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What Questions Would You Ask An RIAA 'Expert'?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the this-stuff-might-show-up-in-court dept.


NewYorkCountryLawyer asks: "In UMG v. Lindor, the RIAA has submitted an 'expert' report (pdf) and 26-page curriculum vitae (pdf), prepared by Dr. Doug Jacobson of Iowa State University who is the RIAA's expert witness in all of its cases against consumers, relating to alleged copyright infringement by means of a shared files folder on Kazaa, and supposed analysis of the hard drive of a computer in Ms. Lindor's apartment. The RIAA's 'experts' have been shut down in the Netherlands and Canada, having been shown by Prof. Sips and Dr. Pouwelse of Delft University's Parallel and Distributed Systems research group (pdf) to have failed to do their homework, but are still operating in the USA. The materials were submitted in connection with a motion to compel Ms. Lindor's son, who lives 4 miles away from her, to turn over his computer and music listening devices to the RIAA. Both Ms. Lindor's attorney (pdf) and Ms. Lindor's son's attorney (pdf) have objected to the introduction of these materials, but Dr. Jacobson's document production and deposition are scheduled for January and February, and we would love to get the tech community's ideas for questions to ask, and in general your reactions, thoughts, opinions, information, and any other input you can share with us. (In case you haven't guessed, we are the attorneys for Ms. Lindor.)"

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fp (0, Offtopic)

patmc (136958) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389806)

no karma...

I'd ask: (5, Funny)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389810)

How old are you?

You see, I'm doing a research paper on how long a human can live without a brain.

or....was it painful... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389844)

to have your soul removed?

Re:or....was it painful... (2, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390284)

Actually, I'm kind of curious as to what they taste like...

Re:I'd ask: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390108)

how about "Do you have any pictures of your wife naked ?"

Re:I'd ask: (3, Funny)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390176)

Followed by "Would you like to buy some?"

"WTF?" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389834)

"What the fuck? Just... what the fuck?"

Re:"WTF?" (1, Interesting)

ack154 (591432) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390338)

Why is that "offtopic?" I think it's a pretty valid question to anyone at the RIAA. It's a good starting point if you otherwise just don't know where to begin. And with them... ya, I wouldn't know where to start either.

Jusst one Question (4, Insightful)

Joe Snipe (224958) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389854)


Re:Jusst one Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390302)

Because they can.

duh. Nothing to do with right or wrong...

Re:Jusst one Question (2, Informative)

Ocular Magic (948250) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390368)

His e-mail address is, maybe you could ask him why directly? (pulled from a PDF listed above)

DESTROY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389858)

Lawyers aren't human. Kill them. Kill all the fags.

it's the only way to move forward

Conflict of interest (5, Insightful)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389862)

What steps would you take to prove that a screenshot is 'authentic'? If I doctored a screenshot to include a list of songs, how would you discover the doctoring? How would establish that the song names contained the correct songs and not something else? Are all screenshots unalterable?

Describe the process of 'proving' that someone's home computer used a given IP address at a given time. Anywhere.

Very good questions (5, Interesting)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390116)

Those are very good questions. I'd add the following:

* How do you prove that the contents of the "shared" folder were actually shared with third parties? (I have a "shared" folder with music on my PC, to stream to my other PCs and my stereo)
* How do you prove the "shared" folder was not created automatically by the P2P software?
* How do you prove that the user was computer savvy enough to prevent the software from creating the folder?

Re:Very good questions (4, Interesting)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390420)

I'd also add:

  • Can you determine who was operating the computer at the time of the alleged offense? (I realize that this may be nullified by something like "criminal responsibility"; does this matter in a civil case?)
  • How do you know that the defendants did not already own the material they were downloading? Or is it merely "distribution" (uploading) that is at the center of the offense?
  • How is sharing a file considered "distribution"? Why does it apply here and not in other circumstances (cite thoughtful and meaningful scenarios here)?

Re:Conflict of interest (0)

xsuchy (963813) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390134)

What steps would you take to prove that a screenshot is 'authentic'?
Go to the notary. Show him computer screen. Print screenshot. Describe exact situation how you reach to the page and what it show. Print it too. Let it sign notary. This is valid evidence for every judge.
Describe the process of 'proving' that someone's home computer used a given IP address at a given time. Anywhere.
In my country (Czech republic) we have law, that every ISP have to save its logs (including assigning IP) for at least 6 months.

Re:Conflict of interest (1)

stoney27 (36372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390438)

> In my country (Czech republic) we have law, that every ISP have to save its logs (including assigning IP) for at least 6 months.

So what logs are you talking about? Do they save every packet that comes to and
from you IP address? Or do they just save DHCP data with the MAC Address?
And there are some NICs that allow you to change or set your MAC address so
even that can be hard to prove it came from your computer?


Re:Conflict of interest (4, Insightful)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390208)

If I doctored a screenshot to include a list of songs, how would you discover the doctoring?

Even more importantly, what if the actual files were doctored. If I were to create a file named "Around the World - Red Hot Chili Peppers.mp3" and put it on the Kazza network how would you determine if it's actually that song? Are you relying on just combinations of filenames and checksums/hashes? Hashes like those used by Kazza can be replicated with a bit of effort. Maybe I set up a phony Kazza server to flood the network with bogus copies of files. They'd need to download the actual files and listen to them in order to verify their authenticity.

Re:Conflict of interest (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390352)

Even the RIAA have seeded P2P networks with bogus files, so this can easily happen.

How long does it take... (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389870) become such an expert?

Re:How long does it take... (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390016) become such an expert?

Well, in a court case involving a dentist and his insurance company, they were asked to produce an expert in "medical imaging." When the guy hit the stand it was pretty apparent that he had never actually worked with medical imaging at length. When queried as to how he was determined to be an "expert witness", the guy honestly said, "Well, I browsed the web for about 4 hours on the topic...."

The court bought it. "Expert Witness" does NOT mean what it does on the movies/TV.

Re:How long does it take... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390428)

Depends on the material. To be a witness in engineering matters, you need to be a professional engineer, which takes a minimum of about 8 years if you pass the exams the first time. Oh, sure you can try to pass an an expert witness without a PE, but you may get shot down, as happened recently somewhere in the midwest. Naturally, this varies from state to state. Good money in it, though. A lawyer I work for gave me a hard time about only charging $150/hr last time we worked together.

Blurb.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389876)

Is it true that the abbreviation RIAA really stands for"Rectal Invasion Association of America"?

What Questions Would You Ask An RIAA 'Expert'? (1, Flamebait)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389878)

#1: How much did you get for your soul from the RIAA/MPAA?

#2: I've heard Iowa is boring, but you are aware that there are other ways to get out of the state, right?

#3: Why do you hate America?

#4: Can you explain how anyone thought Sony's root kit was even remotely legal?

#5: Exactly how does your client's right to liscense their music trample my right as a consumer to listen to music I've paid for?

Re:What Questions Would You Ask An RIAA 'Expert'? (2, Informative)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390148)

#5 is easy. If you don't pay for unlimited rights, you don't have them when you're licensing media. You know the disclaimers about "licensed for home use" and so on? You're buying limited access to someone else's property. It's a license in perpetuity, as opposed to a "rental" (being temporary), but you don't have any more rights than the ones you buy.

The problem here is the philosophy that you start with every right except those denied to you. That's good and perfectly true for laws, but when you're buying something from someone else, it's a complete non-sequitur. You start with nothing--zero rights to the product--and purchase some of those rights from the creator.

The mere exchange of money does not imply complete ownership over anything more than that for which you've paid. When you buy an airline seat, you don't own the seat itself; when you buy a book, you don't own the words. If all you're buying is the right to use something, all you own is that set of transferred rights (and any vehicle of expression if applicable, i.e. a CD, the paper composing a book, the canvas and paint molecules of a painting).

Re:What Questions Would You Ask An RIAA 'Expert'? (1)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390288)

So, again, if I have paid for the right to listen to the music, what right do they have to restrict my right to them listen to that music?

I'd ask (1, Offtopic)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389884)

Why does the RIAA suck so much?

Re:I'd ask (4, Interesting)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390076)

Why does the RIAA suck so much?

That is an easy question to answer ...

The RIAA sucks because it is an association that is designed to protect the interests of large music corporations by ensuring that their broken buisness model continues to exist.

The reality of the situation is that current technology is scary to RIAA members because a band/artist doesn't need a label quite like they used to (and as time goes on and the technology advances they don't need a label at all). Consider:

  • A band can now record an album on their own time in an inexpensive home studio; the quality of equipment that you can get for $10,000 today (with effort) can rival the production of a Million dollar studio the labels have
  • You can self promote your band through the internet; as time goes on sites like Youtube may be able to provide inexpensive access for a band to find an audience, and an audience to find a band
  • You can sell your album online for a fraction of what the label will charge and still make more money off of the sale; if you were to charge $0.25 per song and $2.00 for the full album you would make (a lot) more money than the label would give you for the same music

Being that merchandise (like T-Shirts/posters) can easily be produced and ordered online (to be sold on your web-store and at your show), and you can self promote your shows, a hard-working band can make a decent living without needing a label; they may never get to the same level of fame that a label will get you, but you also don't need the same size of an audience to make playing music your life.

Have you _ever_ made a mix tape? (5, Insightful)

waterford0069 (580760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389898)

To take one for Steven Jay Page [] of the Bare Naked Ladies

Have you _ever_ (and I mean EVER) made a "mix" tape? Did you give it to your SO/love interest?

Steven's argument being that effectively EVERY person in the music industry has done this at one time or another, and to be punishing their customers from doing effectively the same thing is hypocritical.

Re:Have you _ever_ made a mix tape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389976)

Have you _ever_ (and I mean EVER) made a "mix" tape? Did you give it to your SO/love interest?

A lot of RIAA dudes are late middleaged, so I'm guessing Satan scored a pile of Grateful Dead bootlegs from them back in the day.

Re:Have you _ever_ made a mix tape? (1)

OnlineAlias (828288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390356)

Grateful Dead bootlegs are legal (or at least endorsed).

Re:Have you _ever_ made a mix tape? (1)

cain (14472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390214)

Being hypocritical is not illegal though, so that fact is of zero use in a courtroom.

Re:Have you _ever_ made a mix tape? (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390260)

See section 1008, Home Recording Act.

Unless you are distributing your mixes commercially (note that money does not have to be involved) or the mixes contain illegally-acquired tracks (thereby making you a distributor of illicit copyrighted works), mix tapes are just fine.

Start easy . . . (4, Insightful)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389902)

Like - did you listen to the alleged data to see if it was actually a copyrighted work? Does the copyright on those works all belong to the planitiffs?

Can they verify what IP address the alleded copyrighted work was uploaded from? (Eg: did it come from a single source only?) Go back a little further; can they produce anything that verifies Ms. Lindor's computer had the IP address they uploaded from at the time in question?

1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389916)

How do you sleep at night

Seriously?? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389922)

A lawyer posting an "Ask Slashdot" question? Isn't that a sign of the apocalypse?

Re:Seriously?? (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390166)

A lawyer posting an "Ask Slashdot" question?

      Is he going to bill us?

Re:Seriously?? (2, Funny)

gnarlin (696263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390432)

A lawyer posting an "Ask Slashdot" question?
Is he going to bill us?
No, we are going to bill him!

Freedom (5, Funny)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389926)

Why do you hate freedom?

A bit about Mr. Jacobson (5, Insightful)

linefeed0 (550967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389928)

I always hate it when academics use their position to further crap like this rather than fight the bullshit. My alma mater had plenty of these jerks too, particularly the people running the career programs in "e-commerce" and computer security. One telltale sign is that they've testified before Congress [] . Apparently Mr. Jacobson doesn't like p2p because there's porn on it. The money shot is this bit:

There are several issues that make pornography on peer-to-peer networks more problematic than web or FTP-hosted pornography. You don't have to look for pornography on peer-to-peer networks; it will find you.


Read Korzybski (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389934)

How can you justify your actions when any system of ethics that isn't based on meta-physics regards the RIAA, patents and censorship as the agents of evil.

Also, how do you avoid choking on satan's cock?


Aren't you worried that there may actually be a hell where people like you will burn someday?

Re:Read Korzybski (1)

gwayne (306174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390126)

Also, how do you avoid choking on satan's cock?

Duh! We all know that the Devil is a woman!

Come on! (5, Insightful)

zepo1a (958353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389936)

Come /.! NewYorkCountryLawyer is trying to do something good here.

Can we get serious for a minute? Please?

Re:Come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389990)

can we not entertain the lawyer WHILE providing useful questions?

Re:Come on! (2, Insightful)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390024)

More importantly, can we not entertain each other in the process?

After all, that IS at least half of the function of this web site.

Re:Come on! (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390310)

No. An important instruction is missing in the OP: what exactly do you attempt to achieve by asking those questions?

1. If it's an attempt to discredit the guy, you need to ask an expert of your own, something you won't find here.

2. If you want inventive ways to ask if he likes being the whore of a mega industry, /. is the place to ask.

3. If it's anything else, it needs to be specified. until then we'll just assume your aim is in point 2.

How... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389954)

do you sleep at night?

Re:How... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390198)

Comfortably warm under piles of money?

Re:How... (1)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390228)

On a big (but apparently not yet big enough to suit them) pile of money.


Excerpt from our "Experts" (0, Flamebait)

AaronBS (685204) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389958)

I'm not too confident in "our" experts either, Sips and Pouwelse, given the missing word in the first sentence of the following paragraph, and the continued misspelling of pollution [] .

This research group focused the polution in Kazaa9. Pollution refers to meaningless files and mismatches between filenames and their actual content. Kazaa was found to be severly poluted. For many recent pop songs, more than 50% of the copies were polluted. Our research group at Delft University has found similar polution levels in Kazaa for all types of content.
Oh, and "severly".

Re:Excerpt from our "Experts" (1)

Barsema (106323) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390120)

I bet they write better English than you do Dutch (their native language)

Oh, man, this is sad. (1, Troll)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389962)

It used to be that some poor sap would ask a legal question in Ask Slashdot, and he would be told to seek the advice of a real, actual attorney.

Now, we have an attorney posting an Ask Slashdot because he doesn't know how to argue his own case.

This is sad. Sad, indeed. I seriously hope that you are not actually being compensated by Ms. Lindor for this legal "work".

Re:Oh, man, this is sad. (4, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390038)

The differences is most readers of /. are not lawyers, so asking questions about law on /. is kind of pointless.

Inversely, most readers of /. are technically adept, so asking questions about technical issues (like is this 'technical assessment' valid?) can be rewarding. Even if you are a lawyer.


Then he should have asked his question better (4, Insightful)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390168)

What he should have said was:

The plaintiff wants to compel $person to surrender his computer for forensic analysis. For the judge to order this, their evidence must meet $standard.

Their evidence is $evidence. How can I show, from a technical perspective, that $evidence does not satisfy $standard?

too bad (-1, Troll)

mungtor (306258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390392)

Just because we are technically adept, we shouldn't be answering a lawyer's questions for free. We should be working out a $175/hr schedule which includes travel time and meals while we're thinking up questions.

If NewYorkCountryLawyer ever actually gave any legal advice or offered an actual opinion here, maybe my feelings would be different. Generally he just climbs on the anti-RIAA bandwagon for his own career and avoids answering any actual legal questions.

Re:Oh, man, this is sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390060)

Ah, what wouldn't we do to get the good old days back, eh, SlashdotParent(995749)?

Re:Oh, man, this is sad. (2, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390142)

Typical that a lawyer would be the first person to work out how to bill for their time while reading Slashdot...

Re:Oh, man, this is sad. (1)

feardiagh (608834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390346)

now that is funny.

questions (5, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389970)

1. What measures will be taken to safeguard the integrity of the data and the data storage devices. You don't want your property destroyed in the process of investigation.

2. Ask for extensive access to all the equipment that will be used during the investigation to verify that the said equipment may not accidently harm your devices and data.

3. Ask for a comprehensive review of all the privacy-safeguarding mechanisms that the plaintiffs have in place for the retrieved data. Further, ask for an audit of the feasibility of the privacy safeguards as well as their effectiveness in actually protecting the privacy of the data.

Re:questions (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390188)

True. The computers could have sensative data on them. Do they do background checks on their employees? Maybe ask a different respectable 'computer forensics agency' what safeguards they take with the data.

Re:questions (3, Insightful)

cain (14472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390268)

These just seem like stalling tactics. Eventually the RIAA would comply with the requests and the trial would continue.

Re:questions (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390374)

You are giving too much of a benefit of the doubt to the RIAA "experts". I bet you they are pretty sloppy since they are used to speaking from the position of power.

Re:questions (5, Insightful)

crmanriq (63162) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390286)

1. Please provide a detailed outline of what tests you wish to perform, and the tools that you will use to perform them. Are these industry recognized tools, or are they proprietary? If they are not industry recognized, please provide source code so that their results may be analyzed in context by recognized experts.
2. Please state your reasons why these tests cannot be performed by an independent laboratory by skilled professionals.
3. Please state what industry standards these tests meet that will confirm their validity. (Do they meet an IEEE or ASTM testing standard?) If no industry standard exists, then provide documented research that lays out why these tests meet a standard of proof that can and should be allowed in a court of law.
4. What specialized equipment will be used in testing? Has this equipment been certified for this use, or is this a new use of the equipment? If it is a new use, then please provide supporting documentation to certify that any results achieved will be meaningful.
5. What measures will be taken to preserve the integrity of the data so that your results may be independently verified?
6. What measures will be taken to keep the equipment free from harm?
7. What measures will be taken to preserve the chain of evidence?
8. What measures will be taken to ensure that no data is added to, removed from or changed on the by your personnel or your agents? How can this be independently verified?
9. Which of your described tests include subjective criteria, and which are purely objective? How is the subjective criteria to be evaluated, and how could an independent testing body repeat this portion of testing?
10. How long will the testing take, and will you provide a functionally equal replacement during the testing duration so as not to deprive the owners of the use of their property?

What worked over there... (3, Insightful)

kid_oliva (899189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389996)

May work over here. Prof. Sips and Dr. Pouwelse expert witness statement seems to be what anybody being sued by the RIAA would want to find. The inability to prove they were involved in actual contribution. I think if you can get an intelligent judge or at least be able to explain what their findings mean; you should be able to get alot of cases thrown out. If not then appeal until you get the right judge. It seems that they have to go on hunting expeditions to try to even build a case otherwise they are close to slander by false accusations. I may understand it wrong, but their analysis shows you can't prove if anyone was involved by using the tools they do.

are they going to open source distribution channel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390008)

just wondering

Unlawful Searches (4, Interesting)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390028)

Ask them why they retain the services of a company found to have conducted unlawful electronic searches of an individuals computer, to provide their evidence of infringement.

Attack his expertise (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390032)

I saw at least one false statement in one of the filings. It's not a lie so much as a total lack of understanding of how IP networks really work and how far they can be pushed. Combine that with the fact he's been discredited in Canada and it should make the court ask questions.

In particular the statement that he was able to determine there was no wireless router in use at the time cannot be substantiated. It is possible to have a wireless router that NATs you right back to your public IP. In fact, I've done it (with out the wireless part) at least twice for different reasons.

If I were you, I would set up a demo that shows this and rub his nose in it.

how about (1)

antagonizt (613384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390036)

I have this friend...

Payola (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390046)

Has your acting as an expert witness for the RIAA generated any income whatsoever, either directly or indirectly? Has the RIAA provided you with any non-monetary gifts or perks?

Seriously, I would ask that.

I would ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390052)

Where do you live?

Easy one (-1, Troll)

houghi (78078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390056)

Could run around with pointy object all the time, please.

How much has already been planted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390066)

You know they're planting "evidence" on those machines even as we speak. How can they prove they aren't?

Some serious questions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390090)

1. How much does DRM lower the value of purchased content? (How can restricted content be worth as much as unrestricted content)

2. Why does the RIAA not offer a service to compete with the P2P networks? (Offering DRMed content isn't a real attempt at competing, since it is a restricted product, only a legal method of obtaining unrestricted (non-DRM-encumbered) content counts here)

3. Can they prove that each downloaded copy of the supposedly uploaded files does not have a license for the content?

I'd Ask them... (0, Troll)

Nick Fury (624480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390096)

1) How can a digital copy harm sales when the people downloading it weren't likely to buy the bloody album in the first place?

2) What good comes to the artists from the rabid enforcement of copyright laws through frivolous litigation?

3) Do you like George Wendt and would you eat beans with him?

To what end? (1)

curtisk (191737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390104)

Well, to what end?

IF (1)

El Gruga (1029472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390140)

an RIAA 'investigator/expert person thingy' had to listen to the music to find out if it was pirated, would he then have to arrest himself, take himself to court, sue himself and fine himself? IF you invite a friend over for dinner and play music, do you have to search your friends for recording devices to make sure they dont copy your music? If you play the music do you have to send the RIAA cash for every person except yourself who listens? Is it SAFE to even 'own' music anymore? Should we simply whistle something tuneless? Is Ginger Baker going to sue me if I beat out a rhythm on my steering wheel while listening to FM radio?

ask groklaw (5, Insightful)

SABME (524360) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390146)

Have you considered asking this question on [] ?

You might get a better response there (i.e., less noise than /.), especially since Groklaw is about legal issues surrounding tech.

What bugs does MediaSentry have? (5, Insightful)

Chris Snook (872473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390178)

My father is an attorney, and he once told me that you never ask a question you don't already know the answer to, unless the answer cannot possibly hurt you. There are a few possible answers here:

1) I don't know.

If he doesn't know, he's not an expert on MediaSentry.

2) None.

At this point you enter into evidence a copy of The Mythical Man-Month or some similar tome, and quote figures on bugs per lines of code. You have now discredited him.

3) Lots, for example...

This will go over *great* with a jury.

This guy claims that the hard drive provided must be the wrong hard drive because it doesn't show any evidence of file sharing whatsoever, and MediaSentry claims there was file sharing. Maybe it's a bug in MediaSentry.

Do you really think you'll win? (1)

atlaz (31278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390184)

Have you thought about this long term?

Is suing your customers really a good strategy?

Has any one on this thread purchased more than 1 CD last year?

Anyone planning to purchase them in the future?

Whatever. (5, Insightful)

arkanes (521690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390190)

Did none of you read the PDF? The expert report says that the hard drive provided to him was *not* the one used to share the files. He doesn't discuss his methodology in any detail, but it's reasonable enough. He states that, based on his analysis of the hard drive that the machine was directly connected to the internet (not via a router), which is easy enough to tell from the IP address assigned, and that it does not and did not have Kazaa (apparently the p2p program used) on it. From the other links, it sounds like they're claiming that his isn't the hard drive they wanted, from the machine they wanted, and that they're trying to get access to the sons hard drive based on that. Assuming that the expert isn't totally incompetent and/or lying, he's right. If this hard drive is from the machine that had the IP addresses in the subpoena from Verizon (he says he has access to the Verizon information, but not whether or not the IPs match up), then you have a pretty airtight dismissal - no evidence of sharing, lets go home. If they're trying to claim that the son probably brought his machine over, you're going to have to rely on legal arguments rather than technical ones. It's certainly possible that he did, but I don't know enough about the law to say whether that matters in a case like this. The case is against her, not her son, so can't you argue for dismissal on that alone? If they're claiming that you gave them some totally unrelated drive, you're going to need to document where that drive came from. I assume you have all your ducks in a row with regards to the chain of documents and evidence for that drive. If you don't, then someone screwed up along the way and someone is going to pay for it - probably your client and her family. That's not something interrogation of this witness will help you with - his analysis of the drive is probably correct. What he's saying is that he didn't find the evidence the RIAA wants on the drive, so prove that's the drive they asked for and go home.

Re:Whatever. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390334)

Did none of you read the PDF?

      Come on, this is slashdot! We don't even read nice HTML articles, much less a nasty PDF! Now if it was a jpeg and had some titties...

Real questions (5, Interesting)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390200)

I read the PDF report from the RIAA's expert.

Seems that he's saying that the hard drive he examined contained NO TRACE of Kazaa ever being installed, and no trace of any "shared files". He goes on to say that the hard drive appeared to be hardly used, since there were very few user-created files. The implication is that the hard drive he examined is not the hard drive that was used to share music, or that it had been completely erased at some point.

I would ask him about the possibility that the hard drive was reformatted in the process of re-installing Windows, via an normal Windows CD or especially a "restore CD". And I would also ask him if it is possible that Ms. Lindor re-installed Windows because she was having other problems with the computer, and a re-install was the simplest way to fix those problems. I would also ask him if formatting the drive and re-installing Windows is a common way to repair computers that have become unusable due to viruses and spyware. I would also ask him how common spyware and viruses are, and how a user such as Ms. Lindor would be able to fix a machine infected with spyware and/or viruses without resorting to formatting her hard drive and re-installing Windows.

Basically, reformatting the drive is a perfectly legitimate thing to do when Windows, or any operating system, becomes "unusable" due to corruption of system files by malicious software. Just because her drive is "empty" doesn't mean she is trying to hide evidence. She may have done it simply to get her computer working again.

what proof does RIAA have that this is not license (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390220)

as I understand things, under the law of the land, which is also called "fair use" provisions of the copyright act, you can have as many copies of a licensed work as you want, as long as you always hold onto The One that the license came with, and only one is in use at any one particular time.

it is my understanding that you are also permitted to keep these copies on alternative media.

the questions:

(1) so if little boopsie decides to download an MP3 of "screaming babies," for instance, because little boopsie is unable to encode her own copy, what exactly law did she break? (2) and further, exactly what evidence did RIAA and their contractors, employees, etc. who have been cutting a flaming swath across the Internet use to determine that the downloaded MP3 would not, in fact, be the copy used under the original license.

for as we all should know, you never "own" music as a customer. (3) you buy a physical carrier and a license to use that music for personal enjoyment in line with the copyright law as it exists at the time of "purchase"/license. right?

(4) so who died and made you dictator?

Re:what proof does RIAA have that this is not lice (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390436)

Your first question really outlines the problem with this litigation. The RIAA doesn't go after people for downloading a song here and there--they go after people with a few hundred, for the most part, because it's likely that they don't own CDs of all or even most of them.

Beyond that, anyone who gets caught should consider the costs of litigation and potentially losing vs. going out immediately and buying the CDs containing all the downloaded works. However, you still have to contend the with 'illegal distribution' aspect. Which is why, in turn, the suits are for sharing files and not simply for downloading them. It's the "to peer" part of p2p that gives the RIAA some apparent legal traction here. They wouldn't engage in widespread litigation if these were FTP directories or some one-way or half-duplex software client--they'd shut down the hosts and be done with it.

I have a few... (0, Troll)

calderra (1034658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390222)

1) What kind of heartless bastard sues a 12-year-old-girl for downloading music?
2) (as elsewhere) you've never, ever compiled, listened to, or passed on a mixed tape in your life?

(on the more serious side)
1) What kind of unholy ritual summoned you and Jack Thompson to besiege our world?
2) Was Hitler there physically, or merely in spirit? Or some kind of spirit-body limbo state, perhaps?

(on the most serious side)
There is no serious question to ask this guy. I hope RIAA gets sued into extinction and replaced.

I've always wanted to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390236)

So when exactly do they plan on suing ME?

Odd (1)

bmajik (96670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390272)

The expert report says two things:

- based on the ip address (of what? how was it determined), he thinks the computer wasn't connected to the internet wirelessly (i hope he's smarter than this and is just leaving out details)

- he doesn't think the harddrive they've got was one that ever had kazaa or any media files on it. IOW, its not the "right one"

Prove it! (2, Insightful)

wynler (678277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390298)

Can you prove that the user was not licensed to possess the file?  Does he, a neighbor, a friend or otherwise own a license?  Was this license temporarly used on this computer? if so then there is always going to be a trace of the file.

For example, I own a copy of Artist A's cd.  I share this CD on a P2P network so that I can play it for my friend at his house (FairUse).  I then delete the file when we're done.

Nothing unethical took place in the above scenario.

Technical side.  Public IP?  Was it static of dynamic?  Can you prove he was the possesor of the IP address at the time of the alleged use?

As for Lindor's son's computer.  No way in hell should they be allowed to have access to it.  Prove that that computer was ever in the house of Mr. Lindor.  Plantif's aren't allowed to go on wild goose chases for evidence when their cases start to fall apart.

It seems to me that the RIAA has way too much to prove here.  Even in civil proceedings, it's just idiotic.  Can they even prove that Mr. Lindor has caused them harm?

All they've got is someone, with a certain IP, may have downloaded a file that they may not have had a license for.  There's a lot of maybes there.

More technical...

Had he ever used any anonymizing software?
Could their have been a worm or a trojan causing the sharing on his computer?
****HOW EASY is it for someone to spoof an IP address through one of these services?****  (very)

Given they've already searched his harddrive...  Was it a used computer?  Who else had access to said computer?  Was a good faith effort made to correct any unauthorized licenses?

emails (1)

dispatch (981884) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390312)

One thing I'd ask is why with so many free email servies like gmail/yahoo/hotmail/etc where emails are stored on the web and not one's home computer (as would be the case with outlook), why does the expert find the lack of emails stored on the computer indicative of foul play (page 5 of 7 of the expert report "...The hard drive I inspected, showed little usage at all, as evidenced by the lack of user created files and e-mails ....")?

Do you have... (1)

j35ter (895427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390316)

A teenage kid at home?
Oh, and (s)he does (not) use a computer?
Ooooh, and you never bought your kid some blank (recordable) media?

Could the defendands computer have been hacked? (5, Interesting)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390322)

Here's one for you:

Is it possible that the defendands computer was compromised in some way by a third party without their knowledge, and that the third party was the one who put the music on the computer and set it up to be shared?

I was at my brothers house over the xmas weekend and he was complaining about odd behavior on his Windows PC. The mouse simply stopped functioning properly in a number of applications, etc. He's on a DSL line but behind a router/firewall, with a software-based firewall and virus scanner installed. I decided to do a thorough check myself, however, and discovered that there was a directory containing over 2 gigabytes of porn that he knew nothing about. It was quite obvious that some sort of malicious software had made it onto his PCand turned it into some sort of porn file server, probably for some P2P network. Now my brother is no Windows expert but he's fairly savvy technically (college grad with a computer science major, MBA from a well respected business school). If he couldn't detect this going on with his own computer then how could a computer-illiterite person be expected to?

What's the plan? (1)

Ocular Magic (948250) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390332)

Is the RIAA just going to start asking anyone that has been to Ms. Lindors home within a specified time to hand over their computers so they can check to see if they were the ones that they are looking for?

Pirates (1)

izzyllamas (961869) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390336)

Why do you hate pirates? They need to feed their families too.

The obvious one (3, Insightful)

grazzy (56382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390362)

How much of the money RIAA claims goes back to artists who created the music?

What about sampling? (1)

NoPhD (963152) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390370)

If I sample parts of a song ( and store them on my computer is just the proximity and how they are played that make it a crime? If I sample a song say at the packet level over a p2p network and then store them together is that a crime? If I sample them separately and store them together is that a crime? It is kind of like a man standing on a street corner pulling one hair out at a time and asking "Am I bald yet?" I am sure the RIAA would not want to destroy a music industry like RAP just to stop sampling. I think that just because proximity of my samples is next to each other should not mean that I have committed a crime it should be called compression.

conflict of interest (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390382)

Jacobson's company, "Palisade Systems" uses the risk of RIAA lawsuits as a selling point in pushing their spy software on universities. Clearly, the more successful RIAA lawsuits, the stronger this selling point. e.pdf [] (see page 8: "Security and Legal Risk")

Jacobson appears to be working all sides of this for profit and reputation. He works in academia with a specialty of network security, sells network spy software to universities, and helps prop up the monitoring regimes through his "expert testimony" in the courts.

I would look for a basis to exclude Jacobson based on his financial interest in the outcome of the case.

Start by attacking his credibility... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390394)

I'd start by attacking his credibility. As you know, if you can prove he is not the expert he purports, he will be of no use to the RIAA. Read over every last document with his name on it. Find every last mistake he's ever publicly made. Get him to either support (with ridiculously flimsy "evidence") or retract those statements. If you can find enough ridiculous statements that are related to the case in any way for him to defend, you've won this stage of the battle.

(Obviously if it's not related to the case, you can't ask about it. But I'm sure something like "You wrote X about filesharing, yet several other experts disagree on your position. Can you explain to the court why that is?" would be fine.)

Just a start...

What if? (1)

g1gg13r (950003) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390404)

Wouldn't it be interesting if the RIAA's lawyers posted this "Ask Slashdot" question to gain two things:
(1) get feedback to tighten up their expert report
(2) prove that Ms. Lindor's attorneys are technically incompetent by bringing up this post in court.

That would be very interesting indeed.

Library (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17390416)

What difference does it make to just rent a CD from the library for a really long time, get bored with it, and get over it, compared to doing the same by downloading? You're still getting your hands on the CONTENT for FREE.. goddammit.

What I'd like to ask (2, Interesting)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390434)

... but you probably shouldn't:

Isn't your client's stupid business model costing him far more money than the file sharing is?

Stuff that might actually be useful to ask:

- As someone else said, how do you prove that the screen shots have not been altered?
- If the screen shots are backed up with packet captures, how do you prove that those were not altered?
- Given that both IP and MAC addresses can be spoofed, how do you prove that the defendant's computer was actually the source of the packets?
- Given that the titles of stuff on a file sharing network may have no relationship to the contents of the file, how do you prove that the file actually contained material copyrighted by the plaintiff?
- Each song that the plaintiff says that the defendant illegally shared/distributed was not actually written or recorded by the plaintiff, but by an artist. The copyrights were assigned to the plaintiff as part of a contract with the artist. For each song, prove that the plaintiff has valid control of the copyright by having met all the terms of the contract with the artist.

I really like this last one. If the RIAA has been stiffing the artists on their royalties or with funny accounting, they're going to have to run the funny accounting past a judge, and justify why they get to sue for copyrights where they are ripping off the artists. Even if they can give an accounting that passes the laugh test, it enormously increases their workload in the case.
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