eddie's mother's life would never be the same, and the school was closed in a day of mourning. Counseling was given freely all day for the next week as well, and Eddie's mother spoke at a memorial service for the school. Things were pretty straight forward, and everyone-- especially Eddie's mom-- went straight into dealing with the loss, nearly impossible as that is.

What Eddie's mother always assumed was that Eddie was angst-ridden and unhappy and had no healthy way to express this to anyone, and she blamed herself for this. Though this was genericaly true, Eddie's mother had missed something that night in her blind anguish. Had she looked a little closer at the computer her son lay dead in front of, she would have seen something very telling that could have given her more depth of understanding. Alas, she didn't, even though all it would have taken was a single click of the "Back" button. As it was, when they removed the computer for examination, there was evidence of one final attempt Eddie made to communicate his feelings to someone, somewhere. Like all of Eddie's other attempts in life, however, his attempt failed miserable.

Who knows, maybe Eddie would have waited just long enough for his mother to have made it downstairs had his comment been read? What a sad, frustrating life Eddie ended that night.

Slow Down Cowboy! Slashdot requires you to wait 2 minutes between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment. It's been 2 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment If you this error seems to be incorrect, please provide the following in your report to SourceForge.net: Browser type User ID/Nickname or AC What steps caused this error Whether or not you know your ISP to be using a proxy or some sort of service that gives you an IP that others are using simultaneously. How many posts to this form you successfully submitted during the day * Please choose 'formkeys' for the category! Thank you.

Question (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522534)

I have my own question.

Dear DoJ, do you agree with the following statement and if so, why and if not - why not?

I should be able to take music and movies off the internet for free. I should be able to do this becuase:

(a) the RIAA/MPAA is ripping off the artists anyway, so I should just steal it anyway and they both can burn for all I care;
(b) I'm not really 'stealing' it because it's still 'there' after I have taken it;
(c) Music and movies suck nowadays anyway so I should be able to get them free;
(d) Everyone else is doing it, normal people who don't shoplift or anything, so it must be okay.

Thanks!!

Great Answers, but... (5, Interesting)

revery (456516) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522542)

Most of the questions where I was really looking forward to the answer tended to end up involving civil law. I'd be very interested to see if Slashdot could get an interview with someone from that side of the law.

Other than that, I was very pleased with the responses we got. They weren't the short little answers I was expecting.

--

Was it the sheep climbing onto the altar, or the cattle lowing to be slain,
or the Son of God hanging dead and bloodied on a cross that told me this was a world condemned, but loved and bought with blood.

Re:Great Answers, but... (2)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522611)

I'll agree with your sentiment. The answers were well thought out, well laid out, and answers the questions completely (but I did expect it. We are talking about top lawyers, here).

Civil answer would also be great, but we have to find another source that works on the 'other side' of the fence (not FSF lawyers, but RIAA lawyers).

Civil attorneys? (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522714)

Don't expect them to be civil to this crowd!

FUCK, THOSE DOUCHEBAGS REALLY LIKE TO TALK, HUH? (-1)

Subject Line Troll (581198) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522930)

Re:Great Answers, but... (1)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522946)

Civil answer would also be great, but we have to find another source that works on the 'other side' of the fence (not FSF lawyers, but RIAA lawyers).

And given the number of cracks and stabs taken at the RIAA and the MPAA, do you *really* think they would *want* to answer questions posed by a mob of Slashdot users? ;)

Re: Civil Law (4, Interesting)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522675)

IMHO, this was the most (unintentionally) interesting thing that he pointed out:

In a criminal trial, the government must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to every member of a jury of twelve citizens. However, this standard is applicable only in criminal cases, not to civil actions like those brought by private industry. Civil actions are governed by a lower standard of proof.

Filesharing is a very grey area of the law right now. By taking cases to civil court rather than trying individuals as more serious criminals, the RIAA would only have to garner the support of half the jury rather than the full 12 (or something like that, I'm not completely versed in civil law). It may be harder for them to win serious precedents in this manner, but it will be easier to win single judgements, which fits their bill of scaring filesharers straight to let them know that they actually could be punished for trading.

Re: Civil Law (3, Interesting)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522964)

Civil law requires that there is a "preponderence of evidence", while criminal law requires "behind reasonable doubt".

Basically, it works like this for preponderence of evidence... If it is more likely then not that a punishable action occured, then the burden of evidence has been met. This is why, even though OJ was found not guilty in a criminal trial, the exact same evidence was enough to sink him in a civil trial.

Now, it various from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in South Carolina, a civil jury is anywhere from 6 to 12 people. No idea how they determine the number. Perhaps it's based on the monetary or compensatory judgement sought. Other states have their own requirements on the size of the civil jury, and a larger jury can work for or against you.

Best advice, as always... don't get caught.

Kierthos

Well, by their length... (4, Funny)

TWX (665546) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522548)

you can definitely that lawyers were involved in answering questions...

Re:Well, by their length... (5, Insightful)

MaxwellStreet (148915) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522705)

When balanced against William Shatner's responses, I'd say they average out nicely.

Aside, this was a great interview idea; and getting something like this would have been really hard without a site of Slashdot's size and popularity. There are a lot of (perhaps legitimate) complaints about what constitutes "news" around here, but this was seriously a great feature.

Thanks to Slashdot and the DOJ lawyers for making this happen.

I think this is important. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522574)

It has come to my attention that on May 12, 2003, Slashdot ran a story [slashdot.org] in which it solicited questions for one Fyodor [securite.org] , (in)famous author of Open Source hacker tool nmap. I am rarely roused to action anymore, but I could not let what I saw pass. Millions of innocent security hobbyists and computer enthusiasts are being duped by Slashdot into using tools and websites created by Fyodor [wiretrip.net] without knowing all of the facts:

Fyodor [kitetoa.com] is not a heroic "white hat" security expert, but a depraved, insidious hacker hell-bent on criminal intrusions into systems owned by minors!

Please read on and review some of the facts so that you may come to your own conclusions about Fyodor and nmap.

Beginning innocuously enough with this post [slashdot.org] by one electricmonk [slashdot.org] , supposedly a "Linux booth babe," several lonely Slashdot geeks were trolled into replying, both on Slashdot itself and privately by email. One of the individuals who replied privately by email was none other than the subject of this expos, Fyodor, cruising for some hot geek-loving ass. Little did Fyodor know that electricmonk [slashdot.org] was none other than SumDeusExMachina [slashdot.org] , AKA SDEM [trollaxor.com] , long-time trolling stalwart. Fyodor had let his hormones get the better of his common sense as he began an attempt to seduce electricmonk [slashdot.org] .

Not wanting to carry his charade on any further (and understandably so, with an over-excited Fyodor on his tail), SDEM explained politely and truthfully to Fyodor about the non-existant Linux booth babe who was really just a bored young man enrolled in college for the Summer. Fyodor's latest hantise femelle destroyed, he vowed revenge on SDEM no matter the cost. The word wanker echoed in his head as he decided not even the law would stop him in his unholy vengeance. In just over a week, Fyodor had owned SDEM's box and began posting about it in trolltalk.

Luckily, on one unbelievably hot, humid Kansas City day back in August of 2002, Dame Fortune guided my hand to save a copy of trolltalk complete with Fyodor gloating [trollaxor.com] at his criminal victory over SDEM. Scroll down a bit and look for posts by fv [slashdot.org] and decide for yourself. We even have a statement from one of the two parties involved [slashdot.org] and a nice summary of events by a very dependable third party [slashdot.org] who witnessed the entire fiasco. And back in the present, we have several [slashdot.org] individuals [slashdot.org] raising [slashdot.org] questions [slashdot.org] about Fyodor's morality and legal status.

I now ask you, gentle sirs and madams, would you use a tool written by a known criminal, especially a known criminal who specifically attacks underage boys? Fyodor's endorsement by Slashdot is obviously a betrayal of simple journalistic integrity and ethics, with both the Slashdot staff and Fyodor standing to experience a significant financial windfall from their collaboration. I urge you to reconsider not only your patronage of Slashdot, but also any viewing or use of tools or websites created by or related to Fyodor. He is not a man to be trusted, nor is he a man at all.

Thank you.

Penalty of perjury (4, Interesting)

henrygb (668225) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522598)

Reply 9 is interesting. The only part of a notification which can be penalized for deliberate inaccuracy seems to be the part on who the notifier is representing. Do general defamation laws apply to the rest of the notification? Or can I claim to represent myself (true) and that every internet publication infringes my exclusive right (false - in most cases), without fear of punishment?

Re:Penalty of perjury (2, Insightful)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522852)

That's how I read has answer. Now I can get the name and address of anyone with a website just by filing a document in court claiming that the person is violating my copyright on "XYZ", just as long as I actually own the copyright to "XYZ". The Justice Department seems to think that this is just fine and will not prosecute you.

Re:Penalty of perjury (5, Insightful)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522951)

I thought that was interesting too, because technically there was a violation of the perjury clause there. The RIAA claimed to be authorized to act on behalf of the copyright holder of that specific MP3, when in fact they were NOT authorized to act on behalf of the copyright holder. Isn't that precisely the situation that the perjury clause is designed for?

Kintanon

Dont you just hate it when... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522605)

The lawyers dont come across as black hearted bastards but people who are truely passionate about the field they work in and seem to want to make a diffrence.

Re:Dont you just hate it when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522627)

It's called PR. That doesn't mean they're not still whores to bad laws and toadies to Corporate Amerika. They're lawyers for fuck's sake. Of course, they know how to spin.

~~~

Unimportant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522785)

People who are passionate about fundamentally unethical laws are still...

you guessed it: Blackhearted Bastards.

Re:Dont you just hate it when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522858)

I don't think of government lawyers that way. After all, they certainly are not in it for the money.

Re:Dont you just hate it when... (2, Insightful)

mikeophile (647318) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522874)

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world He didn't exist."

- Verbal Kint

Re:Dont you just hate it when... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522912)

Still doesn't negate the fact that government employees are parasites on the backs of society's taxpaying producers.

boring (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522608)

Wow, I've read some boring stuff in my day.

But this takes the cake.

In soviet russia the copyright office works for you.

Re:boring (2, Funny)

mjmalone (677326) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522801)

In soviet russia the copyright office works for you.

I want to move there!

Question #9 (4, Insightful)

rhombic (140326) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522618)

What I want to know is, why hasn't there been a prosecution for violation of the perjury clause of the DMCA on the Usher lecuture? It seems pretty cut and dried-- Professor Usher obviously never authorized the RIAA to act as his agent, and whomever issued the takedown letter swore under penalty of perjury that they were acting as his agent. So why hasn't this ended up in court?

Re:Question #9 (1)

DeltaSigma (583342) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522774)

I believe Prof. Usher would have to bring charges against them.

Re:Question #9 (1)

overunderunderdone (521462) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522811)

Clever, but a little too cute. This was obviously a case of mistaken identity. If it was a rival professer that was trying to get the Usher .mpg taken down THEN it would have been a criminal purjury case.
Professor Usher DOES probably have recourse in civil court though.

Re:Question #9 (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522894)

IIRC, Usher wasn't arguing against copying his lecture--his lecture itself was an alleged violation of the DMCA.

Re:Question #9 (1)

N2OY (685216) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522909)

Because the RIAA wasn't acting as Professor Usher's agent... they were acting as an agent for the recording artist by the name of Usher. Usher's contract with his record agency probably allows the RIAA to act as his agent in pursuing copyright violations. If I remember correctly, the RIAA issued the takedown letter(s) based on the assumption that the MP3s being shared were those by Usher, the recording artist. As it turned out, they were lectures by Professor Usher, so the RIAA was not able to enforce the removal of those MP3s.

The GNAA lawyer speaks! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522619)

Join GNAA Today!

If you do not have an IRC client handy, you are free to use the GNAA Java IRC client by clicking here [nero-online.org]

GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the first organization which gathers GAY NIGGERS from all over America and abroad for one common goal - being GAY NIGGERS.

Are you GAY [klerck.org] ?
Are you a NIGGER [mugshots.org] ?
Are you a GAY NIGGER [gay-sex-access.com] ?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, then GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) might be exactly what you've been looking for!
Join GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time GNAA member.
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the fastest-growing GAY NIGGER community with THOUSANDS of members all over United States of America. You, too, can be a part of GNAA if you join today!

Why not? It's quick and easy - only 3 simple steps!

First, you have to obtain a copy of GAY NIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE THE MOVIE [imdb.com] and watch it.

Second, you need to join the official GNAA irc channel #GNAA on EFNet, and apply for membership.
Talk to one of the ops or any of the other members in the channel to sign up today!

Third, you have to get First Post (FP) with our GNAA posting template and put GNAA in the subject line of your post.
If you do not have an IRC client handy, you are free to use the GNAA Java IRC client by clicking here [nero-online.org]

If you are having trouble locating #GNAA, the official GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA irc channel, you might be on a wrong irc network. The correct network is EFNet, and you can connect to irc.secsup.org or irc.isprime.com as one of the EFNet servers.


If you have mod points and would like to support GNAA, please moderate this post up.

This post brought to you by a proud member of GNAA
________________________________________________
| ______________________________________._a,____ |
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ |
| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ |
| _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ |
| _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ |
| ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ |
| _________#1__________?________________________ |
| _________j1___________________________________ |
| ____a,___jk_ GAY_NIGGER_ASSOCIATION_OF_AMERICA_|
| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ |
| ______-"!^____________________________________ |
` _______________________________________________'
-GNAA member 'penisbird'

We're doomed.... (4, Funny)

revery (456516) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522631)

Our interest in technology explains why so many of us are frequent Slashdot readers

They're Slashdot readers?!? We're doomed....

--

Was it the sheep climbing onto the altar, or the cattle lowing to be slain,
or the Son of God hanging dead and bloodied on a cross that told me this was a world condemned, but loved and bought with blood.

Re:We're doomed.... (3, Interesting)

Telex4 (265980) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522686)

Our interest in technology explains why so many of us are frequent Slashdot readers


They're Slashdot readers?!? We're doomed....


All of a sudden I feel less secure in my smug "IANAL but..." comments ;-)

Nice to know these guys are regular readers (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522640)

Re: That link to those questionable binaries from that article last week

It wasn't me. I didn't do it.

-- A. Coward

NoNoNo (1)

God! Awful 2 (631283) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522642)

If anyone thinks that piracy does not affect everyday people trying to succeed in business, they need look no further.

The question is whether piracy affects everyday people who are trying to drive companies *out* of business. (Companies such as Microsoft.)

-a

Re:NoNoNo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522854)

Yes, it's interesting that if I physically harm one person I gain the scorn of people. But if I ruin the lives of countless people in my shrewd business dealings, I gain the admiration of people.

The human race is f***ed up.

Re:NoNoNo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522902)

You are a stupid communist...

breaking the law (4, Interesting)

evenprime (324363) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522643)

O'Leary said: We feel strongly that everyone should comply with the requirements of all laws.

I think that's the key here. As has been pointed out [slashdot.org] before [slashdot.org] , most file sharing, CD burning, etc. goes on because the public believes that they somehow have a *right* to a song or a movie without paying for it. That's just plain silly.

Ignoring the law just because it is inconvenient is wrong. O'Leary was incorrect in stating that *all* laws should be obeyed - the civil rights movement was an proper form of law breaking - but "because I want this" is not a valid reason to break the law.

Re:breaking the law (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522729)

So you think we should have all been nice polite british subjects a few hundred years back and happily paid for our stamps and tea and all the other "good laws" of George the III?

Immoral laws can never be tolerated by an educated population, and there is nothing as immoral as claiming to own others, whether in physical or intellectual slavery. The mis-application of copyright as if property is as such immoral.

Re:breaking the law (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522843)

Ignoring the law just because it is inconvenient is wrong.

how about ignoring law because it is wrong? IP and copyright are fundamentally unethical laws in an age in where there are no natural restrictions to the flow or creation of information and the vast majority of "violators" are not doing so for profit or for gain.

Unethical laws must be broken by any public-minded citizen. It is time to bring the system down, down, down.

Re:breaking the law (1)

deman1985 (684265) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522850)

I think people would be much more inclined to respect the laws if it were the artists themselves pressing the charges against people and stepping up to remand piracy stops instead of the RIAA which doesn't serve any purpose other than to litigate. If I hear the artists themselves screaming about losing money then I might care. When I hear a big corporation telling me to stop copying stuff when they themselves aren't the ones creating the music, then it does nothing more than piss me off. And by artists screaming, I don't mean ones being sponsored by the RIAA-- I mean they themselves must go and speak out against it. I don't hear the indie artists complaining about piracy, and there are plenty of big indie artists out there that I'm sure have their music pirated too.

Re:breaking the law (1, Insightful)

tds67 (670584) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522908)

O'Leary was incorrect in stating that *all* laws should be obeyed - the civil rights movement was an proper form of law breaking - but "because I want this" is not a valid reason to break the law.

The civil rights movement *wanted* something: their perceived rights. So do we vis-a-vis music. Sometimes it's necessary to exercise civil disobedience when you *want* something (e.g., copyright reform, artists to be free from the RIAA and the record companies, etc.), especially when corporate America has your government in its back pocket and refuses to adapt to the marketplace. I can't think of a better way to do this than to *show* the powers that be that we want to buy our music online in a free and unfettered way. This demonstration is being done peacefully online.

I declare (1)

smoondog (85133) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522646)

Best interview ever....

-Sean

Agreed (5, Insightful)

aptenergy (688428) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522648)

Agreed. If some of those lawyers are indeed avid members of Slashdot, I'd like to hear their personal opinions on 1) The RIAA 2) The MPAA 3) SCO I would have also liked to hear what they think about the RIAA having permission to issue subpoenas without having to ask a judge. Doesn't this give control of the judicial system to a multimillion dollar corporation who has no interest in justice, but rather profits? Or am I barking up the wrong tree here?

Re:Agreed (2, Insightful)

MilesBehind (517130) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522792)

I think our gracious lawyer friends are too smart to do something like that. They're lawyers enough to know not to put their opinion on this lair of seething resentment that is slashdot. Being a reader does not neccessitate being a contributor, since any opinion they state could be taken as the opinion of the DoJ, which would get them in a load of trouble.

I'm sure they get a good chuckle out of all the clueless IANAL posts, tho.

marketplace rights? (1)

markbo (313122) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522649)

...As to your final question, while there certainly is a right to fair use, it is not a violation of that right to make products that cannot be copied. Although such features may prove unpopular to some, ultimately it is for the marketplace to decide the viability of those products.


Sound to me like the marketplace is deciding whether or not I can exercise my fair use rights. If I have a fair use right, then I have that right whichever way the market place settles!

Re:marketplace rights? (1)

deman1985 (684265) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522915)

It seems that if there is indeed fair use for personal copying, then I should be able to copy the CD my any means necessary--including cracking any protection algorithms... If the record labels should be able to attempt to circumvent my rights with a system of their invention then I should have the same freedom to circumvent that system without litigation, regardless of what the DMCA says.

Even prosecutors have trouble determining legality (5, Interesting)

kasparov (105041) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522658)

It seems strange that we, as a people, would allow laws to become so complex that even the attorneys (who have been specifically trained in the law) would have trouble giving a specific "bright line" definition of when something is Fair Use, or not. How can a layman ever know if he is breaking the law if an attorney can't even say when a "line has been crossed"?

Re:Even prosecutors have trouble determining legal (1)

gila_monster (544999) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522849)

I'm not sure it can be helped, really. Some situations cannot be definitively described. This is why much of the law depends on precedent (decisions made by courts) to provide interpretation of legislation. Legal systems never become less complex. There is a game called Nomic (or Agora or a number of other variants) that demonstrate this quite well.

And really, given the complete lack of knowledge some legislators display, we we really WANT them to try to draw a "bright line?" I'm sure that won't end well.

Re:Even prosecutors have trouble determining legal (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522865)

That's just how the law works. There are a whole bundle of things--like whether a particular work is derivitive of another or not--that are amazingly grey areas.

Pay for legal insurance, and when you have a serious question, go ask. The first step in most grey-area cases is an attempt at non-litigous settlement--when you get a C&D, decide if you want to fight or not; if not, you may get off with nothing more than an agreement to not do the grey-area thing anymore.

In general, follow the laws you know about (taxes, speed limits, etc.), don't try and hurt anyone, and repsect the rights of others. I'll wager that, baring incompetence ("your bad driving kills someone"), you'll be able to go your entire life without seeing the inside of a courtroom, much less getting sued.

('course, IANAL...)

Re:Even prosecutors have trouble determining legal (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522890)

Having been in the position of looking for that "bright line" more than once, I'll agree that it can be frustrating.

However, if you impartially apply the standards laid out in the fair use clause, step by step, you ought to be able make a reaonably clear determination. When I've brought in lawyers, that's what they've done.

Of course, be ready to argue your position of the copyright holder disagrees. Remember, a fair use challenge will be a civil case, and you'll need to convince a judge that you're right. If your actions are in keeping with other actions traditionally considered fair use, you've nothing to worry about. If you are doing something new or different, that's a different matter.

Interesting interview... (1)

JetJaguar (1539) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522664)

But I can't help but think that we are talking to the wrong people here. The DOJ's main purpose is enforcing the law, not making it.

What we really need is a rethinking of IP law in general, which is more in the domain of the legislative branch of government than in the judicial. Unfortunately, catching the attention of those guys is a lot more difficult, unless you can contribute a couple of million to their campaigns.

Pictures of Dead iRaqii (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522671)

Don't look now but here are the pictures of the ead-day iRaqii Us-ay and Qu-say!!

Rock on USian Liberators!!!

Dead Boys [yahoo.com]

of note (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522672)

of note [rednova.com]

Nice doublespeak. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522678)

There is no doubt that large multi-national corporations are often victimized by piracy due in some measure to the popularity and pervasiveness of their products.

IOW, we aren't going to get around to prosecuting GPL violations. Try civil court. Pound me in the ass prison is for people who infringe on big companies' IP, except for the occasional small fry we prosecute to maintain an appearance of equity.

~~~

Re:Nice doublespeak. (1)

arget (447057) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522927)

The original point of the question, that OSS competes head on head (and often wins) with BigCo IP Software and deserves the same protection and attention from the law, was completely missed, either because these guys just don't get it or because they just don't care.

The implicit assumptions in the answer are that only commercial enterprise of whatever size are worthy. It does not address the position of OSS.

Now, go after SCO for their infringement of copyright in claiming they have the ability to license the Linux kernel for a fee, and I'll be convinced the DOJ 1) gets it and 2) cares.

Simply amazing (5, Funny)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522682)

Perfect spelling.........AND they read slashdot. We could all learn something from the DoJ lawyers.

He's about to be slashdotted! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522695)

He will be in a few hours. Once someone finds a website to submit complaints to the DOJ.

How many bytes in body, Roblimo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522700)

Or was one of the conditions of the interview that the number of bytes in body would not be displayed, because it is a criminal IP violation?

Civil Courts..... (1)

Grey Fox LSU (630480) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522706)

In light of this article, it seems that the US Civil courts need to be cleaned up, making the burden of proof stronger to win a case, AND set limits on how much money on litigation a corporation can throw at a citizen, since a coroporation has much more money than a citizen can make in a lifetime. (Humm aka we need an "Even Playing Field Act")

Oh Goodie! (1, Funny)

tds67 (670584) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522709)

For example, as mentioned, the *maximum* sentence you can receive for one count of copyright infringement is 60 months, while the *minimum* for someone convicted federally of aggravated sexual assault is generally between 70 to 87 months.

So I'll only have to be careful for a maximum of 60 months in prison while bending over for the soap, as opposed to 70 to 87. That's good news.

Re:Oh Goodie! (1)

allism (457899) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522842)

Oh, so you only have ONE pirated song on your hard drive?

Pirate one album, you're gonna be doing about eight times the sentence for agg sexual assault.

Smooth :) (1)

banana fiend (611664) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522716)

Well, I'm glad you asked that question

That's an interesting question

You're quite right

I liked the answers, and the fact that they pulled out 2 questions to answer from the unsubmitted ones. All in all, though...... smooth and political. The people involved in large legal issues like this are professional and capable, it's funny how different it can be to the slightly more... emotional opinions to be found on slashdot.

It's interesting that these two different worlds are engaging in dialogue

legally could copy, but legally can't... (5, Insightful)

bigpat (158134) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522731)

" While a court could find that the DMCA allows the circumvention of protections on works in the public domain, the statute nonetheless prohibits trafficking in tools intended for use in circumventing controls on protected works. While those same tools could potentially be used to remove access or copy controls on works in the public domain, it may still be unlawful under the DMCA to traffic in them." ... so you have a legal right to copy stuff but the ability to do so is illegal. Like saying you have freedom of speech, but it is illegal to open your mouth. Thanks.

Re:legally could copy, but legally can't... (1)

DeltaSigma (583342) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522878)

It's far more complicated than that.

Essentially what they're saying is, if you wish to legally copyright and distribute works where the copyright has expired, you should assure that these works are not obscured by a method which requires a tool. A tool which has only the single purpose of making the contents of this previously copyrighted work open to copying and distribution.

To put it another way: Don't buy copy-protected CDs!

Allow me to explain further: Suppose 90 years from now this (popular-band) cd which has DRM applied to it loses its copyright. This is ninety years in the future, so suppose you had some device which made perfect physical copies of the cd itself, down to the atomic level. It would be legal to copy and distribute that cd for free or profit. However, under the DMCA, circumventing the DRM measures used in that CD would still be illegal.

Re:legally could copy, but legally can't... (1)

IdleMindUI (171872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522893)

Another interpretation might be that you have freedom of speech, but it's illegal to sell megaphones, so you're stuck with a big paper cone.

Re:legally could copy, but legally can't... (1)

Mr_Matt (225037) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522911)

Ahem...

Third, while the DMCA prohibits the actual circumvention of access controls, it does not prohibit the actual circumvention of copy controls.

So the tool is only unlawful under the DMCA if it removes access controls. Just taking out copy controls seems okeydokey, which agrees with my reading of the DMCA (I use a strobe light. :)

Did he just say what I think he said? (5, Insightful)

realdpk (116490) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522734)

For example, as mentioned, the *maximum* sentence you can receive for one count of copyright infringement is 60 months, while the *minimum* for someone convicted federally of aggravated sexual assault is generally between 70 to 87 months.

So two counts of copyright infringement > aggravated sexual assault? How many counts of copyright infringement does it take to hit the maximum for aggravated sexual assault? 10? 20? Copyright infringement counts can add up pretty quick.

Theft vs Piracy (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522770)

In some instances, piracy can actually be more damaging than traditional theft. Unlike traditional theft, where a person steals a specific number of tangible objects, one product in digital format can alone be used to generate hundreds of thousands of near-perfect digital copies within hours. In the case of software piracy, for example, the developer has not been deprived of his product in the traditional sense it has merely been copied. Yet, he faces the grim reality that his product is now available around the world, often for free, to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. In very real terms, even though he retains his property, the digital victim is in a much worse position than the victim of a more traditional theft. To him, the theft is clear and the harm couldn t be more real.

In almost every discussion on /. regarding RIAA and the like, somebody comes up with the point that file-sharing is not theft, since nobody was actually deprived of the property.

I guess that's valid, only when you look at it from the customer's point of view. Though none of the customers were deprived of music as a result of file sharing (as opposed to stealing a CD), the artist was deprived of a certain amount of money which he could've made as a result of selling the music. So it *could* be labelled as theft, since the artist was deprived indirectly as a result of filesharing.

Not that I'm opposed to filesharing, but I think most of the questions (especially the one regarding theft and piracy) were answered pretty well.

Laywer Speak - Translated (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522781)

The entire thing was mostly a long winded way of saying 'we are coming to get you, little people', and 'get used to it, as this fight to take away your freedoms and privacy has only begun'.

Re:Laywer Speak - Translated (2, Insightful)

DeltaSigma (583342) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522808)

Actually, they mentioned numerous times that most of what they deal with are extremely serious offenses where the copyright holders intellectual property is quite obviously violated. If you actually read the thing you'd have noticed that they're not to blame for the attacks on the "little people." Those matters are settled in civil courts, not criminal courts.

You fell for it it appears (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522866)

Dont belive what you hear from an governmental attorney. They ARE out to get the little people ( and their money and their rights ).. just cant admit that directly.

And i DID read it.. for what it really meant. Not just for its propaganda.

Baloney (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522782)

"For example, as mentioned, the *maximum* sentence you can receive for one count of copyright infringement is 60 months, while the *minimum* for someone convicted federally of aggravated sexual assault is generally between 70 to 87 months."

What a load of crap. Why would someone be charged on one count of copyright infringement? In his own words, they've found people with 20,000+ infringements. That would jack someone well into the rapist sentence zone.

Re:Baloney (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522888)

No, that would jack someone into the "old sparky the electric chair" zone.

No Other Answers.... (1)

Caraig (186934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522786)

I suspect we'll be hearing a lot of slashdotters complain about these answers. A lot of them sound like pretty standard party lines and canned answers. Let's be honest here: they're representatives of a large bureaucracy, not policymakers. There's no other answers they could have given.

However, this interview was not a total wash. In particular, I found the fact that they consider the copyright infringement of music downloading to actually be honest-to-Congress theft to be very fascinating and intriguing. This is the words from the "enemy," boys and girls. Send your laywers to take a gander at this article and consider their court arguments very carefully in this light.

You are being heard (1)

Entropy248 (588290) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522793)

Blockquoteth the lawyers:
Our interest in technology explains why so many of us are frequent Slashdot readers, and why working at CCIPS sparked our interest in the first place.

At least our side of the debate is being heard...
[insert obligatory /. reader joke here]

Re:You are being heard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522910)

That also explains where all the Gay Nigger posts have been coming from.

Great Interview - Here's a suggestion (1)

isoga (670113) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522804)

Well answered. Lengthy, and a little dry but guess what? That's what IP is all about!

It does seem though that although they are lawyers who are interested in technology and how it intersects with the law, and that they research tech issues etc before a case, that they don't have enough of a tech background / training.

I propose that they should find more avenues to have contact with 'techies.' They should have opportunities to attend some programming and compSci classes, so that when someone tries to invoke the DMCA on some trivial (eg/ ROT13) 'encryption' mechanism, they understand just how much the wool is being pulled over their eyes.

Similarly, they should talk to FOSS project leaders, try out leading FOSS tools, try running their own LAMP powered website, etc.

I think it's key that these people see how empowering FOSS software is and the resultant benefit to society, before they put forward copyright cases, as after all, the purpose of copyright (and dare I say it, all laws) is to benefit society.

Dave
www.davidgoodwin.net [davidgoodwin.net]

Paid for? [OT] (2, Interesting)

ldspartan (14035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522813)

However, in an effort to give you your money's worth, we have answered two additional questions which you posed in the comments accompanying the original interview, but were not submitted to us by the Slashdot moderators.
Did anyone else pick up on this? If so, does /. pay for these interviews, or is the interviewee just using a common turn of phrase?

Not that it matters terribly, but I think it would add to the context of these things if we knew that slashdot paid for interviews. -- lds

old myth: N illegal copies == N lost licence fees (5, Insightful)

divec (48748) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522831)

The O'Leary writes:
One victim company was a small software manufacturer located in the Midwest. They had one or two viable programs that sustained their entire operation of about ten employees, many of whom were family members of the owner. The company had spent many years developing its software, so the owner, of course, was devastated to find that his product had been pirated and was available for free on the Internet. His livelihood depended on the legitimate sale of only one or two software programs. If anyone thinks that piracy does not affect everyday people trying to succeed in business, they need look no further.

This doesn't show that the business has lost out due to piracy. There has only been a loss if someone who would otherwise have paid for a legal version has instead obtained an illegal copy.

That might well have happened in this instance. But it's important not to just assume that there's been a huge financial loss, and severe adverse effects on this Midwest business, merely because, say, 100 illegal copies have been downloaded.

If only two of the downloaders would ever have paid the price for a licensed version, then all that has been lost is the price of two licences. The other 98 downloads have done no financial damage - sure, they're illegal, and you might well argue immoral too, but they haven't affected the business's income at all.

The same thing happens when someone releases a piece of free software, sees that he has 100 users, and thinks, "Hey, if only I'd made it proprietary and sold licences for $50, I could have made $5,000". In both cases, it's quite possible that 98 of the 100 would never have even considered paying a fee for the software.

How come no one is screaming about this? (2, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522855)

The amount of pirated material available online today is staggering. In the course of prosecuting piracy we have found servers containing over 20,000 titles of pirated software, movies, music and games. The value of the copyrighted material on servers like this is frequently in the millions of dollars. Factor in the number of times those titles are distributed over the Internet, and the damage amounts skyrocket. The sentencing structure reflects this harm.

Well, I guess it's codified in law. This is why Kevin Mitnick got charged with doing billions of dollars of damage. I wish we thought of asking them about the legitimacy of calculating damages by multiplying the number of copies and the suggested retail value of the stuff being copied.

Er, not the legitimacy, (Apparently it's legitimate.) but rather the morality. Doesn't there have to be a more realistic manner of calculating damages?

Slashdot and the Daily Show (2, Interesting)

Carrion Creeper (673888) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522870)

This interview reminds me of the daily show:

A medium which is usually about satire (or complaining in slashdot's case) ends up putting forward an excellent interview. Witness knucklehead Jon Stewart asking reasonable questions to senators and the like.

It certainly hints at a new media/political reality, and good things for slashdot's future.

Another question... (1)

Shoten (260439) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522873)

"How many possible ways can you dodge allegations from multiple sources that you exclusively protect large commercial organizations or large groups of smaller commercial organizations, and largely ignore individuals?"

O'Leary:
"We determine this based upon a number of factors..."

The question they missed (1, Interesting)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522877)

Very interesting read; kudos to the lawyers who had the courage to face the angrycrowd here. However, they seem to have ignored one of the most common questions in the original debate: that of fair use.

While they touched on fair use briefly, I remember others asking more direct questions concerning faire use, such as the rights to convert a copyrighted material into a different format or the discreptancy between fair use and many modern EULAs. I'm wondering whether ignoring these questions was deliberate or not...

Favoring Big Business? (2, Interesting)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522906)

In deciding whether or not to prosecute an intellectual property case, we undertake a thorough examination of a number of factors. These include the nature and seriousness of the offense, the deterrent effect of the prosecution, the potential defendant s culpability, the potential defendant s history with respect to criminal activity, the likelihood of the prosecution leading to additional investigations of others, and the possible sentence or other consequences. Factors such as these, and not the identity of the victim, are the basis for prosecutorial decisions. We have made strong intellectual property rights enforcement a priority and we will continue to do so without regard to the size or market share of the victim(s).

That sounds fair, until you think about it:

When is proscution going to be the most of a detterant? When it is publicised. And it is the big businesses that will publicize it.

When will prosocution lead to finding more cases? When there are multiple products being infringed on, or there are large networks of products. Again, this favors 'helping' big business because they are the ones who have large product lines, and who have spread their demand over a large area.

The criteria aren't totally flawed, of course. They just have more of a bias then is immediately obvious.

making an uncopyable product...missed the point (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6522907)

Regarding whether it's a violation of fair-use rights to make an uncopyable product:

As to your final question, while there certainly is a right to fair use, it is not a violation of that right to make products that cannot be copied. Although such features may prove unpopular to some, ultimately it is for the marketplace to decide the viability of those products.

If someone creates something that I need, but makes it uncopyable through legislation (DMCA), then that's a violation of my fair-use rights since by law I'm not allowed to find a way to copy it anyway. Or am I missing something here?

qualifications (1)

spamchang (302052) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522914)

i didn't get a clear answer on their tech qualifications for the job. 'we're interested and we have the background' doesn't really answer the question. reading /. once a week for 2 hrs doesn't count either.

Legal Circumvention Tools (2, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522921)

While a court could find that the DMCA allows the circumvention of protections on works in the public domain, the statute nonetheless prohibits trafficking in tools intended for use in circumventing controls on protected works. While those same tools could potentially be used to remove access or copy controls on works in the public domain, it may still be unlawful under the DMCA to traffic in them.

The answer is clear then. From now on all circumvention tools must be marketed as "intended for use only on works which have entered the public domain".

This is exactly the same way in which a lawyer can give you legal advice and say, "this is not legal advice" and have no liability. It's the same way in which herbal supplements stay, "Promotes Alertness (this claim has not been verified by the FDA)" and get past FDA labelling restrictions.

That is, it is not about acting within the spirit of the law - that would be true if we had a common law system. It is about acting within the letter of the law.

Calculating the value of pirated goods (3, Insightful)

bentcd (690786) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522933)

In the course of prosecuting piracy we have found servers containing over 20,000 titles of pirated software, movies, music and games. The value of the copyrighted material on servers like this is frequently in the millions of dollars.

The way I read this, the means used to calculating the final value is something along the lines of adding the retail value of each of those 20,000 titles for the total. This method seems a bit suspect. I wonder, if I made a piece of semi-useful software, put a $1mill price tag on it and made sure it was reasonably easy to pirate, could I just wait a while and then start successfully suing anyone who copied it for everything they've got?

I can't help feeling there needs to be some sort of independent agency that would assess the actual value of pirated goods. The copyright owners are clearly biased and I doubt most courts have the competence to do it.

Interesting but... (2, Interesting)

Raindance (680694) | more than 11 years ago | (#6522961)

Interesting answers- these guys seem like they've thought out a great deal of these issues.

However, did anyone else notice they still use words such as 'piracy' and 'intellectual property' instead of more conceptually correct words such as copyright infringement or copyrighted work?

I have to think that unfortunately this office is still largely a tool for and of the copyright mafia, if these are the terms they think in.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>