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How the RIAA has Dodged RICO Charges

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the still-quite-a-racket dept.

The Courts 126

Gerardo writes "Wondering why the RIAA hasn't been hit with racketeering charges over its shady legal fight against file-sharing? Ars Technica looks at why the RIAA has been able to dodge RICO charges. '"Right off the bat there are some problems with the predicate claims for RICO," explained IP attorney Rich Vazquez. "You have to have a pattern of racketeering activity: either criminal acts where there is a one-year jail penalty, or mail or wire fraud." Any RICO action brought against the RIAA would have to focus on the wire fraud component, likely accusing the record labels of poking around someone's PC without permission.' That's going to be a difficult argument to make, given that Kazaa's default settings give users no reasonable expectation of privacy."

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126 comments

Shouldn't they be asking ... (5, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024141)

... a prosecutor about the possibility of a RICO charge and not a defense attorney?

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (5, Insightful)

2names (531755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024279)

I would much prefer getting my advice as to whether I have a case from the person who spends their time finding ways to get cases thrown out of court than from a prosecutor.

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (5, Informative)

Nukenbar (215420) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024635)

IAAL, and I think you would get a much more useful (ie accurate) answer from a prosecutor. His only client is the government. A defense lawyer you may only tell you what you want to hear, so that you will pay him. Besides, a prosecutor can talk to you about building a case and what goes into it, where as a defense attorney normally only see a case after it has been developed, and then has to poke holes it it from there.

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (2, Insightful)

2names (531755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025309)

IANAL, BTW...

So, in your opinion would you say it is easier to build the entire ship, or to poke a hole just big enough to sink it?

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (1, Interesting)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025495)

If you know how it's built, it'll be easier to poke holes in it, no?

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (1)

2names (531755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025805)

True, but one still would not need knowledge of the entire design to exploit a flaw.

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027141)

You two have really beaten the hell out of that poor shipbuilding/shipsinking metaphor. Will you please leave it alone now? Enough, already.

A RICO case really doesn't have that much to do with boat construction, capisce? It's about ongoing criminal enterprises. In my mind, the RIAA is exactly that, an ongoing criminal enterprise.

When I heard about the way SoundExchange was collecting money for musicians without their permission or knowledge, and then keeping the money unless those artists contacted them to collect, it was the final straw in a very big bale of crooked hay.

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027773)

A RICO case really doesn't have that much to do with boat construction, capisce?
What if it's about someone making boat builders pay for protection?

Of course then it has nothing to do with the recording industry...
-nB

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027873)

You two have really beaten the hell out of that poor shipbuilding/shipsinking metaphor. Will you please leave it alone now? Enough, already.

Hear, hear. From now on, only baseball metaphors will be considered acceptable.

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (1)

redalien (711170) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029203)

You might not need to know the whole design, but if you do you know about the exhaust shafts that are the weak point. Many bothans died, etc.

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (2, Informative)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026781)

"A defense lawyer you may only tell you what you want to hear, so that you will pay him."

Erm... No.

Your lawyer has an obligation to tell you the truth to his/her full knowledge no matter what you want to hear. Either that or he/she can face disbarment. This is the base of the client-attorney trust relationship.

Just imagine if the government or the other part could pay your lawyer to misinform you...

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027701)

Erm... No, your lawyer must tell you the truth to his/her full knowledge no matter what you want to here IF you might be able to prove that they lied to you.

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (0)

Mr_eX9 (800448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024479)

Congratulations, you just made an ad hominem [wikipedia.org] argument!

Just because he's a defense attorney doesn't mean his opinion is invalid.

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19024623)

That wasn't an ad hominem argument. If any fallacy, it was a spin on Appeal to Authority. He's claiming that a prosecutor would, perforce, have "better" knowledge than a defense attorney.

Re:Shouldn't they be asking ... (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025575)

I'm wondering if it would be possible to win some money by countersuing the RIAA for damages caused by these ridiculous lawsuits. I'm guessing this isn't really possible, otherwise, there'd be an army of greedy lawyers filing these lawsuits.

I've dogded, like, 10000 murder charges (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19024145)

It really came down to the fact that I have not murdered anyone. Yet.

Re:I've dogded, like, 10000 murder charges (2, Insightful)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024835)

Troll? It's both hilarious and insightful.

RICO laws were not intended for this type of thing, and the RIAA is likely not engaging in racketeering by any technical definitions, AND we all know how technical the law is.

It's sad when Slashdot's moderators wear their biases on their sleeves so blithely that humorous sarcasm pointing out the foibles of others is instantly labeled trolling.

Re:I've dogded, like, 10000 murder charges (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19025163)

It's sad when Slashdot's moderators wear their biases on their sleeves so blithely that humorous sarcasm pointing out the foibles of others is instantly labeled trolling.
I'm fine with having biased sources as long as they clearly state their biases.

Re:I've dogded, like, 10000 murder charges (1)

slugstone (307678) | more than 7 years ago | (#19028625)

And that is why I like to watch Fox news. I know where they stand. The others are left somewhere but where.

Dang, I am office topice again. Can someone slap me.

Re:I've dogded, like, 10000 murder charges (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025855)

RICO laws were not intended for this type of thing

You're right. It was intended to harass people for drug possession. Get caught with a roach in the ashtray, and the sheriff gets to keep your new Suburban, and maybe your house.

Re:I've dogded, like, 10000 murder charges (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19027339)

Actually, threatening people to sue them if they don't pay up fits the definition of racketeering pretty well.

Re:I've dogded, like, 10000 murder charges (3, Informative)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027443)

Actually, the law may not have been designed for this, but some of the RIAA's tactics do fall under RICO. Just read the Attorney General's Guidlines on RICO and criminal/terrorist enterprises, and the RICO Act itself.

Here are a few sections of interest:

"Moreover, a group's activities and the statements of its members may properly be
considered in conjunction with each other. A combination of statements and activities may
justify a determination that the threshold standard for a terrorism enterprise investigationis
satisfied, even if the statements alone or the activities alone would not warrant such a
determination."


"(1) Threats or advocacy of violence or other covered criminal acts:
Statements are made in relation to or in furtherance of an enterprise's political or social
objectives that threaten or advocate the use of force or violence, or statements are made
in furtherance of an enterprise that otherwise threaten or advocate criminal conduct
within the scope of 18 U.S.C. 2331(1) or (5) or 2332b(g)(5)(B), which may concern such
matters as (e.g.):

(i) engaging in attacks involving or threatening massive loss of life or injury,
mass destruction, or endangerment of the national security;

(ii) killing or injuring federal personnel, destroying federal facilities, or defying
lawful federal authority;


(iii) killing, injuring or intimidating individuals because of their status as United
States nationals or persons, or because of their national origin, race,color,
religion, or sex; or

(iv) depriving individuals of any rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the
United States.


(2) Apparent ability or intent to carry out violence or other covered activities:
The enterprise manifests an apparent ability or intent to carry out violence or other
activities within the scope of 18 U.S.C. 2331(1) or (5) or 2332b(g)(5)(B), e.g.:

(i) by acquiring, or taking steps towards acquiring, biological agents or toxins,
toxic chemicals or their precursors, radiological or nuclear materials, explosives,
or other destructive or dangerous materials (or plans or formulas for such
materials), or weapons, under circumstances where, by reason of the quantity or
character of the items, the lawful purpose of the acquisition is not apparent;

(ii) by the creation, maintenance, or support of an armed paramilitary
organization;

(iii) by paramilitary training; or

(iv) by other conduct demonstrating an apparent ability or intent to injure or
intimidate individuals, or to interfere with the exercise of their constitutional or
statutory rights."


"II. GENERAL CRIMES INVESTIGATIONS

A.
DEFINITIONS

(1) "Exigent circumstances" are circumstances requiring action before
authorization otherwise necessary under these guidelines can reasonably be obtained, in
order to protect life or substantial property interests; to apprehend or identify a fleeing
offender; to prevent the hiding, destructionor alteration of evidence; or to avoid other
serious impairment or hindrance of an investigation.

(2) "Sensitive criminal matter" is any alleged criminal conduct involving corrupt
action by a public official or political candidate, the activities of a foreign government,
the activities of a religious organization or a primarily political organization or the related
activities of any individual prominent in such an organization, or the activities of the
news media; and any other matter which in the judgment of a Special Agent in Charge
(SAC) should be brought to the attention of the United States Attorney or other
appropriate official in the Department of Justice, as well as FBI Headquarters (FBIHQ)."


Now, here are some excerpts from the RICO ACT itself that the RIAA might just so happen to fall under:

Title 18, 1961 (RICO)

1) "racketeering activity" means (A) any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; (B) any act which is indictable under any of the following provisions of title 18, United States Code: Section 201 (relating to bribery), section 224 (relating to sports bribery), sections 471, 472, and 473 (relating to counterfeiting), section 659 (relating to theft from interstate shipment) if the act indictable under section 659 is felonious, section 664 (relating to embezzlement from pension and welfare funds), sections 891-894 (relating to extortionate credit transactions), section 1028 (relating to fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents), section 1029 (relating to fraud and related activity in connection with access devices), section 1084 (relating to the transmission of gambling information), section 1341 (relating to mail fraud), section 1343 (relating to wire fraud), section 1344 (relating to financial institution fraud), section 1425 (relating to the procurement of citizenship or nationalization unlawfully), section 1426 (relating to the reproduction of naturalization or citizenship papers), section 1427 (relating to the sale of naturalization or citizenship papers), sections 1461-1465 (relating to obscene matter), section 1503 (relating to obstruction of justice), section 1510 (relating to obstruction of criminal investigations), section 1511 (relating to the obstruction of State or local law enforcement), section 1512 (relating to tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant), section 1513 (relating to retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant), section 1542 (relating to false statement in application and use of passport), section 1543 (relating to forgery or false use of passport), section 1544 (relating to misuse of passport), section 1546 (relating to fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents), sections 1581-1591 (relating to peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons).,[1] section 1951 (relating to interference with commerce, robbery, or extortion), section 1952 (relating to racketeering), section 1953 (relating to interstate transportation of wagering paraphernalia), section 1954 (relating to unlawful welfare fund payments), section 1955 (relating to the prohibition of illegal gambling businesses), section 1956 (relating to the laundering of monetary instruments), section 1957 (relating to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity), section 1958 (relating to use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire), sections 2251, 2251A, 2252, and 2260 (relating to sexual exploitation of children), sections 2312 and 2313 (relating to interstate transportation of stolen motor vehicles), sections 2314 and 2315 (relating to interstate transportation of stolen property), section 2318 (relating to trafficking in counterfeit labels for phonorecords, computer programs or computer program documentation or packaging and copies of motion pictures or other audiovisual works), section 2319 (relating to criminal infringement of a copyright), section 2319A (relating to unauthorized fixation of and trafficking in sound recordings and music videos of live musical performances), section 2320 (relating to trafficking in goods or services bearing counterfeit marks), section 2321 (relating to trafficking in certain motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts), sections 2341-2346 (relating to trafficking in contraband cigarettes), sections 2421-24 (relating to white slave traffic), sections 175-178 (relating to biological weapons), sections 229-229F (relating to chemical weapons), section 831 (relating to nuclear materials), (C) any act which is indictable under title 29, United States Code, section 186 (dealing with restrictions on payments and loans to labor organizations) or section 501 (c) (relating to embezzlement from union funds), (D) any offense involving fraud connected with a case under title 11 (except a case under section 157 of this title), fraud in the sale of securities, or the felonious manufacture, importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling, or otherwise dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), punishable under any law of the United States, (E) any act which is indictable under the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, (F) any act which is indictable under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 274 (relating to bringing in and harboring certain aliens), section 277 (relating to aiding or assisting certain aliens to enter the United States), or section 278 (relating to importation of alien for immoral purpose) if the act indictable under such section of such Act was committed for the purpose of financial gain, or (G) any act that is indictable under any provision listed in section 2332b (g)(5)(B); (from http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/u sc_sec_18_00001961----000-.html [cornell.edu] )

Now also, you have to consider that RICO was substantially extended under the Patriot Act in such a way that almost anyone guilty under RICO can be found guilty of terrorism. Nice eh? Also, let's not forget, the RIAA has no right to music to which they or their member organizations do not own the rights to. I know of several times in which the RIAA was either sued for or complained against for copyright abuses themselves (selling live recorded shows without permission, etc). All it takes is two or more "criminal" acts over a 10 year period to qualify under RICO statutes.

That's a nice clean criminal record you've got (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19028947)

It sure would be a shame for something to happen to it.

Simple (3, Insightful)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024159)

Greasing the right palms will let you break the law and get away with it, too.

Re:Simple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19024301)

Greasing the right palms will let you break the law and get away with it, too.

Great Shit you ass phintcer motherfuckers! I just got first post! W00T! W00T! W00T! In your face, fucksticks! I am the fucking king! Oh, and the captcha is "boycotts"! I guess this means Zonk likes it in the ass!

Re:Simple (4, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024365)

According to Wiki ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeer_Influenced_ and_Corrupt_Organizations_Act [wikipedia.org] ), which, while we all know is as reliable as Miss Cleo makes for a nice copy/paste...

Under RICO, a person or group who commits any two of 35 crimes--27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes--within a 10-year period and, in the opinion of the United States Attorney bringing the case, has committed those crimes with similar purpose or results can be charged with racketeering.

The RIAA has yet to actually get hit with their OWN investigation, let alone multiple ones. Since the RIAA hasn't been brought up on charges yet, let alone be convicted, they can't meet those prereqs for RICO.

This still leaves the door open in the future (given the RIAA's current track record), but right now, all that can be done is to keep winning the frivolous suits they bring up against other people and not settling early.

RICO looks like a three strikes law, and the RIAA doesn't have one strike against them yet.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19027707)

You don't have to be convicted of crimes to be charged with RICO. When you get hit with the RICO charge, the prosecution has to prove, at that time, that the underlying crimes occurred. RICO also includes a civil component, which allows private parties to sue people for committing a pattern of racketeering activity against them.

Re:Simple (1)

buxton2k (228339) | more than 7 years ago | (#19028199)

IANAL, but I don't believe RICO is anything like a "three-strikes" law. RICO deals with organizations that exhibit patterns of criminal activity. That was the problem prosecutors faced with the mafia; any single crime committed by a mafioso might not be particularly serious, and even if it was, they could only get the people who committed it or who they had clear evidence conspired to commit it. But it was pretty obvious to all observers that there was a larger organization behind the individual crimes, but removed from their commission. RICO in effect criminalized the organization itself, if it was linked to a pattern of criminal activity. The crimes themselves don't need to be big ones (though I think they do need to occur in at least two states); and the crimes need not be prosecuted before the RICO charge. The federal prosecutor might bring charges of fraud by an employee of a company in one state, money laundering by another employee in another state, and argue that these constitute a pattern of activity centered on the company they work for, thus justifying RICO charges. At this point they can effectively seize all the companies assets for the trial, and dismantle the organization. All of which makes it well suited for the RIAA, which is basically the Mafia without the cool fedoras.

hide the evidence (1)

BamZyth (940235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025457)

If you throw away the kleenex after the act, it`s difficult to prove there was a genocide.

Re:Simple (1)

clem (5683) | more than 7 years ago | (#19028675)

Perhaps they're just RICO suave?

so the needed reform is identified (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024275)

malicious civil prosecution and filing spurious, meritless, lawsuits need to become crimes with a 366 day maximum jail sentence

Re:so the needed reform is identified (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027639)

Why so short a jail sentence? Copying a single DVD, or DRM encoded music file lands you in jail for 5 years for a first offense. Longer than some violent crimes. Why do these fuckers get to go to prison for just 1 year.

Re:so the needed reform is identified (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027959)

so the needed reform is identified
malicious civil prosecution and filing spurious, meritless, lawsuits need to become crimes with a 366 day maximum jail sentence

Malice means not only hatred, ill will, or spite as it is ordinarily understood; again, to be sure, that is malice; but it also means that condition of mind that prompts a person to intentionally inflict damage without just cause, excuse, or justification. {M]alice, like intent, is a state of mind and as such is seldom proven with direct evidence. Rather, malice is ordinarily proven by circumstantial evidence from which it may be inferred. State of North Carolina v. Robert Bruan Sexton [findlaw.com]

The plaintiff in a civil action does not have to demonstrate that he has "probable cause" to bring action, but simply a reasonable belief that he has been wronged. In a criminal action for malicious prosecution, malice - as an essential element of the offense - would have to proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Not easy.

If you want to see someone in jail you have to convince a prosecutor to that he has a realistic chance to win a case against a particular individual - not an amorphous corporate entity. Again, not easy.

Asking the wrong question. (5, Interesting)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024287)

Asking about RICO is a red herring; ask instead about anti-trust - you know, price fixing, market collusion.

both (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19025135)

It's both, collusion to fix prices and on going payola scandals, as in, since the 50s at least, and they will_not_ stop, and they do have convictions there, so it is a RICO case. Where's the choice on the radio that stopping payola allegedly was going to fix? It's the same top 40 since I've been a kid and the radio was all AM. NOTHING has changed there. With the big group, why aren't there any noticeable pricing differences? Cost of copies is negligible,so there's only one answer, most likely collusion.

There's plenty to go get a RICO case going, just no one in government gives a crap about consumers, we are living in the corporate crooks rule the world phase of government. Look at sony rootkit, imagine if it had been YOU did that? You'd be in jail now, plus a fine that would hurt. Sony and their tame rootkit company? Small fine that didn't hurt, a week or so of sorta negative press that meant about nothing in the grand consumer area, no jail time for anyone for mass "hacking", and back to business, and their next suckers pay the fine.

I don't download, I *boycott* and have been doing so for many years now. Any band that signs with an RIAA affiliated label, screw 'em, I don't even want to listen to their crap, nothing I haven't already accumulated years ago, and is most likely now on an obsolete format. Just say no to giving the MAFIAA labels or studios one penny. There are plenty of other things to do for amusement and entertainment, and certainly better places to spend your money.

Re:both (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026907)

I think the RIAA was not the object of any investigations on price fixing or anything similar. Record companies, on the other hand, seemingly insist on such hard to prove conducts.

I am not familiar with the law, but if accepting gifts from record companies or people connected to them became a crime, it would be a tad more difficult for them to exert undue influence over radios.

Maybe some laws could be revised.

Re:both (5, Insightful)

Macadamizer (194404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027193)

With the big group, why aren't there any noticeable pricing differences? Cost of copies is negligible,so there's only one answer, most likely collusion.

Just because everyone charges the same price for a CD does not mean there is collusion. The problem is, CD's are not fungible -- you can only get a U2 CD (legally) from one source, the record label that works with U2.

If you could get U2 CD's (legally) from multiple sources that were in competition with each other, and they still all charged the same price, then THAT might be evidence of collusion.

If people didn't care about which CD they were buying, and only want any old CD, and all CD's were still the same price, that might be evidence of price-fixing as well.

But neither of these are reality -- the fact that a U2 CD and an Usher CD cost about the same amount of money simply means that the record companies can sell a lot of CD's at the current price, and that's what they are priced at. Actually, you can probably get an ABBA CD a lot cheaper than the U2 CD, because the market sets the price, and it's hard to sell an ABBA CD for the price of a new U2 CD. But the fact that the Usher CD and the U2 CD are the same price is not evidence of price-fixing -- if the label selling U2 CD's dropped their price by $2 a CD, you wouldn't expect all of the Usher fans will become U2 fans. Musical taste doesn't usually work that way. Simply put, there isn't a competitive market for CD's like there are for many consumer goods -- each CD is represented (usually) by only a single record label, so there is a single source for the CD, so there CAN'T be collusion on price, at least not for any particular CD.

Re:both (1)

jellie (949898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19028331)

You do have a point. The CD market is not competitive; if I want to buy that ABBA CD, I have very limited choices. But the government (FTC) has tried to prosecute the music industry over price-fixing, and in at least one case, the industry has settled [cnn.com] over the issue of "minimum advertising price". Also, Eliot Spitzer and nearly all the states [usatoday.com] settled as a result of the industry's MAP practices.

As I understand law, a settlement does not imply acknowledgement of guilt. Therefore, the industry has never been proved to be in collusion with each other (even though the FTC and the state AGs must have plenty of evidence). But just because the price of a U2 or Usher CD are similar does not mean that the market set the price; perhaps years of illegal price-fixing has ingrained in our minds that CDs always cost $15 (or whatever the hell it is - I haven't bought a CD in many years).

Re:Asking the wrong question. (3, Insightful)

Kelz (611260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025917)

And trying to take down a conglomorate of lawyers with reps and senators in their pockets with law is like trying to cut down a tree with that herring.

This is not organized crime. (1)

FMota91 (1050752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024297)

This is legalized crime.

Why is it that... (5, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024303)

We can get memos and emails to leak out of redmond, D.C., Apple etc. but not the offices of the RIAA or their associated law partner's offices?

It would only take one memo or email showing that they knew a defendant was not guilty or that they have no real proof or that they know they are fishing for information in court to seriously harm their cause.

I think (and IANAL) that if this could be shown once, it would be proper to ask for all communications between the RIAA and their lawyers regarding any particular case in discovery. That should pretty much shut down their tactics.

Can someone tell me why this doesn't happen?

Re:Why is it that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19024375)

It would only take one memo or email showing that they knew a defendant was not guilty

What would be the point of suing someone who they knew wasn't guilty? They have millions of people to sue who are guilty.

Re:Why is it that... (5, Funny)

JoelMartinez (916445) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024405)

Maybe that just means that any documents like that don't actually exist, and that the RIAA isn't actually a corrupt organization. How's that ;-)

Re:Why is it that... (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024491)

MOD PARENT UP

+1 Hilarious Joke

Attorney Client Privilege (4, Informative)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024809)

... I think (and IANAL) that if this could be shown once, it would be proper to ask for all communications between the RIAA and their lawyers regarding any particular case in discovery. That should pretty much shut down their tactics. Can someone tell me why this doesn't happen?
IAANAL: It's called the attorney client privilege. We rarely think about it except as an inconvenience, but it really does help our legal system remain fair and efficient (not that our system is either, but it could be worse).

On the other hand, if you could find a memo between the RIAA and it's constituency or within one of the organizations, it should be fair game...

Re:Attorney Client Privilege (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19026501)

On the other hand, if you could find a memo between the RIAA and it's constituency or within one of the organizations, it should be fair game...


I'd be willing to bet that nothing like that exists, as all memos, email and etc will be CC-ed to their lawyers, there by
making it priviledged as well..

Presumed guilt? (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024421)

Any RICO action brought against the RIAA would have to focus on the wire fraud component, likely accusing the record labels of poking around someone's PC without permission.' That's going to be a difficult argument to make, given that Kazaa's default settings give users no reasonable expectation of privacy."

This argument presupposes that you actually had Kazaa installed and actually traded the files.

If some idiot^H^H^H^H^Hexpert from the RIAA gets my current IP address as the ID of someone who has shared music (I've never personally neither shared nor downloaded music .. ever) if the RIAA spends time trying to break into my computer to prove that I did something I've never actually done ... that sure as hell sounds like they'd be poking about my PC without permission.

We have yet to see any good evidence that the stuff the RIAA uses to launch these suits even remotely passes muster for the legal requirements. Their experts keep saying it does, but a screen shot of data gathered through dubious measures isn't to be trusted. I'll mock up a screenshot showing anything you like if you give me an hour or so.

I mean, what if the RIAA starts pre-texting to get information about my account once they figure out that I don't have any open ports on my machine and there is no evidence I've ever done anything? Their assertion that an IP address is legally tied to an individual is a completely weak argument. Next they'll claim my firewall is an attempt to prevent them from breaking into my computers to collect the evidence they believe should be there.

I think there's a lot of evidence to support the fact that they're doing some pretty shady things. I mean, how many times have we heard about people who don't even own computers being sued? The RIAA just quietly drops the suit and moves on, hoping nobody will say anything.

Cheers

Re:Presumed guilt? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19025305)

I've never personally neither shared nor downloaded music .. ever
Well you should start! Downloading music is fun, fast and efficient. There's a huge selection, and some of it is quite good. And with digital music, it's easy to send copies to your friends.

In particular, I recommend you download music released under a Creative Commons license. For instance, check out: http://www.jamendo.com/en/ [jamendo.com]

Just because you don't want to infringe current copyright law (good for you!) doesn't mean you have to ignore the wonderful world of downloadable music!

A screenshot of anything I like (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19026989)

I'll mock up a screenshot showing anything you like if you give me an hour or so.

I would like to see Steve Ballmer's Ubuntu 7.04 GNOME desktop. He is using Evolution to compose a message to billg, suggesting they drop this whole silly Vista business and rebuild Windows on a stable Unix base. His signature uses ASCII art of a fluffy kitten holding his business card.

An Open Office document is also visible, explaining in Ballmer's own words that it's ok Linux is built on "Interlectural Propperty" stolen from Microsoft, because Linux had it first.

Amarok is visible, playing the sort of song we can imagine Mr Ballmer humming along to.

You are free to add other touches.

You have forty-five minutes.

Expand your thinking of "expectation of privacy" (4, Insightful)

JohnnyComeLately (725958) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024463)

That's going to be a difficult argument to make, given that Kazaa's default settings give users no reasonable expectation of privacy I was say it's a great deal easier if you widen your scope to include hardware. Thousands, if not millions, of PC users use Residential Gateways, which specifically state "increased security, yada yada yada" on the box. So although the SOFTWARE may be configured to be open (such as LimeWire), the user could easily argue that the HARDWARE provided the expectation. With NAT and obfuscated IP addresses it's a technicially sufficient explanation.

Re:Expand your thinking of "expectation of privacy (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025053)

Counterpoint: Security is not privacy.

Re:Expand your thinking of "expectation of privacy (1)

JohnnyComeLately (725958) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027221)

Then that would mean the original statement has no point, since I'm responding to the claim that a open security model implies no privacy. I would never say they're mutually inclusive, but the author's statement seems to directly correlate the two. If you go into the bathroom and leave the door unlocked, you're entitled to expecting privacy. The author implies that because I went into a room (not bathroom) with the door unlocked, I expect no privacy because the door isn't locked. I was merely stating the door is indeed secure because of the Rottweiler he parked right in front of it with the command, "Sick Balls". 8-D

Re:Expand your thinking of "expectation of privacy (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027717)

Again, no. "Expectation of privacy" is a legal term (which is generally used for determining legality of government searches) and this is the sense of the word that is used here.

Kazaa has no reasonable expectation of privacy not because it's traffic is unsecured between endpoints but because it takes no steps to obfuscate the end user. The IP addresses and all content shared are broadcast to the network, and that personally identifiable information is readily available to any user on the whole network.

It's like sending email encrypted vs not encrypted. This in no way implies that SMTP traffic is secure (headers remain visible, packets are world-readable), but it does provide privacy for the end users for message content. Privacy is often a prerequisite for computer security because controlling digital information is how you secure it, but the two concepts are really not related.

Strictly speaking, a door need not be locked to provide privacy. You could, for example, put a transparent door with a deadbolt on a bathroom. Security but no privacy. Or, you could use a curtain or turn the lights out. Privacy but no security. Consider also: a man in a jail cell is very secure, but has no expectation of privacy at all. On the other hand, a man in his own home with curtains closed and doors closed has privacy, but he need not lock his doors to ensure that. He could be having a wild party or surfing SlashDot, and you have no way of knowing without violating the mechanisms of his privacy.

Re:Expand your thinking of "expectation of privacy (1)

JohnnyComeLately (725958) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029335)

OK, to counter the counter point... The last couple paragraphs just re-state what I've summed up, which was, they are not mutually inclusive. You can have each by themselves and each independantly (privacy and security).


I would submit that the RIAA is finding it's NOT that simple as to assume the public IP address is there for all to see and easily identifiable. Otherwise, they'd never be wrong. I'm willing to concede that I wasn't using the legal definition of privacy, but the practical. However, I could argue you've made the same leap with the 2nd paragraph by stating,

no reasonable expectation of privacy not because it's traffic is unsecured between endpoints but because it takes no steps to obfuscate the end user

which implies that I WOULD expect privacy if it's obfustcated, which back to what I think is your most valid point, would STILL not give a reasonable expectation of privacy.


It's all great fodder for debate. I could argue this point either way (file sharing by its very nature removes reasonable expectation of privacy VS secure, NAT'd and shared networks imply anonominity, and hence, privacy).

Kazaa?! (1)

Mr_eX9 (800448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024517)

"That's going to be a difficult argument to make, given that Kazaa's default settings give users no reasonable expectation of privacy."


Why are we still talking about Kazaa in 2007? As far as I know that network has been dead for years.

Re:Kazaa?! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19025697)

Why are we still talking about Kazaa in 2007?

No answer for this has been showed for me yet, so I will attempt to answer.

From what I understand of these cases is that most of the lawsuits are being filed using information collected years ago, when Kazaa was widely used.

Ah! The old "Not guilty of the crime" argument (3, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024609)

RICO was always going to be a stretch. The RIAA was, and still is behaving reprehensibly. The lawyers wanted some way to prove they were acting illegally, so they has a stab at the RICO laws. But these aren't designed to stop an entrenched cartel from suing its customers using inappropriate laws. They're disigned to combat actual organised crime. We're talking gangsters and organised fraud operations.

The only way to stop the RIAA is for someone to fight them on their terms, and win on the basis that the laws they're suing under don't apply to P2P filesharing. Given the possible costs - expensive even if the defendant wins - this is unlikely to happen.

Re:Ah! The old "Not guilty of the crime" argument (-1, Offtopic)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024715)

Hmmmmmm... wonder if Bill gates has any contraband on his machine...

Re:Ah! The old "Not guilty of the crime" argument (3, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025203)

RICO was always going to be a stretch. The RIAA was, and still is behaving reprehensibly. The lawyers wanted some way to prove they were acting illegally, so they has a stab at the RICO laws. But these aren't designed to stop an entrenched cartel from suing its customers using inappropriate laws. They're disigned to combat actual organised crime. We're talking gangsters and organised fraud operations.

Except RICO has become a way to dog pile on a defendant to get them to plea bargain by threatening much higher penalities if they are found guilty. It gives them a bigger hammer to use.

As one lawyer friend put it - You want to learn about right and wrong - seek religion. You want to learn about winning and losing - go to court.

How? (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024805)

How to dodge RICO charges: 101
1) Bribe officials.
2) ???
3) Profit

RICO is a bit inappropriate here (5, Informative)

iabervon (1971) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024859)

The point of RICO is to deal with organizations made of disposable criminals. If you're trying to fight organized crime with ordinary laws, you run into the problem that gangsters can refill their ranks faster than you can investigate the individual people and convict them for their crimes, and most of the ones you can pin particular crimes on where doing it for higher-ups who don't commit any crimes directly and are sufficient nebulous in their control that it's hard to convict them.

Now, if RIAA employees were being regularly convicted of fraud or extortion for their work activities, but the RIAA was claiming that they didn't officially support this campaign, then RICO would make sense. But, in fact, any crimes being committed are being committed by the RIAA as a whole or its member organizations, so the obvious thing is just to charge them with their particular crimes.

What about extortion? (2, Interesting)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024917)

It has always seemed to me that demanding money from someone, and threatening to financially ruin them if they don't comply, is nothing more than extortion. Does the RIAA's activities amount to extortion, and does extortion carry a jail sentence?

Re:What about extortion? (1)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024975)

Oops. What I meant to say was, "Do the RIAA's activities..."

Re:What about extortion? (1)

jimand (517224) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025019)

What I meant to say was, "Do the RIAA's activities..."

grammar corrections? You must be new here...

Re:What about extortion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19025219)

nope - you can demand anything you like from anyone you like, so long as the threat is that of a court and state-sponsored force. It's called a completely stupid system since all it actually does it back people into the corner of getting screwed or going postal.

Re:What about extortion? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026169)

"demanding money from someone, and threatening to financially ruin them if they don't comply, is nothing more than extortion."

What if an auto shop damaged your car when you brought it in for service, then gave it back to you and refused to fix the damage they caused. Does 'demanding money' from them mean you're practicing extortion? No, it means you're suing them for property damage, as is your right under the law.

Unless you threaten violence or some other illegal action (like kidnapping or torching their car) then you're just suing them, and it's not extortion.

And to protect people from frivolous lawsuits, if the judge/jury believe the plaintiff is full of crap and his claims have absolutely no merit, then they can order that the plaintiff pay for the defendant's legal expenses. So the defendant would not be financially ruined.

Re:What about extortion? (2, Interesting)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027021)

Unless you threaten violence or some other illegal action...

There have been a growing number of cases where people that aren't guilty are reportedly told by the RIAA's representatives that, even if they aren't guilty, the RIAA isn't dropping the suit. What I was wondering is, is it illegal to sue someone, or press forward with a suit, even if you know (or should know) that they probably aren't guilty of what you are accusing them of? I know that the person or company initiating the suit can be found liable for damages, but are they committing a criminal offense?

I can explain it like this using your example...

What if you noticed that your car was damaged and you suspect, although have no proof, that the auto shop that worked on the car a month ago is responsible? And what if, when you confront them, they deny damaging the car? Is it extortion to tell them that you plan on suing them, proof or no proof, but they can make it easier on themselves by giving you $1000 right now to avoid a messy trial?

Re:What about extortion? (1)

Macadamizer (194404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027329)

What I was wondering is, is it illegal to sue someone, or press forward with a suit, even if you know (or should know) that they probably aren't guilty of what you are accusing them of? I know that the person or company initiating the suit can be found liable for damages, but are they committing a criminal offense?

Not criminal generally -- there might be a criminal contempt issue if someone was ordered by a court to lay off, then still tried to sue, the court might find them in criminal contempt -- but for the most part, this is all civil court. There are civil remedies, and a lawyer could face discipline and fines for engaging in such behavior, but except for a few exceptional circumstances, nobody is going to jail.

Re:What about extortion? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027049)

and if the defendant has, say, had to sell their house to cover their legal expenses in the mean time. Will they get the associated costs of moving out of their house and storing their property paid? And if their kids have had to do without, say, new clothes and had to suffer bullying because they've been wearing hand-me-downs, will they be compensated? What about the months of sleepless nights, family breakdown, complete loss of life outside of work/courtroom?
My cousin is a lawyer (in Britain, when the winner normally gets their costs from the other side) and he was explaining to me when I challenged him about contract law and 'valueless considerations' (such as promising not to sue for something that they wouldn't be able to successfully sue you for anyway) that even if the other side has no case you won't get all the costs incurred in defence back.
And here's another example, http://www.taubmansucks.com/ [taubmansucks.com] , this guy was sued over a trademark issue by someone who had no case. A year later he finally won, and got the costs of engaging a lawyer back. Unfortunately, he couldn't afford to engage a lawyer at the start so had to defend himself. He's a consultant. When he was buried in legal documents, he couldn't work. (from act115) "I probably lost tens of thousands of dollars in potential billings;" - did he see any of that? nope. Work you do to defend yourself is free - if you want to be paid, be a lawyer.

Suing someone without a case is extortion in all but name. Infact it's worse than extortion. If you try to extort me by coming around with a baseball bat, I'd be allowed to take your head off with a big sword, if you did it with a court I have to roll over and take it, or end up in jail/dead.
What do you think about the judge who's suing a dry cleaners for $65million over a lost pair of trousers? if he wins outright they'll be ruined. If he wins 1% of what he's suing for they'll be ruined. Even if he doesn't win, the hidden costs that they've incurred (maybe the stress has caused them to make mistakes and damage other people's trousers) will be close to ruinous (assuming, then, that they get their costs back, which given that they did misplace his trousers, isn't guaranteed). How does that NOT fit the common definition of 'extortion', just because his enforcers have badges and are lead by a man in a wig and a toy hammer?

RICO??? (2, Informative)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025107)

"Enacted in 1970, RICO allows for additional jail time in the case of criminal prosecutions--and heavier civil penalties for lawsuits--if the person or entities involved are found to be part of an ongoing criminal enterprise."
I would call the baseless allegations about copyright infringement exactly that. Extortion at the LEAST.

Since copyright infringement is a CIVIL matter, the RIAA has used criminal laws to reach it's ends. SLAPPING
people who can ill afford a defense. They ARE a criminal racket, and as such, need to go away.

FFS IANAL WTF RICO KTHXBYE (1)

Attaturk (695988) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026117)

I'd venture to suggest that most of us /. nerds come under the IANAL category and some of us are even foreign!

With that in mind, is it really too much to ask that submitters and editors (ha!) edit and insert full length descriptions of acronyms when they are first presented in a story?
e.g. RICO, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act [wikipedia.org] .

Thanks for your time; this has been a public service whine.

How About...? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025235)

How about the Wire Fraud component of calling and demanding money under the threat of an expensive lawsuit to defend otherwise? And calling it a "settlement", when it's really a Take-It-Or-Leave-It demand? Doesn't that count?

In the same way the RIAA mislabels other aspects of their legal actions (e.g. calling P2P filesharing Online Media Distribution Systems), calling this a "settlement" agency is absolute New-Speak.

Re:How About...? (1)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026641)

I would think that a decent prosecutor could make the case that it's extortion.

Mail Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19025455)

Sending so many incorrect infringement letters could constitute the mail fraud component.

Re:Mail Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19026897)

Sending so many incorrect infringement letters could constitute the mail fraud component.


Negotiating the amount to be extorted over the phone would be the wire fraud.

Wiretapping (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025549)

That's going to be a difficult argument to make, given that Kazaa's default settings give users no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Doesn't matter how much of a reasonable expectation of privacy the user has. Recording a conversation over a wire is wiretapping. Which is what the RIAA is doing. "User X and address aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd downloaded these packets." IANAL, but I believe it is illegal without a court order. [eff.org]

From the link:

Sec. 2511. Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited

(1) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter any person who - (a) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication;

Only way it's allowed is if the courts say you can, or you own the cable.

(ii) Notwithstanding any other law, providers of wire or electronic communication service, their officers, employees, and agents, landlords, custodians, or other persons, are authorized to provide information, facilities, or technical assistance to persons authorized by law to intercept wire, oral, or electronic communications or to conduct electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, if such provider, its officers, employees, or agents, landlord, custodian, or other specified person, has been provided with - (A) a court order directing such assistance signed by the authorizing judge, or (B) a certification in writing by a person specified in section 2518(7) of this title or the Attorney General of the United States that no warrant or court order is required by law, that all statutory requirements have been met, and that the specified assistance is required,

I don't believe the RIAA has a letter from the Attorney General, so that seems like that covers it.

Um.. no... (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025773)

first of all, if you are a part to the 'conversation' it's not wiretapping.

i.e. if you call me, and I live in a one party state, I can record the call, and that's not wiretapping.

second, it's not "address aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd downloaded these packets"
but rather, uploaded.. (an important point, complete leechers have not violated the law)

Sort of (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19025977)

first of all, if you are a part to the 'conversation' it's not wiretapping.

IIRC, didn't Nixon get in some hot water recording conversations where he was in the conversation? Still illegal, I believe. IANAL though.

second, it's not "address aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd downloaded these packets" but rather, uploaded.

True. I wonder if someone has tried to work this into a defense? If the RIAA is part of the conversation, then it must be taking place with their consent. If they're not part of the conversation, then they're wiretapping. They couldn't argue that they are both, I'd imagine.

Re:Sort of (2, Informative)

praksys (246544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026687)

Nixon didn't get into trouble for recording conversations that he was a part of - he got into trouble because those recordings revealed that he was aware of illegal activities being performed on his behalf, or on his orders.

Re:Sort of (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19026757)

IIRC, didn't Nixon get in some hot water recording conversations where he was in the conversation? Still illegal, I believe. IANAL though.

IIRC, Nixon got caught wrongdoing because he recorded everything and thought those recordings could not be subpoenaed:

He thought wrong. [wikipedia.org]

"The issue of access to the tapes went all the way to the Supreme Court. On July 24, 1974, in United States v. Nixon, the Court (which did not include the recused Justice Rehnquist) ruled unanimously that claims of executive privilege over the tapes were void, and they further ordered him to surrender them to Jaworski. On July 30, 1974, he complied with the order and released the subpoenaed tapes."

Re:Sort of (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029533)

A lot of the laws you are thinking of regarding recording have to do specifically with telephone conversations. Nixon's recordings were of conversations in his office, meaning that they were not subject to state law, only federal law, insofar as there was any federal law regarding conversation not over the telephone, and DC law. And as others have said, he didn't get in trouble for making the recordings but because he refused to release them because they contained evidence of his misconduct.

Re:Um.. no... (1)

Macadamizer (194404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027643)

second, it's not "address aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd downloaded these packets"
but rather, uploaded.. (an important point, complete leechers have not violated the law)


You might want to re-read the Napster decision, I realize that it is not binding in most jurisdictions, but it is definitely persuasive:

Here is the relevant part of the argument from the 9th Circuit's ruling on Napster's appeal of the preliminary injunction:

"The district court further determined that plaintiffs' exclusive rights under ß 106 were violated: "here the evidence establishes that a majority of Napster users use the service to download and upload copyrighted music. . . . And by doing that, it constitutes-the uses constitute direct infringement of plaintiffs' musical compositions, recordings." A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc., Nos. 99-5183, 00-0074, 2000 WL 1009483, at *1 (N.D. Cal. July 26, 2000) (transcript of proceedings). The district court also noted that "it is pretty much acknowledged . . . by Napster that this is infringement." Id. We agree that plaintiffs have shown that Napster users infringe at least two of the copyright holders' exclusive rights: the rights of reproduction, ß 106(1); and distribution, ß 106(3). Napster users who upload file names to the search index for others to copy violate plaintiffs' distribution rights. Napster users who download files containing copyrighted music violate plaintiffs' reproduction rights." (emphasis added)

Odd statement... (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026003)

...At the end of the day, the RIAA may be a lot of things, but a criminal enterprise engaged in racketeering is not one of them.

They draw that statement essentially as a result of the facts that; (A) a large mass of people who have been individually charged haven't coordinated their efforts and (B) their hasn't been an RIAA whistleblower. I would hardly consider that proof of innocence...

Another slashdot article, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19026093)

Free of offensive and ignorant devices such as begging the question, catch-22s, etc.
Oh and the verify-word to post is 'compete', just hearing it over and over from the open source crowd makes me think open source isn't full of hypocritical crybabies that engage in product dumping.

What suprises me (1)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026157)

Is that with all the thousands of pending lawsuits, not one defendant has snapped and gone on a shooting spree. When you SLAPP [wikipedia.org] to many times eventually someone hits back. -- "The RIAA disrespects Allah" ---

Re:What suprises me (1)

ShinmaWa (449201) | more than 7 years ago | (#19028687)

The RIAA isn't into SLAPP suits. A SLAPP suit would be the RIAA suing Slashdot for libel, loss of income/goodwill, intentional emotional distress, and general grinchiness because of all the horrible "lies" Slashdot has posted about them for the sole purpose of getting Slashdot to stop valid criticism of the RIAA's activities.

The RIAA, on the other hand, file bunches of indiscriminate lawsuits in a rather scattershot manner. That's about as far removed from the planned, strategic, calculated lawsuits that make up a SLAPP as one can get.

"Predicate acts" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19026429)

"You have to have a pattern of racketeering activity: either criminal acts where there is a one-year jail penalty, or mail or wire fraud." Any RICO action brought against the RIAA would have to focus on the wire fraud component, likely accusing the record labels of poking around someone's PC without permission.'


Indisrimate extortion of money from dead people, grandmothers and children who don't own PCs aren't predicate acts. Aren't a pattern of criminal activity?

It *is* possible to buy a get (and stay) out of jail card in the US. You just have to be a member of the right economic class and blow the right politicians. Do the top dogs in the RIAA personally blow the politicians or are the legal whores their proxies for that, too?

Predicate Act == blowing Bush's buddies?

Because they havent broken any laws... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19026507)

So basically the reason prosecuters cant bust them with RICO is *gasp* RICO requires that the organization being indicted has broken a law multiple times? This seems like the biggest nonstory ever, they havent broken any laws so they arent going to be prosecuted. Am I just missing something here?

I dont like my neighbor much, maybe I can get him indicted on conspiracy to commit a crime! I just have to figure out how to work around the technicality that he hasnt committed any crimes....

Not wondering (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026529)

"Wondering why the RIAA hasn't been hit with racketeering charges over its shady legal fight against file-sharing?"
 
Nope, I'm not wondering at all. But then, I understand the law and don't hurl charges (that I don't understand) against organizations protecting their rights. Heck, unlike most here on Slashdot I appluad organizations trying to uphold the law - even when I don't agree with the law.

Re:Not wondering (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027759)

I understand the law

Yet you haven't even considered the possibility that there might be something illegal concerning their tactics?

I appluad organizations trying to uphold the law - even when I don't agree with the law.

You should think for yourself.

Re:Not wondering (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19028163)

I understand the law

Yet you haven't even considered the possibility that there might be something illegal concerning their tactics?

Whether or not there is something illegal about their tactics is utterly irrelevant to my understanding the law.
 
 

I appluad organizations trying to uphold the law - even when I don't agree with the law.

You should think for yourself.

Again, a statement by you that has nothing to do with my statement.

Ars consults an attorney... (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026623)

"Wondering why the RIAA hasn't been hit with racketeering charges over its shady legal fight against file-sharing? Ars Technica looks at why the RIAA has been able to dodge RICO charges. '"Right off the bat there are some problems with the predicate claims for RICO," explained IP attorney Rich Vazquez.


So is Ars Technica trying to get RICO-suave?

[ducking]

RIAA Countersuits: Mail Fraud (5, Interesting)

justanyone (308934) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026769)

IANAL!

If there must be explicit causation to bring racketeering charges against the RIAA that revolve around mail fraud, wire fraud, or a set of crimes that net over 1 year in jail, the obvious choice to me is mail fraud.

They have consistently misrepresented the facts they have in hand about any actual person in their "Settlement Offer" letters. These attempt to defraud consumers by making false claims about the evidence they have in hand regarding a particular person's innocence or guilt. These false claims are done for the purpose of self-enrichment.

If I file suit in federal court alleging I think that FamousPersonA is a wife-beater and then send a letter to FamousPersonA saying, "Settle with me and I'll drop the suit", I believe this is a form of blackmail. If I know that I have a larger legal team than they do and can outlast them at trial or in any countersuit, then I have unlimited means to extort money from FamousPersonA. Or, anyone else.

The claims are False because the RIAA purports to have proof of guilt. These are overly confident, overstated positions. They constitute a fraudulent mail scheme. They are individually punishible and form a pattern of intimidation and attempted blackmail.

"no reasonable expectation of privacy" (2, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19026891)

Kinda like running an defaulted Wifi AP gives users no reasonable expectation of privacy?

Yet people get busted for "stealing wifi".

Re:"no reasonable expectation of privacy" (1)

Macadamizer (194404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027765)

Kinda like running an defaulted Wifi AP gives users no reasonable expectation of privacy?

Yet people get busted for "stealing wifi".


You are conflating two different concepts. Theft of a particular resource has nothing to do with whether or not someone using said resource has any expectation of privacy.

What constitutes a "reasonable expectation" (1)

bcharr2 (1046322) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027509)

That's going to be a difficult argument to make, given that Kazaa's default settings give users no reasonable expectation of privacy."

I'm not sure I understand a "reasonable expectation of privacy" within this context. I mean, if I leave my garage unlocked so my neighbor can borrow my mower, I expect that if either a thief OR a police officer used the occasion to open the door and poke around inside, that both would be trespassing?

Let's say I've posted a nice large sign stating such, "Private Garage. Keep Out! All Violaters Are Trespassing And Will Be Prosecuted!". Would I then have legal recourse?

So what's difference with my computer? Can a company really present a case that essentially says, "We know Party A is guilty because we broke into their home and stole evidence that implicates them in stealing from us". Isn't the company implicating themselves criminally when they introduce this evidence?

Re:What constitutes a "reasonable expectation" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19028585)

The difference is that if you were to leave your garage door open (not just unlocked), revealing a row of pot plants lined up under sun lamps and a large sign saying "pot for sale, make me an offer), and a passing police officer saw them, he could act:)

Not everyone is a Kazaa-using Luser ... (2, Interesting)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19027675)

That's going to be a difficult argument to make, given that Kazaa's default settings give users no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Not everyone uses Kazaa, though. I'm sure there's plenty of geeks out there who use torrents, unpopular p2p clients, etc., who possibly encrypt their harddrives, protect them with passwords, etc.

While the majority of people sued by the RIAA may not adequately protect their material, all we would need would be a few incidences of the RIAA snooping on protected computers to bring RICO against them (IANAL).

The likely problem is that the RIAA just preys on easy targets; their whole objective is to successfully sue a number of people to scare the rest of the populace into compliance. They couldn't possibly litigate against everyone; it would be too expensive.

What we need to do, is set up some computers that are technically "protected," but are accessible through some well-known vulnerability/exploit used to bypass the user's password, and fill them to the brim with pirate data. Then with any luck the RIAA will slip and sue the holders of said computers, who should in turn contact the ACLU.

I read in another /. post somewhere that you only need two incidences of the crime in question to bring RICO charges against the corporation.

Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19028729)

Why not claim fraud alleging that claims of, e.g., $750 per song are in bad faith?

Re:Fraud (2, Informative)

Interfect (1089721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029371)

Sounds like a good idea. There's no way a person could have done $750 worth of damage by downloading a song licensed over iTunes for 99 cents.
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