Oregon Attorney General takes on RIAA over evidence-gathering techniques

“Oregon is fast becoming Ground Zero in the contentious battle between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the tens of thousands of consumers it accuses of illegal music sharing,” Jaikumar Vijayan reports for Computerworld.

“The state Attorney General’s office this week filed an appeal in U.S. District Court in Oregon calling for an immediate investigation of the evidence presented by the RIAA when it subpoenaed the identities of 17 students at the University of Oregon who allegedly infringed music copyrights. It is the second time in a month that Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers has resisted attempts by the RIAA to force the university to turn over the names of individuals it says shared music illegally,” Vijayan reports.

“‘It is a really huge step when the head law enforcement officer of a state wants to investigate the RIAA’s evidence-gathering techniques,’ said Ray Beckerman, a New York-based lawyer who has been defending individuals in RIAA lawsuits,” Vijayan reports.

“In a 15-page brief filed Wednesday, Oregon’s assistant attorney general, Katherine Von Ter Stegge, said that while it is appropriate for victims of copyright infringement to pursue statutory remedies, that pursuit had to “tempered by basic notions of privacy and due process,” Vijayan reports. “‘The record in this case suggests that the larger issue may not be whether students are sharing copyrighted music,’ the state’s brief noted. Rather it is about whether the litigation strategies adopted by the RIAA are appropriate or capable of supporting their claims.”

“The brief also questioned whether the RIAA’s investigators themselves might have illegally accessed and uploaded private confidential information not related to copyright infringement, that might have been stored on the computers of people being investigated,” Vijayan reports.

Full article here.

26 Comments

  1. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    – United States Bill of Rights, Fourth Amendment.
    Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

  2. This RIAA tactic of suing file sharers only strengthens their determination and brings others to their cause, it’s no longer a effective deterrent. People can exchange entire genres of encrypted music on DVD’s, hard drives or even via file sharing web sites or emails in matter of seconds.

    It’s usually only the poor that can’t pay, anyone who has a little money will usually do the right thing and buy their music.

    I understand they need to educate the young that sharing music doesn’t help the economic system, that artists need to eat too. But there has to be a better way to go about it.

    Every time a news article comes out like this, it’s free advertising for the new potential illegal file sharer. The RIAA only catches a few, but millions of mice get away with it. So why bother advertising?

  3. “can’t wait to roast marshmallows on it’s burning corpse.”

    You must have gotten a pre-release copy of Steve Ballmer’s memoirs. That’s a line in the Weekend Camping with the Family chapter. You’ll want to skip the part about he “craps the campfire out”.

  4. If you own a computer and/or an iPod you can hardly claim to be “poor”. If you own such devices then you ought to be willing to pay for you entertainment, if payment is requested, or agree with your parents about what they are/aren’t willing to pay for.
    Those are the ethics, like it or lump it.
    Then there’s the other side of the coin … the RIAA. They are not subject to the limitations of the Fourth Amendment regarding limits on their ability to “search and seize”. Their limits are set in laws that derive from the 4th but are not actually dependent on it. Trespass, theft, these are both private and public matters. If the RIAA wants to use information it obtains in a “search” in court, it needs to obtain a warrant to get it … and obtaining that warrant requires the use of legally obtained information.
    It SO looks like Oregon is clamping down – for good reasons or bad – on the information used to support the requested warrants. Good for them. Stealing music is, in my mind, both illegal and BAD, but the tactics used to capture the criminals is every bit as wrong and should be stopped.
    My opinion.
    Dave

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