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RIAA's Watchdog Affidavits For Your Reading Pleasure

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the fact-based-witness dept.

The Courts 22

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "MediaSentry, in an attempt to stonewall discovery in UMG v. Lindor, has turned over nothing other than a collection, apparently a complete collection, of its publicly filed affidavits. However, these do make interesting reading indeed, and as comments started trickling in on my blog, I realized that for the technically minded among you there are probably a number of good laughs in these materials. So in keeping with the Slashdot community's analysis of the RIAA's not very expert, 'expert' witness, I thought you might like to take a shot at its not very factual, 'fact' witness."

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PDF warning (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22263164)

"I love the smell of molten server in the morning- Y'know, once www.ilrweb.com had a server...."

Re:PDF warning (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22263346)

Mr. Beckerman's blog isn't slashdotted, and for a non-lawyer like me it's far more interesting than some legal stuff that I don't have the training to understand.

Re:PDF warning (1)

Walpurgiss (723989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22263722)

That's why I skipped the pdfs. The comments linked in the summary were pretty interesting, particularly those by Igor and the last big one (Mike I think?) Should at least give those a read.

Re:PDF warning (2)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265064)

Yes and some more good comments just went online as well there. The 'regulars' who comment on my blog are really quite a good group of thinkers.

Seems Familiar ... (5, Funny)

Bob(TM) (104510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22263784)

Investigator: "They did it. I found out about it."
Defense Attorney: "How did you find out?"
Investigator: "Sorry; can't tell you that. It's a secret."
Defense Attorney: "Then, how do we know it's valid or legal?"
Investigator: "I'm a professional - you can take my word on it."
Defense Attorney: "Do you have a professional license or certification that backs up your word?"
Investigator: "Sorry - I don't see how that's relevant."

Sure this isn't something from a Monty Python sketch?

Re:Seems Familiar ... (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264030)

You know, this whole thing might make more sense if the RIAA and Media Sentry were performing a silly walk while they talked about how they catch P2P'ers.

Re:Seems Familiar ... (1)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264102)

And the whole scene needs to end with the Spanish Inquisition showing up.....

Re:Seems Familiar ... (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264972)

and the more dreaded, but highly predictable, Luxembourg Superficial Fact-Gathering.

Re:Seems Familiar ... (1)

JoshLutz (1231656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22267848)

... and poke them with the soft lawsuits (with all the vagueness up one end)!

Re:Seems Familiar ... (1)

davido42 (956948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264704)

I'd like to purchase a license for my pet download, Eric. Actually, Eric's only half a download, due to a downloading accident, and well...

They need to prove their methods. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22263930)

I know there's such a tactic as to bombard your opponent with unreasonable requests to wear them down and keep them distracted, but shouldn't forensic analysis of peer-to-peer traffic have to pass the same sort of examination as any sort of new or experimental technique? There's no kind of official certification of the process, so what's to differentiate a company specializing in this (such as MediaSentry) from a group of Computer Science freshmen churning out a polished but entirely inaccurate report detailing an individual's illicit filesharing?

When you think of the kind of effort it took to get DNA testing accepted it's laughable, really. Why computers get their own pedestal -- when anybody who uses the things knows they're anything but foolproof -- I'll never understand. And I program the things.

Re:They need to prove their methods. (5, Interesting)

Curien (267780) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264356)

The current mess is partly as a result of the difficulties with DNA and other scientific evidence. In the 1920s, SCOTUS created the Frye standard, which required that any scientific method presented in court needed to be accepted by a majority of experts in the field. This was a very conservative standard, and it meant that investigators couldn't develop new methods ad hoc because those methods couldn't have been widely accepted at the time of use. In the 1990s, SCOTUS instituted a new Daubert standard which allows any scientific evidence -- regardless of its general acceptance -- to be presented at the judge's discretion, and it leads to the "competing experts" situation that we have today.

IMO, Daubert is a horrible precedent, as it forces non-experts to decide how to treat expert testimony. With the older Frye standard, some prosecutors might have a hard time prosecuting some individuals in difficult cases, but it does a much better job of maintaining the integrity of the system.

Re:They need to prove their methods. (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265290)

There's no kind of official certification of the process, so what's to differentiate a company specializing in this (such as MediaSentry) from a group of Computer Science freshmen churning out a polished but entirely inaccurate report detailing an individual's illicit filesharing?
Presumably that MediaSentry has a Private Investigator's license and the CS freshmen do not, seeing as how states are seeking to make it illegal for non-PIs to do computer forensics [slashdot.org] . A followup story [channelregister.co.uk] .

MediaSentry does have a PI license, right?

Re:They need to prove their methods. (3, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265426)

MediaSentry does have a PI license, right?
Not according to this guy [blogspot.com] .

And there's nothing in the affidavits about them having licenses, which would normally be included if they had a license.

Re:They need to prove their methods. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22266286)

Any motivated CS freshman can get himself a PI's license.

Although I think the key thing here is whether or not the
evidence you gather can then be used in a court of law.

Some inconsistencies (1)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264452)

Although I'm not familiar with Kazaa, I seriously doubt that:
  • UserLog.txt
  • DownloadData.txt
  • Tracerroute.txt

existed on the hard drive of the computer that was connected to the Internet through IP address 141.155.57.198 on August 7, 2004 at approximately 6:15
(or was it 12)

A.M. EDT.

Unless 141.155.57.198 was their own PC ;)

This company strikes me as... (1)

jskline (301574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264942)

just another business where a few principles in that business saw a lucrative cash cow when they were summoned into the foray. Now you see not much more than the ubiquitous; "baffle them with bullshit" directive, and you guarantee yourself future moneys from these awards. When you can dictate technology to a neophyte judge and jury to support your earnings from the action, whats to stop you! Who in their right mind turns down a chance at easy money!! Obviously not these folks.

It's like deja vu. Again. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22265644)

All of these articles about the minor skirmishes in *AA's war against infringers are boring and serve no purpose other than to provide yet another forum for some people to say: "Copyright infringement is wrong, like stealing," and for others to claim: "No, it is not exactly the same as stealing, and therefore good." The exact details of each legal encounter don't change anything, and are only useful to the practicing lawyers...

Unlike the emacs vs. vi flamewars, this one can, actually, be resolved with some certainty, and whoever can be convinced is convinced already...

Re:It's like deja vu. Again. (2, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265902)

Methinks thou doth protest too much. You seem to show up on every RIAA litigation thread, seeking to fan the flames of disinterest.

Re:It's like deja vu. Again. (2, Funny)

MrNiceguy_KS (800771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22267258)

Yeah, Anonymous Coward is a regular poster around here. Most of us just ignore him.

Song file titles (3, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268810)

MediaSentry claims to have verified that the names of the files they downloaded contained descriptions of music copyrighted by the plaintiffs. That they didn't bother to play the music and check the contents is very suspicious. It's true that the RIAA has been seeding fake torrents with damaged files and that filenames don't necessarily describe the content, so it's conceivable that the files didn't really contain what the names suggest, but I doubt that and I don't think you could sell this to a jury working at the "preponderance of the evidence" standard (I'm not even sure about "beyond reasonable doubt"). That said, it shows extreme incompetence on the part of MediaSentry. In my opinion this should be used to impeach their credibility: "if you didn't take this elementary step, what other important steps did you gloss over?" -- suggesting it's possible the files weren't song files is to "conspiracy theory"-like to work (the Thompson case reeked of such attempts).

They can spot their own fakes... (2, Informative)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 6 years ago | (#22270784)

Beware of that. They have a special way of spotting their own spoofs that we know about thanks to the Media Defender leaks [mediadefen...enders.com] . Specifically, Media-Defender spoofs had hashes that were divisible by 137, while MediaSentry had file sizes that were divisible by some large prime (for multi-file archives, though, only the last file was made divisible). I'm sure that they've changed some parts of their scheme after the leak (it's been very well known for a long time now and I've seen all this info brought up before), but I don't doubt that they still have sneaky tricks they use to identify their own fakes.

Still, you have a point that they haven't tested the files very well. Especially because of the way MediaSentry/SafeNet modified only the LAST file of multiple file sets, well, who knows? But they probably do have a database with all the hashes of all the spoofs they ever made. What would be more fun, though, would be to ask them how they know they're not someone *else's* spoofs. After all, that same archive I linked to mentions that SafeNet & MediaDefender had trouble interfering with each other at times...
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