05 December, 2006

MPAA - Commits Fraud to catch "petty theft"?

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A recent Wired Article spreads some light on the mechanisms the MPAA (and probably RIAA) uses to gain information on ISP customers.

If I was a lawyer defending people being accused of trading songs I would ask questions as to how exactly they obtained the IP addresses, MAC addresses and then most importantly linked them to individuals. From a technical standpoint these items are notoriously inaccurate, with changing processes and different mechanisms between providers. It is not that it cannot be done properly but if false pretenses are used to develop the data then a chance of error is much higher.

Of course most of the people being sued by these two organizations can't afford a lawyer.

So they are essentially assumed guilty and the evidence used to accuse them is obtained by at the very least questionable practices. Possibly illegal ones.

Let me be clear here. I strongly support the rights of people or organizations to choose what they do with data they own. If they want to lock their songs and movies down so tight that no one can reasonably watch or listen to them then I support their right to do so. I have not and will not steal music. I won't let my children do it and have taken steps to make it hard for my 13 year old to even try. I basically think that anyone who installs bit torrent, Limewire or any of the other p2p products on their home computers are essentially insane and asking for a problem of some sort.

Update in Comments on the "insane" statement.

If companies want to use legitimate tactics to track down people illegally profiting on their intellectual property then I support and would even help them.

If these companies want to irrationally impede even legitimate access to a product that they make money on by trying to get as wide a paying view as possible then more power to them.


They will go out of business in the long run. That too is their right.

I would, however, like to know how much money the RIAA and MPAA make on these essentially indefensible law suits. How much gets passed to the members? Any?

If I was a member of one of these organizations I would be asking why it is good for an organization that I pay to advocate for me to be suing my best customers and generating such consistently bad publicity.

I would also ask them how employing questionable or outright fraudulent activities has helped reduce my declining market share and profits. Activities that only recently resulted in the ouster of the CEO of a major tech company and a shake up of its Board.

Once more, for legitimate and warranted investigations I have no problem with this. It isn't hacking or fraud if you go to a company with warrant or evidence in hand. In the long run poor decisions and tactics hinder legitimate investigations. Real hacking and fraud are bad and usually illegal (the law is often one step behind) and should be treated as such by every reputable organization. If HP didn't teach that I don't know what will.

I saw some motion for establishing a class action against these organizations based on their methods. It would seem to me that there is a growing class of individuals out there that has lost a good deal of money based in part on deceptive and possibly illegal practices. I wonder if this would help or hinder that from occurring? Any Lawyers want to educate me?

This is a continued off topic rant from here

and from Rich here

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Landon Lewis said...

"I basically think that anyone who installs bit torrent, Limewire or any of the other p2p products on their home computers are essentially insane and asking for a problem of some sort."

There are legitimate uses of bit torrent. I've ran across this in the past when administrating IDS/IPS devices and admins can only get their GPL (or other free beer license) software via torrent. When popular projects contain large files like VMWare appliances, bandwidth can or may get costly so folks seek torrent. :>

Jim C said...

You are quite right. I should have added "with the intention of exchanging files and executables with unknown people.”

It is a security hole and usually shoddy in the way it is implemented but they can be used properly and legally. They can even be used securely if properly configured, installed and run.

Let’s be honest though. Usually they aren't .

Landon Lewis said...

I agree. =)