×

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!

RIAA Mischaracterizes Letter Received From AOL

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the guilty-until-proven-innocent dept.

287

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Elektra v. Schwartz, an RIAA case against a Queens woman with Multiple Sclerosis who indicates that she had never even heard of file sharing until the RIAA came knocking on her door, the judge held that Ms. Schwartz's summary judgment request for dismissal was premature because the RIAA said it had a letter from AOL 'confirm[ing] that defendant owned an internet access account through which copyrighted sound recordings were downloaded and distributed.' When her lawyers got a copy of the actual AOL letter they saw that it had no such statement in it, and asked the judge to reconsider."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

287 comments

Nothing to see here, please move along (2, Funny)

Lordpidey (942444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156128)

Hey, I got a link directly to what AOL's letter said, Thanks editors, its more convenient than ever!

Re:Nothing to see here, please move along (0)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157082)

You're welcome.

Re:Nothing to see here, please move along (4, Interesting)

muszek (882567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157378)

NewYorkCountryLawyer:

I'm not anywhere near knowing the law well (let alone U.S. law), but isn't there anything bad that can happen to RIAA for what they're doing? I'm speaking about something more than just losing a case. There were dozens of stories describing they're practices... I know that sueing someone every other Tuesday is your national tradition, but there have got to be some ways of scareing those bastards away.

Re:Nothing to see here, please move along (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157564)

I don't agree that suing someone every other Tuesday is our national tradition.

I do think that the rule of law is our crown jewel, and is the bedrock of our democracy, and that in our common law system the law evolves in part through judicial decisionmaking. Respect for law, to my mind, suggests that we should respect the courts, and not litter them with frivolous litigation as the RIAA has done.

I am hopeful that the judges will take action against these bullies.

Keep an eye on Capitol v. Foster [riaalawsuits.us], where the judge has the opportunity to hit them with a big attorneys fee award, and Elektra v. Barker [riaalawsuits.us], where the judge is considering whether the RIAA even has a sufficient claim to warrant filing a lawsuit.

Sure, the **AA are evil... (4, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156138)

...but what in god's name does the defendant having MS have to do with anything? Granies, children, the infirm...c'mon. Leave the heart-string pulling crap out next time.

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (4, Funny)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156302)

This wouldn't be slashdot without the MS-bashing, would it? :-)

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17157366)

He said MS, not M$. Or in other words, Mark Shuttleworth, not Microsoft.

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (4, Funny)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156318)

..but what in god's name does the defendant having MS have to do with anything? Granies, children, the infirm...c'mon. Leave the heart-string pulling crap out next time.

Don't you see what the submitter is trying to say? She has a dreadful disease, therefore she can't possibly be guilty! Get with the program, dude!

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (5, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156366)

While we all in fact know that the MS is a defence play for pity and is honestly underhanded as it really has no bearing on the case, what the RIAA did is perjury. They lied about the letter flat out. Not only should the case be tossed, but the lawyer that lied should be dis-barred &&|| the non-lawyer that lied should be fined & jailed for 20 days.

Sadly, this will not happen.
-nB

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (2, Informative)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156516)

I don't know that what they did is perjury. The trial hasn't even started yet. The plaintiff's were trying to show that they meet the prima facia elements of thier case in order to continue to trial after the defendant's motion for summary judgement. Of course this doesn't mean that the plaintiff's attorney's shouldn't be beat with a hose though.

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156598)

Dude, "&&||"? || already works as what most people would think of as "and/or". ^ is exclusive or (XOR) and it's what most people think of as "or" (one or the other but not both).

Of course, || is a short-circuit operator. It will try the first condition, and if it succeeds, immediately result in true, since no matter the result of the second condition the result will be true. You probably wanted "|" which will try both and return true if one or both operands succeed.

If you're going to geek out and try "&&||" get the semantics right. :-P

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (3, Funny)

Procyon101 (61366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157038)

You know you're screwed up if you've ever used xor in a casual sentence without thinking about it as I have, as in "would you like cake exclusive or pie?".

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (5, Funny)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157276)

My spouse is chronically mis-construing what I say since I say what I mean in boolian logic.
if this not that
this and that
she now understands.

neuron's start popping when I go or, xor, xnor, and to some extent nand.
The problem is that in "plain 'ol english" the word or is often interpreted as xor. Really a parser error. Anyone got the wife.parser.1.1b patch?
-nB

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (4, Informative)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156994)

"[MS] really has no bearing on the case".
(IANAMD,BIRW [I am not a medical doctor, but I read wikipedia])

Actually, it sort of does. When you have MS, you can have "relapses" or "attacks" that increase the severity of your disability. These can be triggered by disease (colds, influenza, etc), or stressful events.

Needless to say, having to go through the ordeal of a trial may cause her disease to get worse. So it sort of does have an inhumane quality if she really did pirate music. Even so: couple thousand dollars, or potentially make the person you're suing degenerate further into a permanent and debilitating disease... sort of calls their morals into question, eh?

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (1, Informative)

stox (131684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157358)

MS can cause cognitive impairment. As I heard from someone with MS, "time is brain." Not only does control of the body go, but so can the senses and cognitive function.

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (5, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157388)

"sort of calls their morals into question, eh?"

No. There was never any question as to the state of the RIAA's morals.

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17157612)

what the RIAA did is perjury.

No it isn't. Perjury has to be under oath. This was not under oath.

Nor was it false. But I'd have to teach you English in addition to the law for you to figure that out.

And I'm not about to even try.

Is it any worse? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156720)

The RIAA is claiming this lady is putting musicians out of work and wrecking the entire economy (which is irrelevant), so the lady brings up equally irrelevant stuff (I have MS).

I'm not sure why the RIAA gets a pass on their outrageous claims of looking out for musicians...that's a complete fabrication since the RIAA does not work for recording artists, they work for recording distribution companies. But a lady with MS is pounded on?

But I do expect that corporations and officers of the court to tell the truth in a statement to the judge. The lady didn't lie when she had MS, but the RIAA lied when it said it had a special letter from AOL. And your concern is for the fact that the lady brings up MS? Maybe you want to tear into Michael J Fox, too?

I mean, separate the BS from the facts. Here they are as I read them:

RIAA: Hey lady, you committed copyright infringment
Lady: No I didn't, I don't even hook up to the internet the way you claim. Your honor, please throw this out
RIAA: Your honor, we have the actual proof from AOL
Judge: In that case, no.
Lady: Let me see the letter.
RIAA: Uh... here?
Lady: It doesn't say anything about me. In fact, it keeps mentioning something about a Wookie on Endor. What does that mean?

Ignore the MS part. This is what we have. If the judge threw the lawyer in jail for a week and sanctioned him, along with a few RIAA execs every time they lied, I suspect this kind of behavior would stop in about 20 seconds.

Re:Is it any worse? (1)

dch24 (904899) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156978)

Oh man, and now I had to go and read the letter just to see if it mentioned Chewie!

Han shot first.

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (4, Interesting)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156336)

Definitely. The only problem is that the RIAA and MPAA have been using the "think of the artists" line as their reason for prosecuting. When people think about millions of songs being downloaded without compensation to the artists, a lot of people feel sorry for the artists. When those same people think about a woman with MS being sued by an organization with an almost endless supply of money and lawyers, they start to feel bad for the woman. If the RIAA/MPAA had started this campaign as "downloading songs is illegal and we will sue anyone who does so, regardless of age, sex, or race" then this wouldn't be an issue. (And it's not like this argument is my idea, I've read it in dozens of other slashdots posts about this subject, and agree.)

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156352)

I think the "heart-string pulling crap" serves to show that the RIAA is willing to sue anybody at all, regardless of whether there is reason. This specific incident shows a new tactic in the RIAA campaign to extort money from the public at large, ie. blatantly lying about the presence of evidence, SCO style. What is worse, the tactic worked well enough to fool the judge into dismissing a motion by the defendant.

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156856)

Well, actually age, gender and illness does count. In Canada for example, women and children have special rights and there is universal medicare - the state has a duty to protect the young, the old and the infirm. Even in the harsh US of A, there is Social Security, Child Welfare programs, Food Stamps and so on. Therefore, although it isn't enshrined in a Bill of Rights, these rights do exist in the USA too and the judge has to take it into consideration.

Re:Sure, the **AA are evil... (1)

robbiedo (553308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157546)

But... Wouldn't you think if you were plotting legal strategy for th RIAA. Wouldn't you vet the cases properly to avoid the potential for embarrassment and bad publicity, and prosecute the most egregious cases with the most unlikable characters being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law? They certainly have the ability to selectively prosecute.

What can I say... (5, Interesting)

Ekhymosis (949557) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156160)

That hasn't already been said about the dirty tactics that the RIAA is using. If they said that the AOL letter said something and then the defendant's lawyers who received a copy said it didn't, wouldn't that be called 'lying'? And if this so called 'lying' thing is not allowed in courts, how will this play out?


Probably with the judge ruling in favor of RIAA since they most likely have the government in their pocket anyways. =(

Re:What can I say... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156380)

It's not called 'lying' ... it's called 'pretexting' ... corporations don't lie - they 'pretext'.

Re:What can I say... (1)

reddog093 (986138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156512)

I think that this should serve as an example to penalize the RIAA for its witch-hunt. Yes..they have a job to do, but there are countless examples on their dirty tactics and how they instantly label people as guilty before due process. Maybe someone should step 'em down a notch.. http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/28/15 49242 [slashdot.org] http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/27/19 12204 [slashdot.org] http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/09/24/07 48230 [slashdot.org] http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/08/13/21 54228 [slashdot.org] http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/04/05/14 21254 [slashdot.org] http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/02/03/03 13250 [slashdot.org] It's a f*cked up Crusade...

Re:What can I say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156712)

Probably with the judge ruling in favor of RIAA since they most likely have the government in their pocket anyways. =(

Or quietly own, or knows someone who does - SNY or other RIAA backers stock.

Can we leave appeal to emotion at the door ? (-1, Redundant)

jfclavette (961511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156166)

I don't think the fact that the accusee (has multiple sclerosis/is a single mom/is vegetarian/worships the FSM) is relevent to the discussion.

Re:Can we leave appeal to emotion at the door ? (5, Insightful)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156376)

I believe it is relevant and I'll explain why. The RIAA's interest in this case is not the rewarding of compensation for any damages they have suffered - their interest is in representing to the public (not the courts) that 1) copyright infringement is the same as theft 2) if you steal from them they will come after you and 3) when they come after you you'll not like it at all. The RIAA hopes that after enough of these lawsuits no one will bother with downloading their material because of fear of personally devastating law suits. If this is the case (and I've got to say that I have made AT LEAST one error before in my life) then the RIAA is clearly involved in a public relations campaign - the outcome of individual cases themselves is of little concern. Considering all this, if you find yourself opposed to the RIAA tactics and current IP law in general it would behoove you to make the RIAA out to be a bunch of heartless villains who prey on the disabled. The more terrible they seem the more ground they loose in the PR realm and the more likely they are to protect their IP in a manner more condusive to everyone's long term benefit (e.g. a new business model not so hampered by DRM).

Re:Can we leave appeal to emotion at the door ? (1)

Brill (691333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156714)

I think it's also relevant because MS would hamper her computer use. ... unless she's some sort of pr0n loving granny

Re:Can we leave appeal to emotion at the door ? (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157216)

The more terrible they seem the more ground they loose in the PR realm and the more likely they are to protect their IP in a manner more condusive to everyone's long term benefit (e.g. a new business model not so hampered by DRM).

It's the other way around. The more terrible they seem the more ground they gain in the PR realm (actually, fear campaign) thereby making it less likely that they will ever protect their IP in anything resembling a reasonable manner. This isn't about justice, it's not about protecting any goddamn artists (who, frankly need protection from that hideous collection of oligopolistic blood-sucking corporations known as "the music studios" much more than they need to be saved from the horrors of copyright infringement via P2P.) To the contrary, it is all about scaring people into a pattern of behavior (i.e., fear-stricken regarding P2P) more conducive to the RIAA's ultimate goal of world domination, er, I mean, regaining total control of media distribution.

Re:Can we leave appeal to emotion at the door ? (3, Insightful)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157382)

I disagree. Currently the RIAA activities are pretty much underground. Flip on FOX, CNN, or any of the talking-head shows or even the nightly news. Not a lot is mentioned of things like this. But I think all it will take is a slow week in the news. Imagine a day when Congress is out of session (like next week sometime) and perhaps a day when nothing terrible has happened domestically. Then, imagine you are a producer for one of the above networks and you come across this sad story of the RIAA suing a woman with MS. It would be a perfect segment, interview her, try and get an interview with the RIAA (I bet they will "decline to comment on current litigation"), and even bring up the statements of the record exec. whose son downloaded copyrighted music, whereupon the record exec. had a "stern talking" to him. Then, perhaps 60 Minutes or Dateline (both terrible news outlets by the way) will pick up the story. Then, in a matter of a week, the RIAA's tactics of behavior modification (which you mention above) will backfire. The results of their litigation will go from striking fear into the hearts of possible consumers to inciting anger and indignation into the hearts of same possible consumers.

Re:Can we leave appeal to emotion at the door ? (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157516)

"it's not about protecting any goddamn artists"

Which is exactly right. Why doesn't the press ever point out that the RIAA does not represent the artist? It represents the people who distribute music, i.e. the middleman.

BMI & ASCAP actually represents songwriters and composers (i.e. artists), and while I don't agree completely with their full agenda, so far they have managed to not sue music fans.

Perhaps the RIAA is suing fans because they've already sucked the artist dry? Who knows.

Re:Can we leave appeal to emotion at the door ? (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156466)

I'll agree with you the minute the RIAA and MPAA stop playing the starving artist card.

lying in court? (4, Interesting)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156176)

the RIAA said it had a letter from AOL 'confirm[ing] that defendant owned an internet access account through which copyrighted sound recordings were downloaded and distributed.' When her lawyers got a copy of the actual AOL letter they saw that it had no such statement in it

Is there a reason they don't hold lawyers accountable for stuff like this under penalties similar to perjury? If not, why the hell not?

Re:lying in court? (1)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156462)

There are rule 11 sanctions, but I don't really know if they're applicable in this instance. Any lawyers know?

Re:lying in court? (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156898)

IANAL, but my lawyer told me that everyone lies in court, so there's not much case for pursuing purjery. At the same time though, your lawyer should not make shit up at all on your behalf or otherwise.

Re:lying in court? (2, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156694)

Look at the former profession of most of those who make our laws. That will answer your question.

Re:lying in court? (1)

davecarlotub (835831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157422)

From TFA:

[...] the RIAA said it had a letter from AOL 'confirm[ing] that defendant owned an internet access account through which copyrighted sound recordings were downloaded and distributed.'


I hate hate hate the RIAA. I hope they die. BUT this sounds to me like they are saying they have a letter from AOL saying that the accused had an account corresponding to the IP address they claim downloaded and uploaded the files in question. I read the AOL letter, which is nothing but a list of IP addresses and the corresponding account holders (of which all were redacted except the party in question). They are just saying she was the account holder of the IP address that they probably have in some screenshots.

uhoh (1)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156208)

uh-oh...all the personal information in the letter is "redacted", except for one line with (presumably) the defendant's name and address...looks like major privacy breach for Ms. Schwartz.

Re:uhoh (3, Informative)

Baricom (763970) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156484)

My initial interpretation to that was that all the other IPs were not Ms. Schwartz. Wouldn't this put even more doubt as to the credibility of the RIAA's supposed evidence?

Re:uhoh (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156590)

I think the intent here was that there are two cells in this table: the left cell, and the right cell. The left cell contains the date/time/ip address, and the right cell contains the user. It's a bad format for such a long list of dates/times/ip addresses, but it works. Like so: (pardon my ascii diagram)

item 1 belongs to: |\
item 2 belongs to: |-\
item 3 belongs to: |--}Bob Bobson
item 4 belongs to: |-/
item 5 belongs to: |/

Re:uhoh (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156704)

Hmm...perhaps disregard my comment above. It makes sense that the information irrelevant to the case would have been redacted before releasing the document into the wild. Either way, the whole damn thing is flimsy. :)

Grab gun... shoot foot. (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156218)

Nothing to see here... just another story about the RIAA shooting itself in the foot. I just hope that someday the general public gives a shit about who they get their entertainment from, and gets something done about this BS that the RIAA keeps pulling without any oversight from the government or condemnation from the public (except for those of us who are in the 'know').

Re:Grab gun... shoot foot. (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156956)

Couldn't agree more. I'd love to see some other company like wal-mart try to sue some chick with MS for stealing some CD's. And yes I do beleive the defendants state of health does matter primarily because a medical condition will interfere with your ability to defend yourself in court. That and the fact that I have never seen "RIAA sues white middle-class male with decent legal defense".

Ms Schwartz needs... (4, Funny)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156272)

Ms. Schwartz needs a stern talking to [wired.com].

So funny (1)

weatherguy48 (757755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156398)

It's just so amusing to watch. The RIAA is fighting an uphill battle from hell. Randomly picking people out and suing them? Sheer sign of desperation and a scare tactic that really doesn't work. It's always 'Noble' to fight the losing battle while never losing hope, but it can become very stupid... Take the Titanic. The ship's band played until the liner was so far into the water that they could no longer play. That was noble. However, the RIAA is not really proving anything by what they've done. While I admire their persistence, I also can't help but laugh.

I don't get it... (4, Insightful)

Krater76 (810350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156296)

IANAL but frankly I don't see the 'mischaracterizes' part of this whole story. From what I can tell, AOL matched one or more IPs directly to the defendant - name, street address, state and ZIP. If they didn't have an account with AOL how did they know that information?

Looks like the RIAA has probable cause to continue litigation because AOL did in fact correlate an IP that downloaded the music to the defendant. It doesn't prove anything but the RIAA still should have the right to continue with the lititgation, as much as it pains me to say it.

Maybe I'm just not seeing the problem here. Maybe I need someone to clear it up or just put on the 'Evil RIAA' blinders that I guess I'm supposed to wear when reading slashdot.

Mischaracterization (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156400)

I think the mischaracterization comes from RIAA's claim that AOL's letter shows that the defendant not only had an account with AOL, but was downloading copyrighted information with it. The letter shows only the first part - the second part is a separate claim by the RIAA.

Re:Mischaracterization (1, Insightful)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156602)

I think this is, at best, word play semantics. I'm completely on the defendants side, feeling the RIAA shouldn't be suing people, but this is just ridiculous nit picking.

Let's do this:

"RIAA said it had a letter from AOL 'confirm[ing] that defendant owned an internet access account[,] through which copyrighted sound recordings were downloaded and distributed.' "

The simple addition of a comma changes the meaning. The letter confirms the defendant owned an access account, and the RIAA claims they can prove that access acount downloaded copyrighted sound recordings. Not that AOL confirmed that the account downloaded copyrighted sounds and recordings.

This is trying to use word semantics for it's argument, which I don't really condone either. I think the judge will see through this.

Re:Mischaracterization (2, Insightful)

Skippy_kangaroo (850507) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156864)

It's more than the placement of the comma - the comma doesn't change anything because the agent of the sentence isn't changed by its placement. The implication is that AOL has evidence that copyrighted sound recordings were downloaded through the account because that is the logical reading with or without the comma. You need at least a full stop and an indication of who has the evidence of copyright sound recordings to make it correct.

For example, ...'letter from AOL confirming that defendant owned an internet access account, which account the RIAA allege was used to download copyrighted sound recordings.'

Re:Mischaracterization (1)

jellie (949898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157416)

I don't think the comma there changes the meaning, as it still implies that AOL's letter shows the plaintiff downloaded comprighted materials.

Unfortunately, I think semantics does play a major role in the legal system. Although it was not the same situation, the "McLibel" case was partly able to drag on for so many years because of semantics. To summarize, some environmental activists had distributed pamphlets that made statements about McDonald's. The company sued them for libel, saying that all the claims in the pamphlet were false - allowing the defendents to call witnesses to support those claims. Also, there's a story (not sure if it's true) of 3 children who inherited money from their parents through a will, stating that the wealth would be distributed equally between "A, B and C." Naturally, one assumes each person to receive 1/3, but A sued claiming that the will really meant for him to get 1/2, and for "B and C" to split the remaining half.

Re:I don't get it... (4, Insightful)

SpecBear (769433) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156632)

All the AOL letter says is "To the best of our knowledge, here are the people who were using these IP addresses at these times." You are correct in that it's pretty good evidence that she has an AOL account.

The problem is, the RIAA said that the letter confirmed that "defendant owned an internet access account through which copyrighted sound recordings were downloaded and distributed." The letter alone does no such thing. When a defendant's motion is denied based on materially false claims made by the plaintiff, I would certainly hope that the decision would be reviewed. If there is sufficient evidence that actually links the IP address to illegal activity occurring at that time, then the decision will stand.

Not that I want to defend the RIAA but... (4, Insightful)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156308)

because the RIAA said it had a letter from AOL 'confirm[ing] that defendant owned an internet access account through which copyrighted sound recordings were downloaded and distributed.' When her lawyers got a copy of the actual AOL letter they saw that it had no such statement in it, and asked the judge to reconsider.

To say that something "confirms" something is not the same as saying that it has a specific statement. If they have a witness who can testify as to how the internet works and that packets were received from that IP address at that time, then guess what?

You guessed it, the letter would then "confirm that defendant owned an internet access account through which copyrighted sound recordings were downloaded and distributed."

Jeez, you'd think we were biased against the RIAA or something.

Re:Not that I want to defend the RIAA but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156610)

All the letter confirms is that the defendant had an account with AOL that used an IP address at a certain time and date which were provided to AOL by the RIAA. The letter certainly doesn't state what type of activity was going on on the account. The RIAA still has to prove that there was such activity going on on that account themselves.

Re:Not that I want to defend the RIAA but... (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156842)

The RIAA still has to prove that there was such activity going on on that account themselves.

Yes, but many of the comments here are people saying "Oooooh teh RIAA i2 lyears!"

Which according to the summary they aren't necessarily.

Should the judge require them to produce an affidavit to go with that letter? Yes. But it doesn't mean they lied about anything.

Re:Not that I want to defend the RIAA but... (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157266)

It doesn't say that the internet connection was used to download copyrighted sound files. It says that at certain times, a certain IP address was leased by a certain account holder. She wasn't the only one with a lease to that IP address during the time period in question, thus there's going to have to be further proof that it was HER account that illegally distributed the sound files.

Re:Not that I want to defend the RIAA but... (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157334)

She wasn't the only one with a lease to that IP address during the time period in question,

The letter says she was the account using that IP address at that second.

Where do you get the idea that someone else had the same IP address at that time?

That's not what the letter says, and that's not how the internet works.

Re:Not that I want to defend the RIAA but... (2, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157570)

It's called "network address translation". Every home-networking router out there supports it. Even if they didn't, what AOL is saying in that letter is that a specific user account had those IP addresses leased at a particular time. That does not mean that a specific person was using that account. Usually the router or network connection's configured with the appropriate account information, and anyone using the computer will use that connection. The RIAA's claim isn't that the user account did the downloading and distributing, it's that a specific person did it. What they have to prove yet is that the person they're accusing was the person at the keyboard at the time or that they were otherwise legally responsible for the actions of whoever was (and the ISP TOS doesn't matter here since the RIAA isn't a party to that agreement).

It's the equivalent of the police charging me with reckless driving just because my car was involved. What they have to prove in court is not just that it was my car, but that it was me behind the wheel. If the car was stolen, or I loaned it to a friend and they were driving at the time, and I can prove this, everything they prove about who the car was registered to won't get them a conviction.

Re:Not that I want to defend the RIAA but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17157302)

AOL confirmed only that the victim was logged on to that IP at that hour. AOL did not come anywhere close to confirming that this was an IP "through which copyrighted sound recordings were downloaded and distributed."

Scary (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156338)

I don't know about you, but it really scares me to depend on the technical expertise of AOL (or any ISP, but especially AOL) to keep straight which customer had which IP at which time. You don't have any opportunity to review how carefully they record who was using which IP or how accurate their clock is set on their logging system.

Re:Scary (1)

reddog093 (986138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156592)

In my case they're some accuracy in it. I remember getting a warning e-mail from Optimum Online for downloading a movie..Thankfully, I was too small of a target for people to waste their time with but they gave me the Torrent program I was using, My IP address at the time, the time of day I was downloading the file and some other lovely information. I didn't even get to watch the movie...crappy bootlegging quality. Psh!

Incorrect (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156926)

you may have been using it, but they don't knopw that. They ONLY know that there was a computer using that IP address downloading a movie. They don't know it's you.

Re:Incorrect (1)

jfclavette (961511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157078)

They know it's your cable modem, your account, and they might or might not know your computer's mac adress.

Re:Incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17157312)

They know it's your cable modem, your account

Well, maybe yes and maybe no. If everything is working as it is supposed to be working they do. You could find yourself in court because someone else was downloading something and AOL incorrectly tags you with that IP. Do you really trust AOL to get it right??

Re:Incorrect (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157530)

This is a question of timeservers and use of mac addresses. If AOL doesn't have an effective timeserver and/or doesn't have the customer's mac address in the appropriate record it should be thrown out.

An effective local timeserver will compare records from several timeservers through gps and on the Internet. The local timeserver will then be used to distribute the appropriate time on the network.

Of all the things AOL screws up, I don't think their lawyers would let them get away with botching this, if I was on the defense though I would definitely bring it up.

Ignorant bastards (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156360)

Ohh great, now it only takes someone to log onto their AOL account to get sued for illegal downloads. Time to disconnect now boys! (Not that any of us use AOL)

RIAA says, "Muuahhahaha!" (3, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156378)

Actually, it's all about creating an environment of fear for the common consumer.

Like a dog that has been beat for no good reason, less tech savvy computer users will simply follow the entertainment conglomerates bizarre rules out of fear and never consider that the Doctrine of First Sale still applies to their entertainment media regardless if it's in a downloadable package or not.

I've been thinking I should start a simple parent's guide to the Doctrine of First Sale so smart parents aren't teaching their kids stupid RIAA tricks. Yes? No? Is there one already out there?

Re:RIAA says, "Muuahhahaha!" (1)

Christopher_Edwardz (1036954) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156852)

Actually, it's all about creating an environment of fear for the common consumer.

I agree here, but I don't think it does what they think it does... *grin*

  • Joe Sixpack's kids could care less what the RIAA does as they're out to "stick it to the man!" as much as they are getting free music. They can't work for a living and can't get this stuff any other way. They aren't likely to appreciate the possible ramifications of litigation, so it is ineffectual.
  • Mary Muffin, seeing some poor wretch that doesn't know a lick about computers hauled into court and broken over an obviously frivolous, possibly meritless, and certainly fruitless lawsuit isn't going to instill fear. It's going to piss her off... eventually.
  • Corey Computer just chuckles and goes about his work, confident that his comrades in arms at slashdot will shine one if by land and two if by sea if there is any troubles.
  • Grandma Givelte (? sorry. ran short of g-words on that one.) will be just plain confused and pretty much ignore the whole issue.

So the grand effect of all this is... they waste millions of their dollars on lawyers, get no where, make the kids (who will be consumers soon) think they're uncool, piss off the parents, amuse the techies, and fail to impact the older crowd.

Ask some older people sometime if they even know what the RIAA or MPAA is. They probably don't.

I asked a couple of kids. They know, but think it is a government agency or something.

Techies, like me, simply view them with the ill-disguised contempt they deserve... and continue about my business.

Re:RIAA says, "Muuahhahaha!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17157084)

Gertie. Grandma Gertie.

Re:RIAA says, "Muuahhahaha!" (1)

pll178 (544842) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157292)

The doctrine of First Sale would not apply if I let my friends download my copy of a legally-purchased MP3. This is the issue with digital media. You don't lose anything when you "give" it to someone else.

The attorneys for RIAA should be disbarred. (4, Insightful)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156440)

Why should we permit this kind of practice. I can understand the greed of record companies, but lawyers are officers of the court and MUST be required to be truthful and respect the legal process, even at the expense of their clients. The tactics used by the RIAA lawyers are calculated to deprive a reasonable defense to victims of these actions. Lawyers who represent these kind of actions are not fit to practice.

Re:The attorneys for RIAA should be disbarred. (2, Insightful)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156794)

Last I recall, laywers are not under oath. Therefore, they are not required to be "truthful." They must respect the legal process, yes, but that does not mean being "truthful." If you've ever been on a jury trial, they instruct you to explicitly recognize the fact that anything the lawyers say is *not* to be considered evidence. The lawyers are just there to bring the evidence together, to help you see the evidence in the right way, such that you understand it. Their job is to make sure you aren't confused by the evidence. Or are at the very least confused "correctly," such their side "wins." This is why you often get objections during closing statements, because the lawyer giving said statement is trying to present his/her own words as evidence.

I assume the same holds true in a non-jury case.

Additionally, I do not believe they are "officers of the court." Jesters, perhaps, but not officers.

IANAL.

They are (1)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156936)

They are officers of the court, and responsible to be true to the letter of the law. They can't permit a client to lie, at least without plausible deniability. Of course the profession is not as effectively self-policing as doctors. That is why there are more lawyer jokes than doctor jokes. With respect to responsibility to truth, I would include tort lawyers who represent clients with a fake whiplash injury, or intellectual property lawyers who file trivial patents. The latter category is more damaging that the ambulance chaser because the issues are harder for juries to understand and the litigation is more expensive. Oh yeah, IANAL either.

Re:They are (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157208)

Of course the profession is not as effectively self-policing as doctors. That is why there are more lawyer jokes than doctor jokes.

That's because doctors bury their screwups six feet under ground.

Re:The attorneys for RIAA should be disbarred. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156938)

Lawyers are bound by strict standards (google for the American Bar Associations Model rules of professional conduct) and one of the provisions is that they are not allowed to lie to or deceive the court.
Additionally Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 11 authorizes the court to assess sanctions (monetary or otherwise) against a party engaged in dishonest behavior.

Most lawyers are extermely ethical, and you can believe that if the lawyer for the RIAA is making an improper representation to the court, the defendant's lawyer would file a rule 11 motion.

IANAL and this is not legal advice.

Re:The attorneys for RIAA should be disbarred. (1)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157132)

When an attorney makes a motion or answers a motion they "certify" that the document is true to the best of their knowledge. So, yes, they are under oath. You are correct though in saying that lawyers cannot testify.

Re:The attorneys for RIAA should be disbarred. (2, Insightful)

Peyna (14792) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157328)

Laywers are under oath from the day they are admitted to the bar, an oath that usually involves loyalty to the client and a statement regarding conduct as an officer of the court, among other things such as upholding the laws and constitutions of whereever they may practice. Those laws include things like legal ethics codes.

There is a difference between lying and presenting your client's side of things. If my client tells me his story, and I don't have concrete proof the contrary, then presenting that story to the court is not lying. If my client tells me he did it, but I help him make up some alibi and put on witnesses to lie for him saying he was 100 miles away at the time of the crime, then I am lying.

Legal ethics codes prohibit lawyers from making false statements of law or fact to a court. This includes in writing. Lawyers are also prohibited from advancing arguments they know have no basis in law. If they get caught, they can lose their license to practice, possibly forever. It does happen. I have an RSS feed for the Ohio Supreme Court and there are several attorneys getting their licenses yanked weekly.

The adversarial legal system is often thought to be one of the best for providing a jury with what is closest to the actual truth. You have two different sides presenting possibly two different stories, and if both sides to a real good job, then you'll probably end up with the real truth being somewhere in the middle.

"Copyrighted material" (5, Insightful)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156450)

<rant>
Is anyone else fed up with this phrase? Nearly everything on the Internet is copyrighted. Everything on my website is copyrighted. The Xen kernel I just download is copyrighted. The ISOs of FC6 I just downloaded consist of thousands of copyrighted programs.

My webhost, for example, displays a warning every time I ssh in that says it's a violation of the terms of service to store "copyrighted materials" on the server. Like a smartass I emailed them a few times and asked if that meant I would have to release my songs in the public domain and why they violate that by storing/using copyrighted tools (the Linux system, Apache, etc), but didn't get any replies.

This almost pisses me off as much as calling copyright infringement "piracy".
</rant>

Re:"Copyrighted material" (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156900)

"You know that song 'If a body catch a body comin' through the rye'? I'd like -"

"It's 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye'!" old Phoebe said. "It's a poem. By Robert Burns."

"I know it's a poem by Robert Burns."...

Anyway, I keep picturing these little kids playing some game in this big field or rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean, except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."

Wierd ip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156502)

That ip log looks really wired, on some days she seems to be online all day long, and on other days it looks like she doesn't get any sleep. She also seems to do a lot of redialing, is aol service really that bad(esp. at 4 in the morning?) It also seems a little weird that some days have entries all day long while other only have one(and some days have no entries), I don't know to many people with such a weird usage pattern.

Re:Wierd ip (4, Insightful)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156844)

As I read it, that is a list of many customers, all of which are blanked out except one (the person under discussion).

I.e., RIAA gave AOL a list of IP addresses (they may also have given them a list of times, but I suspect not). AOL responded with a time that those addresses were in use.

So, RIAA *said* that AOL had confirmed that she was a file sharer. What AOL *actually* said was only that she used that IP address, once, at a certain time.

AOL may be able to correlate that to their own records, saying that a certain IP address was downloading material at a certain time. Or not.

mnod do3n (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156534)

goals. It's when rules to follow volume of NetBSD from one folder on real problems keed to be Kreskin long term survival Fucking market and personal BSD has always and exciting; outreach are WOf OpenBSD versus transfer, Netscape Future. The hand when done playing and other party Go find something visions going Standards should To yet another arithmetic, FrreBSD at about 80 for trolls' From now on or it has to be fun stand anymore, play parties the users. This is

Payments (2, Interesting)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156674)

I wonder how the RIAA is expecting to get paid from a MS patient no matter how autonomous and able-bodied she is. Family? Friends? Loans? Give me a break. And honestly, I think the RIAA is losing money from all of these lawsuits being as long as they are.

Also, AOL only gave a list of names associated with IP addresses, so how does that translate to "This user downloaded music with these IP addresses at these dates"? Some justice.

Re:Payments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156930)

People under considerable financial burden are prime targets when your goal is to terrorize the public. Yep I just accused the **AA of being terrorists. And that's not libel, because that's their intent: to terrorize the poor (who cannot afford to pay the "going rate" in the first place) into not downloading music and movies.

Business plan:
  1. Get settlement from the lower and lower-middle class that includes forcing someone into bankruptcy.
  2. Upper-middle and upper class stop downloading for fear of being sued for $1,000,000.00 (/*pinky to corner of mouth*/).
  3. Profit! (From the upper middle and upper class)

What the letter means (3, Funny)

Tillwe Havefaces (1037092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157070)

"172.200.205.238" on "2005-11-25" at "04:03:44 EST" is:

happy to see that someone else actually appreciates the Joni Mitchell collection they've complied

"172.143.208.80" on "2005-11-26" at "01:48:14 EST" is:

wondering if MSgurl2459 is really as edgey as her taste in 3-6 Mafia seems to be. Wonders if MS stands for Microsoft (ooh a cute nerd chick!)

Re:What the letter means (1)

Zelph (628698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157496)

The stalker in me just came up with an idea... Can the IP address used in this subpoena be used in conjunction with the "leaked" AOL search text file that went out a few months ago? Will this give us more information about the woman involved, supposedly named Raej Schwartz? And if her searches "confirm" that she is in fact an AOL user....
What did she search for?

Please stop with these posts!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17157286)

Look, I appreciate the diligence with which New York Country Lawyer is trying to keep his name on the top of Slashdot...er, keep Slashdot up to date on the minutiae of his cases. But can the editors please stop accepting these posts? Seriously, the legal jargon may sound exciting, but there is actually nothing worth reporting in the details of the timing of summary judgment motions. Seriously, do I write in to slashdot with the minute-by-minute details of my job?

As for New York Country Lawyer's claim that the linked AOL letter didn't say what the RIAA said it did (that his client--who tragically, but completely irrelevantly has MS--was downloading music), the AOL letter identifies the client by her IP address. Now, if the RIAA has information (albeit from another source) that shows that IP address was downloading music, than that shows, at the very least, that there is a question of fact as to whether the client was downloading music. And therefore, the requested summary judgment is in fact not appropriate.

How about something new? (2, Funny)

williambbertram (958094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157314)

Here's some helpful hints for the RIAA.

1. If consumers like you, they will buy more of your product.
2. If you stop suing consumers, they will hate you less.
3. If you create something new, consumers will be more inclined to buy your products.
4. If you create something that's not easy to steal, people won't steal it so much.

Here's something new that I (a consumer) would LOVE to buy. The tools for this idea are already widely available and used by almost everyone.

Take a Wii with that new style nunchuck controller (or whatever it's called. The thing you wave around in the air). Add a wireless dance pad. Create a dancing game that uses foot movements and hand gestures. You know, dancing. Then put an online store for ordering additional dance tracks, game accessories, etc. Make is so you can link several of these dance mats together at a party. Make international online tournaments with prizes, titles, and a televised championship. Put them in arcades. Put them in fitness centers.

Is that a perfect idea? Hell no. Is it something I would pay $600.00 for this Christmas? Hell yes.

Bologna (2, Insightful)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17157550)

Here is what the RIAA lawyer wrote in his letter [ilrweb.com]

Defendant's October 28, 2006 letter also provides no basis for a motion for summary judgment. Defendant's Internet Service Provider, America Online, Inc., has confirmed that Defendant was the owner of the internet access account through which hundreds of Plaintiffs' sound recordings were downloaded and distributed to the public without Plaintiffs' consent.

AOL confirmed that the Defendant was the owner of the account. The rest of the sentence describes the account and is not a statement that AOL confirmed what the account was being used for.

This should be fairly obvious to most people who can read English.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

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>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...