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RIAA Takes the Fight to the Streets

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  • by DaZedAdAm (131819) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:02PM (#7931712)
    1. Make RIAA jacket and take street vendors' products.
    2. ?
    3. Profit!!!
    • Didn't some Big wig from the ATF come over to the RIAA? Wonder who came up with this idea?
  • Cool... (Score:5, Funny)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:02PM (#7931713) Homepage Journal
    It's like saving taxdollars. They do the police's work and the police can worry about real crime, then.
    • Re:Cool... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PRES_00 (657776)
      If they admitted that their "sue y'all" tactics are just a lame excuse for a dying marketing strategy; the police wouldn't have had to worry about arresting some 14 year old kid for doing something that they probably did too in their youth (tape recording).
    • Re:Cool... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Frymaster (171343) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:08PM (#7931835) Homepage Journal
      They do the police's work and the police can worry about real crime, then.

      oh there's a smashing idea! private citizens' initiatives at law enforcement always turn out to be fair and equatible treatments of not only the letter but the spirit of the law.

      • Re:Cool... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by brundlefly (189430) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:18PM (#7932012)
        How is this different from Macy's in New York, which has its own holding cell in their basement for shoplifters who have been detained and are awaiting the NYPD?
        • Re:Cool... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SlashDread (38969) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:23PM (#7932093)
          Macy's wont come storming your house pretending to be police, when you are a shoplifting suspect, thats what.

          "/Dread"
        • Re:Cool... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by suwain_2 (260792) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:41PM (#7932362) Journal
          Even that is kind of sketchy-seeming; however, you're on their property and presumably you're placed under a 'citizen\'s arrest' by them, which I believe it technically legal, though you'd better know exactly what you're doing lest you find yourself the target of a tremendous lawsuit and/or unlawful detention charges.

          If you break into the RIAA headquarters, and they hold you there until the police arrive, it's probably legal. But if they randomly run around -- in public or, better yet, on your private property -- pretending to be the police, it's suddenly a blatant felony.
        • Re:Cool... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Dalcius (587481) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (todhsals+3143msirhc)> on Friday January 09, 2004 @05:36PM (#7933102)
          "How is this different from Macy's in New York, which has its own holding cell in their basement for shoplifters who have been detained and are awaiting the NYPD?"

          AFAIK that's called "Citizen's Arrest" and AFAIK is legal in most places. You hold them until the cops arrive.

          What folks are worried about is the RIAA doing more than holding or not bothering to call the cops at all.
      • Re:Cool... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by stefanlasiewski (63134) * <slashdot@@@stefanco...com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:54PM (#7932570) Homepage Journal
        oh there's a smashing idea! private citizens' initiatives at law enforcement always turn out to be fair and equatible treatments of not only the letter but the spirit of the law.

        Right on. How much do want to bet that using this tactic, the RIAA harasses a disproportinate percentage of non-whites?
        • Re:Cool... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by tapin (157076) on Friday January 09, 2004 @05:21PM (#7932933)
          Right on. How much do want to bet that using this tactic, the RIAA harasses a disproportinate percentage of non-whites?

          Well, let's see...

          "A large percentage [of the vendors] are of a Hispanic nature," Langley said. "Today he's Jose Rodriguez, tomorrow he's Raul something or other, and tomorrow after that he's something else. These people change their identity all the time."
          Nah, I'm sure they harrass everyone equally.
    • Police Only Please (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Marnhinn (310256) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:11PM (#7931893) Homepage Journal
      It may save tax dollars - but it is a step toward private business enforcing it's own laws. Has anyone read Snowcrash (by Neal Steavenson) where the different parts of the city all have their own rent-a-cops that enforce different laws? I realize that the RIAA is attempting to combat piracy - but they should not be making claims like "They said they were police from the recording industry or something, and next time they'd take me away in handcuffs..." (from article).

      Taking law into your own hands is not something I want to see happen in America - for example some guy starts pulling over speeders that drive by his house, or a store owner shoots two kids that are shoplifting... Simply put I don't trust the RIAA and most private law enforcement agencies. That is why I pay taxes - so I can have a FAIR and UNBIASED bunch of law enforcement.

      That said - I think the guy was an idiot for selling pirated stuff and don't support him one bit - it is the tactics that are being used that scare me.
      • by Phillup (317168) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:34PM (#7932263)
        Here is how I see it... (IANAL... this is just an opinion... and all the other things that should be painfully obvious...)

        The "RIAA Police" just committed a crime. They stole the property of another citizen. And, they may have also committed fraud.

        And it also sounds like they threatened battery.

        He should take them to court at the very least.

        Yes, there is such a thing as a citizen's arrest... but that does not involve confiscation of another's property.

        ---

        Now... did the vendor have illegal goods?

        Well... let's just say that isn't the RIAA's call. We have a justice system for that.

        That can *ONLY* be determined by due process.

        This was not due process.
    • by Dukeofshadows (607689) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:13PM (#7931944) Journal
      Does anyone else here think that these EX-cops should be brought up on charges of impersonating a police officer and potentially discrimination (80% of their incidents are against Hispanics and the "officer" interviewed had choice words)? And wouldn't that leave the RIAA open up to liability for potential violation of civil rights and false arrest if the "cops" actually put anyone in handcuffs as they are threatening to?
      • by pla (258480) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:28PM (#7932162) Journal
        wouldn't that leave the RIAA open up to liability for potential violation of civil rights and false arrest if the "cops" actually put anyone in handcuffs as they are threatening to?

        Too bad I don't live in LA...

        Anyone who does, want to make a few bucks, courtesy of the RIAA?

        Find one of these "teams". Follow them around, stepping in to explain to anyone they attempt to bust that they lack any legal power and the vendor can safely ignore them.

        Have a friend, staying out of sight, follow you around during all this with a video camera.

        When the RIAA rent-a-fake-cops get pissed and beat the crap out of you (since they hire real ex-cops, that shouldn't take too long), congrats, consider yourself set for life from your civil suit.

        Best of all, since these guys don't actually count as cops, they can't charge you with interfering in a police investigation (which would almost certainly happen if you tried this on real cops).
    • Re:Cool... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tassach (137772) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:41PM (#7932361)
      It's like vigilantism. Last time I checked, the RIAA did not have police powers. Even if they hired licencesd private investigators, the most they can legally do is gather evidence to present to a jury. If they're confiscating a vendor's goods (even if they are infringing copyright) without a court order, it is THEFT (the real kind). If they detain someone, it's false arrest. If they hit someone, it's assault & battery.

      Except under some VERY limited circumstances, private citizens are not allowed to enforce the law, and even then they are taking a risk of being charged themselves.

  • Whoa (Score:5, Funny)

    by DumbWhiteGuy777 (654327) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:02PM (#7931715)
    Let's say, theoretically, someone wanted to purchase these jackets. Where would one buy them?

    I, er, my friend wants one.
    • Re:Whoa (Score:5, Funny)

      by hornrimsylvia (696514) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:20PM (#7932048)
      you don't BUY an RIAA jacket, you make your own and then share them with your friends.
    • Re:Whoa (Score:5, Funny)

      by stefanlasiewski (63134) * <slashdot@@@stefanco...com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @05:01PM (#7932657) Homepage Journal
      True story

      Around year 2000, a friend of mine printed up a bunch of flack jackets that said (In BIG letters) 'FBI'. In small letters above 'FBI', it had the disclaimer "Not a member of the".

      When we wore these jackets in public, we would be harrassed by many people (particularly drunk peopople). They had the gall to accuse us of being members of the FBI, called us "Fucking pigs!", etc.

      Can you imagine?!? We often needed to calm them down and explain "Sir, sir! It clearly says here", *point*, "that I am *not* a member of the FBI."

      They usually didn't get it.

      Haven't worn that jacket in a while. It became very un-funny to some people, especially the cops.
  • by Tom7 (102298) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:03PM (#7931730) Homepage Journal
    Man, that is hilarious. Do they even cart people away in caged vans?

    I'd say the folks wearing RIAA jackets might want to watch their backs...
  • by mpost4 (115369) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:03PM (#7931731) Homepage Journal
    It seams to me that if they make them selfs to look like the cops, that would break a law about impersonating a police, they even said they are "They said they were police from the recording industry." They have no power to do this, this is just some FUD tactics on their part, I am not saying that it is ok to sell bootlegs. Once you start to make money from bootlegs (and from the article it does not seam that the guy was selling bootlegs to his knowledge, they might have been with that upfront cost but that is another story) then you have crossed from fair use to copyright infringement, but still 2 wrongs do not make a right, and the RIAA is really opening them selfs up to major legal problems, but being that they have such a strong lobby group they might not get into trouble.
    • Under color of law (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MillionthMonkey (240664) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:06PM (#7931791)
      It appears the RIAA is busting people under color of law. If this is true then it is a big deal. This means that the people they are busting believe they are police. Even if you're not a cop, if you present yourself as one, you are considered a state actor by the courts just like a real cop and can be held civilly liable for violations of civil rights. Private citizens acting in their private interests cannot be held liable under the civil rights statutes (primarily 42 USC 1984) but state actors can.

    • by Valdrax (32670) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:27PM (#7932153)

      California Penal Code, Section 538d.:

      538d. (a) Any person other than one who by law is given the authority of a peace officer, who willfully wears, exhibits, or uses the authorized uniform, insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing, of a peace officer, with the intent of fraudulently impersonating a peace officer, or of fraudulently inducing the belief that he or she is a peace officer, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

      (b) (1) Any person, other than the one who by law is given the authority of a peace officer, who willfully wears, exhibits, or uses the badge of a peace officer with the intent of fraudulently impersonating a peace officer, or of fraudulently inducing the belief that he or she is a peace officer, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
      (2) Any person who willfully wears or uses any badge that falsely purports to be authorized for the use of one who by law is given the authority of a peace officer, or which so resembles the authorized badge of a peace officer as would deceive any ordinary reasonable person into believing that it is authorized for the use of one who by law is given the authority of a peace officer, for the purpose of fraudulently impersonating a peace officer, or of fraudulently inducing the belief that he or she is a peace officer, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed two thousand dollars
      ($2,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
      (c) Any person who willfully wears, exhibits, or uses, or who willfully makes, sells, loans, gives, or transfers to another, any badge, insignia, emblem, device, or any label, certificate, card, or writing, which falsely purports to be authorized for the use of one who by law is given the authority of a peace officer, or which so resembles the authorized badge, insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing of a peace officer as would deceive an ordinary reasonable person into believing that it is authorized for the use of one who by law is given the authority of a peace officer, is guilty of a misdemeanor, except that any person who makes or sells any badge under the circumstances described in this subdivision is subject to a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000).

      Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that wearing uniforms that resemble generic law enforcement uniforms but are not direct imitations of official uniforms is illegal. Basically, if you aren't using a fake badge or a damn good copy of an official police uniform, I think you can get out of this one under California law. Then, there's the US Code to consider:

      Sec. 913. - Impersonator making arrest or search


      Whoever falsely represents himself to be an officer, agent, or employee of the United States, and in such assumed character arrests or detains any person or in any manner searches the person, buildings, or other property of any person, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both

      As long as they're careful not to represent themselves as being a federal employee, they haven't violated this law either. In other words, it's going to be hard to nail them for crimes unless they do something stupid that's not covered under their little "voluntary" contract that people must sign -- so long as said contract holds up in court as not being signed under duress. Considering that the new RIAA head is from the BATF, I'm pretty sure he's savvy about skirting the laws holding back law enforcement officers as much as possible.

  • Utter havoc. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ActionPlant (721843) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:03PM (#7931732) Homepage
    Is this for real? Who gave them the authority to do this? If I were to plagiarize someone's work of fiction, it doesn't give that person the right to bust into my bookstore and throw things around. There are legal proceedings to be followed. Whatever happened to decency?

    Damon,
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:19PM (#7932035) Homepage
      The fun part is that they really shouldn't be suprised when one or more of them get's seriously hurt or killed.

      whoever though this was a good idea is a complete idiot.

      street vendor get's attacked by a RIAA jacket wearing group, street vendor pulls out pistol and cap's a couple of them. Hey, why don't they start their sweep in south central LA.

  • by nightsweat (604367) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:03PM (#7931741)
    RIAA Cop: OK, Mr. Carnegie - just what do you think you're doing?

    Citizen: Um, listening to a record I checked out from the library?

    RIAA Cop: "Checked out"? Don't you mean "Used to commit a crime!?"

    Citizen: Um, no. I don't think-

    RIAA Cop: That's the problem - you don't think! Come with me - we're going to Walmart so you can BUY that record. "Checked out" - I've never heard such a pathetic excuse.

  • Quotes (Score:5, Funny)

    by GnrlFajita (732246) <<brad> <at> <thewillards.us>> on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:04PM (#7931765) Homepage
    if an anti-piracy team crossed the line between looking like cops and implying or telling vendors that they are cops, the Los Angeles Police Department would take a pretty dim view

    I don't know -- the RIAA is pretty low, but I don't think even they would want people to confuse them with the LAPD.

    Second best quote: "They tried to scare me," Borrayo said. "They told me, 'You're a pirate!' I said, 'C'mon, guys, pirates are all at sea. I just work in a parking lot.'"

  • Next step (Score:5, Funny)

    by daeley (126313) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:05PM (#7931766) Homepage
    Next step: Street Vendors selling RIAA-emblazoned jackets. Oh the hilarity!
  • Sweet! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:05PM (#7931773) Homepage Journal
    Now we know who to beat up! Anyone wanna bet that some of these guys will be found wandering, naked and confused, with their ass cheeks duct-taped together?
  • by garcia (6573) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:05PM (#7931774) Homepage
    For its part, the RIAA maintains that the up-close-and-personal techniques are nothing new. RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy says its investigators do not represent themselves as police, and that the incident reports vendors are asked to sign, in which they agree to hand over their discs, explicitly state that the forfeiture is voluntary.
    All right boys... Make sure the boots go up above the knees... We're heading into bullshit territory!

    If the RIAA isn't trying to look like the police why do they bother hiring ex-police officers, wear clothing similar to raiding police units, and cavort about as some sort of tactical unit? It is obvious to me that they want the "villains" to think they are the cops (and those street vendors, at least for the time being, are going to believe that they are).

    Pink slips that say they handed the stuff over voluntarily or not... They are acting as an official force on duty to confiscate material and they want to look as official as possible to have these individuals fork over the material quickly and without issue. If they are so concerned about their property being "stolen" and resold why don't they contact the real police and have them do it? Probably because the real police have better things to do than worry about what is being sold in Chinatown...

    Please remember that this is where your money is going when you decide to purchase music that is "owned" by the RIAA... Busting 12 year olds and funding a "tactical unit" to bust street vendors.

    My suggestion, as always, is to support FREE MUSIC. FurthurNET [furthurnet.com] and Sharing the Groove [sharingthegroove.com]

    Good luck RIAA and thanks for yet another humorous charade!
    • by silentbozo (542534) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:59PM (#7932641) Journal
      Actually, the RIAA is right - raids by company agents (either on behalf of the RIAA or the MPAA) are nothing new, and have been conducted against street vendors, mom & pop shops, and mass pirating operations in the past. HOWEVER, these types of raids have ALWAYS involved the cooperation of local and state law enforcement - the company agents ID the culprits, gather evidence (usually in the form of photographs, purchased merchandise, etc.), and once an air-tight case is built, the raid is conducted, by regular law enforcement with company assistance.

      From the article, it sounds like they've decided to forgo local law enforcement cooperation, and go the way of the BSA (no not the boy scouts) and tackle suspects as a law unto themselves. The "voluntary" forfeiture aspect is particularly troubling, since what it amounts to is "We know you're committing a crime - hand over the evidence and we won't send you to jail." Since these private contractors have no power of arrest, and the only legal recourse is to haul these vendors into court and present actual evidence, what it amounts to is circumventing the normal process of law (ie, vigilantism.) By using the threat of force (the suggestion that you WILL get hauled off to jail is a pretty good threat) to take property - when you don't have those powers, some might call it a pretty good bluff. I'd call it a con game and call the cops on these guys instead.
  • by bc90021 (43730) * <bc90021@bc9002 1 . net> on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:06PM (#7931789) Homepage
    ...as the vendors might fight back! Those guys can be *mean** if you piss them off...
  • by LamerX (164968) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:07PM (#7931827) Journal
    Okay, so lets say they walk into a place that is making counterfit CDs. Do they really have the right to go in and cease all of the counterfit property? I thought that they had to go through proper legal channels to do this. If this is okay for them to do, then why can't the creator of a GPL product bust into a company they know is violating the GPL in thier hardware and just start taking stuff? I'm surprised SCO hasn't started busting into every business and started taking computers with Linux on them... Wearing jackets that say SCO on them. SCO is scarier sounding than RIAA.
    • by kidgenius (704962) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:17PM (#7931991)
      No, they aren't seizing the property. They are mereley requesting for it to be handed over, otherwise they will pursue legal action. It's like if you stole my bike, i goto your house prove to you it's my bike and you stole it. I then can ask you to give it back, and if you decline, then I call authorities who will force you to do so.
  • by johnpaul191 (240105) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:08PM (#7931834) Homepage
    can they really go on the street and actually touch you? can they do anything more than maybe take pictures of you and call the police? NO! in the article the RIAA says they make it clear they are not police and have no power, but they dress up like SWAT... it seems they at least give the impression of having legal authority.

    "They said they were police from the recording industry or something, and next time they'd take me away in handcuffs,"

    obviously trying to scare and confuse people into signing over their goods. who knows what else they got them to sign. ugh! It's clear they don't give a crap how the public views them, most companies would not treat their customers like this.
  • 'bout time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Enry (630) <.enry. .at. .wayga.net.> on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:08PM (#7931837) Journal
    I remember during the DVDCSS trial in NY, the 2600 legal team took reporters about a block away from the courthouse and showed street vendors selling illegal DVDs. The point (at the time) was it was easier and chaper to get an illegal DVD off a street vendor than it was to copy the DVD to your drive and burn it.
  • That's okay (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:08PM (#7931839) Homepage Journal
    I wear a 'Pirate' Jacket when I bust into Borders and grab CDs. Fair's fair.
  • Scary stuff... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by strictnein (318940) * <strictfoo-slashdot.yahoo@com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:08PM (#7931847) Homepage Journal
    Hello future, the present is calling

    From the article this sounds pretty dispicable:
    "The RIAA saw it differently. Figuring the discs were bootlegs, a four-man RIAA squad descended on his stand a few days before Christmas and persuaded the 4-foot-11 Borrayo to hand over voluntarily a total of 78 discs.

    "They said they were police from the recording industry or something, and next time they'd take me away in handcuffs," he said through an interpreter. ...they may all be ex-P.D. Yes, they wear cop-style clothes and carry official-looking IDs. But if they leave people like Borrayo with the impression that they're actual law enforcement, that's a mistake.

    With all the trappings of a police team, including pink incident reports that, among other things, record a vendor's height, weight, hair and eye color
    "

    A disgusting case of intimidation. Way to go RIAA, pick on a 4' 11" guy who hardly knows English.

    But is this really any suprise? Plenty of companies have their own private police forces (and small private militaries too) and you still can hire your own army if you've go the cash [sandline.com], which many companies do.

    This statement goes a little far in my opinion:
    "A large percentage [of the vendors] are of a Hispanic nature," Langley said. "Today he's Jose Rodriguez, tomorrow he's Raul something or other, and tomorrow after that he's something else. These people change their identity all the time."

    Which is a polite way of saying: "Those damn shifty Mexicans! They can't be trusted!" You're not the police! If I don't tell you my real name, there's nothing wrong with that, you idiots.
    • Re:Scary stuff... (Score:3, Interesting)

      If we dress up as RIAA agents, doesn't that mean we can go round getting a lot of free CD's by intimidating people selling copyright infringed works on the streets, and stealing their products (it would be volunatry, so it's not so much theft as blackmail). We'd never have to buy another CD again.

      Why is this any different to what the RIAA did? Oh yes, we would only be impersonating the police by proxy.
  • by tacokill (531275) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:09PM (#7931857)
    At least the article details out the main question here, which is: Why is the RIAA acting like the police, when they are not the police?

    It's one thing to do a "citizen's arrest" or something similar but it is an entirely different subject to dress up in raid-style commando outfits and go around strong-arming people into doing what you want.

    They keep this up, and its only a matter of time before they cross the line. When that happens (and it will), the RIAA will only have hurt themselves.
  • vigilantes (Score:5, Informative)

    by potpie (706881) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:10PM (#7931878) Journal
    There is a word for one who takes the law into his/her own hands: vigilante.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:12PM (#7931917)
    This would be an awesome game. You are an RIAA agent with the jacket, sunglasses and cool weaponry. Your goal is to destroy all things music related. Dude with an MP3 player walking down street listening to music, Blam, cha ching. etc.
  • Vendor: SAY HELLOW TO MEH LIL' FREN! *BLAM**BLAM*

    RIAA: (Hand reaching into sky, as heart is cluched) AHHhhhhggghh!

    Random Chick: Ohh Vendor! Let's do it!

    This one act play is brought to you by the stale ideas of the MPAA. Thank you.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:12PM (#7931923)
    Lets go around in greasy t-shirts and ten years worth on unkeept beard growth (the official uniform of the FSF) kicking down the doors of people who violate the GPL and shout "Freeze scumbags, this is the FSF! Hand over your source code into the public domain and no one gets hurt!".
  • Seriously (Score:5, Interesting)

    by suwain_2 (260792) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:12PM (#7931926) Journal
    Is this a joke? I have a hard time believing this, except that I'm worried it's true.

    How is this not a mob? Extortion? Impersonating a police officer? Harassment? Vandalism? I'd like to see the people involed with this arrested and held accountable for the numerous felonies they're committing!
  • by addie (470476) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:13PM (#7931940)
    If this is true, it's ludicrous. If these cases go to court, I forsee many of these vendors getting off without a hitch. If the RIAA had developed agreements with regional police authorities to work in tandem, then perhaps it would be a good tactic. As it stands, it's simply more scare tactics from an organization that seems bent on making itself the public enemy.

    Besides, since when were street vendors the ones that were sharing tens of thousands of tracks per day? I imagine they are hardly the largest part of the problem. Hiring trained security officers to tackle such a small issue is a waste of their money... hmm... wait. Why am I complaining?
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:13PM (#7931942) Homepage Journal
    Here in NYC, it was hard to find live recordings in our global marketplace's Village record stores during Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's regime. He had his troops go into record stores to confiscate recordings that NYC shoppers can get, despite record companies' failure to release them. Everyone knows that the buyer of an unreleased live recording already owns several official releases, and the live stuff is what keeps us interested between concerts and releases. But rather than building anything that would last, Giuliaini spent our time and money on destroying a free market that threatened no one. Of course it went underground, onto the Internet. And once Sir Rudy had used NYC for our maximum TV exposure, he hitailed it off to Bushland, raising maximum dollars for his Divine Right king. In his absence, the markets reopened - stronger than before, after the culling and Internet retrenchment. Don't let these keystone rentacops scare you - freedom of expression is irrepressible.
  • In the article, the RIAA "enforcers" claim they don't try to create the idea that they're a police force. Why, then, would a victim say that, "They said they were police from the recording industry or something, and next time they'd take me away in handcuffs."?

    It's pretty obvious what they're doing - essentially saying that they have the power to arrest and incarcerate private citizens - and they could end up in some serious legal hot water here. There are all sorts of laws against vigilantism and misrepresenting yourself as an officer of the law. I'd say that this could end up as an even bigger PR mistake than attacking grannies and little kids; there, they were (technically) on the right side of the law. Here, they're blatantly violating the law in order to get what they want. I hope they burn.

    Note: I'm not a lawyer. If you need one, get one licensed in your jurisidiction; if you've been hassled by these assholes, you definately need a lawyer. As far as I can tell, this would be a slam-dunk case for a first year law student, let alone an experienced litigator.

  • SOLUTION (Score:5, Funny)

    by Malicious (567158) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:15PM (#7931972)
    "Hey You in the RIAA Jacket, you're not allowed in my store. You're trespassing. Get out, or I'll call the REAL cops."

    End of story.

  • Did anyone else RTFA far down enough to notice the quote from Langley...

    "A large percentage [of the vendors] are of a Hispanic nature," Langley said. "Today he's Jose Rodriguez, tomorrow he's Raul something or other, and tomorrow after that he's something else. These people change their identity all the time. A picture's worth a thousand words."

    WTF? THESE PEOPLE? Is it just me or does it seem that these guys are trying to prey on immigrant (illegal or otherwise) fears of police authority?

    I'd like to see some sort of study of how many people are out hawking pirated wares, broken down by race, versus the race breakdown for the people the RIAA are busting. I know it doesn't matter because they're not actually imposing any authority, but it would be interesting to see the Hispanic community's reaction to the above quotation, and those numbers.
  • Violations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jdavidb (449077) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:16PM (#7931976) Homepage Journal

    Oh, let's count!

    • Impersonation of law enforcement personnel (They said they were police from the recording industry or something)
    • Making threats of force ( and next time they'd take me away in handcuffs,)
    • Confiscation of property without due process of law
    • Musica de los 70's y 80's: Morally, if not legally, copyright on music this old should have expired. Given that it's Spanish, the RIAA probably doesn't own the rights, anyway
    • We notify them that continued sale would be a violation of civil and criminal codes. Nope; copyright is entirely civil law, not criminal (unless the DMCA figures into this somehow).

    And this, my friends, is why, no matter how much we hate them, everyone should have the right to hire an attorney. Otherwise you only get the legal rights they tell you you have.

    • Re:Violations (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arth1 (260657)

      Musica de los 70's y 80's: Morally, if not legally, copyright on music this old should have expired. Given that it's Spanish, the RIAA probably doesn't own the rights, anyway

      In general, the RIAA doesn't own copyrights to music, only to specific performances. Unless they can prove that the music was taken from a performance they hold the rights to, they have no rights at all, and it's a case between the copyright holder of that performance and the vendor.

      Regards,
      --
      *Art

  • by thoolihan (611712) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:17PM (#7931989) Homepage
    "A large percentage [of the vendors] are of a Hispanic nature," Langley said. "Today he's Jose Rodriguez, tomorrow he's Raul something or other, and tomorrow after that he's something else. These people change their identity all the time. A picture's worth a thousand words."

    Wow, I hope that quote gets plastered in the paper all around the country. How they let this joker talk to anybody in the press is beyond me. 'These people'... America is not real tolerant of those kinds of statements these days.

    -t
  • by ReadbackMonkey (92198) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:17PM (#7931995)
    For its part, the RIAA maintains that the up-close-and-personal techniques are nothing new. RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy says its investigators do not represent themselves as police, and that the incident reports vendors are asked to sign, in which they agree to hand over their discs, explicitly state that the forfeiture is voluntary.

    So wait... I can go upto someone with my gang of cronies, wearing gang colours that look like uniforms, claim I'm a wallet inspector, take peoples stuff, and as long as they sign something saying it's voluntary, it's all legal?

    I think I found myself a new job
  • by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot@[ ]ngo.org ['sta' in gap]> on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:20PM (#7932037) Homepage Journal
    These RIAA pukes are starting to blur the line between corporation and government.

    First they started collected taxes by getting a "you'll probably use these for piracy" fee tacked onto recordable media.

    Now they're donning lettered windbreakers [firestoreonline.com] to act as law enforcement.

    What next, are they going to form their own army and invade Thailand on some WMD (weapons of music duplication) witch hunt??? Where does it end?

    ~Philly
  • Pirates (Score:3, Informative)

    by jdavidb (449077) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:24PM (#7932106) Homepage Journal

    "They tried to scare me," Borrayo said. "They told me, 'You're a pirate!' I said, 'C'mon, guys, pirates are all at sea. I just work in a parking lot.' "

    You said it! Copyright infringement isn't theft; it's property devaluation [slashdot.org].

    Of course, since there's no proof this guy was even selling bootlegged wares, he didn't even engage in that.

  • 1. Why doesn't some lawyer/concerned citizen hire a Hispanic guy to sell completely legal recordings? Take a loss on them, but present them the same as bootleg sellers.

    2. When the RIAA thugs come around, video tape the RIAA taking your legal property.

    3. Sue and...Profit!

    Try and get some non RIAA music confiscated too. Extra ammo.

    Sounds like a wonderful lawsuit to me. We'll call it 'The Shoe is on the Other Foot in your Mouth' case.

  • hidden agenda (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geoff lane (93738) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:27PM (#7932149)
    anyone else noticed that the entire campaign to get new laws to aid their "war" against their customers will result in the STATE paying to investigate and prosecute copyright violations rather than the copyright owner?
    • Re:hidden agenda (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Trailer Trash (60756) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:57PM (#7932616) Homepage

      anyone else noticed that the entire campaign to get new laws to aid their "war" against their customers will result in the STATE paying to investigate and prosecute copyright violations rather than the copyright owner?

      Yes, we have noticed. When the MPAA was trying to push the SDMCA through the Tennessee legislature last year, we all caught on to the fact that they were simply trying to burden the state with doing investigative work for what would otherwise be a civil action. The language of the bill actually required the DA to investigate and subsequently prosecute (if appropriate) anyone the cable company said was stealing service.

      One of our primary oppositions was that we barely have enough cash to run the state as it is, we don't need to find more things to pay for...

  • Batman's Helpers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by po8 (187055) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:41PM (#7932365)

    There's a highly insightful recent Matthew Scudder short story by Lawrence Block, "Batman's Helpers", about the private IP rent-a-cops who roust street vendors and confiscate their merchandise in NYC. The story has been reprinted widely; Google for details. I admire Block for tackling this obscure (to most) topic.

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:44PM (#7932401)

    Here's a few choice quotes:

    RIAA:"A large percentage [of the vendors] are of a Hispanic nature," Langley said. "Today he's Jose Rodriguez, tomorrow he's Raul something or other, and tomorrow after that he's something else. These people change their identity all the time. A picture's worth a thousand words."

    Racism, anyone?

    How about this gem, regarding parading around looking like cops, but not being cops:

    RIAA:If that person feels he was wrongly interrogated or under the false pretense that these people were cops, they should contact their local police station as a victim. We'll sort it all out.

    Riiiiiiiight. Make sure you have your receipts on you before you try this one, kids.

    It used to be fun to tow the Slashdot line and bash the RIAA for being evil...but you know what? They actually are evil. This is some pretty twisted shit. Racial profiling, impersonating the police, harassment, photographing likely suspects...unbelieveable.

    Weaselmancer

  • by litewoheat (179018) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @04:46PM (#7932453)
    Lets hope SCO doesn't get any ideas from this...
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday January 09, 2004 @05:01PM (#7932669) Homepage Journal
    Well, they have the guy from the BATF running the anti-piracy wing now, right?

    Expect more of this 'agency-esque' antics....
  • by xSterbenx (549640) on Friday January 09, 2004 @05:32PM (#7933055)
    ...only mine will say F.U.R.I.A.A
  • EFF is wrong here (Score:4, Informative)

    by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday January 09, 2004 @05:34PM (#7933078)
    "The process of confiscating bootleg CDs from street vendors is exactly what the RIAA should be doing," said Jason Schultz, a staff attorney for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

    No. Confiscation should be left up to the courts. The RIAA should, if it feels it has a valid complaint, report it to the authorities. Confiscation, by a corporation or private individual, should never be allowed. At the point they are doing this, nothing has been proven in a court of law. Due process, people.
  • Key points... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cramer (69040) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:05PM (#7933464) Homepage

    ...staff of ex-cops

    ...Figur[ed] the discs were bootlegs

    ..."They said they were police from the recording industry or something..."

    • But if they leave people like Borrayo with the impression that they're actual law enforcement, that's a mistake.
    NEGATIVE. That's a FELONY.

    • oversees ... contractors who sniff out bootleg discs
    Apparently without a nose... Did they have any proof other than a hispanic male selling CDs and DVDs from a parking lot booth? They didn't "figure" anything; they blindly assumed guilt based on the person and the place.

    • the incident reports ... explicitly state that the forfeiture is voluntary
    Voluntary my ass! A bunch a dudes dressed and behaving like cops "asking" you to hand over your stuff. Right. And I bet they don't carry any weapons either.

    continued sale would be a violation of civil and criminal codes (like it isn't aleady?)

    • The process of confiscating bootleg CDs from street vendors is exactly what the RIAA should be doing," said Jason Schultz
    Wrong, Mr. Schultz. RIAA is not a law enforcement division. They have no more right than any other citizen to "confiscate" another persons property.
  • by gbnewby (74175) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:13PM (#7933542) Homepage
    The RIAA is a membership organization. Their member list is online [riaa.com] (it looks like a lot, but in fact most entries are labels that are owned by fewer than a dozen major media publishers).

    They might have a contractual basis for enforcing copyright violations by their member organizations (i.e., Sony and Warner). The have NO basis for enforcing copyright violations by other publishers.

    For the RIAA jack-booted thugs to enforce for labels or artists they don't represent is the same as you or I enforcing, on behalf of someone else. There's just no basis. Under the copyright law (US Title 17 USC [cornell.edu], it's the infringed party that needs to pursue action -- not ANY party, and generally not even law enforcement (at least for garden variety copyright infringement....the feds get called in for fraud, for when banks are involved, and other cases).

    In the LA Times article, the only title specifically mentioned was some sort of Latino hits from the 70s and 80s. Chances are that material is not represented by the RIAA. At a community radio station [wxdu.org] I worked with, the music directors decided not to put any RIAA member music on the play list. Know what? It turned out 80% was not, already! The other 20% wasn't painful at all - it was just a matter of putting it on another shelf, rather than the playlist shelf.

    In short, there is a LOT of music that is not represented by the RIAA (a far higher proportion than video that's not represented by the MPAA). They have no business getting involved in any kind of enforcement action for artists or labels they don't have a relationship with.
  • Wrong Target (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zepalesque (468881) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:33PM (#7933746)
    This drives me nuts. People, remember who you are bashing. The RIAA is just a front for media companies that don't want their images tarnished.

    This is a list of RIAA members [riaa.com]

    Remember - they *want* you to be upset at the RIAA. It is a convenient way to keep your attention focused on an antagonist, rather than the companies that it is backed by.
  • by dbc001 (541033) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:45PM (#7933840)
    First of all, is anyone interested in keeping track of where this stuff is happening? I'd like to see a website that tells where these people are operating and where they are doing their raids. I'd be glad to crack some heads over this sort of thing. If the mafia comes to my town, I'll be swingin' a baseball bat till they leaves.

    It would also be fun to set up a fake piracy ring selling legit CDs that appear to be pirated and "entrap" the RIAA - it would be pretty easy to provoke them into saying something that would get them into a lot of trouble: "Are you guys with the governement?" "Are you guys cops?" I'm sure that with a few carefully worded questions they would say yes. Just make sure you start the video camera at the right moment...
  • by Grimster (127581) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:07PM (#7934000) Homepage
    from getting an 'official looking' jacket with RIAA on it, an "id" and busting a street vendor myself and scoring some free cd's? Well what's to stop me other than the fact I'm a lazy git.

    Last I checked "impersonating an RIAA employee" is not illegal or breaking any law I'm aware of, and if they give you their stuff voluntarily it's not stealing.

    It'd be FUNNY as heck to hear of fake RIAA agents busting vendors like this...
  • Spotlight Combat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sPaKr (116314) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:11PM (#7934036)
    There is a very easy way to stop this. We need to relize that the RIAA-police force are just a bunch of hired private thugs. That said they can not represent themselfs as police officers. So I suggest we start a spot light compaiegn. We should hangout where they work, and follow them as they do their job.. perfectly legal. Then we publicly and loudly heckle them as they attempt to raid, at the same time we inform the victums that they are victums and call the real police, say the victum belived these were some kind of police officers and file a report that leads to a complaint as impersonatinting an officer. Nothing stops unpopular vigilatism faster then a large public glare.
  • by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:20PM (#7934092)
    ...and it is legal.

    I see many on here saying it is illegal for them to take the property of someone else. Not necessarily. My brother works with a very popular rock band. One of the other guys with them obtains -- I believe from a local judge in the city of the venue they are playing -- a legal order that allows the band to confiscate any unlicensed merchandise with the band's name or logo on it, as well as bootlegged CD's.

    My guess is the RIAA street team has a similar document or legal backing to do the same thing. /don't shoot the messenger
  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdougNO@SPAMgeekazon.com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:04PM (#7934437) Homepage
    "The process of confiscating bootleg CDs from street vendors is exactly what the RIAA should be doing," said Jason Schultz, a staff attorney for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

    Jason, excuse me but are you fucking nuts??? Civilians should confiscate property because they think it's illegal, not call the cops and report it stolen, but just take it? And you are an actual attorney?????

    I believe that's my big-screen TV you've got there in your living room, Jason. I'll be right over to pick it up.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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