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Mediasentry Violates Cease & Desist Order

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the what-part-of-stop-don't-you-understand dept.

The Courts 216

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "On January 2, 2008, the Massachusetts State Police ordered MediaSentry, the RIAA's investigator, to cease and desist from conducting investigations in Massachusetts without a license. Based on what appears to be irrefutable proof that MediaSentry has been violating that order, the Boston University students who tentatively won, in London-Sire v. Doe 1, an order tentatively quashing the subpoena for their identities, have brought a new motion to vacate the RIAA's court papers altogether, on the ground that the RIAA's 'evidence' was procured by criminal behavior."

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216 comments

Mediasentry's repsonse (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23026794)

IP addresses are not a reliable method of proving crimes on the internet.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#23026994)

The Parent is, in fact, insightful. If you refute RIAA and their minions' claim that they should be allowed to (and is able to) pick out illegal file sharers based on IP address, you can't turn around and use IP address evidence to prove that MediaSentry defied the court order.

Yeah, it sucks, but what's good for the goose is good for the gander. It must be -- once we allow double standards, we're no better than them.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (5, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 6 years ago | (#23027068)

I think you have that backwards:
Either
a) IP addresses are not admissable, so the RIAA's "evidence" has no standing and the case should be dropped without prejudice,

or

b) IP addresses are admissable, so the RIAA's "evidence" has no standing and the case should be dropped WITH prejudice.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#23027388)

The problem is that with your (b), you set another precedent for IP addresses being admissible evidence, which allows that type of evidence to be used by RIAA and MediaSentry in the future. We do not want that.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23027888)

To put it in an analogy (with true stories to back it up). If someone breaks into your house and finds you're growing pot (kidnapped children, etc. etc.). Just because what they did was a crime, doesn't mean that the police can't still prosecute you. They have, can, and will regardless of how that evidence was obtained.

It's very sad and annoying how double jeopardy allows criminals to admit their crimes, yet criminal activity is allowed to prosecute other "criminals".

Take for instance (sorry for going slightly off-topic): raids. The police (illegally by any other standards, but because they have a piece of paper "warrant" that says its not illegal?!) break and enter into a house on SUSPICION of a crime.

Your analogy doesn't work (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 6 years ago | (#23028128)

The problem with your analogy is that breaking and entering, growing pot, and kidnapping are all crimes provable through existing forensics.

An IP address may or may not be a person - it's still being decided. Therefore you're breaking into a home and discovering a crime - but somehow nobody knows who's home it is. That's where your analogy breaks down.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (5, Insightful)

GungaDan (195739) | about 6 years ago | (#23027114)

Not quite. You can't use an IP address to definitively identify an individual. But you can damn sure use one to identify a location. Which is what matters here - do the IP addresses show that MediaSentry acted illegally by doing their thing in a state where they were enjoined from doing their thing?

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#23027236)

Not quite. You can't use an IP address to definitively identify an individual. But you can damn sure use one to identify a location.

No, you can not. It is fully possible, however unlikely, that MediaSentry upon being blocked from doing investigations in Mass., rented out a VPN line to a company that was, in fact, allowed to do so. In which case MediaSentry is just a provider and carrier, much like the University that provides a student with an IP address is just a provider and carrier, and has no responsibility in what the student uses the line for. You simply can't tell from the IP address.
We must be very careful that we don't apply rules to the enemy that we don't want them to turn around and use against us.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 6 years ago | (#23027410)

It is fully possible, however unlikely, that MediaSentry upon being blocked from doing investigations in Mass., rented out a VPN line to a company that was, in fact, allowed to do so.

In which case MediaSentry could produce documentation to that effect, thus making the evidence inadmissible. Otherwise, MediaSentry is still on the hook. (Whether the use was sanctioned or unsanctioned.)

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#23027458)

In which case MediaSentry could produce documentation to that effect, thus making the evidence inadmissible.

The onus must never be on the defendant to prove his innocence. That's just like RIAA wants people to prove that it wasn't them that downloaded something.

No, no and NO; we must not allow this to happen. Ever.

Our whole justice system is based on the accuser having to provide evidence against the accused, and that the absence of evidence counts for the defendant, never the accuser.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (4, Insightful)

EverlastingPhelps (568113) | about 6 years ago | (#23027774)

The onus must never be on the defendant to prove his innocence.
That is the case in criminal cases. This is a civil case, and the rules are different. In a civil case, it is not unusual for a plaintiff to just be required to show a prima facae case -- a case that is at least sound on its face. At that point, a defendant can be obligated to actively clear his name or let that stand. Also, the burden of proof is much lower than beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard is usually the preponderance of the evidence, which means "more likely than not" and nothing more. 50.00001% is good enough.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 6 years ago | (#23027792)

The onus must never be on the defendant to prove his innocence...Our whole justice system is based on the accuser having to provide evidence against the accused, and that the absence of evidence counts for the defendant, never the accuser.
Tell that to Alberto Gonzalez and John Yoo.

It shouldn't surprise us that corporations act this way when our own Justice Department is pointing the way.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 6 years ago | (#23027800)

I don't think you understand how evidence works. Evidence is a collection of facts that can be used to demonstrate one's guilt in a court of law. It is up to the defense to provide reasonable explanations for that evidence, such that the conclusions no longer point to the crime being tried. If the defense fails to defend against the evidence, then the Judge/Jury may find against the defendant.

Geez, don't they teach you kids anything in school these days?

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

phoomp (1098855) | about 6 years ago | (#23028010)

While what you say is true, I think Mediasentry should be judged by the same criteria with which it judges others. If *they* want to say that music downloaders can be identified by IP address, then they can't say that *they* can't be identified by IP address.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 6 years ago | (#23027756)

Actually, it's not a problem for them to do so in this case.

Even leasing out the lines would be stepping on the C&D- you can't even allow someone else to be doing what you're told to stop doing using your resources. Even an alternate player leasing the lines out would be in violation.

The ONLY out they have would be to prove that they were hacked into (which would be difficult to pin on someone else- they HAVE to pin it on someone else without any involvement on their part at all...) with the purpose of framing them for the violation of the C&D. Not likely.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (3, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#23027860)

Even leasing out the lines would be stepping on the C&D- you can't even allow someone else to be doing what you're told to stop doing using your resources. Even an alternate player leasing the lines out would be in violation.

AFAICT, this flies in the face of all established US law interpretation. It's quite common for companies to, if prevented by law from doing something, allow their resources to be used by someone who do have a permit to do so. This is perhaps most commonly with liquor and restaurant licenses -- if a restaurant loses its licenses, for whatever reason, the premises are leased to someone who do have the necessary permits.
Do you have any references that corroborate your claim?

Not unlikely, but provably untrue. (1)

Xenographic (557057) | about 6 years ago | (#23027812)

> No, you can not. It is fully possible, however unlikely, that MediaSentry upon being blocked from doing investigations in Mass., rented out a VPN line to a company that was, in fact, allowed to do so.

According to all the Court documents I've seen, MediaSentry itself conducts the investigations using their own custom programs. Because at no time have they alleged to use licensed investigators, I must presume that they have never done so. Their lawyers aren't stupid (tricky, yes, but not stupid) and if they could prove such a claim, they would be off the hook. Therefore, the ONLY reason they haven't made that claim is because they cannot.

While IANAL, more than a few legal opinions have drawn inferences using identical logic (they did not claim something because they could not), so I don't think I'm out on a limb, here. As such, I will not waiver from that opinion until and unless MediaSentry produces proof to the contrary in court. Anything less is an admission to the contrary on their part.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (5, Insightful)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | about 6 years ago | (#23027306)

I disagree that you can use one to identify a location. I can be anywhere in the world and, according to my IP, it will appear to you I'm in Fairbanks AK, due to this handy little VPN I use. Granted, I have to have been granted access to the VPN, but the fact remains that IP addresses do not NECESSARILY denote location, either. It's the same problem with claiming an IP denotes an individual. An IP address CAN tell you those things, but it does not NECESSARILY tell you those things. A rectangle CAN be a square, but it is not NECESSARILY a square.

-G

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 6 years ago | (#23027486)

This is more correct. An IP address can be used to identify a location. With corroborating evidence, an IP address (coupled with, say, timestamps for the activity, logs from the ISP, and evidence from the suspect's computer) can even be used as a component of identifying a particular user responsible for an action. However, there's no absolute guarantee -- particularly if you are denied access (perhaps due to it never being recorded) to necessary pieces of information.

While it's true that sometimes "you cannot determine the user or location associated with this IP", it's also true that sometimes you can do exactly that.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | about 6 years ago | (#23028020)

Hence the difference between CAN and NECESSARILY DOES. Or were you agreeing with me? It's too early, and reading the Slashdot forums and the Something Awful forums at the same time is immensely confusing. :P

-G

Location... (2, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | about 6 years ago | (#23027926)

An IP address may not conclusively identify the ultimate location from which communications are originating, but it does identify a logical location though which the communication has passed. To identify a physical locaton might require subpoena over the ISP and/or telco providing the link.

In any case, showing two way communicatons to a particular IP is sufficient to show an association of some sort. In the case at hand, Mediasentry, owner of the IP block, can't deny they have something to do with the packets. As someone has pointed out, they _could_ be providing VPN access to a licensed MA PI. If that's the case, I'm sure they'll tell the court exactly that.

Unlike the copyright infringement cases at hand, where an individual and not an IP address must be identified to sue (a family or set of roommates is not a legal entity), Mediasentry, as a company, _can_ be associated with a range of IP addresses.

To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo: "Mediasentry, you got some 'splainin' to do."

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23028178)

Depending on how you're connected to the Internet you can even specify what you want your IP address to be. Businesses are notorious for not blocking what may be invalid content going out, and some even have basically open access. Most users seem to rely on their system to assign an IP address or someone else to have set it but there's nothing stopping someone from changing their IP to anything they want. Yes, there may be collisions or communications may be blocked due to router/firewall issues but the fact remains that you can change your IP address to anything you want.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 years ago | (#23027230)

There's a key difference here. MediaSentry doubtless has a static group of addresses. Your average consumer DSL or cable connection is a dynamic address picked out of a pool by DHCP. There's no guarantee that an IP address is ever going to point to a specific person. The only reliable thing, for most networks, that you can derive is geographic area.

To put this another way, every time you phone your DSL or cable provider bitching because your Internet connection is down, and they ask you "Please reset your modem and your router and/or computer" odds are that their DHCP servers went wonky and you're going to get assigned a new address. Unless your specifically paying for a static address (and I'd wager the vast majority of consumer-grade Internet accounts are not), there's simply no way to say absolutely that you're going to have that IP address for anything longer than the lease period, and even that may not be absolutely reliable.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#23027320)

Careful here. Are you saying that those who do have static IPs from their provider should not have the same protection as those with dynamic addresses, and be responsible for the content that comes through their line (whether access is leeched through WiFi, a machine has been taken over, or a router has been compromised and acts as a VPN to a remote location)?

I sure don't want to see that happening, and that means that I must defend MediaDefender here, no matter how much I hate them. If I don't consider an IP address good enough evidence for John Doe, it's not good enough evidence to use against John Doe Ltd. either. We can't afford double standards.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 years ago | (#23027428)

Well, to be honest, my experience with static IPs on DSL and cable connections is pretty iffy as well. We have two DSL connections which have never had an IP changed, but our cable connection has done so twice in the last year, and we're paying for static IPs. There are some types of connections, like T1s, where I'd say you're guaranteed to have the same IP block for a looong time.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 6 years ago | (#23027522)

For criminal activity, having evidence that it's your computer/network responsible (IP address + log from ISP) should be sufficient to seize and investigate your computer and networking hardware, which may be able to corroborate that it was you, and not someone else using your network, that performed the action (and potentially will also demonstrate intent).

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1, Redundant)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#23027582)

Criminal investigations are done by the police, not companies. That's a MAJOR difference.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

MrNiceguy_KS (800771) | about 6 years ago | (#23027994)

In this case, though, wouldn't violation of a cease-and-desist constitute a crime, rather than a civil complaint?

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 6 years ago | (#23028488)

It is, and it's a major difference that has no bearing on whether or not you can positively associate IPs with people or locations.

A private company may have less access to the necessary information. At the very least it requires an investigative license and probably tons of other paperwork.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | about 6 years ago | (#23027402)

What, do you think your ISP doesn't log what account get an addresses assigned to it at a particular time? They can certainly tie IP + point in time to a customer.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | about 6 years ago | (#23027528)

Customer: yes. Copyright-infringing individual: no. Say I run an open WAP and a NAT, and I *don't* log who uses it. All access to network resources through my WAP is under the disclaimer that you are responsible for your own actions, not me. It probably wouldn't help me in court, on account of I can't afford $10000/hr lawyers, but at least I feel good about myself. :P

-G

Where do you want your IP to be from? (1)

RingDev (879105) | about 6 years ago | (#23027470)

Give me 30 minutes and an SSH connection and I'll get you the latest Ricky Martin album downloaded to an IP apparently in Brazil.

True, the vast majority of infringers are not going to go to that kind of extreme or hassle, but downloading to another IP isn't that hard, especially if you have physical access to the machine.

-Rick

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (2, Interesting)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about 6 years ago | (#23027432)

But it's brilliant - force Mediasentry to argue, in court, that IP addresses can't be used to identify and they'll effectively be arguing against themselves. Sure, it's a different case, but if they're successful, it sets a precedent that can be used in the RIAA cases. If they fail, then they've been found guilty (presumably) of ignoring a court-ordered C&D and thus all their evidence that's being used in RIAA cases is thrown out. Either way, it's a win-win. They weren't smart. They painted themselves into a corner and it's becoming less and less likely that they'll find a way out.

Not so brilliant (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#23027516)

Or RIAA pays MediaSentry to take a fall, admitting that yes, IP addresses irrefutably shows that they did a wrong thing. And by the way, y'rhonors, now that IP addresses have been shown to be good evidence, there's these 5000 cases that RIAA wants you to look at...

That would be a big win for RIAA, only made possible because the opponents of RIAA tried to apply double standards, and, by doing so, killed their own defense.

Re:Not so brilliant (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 6 years ago | (#23028006)

IP address identifying a company who owns that block of IPs is a far different thing than using them to identify a user who doesn't even own a single address, but gets them from DHCP and slings them from behind a NAT firewall where they share the computer with everyone else in the house and, possibly, their neighbors if they don't know how to set up security.

Re:Not so brilliant (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 6 years ago | (#23028242)

It doesn't win them anything.

In the case of the IP's they've been using, it doesn't connect anything other than an act to a machine- they must pin it to a person doing the deed to count.

In the case of this situation, unless Mediasentry can prove they got hacked into (heh... Do security ever again with THAT black mark...) with the express purpose of being framed, they are as guilty as a cat caught in a goldfish bowl. ANY use of those IP's, allocated to them, unless conclusively proven that nobody IN your org did it, the whole org is accountable- it's a distinction of a person versus a company.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | about 6 years ago | (#23027588)

It's not a win-win. If they argue the second way, that they effectively broke the C&D, then this case (and perhaps a few others) are thrown out...IN MASS. Not elsewhere. There are 49 other states they can POTENTIALLY do business in, and that sucks for the rest of us.

-G

*SOMETIMES* they are... (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 6 years ago | (#23027510)

IP addresses of smalltime users who connect dynamically via big ISPs or are behind NAT routers aren't too reliable.

IP addresses of corporations who buy blocks of addresses or entities who have machines inside server farms can be a very reliable form of identification.

I don't know the exact details of the case so I'm not judging. I'm just saying that reliability depends on circumstance.

Re:Mediasentry's repsonse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23028368)

IP addresses aren't a good way of proving a specific person was involved with something. In the case of a company owned block of IP's, they are a good way of proving a company was involved.

So now it's us Vs. RIAA? (1)

socz (1057222) | about 6 years ago | (#23026824)

Now that they have this against them, can all those who paid up because of their accusations counter sue and reclaim some of the damages paid? Or will they just get a slap on the wrist?

Also, will they just say "it's not us, it's the record companies, we just represent them..." crap?

Re:So now it's us Vs. RIAA? (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | about 6 years ago | (#23027232)

I think its far more likely the RIAA will have "distributed" the money from the cases ot the big four record companies, so when the counter suits come, there's no money left to sue for.

Re:So now it's us Vs. RIAA? (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 6 years ago | (#23027438)

Also, will they just say "it's not us, it's the record companies, we just represent them..." crap?

I don't think it makes a difference. The actual lawsuits have been filed under the name of the record companies (This particular one was Arista vs. John Does, I think). As such, any counter suit can be filed against the record company.

Re:So now it's us Vs. RIAA? (1)

conlaw (983784) | about 6 years ago | (#23027482)

can all those who paid up because of their accusations counter sue and reclaim some of the damages paid?

No, the people who settled essentially paid to avoid going to trial so they don't get to change their minds and have a trial now just because they found out that they probably wouldn't have lost.

Surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23026826)

Surprise! The RIAA blatantly violates the law! Everyday people get screwed!

*scrolls down*

Surprise! Microsft blatently violates the law! Everyday people get screwed! ...Ahhh.... A great day to be on /.

Don't you people get it? (3, Funny)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | about 6 years ago | (#23026886)

Laws only apply to little people like you, not big people like us. Now give us some money and go away. Sincerely, RIAA

Re:Don't you people get it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23027192)

Legal results are completely changeable ... So to say they have "won" or violated a subpoena does not quite make sense. Even with this temporary result, lawyers would get together and come up with a ruling that would undo this "win." Point to be taken... law is not like programming or math which may have a definite answer... lawyers perform what ever legal manipulation possible to justify the result they want. The rules are there only to put up the appearance of fairness and propriety to the public.

JUST ASK ANY LAWYER...

Important note (4, Interesting)

Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) | about 6 years ago | (#23026892)

Most likely, the only papers that they will be able to vacate are those based on investigations taking place after being served with the C&D order. Whether that costs them enough evidence to prevent them from winning a judgment remains to be seen, however...

Re:Important note (5, Interesting)

R2.0 (532027) | about 6 years ago | (#23026966)

"Most likely, the only papers that they will be able to vacate are those based on investigations taking place after being served with the C&D order. Whether that costs them enough evidence to prevent them from winning a judgment remains to be seen, however..."

As I understand it, MediaSentry is not licensed in the state of Massachusetts period. That means that their previous behavior was illegal as well. The C&D is a legal tool to make it absolutely clear to someone doing an activity that their actions are illegal - it does not relieve them of responsibility for those actions before the C&D.

Re:Important note (4, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 6 years ago | (#23027054)

As I understand it, MediaSentry is not licensed in the state of Massachusetts period. That means that their previous behavior was illegal as well. The C&D is a legal tool to make it absolutely clear to someone doing an activity that their actions are illegal - it does not relieve them of responsibility for those actions before the C&D.
I would say you "understand it" pretty well.

How about sanctions? (1)

Xenographic (557057) | about 6 years ago | (#23027862)

I guess the real question is what to do about sanctions? I don't know the law, but the RIAA claims that there's no exclusion for illegally obtained evidence in civil cases (though I don't think that removes them from liability for the illegal act) and that the law doesn't allow the Court to dismiss the case.

Personally, were I the judge (and I'd probably need to be a lawyer or at least go to law school first), I would draw an analogy from copyright misuse cases, strip them of their copyrights (because, after all, sanctions are evaluated by how effective a deterrent they are, NOT how 'fair' they are). After that, I'd let the other party file for summary judgment, because they no longer have a claim upon which relief may be granted after their copyrights are gone...

At least, that's MY logic. I only wish the Court would adopt something like that. I think it would be a VERY effective deterrent, too, given that copyrights are almost the only thing the RIAA seems to care about (other than money).

Re:How about sanctions? (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 6 years ago | (#23028422)

There's a general rule that any subpoena has to have a good faith evidentiary basis. While most Slashdotters are aware that MediaSentry's "evidence" doesn't meet that standard, and the Oregon Attorney General [blogspot.com] certainly picked up on it [blogspot.com], most judges -- in these ex parte discovery applications -- haven't. The fact that the evidence was procured through the commission of a crime may get Judge Gertner's attention, helping her to finally realize that the RIAA does NOT have a good faith evidentiary basis for its application.

Re:Important note (1, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | about 6 years ago | (#23027420)

There is a slight difference between doing something that is illegal and doing something illegal.

Take an action against someone for murder of something. If the police or whoever suing got their evidence because someone stole a laptop from the suspect and gave it to them after finding pictures of the killing on it, then it can often be used as evidence in a civil or criminal trial. Now suppose we find out that the person who stole the laptop was directed to do so by the prosecutor or plaintiff in the case. Now it can't be used.

So how much evidence will be tossed out can depend on when they knew their activity was illegal and if they should have known earlier. Most laws also carry a intent modifier where an action has to be knowingly committed or committed for a specific reason which can cloud the issue a little. It might be that media sentry didn't know it was performing investigation in MA because IPs don't give locations away until after your attempt to track them down. of course without seeing the law, I don't know if that could have an effect on anything or not. But this could still go both ways because of an intent to break a law in order to gather information or not.

Re:Important note (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23027014)

nice to see you have moved out of the shithold that is k5. come to reddit, where the trolling is once again fun and the users too stupid to notice.

Re:Important note (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23027194)

Nope. The C&D "order" has no legal effect (other than the inherent effect to give notice and is therefore useful for proving intent). What they were doing before the C&D notice was no more legal than what they have done after it. Maybe they don't agree with the state police that they are doing detective work, or maybe they think the law is unconstitutional.

How pathetic (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23026916)

IP infringers try to justify their unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material.

These legal issues with Mediasentry are petty technicalities. The important thing is that greedy pirates are trying to entertain themselves with content without paying. This isn't fair to the labels, artists, or countless artisans involved in this hard work.

Every Madonna song you download illegally impoverishes the people of Malawi. Please pay the market price for this regulated scarcity.

Madonna is the best!

Re:How pathetic (1)

conteXXt (249905) | about 6 years ago | (#23026952)

"Every Madonna song you download illegally impoverishes the people of Malawi"

Slashdot Gold Baby.

Pick up your prize at the door on the way out.

but i don't like madonna... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23027042)

...or Malawi, for that matter.

Re:How pathetic (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 years ago | (#23027408)

Since when are Cease and Desist orders, especially ones issues by the state police, "petty technicalities"? If I was to violate such an order, I can guarantee you that the judge wouldn't just shrug his shoulders and call it a technicality. Media Sentry violating the law is not acceptable even if doing so results in them getting evidence of other illegal activity. First of all, such evidence would be thrown out in any trial. Secondly, companies can't just violate the law when it's convenient for them without consequence. (Queue the cynic in me saying "Of course they don't violate the law. They pay some congressman to change it for them.")

Re:How pathetic (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 6 years ago | (#23027716)

Since when are Cease and Desist orders, especially ones issues by the state police, "petty technicalities"? If I was to violate such an order, I can guarantee you that the judge wouldn't just shrug his shoulders and call it a technicality. Media Sentry violating the law is not acceptable even if doing so results in them getting evidence of other illegal activity. First of all, such evidence would be thrown out in any trial. Secondly, companies can't just violate the law when it's convenient for them without consequence. (Queue the cynic in me saying "Of course they don't violate the law. They pay some congressman to change it for them.")

The state police do not have the authority to adjudicate criminal charges; they may have decided that MediaSentry is violating the law, but if they want to hold MediaSentry accountable the state will have to prosecute them.

Irrefutable proof? (5, Informative)

milamber3 (173273) | about 6 years ago | (#23026950)

I'm not doubting in any way that there is proof they have violated the cease and desist. I think that sounds like something Media Sentry would gladly do for the RIAA, but when I click on the irrefutable proof link in the summary I don't see any proof. When I went go the "Exhibits (Cease & desist order, printouts)*" link, I can see the cease and desist order and some printouts labeled from early 2007 but nothing from 2008? Could someone point me in the right direction for the evidence? Thanks.

Re:Irrefutable proof? (4, Interesting)

LordEd (840443) | about 6 years ago | (#23027348)

I'm a bit confused on the Irrefutable proof as well. Somebody correct me if this guess is wrong, but:

a. The exhibit document lists a number of reports generated by Mediasentry

b. The documents identify IP addresses of supposed infringers

c. These IP addresses on a quick traceroute identify these investigations to be located in Massachusetts (at leastone IP is at Boston University)

d. These documents have been submitted to courts as evidence (each document has a case #)

e. Because the IP address is in Massachusetts, the investigation has crossed into these borders. Because they have been submitted to courts, it is proof of investigation.

Otherwise, I think the proof needs some notes along with it.

Re:Irrefutable proof? (1)

LordEd (840443) | about 6 years ago | (#23027394)

printouts labeled from early 2007 but nothing from 2008?
Probably should have read that before posting.

No meaningful retribution (4, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#23026974)

Will they have to pay a fine? Maybe, but ten bucks says* it won't be the hundred thousand dollars the RIAA can collect for a single copyright violation. Will anybody go to jail? Maybe, but again ten bucks says* no way in hell.

Did someone say "rule of law"?

-mcgrew

*offer void where prohibited. I live in Illinois, and gambling is illegal here. Except in the casinos. And the state lottery. And horseracing tracks. And in the bars that have bribed the cops to look the other way.

Me? Cynical? Whatever gave you that idea?

Re:No meaningful retribution (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 6 years ago | (#23027046)

It's called contempt of court, and it can get you into all sorts of trouble. When you're in contempt, you're directly challenging the judge's authority, and the judge is not likely to be lenient when you've just pissed him/her off.

Of course, there's always the possibility of appealing to a more $upportive venue, but it's still a great way to end up in jail or losing a law license.

Re:No meaningful retribution (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 6 years ago | (#23027980)

It's called contempt of court, and it can get you into all sorts of trouble.

They're not violating a court order though (or at least in this instance). It's a letter from the police.

Re:No meaningful retribution (3, Informative)

scubamage (727538) | about 6 years ago | (#23027074)

Actually, its much, much bigger than that. First, conducting criminal investigations without a license is a felony charge akin to impersonating an officer of the law, complete with jail time (up to 5 years I believe), and fines in the tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars. On top of that, if they have in fact violated a court order they have basically just multiplied whatever damages are in place by a HUGE factor. Like, guaranteed jailtime, and adding another 2 or 3 zeros to their fines (or more).

Re:No meaningful retribution (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | about 6 years ago | (#23027366)

This is a civil matter, not a criminal one.

Re:No meaningful retribution (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 6 years ago | (#23027542)

unless i'm mistaken, the penalties for performing civil investigation without a license is similar.

Re:No meaningful retribution (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | about 6 years ago | (#23028222)

Egad! You may be right.

IANAL, but here [mass.gov] is the Mass law re: licensing a firm in the business of doing investigation work.

"Whoever violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than two hundred nor more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment."

Here [mass.gov] is the law about impersonating a police officer.

"... shall be punished by a fine of not more than four hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year."

The investigators might actually have it easier if they posed as officers. Hell, the fines imposed are a lot less than the RIAA would like to hit the John Does with for far slighter infractions. No indication if either qualifies as a felony, though.

Re:No meaningful retribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23027478)

Like, guaranteed jailtime, and adding another 2 or 3 zeros to their fines (or more).
I'll believe that when I see it.

Not to worry (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | about 6 years ago | (#23027016)

If things get too hot, the RIAA will just pull some Congressmen out of their pocket and have them change whatever law they violated (with enough bribery maybe they can even get a retroactive change).

Irrefutable proof? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23027034)

I'm almost certainly missing something, and probably something obvious, but where eactlyis the "irrefutable proof" of MediaSentry violating the C&D?


The writeup at RIvTP cites a "cease and desist order previously issued by the Massachusetts State Police on January 2, 2008," but the pages following the first page in the PDF are all MediaSentry logs from 2007. Where is the proof that MS continued to investigate after receiving the C&D from the police?

/CF

Re:Irrefutable proof? (2, Interesting)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | about 6 years ago | (#23028164)

As far as I can tell, that "proof" doesn't exist. Ray's summary appears to be exaggerating quite a bit.

But not to fear - this *is* still quite useful. The challenge clearly shows that
a. MediaSentry *did* conduct investigations in Massachusetts.
b. The police, upon becoming aware of this, sent them a C&D letter.

So, as of Jan 2008, as far as the police could tell MediaSentry was not licensed to investigate in the state of Massachusetts. Which means that it is very probable that any evidence gathered in May of 2007 was not gathered by a licensed private investigator, and as such qualifies as illegally gathered. Which may or may not be enough to get this case tossed.

Now what will *really* be interesting is if the RIAA file any cases in Mass. that has "evidence" dated *after* Jan 2008. But given the long delay lag between detection and case filing, it'll be a while before that's likely to happen.

Another wrinkle...... (5, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 6 years ago | (#23027110)

is that it appears that MediaSentry has been telling the State [p2pnet.net] that it IS in compliance. Hmmmm.... could that be yet another crime?

Re:Another wrinkle...... (0, Offtopic)

andphi (899406) | about 6 years ago | (#23027406)

This is slightly off-topic, Ray, but did you intend for the filename of your blog entry to be a double entrende or did BlogSpot just randomly generate it?

Winning the war... (1, Interesting)

KGIII (973947) | about 6 years ago | (#23027162)

It's great to see us, the people, actually winning the war. The industry has gone too far, long ago, and their tactics only speak of their desire to avoid change.


The reality is that stealing music is, in fact, wrong. It is a crime. However... Suits that attempt to claim vast amounts of damages are beyond idiotic, reaching to the realms of sophomoric, and don't prove anything other than the lack of initiative (or common sense) from the folks running the music industry.


Disclaimer: As an artist, starving artist really, I can say that I'd be grateful for people taking my music for free but I speak only for myself though the other artists have contractually agreed with the labels and thus with RIAA and are probably not in a position to change much.

Re:Winning the war... (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#23027350)

Now, I'd say that your opinion should carry some weight around these parts. Clearly you understand that it's not about free vs. expensive music, it's about the bullying criminal tactics of those that don't want anyone to have anything for free, that don't want to change their business model to suit the new markets.

IMO, you are part of the new guard, the wave of artists that gets it. Soon, not just music/movie artists will find it difficult to make mega-bucks from their craft, so will athletes and others who are making way more than they should.

This is not necessarily because of the digital age in some cases, but recession means fewer ticket sales etc. The digital age will in turn cap their market worth as well. The further that the sports industry goes into the digital age, the more it will change the very nature of their business. My guess is that many such industries have reached their peak capital performance values and are stagnating or slowly in decline. Much revenue is based on advertising and THAT has drastically changed. The entertainment industries on the other side of the advertising will have to follow suit, if not now then sometime in the VERY near future.

They adapted to color television, cable tv, advertising changes... they will have to adapt or die. Right now the NFL et al don't seem to be doing much better than the **AA, but I'm hoping they are watching the news and paying VERY close attention to how well it has worked out for the **AA so far.

Re:Winning the war... (1)

KGIII (973947) | about 6 years ago | (#23027412)

My next question will be... (I know you're expecting it...) How much longer will it take before the industy "gets it?" (Just asking for your opinion, guess, or insightful comments.)

Re:Winning the war... (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#23028154)

Well, the 'gets it' part will be something of an afterthought as most retail industries are (or should be) preparing to dig in and wait out the recession (it's official now... nearly) and the wrath it brings to the currently propped up consumerism in Westernized societies.

Energy is taking a huge hit, and the knock on from that will begin happening as current stocks dwindle and must be replaced. In 6 months you will see a lot more online activity though free shipping might become a once useful dream. As adverse as Americans are to exercise, 'let your fingers do the walking' may get repurposed from old ads to new uses on the Internet.

When the retail spaces begin to implode, less traffic in the mall means less traffic to all of the stores. The Internet is going to have a huge role to play in the recovery process of the US if not more countries. While it is too costly to go cruising around in your SUV, cruising the Internet will be acceptable, and during and after the recovery process, it will remain as a way to find what you want from who you want it. Most brick and mortar operations already have Internet presence and it will become more important. Tagging along with that will be the industries that are forced by market forces to follow suit and bolster their Internet presence. This will lead to new business models and expansion of current 'gets it' models.

For artists, this means that Internet exposure becomes the new wave of posting bills on the side of telephone polls. Giving away stuff to get people to attend the concerts will be more prevalent, and you will see this in other industries also as the now highly mobile society in North America becomes a bit more isolated from the hustle and bustle of in your face interactions. Already people are not spending as much as they did last year, they worry about what they are spending on. You will have to give them free stuff to get their attention as many of them will only be looking at free stuff. Just putting your name and logo in their face 40 times a day won't do it.

Remember the last recession? That started an entire marketing ploy industry of get 20% more for free and other tricky things that have morphed into ways of making you think you really get something for free that are still with us today.

As the recession bites harder, selling anything but groceries and gas will become more difficult and those industries that are not willing to, or are unable to bribe customers into their shops or onto their website will be the real losers. Remember that in tough times, people begin to spend only on things they 'need' rather than on things they want. The Internet is thought of as free (fixed cost) so there will be more time spent on it, further entrenching some Internet technologies and industries. That will be where those businesses that want to succeed will go now. To not go there is foolish IMO.

Think of it like this: It costs nothing to come shop online in our Second Life store, or on our website, and if you spend more than $50, we'll give you a 15% discount in any of our stores... good for 45 days from date of purchase.

You as an artist... start something viral: offer to give anyone with more than 20 of your songs on their MP3 player a voucher for a libation at the concert. Yeah, sounds like you're paying them to download your music, but it's at the concert that you make your money on shirts and concessions.

Right now, in the early running, anyone that is tagging up with IBM's efforts is probably going to vault over the recession into the new digital era with grace and style. Google-partners will also.

The current white-knight issue with Yahoo will end up being a very big issue in 6 months. The Internet as a market place is consolidating just as other industries have in the last decade. This is both good and problematic. Google is about to prove that anyone can have a web-based email account but only if you are a gmail user do you have real convenience and power.

Watch for the industries that follow along with the consolidation strategies of the Internet and you will see who will 'get it' in the end.

Had the **AA spent on the Internet even half as much as they did on law suits, they would be laughing at Apple right now.

As an artist, you might want to tag up with some folks who call themselves SEOs, get some help to become an Internet name or meme even. Apple is not your only route or possible venue, find the others, spend time focusing on communities where you will be able to play.. and where they will be able to attend. Remember that artists who are not known much outside of NYC do well there. Unless all you have is top 20 pop stuff, the **AA is not much of wagon to jump on in the first place. As more people are on the Internet, finding more bands than on the **AA controlled radio it will become clear that the best place to find music is on the Internet.

The driving force behind much of the coming changes as I see them is the recession and subsequent increase in Internet usage. Watch to see who goes there and does so in ways that won't be ignored by those using adblock+ :) They will be the ones that 'get it'

Governments and politicians are starting to get it with this election, with the help of Google, and the more tools that become available (Google et al) the more that Internet will be important to everyone.

Re:Winning the war... (1)

Fx.Dr (915071) | about 6 years ago | (#23028208)

How much longer will it take before the industry "gets it?"

Something tells me, short of a full blown overhaul - rebuild the entire organization from scratch and start anew - these tactics won't change. I see them getting much worse before they get any better. This is a group who, when confronted with new and popular technologies that could have netted them even greater fortunes (had they played their cards right), turned on their collective heel and ran off. Each and every time, this group spat on the ground and became much more insular.

This apple is rotten to the core.

Ummm ... proof is where? (-1, Troll)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 years ago | (#23027398)

Based on what appears to be irrefutable proof that MediaSentry has been violating that order

So, the link to TFA which us highlighted as "irrefutable proof" is the blogspot entry. It has a lot of links on it, and some of its links are other blogspot pages.

Can someone identify the section that is supposed to identify the "irrefutable proof" so we can look at it and try to decide for ourselves if it is as ironclad as the very optimistic summary sounds.

I don't consider a blogspot page to be irrefutable.

(Not that I don't think it would be cool if it was true, I just completely fail to see where in the links the conclusion of it being irrefutable is actually laid down.)

Cheers

Re:Ummm ... proof is where? (1)

LMacG (118321) | about 6 years ago | (#23028160)

Oh yay, domainism. New York Country Lawyer's "People vs The Recording Industry" blog has always been there. Suddenly today he's not reputable?

Re:Ummm ... proof is where? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 years ago | (#23028542)

Oh yay, domainism. New York Country Lawyer's "People vs The Recording Industry" blog has always been there. Suddenly today he's not reputable?

I'm not saying he's not reputable. For the most part he seems informed and intelligent, and posts some interesting stuff.

I'm saying the connection between the summary here and the blog entry and the links to the supporting legal evidence doesn't make it obvious what the "irrefutable" proof is, where it might be, or, if in fact the blog or the supporting links ever actually implied "irrefutable proof" or if it was a Slashdot editor making claims not supported by any of the links.

Bad Slashdot editing and sensationalist writing aren't exactly uncommon around here.
might find it. A summary which seems to have nothing to do with the linked article isn't exactly a stretch.

Cheers

Re:Ummm ... proof is where? (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 6 years ago | (#23028214)

The "irrefutable proof" is in the Exhibits (Cease & desist order, printouts) [ilrweb.com] (pdf). Boy are you a lazy reader.

Re:Ummm ... proof is where? (2, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 years ago | (#23028416)

The "irrefutable proof" is in the Exhibits (Cease & desist order, printouts) [ilrweb.com] (pdf). Boy are you a lazy reader.

Ummm, yeah. A link to another site (the 5th link down the posting mind you) with an embedded PDF, in a blog posting which doesn't even contain the words "irrefutable proof" ... and I'm a lazy reader??

*laugh* You damned lawyers are just too used to the sheer volume created by your profession to assume us normal folks would ever find that. That's not exactly the most glaring nugget of information available from the link. :-P

It was on display in a dark cellar with no stairs in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of The Leopard".


Cheers

Cool... and; (1)

jskline (301574) | about 6 years ago | (#23027422)

Cool and would this not be a thing where one could sing;

Slam-a-lan-a-ding-dong

on their lawyers for stooping to this level.

These people really believe that the law is for everyone else except them.

Here's the thing... (4, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | about 6 years ago | (#23027598)

If an individual went around pretending to represent the law, then he would get into serious trouble right away.
Why aren't the police taking direct action against the RIAA's illegal operations instead of just sending them a cease-and-desist letter?

Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23028052)

It is just that simple

Delaying tactic?? (1)

timias1 (1063832) | about 6 years ago | (#23027730)

So what is the prevent Media Sentry from applying for and receiving a PI license in all 50 states, or contract a licensed PI in they state? I would just to prevent this tactic from being used against me more than once.

Wake up RIAA. (2, Interesting)

pclminion (145572) | about 6 years ago | (#23027854)

Wake up, RIAA. You might be a big bad fish, but unless you have a freakin' military to back yourself up, you are still subject to the laws of the even bigger, badder fish, which is the state government. Go fuck yourself.

I can hear it now (5, Funny)

kseise (1012927) | about 6 years ago | (#23028048)

RIAA: Somebody set up us the bomb
The People: All your papers are belong to us. Make your time.

Surprised? (4, Insightful)

BanjoBob (686644) | about 6 years ago | (#23028352)

And this surprises who? The RIAA and MediaSentry have repeatedly shown that they don't care about the law. Their gaming of the legal system is proof of that.

The problem is that our stupid courts don't put a stop to this illegal behavior right away and then, they continue to abuse the system. After a while, it becomes allowable behavior.

If our legal system would put a stop to this, it would stop. Since they continue to allow it, this behavior will also continue.

This is wonderful (2, Insightful)

PingXao (153057) | about 6 years ago | (#23028366)

I applaud the people and universities who are pushing back against the MAFIAA, er.... uh, I mean the RIAA. They are winning tactical victories only, however, on the state level. What's not being won are strategic victories. Those would come in the form of big chunks of the population starting to realize that copyright abuse by the big money players is harmful. They would come in the form of Congress actually passing reasonable copyright reform, not the outright bribery they engage in today. Let's face it, when the RIAA starts losing enough in the courts they will shift tactics, and those will almost certainly involve paying off congress to pass draconian new criminal penalties and to lower the burden of proof.

I'm happy when I read stories like this but it's important to remember cases where people push back are wins in little battles. In the long run, most of the public doesn't care about their rights, and the war will be lost. There's already a conspiracy underway to de-legitimize the whole concept of Fair Use. Not a theory, either. A fact.
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