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Is RIAA's MediaSentry Illegal in Your State?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the only-you-can-prevent-mediasentry dept.

The Courts 200

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Is Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG 'investigator' MediaSentry operating illegally in your state?. The Massachusetts State police has already banned the company, and it's been accused of operating without a license in Oregon, Florida, Texas, and New York. Similar charges have now been leveled the organization in Michigan. Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Growth, in response to a complaint, has confirmed that MediaSentry is not licensed in Michigan, and referred the complainant to the local prosecutor."

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Explaining RIAA Behavior (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717410)

Cocaine makes you feel more powerful and important than you really are. Hookers always tell you you're doing the right thing.

Re:Explaining RIAA Behavior (4, Funny)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717912)

Elliot? Are you giving us more to go on?

Re:Explaining RIAA Behavior (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718032)

The Rick James excuse, "Cocaine's a powerful drug"

Re:Explaining RIAA Behavior (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718792)

Actually, it's "Cocaine is a hell of a drug".

yes (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717442)

according to the summary - yes it is.

Re:yes (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718198)

Though the summary is retarded. Police can't ban anything. Their job is to enforce existing law. They can't make new ones.

To clarify (5, Informative)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717468)

Just in case someone does not know who Media Sentry is, here is a bit from their Wikipedia article (found here [wikipedia.org] )

MediaSentry is an American company that provides services to the music recording, motion picture, television, and software industries for locating and identifying IP addresses that are engaged in the use of online networks to share material in a manner said organizations claim is in violation of copyright.

Freedom (1, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717502)

Why should someone need a license to investigate something? I have no love for the RIAA, but that law seems to be a much bigger threat to individual freedom than the RIAA itself.

Re:Freedom (5, Informative)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717616)

Because public investigation affects the public (hence the name). Just as a professional driver (IE: trucks, buses) must have a state issued license to practice their craft for hire, so must a public investigator who is hired. You don't need a license for forensics but you do for investigation because you work in the public and effect the public.

Re:Freedom (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718064)

Exactly. Or, better yet, perhaps the gp should peruse this:

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html [usconstitution.net]

Check out A4

Sheesh!

Re:Freedom (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718544)

My hobby is not collecting stamps. Now to the actual topic rather than just commenting on a sig, do all states do this? Are there states you don't need a license to be a PI? Do you need one here in Illinois? And do you know that "effect" is a noun?

Re:Freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718880)

And do you know that "effect" is a noun?

And a verb. Still, he did use it incorrectly.

Re:Freedom (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718812)

Except if you're a journalist.

Re:Freedom (4, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717642)

So anyone should be able to walk off the street and present evidence in a court case while claiming they are an expert at gathering said evidence?

Re:Freedom (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718010)

present evidence in a court case while claiming they are an expert at gathering said evidence
It's said that an expert is someone who knows more about a topic than anyone else in the room. So, if the evidence is a flash drive you found I'm betting that you're far more experience than anyone else in the courtroom with it.

You still need a license to be a private investigator in a given state and there are other rules about presenting evidence... Then again IANAL

Re:Freedom (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718044)

Isn't that what SCO did?
Look how well that worked for them.

Re:Freedom (2, Funny)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718514)

So anyone should be able to walk off the street and present evidence in a court case while claiming they are an expert at gathering said evidence?
It's worked for the RIAA so far.

Re:Freedom (1)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718766)

"So anyone should be able to walk off the street and present evidence in a court case while claiming they are an expert at gathering said evidence?"

IANAL, but I think that if a person is called upon to testify by the prosecution, defense, or one of the parties in a civil case, then "yes". You don't have to be an "expert" in gathering evidence to be able to present evidence and observations. Experts are there to evaluate and interpret. If the evidence has been obtained by illegal means as the article is suggesting, there are bound to be other implications.

Re:Freedom (1)

Twisted Willie (1035374) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717674)

Anyone can investigate to their heart's content. You don't need a license, unless you want your results to be used as evidence in a court. Just as the police are bound by rules to insure they respect your basic freedoms, so are private companies/individuals.

Disclaimer: INALANEAA (I am not a lawyer and not even an american)

Re:Freedom (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22717682)

Uhm,
    Because the states are trying to ensure that any private investigator's (Read, people who can gather evidence and then present it in a court of law) meet a minimum level of ethical conduct & expertise. Anyone can investigate for themselves about something. What they can't do is open a business as a professional investigator. This covers several things, it ensures that the person doing the investigating actually knows what they are doing (understands the law, what is legally gathered evidence, what is not, etc), has a stake in behaving ethically (loss of license means loss of paycheck), and allows the investigator to meet the requirements of an expert witness in litigation.

    Without laws like these, you'd have more of the stereotypical investigators, you know, the ones in the 1950's movies who took pictures through bedroom windows and faked evidence if it didn't exist. Most of these laws were passed *because* of investigator's like this, and they did exist. They still do, but there are fewer of them and they are a lot more careful.

Re:Freedom (5, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717732)

I believe that law is there to provide some parallel of fourth amendment rights in regard to investigation by non-government entities (like MediaSentry). With out this, any one with sufficient funds who disliked you could be constantly investigating you, waiting for you to make any kind of mistake that could be leveraged into a criminal charge. Having licensed investigators allow some standards to be maintained, and rules of conduct to be applied. MediaSentry's conduct is near perfect example of why this law does need to exist to protect individuals from constant investigation.

Re:Freedom (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717778)

From a legal perspective if you are helping a company file claims in court saying XYZ action is illegal, you need to have a legal backing for that. If you are not licensed to do so then you can't. It's called expert witness [lectlaw.com] and what the requirements are. This is why not everyone can be an expert witness on some topic just because (and why Daubert hearings [groklaw.net] remove expert witnesses).

Basically unlike a non expert who anything they say is not taken as fact (which is why complaining to a judge on a traffic ticket still gets you guilty if you don't use the proper legal terms such as object, lack of evidence, etc).

This in fact is a huge deal. Also operating illegally when it comes to spying can carry some hefty fines in the US especially when it can be proven (remember they're suing saying they have evidence, so that level of "proof" becomes very easy to show - its like self incrimination but not a kind you can plead 5th amendment on).

Re:Freedom (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717788)

Why should someone need a license to investigate something? I have no love for the RIAA, but that law seems to be a much bigger threat to individual freedom than the RIAA itself.
I'm curious, in your political philosophy, is there any activity that should be licensed? Should it be by government or private group? I accept the necessity of licensing driving, practicing medicine, general contracting,plumbing, electrical work, architecture, and many other professions, and I don't see any difference in licensing investigators. We want to make sure they are following best practices so no one gets hurt.

Re:Freedom (-1, Flamebait)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718116)

Licensing is an artificial barrier to business. It doesn't mean the person being licensed is honest, trustworthy, does good work, or anything. It is a way to eliminate competition and inefficiently tax businesses, nothing more, nothing less.

Here's a basic question, do you know of, or ever heard of, a licensed contractor who didn't know what he was doing? So again, what does a license prove? That they are registered with the state? Who gives a rip about that, when the work they do is crappy? It doesn't help a wit, trust me.

Re:Freedom (1)

boris111 (837756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718290)

Enough people get screwed over by said contractor... the state takes they're license away. I realize it's not easy to do, but it does happen.

Re:Freedom (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718476)

Then they move to the next state over. Problem isn't solved.

Re:Freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718826)

Then they move to the next state over. Problem isn't solved.

It is for the people in his previous state. And it eventually will be for those in his new state once he loses that license as well and is forced to another state. Eventually he'll run out of states, or realize that maybe it's time for a career change.

Nobody's saying the system is perfect. But it's much better than not having any licensing at all, in which case your hypothetical contractor would just keep screwing customers with no repercussions. There would also be many more shoddy contractors like him -- as there were before licensing, which is exactly why licensing came into existence in the first place.

Re:Freedom (5, Interesting)

actiondan (445169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718356)

I don't know how it works in the states but over here in the UK, licensing works pretty well for all kinds of businesses.

For example, pubs have to have an license to serve alcohol. Too much trouble around a particular pub and they can lose their license.

Restaurants and cafes need a license to serve food. If the health inspectors find that the hygene standards are not adhered to, they lose their license.

Taxis and private hire cars have to licensed. They can lose their license if they drive unsafely.

I like the fact that if the pub down the road causes trouble on our street it will be closed down, bad restuarants lose their licenses before they give me food poisoning and I can get into a taxi knowing that the driver hasn't been in a whole load of crashes.

The only sensible alternative is for businesses to opt in to voluntary schemes. This does work well for some kinds of business but for some things, especially where people might be endangered, I'm happy that we have mandatory licensing.

Re:Freedom (2, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718594)

So, what does licensing do again? You don't need licenses for any of the prohibitive / punitive actions mentioned. This is the fallacy of licensing. Should a 9 year old have to get a license to serve lemonade on the street corner, as one recent over zealous health inspector declared?

Re:Freedom (2, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718942)

why is this modded flamebait? Truth as flamebait? Slashdot mods amazes me sometimes.

Prove me wrong, don't call it flamebait because it hurts your political views. Perhaps it is the nine year old needing a license to sell lemonade? That too is true.

http://damienkatz.net/2005/08/child_labor_ope.html [damienkatz.net]

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2005/08/03/when_life_hands_you_lemons/ [boston.com]

My basic premise was that licensing was a barrier to entry into the market. The proof is often absurd as it is outrageous.

Tell me again what licensing does? What qualifications does it take to open a lemonade stand?

   

Re:Freedom (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718762)

Beyond your slightly flameworthy "I love the UK regulations" humor (not meant to be ad hominem), I just wanted to say the US has the same idea. It's a three strikes rule for liquor, but it's a lot harsher out here. If someone has 2 strikes on a liquor license (where 3 = closed down), and you take over that bar, you just inherited 2 strikes.

To get a strike isn't as clearly defined but it's basically "being excessively negligable". A fight that breaks out in your bar that you take them outside will prevent a strike, but letting the bar explode into a brawl might not end up the same unless you did everything you could to break it up.
Someone with a fake trying to get the bar shut down claiming they got drinks inside but are underage will not get you a strike (as its pretty common and there are ways to disprove this easily).

It's basically up to the cops and the locals who live near your bar physically. This is why US bars do their best to cater to cops, not for corruption but so that the cop won't have a negative bias which is typical of busy locations and/or big cities where bars are.

I've been looking to open a bar in Chicago and have been research the regulations for about 12 months now. The issue has never been the regulations for industries such as bars and private investigation. The issue is the corporations running rampant abusing people's rights and not following the regulations that are already in place.

However, 7000$ or a 4 year penalty is nothing, especially since you can't jail a corporation either. 70k per infraction might start to get their attention though.

Re:Freedom (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718854)

The only sensible alternative is for businesses to opt in to voluntary schemes

The best alternative is for the people affected to sue. If a restaurant gives enough people food poisoning they will be sued into bankruptcy.


Licensing also causes other problems. Until very recently new pubs were refused licenses if the licensing authorities decided there were enough pubs in the area: reducing competition and preventing many who might have run a better pub from putting the existing ones out of business.


The restaurant rules are just silly: attend a course on food hygiene before you are allowed to make a sandwich!

Licensing does work fairly well for taxis.

Re:Freedom (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718516)

So, how would you solve the underlying problem? Obviously, you think government is incapable of doing the job. Do we need a market for verification and bonding companies? Or is it simply 'buyer beware,' and we all take our chances?

I disagree that government licensing and regulation of industry is primarily about creating a barrier to entry or taxation. But many industries do need a barrier to entry. Do you really want any Joe Stoner doing surgery on you? The barrier is there to protect the public, not to protect entrenched interests in industry. Do you disagree with the basic premise that people need or desire protection from negligent, unskilled, and or unscrupulous businesses, or do you disagree with the methods used? What might work better?

It seems you have a very cynical view of government, as if it exists only to cause problems. Government is made up of individuals, mostly trying to do the right thing, just like businesses are. But aside from the fact that all large organizations' main purpose is to perpetuate their own existence, businesses exist only to profit their shareholders through whatever means necessary, while governments exist to profit all citizens.

Re:Freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718710)

That last bit should read:

"while governments exist to profit their puppetmasters to the detriment of almost all of their citizens."

Re:Freedom (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718770)

"Do you really want any Joe Stoner doing surgery on you?"

I don't know about you, but I don't allow just anyone to cut me open. I usually check references and such. The fact that the doctor is licensed means nothing to me.

The public doesn't need protecting, it needs access to information to make informed decisions. Don't punish me for stupid people making stupid choices, like letting "Joe Stoner" operate on them.

"Do you disagree with the basic premise that people need or desire protection from negligent, unskilled, and or unscrupulous businesses, or do you disagree with the methods used? What might work better?"

Actually, I think there are already laws in place to protect people from these things. How does one stop a licensed person from being those things? You don't. Those kinds of people still exist even with licensing. Licensing doesn't check negligence, unscrupulousness. It barely checks for skill.

Take for instance automotive repair business, you need a license, but it doesn't say what you're qualified to repair. ASE on the other hand certifies (non-governmental) what a Tech has trained and tested for. However I just might want to take my car to the old guy down the road who's neither ASE or licensed because he's been doing car repairs longer than most people have been alive, and has a reputation money, licensing and certifications can't buy.

Tell me, what does license mean?

Re:Freedom (2, Interesting)

pluther (647209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718520)

Here's a basic question, do you know of, or ever heard of, a licensed contractor who didn't know what he was doing?

No, I never have.

I have heard of licensed contractors who deliberately cut corners, making illegal modifications, and subverted the inspection process, but never of one who got a license with no training or proven skills at all.

When these people are caught, they can lose their licenses. Which makes them no longer able to work as a contractor. Which is both a powerful disincentive to break the rules as well as a fairly effective way of eliminating those who do.

Do some sometimes slip through? Sure, but just because the system isn't 100% effective 100% of the time doesn't mean it's totally worthless. There's quite a lot of room between those two extremes.

Yes, it's true that licenses are an artificial barrier to business. But you say that as if it is a bad thing. As someone who has lived a good part of my life inside buildings, some of them very large, and almost all of them built by other people, I am quite happy that there are artificial barriers like licenses, building codes, inspection processes, and so forth in place. Because of these, I've never had a building I've been in fall down on me.

Re:Freedom (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717810)

Why should someone need a license to investigate something? I have no love for the RIAA, but that law seems to be a much bigger threat to individual freedom than the RIAA itself.
Often licenses are issued so that there is some power of somebody, i.e. something you can take away from them, which gives the state the ability to ensure that the person or entity is complying with law. In MediaSentry's case, its sloppy 'investigation' yields (a) more than 50% false positives in terms of identification alone, and (b) in 100% of the cases, no evidence that the individual pursued actually infringed a copyright. If you were being forced to pay someone $4500 to get them not to sue you, for something you hadn't done, I think it would be crystal clear why one needs a license to be an investigator. It's because lawsuits are being based on their work, and people's lives are being destroyed by their work. In such cases, if they had a license, the state would have regulatory authority over them by being able to threaten them with revocation of their license. Absent a license, the state's only authority is to pursue them criminally for having sidestepped the licensing law.

Re:Freedom (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718054)

I still don't understand why it should be illegal for them to investigate. You give good reasons why the results of their investigations should not be admitted into court, shouldn't that be enough?

Re:Freedom (4, Insightful)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718228)

No. Because, you see, if it's illegal, and they break the law, they can be punished for it.

If it's not illegal, but it's just shoddy work, they will continue to do whatever the RIAA requests with no real fear of legal ramifications.

The RIAA is not required to hire good investigators, but they are required to operate by the same code of laws that we do. Which, in this case, means their investigators have to be legally certified to operate in the jurisdictions that they are investigating in.

Re:Freedom (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718256)

I still don't understand why it should be illegal for them to investigate. You give good reasons why the results of their investigations should not be admitted into court, shouldn't that be enough?
You want a really good reason why private investigators should be licensed?
Here it is: A large part of private investigating involves stalking.

Since private investigations are going to happen no matter what, it is good and proper to legalize and regulate the practice. This protects the PIs "hey officer, I'm just doing my job, I'm not stalking these people" and it protects the public from any wackjob who thinks he's the Steven Segal of investigating.

Licensing the practice also allows you to force the investigators to be bonded aka insured.
This is also a good thing.

Re:Freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718696)

I'm the Steven Segal of lovemaking. Haven't had any ladies complain about me satisfying them without a license.

So there.

Re:Freedom (2, Informative)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718260)

You give good reasons why the results of their investigations should not be admitted into court, shouldn't that be enough?

NewYorkCountryLawyer also gave the reason why it shouldn't be allowed to happen in the first place: "If you were being forced to pay someone $4500 to get them not to sue you, for something you hadn't done,". That means they are threatening you before you ever enter a court. It's more of a gamble than many people want to make to stand up to a big company with many lawyers and apparent "evidence" just because they are mostly sure that the "evidence" won't be admitted. If you haven't done anything wrong, you should have to face that level of threat in the first place, that is why the licensing is at the investigation level.

Re:Freedom (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718124)

I think that HACK LAWYERS who spit bile but little else should be un-licensed, as in disbarred. Won any cases recently, Beckerman?

Re:Freedom (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718292)

Sounds like my personal cyber-stalker, Matthew Oppenheim [blogspot.com] .

Re:Freedom (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718510)

so your saying that not winning any cases, or not taking any cases, in a certain period of time should be grounds for disbarment? does that mean all those law professors who don't practice any more should be disbarred? or maybe a lawyer who has been sick for a while? or what about a lawyer who works as legal aid and has a string of clients who are just plain guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt? i think that maybe one should think about the consequences of what is proposed before you propose it. at least then you can shake out all of the obvious problems before you let the rest of us pick through it.

Re:Freedom (1)

andphi (899406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718138)

"If you were being forced to pay someone $4500 to get them not to sue you, for something you hadn't done, I think it would be crystal clear why one needs a license to be an investigator. It's because lawsuits are being based on their work, and people's lives are being destroyed by their work. . . Absent a license, the state's only authority is to pursue them criminally for having sidestepped the licensing law."

I wonder: what differentiates MediaSentry's activities from racketeering (or extortion)?

Re:Freedom (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718664)

In states where they would, as you say, have to pursue them criminally, would it be just a fine or would someone be incarcerated? Seems to me that an entity like the RIAA would consider a fine to be just another cost of doing business. Could someone actually (I fervently hope) go to prison for this?

Re:Freedom (3, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718808)

In states where they would, as you say, have to pursue them criminally, would it be just a fine or would someone be incarcerated? Seems to me that an entity like the RIAA would consider a fine to be just another cost of doing business. Could someone actually (I fervently hope) go to prison for this?
According to the letter [ilrweb.com] (pdf) from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, it could carry a prison sentence of up to four (4) years.

Re:Freedom (2, Insightful)

jmnormand (941909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717902)

Its pretty simple profesionals need to be licensed to maintain a minimum standard of quality for the public good. PI's are no differnt than plumbers, architects, lawyers, real estate agents, ect. Yes you can do your own plumbing but to be a professional plumber you need a license. Media Sentry is a profesional investigation company thus needs to be licensed as such in the state they are working. Now if the RIAA companies where doing the work themselves it wouldnt be an issue assuming they dont do anything illegal to gain said information.

Re:Freedom (2, Insightful)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717920)

You should be able to investigate for yourself all you want, but if you want to be able to sell services, you'd need a license.

Prosecuter Doesn't Care (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22717530)

Prosecutors would rather send someone to jail for victimless crimes like drug posession than for extortion and racketeering which the RIAA and MPAA regularly engage in.

Re:Prosecuter Doesn't Care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718394)

I take it from your comment that you are a drug user yourself. Drugs are not a victemless crime. Do you have any idea the number of other crimes are committed to support drug habits?

Re:Prosecuter Doesn't Care (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718996)

I take it from your comment that you are a drug user yourself. Drugs are not a victemless crime. Do you have any idea the number of other crimes are committed to support drug habits?
I take it from your comment that you are an idiot who does not have basic reasoning skills. I don't do drugs myself and would not even if they were legalized. However, I don't consider it any of my business if someone wants to on their own. It's simply none of my concern how someone else wants to live their lives. And crimes to support drug habits wouldn't exist if (some) drugs weren't illegal. You don't see alcoholics knocking over convenience stores so they can buy a fifth of vodka, do you?

Re:Prosecuter Doesn't Care (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719010)

From the GP: Prosecutors would rather send someone to jail for victimless crimes like drug posession than for extortion and racketeering which the RIAA and MPAA regularly engage in.

It's easier to get evidence of drug possession; they only have to produce the drug in court. For prostitution they only have to have the cop who poses as a hooker to testify that he or she was solicited. For extortion they have to get the victim's consent, which may be hard to do if the victim is terrified by the attacker, which is, after all, the only reason extortion works. DAs get reelected based on their wins/losses.

As to your incredibly ignorant comment: Drugs are not a victemless crime. Do you have any idea the number of other crimes are committed to support drug habits?

I've smoked pot since 1971 and I don't steal, extort, become violent (unlike many drinkers, whose drug is entirely legal), and have been gainfully employed for all that time. In fact, I'm eligible to retire in a couple of years.

Most of my friends also use this drug, and they are also gainfully employed. many are businesspeople.

I agree that marijuana should be kept away from minors, like any other drug (alcohol and tobacco included) but the laws do exactly the opposite. If you want proof, find a teenager and ask if (s)he can buy pot at school, and ask if (s)he can buy beer at school.

IMO the most vehement opponents of drug legalization must be the drug dealers themselves, as they stand to lose a whole lot of profit and perhaps even their livlihood should their illicit goods become legal.

What's worse, passage of victimless crimes lead to the erosion of civil liberies. Are you a lawmaker? That would explein your anonymity, Mr. Coward.

-mcgrew

hhmmmm. (3, Informative)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717544)

whereas I derive a lot of pleasure about hearing the **AA and their cronies getting hosed I'm a little confused here.

how is jurisdiction defined in 'net terms? physical address of the "investigator"? physical address of the "guilty" party? location of all the 'net infrastructure? where the summons where served? seems like this is far from evident to me.

can they simply serve a warrant from a location where they are licensed?

Re:hhmmmm. (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717662)

If you are investigating someone in a given state, you must be licensed in that state.

Re:hhmmmm. (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717822)

In this sort of case, it would appear to be the state in which the suit is filed and they wish to be able to provide evidence for.

IANAL, YMMV.

Not banned in MA (4, Informative)

diewlasing (1126425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717570)

They aren't banned in MA, the state police sent the ma cease and desist letter, but I know, here in Boston, kids are still getting sued and I believe that they filed a complaint in court indicating the the state police told them to stop. But as far as I know the RIAA told them to fuck off, because I believe MediaSentry is still up to their old tricks here.

Re:Not banned in MA (5, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717838)

Legally they've been told to "cease and desist". If they're violating the "cease and desist" letter, well that's a whole new crime, isn't it?

So they get a DBO type license (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717592)

Problem solved.

bleh (1)

zerodown (1254506) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717602)

and are we the least bit surprised that they're operating illegally? It's the RIAA, they're above the law when it comes to recuperating losses suffered by artists, when said artists are still waiting for their original paychecks.

Re:bleh (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717884)

They're doing things the vigilante way... "If no one is going to stop people from infringing copyright, we will!!!". Which is obviously illegal and bad in so many ways... However, aside for the vast difference in budget and power, the idea isn't too different from people (and they're common on this site) going: "If no one will change the law, I will simply ignore it!!! Come on the free downloads!! GOOOO PIRATE BAY!" or whatsnot... Both sides are overzealous people wanting to take the law into their own hand.

And its not a matter of people vs corporation either...as both sides are just people wanting to handle their money the way they wish... Also interesting to note that the second group from my example started before the former...

In the end, MOST people think they're above the law and that their own moral, judgement, and wallet is above everyone else's.

Re:bleh (1)

zerodown (1254506) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717956)

My chagrin and disappointment stems from they're modus operandi. They clearly stated that "we're persuing these illegal downloaders to provide reparations to the artists who are losing out." Really? Then why is it the artists have yet to see a cent from the these lawsuits? Because we all know in actuality the RIAA isn't concerned with artists but with the record labels. At least be clear of your purposes and don't try to spin this in a way that makes you feel you can sleep at night.

Re:bleh (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718682)

I completly agree with you. Then again, its little different from, let say, people who talk about abolishing copyright in the name of "freedom of speech", when all they care about is "free as in beer".

Of course, we can't generalise, for a large chunk of people thats not true, but forthe majority....

Seriously, everyone's the same... the thing that makes the RIAA worse is that they do it on such a large scale fueled by millions.

Abuse of Power, Government Sanctioned? (4, Interesting)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717648)

The RIAA seems to be operating without any regard to the actual laws of the country. Doesn't this bother anyone? It isn't a few isolated cases, the RIAA operates as if it IS the law and the government does nothing to stop it, UNLESS the RIAA is challenged.

So much for the land of the free - it is the land of 'Get away with whatever you can, as fast as you can'. Imagine if the general population acted like the RIAA does?

Re:Abuse of Power, Government Sanctioned? (3, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718050)

So much for the land of the free - it is the land of 'Get away with whatever you can, as fast as you can'.

They are just following the lead of our Executive Branch. [americanchronicle.com]

Before someone whines "why does everything have to turn into Bush bashing?" Let me say that this is completely relevant. When the most powerful executive of US law regularly shows contempt for the rule of law and gets away with it every time for years, it is only logical that other rich and powerful men would follow suit and begin to treat the law as if it only marginally applies to them.

Re:Abuse of Power, Government Sanctioned? (2, Funny)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718150)

In theory, the balances and checks in the american system are designed to prevent this sort of abuse at the top. So, in theory, the american system should prevent all problems like this... and in reality, well - you decide if it is working.

Re:Abuse of Power, Government Sanctioned? (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718462)

I really wish I could live in the magical land of Theory.

Re:Abuse of Power, Government Sanctioned? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718678)

The checks and balances don't exist anymore. The theory behind the US government is that the federal government was going to have a STRICTLY limited set of functions. A VERY SMALL set of functions. Read the Constitution. Everything else was to be done by the states, with the citizens controlling the state governments by voting, and if necessary, the ultimate freedom of exit. A state government that misbehaves would find itself with no citizens.

That system doesn't function anymore, ever since we allowed the federal government to expand beyond its remit. The "checks and balances" of splitting power between three branches of government were a backup system. Defense in depth. They were never meant to be the primary protection against corruption and tyranny.

Re:Abuse of Power, Government Sanctioned? (1)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718360)

Before someone whines "why does everything have to turn into Bush bashing?" Let me say that this is completely relevant. When the most powerful executive of US law regularly shows contempt for the rule of law and gets away with it every time for years, it is only logical that other rich and powerful men would follow suit and begin to treat the law as if it only marginally applies to them.

Anyone that thinks this behavior is started with the Bush administration is deluding themselves at best, and more likely engaging in political demagoguery.

Personally, I can't wait for January, 2009. But those of you that just started paying attention to the antics of the executive branch within the past 7 years need to stop playing computer games and open a history book.

Re:Abuse of Power, Government Sanctioned? (2, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718178)

The RIAA seems to be operating without any regard to the actual laws of the country. Doesn't this bother anyone?...So much for the land of the free
Nope, not a single person cares. Oh, yeah, except for a few lawyers in new york and most of the forums on the internet, including this one. But other than the thousands and/or millions those represent, nope, it doesn't bother anyone.

As for being the land of the free, this is a complicated legal process. The RIAA literally can't get the identity of the person that they're investigating without filing against them and then forcing the ISP to turn over the records. As despicable as it is, they're not the ones who created that problem (even if they're exploiting it for all they're worth). In addition, they have the right to defend their property from being abused, so the judges can't just throw these cases out without giving the RIAA a chance to prove what they're doing. To use the cliche, they should get their days in court.

Finally, the tide seems to be turning as more and more judges are punishing them for their abusive actions. MediaSentry is getting slammed from nearly every direction, many colleges are standing up, and court cases are being won. Your comment is dumb in the extreme, and maybe even what I would consider a troll.

Re:Abuse of Power, Government Sanctioned? (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718306)

You might think it is a troll comment. I might think you're a troll.

Either way, neither of us are moderating ;)

Re:Abuse of Power, Government Sanctioned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718334)

Imagine if the general population acted like the RIAA does? nudge nudge, wink wink, know whatImean? Say no more.

All fixed.

Whoa (0)

w.p.richardson (218394) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717724)

I'm sure this technicality will give the RIAA pause, which will lead to a reconsideration of their tactics.

Or not.

Yeah, probably not.

That raises a Question... (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717984)

They seem pretty arrogant, but if their tactic fails consistently, then even the dullest legal type in the RIAA would want to change tactics. Nobody (esp. the RIAA) like to lose, y'know?

If enough folks know about this (e.g. I live in Oregon, so say they somehow decide to sue me...), then any relevant case goes 'splat' in a heartbeat, for a minimum of fuss and cost (prolly even cheaper than the "settlement" offered). I'm sure that it wouldn't take too much convincing to show the judge that the RIAA has no right to sue, based on a sole bit of evidence gathered illegally within the jurisdiction.

The only unknown would be how it affects a civil case as opposed to a criminal one. I believe that if your one bit of evidence was gathered illegally in a criminal investigation, it would pretty much obliterate any hope of prosecution, but I'm not 100% sure of civil cases.

Any lawyers in the house that can confirm/deny that?

/P

Re:That raises a Question... (1)

MttJocy (873799) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718628)

Depends on how essential the piece of evidence itself was and the same for any evidence which was derived from it either directly or that lead from the illegal discovery (fruit of the poisoned tree) example, in a murder investigation the police search your car without a warrant, in the process of doing so they discover a knife which carries forensic evidence (fingerprints, blood other trace evidence etc) then all of that is inadmissible in court because from the moment the police illegally searched your car any discovery coming from that car or it's contents were all products of that illegal act (thus what the term fruit of the poisoned tree comes from). Other evidence which was discovered beforehand through legitimate rules of evidence would still be admissible however, as would any evidence discovered completely independently of the search of the car so it is possible that there would be some other way to make the case (perhaps such as physical evidence found on a carpet or similar that was used to move the body, which was found for instance with the victim or in the home of the suspect/victim or some other location). It certainly would not do the prosecution's case any favors though. By the way I am not a lawyer so this is just my understanding of it but I believe it to be correct, of course if the knife was your only piece of physical evidence you would be in somewhat of a mess unless you could somehow pull together a very strong circumstantial case somewhere.

Americans and their rights. (5, Insightful)

muxecoid (1061162) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717740)

Big corporations think that people are too afraid to seek justice even if law is not on the firm's side. Awareness and cheaper legal services for citizen would help. Corporations surely do not want the customers to be aware of their rights.

Re:Americans and their rights. (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718186)

I think the need for cheaper legal services is more critical. The sheer amount of "Injured in an accident?" and other similar ads seem to have awareness covered, at least in a general sense.

RIAA Operating Illegally. Now there's a shock! (4, Informative)

HannethCom (585323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717752)

RIAA employing companies working illegally. Suing the wrong person. Screwing the artists they are supposed to protect. Screwing the consumers. So what else it new?

In Canada we have the CRIA (Same basic entity) that admitted to collecting more media tax than they were supposed to from customers, and what did they do with this extra money they shouldn't have had? Pocketed it themselves of course. As I understand it, to get money from the CRIA you have to apply to get a portion of it and again, if people don't apply for it, they pocket the money meant for the artists themselves.

Each blank CD, or tape we buy there's a media tax. The money from this goes to the CRIA to distribute to the artists in compensation for people using the blank media for piracy. How the law works here in Canada is when you "buy a CD" you are actually buying a license to that listen to that performance of the song privately. Canadian corporate law is based off of when you pay money, you have to get something in return. This is what makes downloading songs, or transferring them to another media for your own use legal in Canada.

It is legal to download songs in Canada, but it is not legal to download a song and listen to it that you don't have a license to.

Re:RIAA Operating Illegally. Now there's a shock! (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718270)

So, in canada, you pay a small amount on every blank cd you buy.
This sounds bad. Until you realize that this 'tax' basically legalizes downloading (but not using) of this media.
And that is good, because the law only goes after people who play music without the proper license, and not the regular guys on the street.
And this is good, because downloaded music doesn't equal lost sales - and the people who should be paying for music (Broadcast companies, etc) actually DO (in theory).
Also... the law punishes people who profit illegally from music distribution, but if it isn't costing anyone money ... than it doesn't seem to matter to them.

Also, we don't have 7 year olds getting charged with piracy - which makes the RIAA, and the USA by extension, look like a big bully, I might add.

Re:RIAA Operating Illegally. Now there's a shock! (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718532)

The other critical factor is that in Canada, the loser automatically pays all court costs.

If the CRIA sues me and they lose, they have to pay not only their own legal fees, but all of my fees. This includes, but is not limited to, my:

1. lawyer's fees.
2. filing costs.
3. lost wages for showing up in court when I could have been at work making money.
4. extra expenses incurred while defending myself.

If they drop the charges against someone who has a defence (like the RIAA does in the states) they still have to pay those fees. That's why we'll never get RIAA-style litigation here.

If you adopted the same idea in the US, you'd end legal threatening. "Well, we've got millions. You're a student. Your money will run out first. You'll be bankrupted... ...unless you settle."

Technically, the distinction here in Canada is that you can download music, but you can't upload it. I'm sure if you kept 35% Canadian content on your shared drive, you could argue that you're an unlicenced broadcaster, not a music pirate.

IANAL.

Ep..? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22717790)

Re:Ep..? (1)

Dragon By Proxy (1063904) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717926)

Why yes, there is a gaping hole in all of this.

Not that one, though.

time for class action lawsuit (1)

KevMar (471257) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717928)

or criminal charges.

They are unlawfully scanning our computers looking for files. We give open access to people that want to download them, but if you are going to use that information for any other purpose it considered an invasion of our network. hacking if you will.

Why hasnt any thing been done about that? it is unauthorised computer access.

Re:time for class action lawsuit (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718108)

Sorry, but unless you password-protect your public services, you can't have it that way.

The trick is (and std. disclaimers apply, 'cause I ain't a lawyer), that you opened your computer shares for public consumption, so anyone can "scan" those public shares for whatever they like (in reality, they're making a copy and scanning the copy - the only 'scanning' they do is to look through a list of what you have, like everyone else accessing those shares do).

Now if you password-protected the shared directory, and they got in without you giving them the password, then they'd be violating/hacking/etc. But - you can't go after 'em for doing exactly what you've set up the shared directory to do - allow anyone to download its contents.

I'm not defending the RIAA or anything but - like a vampire - the RIAA will only stay dead if we kill it the right way.

/P

California (2, Informative)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718018)

>Is Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG 'investigator' MediaSentry operating illegally in your state?.

They do not appear to be licensed in California. A check with the Department of Consumer Affairs [ca.gov] license search does not show a license for MediaSentry. Searching on "Media" shows a delinquent license for Media Center Investigations in Kern County. It is, of course, possible that they are licensed under some other corporate identity.

Re:California (1)

paddbear (200274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718750)

Not licensed in Vermont, after a search of the Sec. of State's databases.

Easier question (3, Interesting)

Shagg (99693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718062)

Are there any states where they are licensed to investigate?

Re:Easier question (3, Informative)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719026)

> Are there any states where they are licensed to investigate?

They are not licensed in any state, according to what I remember from a past article. Your question then becomes: in how many states are licenses required? As well as, in how many states has MediaSentry conducted investigations?

Frankly, I'm going to be disappointed if there aren't any sanctions against them when this is all over. I know that they expunged a few things from their website, but I somehow doubt that they've actually stopped investigating.

Guilty as charged. (4, Funny)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718128)

I move for civil damages of $700,000 per IP. And damages against Comcast for "making available" those IP addresses.

Re:Guilty as charged. (2, Funny)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718844)

No, Comcast can file a lawsuit as well. Remember, since they send packets out to p2p apps, it is possible MediaSentry is actually communicating with Comcast instead of you. This is the beauty of Comcast impersonating people online, they get to sue too.

I'd like an answer (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718182)

Sadly with the gutless/bought off coward we have as the Attorney General in North Carolina I will never know. This clown takes no chances and rarely goes against corporations of any size.

hrm (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718344)

To address a few points, in terms of being licensed it does make them show their method's of collecting info on ppl is valid and not bogus stuff they might make up. Most the riaa's wins in court, mostly none of the artists haven't even seed 1 cent of it so its not pirates f'in them its more so now the riaa. as for fileing suit in a state they have a license in for someone that lives in a state they don't, i think they have to go to the state were the crime is committed, for fact its not other states problem to do this and it would cost that state $$$ to get person from another state.

Maybe They Won't Show Up? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718412)

If MediaSentry is illegal in your state, maybe they won't show up to be deposed, or testify at trial. Could be a bit of an RIAA problem if you can't cross-examine the "witnesses" against you.

Pennsylvania? (3, Interesting)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718486)

anyone know if they're licensed in PA? If not I've got a few hundred friends who will be contacting the state attorney general's office.

Leveled or levied? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718536)

leveled or levelled, leveling or levelling, levels
1. To make horizontal, flat, or even: leveled the driveway with a roller; leveled off the hedges with the clippers.
2. To tear down; raze.
3. To knock down with or as if with a blow: The challenger leveled the champion with a mighty uppercut.
4. To place on the same level; equalize.
5. To aim along a horizontal plane: leveled the gun at the target.
6. To direct emphatically or forcefully toward someone: leveled charges of dishonesty.
7. To measure the different elevations of (a tract of land) with a level.

levy
1. an imposing or collecting, as of a tax, by authority or force.
2. the amount owed or collected.
3. the conscription of troops.
4. the troops conscripted.
5. to impose (a tax): to levy a duty on imports.
6. to conscript (troops).
7. to start or wage (war).
8. to seize or attach property by judicial order.

You gotta ask ourselves one question: Is our children learning?

Re:Leveled or levied? (1)

cube135 (1231528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718928)

leveled or levelled, leveling or levelling, levels
6. To direct emphatically or forcefully toward someone: leveled charges of dishonesty.
Looks about right...

Regarding RIAA, MPAA, DMCA and all other xxxAs (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718690)

Got an interesting email today

Dear ...

Rogers Cable (Rogers) has received a notice stating that activities associated with your IP address are infringing copyright in material(s) owned or exclusively licensed by others.

The full notice is appended to this e-mail below.

Under section 4(d) of the Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed Internet End User Agreement (EUA) and Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), you are prohibited from using the Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed Internet service to engage in illegal activities, including activities that infringe copyright. Copies of our EUA and AUP are available at:

http://na.edit.client.yahoo.com/rogers/show_static?.form=terms&.intl=ca [yahoo.com]

Where there has been a violation of our EUA and/or AUP, including the unauthorized distribution of copyright-protected material, Rogers has the right to take appropriate action against you.

If you have any questions about the attached copyright notice, please contact the sender of the notice using the contact information provided in the notice. Please do not reply to this e-mail.

We trust you will comply with our policies and all applicable laws in using the Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed Internet service.

Rogers EUA Management Team Sincerely,

EUA Management Team Rogers Yahoo Hi-Speed Internet

http://na.edit.client.yahoo.com/rogers/show_static?.form=terms [yahoo.com]

  Tuesday, March 11, 2008 Rogers Cable Inc. 1 Mount Pleasant Road Toronto, M4Y-2Y5 CA

  RE: Unauthorized Distribution of the Copyrighted Motion Picture Entitled Vantage Point

Dear Rogers High-Speed Internet:

  We are writing this letter on behalf of Columbia Pictures Industries Inc., ("Columbia Pictures").

  As you may know, Columbia Pictures is the owner of copyright and exclusive distribution rights in and to the motion picture entitled Vantage Point.

  No one is authorized to perform, exhibit, reproduce, transmit, or otherwise distribute the above-mentioned work without the express written permission of Columbia Pictures, which permission Columbia Pictures has not granted to (the IP address)

  We have received information that an individual has utilized the above-referenced IP address at the noted date and time to offer downloads of the above-mentioned work through a "peer-to-peer" service.

  The attached documentation specifies the location on your network where the infringement occurred, the number of repeat violations recorded at this specific location, as well as any available identifying information.

  The distribution of unauthorized copies of copyrighted motion pictures constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, Title 17 United States Code Section 106(3). This conduct may also violate the laws of other countries, international law, and/or treaty obligations.

  Since you own this IP address, we request that you immediately do the following:

  1) Disable access to the individual who has engaged in the conduct described above; and
  2) Terminate any and all accounts that this individual has through you.

  On behalf of Columbia Pictures, owner of the exclusive rights to the copyrighted material at issue in this notice, we hereby state, pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Title 17 United States Code Section 512, that we have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by Columbia Pictures, its respective agents, or the law.

  Also pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we hereby state that we believe the information in this notification is accurate, and, under penalty of perjury, that MediaSentry is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive rights being infringed as set forth in this notification.

  Please contact us at the above listed address or by replying to this email should you have any questions.

  We appreciate your assistance and thank you for your cooperation in this matter. In your future correspondence with us, please refer to Case ID XXX.

  Your prompt response is requested.

  Respectfully,

  A Kempe
  Enforcement Coordinator
  SafeNet, Inc.

-
  INFRINGEMENT DETAIL
-

  Infringing Work: Vantage Point
  First Found: (time)
  Last Found: (time)
  IP Address: (the IP address)
  Protocol: BitTorrent
  Torrent InfoHash: (hash)
  Containing file(s):
  Vantage Point CAM BLaZE (Kingdom-KvCD by BLaZeKVCD).bin (number of bytes)

  Rogers Cable Inc. 1 Mount Pleasant Road Toronto, M4Y-2Y5 CA

  RE: Unauthorized Distribution of the Copyrighted Motion Picture Entitled Vantage Point

  Dear Rogers High-Speed Internet:

  We are writing this letter on behalf of Columbia Pictures Industries Inc., ("Columbia Pictures").

  As you may know, Columbia Pictures is the owner of copyright and exclusive distribution rights in and to the motion picture entitled Vantage Point.
I don't know, sounds terrible. So I replied:

Dear Sir/Madam, regardless of any activity that may or may not have taken place it is my right to not be subjected to intimidation based on other government's policies. This particular section: "Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Title 17 United States Code Section 512" does not apply to any Canadian citizen especially while the citizen is within Canadian borders when the alleged activity may or may not have taken place. I am not a US citizen.

Sincerely.

UK / Computer Misuse Act (1)

Kryptic Knight (96187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718970)

I'm guessing that the Computer Misuse Act (1990) would take any results of the RIIA tools and kick them out of court. Not withstanding any attempts to utilise USA legislative actions on British Citizens (even if our govt lets us be treated like the 51st state).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Misuse_Act [wikipedia.org]
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