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RICO Suit Filed Against Skype Founders

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the jealous-of-success dept.

155

Stitch_Surfs writes "Defendant Skype Technologies S A, Niklas Zennstrom, Janus Friis, Kazaa, Bluemoon Ou and a slew of others have been named in a Rico Suit Filed by StreamCast Networks, of Houston, Texas. StreamCast is the company credited with the development of the Peer to Peer Technology called Morpheus. From the little information the courts have released, StreamCast is claiming that the group engaged in corrupt business practices."

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Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (4, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998340)

So that's what RICO [wikipedia.org] stands for...

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (1)

Nurseman (161297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998366)

Can a private company file a RICO suit ? I thought that was a Govt charge ?

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (1)

harmonica (29841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998508)

IIRC that guy who sued Google for his Usenet postings recently also included a RICO charge.

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14999433)

RICO: any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, arson, robbery, bribery and copyright infringement. [wikipedia.org]

Question to people with a fragment of common sense left: what does not fit in?

(To make things a bit easier for our US-American friends, I have emboldened the term.)

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (1)

rigorist (176416) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998512)

RICO has both a criminal prong and a civil prong.

I'd like to see the complaint itself. Most of them are pled incorrectly and get dismissed.

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998991)

Stop, you're making me hot.

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (4, Informative)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998571)

Can a private company file a RICO suit ? I thought that was a Govt charge ?

RICO allows private companies that have been damaged by criminal enterprises to bring suit. It's kind of like the False Claims Act, which essentially allows private individuals who have knowledge of defrauding of the Federal Government to become, in essence, civil law vigilantes.

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (2, Interesting)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998678)

It's kind of like the False Claims Act, which essentially allows private individuals who have knowledge of defrauding of the Federal Government to become, in essence, civil law vigilantes.

Technically, every citizen has a duty to uphold the law and to report any wrongdoings to the relevant authorities. The difference between a private citizen and a police officer is that the police do it as their job and have greater powers of arrest, etc. (Here in the UK at least, private citizens can make an arrest under certain circumstances - see for example the final paragraph of this article [bbc.co.uk] )

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998721)

The same principles of common law apply in the U.S., as well. They've just be corrupted and co-opted with a Texas drawl instead of a Fraffly snoot.

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (0)

HUADPE (903765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998939)

Technically, every citizen has a duty to uphold the law and to report any wrongdoings to the relevant authorities.

Not in the United States. Under US law (with some local exceptions), there is no requirement that an individual report a crime or help in any way to uphold the law. Except when you have a specific obligation to do something (like a police officer, or school offical), inaction is not a crime.

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999215)

Hell, in the U.S., there's even a constitutional amendment aginst self incrimination, the fifth. You have no obligation to walk up to a law enforcement officer and go, "Excuse me, I just exceeded the speed limit. Please issue me a citation."

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (1)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999386)

'except ... inaction is not a crime'

IANAL however, at least one case shows that inaction is largely inactionable even if one is a law-enforcement official. I would challenge anyone to show where the failure of a government official to do their job is justification for anything more than being removed from office by voters, or perhaps a "mandate" from a court to do their job. I'm thinking of one precedent in which a shop owner, having been threatened for refusing to accept a return of merchandise (an engine block) called the police for protection - didn't get it - was subsequently killed - and his estate then sued the police for inaction - no dice. Anyone have a case which shows the opposite? - inaction leads to liability? (without personal benefit ie a bribe not to enforce drug laws)

AIK

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (1)

blueday4 (569939) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999420)

"Except when you have a specific obligation to do something (like a police officer, or school offical), inaction is not a crime."

That is the whole quote. Your example of police officers is specifically mentioned.

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (1)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999461)

Just to be more clear _EVEN_ when you have a specific obligation to act - there appears to be very little force behind that obligation. The difference between "Even" and "Except" may justify a short trip to the dictionary here. It's very difficult to criminalize inaction - even for those entrusted to take action. School officials fail in many cases to educate children; police fail to uphold many laws.
I'm just saying it's really difficult to force officials to uphold the law. If anyone has an example of forcing officials to act - I'd like to see it.

AIK

Can RICO Act be used against the RIAA? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998597)

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization

Wow! I didn't know that.

Can't this Act be used against the RIAA? Protection rackets seem to be exactly what RICO is about.

Re:Can RICO Act be used against the RIAA? (1)

watanuki (771056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999613)

Can't this Act be used against the RIAA?

Somebody already did [slashdot.org] .

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999242)

Just be glad it isn't some bizzare PR backronym like the PATRIOT ACT. How about "America Protected Proactively Like Eagles Protecting Innocent Eaglets" Act, or APPLE PIE for short.

I bet congress would pass it without debate, just like they did for an obviously virtuous bill like the PATRIOT act. Whats the matter, are you against PATRIOTs, man?! What about APPLE PIE?!?!

I swear, law and military op names have been getting more and more riduculous for years.

Re:Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (3, Insightful)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999632)

I swear, law and military op names have been getting more and more riduculous for years.

Ridiculous to the informed, yes. Unfortunately, however, rather functional on the uninformed. Thus, their use. Which saddens me; third-world countries keep their populace uneducated because it helps the leaders defraud them.

Holy shit, is that what the "No Child Left Behind" unfunded mandate was all about? Give props to education, but no financial support for it--so it looks like the government is doing something good, whereas they're really dumbing us down to be the next soldiers or oil field workers?

Yeah, right. (1, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998343)

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Eating their own young (1)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999353)

It has been said that in the field of UFOlogy, of all things, that they eat their own young. A strange reference, from a strange field. But what does it mean?

In this context, it means that in that field, when someone becomes something of a celebrity, for one reason or another, many, if not all of the other celebs and bloggers, etc. in the field have a tendency to gang up on the new comer. If someone is succesful, the others sabotage him as they can. Flame wars and other forms of infighting are routine. The field never really gains respect, because, to one degree or another, they are off their rockers, and tear each other down.

The phrase seems to be applicable to the arena of internet companies. Or is beginning to. But your milage will vary.

Re:Eating their own young (1)

flosofl (626809) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999727)

The field never really gains respect, because, to one degree or another, they are off their rockers, and tear each other down.

Well, yeah. And the fact that there's not one single shred of evidence to back any of the "UFOlogist's" claims might have a little bearing, also.

BTW, What the hell is UFOlogy? Is that a non-field of study like crypto-zoology?

What a Bunch of Goodfells (-1, Offtopic)

mfh (56) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998345)

Henry Hill: [narrating] You know, we always called each other goodfellas. Like, you'd say to somebody: "You're gonna like this guy; he's all right -- he's on my buddy list. He's a goodfella. He's one of us." You understand? We were goodfellas, wiseguys.

RICO is scary (5, Funny)

tehpwn (896928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998362)

It's quite scary that a group named Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization is allowed to fill suit against honest companies!

Re:RICO is scary (4, Funny)

corrosive_nf (744601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998383)

I cant tell if that is sarcasm or stupidity.

Re:RICO is scary (3, Funny)

110010001000 (697113) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998431)

This is Slashdot. What do you think?

In case anyone else was wondering, RICO is the name of the act that is the basis for the lawsuit. See http://www.ricoact.com/ [ricoact.com] for more information.

Re:RICO is scary (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998446)

Around here, it's probably a combination of the two, plus hot grits.

Re:RICO is scary (1)

dustwun (662589) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998563)

Option C: Statement made by someone FACING a RICO suit.

What, Skype founders can't read slashdot too?

Re:RICO is scary (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998735)

I think it's Rosanne Rosanna Danna.

> "I can't tell if that is sarcasm or stupidity"

I can't tell that there's a difference. Most people using sarcasm in these parts of the Known Universe seem to be doing it as a means of directing attention away from their stupidity.

Re:RICO is scary (1)

mmarshall (812479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999025)

... or both.

Re:RICO is scary (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999223)

As a frequent (ab)user of sarcasm, I can tell you confidently that all sarcasm is stupid.

Re:RICO is scary (1)

bloobloo (957543) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999273)

Yeah, sure it is.

Re:RICO is scary (1)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999381)

That should be Slashdot's new motto.

Pacer (5, Insightful)

Tester (591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998381)

Can anyone with a Pacer account get the complaint full text ?

Re:Pacer (5, Insightful)

evil agent (918566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998568)

Good question. And here's another one:

Can we please stop linking to these damn blogs. Especially ones that are nearly devoid of any useful info.

RICO in a nutshell (4, Informative)

aws910 (671068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998895)

Here's your better link. From info in TFA and here [ricoact.com] , it looks like Streamcast is alleging that Skype(and others) did one(or more) of many things:

a. use an enterprise to launder money generated by a pattern of racketeering activity

b. a victim business owner cannot make payments to a loan shark; upon default, the loan shark says: "you're either going to die or you're going to give me your business." Given the threat to this life, the victim transfers control of his business to the loan shark. Usually, the victim business owner remains the owner on paper but the loan shark controls the business and receives all income from the business. Thus, the loan shark has acquired and maintained interest or control over an enterprise (i.e. the business) through a pattern of racketeering (i.e., loan sharking and extortion).

c. [Streamcast] has been injured by reason of the defendants' investment of the proceeds of racketeering activity / (1) a defendant person[Skype] (2) was employed by or associated with an enterprise (3) that engaged in or affected interstate commerce and that (4) the defendant person operated or managed the enterprise (5) through a pattern (6) of racketeering activity, and (7) the plaintiff[Streamcast] was injured in its business or property by reason of the pattern of racketeering activity.

Re:Pacer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998642)

Indeed.. I'm not even sure how Slashdot expects people to have an intelligent discussion about it, when the article is lacking any real information. So far this thread consists of the expected "RICO Suave" remarks and tangent threads.

But someones hit counter is cranking away right now, and that's what really counts.

Re:Pacer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998699)

Can anyone with a Pacer account get the complaint full text ?

It's not worth $0.08 per page for you to sign up [uscourts.gov] yourself?

Re:Pacer (1)

clydemaxwell (935315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999441)

Not even a little bit.

Looking deeper (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998426)

I read the article, but I can't understand StreamCast's involvement.
How would they have been harmed by the allegations, or what would they stand to gain from a conviction?

Far as I can tell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998673)

StreamCast is effectively filing suit for Conspiracy to Outcompete Streamcast.

I think it's kind of like the SCO suit, except instead of suing former business partners, they're suing competitors.

Hey, maybe we'll see otherwise when the complaints show up, but for now, I doubt it.

Re:Looking deeper (2, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999599)

The founders of Skype previously set up Kazaa, and ran it until they sold it to Sharman Networks.

Streamcast started life as the largest alternative Napster network. When that was shut down by the courts, they launched a rebranded version of Kazaa.

Kazaa a bit later on released a non-compatible version of their software which had the effect of kicking them off the network. Apparently they hadn't paid their bills for the use of the software, but Streamcast deny this.

They then relaunched as a spyware infested version of Gnucleus, a Gnutella client, and subsequently as some other gnutella client which now supports other p2p networks as well.

They have always denied that the advertising features in their software are spyware, but most people disagree with that.

Query... (4, Interesting)

Illbay (700081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998439)

Is it possible that SteamCast is a surrogate for a larger organization or consortium?

Re:Query... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998886)

IIRC, Zennstrom is haunted by RIAA too for creating Napster (or was it Kazaa?)

Re:Query... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998903)

Is it possible that SteamCast is a surrogate for a larger organization or consortium?

Yes. That is possible.

Is there a picture of PayPal when you look up RICO (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998440)

A picture is worth a thousand words...

No way (3, Insightful)

wkitchen (581276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998443)

From the little information the courts have released, StreamCast is claiming that the group engaged in corrupt business practices.
No way. The good folks at Skype would never engage in corrupt business practices [slashdot.org]

Re:No way (1)

mOOzilla (962027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998502)

*GASP*

Re:No way (2, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998537)

I read a great piece on that whole debacle. I think it was in Forbes.

They made that software Intel only when it didn't need to be. This was found out (much to no-one's surprise) and they looked terrible.

But did it have to be that way?

The article posited it this way. They should have made that same software, but only bundled it with Intel computers. They wouldn't offer it for download. Other people would find it and put it up for download and it would be discovered that the limit was there and it worked just fine on AMD processors when the limit was removed.

At this point, Skype could say that they made it for Intel and not the general public, and that it was Intel only becuase that was all they tested it on (after all, they made it for Intel). They could then "test it" on AMD processors and release a version that let ANYONE do the 12 person conference a week later.

By doing this, they wouldn't have looked like a bad guy, and may have earned some praise.

Instead they looked like they sold out (which they did) and earned a lot of scorn.

that's hard to believe. (1)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998560)

The idea of reading a great piece on anything in Forbes leaves me a bit suspicious. That could just be because they keep letting Dan Lyons write for them.

http://wiki.vowe.org/DanLyons [vowe.org]

Re:that's hard to believe. (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998604)

I subscribe to Forbes. It is a fantastic magazine. The writing is insightful and well written (targeted at an adult, not a 7th grade reading level). It's often very interesting, informative, and has quickly become my favorite magazine.

Every magazine seems to have someone odd working there. Don't judge the magazine based on one opinion columnist.

Re:that's hard to believe. (3, Interesting)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998852)

I stopped reading it after the old man died and it turned into a mouthpiece for Steve's celebration of unearned wealth.

If it's been turned around again into a real magazine, that would be wonderful. It would have been a shame to see a great magazine run into the ground by a giant douchebag like Steve Forbes.

BULLSHIT MODERATION (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998883)

offtopic? the hell it is...dumbass mods

Re:BULLSHIT MODERATION (1)

queef_latina (847562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999890)

Somebody call a waaaaaaaahmbulance.

Re:No way (1)

youroldbuddy (539169) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999752)

The Intel/Skype deal happened after the founders sold and left the company I think.

RICO use and abuse (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998462)

RICO was ostensibly passed to help prosecutors go after mobsters. Mafia organizations were set up so that the guys running them could avoid personal responsibility for the corrupt actiosn of the organization itself, so prosectutors ended up always going after low-level guys, which wasn't right and wasn't productive. So they got RICO which would let them bust the top guys, even if the top guys were not directly involved in the corruption. Prosecutors would just have to show that the organization itself is corrupt.

But now RICO gets used and abused for many other things. It is used to go after political groups (anti-abortion groups is one case I'm aware of). In this case it sounds like it is being used in a business dispute.

I swear, if Congress keeps on passing laws that inadvertently (or otherwise) lets law enforcement get involved in what are civil business disputes, this country will be ruined. I was talking with an attorney a while ago who said that these days anyone who is a business leader should have a crim. def. attorney retained or available. There's no way law enforcement can help achieve a fair resolution of a business dispute by getting involved in it.

------------
Contact management, calendar mangement, multiple timezones, sales automation [contempo.biz]

Well said! (3, Interesting)

bobalu (1921) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998521)

Exactly right, it was originally intended to recover $$$ salted away in mob compounds on Long Island.

Now they'll use it against kids opening a lemonade stand if they feel like it.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (4, Informative)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998551)

It is used to go after political groups (anti-abortion groups is one case I'm aware of).

I'm not sure that qualifies as abuse of the act. An organized group of people (Operation Rescue) attempting to extort legal businesses (abortion clinics) into either changing or closing entirely through threats (see what is on some of their websites), intimidation (in-your-face confrontations directly in front of clinics), and violence (bombings and beatings tacitly accepted as part of the struggle), simply because their view isn't your view (First Amendment issue of everyone, including clinics have rights to free speech and association and freedom from religion)...

Yeah, IANAL, but I'd call that a valid RICO case.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (2, Insightful)

Brian_Ellenberger (308720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998784)

I'm not sure that qualifies as abuse of the act. An organized group of people (Operation Rescue) attempting to extort legal businesses (abortion clinics) into either changing or closing entirely through threats (see what is on some of their websites), intimidation (in-your-face confrontations directly in front of clinics), and violence (bombings and beatings tacitly accepted as part of the struggle), simply because their view isn't your view (First Amendment issue of everyone, including clinics have rights to free speech and association and freedom from religion)...

1) Violence is NOT tacitly accepted. That is a complete and utter distortion. There have been many more acts of violence committed by environmental groups for their cause. Yet noone is charging Greenpeace and PETA with RICO suits. Not to mention unions, who have a history of being linked with violence and ironically the mob.
2) If in-your-face confrontations were "illegal" you would pretty much ban most union strikes as well as any other demonstration outside of a company that attempted to get a company to "change". Martin Luther King Jr would have been arrested for Racketeering.
3) Clinics have the right to free speech and association, but they don't have the right to limit others' free speech and association rights. Of course, private property rights do exist and protesters should be arrested if they violate these.
4) Threats, if real and physical should lead to arrests. REAL arrests, not RICO suits. But telling someone they are evil and going to hell for supporting abortion is not a real threat.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998813)

But telling someone they are evil and going to hell for supporting abortion is not a real threat.

Exactly.

KFG

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998896)

Actually, telling someone they are going to hell is a threat. But I am glad you don't think it is. It makes the following hypothetical statements purely academic. I hope you go to hell when you die, since you support murdering doctors. I wish for you a short life, since you support murdering women by forcing them to continue medically-unsafe pregnancies. But, please, please, don't consider any of the above a threat. It's not. Really, it's not.

Exactly.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999191)

I hope you go to hell when you die, since you support murdering doctors.

What the fuck are you talking about?

KFG

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14999666)

Exactly.

What the fuck are you talking about?

Oh, wait. We know. You were agreeing with the statement, "But telling someone they are evil and going to hell for supporting abortion is not a real threat."

Your outrage defense is blown.

But I am sure you will feign confusion again.

As in, I am confused as to why this member of our movement murdered a doctor. We were just protesting women seeking medical care. It's not like our movement advocated the murder of doctors or anything. It's not like we would let women die to satisfy our religiously held beliefs.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999689)

What the fuck are you talking about?

That hell is not a threat.

You were agreeing with the statement

Well, D'oh!

I am confused as to why this member of our movement murdered a doctor.

Well, perhaps you ought to reconsider your own membership then.

KFG

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998923)

FYI this act has been used agains fringe groups in the pro-life movement that attempt to close clinics through inimidation of their patients. usually they can prove that a group is organizing a blockade of the clinic doors. this is illegal. they are not going after protesters, rather people who think that their rights to free speech include barring enterence to a health provider. if this is your idea of acceptable protest, that is messed up.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14999231)

Violence is NOT tacitly accepted. That is a complete and utter distortion.

That's funny, you don't see these groups outing the people who blew up abortion clinics in the past do you? We've got a Planned Parenthood near here that had two bullets put in its front window a couple of years back, never solved.

Oh, but you don't advocate violence. Just like all those Muslims that sat around mumbling something about "what a shame" while hundreds of thousands of their believers rioted.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998864)

I'm not sure finding people guilty by whom they choose to associate with is legal.

Last time I checked, it unconstitutional to prohibit people from peacably assembling.

With this RICO act, you could be procecuted simply by showing up at a meeting and being seen by an FBI agent who is now allowed to monitor the proceedings without a warrant (also unconstitutional).

Isn't it funny how these things compound? The government makes booze illegal, a black market forms, then they have to make further laws to combat the new problems they just created. In the end, we might have been better off not having any laws on the subject in the first place. One of those great economists (probably Freedman) once said that Statism and Libertarianism work, but any step towards statism will lead to total statism, simply because anything in between doesn't work.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999281)

"Last time I checked, it unconstitutional to prohibit people from peacably assembling."

Conspiring to kill somebody doesn't strike me as "peacable."

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (2, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998930)

I'm not sure that qualifies as abuse of the act. An organized group of people (Operation Rescue) attempting to extort legal businesses (abortion clinics) into either changing or closing entirely through threats (see what is on some of their websites), intimidation (in-your-face confrontations directly in front of clinics), and violence (bombings and beatings tacitly accepted as part of the struggle)

A good way to determine if your argument is logically sound is to replace the subject with something you personally feel differently about. Let's try that, switching anti-abortion with, say, environmentalism:

"I'm not sure that qualifies as abuse of the act. An organized group of people (Greenpeace) attempting to extort legal businesses (oil companies) into either changing or closing entirely through threats (see what is on some of their websites), intimidation (in-your-face confrontations directly in front of oil refineries), and violence (bombings and beatings tacitly accepted as part of the struggle),"

Or entertainment:

"I'm not sure that qualifies as abuse of the act. An organized group of people (slashdot) attempting to extort legal businesses (record companies) into either changing or closing entirely through threats (see what is on some of their websites), intimidation (in-your-face confrontations directly in front of court houses), and violence (bombings and beatings tacitly accepted as part of the struggle),"

Aside from the violence bit in the latter, I'd say this fails the test pretty miserably.

simply because their view isn't your view (First Amendment issue of everyone, including clinics have rights to free speech and association and freedom from religion)...

Companies, including clinics, don't have First Amendment rights (aside from a limited subset given to "artificial persons"). One cannot on the one hand declare that corporations are evil and aren't entitled to any of the protections provided to people, then on the other hand claim a company's rights exceed individuals' rights when you happen to disagree with the individuals protesting. "I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it" means what it says. Once you start picking and choosing who qualifies for those rights, you're no longer operating on priciple, you're operating on political opinion.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not - Wrong is Wrong!!! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999183)

good way to determine if your argument is logically sound is to replace the subject with something you personally feel differently about. Let's try that, switching anti-abortion with, say, environmentalism:

Guess what? You're wrong!

If Greenpeace is supporting ELF (Earth Liberation Front, a designated terrorist group), or their illegal tactics, with money, or even silence where they know of the lawbreakers, send them to jail!

If PETA is funding the ALF (Animal Liberation Front, also a terrorist group), take away their tax exemption and send them to the same jail cell as Greenpeace. Just don't stop their campaign of beautiful models and actresses proclaiming I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur from getting up close and personal with my face.

And if Slashdot readers are funding and protecting people bombing the lawyer's offices who are conducting the RIAA's Sue 'Em All campaign against P2P file sharers (as much as they may deserve it), you won't have my support when they're arrested. Maybe they can share a jail cell with the beautiful models and actresses from PETA.

I am not a hypocrite in my views, as apparently you are to have made such a post in the first place. If it's wrong, then it's wrong no matter who is doing it.

The right way is the ballot box. That's how we make changes in society. And just because we have voters dumb enough to inflict Ted Kennedy on the rest of us over and over again, only means that we, the voters, need to get smarter about all this.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not - Wrong is Wrong!!! (3, Interesting)

kthejoker (931838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999315)

To add to this, RICO is designed to go after organizations that have IRS filings, be they corporate or NPO. So the users of Slashdot would not constitute a RICO act, because we are merely a loose affiliation of (possible) confederates. And since Slashdot site owners are pretty much hands-off on any sort of endorsements of activity on the site, they will never be charged with RICO for encouraging piracy or civil disobedience or what have you.

If the PETA officially sanctioned or condoned civil disobedience (or outright wanton criminal activity), they would be charged under the RICO. But the official front of PETA is very much just "don't you feel sorry for the animals?", and rarely extends into the "do something about it" beyond "stop buying the following companies' products." They never suggest that illegal activities which result in increased animal freedom or animal rights are a good thing. They never applaud ALF (officially and publicly), because to do so would constitute a RICO violation.

Whereas Operation Rescue actively promotes civil disobedience and the illegal protests of abortion clinics (and uses funds to do so, in the form of printing literature and maintaining websites), so they are a RICO violator. End of discussion.

Skype would have to do the same thing under an official front. There would have to be evidence that the corporate officers - acting as such (and not as rogue agents) - encouraged some illegal activity and that Skype, directly or indirectly, provided the money to do so through corporate channels, and that this activity directly hurts StreamCast's business ventures.

My guess here is that Skype will be able to demonstate enough plausible deniability to avoid a RICO conviction. With most criminal RICO stuff, the money trails and the linking evidence (phone calls, emails, meetings) are all recorded and filed under valid search warrants, and the cases are usually very clear-cut before they go to trial. With civil RICO, you are essentially accusing first based on gut instinct (and perhaps you "know" that they did it, but you don't know the gory details), and then attempting through legal discovery to prove it. Which, needless to say, is hard to do.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (1)

bigpicture (939772) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999289)

I don't think that any of this is about free speech. In a ideal world businesses would financially compete for market share in a fair market environment. If something upsets that balance such as a monopoly, that can in some way because of market position, extort money from others, or otherwise tilt the playing field, in real terms how different is this from kidnapping and blackmail. It does not have to be overt in appearance, it can be covert in appearance, but the result is the same.

Is the purpose of a corporation to (1) make money for the shareholders, or to (2) produce high quality competitively prices goods and services in the consumer marketplace? No. (2) is the only real benefit to the world at large. But don't you think that if corporations could achieve No. (1) without having to make the effort for No. (2), that they would not do that.

It is about time someone woke up to this reality, even so called patents are just legal license to extort and blackmail, and if they make patents "first to file" instead of "first to invent" like it is now, then they have upped the extort capability by disabling challenge under "prior art". Maybe RICO is supposed to stop some of this madness.

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999683)

Not to defend the actions of OR, but terminating a pregnancy is hardly speech. It is most definately an act, and while I support a woman's right to choose, spouting off about "freedom of speech, freedom from religion" is just as tasteless and misguided as picketing a clinic. Just different shades of BS...

Re:RICO use and abuse - Or Not (1, Insightful)

tomcres (925786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999816)

IANAL, but the last time I checked, the First Amendment guaranteed freedom OF religion, not FROM. The First Amendment was not passed to guarantee atheists freedom from religion entering the public sphere, but rather in the milieu of Revolutionary America, where Baptists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Catholics, etc., each had a large degree to do with the founding of many of the 13 Colonies (Rhode Island, for instance, being founded to escape persecution of Baptists in the Congregationalist Massachusetts colony, which itself was founded by those fleeing persecution in England), that one's religious affiliation could not be used to deny one's civil rights. Furthermore, since each state had a state church, it would guarantee that Congress would not favor one over the other, which would give certain states undue influence over others. It had nothing to do with suppressing religious speech or public display or exercise of religion. The intent was quite the opposite. In fact, before the Civil War, the Supreme Court did not get involved in religious exercise matters and let state laws prevail. It wasn't until after the War, when the judiciary took on a more activist and legislative role for itself, that this started to change. The Constitution is meaningless today thanks to the Supreme Court justices who over the last century have reinterpreted every single word to the point where it just does not have the same meaning as it did in the late 18th century.

Re:RICO use and abuse (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998602)

But now RICO gets used and abused for many other things. It is used to go after political groups (anti-abortion groups is one case I'm aware of). In this case it sounds like it is being used in a business dispute.

I swear, if Congress keeps on passing laws that inadvertently (or otherwise) lets law enforcement get involved in what are civil business disputes, this country will be ruined.

So you think bombing and the shooting of people who work in abortion clinics are just civil business disputes? Encouragement of those activities is by anti-abortion groups on their websites etc, are definitely valid RICO cases.

Re:RICO use and abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998626)

...this country will be ruined. I was talking with an attorney a while ago who said that these days anyone who is a business leader should have a crim. def. attorney retained or available...

While I understand your point, it MIGHT have more to do with corrupt business practices because "that's what you have to do in business" is a widely held view.

Re:RICO use and abuse (2, Insightful)

aminorex (141494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998748)

> If...this country will be ruined.

You keep using that subjunctive mood. I do not think it means what you think it does. That horse already left the barn.

Re:RICO use and abuse (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999217)

It certainly doesn't mean what you think it means, since that sentence doesn't use a subjunctive verb. If you want to play grammar nazi, you could insist that the statement is semanticly subjunctive, and that it's a grammatical error not to use a subjunctive verb (if congress continues -> if congress were to continue). Except that's absurdly unidiomatic, like most grammar nazi rules.

High school English technicalities aside, the author is simply making a statement about the future consequence of current actions. Grammatically correct or not, his intent is quite clear. If you don't have a counterargument (I'd suggest one of your patent conspiracy theories), you're not helping things with grammatical nitpicking that most people don't care about and isn't correct in the first place.

Re:RICO use and abuse (1, Insightful)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998858)

RICO used against people who aren't the mafia? I am shocked, shocked! Next you'll be telling me that they use the PATRIOT act against people who aren't terrorists!

Re:RICO use and abuse (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999306)

Do they have to be gangsters to be a mafia? In this day and age, with the 'practices' of corporations and such, I'd well imagine quite a few companies count as Mafia. For an Example - Cricket Communications. (Yanno, those 'leave your home phone in your pocket' guys that give you unlimited local and text mesaging that sucks.) They're charging you five dollars to walk into their stores/authorized service dealers to pay your bill with CASH. That's a disadvantage of 'no service contracts.' Basically, they're trying to force you into opening a bank account or to obtain a credit card to pay your bill. Oh, and also, nowdays, companies are moving to the business model of chargng you for sending you a paper bill. Hrm, that doesn't sound right to me. You're charging me money for sending me a basic written receipt telling me what I owe you on services you rendered to me? I don't fucking think so.

Sorry, I'm ranting. See, shit like this pisses me off. And the problem is nobody else will stand up to companies like this, thus giving the companies more incentive to abuse us. I swear, if Slashdot could effectively organize in every state, we'd possibly have a better country. The only thing I'd ask for, is for us to PLEASE EXPLAIN IN PLAIN ENGLISH to Joe Sixpack why this/that is good/bad. We all know that not everyone is as technically knowledgable as we are. C'mon, guys. Nearly a million of us, all from assorted (yet intrinsically related) fields, could educate or at the very least inform the public. I'm sure most of us know at least 15-20 people that nobody else in our web knows. We could inform/educate these people, and have them spread the word about good/bad things. Remember, people, word of mouth is very powerful if you do it the right way. 1 million people educating 15-20 others per person in our collective = 1,500-2,000% boost in knowledgable people (no guarantees on how well those people grasp the concepts or ideals or facts, that's a different variable in the statistic I'm creating) that can have an effect on our system. And if they can teach others as well, we can expect that boost to substantially increase. I'd think it would only take a few years for word of mouth to hit every American and open up those closed minds.

Damn, I'm running off at the mouth here. Okay, enough. Sorry, guys.

Re:RICO use and abuse (1)

karuna (187401) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999452)

Cricket Communications is nothing like Mafia. Who cannot open a bank account nowadays? I see the ads everywhere (in Spanish) that even illegal immigrants with only a foreign id can get a free checking account with zero balance and no monthly fees whatsoever. If you get paid under the table and do not pay taxes then you have a reason to avoid banks.

As for paper bills these things cost money and ultimately the costs are put on customers anyway. Since I don't need any piece of paper to pay my bill as I can pay it on the web and I would prefer not to subsidize those who are still stuck with the old way of doing things if it means that I can save money in this way.

I actually had a Cricket phone for a few months but then I had to move and there was no service at the new place. I simply called Cricket and canceled the service without any penalty whereas with any other cell phone contract I would had to pay at least $200 penalty for prematurely breaking the contract.

Re:RICO use and abuse (1)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998888)

I was talking with an attorney a while ago who said that these days anyone who is a business leader should have a crim. def. attorney retained or available.
a lawyer that thinks that everyone should have a lawyer. does this guy have a name or can we just call him John Q Lawyer?

Re:RICO use and abuse (1)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999894)

RICO is a free spin on the triple-your-reward wheel. It's almost irresponsible for a lawyer to fail to include RICO in a complaint if it is possible to meet the conditions (interstate trade / multiple people / continuing pattern of activity) and leave it to the court to turn down the triple reward.

Given the business (interstate phone calls) there's your first hint. "Enterprize" is a slam dunk, and continuing enterprise is self-evident. The trick is to prove unlawful activity - which has yet to be explained.

AIK

Rico? (3, Funny)

sootman (158191) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998542)

Suave!

Only Skype? (3, Interesting)

anonymous22 (826938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998569)

This is interesting. Also listed as defendants are other companies that seem to have nothing to do with each other, ie Kazaa, Brilliant Digital Entertainment, etc. Anyone?

Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998897)

TFA seems to lack anything that would give us hints about the reason towards this... so I can only speculate... but I remember back when the FastTrack p2p network was invented, and then licensed to KaZaA, Morpheus and Grokster. You may recall that all three programs had the exact same UI and functionality for a while, and only the ads and splash screen were different. I think the Skype founders had something to do with the preliminary invention of FastTrack, but not necessarily the spyware that became KaZaA (they got out before that point).

There were headlines a while back, though, about how Morpheus got kicked off FastTrack somehow, for apparently no good reason (guess: they were getting more popular than KaZaA) and they were bitter about it. Maybe they still are, and that's what this is about.

Re:Only Skype? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14999657)

Kazaa = Kazaa. BDE = Altnet, which piggy-backed onto Kazaa. Skype = people who were involved in Kazaa at one point.

Morpheus is still around? (1)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998798)

What is it now? Still pretty much a branding of Gnucleus, or something else? Do they really not have spyware? And I liked them better when they just ran their Music City servers. Or even the spyware-less Kazaa.

Incase you are new here..... (-1, Troll)

Heembo (916647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998855)

Scype = GOOD and JUST (until they get big like Google, then they are evil)

RICO (or anyone bashing anti-extablishment small tech companies or anyone bashing LINUX in any way) = evil, unless scype gets too big, then its ok

BASHING LINUX = always gets your modded down and you will go right to hell if you are Catholic!

What on earth are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14999527)

I don't see anyone here trashing skype except you.

I also don't see anyone being moderated down for bashing anything, but I do see you, who are being moderated up for bashing slashdot.

Funny how that works.

Re:What on earth are you talking about? (1)

Heembo (916647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999539)

Oh get over yourself, I was just kidding around. Its funny I got modded as "interesting" and not the "funny" I was aiming for.

Re:Incase you are new here..... (1)

tomcres (925786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999840)

BASHING LINUX = always gets your modded down and you will go right to hell if you are Catholic!

actually, Linux isn't as untouchable as it used to be on ./ These days, you're more likely to get modded to minus 3e45 if you dare speak something unfavorable about Apple. I watched my karma go straight from Excellent to the shitter in one week that happened to have more Apple stories than usual. The RDF is taking on a life of its own. Be careful!

Well, DUH! Skype is slang for steal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14998862)



Well, DUH! Skype is slang for steal. Being commies, that's something entirely related.

Racketeering? Extorsion? (1, Funny)

joeme1 (959209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14998898)

Is that like when you drop loved ones off or pick them up at the airport and have to go inside the building for about half an hour? You CAN'T park in front of the airport, you are FORCED to park in their lot at high $/minute rates. See, even the government is involved in this dispicable practice. I gues I could just kick my wife out the door of the car and keep rolling...

Re:Racketeering? Extorsion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14999000)

Or stop at the front of the terminal... and let her out? Wife beater.

I-K-RICO (2, Insightful)

lohphat (521572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999036)

What's the point of the RICO statutes if it's randomly enforced?

The Catholic Church knowingly traffiked paedophiles interstate and internationally. Why wasn't it invoked then?

Re:I-K-RICO (2, Informative)

SierraPete (834755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999692)

It has been tried [catholicleague.org] as far back as 2002 with little to no success. The US Federal Courts set a very high standard when it comes to tagging an organization with RICO. Even the mob managed to get out from under a prosecution or two because it did not met the strict standard. Likely, neither will this but it gets the issue/complaint out into the media and the publicity/attention is what the plaintiffs are looking for.

Re:I-K-RICO (2, Informative)

tomcres (925786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999884)

Because administratively, these matters do not rise above the diocesan level. It comes down to either bad bishops or otherwise good bishops making bad decisions. There has been a lot of hysteria about this. The real facts are that there are only a handful of cases, it's not rampant as the media would have you believe. And secondly, almost all of the cases involved teenage boys, which seems to point not to pedophilia, but to homosexual attraction. Proactively preventing homosexuals from entering the seminaries will go a long way towards abating this. I personally know a priest who was defrocked and served jail time for a relationship he had with a 14-year old boy. In his case, he was involved in a relationship with the principal of his Catholic high school. He was going to be a priest, and he was told by this other priest that this is what priests do and that it was alright. When he went through seminary, there were many homosexuals, who kept things on the DL, so to speak, but it was known what was happening, and simply ignored. He understands that this was poor judgment to get involved with this boy, and he knew it was wrong, but he was conditioned to such an environment that encouraged these kinds of things.

The anti-Catholics want to have it both ways. They either label it pedophilia, when it clearly is not. These priests have been targeting teenagers, not little boys, and almost never girls. Or they do acknowledge that homosexuality is to blame, but they attribute it to celibacy and the Church's dogma against homosexual behavior and denounce the Church for not allowing priests to marry or live a homosexual lifestyle.

The enemies of the Church will spin this a million ways to try to attack it or make it conform to what they envision. The reality is, that far more children are at risk by their own families and teachers than by their parish priest. The hysteria concerning the supposed "pedophilia epidemic" is just an orchestrated attack on the Church and its steadfastness in holding to 2000+ years of Gospel teaching without flinching in the face of a sinful and disgusting world.

correction (1)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999198)

morpheus isn't a "technology", it's a crappy adware app.

Oblig. Gangster Quote (2, Funny)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999512)

Mother of God, is this the end of Rico?

Skype, Etc...Not American (1)

mlauzon (818714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999651)

I've read through all the previous posts, but have yet to see anyone ask this!

How is it an American company can try and sue a companies using an _American law_ when most -- if not all of those companies -- are not in the US..?!

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