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TorrentSpy Must Preserve Data In RAM For MPAA

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the good-luck-finding-merkin-computers dept.

The Courts 489

Transient writes "Reaffirming a magistrate's earlier decision, a federal judge has ordered TorrentSpy to begin keeping server logs as it defends itself against an MPAA lawsuit. In her opinion, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper interpreted federal discovery rules broadly. ' Judge Cooper took issue with TorrentSpy's argument that data in RAM is not "stored." She noted RAM's function as primary storage and that the storage of data in RAM — even if not permanently archived — makes it electronically stored information governed by federal discovery rules.' Given that TorrentSpy has limited access for users in the US, the ruling may be moot. But it does set a precedent for other, similar cases. 'Under this interpretation, any data stored in RAM could be subject to a subpoena, as at a basic level it is a "medium from which information can be obtained" just like a hard drive. '"

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489 comments

so hand them a stick of RAM (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388613)

"Funny, the data was in there before I pulled it out of the server."

Re:so hand them a stick of RAM (4, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388785)

When they install the software to read the full content of the RAM, the OS Requires a reboot before it can run for the first time.

Bah, move the servers offshore. (2, Funny)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389007)

This happened to an E-Gold broker recently, which the government robbed of several heavy 6-7 figure accounts. If memory serves me well, the account holders were not guilty of anything merely "suspected" and were not convicted of anything, but their "assets" were seized and liquidated.

The reason? The broker in question is one of the few who has not yet fled to the free market of international waters. They kept their servers in the US. Lesson 1. Globalism is not just for the big boys. In fact its friendlier for little players. You, me, mom and pop downtown, we're all the ones who should incorporate abroad if we do it at all.

Lesson 2. Torrentspy should work actively with friends from abroad, preferably from some nordic country or some place not friendly to the gestapo tactics of the EU, and US, China, etc. Right now, for the time being, South America seems allright, as would a drilling platform in the middle of the ocean (or close to shore, your preference). If you choose such a path and have money, hire good security, if you don't then you'd best be a good shot, and a great swimmer, you may need to defend such a place, especially if you declare it a separate independent nation or sovereign territory. After that, with a policy of neutrality and free trade with ALL who come to you, there is a fairly good chance you may even draw some of the Linux "community" to you, especially those who seek a place to host that is not "restricted" by either the East or the West.

Re:so hand them a stick of RAM (5, Funny)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389015)

That sounds like a job for SELinux. Lock the system down so hard it doesn't allow root logins at all, and logins under the id that the servers are running under. Have all that become enabled, say, five minutes after boot, or that it starts enabled and must be disabled from the boot command line during boot.

Make sure the system responds with an error message that explains all this if you try to login as one of the protected accounts...that to login you have to reboot the server.

Typical (2, Interesting)

sgant (178166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389191)

People that don't know anything about a certain subject are making rules and precedents about it.

"It's en dem ma-sheeens! We git da masheeen, then we git who was a-stealin our movies! We will git us sum cypherers to figger out dis and weee'l put 'em all in jail!"

Ok, they don't all talk like that I'm sure. But you get my point. This is ridiculous and this judge and others that put this little gem of a ruling together should be openly ridiculed at every opportunity.

Soo.... (4, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388623)

...as the data that is put into RAM is read and erased, can they (Torrentspy) be charged with destruction of evidence?

Re:Soo.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388773)

I was wondering the same thing, actually. Is this ruling a sign of things to come where computers no longer use regular RAM, but all memory storage in the future comes with built-in battery back up (incidentally, making it impossible to reboot your computer to start fresh in the event of catastrophic software failure)?

Re:Soo.... (5, Informative)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388835)

I think the basic argument is that Torrentspy is saying they can't provide IP addresses because they don't log them, and the judge is saying if they are in RAM then discovery applies and they are required to log them since RAM is discoverable. Basically the judge is tellling them to log the IP addresses and that the argument that they are only stored in RAM is not a valid legal excuse.

Re:Soo.... (4, Informative)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388995)

The judge explicitly narrowed the ruling to apply only to a party to a litigation only for the pendency of the court action. Such a ruling is akin to the obligation parties to a litigation have to maintain relevant documents -- even suspending their document retention policies, if necessary. The entire rule of preservation is motivated by fair play.

If this turns out to be expensive, TorrentSpy can make the MPAA pay for it. I'm not going to guess how probable that would be, but the option is certainly there to have the MPAA pay a few bucks for worthless IP information.

Actual vs Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20389219)

making the IP info truly worthless, make sure that the internal network IPs are recorded verbatim, not their speculative source address on the internet. so you will have 100,000 requests coming from IP address 10.0.0.1

Hmm that guy must really like downloading movies.

So what's the precedent? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389069)

Does this mean that I have to log every bit ever stored in RAM, just in case a court wants some information I didn't think to log?

I hope it only means they can require me to start logging things, not that I can be guilty of destruction of evidence or some such crap for neglecting to log something they consider important.

Let's also consider that just because something is in RAM doesn't mean it's reasonable to read. Every bit of DRM'd media is, at some point, stored unencrypted in RAM. That doesn't mean it's easy to get at. Suppose Torrentspy was using a webserver that didn't support logging? Suppose they never logged to physical media anyway -- suppose the entire webserver was run off a livecd?

I realize none of the above is relevant to the current case. I'm just trying to figure out exactly what implications this ruling has in a broader sense.

Re:Soo.... (2, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389133)

Basically the judge is telling them to log the IP addresses

Then the judge should have said that, and not obfuscated it to the point of making the judge sound incompetent to be making decisions in this field.

Of course, then the question becomes: where do you draw the line on what ephemeral data can a court require to be logged? If you don't draw the line somewhere, the storage requirements for even a week's worth of transactions and data for some places could well exceed the entire world's combined permanent storage.

Re:Soo.... (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389185)

Right. Basically, discovery can require you to turn over information you have, but can't require you to turn over information you just know.

Like, if you know a person's name, they can't make you turn that over in discovery, but if you happen to have it written down, they can require 'all documents that refer to John Doe'. (Whether or not they can make you tell them something in your head at all is a long and complicated legal question, but they can't do it via simple discovery.)

They tried to argue that, just like no discovery can say 'You are now required to transcribe all converstations with someone', it can't say 'You are now required to record all IPs'. That if people were already making transcriptions, yes, the court could order them handed over, but they are not making any.

The court said 'No, a closer analogy is that you're transcribing them on self-destructing paper, and we can make you use regular paper and hand them over. We can't stop you from stopping to record them entirely, but as long as they're in memory, you have already actually recorded them in a legal sense. They are physically represented in property of yours.'.

I know how people want this case to go, but it seems that is a pretty reasonable legal argument at this point. OTOH, it could be used to argue that people are legally required to tap their own phone and hand it over if someone has a discovery order requiring all 'voice recordings' to be handed over and something in the phone connection buffers in memory.

Re:Soo.... (2, Interesting)

narfbot (515956) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388945)

Why aren't they just considering the evidence the MPAA had when initiating the lawsuit? They had to have some evidence right? You can't go on a fishing-expedition right? What's the statute of limitations for evidence gathered *AFTER* the fact?

Just because they are a torrent tracker doesn't mean they are doing illegal things.

Whoops! (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388627)

Sorry, but the server power supply blew! Here's the box, g'luck! ;)

Re:Whoops! (2, Funny)

daeg (828071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389031)

What? No, that switch I hit by the door as you were dragging me out in cuffs didn't turn off the power. I have no idea what that switch does. Oh, it did kill the power? They must have installed a kill-switch by accident! What kind of dumbass builders put in a kill switch in residential buildings?

power failure (4, Interesting)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388645)

So can they convict me for destroying evidence because I turned off my computer?

Re:power failure (5, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388783)

There is little doubt in my mind that that is the case. It does not matter what you did, but if it was intentional then it is a very serious crime to deny or destroy evidence.

If you "forgot" to pay your colocation bill and they turned off your servers, that might work. You could claim you couldn't pay the bill because of all the money you are spending on lawyers. :)

Re:power failure (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389145)

And what if you obey a "cease and desist" letter by turning off the servers? Does that leave you liable for destruction of evidence?

Oh, sure, no problem (1)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388647)

'Under this interpretation, any data stored in RAM could be subject to a subpoena, as at a basic level it is a "medium from which information can be obtained" just like a hard drive. '

Okay, no problem. I'll just shut the server down and pull the hard drive and memory DIMMs out for you. Go ahead and "obtain" whatever information you like.

Put down the crack pipe and pick up a book (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388657)

I can't wait for the ruling on l2 cache and registers. Seriously, can we not pay some money to have some people who understand technology available to the court?

Re:Put down the crack pipe and pick up a book (4, Informative)

BJZQ8 (644168) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388747)

That's unfortunately part of the problem. I've dealt with plenty of "justice" people, from District Attorneys to Police Officers, that think they know what technology is all about. This judge is confident in her understanding of how computers work, and no justice-evading "thief" is going to outsmart HER. I'll bet the judge can't even program her VCR.

Re:Put down the crack pipe and pick up a book (4, Funny)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388865)

Gotta explain in 5-year-old terms.

"Your honor, that's like asking someone to save every single bit of air they breath out so it can be examined later, and also a copy of the air they breath in too."

Re:Put down the crack pipe and pick up a book (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388751)

The goal here is not to have sensible law, it's to have laws that you can't avoid breaking. i.e. you're instantly guilty. Courts and police like this. Better "understanding" of the technology will just allow them to write nastier guilty-by-virtue-of-the-way-the-tech-works laws.

The only real solution is to become the people writing the laws. Support your local pirate party, I guess.

Re:Put down the crack pipe and pick up a book (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388959)

We need laws like this to replenish the work force being vacated by deported immigrants. Where will the new workers come from? Where else [csmonitor.com] ? For this burgeoning industry the law is more than sensible. Expect much, much more of this.

Re:Put down the crack pipe and pick up a book (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389063)

I'm fairly certain that most police and courts would rather not have a constant flow of "criminals" of this variety being caught and processed. It's not exactly a glorious or even profitable venture for them. They want a way to solidly prosecute a real case against someone who actually does commit a crime. The MPAA on the other hand really does want you to be instantly guilty as the less time they spend on each case, the more people they can stop from eating through their latest billion dollar movie.

Re:Put down the crack pipe and pick up a book (2)

dircha (893383) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389215)

"The goal here is not to have sensible law, it's to have laws that you can't avoid breaking. i.e. you're instantly guilty."

"The only real solution is to become the people writing the laws. Support your local pirate party, I guess."

That's just, ...I'm, ...astonished.

You could, you know..., not participate in the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials?

How hard is that? Stop intentionally participating in the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials. Don't push the button to connect to that torrent. Don't click the torrent link.

If these simple, basic acts of self control are truly so difficult for you, I suggest you seek psychiatric help immediately.

Your statements are not reasoned. They are not radical. They are the statements of a 12 year old child who feels he is entitled to take what he wants and do as he pleases without regard for the rule of law and the rest of society.

Just grow up. It's that simple. Grow up and take responsibility for your choices and actions.

If I understand correctly... (2, Insightful)

make dev (1004307) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388659)

Wouldn't that apply to streams also? They're also stored in RAM, after all..

Tor like oatmeals! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388673)

Tor like oatmeals!

Evidence destruction ? (3, Insightful)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388681)

Does this mean that turning a computer off could be considered destruction of, or tampering with, evidence ?

Re:Evidence destruction ? (0)

gscottwalters (1148797) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388771)

For data to exist in RAM, does it not also have to exist on the hard drive in some fashion also? Browser buffer caches, windows dlls, shared libraries, all are loaded into ram, but also exist on the HD. It's just a load and unload process. Tracking what goes in and out of RAM is simply a matter of auditing HD access. Not brain surgery. Right?

Re:Evidence destruction ? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388839)

No.

Re:Evidence destruction ? (4, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388881)

For data to exist in RAM, does it not also have to exist on the hard drive in some fashion also?
No. Data can come from any source, not just hard drives. The data going into this text box from my keyboard exists in RAM, but does not yet exist on a hard drive. If I submit it, it arrives in that server's RAM before it even touches the server's hard drive.

Re:Evidence destruction ? (5, Informative)

sholden (12227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388899)

#include <stdio.h>
int main() {
        char buf[255];
        puts("Enter something:");
        fgets(buf, sizeof(buf), stdin);
        return strlen(buf);
}

where on the disk did the contents of buf get stored (assuming we have no virtual memory)?

Re:Evidence destruction ? (2, Informative)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388935)



does it not also have to exist on the hard drive in some fashion also

Nope. The ram info can be anything that's taking place during the operation of software. For instance, the x,y coordinates of your mouse pointer. In the case of the TorrentSpy server, it would be inbound http requests and their source IP addresses. The TortrentSpy admins have apparently configured their HTTP server to not log these requests to files on the hard drive. The MPAA is trying another approach for gathering this information by court order. Good luck.

Seth

Re:Evidence destruction ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20389073)

Exactly right. RAM means random access memory, and the pirates think they can hide the contents of their hard drives with their 'random' encryptions. Well Judge Cooper isn't going to be fooled. And I'm sure the nice MPAA technical expert told her exactly what you just said.

White Board (5, Insightful)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388689)

Does this mean they can subpoena the contents of the white board in conference nine at 7:23 AM on June the 13, 2005?

Why can't the court grasp the transient nature of the content of RAM?

-Peter

My guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388869)

...is that many judges have been born and raised in households without a single integrated circuit, and as such are prone to the very same ignorance as many from their generation (before PC's and the like were for more than just the hobbyist crowd). We can only hope that rulings such as these become less and less frequent as the baton is passed to the current, much more technically savvy, generation. But then again, we can only hope.

Re:White Board (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388879)

probably one of the best analogies I've heard yet.

I just wish you were in that courtroom.

Silly (5, Insightful)

stabiesoft (733417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388693)

Sort of like the uncertainty principle. In order to "store" RAM to a permanent medium, RAM will change to write itself to the medium. This reminds me of when I testified and tried to explain that from a programs perspective, VM looks just like RAM, just slower. I never managed to convince the prosecutor. Clearly the legal system hasn't a clue about tech.

What I want to know... (2, Interesting)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388697)

is what the Judge actually did to learn what RAM does and the suitable means to archive it. Was it the responsibility of the plantiff or TorrentSpy to educate her on what RAM actually does? Or was she left to her own devices as to how she sees RAM fitting into information storage, namely the sheer amount of data a single stick can hold?

Re:What I want to know... (2, Funny)

guinness_duck (231583) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388867)

She probably called and asked the Geek Squad.

Re:What I want to know... (1)

jammindice (786569) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388897)

this decision just continues to show that people who know nothing of computers are ok, just annoying, and that people who know just enough to be dangerous, use their destructive capacity to cause problems.

Re:What I want to know... (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389033)

Hmm, I took it as a ruling that they need to turn on their logging. Is it really that far fetched a thing for a court to order?

Haha... (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388699)

Sure, you can have all the data in my RAM, let me just power off the server and bring it to court.
I'll let you copy the memory to your thumb drive. HA!

Just a thought... (4, Interesting)

click2005 (921437) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388701)

Doesn't Vista encrypt some of it's data in RAM (DRMd media etc)? If Apache was modified to set the memory used for logs to be DRMd, would this make the data inaccessible?

Re:Just a thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388925)

cat /dev/mem | lp

Bring your boxes to court!

kind of like a series of tubes (1)

Katmando911 (1039906) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388705)

This is what happens when people in power don't understand technology

hehe (4, Funny)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388709)

tail -f /dev/mem > memlogs.txt I say have fun with that one.

Your sig is so appropriate, too. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389203)

"All this will be lost, like tears in the rain."

If I were them... (1)

dohzer (867770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388717)

... I'd just format my RAM a few times.

Wait, what?! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388719)

If RAM can be subject to subpoenas, and it's illegal to destroy information that may later be subpoenaed, which is my understanding is true thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley, that means that all computers used by all companies must keep a permanent record of the contents of computer RAM at any given time.

I guess it's time to buy stock in storage companies. I wonder if this also applies to cache RAM? There could be an infinite loop in there somewhere...

Re:Wait, what?! (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388821)

your CPU's registers are a type of RAM too.

I am going to subpoena the contents your your CPU's register for the date of August 1, 2007 between the hours of 6:00am EST and 6:01am EST. I will require it as a hardcopy please, thank you for your continued cooperation.

Re:Wait, what?! (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388823)

You would have to have a whole seperate computer tapping the memory bus to record all of the writes, but could you send that to any kind of storage fast enough? And then what about the tapping computer? That has ram as well.

And then what about the cache in the hard drive?

Re:Wait, what?! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20389207)

The flip side is that when the RIAA actually asks for 'the RAM' you can send them a 10 trillion page printout. And they have to pay reasonable discovery costs to generate this.

"Sir I direct your attention to page 0x1A86FB2 of the memory dump. Do you or do you not recognize writing the bits 101100011010111101?"

And the storage of cache and registers? (1)

Blnky (35330) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388731)

> Judge Cooper also noted the language of the discovery rule governing electronically stored information, which states that the rule is "expansive" and includes "any type of information that is stored electronically."

Seeing as level 1 cache, level 2 cache, and registers also fit this rule, do we also need to start saving those values as well?

Need more disk space now? (5, Insightful)

weszz (710261) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388733)

So... you have to be able to log everything that is in ram as well now

so we need faster processors and bigger hard drives to handle the extra load.

A normal log may not be that big, but when you get to a few months full of RAM logs for a busy server... I think this precedent will get overturned when they find out just what they are asking for.

I want to to write down every single thought you have for the next 10 weeks...

Re:Need more disk space now? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388807)

I want to to write down every single thought you have for the next 10 weeks...
Boobies.

What about costs? (4, Insightful)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388741)

I am surprised that the costs issue was not addressed. Generally, and if I recall, that if there are costs on on electronic discovery, that cost can be shifted on to the requesting party.

For this the costs would be expensive.

There are two ways to archive this:
    1. By snapshotting the ram.
    2. By rewriting the server code.

By snapshotting the ram, it would require a program with root access to snap this and lots of data to be archive.

By rewriting the server code, it would take months to rewrite it properly and test it. Then they would to license the IP2location database to perform lookups on the IP address filter out US addresses. I suspect that this filtering would require one or two more computers to perform this.

Re:What about costs? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389143)

Isn't the plaintiff liable for the cost of discovery, at least in part? Seems only fair that the MPAA pay for that dev time.

Not surprising (2, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388743)

'Under this interpretation, any data stored in RAM could be subject to a subpoena, as at a basic level it is a "medium from which information can be obtained" just like a hard drive. '"

Which makes sense. Imagine that I do all my shady accounting on some Post-Its, then turn their contents into a bunch of spreadsheets and a ledger that look legit. If my accounting documentation is subpoenaed and I don't produce those Post-Its, and the court finds out about their existence, I am in deep shit for destruction of evidence and/or failure to keep required records. I certainly wouldn't get far with a claim that the Post-Its were a "temporary storage medium" or something.

I believe the fact that TorrentSpy is being compelled to keep server logs by the MPAA is fucked up on a few levels. I just wanted to point out that the last part of the summary is not as profound or earth-shaking as it might seem.

Re:Not surprising (2, Interesting)

AP2k (991160) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388797)

A more accurate statement would be that you write on the Post-Its, then at some point scribble all over them with a yellow ink pen and start writing something else. At some definite point, will you be able to produce the original text you wrote?

Re:Not surprising (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389067)

At some definite point, will you be able to produce the original text you wrote?

No, which is a definite problem for you if they contained information that you're required to archive (as companies are with accounting work.)

Re:Not surprising (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389109)

But what if you did all your notes on a Magna Doodle, Scribble Slate, or in a patch of mud with a stick?

Re:Not surprising (4, Interesting)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388901)

Except it is nothing like post its. It is more like you are using an etch a sketch to do your accounting and every new calculation, you shake it. Now you are required to write everything down.

Worse yet, what about a digital calculator.....you can't use one. You need to have one that prints out, etc.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388993)

Except it is nothing like post its. It is more like you are using an etch a sketch to do your accounting and every new calculation, you shake it. Now you are required to write everything down. Worse yet, what about a digital calculator.....you can't use one. You need to have one that prints out, etc.

Yes, that's how it works when you are legally compelled to keep records of a certain aspect of your business, as Torrentspy has been compelled in this case.

You're right about the Etch-a-Sketch - that is a better analogy.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389173)

The law is too far reaching in this case. They should not be forced to bear an onerous and ridiculous burden. Could you imagine a similar situation where anything you come across must be kept? The law can force discovery of specific things. This is unjust.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Miaomiao (618330) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388977)

This case isn't like that at all. Regardless of their supposedly transitory nature, post-its are a formal written record. You wrote it down on a piece of paper, so there is a record of the transaction. It's probably a messy scrambled record, but a written record regardless.

In contrast computer ram is closer to writing your financial records in sand, then scrambling to get it written on a laptop. As soon as the next wave washes in the evidence will be destroyed. Are you willingly destroying evidence? No, you're just using a highly volatile medium for temporary information, but the court thinks that information must be stored in full as well instead of as a transient copy. I personally think that electronic archiving laws are ridiculous, and in the long run the massive volume of data will be mostly static and hard to actually use.

Also considering the large amount of data that's sent through ram as a computer processes information the costs to do this by any means will be gigantic. And the ruling rather silly.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389179)

In contrast computer ram is closer to writing your financial records in sand, then scrambling to get it written on a laptop.

You're right: as this person [slashdot.org] pointed out, an Etch-a-Sketch is a better analogy than Post-It Notes.

In contrast computer ram is closer to writing your financial records in sand, then scrambling to get it written on a laptop. As soon as the next wave washes in the evidence will be destroyed. Are you willingly destroying evidence?

Yes: if

the court thinks that information must be stored in full as well instead of as a transient copy
then they can require you to archive it.

I personally think that electronic archiving laws are ridiculous

All of them?

and in the long run the massive volume of data will be mostly static and hard to actually use.

Probably. Now, do you have a better alternative for effective regulation?

Also considering the large amount of data that's sent through ram as a computer processes information the costs to do this by any means will be gigantic. And the ruling rather silly.

Well, as I said about this case:

I believe the fact that TorrentSpy is being compelled to keep server logs by the MPAA is fucked up on a few levels.

Re:Not surprising (1)

DerekJ212 (867265) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389095)

...but Post-Its ARE permanent storage, so the analogy does not fit. It's more like trying to subpoena the log of what you typed into your calculator when you were doing the accounting math.

The main difference being Post-Its are something you can easily bring it to court, and throwing them away is the same as throwing any other paper document away, where logs from a calculator are either non-existent or very cumbersome to get, such as RAM logs.

But what do I know, IANAL.

Re:Not surprising (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389183)

I don't think that changing the storage medium of the accounting info - in your example, taking the Postits and putting them in a spreadsheet - and then destroying the original stuff constitutes "destroying evidence".

Say I run a small video rental store. Since I'm poor, I keep track of the rentals on a legal pad - name, transaction amount, and movie(s). I get lots of business, so I buy a computer and put all the info from the legal pads into a spreadsheet or some transaction-recording program. I then destroy the legal pads I have used to save storage space (by burning, shredding, launching into the sun in a missile, whatever).

If these records were then subpoenaed for some reason - say Jack Thompson draws a link between people who watch the Doom movie and people who commit violent crimes, and so the court wants my records of who rented Doom - noone would say I have destroyed evidence; in fact I have *preserved* the records, and made them more accessible in the process!

So destroying your Postits after you have recorded the information contained on the in a spreadsheet does not constitute destruction of evidence.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389223)

I don't think that changing the storage medium of the accounting info - in your example, taking the Postits and putting them in a spreadsheet - and then destroying the original stuff constitutes "destroying evidence".

It does if you've been court-ordered to archive your accounting documents, which companies are required to do under current regulations. This is why real companies don't do their accounting on Post-Its.

A problem of understanding (1)

lib3rtarian (1050840) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388781)

This is the problem with people who don't understand technology ruling on it. I'm sure this judge probably had some kind of "lesson" given to her, but that's ridiculous. If you don't have a degree in electronic / computer engineering, you shouldn't be ruling as to whether or not data in RAM is stored or not. This is just insane. Is it even technically possible to constantly store a record of a computers RAM? Does this Judge even understand what RAM is, or what function it plays, or how it works? I doubt her understanding is anything but cursory. This is bullshit. It makes me furious! This is like ruling that gravity doesn't exist, and then saying that needs to be enforced. I know that doesn't make sense, that's the point! This Judge is an idiot.

Re:A problem of understanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388915)

Judge apparently knows about as much about technology as /.'ers know about the law. Law isn't about what's convenient. For ram to be exempt from this order there would have to be a legislative change, not a judicial one.

Re:A problem of understanding (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389131)

1. The judge told Torrentspy to provide IP addresses.
2. Torrentspys said we don't log IP addresses - they are only in RAM
3. The judge says RAM is discoverable, so start logging from this point on.

So how is the judge an idiot? I think slashdotters are coming across as bigger idiots looking at all these posts.

Let's be clear (4, Insightful)

71thumper (107491) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388815)

What the judge is saying is that just because you keep a file in RAM and not on on disk, you can't claim you aren't "storing" that data.

Re:Let's be clear (1)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388955)

Load. Of. Crap.

Next think you know a judge somewhere is going to require all computers to keep Hz by Hz screenshots so it can be proven beyond any shadow of any doubt whether or not you were looking at that photo of Marlon Brando. Video cards have RAM, and isn't is discoverable evidence to know EXACTLY what you were viewing and when?

C coding standards need a rewrite (1, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388817)

malloc command: can only be called with copyright permission from a mafiaa member

free command: illegal under the dmcaa

memory leaks: standard operating procedure

dangling pointers: stool pigeons

Um, isn't this some pretty heavy spin??? (5, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388845)

From TFA:

TorrentSpy fought the MPAA's request, arguing that privacy laws in the Netherlands--where the servers are physically located--prevented it from maintaining and disclosing the logs. The site also argued that the log data wasn't available, since it existed only in RAM, and as such, was never stored.

The magistrate judge didn't buy that argument, and in her opinion reaffirming the magistrate's order, neither did Judge Florence-Marie Cooper. Judge Cooper took issue with TorrentSpy's argument that data in RAM is not "stored." She noted RAM's function as primary storage and that the storage of data in RAM--even if not permanently archived--makes it electronically stored information governed by federal discovery rules.
TorrentSpy: "We could log that information, but we choose not to."

Judge: "Choose to do so from this point on."

RAM isn't exactly relevant. This isn't some kind of temporary storage situation. This is a deliberate decision on the part of the software author. Now if you want to claim rights are being trodden upon, be my guest. But claiming that all RAM is now state's evidence is a stretch.

Re:Um, isn't this some pretty heavy spin??? (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389035)

I agree that the intent may have been to force TorrentSpy to turn on logging. However, the judgment was written in a very broad fashion - broad to the point that nowhere is it mentioned to "just turn on the damn logging". Instead, it is a ruling that states that data in RAM is governed by federal discovery rules, and as a result, needs to be preserved.

While it is unlikely that always logging ALL data in RAM will become a federal requirement, it is quite possible that this will turn into one of those things that everybody has to violate in order to function. The result of this will be that someone, somewhere will be permanently fucked by a ruling based on this. Yes, the law might be changed after this, but only after someone's life has been permanently fucked with.

Remember the high-school senior who got a blowjob from a 15 year old? He's doing time, because a law designed to catch sex offenders was badly written. The law was changed in response to his conviction, but it was too late for him. He's still in jail, the football scholarship is now out of the question, and he will have a criminal record.

I'm paranoid because too many lawyers and politicians and people in general have abused bad laws for their own gain.

NO. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20389107)

"Judge: "Choose to do so from this point on.""

Uhh, Torrentspy hasn't been convicted of anything. AFAIK they haven't even been charged with anything, criminal or civil. And the judge has the power to compel their servers to testify against them? This is exactly like the government ordering a business to spy on its customers (and a business in another country at that). Completely bogus.

"Your honor, we plead the 5th amendment ["nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"] on behalf of our servers." Shame they aren't American citizens.

Re:Um, isn't this some pretty heavy spin??? (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389199)

She noted RAM's function as primary storage and that the storage of data in RAM--even if not permanently archived--makes it electronically stored information governed by federal discovery rules.


But this is the rub: the usual and customary retention period for these data is on a scale of miliseconds. No clear-headed judge would suggest that someone should have to retain a discoverable document billions of times the customary period.

-Peter

Legal asshats. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388863)

As I (A.C.) Noted LAST TIME this issue was discussed:

Every router, bridge, modem, and NIC card contains RAM. If a judge can legitimately order that the contents of a computer's RAM must be archived for later perusal, they may legitimately order that the contents of the networking equipment's RAM be archived for later perusal. All your wireline are belong to us. All your packets are belong to us. Good luck footing the bill for the disk storage that can keep up with the changes in RAM, much less the bus probe, much less the subsequent analysis of a RAM trace on a modern multithreaded re-entrant multicore multicached computer.

Re:Legal asshats. (2, Insightful)

weszz (710261) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388927)

would you have to log what the program that is in RAM is doing?

I.E.

Process A is in RAM, writing to a log

Process B is writing to the log what process A is going through writing

Process A sees B and starts logging what B is doing

Print out... (2, Interesting)

TheWizardTim (599546) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388939)

... the contents of the RAM and send it to them COD. I wonder, how much a few thousand tons of paper costs to ship? That should keep them busy for a few hundred years.

Physically impossible. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388947)

How often does ram change? How long will be the log? Is there any operating system that can implement this?

Just think about it. Let's suppose you have to take RAM snapshots every 30 minutes. For a single day you have to keep around, 4gigs * 2 * 24 = 96 gigs per day. It's an enormous amount of data to store in a hard drive. And now they have to put in lots of money JUST to comply with a stupid law?

Give me a break.

Hmm (1)

PacketScan (797299) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388961)

So by power off my machine, I've already tampered with evidence.

Permanent records? (1)

ThanatosMinor (1046978) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388979)

Does this mean that you now have to keep a permanent record of everything that goes into or out of your RAM? Does this mean that every write to RAM has to be accompanied by a write to disk? Even if it is buffered and then written in larger chunks, I wonder what kind of performance hit this would cause

It's not the DIMM's being subpoena'd (3, Informative)

Conspicuous Coward (938979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388981)

The commentary on this article is extremely misleading. The judge in this case has ruled that because Torrentspy can log the IP's of requests to the server it must do so and hand them over to the court. This is absolutely not about the judge misunderstanding the nature of RAM and ordering them to hand over a bunch of DIMM's, yes judges can be technically ignorant but the courts are not stupid either you know. The judge is saying that because this data can be stored it must be. This actual ruling is of course far, far more disturbing than any technical ignorance could be, as it requires torrentspy to effectively spy on their users on behalf of the MPAA, something which should surely be illegal in itself, nevermind mandated by a court of law.

Dear Judge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20389005)

My HD-DVD player accessed a file over the network that I suspect is a copyright violation. I need access to the player's RAM for my discovery proceedings. Especially the bit when it does the decryption keys.

Think it'll fly?

(Or is this RIAA, not MPAA?)

Classic government (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389013)

All I can say is:

LOL!!1!eleventy!

This is the most retarded thing I've heard in a week.

Time to call the guy who hooked up the frogger (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389019)

It's time to call the guy who hooked up the frogger run on barrette power with out having the power to the ram cut to do the same with my pc he can just send the bill to the RIAA / MPAA.

question regarding case law (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389045)

I seem to remember from a similar article a few months back that an astute slashdotter pointed to case law that basically said that a defendant cannot be compelled to produce evidence that does not normally exist. In other words, if there is not currently a method that exists (e.g. commercial program) for logging all RAM contents the court cannot force the defendant to create and then implement such a program/procedure just to create the evidence the prosecution seeks.
Does anyone know what I'm referring to or can provide links to such case law? Or am I totally off base with this?

Dump the raw RAM contents at regular intervals? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389049)

It is my understanding that in discovery, the party providing the discovery is not required to process the data in any fashion to make it more easily readable. Surely, providing logs form the server would constitute processing the discovery materials? Thus, Torrentspy should be able to provide dumps of the RAM contents taken at regular intervals. If the plaintiffs find that diffucult to use: tough -- the rules of evidence don't require TorrentSpy to do any more?

At least, that is my non-lawyer's opinion.

What about cache? (1)

Bottle Washer (1031590) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389059)

Cache is just a form of memory, just really fast memory. This ruling seems to imply that anything stored in L0 or L1 cache, or heck even in registers is evidence that must be maintained.

judges are not dumb (5, Insightful)

czmax (939486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389129)

Folks, From TFA, we see the following, "[Torrentspy] argued that the log data wasn't available, since it existed only in RAM, and as such, was never stored". The judge, being nobodies dummy, accurately noted that this isn't an impediment to logging that data in the future and has ordered them to do so. Funny jokes about handing over DIMMs aside this is a totally reasonable concept. How many of you all think it's actually impossible to log a number that is in RAM? Are all you /. l33t programmers incapable of writing a variable out to a file?

Here's a metaphor for the judge. (1)

T_ConX (783573) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389139)

RAM works in a way similar to Alberto Gonzales. If you ask it what it was doing at any moment in time, it will simply reply 'I don't recall.'

The only difference is that the RAM is actually telling the truth.

Time to buy stock in hard drive companies? (1)

Tangential (266113) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389149)

Its always so refreshing when people when people who know little or nothing about technology can produce rulings like this.

I guess a broad interpretation of this ruling would be that anything that was ever in RAM must be 'discoverable'.

Hmmm. I guess I'd better start saving the results of each iteration of loops in my code which calculate things. Who knows, it could someday be supoena'd.

No wonder Lenovo wants to buy Seagate.

This isn't about RAM, folks (5, Insightful)

Timogen (1073018) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389197)

Oh, I'm sure, many of you are going off on this whole RAM thing as if that was the point. What you are missing is that this ruling was meant not really believing that RAM is the key, but the fact of the matter that, for torrentspy transactions, they do not, for just the exact reason this lawsuit began, log connection information, even though that information does pass through the RAM of the system. They focused on RAM as it is, in this case, the only memory device that is realistically capturing any connection information. That connection information is what the prosecution wants. Ergo, this order is, for all intents and purposes, forcing torrentspy to adjust their software to capture the connection information. That's really all it is. The courts, I'm sure, are aware of the transitory nature of RAM, and, through this order, are only addressing that the memory in RAM be captured. The reason they bring this up is because torrentspy, all along, claimed they have no logs that capture connection information, so potential downtheroad supoena's of torrentspy users cannot occur, plsu an audit trail of abuses cannot be captured. This ruling basically says 'Nice try guys, but you now need to close up that loophole'. Seriously, you all go off on the nature of RAM and stupidity of non-technites, but you fail to grasp what this ruling is really about, enforced logging of details that should be captured but the fact that it isn't is 100% an attempt to cover up any illegal activity going on with their servers/services abd leaving no trail to trace. If this was read for what it really means 'Court orders torrentspy to modify software to capture all connection info', which would be more outside the realm of the court to order, it wouldn't even raise an eyebrow save for the tinfoil hat privacy types. But that is outside the mandate of the court, so they just said what they need and now it's up to Torrentspy to figure out how to do it.

The studpidity becomes obvious.... (1)

Hausenwulf (956554) | more than 6 years ago | (#20389201)

The stupidity becomes obvious when you put it in common terms away from technology. Bank robbers are always making their getaways on public roads. So, in order to protect against said robbers, every car that travels on every road must be recorded. Does the government see this as a reasonable request for their resources? Should the government be held responsible for the illegal use of its roads?
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