Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Judge Rules TorrentSpy Destroyed Evidence

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the slowing-sinking-ships dept.

The Courts 325

Come play kdice writes "A federal judge has handed the MPAA a resounding victory in its copyright infringement lawsuit against TorrentSpy. Judge Florence-Marie Cooper entered a default judgment against Justin Bunnell and the rest of the named defendants in Columbia Pictures et al. v. Justin Bunnell et al. after finding that TorrentSpy 'engaged in widespread and systematic efforts to destroy evidence'. After being sued, TorrentSpy mounted a vigorous defense, including a counter-suit it filed against the MPAA in May 2006, but, behind the scenes, the court documents paint a picture of a company desperately trying to bury any and all incriminating evidence. TorrentSpy has announced its intention to appeal, but its conduct makes a reversal unlikely."

cancel ×

325 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

ball sucker (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21751550)

smoke my cock you silly fagoots

Man, I love living in 21st century America! (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751558)

When the CIA destroys evidence [cnn.com] that they tortured prisoners, the entire Justice Department jumps to their defense and gives their director a medal. When a small company that just provides links to pirated movies destroys evidence to protect its users from the thugs at the MPAA, they're criminals and must be punished!

Re:Man, I love living in 21st century America! (5, Insightful)

The Only Druid (587299) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751584)

The one doesn't invalid the other.

Regardless of anything the CIA does, TorrentSpy deserves to be punished for having destroyed evidence (regardless further of whether they initially did anything wrong). It is also true that the CIA should be punished accordingly, but the failure of the courts to deal with that yet is simply irrelevant in the discussion of this case.

If you're sued, DON'T DESTROY EVIDENCE! It eliminates any credibility, and exposes you to situations like this.

Re:Man, I love living in 21st century America! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21751680)

I found a site that list the evidence that was destroyed [myminicity.com]

Re:Man, I love living in 21st century America! (4, Insightful)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752004)

If you're sued, DON'T DESTROY EVIDENCE!
And if you do destroy evidence, try not to discuss it publicly like TorrentSpy did.

Re:Man, I love living in 21st century America! (4, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751626)

This has nothing to do with the CIA case.

Hey, look. We all know that the MPAA/RIAA are pricks. But the good fight isn't sticking up for people that are violating copyright in bulk on purpose. If a university were to block all of bit torrent, that's a cause worth fighting against. The right fight is to not allow the bad (or potential bad) to prevent the good. But let's not bury our heads in the sand and pretend places like TorrentSpy weren't doing anything but providing a way for people to share copyrighted material.

Like it or not, people are downloading and sharing against copyright all over. And there's no reason to support that.

Re:Man, I love living in 21st century America! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21751730)

The RIAA suffers a great devistation today [tinyurl.com]

Re:Man, I love living in 21st century America! (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751840)

Like it or not, people are downloading and sharing against copyright all over. And there's no reason to support that.

Then *everyone* who destroys evidence should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, not just those that are apparently above the law.

Copyright law is broke. Burn it down. (0, Flamebait)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751932)

Copyright laws has gone too far in protecting the content owner for too long. I see no reason to support current copyright law.

Re:Copyright law is broke. Burn it down. (1)

kclittle (625128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752094)

You of course have every right not to support current copyright law. But do you have the right to violate current copyright law? It's a serious question: Are the current copyright laws so wrong as to cross the line into the "I have a right to violate immoral (stupid, evil, etc.) laws" realm? I dunno...

Re:Copyright law is broke. Burn it down. (2, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752504)

I think definitely on a small scale at least. I live in the US but regularly violate copyright and the DMCA by burning copies of my CDs, ripping them to MP3, and downloading and installing codecs and DeCSS for viewing DVDs. Legally I don't have the right to bypass the CSS encryption on the DVDs I purchased by using DeCSS, but I do it anyway because the laws that make it illegal are unjust in my opinion. As to the sort of whole sale violation you see at places like TorrentSpy, well, that's a whole other ball game, sort of a Apples and Oranges thing. There may be some argument that it's only fair because of the way the media cartels have trampled our rights that we stick it to them so to speak, and the damages handed out for these things are definitely out of line, but whether that justifies the behavior I don't know.

Re:Copyright law is broke. Burn it down. (4, Insightful)

Retric (704075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752542)

I feel current copyright laws are so one sided as to be ignored.

I pay for cable and if I record a show that's fine, but if I download a show because I forgot to TiVo it then I am breaking the law.

Ripping a DVD that I paid for is breaking the law.

Downloading a CD that got scratched is breaking the law.

IMO: I will pay for content once and only once. If you want to sell me new content bundled with old aka (movie + directors cut) that's fine but when it's identical content then I have already paid for it.

Re:Man, I love living in 21st century America! (5, Funny)

Ochu (877326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752066)

See, I get what you are saying.
It is true, TorrentSpy are dicks. Criminal dicks
But the thing is, given the level of assholery I think the **AAs are capable of, I still manage to side with the criminals.
Because we need dicks to fuck asses.
Otherwise, we're gonna be covered in shit.

But what is a criminal? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752374)

A few decades ago, entering a white-only place if you were black made you a criminal. Not paying your taxes in protest (if you're against the Iraq war, for example) makes you a criminal. When Gandhi burned official documents in protest, he became a criminal.

In other words, if you do anything against the Law (even if the law is draconian and only supports the rich and powerful), you're a criminal. But that doesn't make you a bad person.

If the Law was fair and protected the weak from the powerful, I would agree, no one should break the law. But what can I say about a system so screwed up that forces a single mother to pay 200 thousand dollars JUST because she had 24 mp3 files in her shared folder, even when NO TRANSFER could be proven?

The current copyright law is rotten. Feel free to disobey it whenever you please (just don't come whining if you get caught).

(BTW, who modded parent funny? I'd mod him insightful instead)

Re:Man, I love living in 21st century America! (1)

mmcuh (1088773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752384)

Like it or not, people are downloading and sharing against copyright all over. And there's no reason to support that.
Why not? Today's copyright laws are insane. I'll happily support anyone who violates them by downloading and sharing data.

Re:Man, I love living in 21st century America! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752442)

And how do you know I don't actually own a copy of what I'm downloading through a torrent, with the encryption on the new formats Blueray and HDDVD it seems even plausible that people would do this to play a movie they own on their Linux box for example. Or is it cracked already? Oh well. So how can you put the blame on Torrentspy, all they provide is a service . Cases like this are just plain RIAA laziness to go after the users sharing copyrighted material, the actual offenders. IMHO the judge that set the precedent on stuff like this should be publicly stoned to death with CD's, that'll teach him/her.

Re:Man, I love living in 21st century America! (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751632)

Both the CIA and TorrentSpy are in the wrong here for their actions, and should be punished accordingly.

I too living in 21st century America, too... (2, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751694)

When the CIA destroys evidence that they tortured prisoners, the entire Justice Department ...

The CIA's tapes were destroyed in 2005 — long before any investigations into "torture" came about. Thus it was not "destruction of evidence", but merely "destruction of tapes". CIA today does not deny, that they did use waterboarding, so it is not clear, what those tapes would be in evidence of.

For it to be called "destruction of evidence", the destroyed materials must be important to an ongoing investigation/lawsuit... This is what TorrentSpy (unlike CIA, they did it to hide doing, what they now claim they have not done) has done, according to the judge, and your attempt to defend them on the basis of their being "a small company" is quite pathetic.

Re:I too living in 21st century America, too... (4, Insightful)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752102)

There were already investigations into "toture" before 2005, but I guess your PSYOPS doesn't account for that or want it to be exposed. Perhaps there was no 'Congressional' investigation ongoing, but that has nothing to do with the fact that it was obvious evidence and was destroyed specifically because it would be used as THE damning evidence in any Congressional Impeachment / Investigation or even a UN based investigation.

It was destruction of evidence, just because it was a 'classified' set of tapes, it was still evidence that could have been used by numerous groups and individuals in numerous cases against the government before during and after 2005. Hiding the evidence and destroying evidence are both illegal.

Cheers.

Re:I too living in 21st century America, too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752230)

The CIA's tapes were destroyed in 2005 -- long before any investigations into "torture" came about. Thus it was not "destruction of evidence", but merely "destruction of tapes". CIA today does not deny, that they did use waterboarding, so it is not clear, what those tapes would be in evidence of.


Actually, from what I've read the CIA destroyed the tapes to insulate those doing the torturing from litigation. If (and only if) this is true, then it is destruction of evidence as they knew what they were doing is illegal.

Re:I too living in 21st century America, too... (3, Insightful)

monomania (595068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752306)

The tapes were destroyed subsequent to a court order not to do so, in direct violation of that order. The order came about at that time to preserve possible evidence in the event of a future investigation. It is the violation of that previous order, not 'destruction of evidence', that is the current CIA scandal. I believe if the current investigation reveals that the destroyed tapes are germane to the investigation their destruction can be then deemed 'destruction of evidence'.

Re:I too living in 21st century America, too... (1)

Necromancyr (602950) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752494)

Actually, the CIA was connected to Abu Ghraib in 2004. Stop watching so much FOX News ;).

Destruction of tapes. Classic!

weird mods (0, Offtopic)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751732)

Okay so the troll mod I can kind of understand, (I think the poster made an interesting point but got carried away), but off-topic? WTF, did you hit the wrong button?

Re:weird mods (1)

Otter Escaping North (945051) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752352)

Okay so the troll mod I can kind of understand, (I think the poster made an interesting point but got carried away), but off-topic? WTF, did you hit the wrong button?

You know, it can happen. I've had a few times moderated posts. The focus stays on the drop down box, and I scroll on down the page. Somewhere else, I hit the down arrow, trying to move the screen - and I've just changed the guy's moderation.

I click on "Moderate", they show me what my moderations were, and often I look at one, and furrow my brow.

Not that I agree with the MPAA (3, Insightful)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751564)

but from what I read, they did destroy evidence which they clearly aren't allowed to do. Sounds like bad decisions on the part of Torrentspy led to this.

Maybe if they left things as they were they could have fared better.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (2, Funny)

terrymr (316118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751654)

They were also ordered to preserve the ram of their servers in real time.

That alone should invalidate everything else the judge had to say.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751674)

No. While that makes no sense, one bad/dumb comment or action does not invalidate everything else.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (0, Redundant)

terrymr (316118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751720)

It clearly shows somebody to be a poor judge of what destroying evidence is. If something was never evidence you can't destroy it.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (4, Informative)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751750)

They destroyed and changed IP logs. They went thread-by-thread on their forums and hand changed posts. They deleted whole threads and hid others.

Obviously deliberate.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (0, Troll)

terrymr (316118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751814)

There were no IP logs - hence the preserve the IP's in ram order. The forum is theirs ... can it be proven that we're not talking about normal moderation here ?

Litigation discovery relates to records that currently exist - nothing in any law requires you to make a record that you currently don't just because it would help to prove somebody's case.

No IP logs, indeed (2, Informative)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752244)

There were no IP logs
From TFA:

TorrentSpy also failed to provide the MPAA with full IP addresses of its users, testifying under oath that they were not available. Conversations on the forums between the moderators paint a different picture, however. A March 2006 conversation between a couple of moderators showed that users could be banned by IP address, and moderators testified that full IP addresses were logged until April 2007.
Care to revise that "no IP logs" statement? Or are you still arguing for the sake of arguing?

Re:No IP logs, indeed (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752388)

Banning an IP address and banning a user account are two different things. Or do you think that they only banned a particular user using a particular IP address? Banning IPs does not mean that you know WHO was on the other end of that IP.

Huh? (1)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752434)

Was that reply meant for me?

I was talking about the availability of IP logs, not the utility. I don't think the judge really cares about banning users by username or IP.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (1)

Zalbik (308903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752254)

If you want to play, could you at least RTFA? The server is slow due to slashdotting, but not unreachable...

From the article:

Another moderator suggested creating a hidden forum and moving all of the incriminating content there, and Parker gave her the go-ahead.
Yep, that sounds like normal moderation.

Admins also replaced the names of copyrighted works posted in the forums with references like "[some movie 1]"; some of those edits were made months after the original post.
More typical forum moderation.

TorrentSpy also failed to provide the MPAA with full IP addresses of its users, testifying under oath that they were not available. Conversations on the forums between the moderators paint a different picture, however. A March 2006 conversation between a couple of moderators showed that users could be banned by IP address, and moderators testified that full IP addresses were logged until April 2007.
Nope, no IP logs here.

I agree that the court order to start logging IP's was inappropriate, but in this case TorrentSpy was actively hiding logs that already existed. They screwed up, big time...

But then again, what do you expect of a site that promotes breaking the law?

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (1)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752358)

I agree that the court order to start logging IP's was inappropriate, but in this case TorrentSpy was actively hiding logs that already existed.
Why is it inappropriate? TorrentSpy's normal business practice was to log IP addresses. They stopped logging in order to subvert the discovery process. The judge merely told them to turn logging back on, in accordance with their regular business practice.

Instead of complying, they posted a bunch of misleading blog entries about how the judge was an idiot for asking them to log RAM. Well, they aren't laughing anymore now, are they.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (1)

dieth (951868) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752364)

Isn't that what Apple does with their forums?

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (4, Informative)

gclef (96311) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751724)

No, they were ordered to log the IP addresses of their users. TorrentSpy tried to argue that they didn't have the logs, and that the IPs only existed in RAM, so logging them wasn't possible. They then got caught showing that they did have user's IPs, and they could have provided them.

In short, TorrentSpy lied to a judge, and they got caught. That was remarkably stupid, and they're being punished for it.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (2, Informative)

terrymr (316118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751838)

The point is this ... discovery orders only go as far as records you currently have ... you cannot be ordered to create new records for the purposes of discovery. Therefore I don't think i mischaracterized the order to preserve ram - which is the only way to do what the judge ordered without forcing the creation of new records which isn't authorized by law.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (1, Interesting)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752188)

According to TFA, they actually did keep IP logs and had them when the discovery process started. It was only then that TorrentSpy decided to quit logging and delete old logs.

I'm sorry, but that is destruction of evidence, and it is little wonder that they were sanctioned for it. TS left the judge no choice.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751744)

No, they were asked to log IP addresses. They weren't asked to preserve every bit which is stored in RAM.

They argued that they shouldn't have to log information that normally resides only in RAM. The Judge said to log the IP addresses on the hard drive.

Although I'm not sure that discovery should be able to order new documents to be created (which is effectively what was ordered), the order wasn't so unreasonable as logging every bit stored in RAM in real time.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (4, Insightful)

Ravensfire (209905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752274)

They were also ordered to preserve the ram of their servers in real time.

That alone should invalidate everything else the judge had to say.


Bullshit - read it, will you? The Judge said that the IP's were available to TorrentSpy as the information was present in the RAM at some point. They required that TorrentSpy log that information. That's quite a bit different from "preserve the ram".

TorrentSpy fucked up big time on this, and got caught. Courts don't like people that destroy evidence and smack them around. They especially don't like people that destroy evidence after the case is filed, or lie what about what they can/cannot do.

I have zero sympathy for TorrentSpy. Without their actions, they would have had a chance to beat this case.

-- Ravensfire

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (4, Insightful)

terrymr (316118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752464)

That's quite a bit different from normal discovery rules too. If you don't keep a record of something you can not be required to start keeping a record for discovery purposes. Now I've also heard it alleged that they were logging IPs and stopped and the judge merely ordered them to un-stop. That would be different.

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21751722)

could it be that it was a well thought out decision?

Let's say that after a quick look at things.. they knew they were f'ed, and would likely be found guilty anyway; with little to no chance of having a deal made.

With that in mind, they could be found guilty and with the evidence..
- the opposite party would have access to a bunch of records, which means they could find other things to sue for
- the opposite party could possibly target those mentioned in the records
- the "are torrent sites doing illicit things by definition" question might have been answered unfavorably

Or destroy the evidence, blocking the above, and being found guilty of the main charge by default. They're still equally fooked, but the thing they loved would be hurt less?

Re:Not that I agree with the MPAA (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751962)

Thats a good point. Like throwing yourself on a grenade to save others as another poster pointed out.

They should've hired Hillary! (0, Troll)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751634)

They should have hired Hillary Clinton [nytimes.com] . If anyone knows how to get away with destroying evidence, it's her!

Re:They should've hired Hillary! (1)

Whalou (721698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752086)

And Monica Lewinsky couldn't quite swallow all the evidence...

lulz (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21751640)

I'm in ur serverz, destroying ur evidence!

Thanks For Destroying the Evidence! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21751658)

I'm glad those sleazy rats at the MPAA won't be getting their greedy hands on my IP address from torrentspy.

This is the digital equivalent of throwing yourself on a grenade to save your comrads. Right on.

Thank you kindly,
AC

Re:Thanks For Destroying the Evidence! (1)

Jinjuku (762364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751708)

I'd rather throw assholes like you on the grenade to save the rest of us the problems you are integral in helping foment.

Re:Thanks For Destroying the Evidence! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21751780)

This is the digital equivalent of throwing yourself on a grenade to save your comrads.
Except that one leaves you dead, and the other is illegal.

Minor difference, of course.

Re:Thanks For Destroying the Evidence! (3, Interesting)

phobos13013 (813040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752024)

Not familiar with TorrentSpy Admins, but I would imagine they did it to protect themselves from jail rather than a altruistic attempt to withhold your IP address from the MPAA. Its the cynic in me speaking....

Re:Thanks For Destroying the Evidence! (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752380)

I think it's most likely this. I see little reason for these people would sacrifice themselves to protect other people from their own actions. This isn't a life-or-death thing, and I just don't see it's worth it for Jim to go to prison or pay damages just so some strangers "John" (#1 through 1 million) can have a copy of a movie that can probably be bought legally on DVD for $5 right now.

If they really were looking out for other people, they shouldn't have been keeping potentially incriminating information in the first place.

But if the company in question knew that they were going to be in deep trouble for something they themselves did, then maybe they thought it's worth the risk.

Re:Thanks For Destroying the Evidence! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752390)

While I never used torrentspy (or any of those sites, in fact) myself, I concur. Hats off to torrentspy for being willing to stick it to the man, even if it hurts them - sometimes, you gotta stand up and do the right thing. I know it's easy to say that when you're just watching from the sidelines, but that also means I only have all the more respect for torrentspy for actually doing it.

Kudos to you.

Severe Penalties Make it the Best Option (5, Interesting)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751670)

Perhaps a lawyer can tell us which has worse penalties, destruction of evidence or being found guilty of helping piracy. I imagine it's the latter.

Re:Severe Penalties Make it the Best Option (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751790)

No congressman will ever vote a retroactive death penalty for destruction of evidence, with the incoming elections, I wouldn't bet a cent on the other option.

Re:Severe Penalties Make it the Best Option (1)

Ochu (877326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751888)

IANAL, but I believe that it is actually the former.
Destruction of evidence is a crime in and of itself, of course, so there will be penalties just for that. But it can also lead to the defendant being found guilty by default as well.
In other words, don't be surprised if TorrentSpy gets royally hosed.

Destroying evidence is a crime with consecuences (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751738)

Destroying evidence is willingly trying to make the justice system not to work properly for your personal advantage.

If you think you're in the right, you should try to change law. If you think the law is correct but is being wrongly applied to your case, you try to change the legal canvas around the case. Destroying evidence is directly admitting guilt, complete consciousness of that fact and simple refusal to face the consequences.

Even if you manage to be cleared of charges, you leave the environment just as it was before, so others that did what you did will pay the price you didn't.

Re:Destroying evidence is a crime with consecuence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752222)

... not if they destroy the evidence :lol:

5th Amendment (2, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752400)

Not preserving evidence != destroying evidence. I'm thinking the most sensible standard for courts to follow is minimalist. That is, no changes should be made to operations. Whatever information was being kept before should be preserved. And whatever information was not being kept for whatever reason (limited resources, goes stale quickly) should not be fair game for judges to order preservation of. So we have an argument over whether the info the judge was ordering TorrentSpy to keep was long term or not. But I wonder if the whole argument is beside the point, because it should apply only to 3rd parties, not to the accused.

A trouble with this standard is it encourages businesses to make destruction, even gratuitous destruction, routine. Many businesses do routinely destroy information that may be of interest someday to researchers, historians, restorers, and collectors, as well as still have value to the business, solely because the risks of having it around and having it be used against them are more than the value. Guilty until proven innocent has that advantage over the other way around-- people will preserve anything and everything that might prove their innocence.

The problem is resolved with the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. (Unless that doesn't apply somehow? Civil trials? Seems it should.) Why should TorrentSpy or anyone else be forced to produce info to hang themselves with? Why can't the MPAA have to meet the higher standard of proving TorrentSpy's guilt without any help from TorrentSpy? With the 5th Amendment standard in place, businesses can make their record keeping decisions freer of bias from legal requirements. No one should have to play stupid with "uhh, I forgot". The judge's orders to preserve data is therefore moot-- TorrentSpy cannot be forced to produce the data, whether or not it exists, or should be preserved.

Re: destroying evidence = admitting guilt? (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752410)

I can't say I necessarily agree with your conclusion.

Destroying evidence is a willful gamble on the part of the accused. They're simply betting that without the additional information floating around, they stand a better chance of getting through the court case without incurring a huge loss.

It seems like a big leap of logic to conclude that this behavior proves the party believes they're guilty.

Just as likely, they're being realistic. In a perfect world, sure.... you should fight to "get the laws changed" if you think they're unjust. But realistically, legal battles are enormously expensive. Just like war, if your funds run out, you'll lose. Doesn't matter if you're "in the right" or not. So the average person is going to look for any available opportunity to shorten the complexity and length of their court case.

Often times, the "legal landscape" was built up by large corporations, who used large sums of money to get it there. (Paying off senators and congressmen to pass legislation that put things in their favor, etc. etc.) It's going to take a similar amount of money to reverse it again, in many cases.

How hard is it to destroy data (4, Interesting)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751798)

I've always wondered what I would do if I got a letter in the mail telling me I was being sued by the MPAA or RIAA (obviously not the same as a large site like torrentspy, but kinda related), we keep our wireless router open, default passwords, broadcast ssid, no encryption, 50 leases, no MAC filtering, nothing. I know it sounds bad, but we figure that if we ever got a notice from one of these organizations that we could simply say that there's no way to know who downloaded these things, our wireless is open! We have neighbors and other people in our DHCP client list and it actually makes me feel more secure (I manage my actual security at my computer, not at the gateway) since I feel like it would make for a good defense. However, what to do with the offending data? I've always thought that if I DoD wiped all my disks, obviously that would leave no evidence, but could you actually get in trouble for doing that? Do they send you documents telling you that kind of thing is illegal? What if I just took out my data drives, hid them in the attic and cleaned out my logs and MRU data with Adaware? Is it really that hard to react to these kinds of things for the average consumer or am I missing a great deal?

Re:How hard is it to destroy data (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751908)

They don't have to prove that you have the data, only that you transferred it. Big difference.

Keeping a wireless router open could be viewed as an admission of guilt, but you should check with a lawyer. Arm-chair lawyers know next to nothing about the law and have nothing to lose by telling you that keeping the wireless router open is a good defense.

Re:How hard is it to destroy data (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752266)

I am not a layber, but: If your router transfers the data but you don't know what the data is (likely if the router is used by neighbors), then you are effectively a common carrier and not held liable for the data forwarded by the router. Of course, you are still liable if they can pin the data as originating from your computer.

Re:How hard is it to destroy data (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752298)

The average joe blow who bought a wireless router at Radio Shack and just plugged it in
probably has the damn thing as open as a barn door. In fact, open wireless routers are
probably the norm, rather than the exception as the number of spam bots would prove.

Re:How hard is it to destroy data (2, Insightful)

Ochu (877326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751970)

Not to shit on your parade or anything, but I think that defense has been tried and failed.
Um.
Also, even if it hasn't, you'd better hope they don't link that post to you.
Think!

Re:How hard is it to destroy data (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751984)

I've always thought that if I DoD wiped all my disks, obviously that would leave no evidence, but could you actually get in trouble for doing that? Do they send you documents telling you that kind of thing is illegal? What if I just took out my data drives, hid them in the attic and cleaned out my logs and MRU data with Adaware? Is it really that hard to react to these kinds of things for the average consumer or am I missing a great deal?

If you do this on a regular basis (especially if it's a documented business process) and haven't been told to retain information, you should be fine. If you're being sued and you do this in an obvious attempt to evade legal discovery, as was apparently done by TorrentSpy, you pretty much just screwed yourself.

Re:How hard is it to destroy data (1)

Jeff Carr (684298) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752062)

I don't think that the open access point defense is going to help you all that much (depending on the jury of course). Especially as wiping or removing disks will be a fairly obvious thing and difficult to hide your tracks...

Unless of course you were to say... run your data on an external drive that is only plugged in when running an OS off of a flash drive, both of which could be wiped and thrown away...

If you get a subpoena (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752064)

Then destroying the data is illegal. Obstruction of justice. Contempt of Court. Various other charges.

Illegal to destroy evidence (1)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752134)

I've always thought that if I DoD wiped all my disks, obviously that would leave no evidence, but could you actually get in trouble for doing that? Do they send you documents telling you that kind of thing is illegal? What if I just took out my data drives, hid them in the attic and cleaned out my logs and MRU data with Adaware? Is it really that hard to react to these kinds of things for the average consumer or am I missing a great deal?
As a legal matter, yes if you destroyed evidence that was under subpoena, that would be a problem. As a practical matter, however, if it was just your private machine, it would be a little hard for your adversary to prove that you, say, "rm -rf /movies" and then overwrote your free space.

The problem with TorrentSpy, is that other admins knew that the log files used to be there but the logs went poof-gone! and they testified as such. So if only one admin knew of the logs, and he wanted to rm -rf them, he probably could have gotten away with "Logs? We don't keep logs. We never kept logs."

As it was, the admins tried destroy evidence, but they did a slipshod job trying to cover it up. I mean, discussing it in public forums? Great idea.

Re:How hard is it to destroy data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752144)

Here's the problem.

If you nuke your drives, whether you are guilty or not, you will appear guilty if those suing you can prove you did so. In Jammie Thomas' case, whether she meant to "lose" potential damning evidence or not, her not being able to produce a hard drive from the period of time being question added doubt to her defense.

So now the situation is that those suing you are saying you pirated, etc. but you are saying you didn't. However, the drive that would prove your innocence has been nuked?

Re:How hard is it to destroy data (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752302)

I think the best defense in this case is to not infringe copyright. I mean, duh! Why are you knowingly infringing on copyright anyway? If you weren't doing that, you wouldn't need these lame "but someone else might have done it through my open wireless that I was too stupid to secure and then yes, my computer disks all crashed" type of "lame defenses".

Shit. Just pay for the stuff you consume.

Re:How hard is it to destroy data (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752366)

I've always thought that if I DoD wiped all my disks, obviously that would leave no evidence, but could you actually get in trouble for doing that?

Yes. If you are served with a lawsuit you have a duty not to destroy potential evidence. Large corporations generally have an established process called a "litigation hold" where this is done, but small companies and individuals have the same obligations.

Re:How hard is it to destroy data (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752548)

Thanks for sharing your internet connection. I'm sure your neighbors appreciate it. I don't think you would be liable for other people using your connection for nefarious means. What you are doing is basically the same thing that an ISP does, except for free. You are routing traffic. In fact, you ARE an "Internet Service Provider".

However, you mentioned "what to do with the offending data?" If you nuke your disks in response to a **AA subpoena, then you are doing exactly what Torrentspy did, and you will get in trouble if caught. From a technical standpoint, you could probably nuke or replace your disks and get away it. Assuming, of course, that the **AA doesn't convince the judge that allowing copyright infringement on your network makes you a criminal. With how the **AA and judges have been acting lately, it is difficult to tell.

It doesn't help that you posted to slashdot asking about getting rid of offending data. Perhaps, if that post is ever linked to you, you could claim that we all misunderstood what you meant.

There was a Texan? woman recently who claimed that copyright infringement on her network originated form strangers using Wi-Fi, but that turned out to be false. The RIAA proved that the data came from her computer.

Rulings like these... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21751820)

Rulings such as these make my hard drive go floppy :((

Justice prevailed... (0)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751844)

I'm glad, the creator's rights to control their creations have been upheld.

I know, this is quite inflammatory for this forum, but it is still true. A musician should be able to attach a license to their songs and enforce it just as much as the software authors should be able to uphold their licenses. Yet Slashdot cheers the latter and comes up with all sorts of ridiculous reasoning against the former.

Here [slashdot.org] goes one (+3 Insightful!) example:

Many Slashdot participants, like myself, believe that copying and redistribution should be legal with or without the author's permission [emphasis mine -mi].

If anybody sees him holding a candle-light vigil next to TorrentSpy's offices, ask him, if his view applies to the authors of GPL software too.

Re:Justice prevailed... (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752026)

Please explain this to me -- is "controlling your creation" the same as "making money off of your creation?" Because, with the latter, I sympathize -- with the former, not so much. However, if I'm wrong, I'm willing to change my opinion.

Re:Justice prevailed... (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752084)

I'm sorry but a person's right to control their creations should not trump my right to use my property as I see fit.

The difference between the GPL and regular use of copyright is that the GPL is intended to support the freedom of the individual to use his computer as he sees fit. There is absolutely no contradiction in supporting the GPL and calling for an abolition of copyright.

Re:Justice prevailed... (2, Interesting)

Skreems (598317) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752186)

Except that the GPL is unenforceable without copyrights...

Re:Justice prevailed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752472)

The GPL is unnecessary without copyrights, so the enforceability doesn't really matter. Then again, there are so many generalities in that sentence, it's probably wrong, too. Using only the word "copyrights" is insufficient for a reasonable discussion.

Re:Justice prevailed... (1)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752432)

Not quite. Without copyright, the GPL cannot exist, because there would be nothing to license. Without copyright, the code (or whatever else) would drop directly into public domain, and the most important part of the GPL is lost. There would no longer be a requirement to release the source of any modified GPLed code.

Re:Justice prevailed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752112)

Make sense, please.

Re:Justice prevailed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752176)

Distributing a licence with a song saying what you can and cannot do with it is like an EULA (I have yet to see anyone on slashdot praising those) and is nothing like the GPL at all. Distributing music under the creative commons licence would be akin to distributing software under the GPL. Which slashdot would probably react to quite favourably.

Nobody should be able to dictate to anyone what they do with something they have purchased unless that means mass redistribution for profit. If I want to remix a piece of music and share it with my friends then I should be able to do so. The original musicians should get to have no say in it what-so-ever.

Claiming things to be 'true' doesn't make them so.

Re:Justice prevailed... (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752224)

I see you've already gotten some knee-jerk replies; go ahead and ignore them.

But you're confused on the actual point of this trial (which won't matter now, since destroying evidence is pretty much a forfeit), which is that Torrent Spy (claims they) didn't infringe on anyone's copyright, and are protected by the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA, which makes service providers not repsonsable for any illegal activities of their users (and additionally claim that they are not "inducing infringement" a la the Grokster decision.) If GPL programmers were suing Google for linking to GPL-violating software, or eBay for hosting sales of the same, THEN you could draw some parallels.

Re:Justice prevailed... (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752286)

I agree. The MPAA has every right to win the case.

What I think many people fail to see is that infringing on artists/musicians who are selling a creative product is actually hurting artists/musicians who distribute with a more permissive copyleft license.

Re:Justice prevailed... (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752466)

I make a living from copyright. I am a writer, and the thing I sell is 'intellectual property.' In spite of this, I agree with the poster you quote. The ability to control my creations is not an intrinsic right. It is a bargain made with society. I agree to distribute my work and to permit certain uses of it under the banner of fair use, and society agrees, in return, to enforce my exclusivity.

The problem with the *AA is that they are violating the spirit of this in a number of ways. Their insistence on DRM (including CSS on DVDs when backed by things like the DMCA) limits the fair use rights. Their refusal to distribute their media in a form that the market obviously wants (or, in some geographical locations, at all, or at least in a timely fashion) violates the first part of the agreement.

I am not in favour of abolishing copyright completely. It is a nice bargaining chip to use. Without something equally simple, while I would still write I probably wouldn't publish my writings. Copyright, however, should be absolutely contingent on the creator (or their publisher) distributing their works. I would even advocate some form of compulsory licensing, so that people can distribute my work as much as they like (with or without my consent) and pay a royalty directly. Alternatively, I can wrap my works up in as much DRM as I like, but once someone cracks it then I lost it all because I don't get to claim copyright on works which don't allow fair use.

Maybe Torrentspy should hire some Bush lawyers (0, Troll)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751848)

The CIA, White House, and others can destroy evidence all the time and there's never any consequences. I hear Bush heats his ranch with compressed rolls of shredded evidence.

Re:Maybe Torrentspy should hire some Bush lawyers (1)

Ochu (877326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752206)

To be honest, if you had lawyers of the same caliber as Bush, you could basically do anything. Those dicks are good

TorrentSpy = The Gun (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751898)

I'm really sick of our Federal system, as most of you know. It's completely ridiculous that law-school educated judges can not read the Constitution, and understand the basic definitions of freedom.

Copyright is a Constitutionally-protected power of government. I understand that. I hate copyright, I would never use it, but I accept it. To infringe on copyright, a person must take someone else's art, and make a copy. That person who paints their own version of a copyright-protected oil painting will use oils and canvas to breach copyright. The oil manufacturer is not guilty. The canvas manufacturer is not guilty. Exxon/Mobil who provided fuel for you to drive to buy the oil and canvas are not guilty. Ford, who provided the car to get to the store to buy oil and canvas are not guilty. The person selling you a book with a license to reprint that oil, is not guilty. You, the person doing the copying, are guilty.

TorrentSpy is like the gun, or the gun manufacturer. The murderer is the person actively aiming the weapon in anger, and pulling the trigger. The person selling the gun shouldn't care what the end user is going to do, other than warn them that they're buying something dangerous. The person making the gun should not be held responsible. The ACT of committing a crime comes from actually committing a crime.

If copyright is moral, and valid, then the person doing the copying should be found guilty. Hosting a torrent is not hosting a file.

If you vote, please vote against retention on every position. Judges need to be kicked out as quick as they're voted in. Vote against incumbents who enforce the law, too (police chief, etc). There's no reason to keep anyone in office long enough to abuse power. All these judges are just power-hungry. They can't understand that copyright is protected by the artist, only against someone else copying the art.

Re:TorrentSpy = The Gun (1)

s20451 (410424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751994)

I find your analogy remarkable. Are you saying there should be criminal background checks and waiting periods for persons who wish to use copyright-infringement devices?

Also, if you think you're smarter than every judge who has ever lived, I'm wondering why you're not trying to become one yourself.

Re:TorrentSpy = The Gun (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752074)

Are you saying there should be criminal background checks and waiting periods for persons who wish to use copyright-infringement devices?

No, I'm saying I don't agree with criminal background checks. Criminals are in prison. Ex-criminals are those who have done their time, and are now free because the system believes they're not criminals. Pretty simple.

Also, if you think you're smarter than every judge who has ever lived, I'm wondering why you're not trying to become one yourself.

No, thanks. I don't believe in judging someone using the force of the law. Everyone I have met who works in government is projecting their own fears about their own shortcomings, and I think many of the judges are the worst about it. Larry Craig anyone?

Re:TorrentSpy = The Gun (1)

bcharr2 (1046322) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752488)

No, thanks. I don't believe in judging someone using the force of the law.

How long do you believe you would retain your life and property if we abolished the criminal justice system? A few days, perhaps, before you would be murdered in your own home and everything you own is carted away?

Everyone I have met who works in government is projecting their own fears about their own shortcomings, and I think many of the judges are the worst about it.

So EVERYONE in the government is wrong and motivated solely by fear, yet somehow Americans still seem to enjoy freedom, stability, & security?

I've got to tell you, I used to worry about some of the abuses of power I observed from our 2 big political parties, but these days I worry more about the slashdot crowd ready to tear down and toss out every element of our criminal justice and democratic systems of government. WAKE UP and realize that while our government isn't perfect, it is still by far one of the best systems of government that humanity has ever seen.

Re:TorrentSpy = The Gun (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752454)

This is a rather apples-to-oranges comparison. Torrentspy wasn't just selling oil paints (to use your painting example), it was selling kits including paints, brushes, and a "Mona Lisa by numbers" template so you could just fill in the blanks. In fact, from a "how much effort does it require to violate copyright" point of view, they were darn close to just letting you click and receive a newly painted copy of the artwork.

As for the gun analogy, while the murderer clearly bears the final responsibility, if I walk into a gun store and say "what's the best weapon to use if I want to shoot my wife from a distance of 6 feet or less" and they sell me a weapon, they've gone beyond the "we didn't know what he was doing" defense. What Torrentspy had would be akin to a gun store which has shelves of weapons marked "Ideal for Convenience Store Holdup," "Perfect for Penetrating Law Enforcement Bulletproof Vests," and "Just the Thing For Killing Dozens in Your School Lunchroom." Instead of these categories, Torrentspy had movies, TV shows, etc. How many movies are really released without copyright? How many TV shows? Not many at all, and anybody taking the briefest look at what was in those categories would have their suspicions that they housed copyright material confirmed.

If Torrentspy had made any effort whatsoever to discourage the sharing of copyrighted torrents via the site, they might have a claim. They knew exactly what they were doing - it was their entire business model.

As to the "hosting a torrent is not hosting a file" argument, there are limits to that as well. The family of someone murdered by a hit man hired through the classified ads in Soldier of Fortune magazine sued the magazine, and won, since the magazine knew exactly what services (mercenary) were being advertised, and still carried the ad.

Don't forget earlier stories about her. (5, Informative)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751912)

This is the same judge who decided information stored in RAM is easy to document and filter.

Since that topic has been expounded upon, here are some articles about the judge in the case:

1. Judge dismisses trial for prosecutor's misconduct [washingtonpost.com]
Here, she dismissed a case when the prosecutors offered a plea agreement to a witness so he could not testify for the defense.

2. Notorious BIG Trial mistrial declared [sohh.com]
In this instance, she declared a mistrial when LAPD was withholding evidence from the trial.

3. Pooh Trial Thrown out [suite101.com] (heh heh)
A trial involving the Winnie the Pooh was ruled in favor of Disney after the family was found to have "tampered" with files at Disney.

The judge has a love for evidence. Torrentspy shoulda known what would happen if they messed around with it.

Re:Don't forget earlier stories about her. (5, Funny)

s20451 (410424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752106)

The judge has a love for evidence.

Yeah, I prefer the ones who have already made up their mind in advance.

Re:Don't forget earlier stories about her. (1)

Ochu (877326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752252)

The judge has a love for evidence.

Yeah, I prefer the ones who have already made up their mind in advance.
This. Sure, it's possible to take it too far, but it's far better than the alternative.

Re:Don't forget earlier stories about her. (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21752238)

And? In the first two cases, it's illegal for the police to withhold evidence or coerce witnesses into not testifying for the defense. In the last case, they didn't tamper with the files, they filed altered court documents and lied to cover up the fact that they stole the files via dumpster diving.

evidence (3, Interesting)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751974)

the lesson here is: don't create the evidence in the first place. disable the server log. why is that so hard?

i know we're talking about an organization and not an individual here, but is there really anything morally wrong with destroying evidence to cover your ass? self-preservation trumps law.

Re:evidence (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752126)

...is there really anything morally wrong with destroying evidence to cover your ass?

Yes. Yes there is.

Only Whitehouse is allowed to destroy evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21752334)

It looks like only the Whitehouse is allowed to destroy evidence without obvious consequences. They should have known...
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?