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RIAA Backs Down Again in Chicago 126

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the can't-win-them-all dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA seems to have a problem making things stick in the Windy City. It has once again backed down in BMG v. Thao, after suing a misidentified defendant. Same thing occurred last October in Elektra v. Wilke. In the Thao case, the RIAA based its case on information that the cable modem used to partake in file sharing was registered to Mr. Thao. However, it turned out that Mr. Thao was not even a subscriber (pdf) of the ISP (pdf) at the time of the alleged file-sharing, and therefore did not have possession of the suspect cable modem at that time."
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RIAA Backs Down Again in Chicago

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:32PM (#18980651)
    Realizing you are suing the wrong person is not 'backing down'.
    • by mathletics (1033070) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:37PM (#18980715)
      Considering that the RIAA willingly sues innocent people, this is still 'backing down.'
    • Realizing you are suing the wrong person is not 'backing down'.

      Normally this would be true. But the RIAAs lawsuit "MO" is not predicated on sueing the "right" person, only on suing the person they think has the highest probability of folding and paying their extortion fees.

    • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:10PM (#18983353) Journal
      While I might agree with you in general, this is a special case. The RIAA has a slew of lawyers who are prosecuting these cases all over the country, even providing help to other countries. There is no longer any excuse for taking a case of this nature to court without any proof whatsoever of wrong doing on the defendants part.

      This amounts to malicious litigation, and should be treated as such by the courts, not just public opinion. If this was the first case by the RIAA to go to court, okay, oops might be excusable. That's not the case, and 'oops' is not acceptable. Did the RIAA offer any recompense to the man they put through that shit?

      Analogy: Your neighbor has a pit bull. You don't really know your neighbor but there is no problems between you until one day the pit bull gets loose, chases you down the street and up a tree. While trying to attack you the pit bull only manages to make a small rip in one of your pant legs. The neighbor gets hold of the dog, says sorry, and goes away quickly. Meanwhile, you fall out of the tree and break your arm and have to go to the hospital and pay for the treatments.

      Now, the dog didn't bite you, and the owner said sorry, but would you still sue the neighbor?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Calydor (739835)
        A better analogy would be that a pitbull that LOOKS LIKE the one your neighbor has does the above mentioned, but you never see for sure that the dog who chased you up the tree belonged to your neighbor. Subsequently you go on a crusade about how dangerous pitbulls are and demand that your neighbor's dog gets put down.
      • I think they need to make some changes to the way court cases are handled. What concerns me is when theRIAA drops cases without prejudice, which usually will prevent the defendant from being able to recover court costs from the RIAA. This seems like a tactic the RIAA likes to use when it sues people with insufficient evidence. If they can't win the case, they seem hellbent on at least costing the individual as much money as possible during the suit. (A good example was a case they had against a mother - th
      • No offense, but that's a terrible analogy. And I should know; you would think terrible analogies are my bread and butter at the speed I churn them out. I like the pit bull, though, so lets go with that. Alright, your neighbor... lives in a cul-de-sac with you, and subscribes to a newspaper. And every morning there is a finite chance that the newspaper is missing. He knows two other people in the cul-de-sac don't subscribe to newspapers, so he decides, heck, he'll send his pit bull after both of them. One
    • by iminplaya (723125)
      "We were just kidding [wikipedia.org]."
  • Glad to see it (Score:5, Informative)

    by jcgf (688310) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:33PM (#18980665)
    I love seeing these cases where RIAA has been shown to be a bit skimpy on their evidence. Hopefully it will make more people fight back.
    • Re:Glad to see it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pilgrim23 (716938) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:42PM (#18980833)
      In most cases, if you read the briefs, the lawyers are clueless about the evidence presented, in almost ANY field, not just in tech. The verbage indicates ignorance in many many areas. In most cases though, the lawyer is more up to speed then is the judge. Think that one through and you will understand the ture pickle we are in...
      • Re:Glad to see it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:56PM (#18981021)
        Exactly. My wife's best friend clerks for a federal judge and as part of her job writes decisions. It shocked the hell out of her to see that her work was not just used as a distilled reference for the judge's own decision but were read word-for-word and unedited in court the same day she wrote them without any review. It is frightening that a 20-something from a tier-3 law school is literally interpreting law with no oversight. So far she has decided computer, pharmaceutical and telecommunications cases with no experience in any of these fields. And according to this clerk it is common and accepted.
        • Why anonymous? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mateo_LeFou (859634)
          Seems like a serious enough problem that you'd want to expose the judge in question and get himher removed from power.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            This is quite common practice, and acceptable. It is quite unlikely that the judge did not read over the decision before hand. Judges often simply agree with a proposed order's reasoning. That's what law clerks are for. It's the same thing at the US Supreme Court.... clerks write many of the opinions for their justice.

            Often in state court, the PARTIES write the decisions for the judges and submit them as "proposed" orders and the judge just scratches through the word "proposed" and signs it. I've writt
        • Imagine how the losing side in a case would feel
          if they found out.
        • by Wylfing (144940)

          So...thank God for PJ is what you're saying?

        • Re:Glad to see it (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:17PM (#18982561) Homepage
          Duh. Have any of you ever Met a Judge?

          You do not become a Judge by being the smartest or wisest person of the land.

          You become a Judge by having lots of money, knowing lots of people and making people know you.

          Either elected or appointed, your skills, integrity, or knowledge means nothing. Who you know and who knows you is EVERYTHING.

          I have installed Theaters for Judges, Many are incredibly dense and after talking to them Frighteningly inept.

          They are 100% identical to a mayor, congresscritter, or president. There is NOTHING special about a judge other than who they know.
          • Re:Glad to see it (Score:5, Insightful)

            by CowTipperGore (1081903) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:50PM (#18982831)
            Think of it this way. We know the standard Slashdot opinion of politicians and lawyers. A judge is a lawyer that is more politically savvy than most. /shiver
          • Not understanding home theater doesn't make you dense. Their business isn't electronics, it's the law. A judge doesn't need to be an expert in a field that they are ruling on. They need to be able to find, understand and interpret the law as written by the legislature. In fact, you don't want a judge to be a subject-matter expert. When they start understanding every facet of a problem and make a ruling that is wise but contrary to the law, they are "legislating from the bench."
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        It seems that today's judges are the looniest of all. This Judge [boingboing.net] is a plaintiff in a RIDICULOUS case, where he is suing a dry cleaner who lost his pants... To the tune of $67 Million. Simply amazing.
    • by bradavon (1066358)
      I find it strange no other music body in the world goes to this length.
    • What do you tell the RIAA who has two black eyes? Nothing it hasn't heard twice before. :)
  • I hope ... (Score:1, Interesting)

    ... they get stuck with Thao's legal fees. It's really far past the time for the RIAA to start paying for all their mistakes.
    • Re:I hope ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:40PM (#18980771) Homepage Journal
      How is it the *AA's mistake?

      From what the summary says, they were given incorrect information. Information they should have been albe to trust and act upon. So really its the ISP's fault for fingering the wrong guy. ( and they should be liable for damages/cost of defence )

      Sure, i hate the the 'industry' as much as the next guy, but this isnt exactally a victory here.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by polaris878 (716143)
        While it may not be their fault, cases like these show that the RIAA may have acted on bad information in the past. The burden of proof might be elevated for future cases, thus making it harder for the RIAA to sue people. While it may not be a direct victory, many cases like these can discredit RIAA suits.
      • by geekoid (135745)
        It is another "The IP number doesn't identify the person" clue stick upside the head.
      • Re:I hope ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:56PM (#18981027) Homepage Journal
        The point is that the RIAA is acting like an enforcement agency instead of a civil litigant. They've used uniformed "swat teams", they do their own para-police investigations. If they're going to collect their own evidence, then they're going to have to abide by the rules, and if they storm into somebody's life they better get it right.

        Yes, the RIAA "made a mistake" and should be held accountable.
        • You know, if they came after me with one of these "SWAT" teams I think that my PTSD from multiple Iraq tours would have to rear its ugly head.
      • by bahwi (43111)
        They should have verified it. They should then have to get that money from the ISP and hopefully that will discourage ISPs from falling in so easily, knowing that a simple mistake can cost them money, even if they aren't compensated for looking up the guys IP in the first place. (or is the ISP compensated in someway?) Then the ISPs will demand more rights and lobbying and it will turn around and help strengthen the whole system from radical abuses.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by nurb432 (527695)
          And verify it how? WIth the ISPs records? Thats the only way you can validate it. with records from the same people that gave it to you ( and botched ) it in the first place.

          Im sorry, if the ISP gave them bad information, its their ISP's fault in this case.

          And yes, i agree it does help show that just having an IP and a date isnt a good case to stand on, but its not their fault when they asked for data from the ISP involved.
          • by evought (709897) <evought@pobo x . c om> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:29PM (#18982093) Homepage Journal
            On the ISP side, it is not their job to have forensic quality logs that can stand up as evidence in court. ISPs keep logs for their own internal purposes. So, to some extent, the data which ISPs are being required to provide via subpoena is being misused. I do not see any reason that the ISPs should have to keep data of sufficient quality to satisfy third party needs, particularly without being compensated for it. Having had to implement tamper and fraud and time change and dropped record and system failure and etc. resistant logging for a client, I can tell you it adds an order of magnitude of expense. This expense is of no benefit to the ISP.

            When I was in the position of handling abuse reports in the past, I would not respond with user details unless absolutely forced to. Instead, the policy was that if someone reported a possible abuse of the TOS and provided their own logs sufficient to investigate, I would then perform an internal investigation, which might include beginning additional logging on the account if it seemed warranted. If a TOS violation was supportable, I would then notify the user and let them respond. In this case, the user would have said "WTF: I wasn't your customer at the time!" and I would have said: "OS! Computer error, my bad!" (if I had screwed up that badly in the first place). If they could not deny the TOS violation, I would terminate the account. If the TOS violation also involved possible illegal acts, I would then turn over my logs and notes to the appropriate authorities directly, with any necessary caveats; the authorities could do whatever they needed to do with the information. I would *not* turn over confidential information to the original reporter, whose identity and authority I could probably not validate anyway. They can get the information from the authorities if they are authorized to do so. Bottom line is, though, provide the data as is, say how it is gathered, and take no responsibility beyond that.

            Basically someone reporting a violation would have two choices: go through the hoops and get action quickly, or get a supoena/court order and get action slowly. People went through the hoops. Luckily I did not have to deal with this long or often.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        They bought the law suit forward, if they loose or decide not to pursue further, they should pay the costs incurred by the defendant. It's not the defendants fault that the RIAA didn't make sure their position was watertight before moving forward. Of course the RIAA should then have the right to sue the people who did the shoddy investigative work, assuming they did not deliver on the contract.
      • by recursiv (324497)
        Of course, all the best intelligence they had at the time points to the existence of hidden stashes of P2Ps. How could they have known?

        I'm not buying it.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yeah, it'd be like going to war on some trumped up evidence... like invading some random state on a rumor that they had some sort of bad weapon or something.
      • by guruevi (827432)
        It's the RIAA's mistake because they go after people knowingly using little and bad evidence and then hoping they can settle for cash. If they really wanted to go after 'pirates' they would have to build their cases stronger before litigating.

        Somebody used the dog analogy above, I can use it again. Say you get bit by a bull terrier (pit-bulls that are not trained to fight in a pit) and the dog runs off, no owner to be found. Would you then go around and sue everybody in the street with a dog hoping somebody
      • by ajs (35943)

        How is it the *AA's mistake?

        From what the summary says, they were given incorrect information.

        This sounds reasonable on the face of it, but in the context of the larger scope of the RIAA's attacks against their customers, it becomes obvious that these are fire-and-forget lawsuits. They are literally trying to bag as many people as possible so that everyone "knows someone who got sued." It's a campaign of fear, and the facts really have not mattered to them. They sued a woman who doesn't know what a cable modem is, and tried to cooperate with them in every way. Still, they went after her, saying to

  • yes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wizardforce (1005805)

    It's really far past the time for the RIAA to start paying for all their mistakes.
    no, it is time the companies that support the RIAA pay for what they're doing. the quickest way to do that is to outright ignore their garbage- even refusing to pirate their garbage [free publicity right?] stop indirectly supporting these idiots- listen to alternatives!
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Send the copyright holders a letter explaining why you have stopped. Otherwise you are another pirating music instead og buying it.

      I understand eMailing Steve Jobs gets things done faster.
      Bo only if you give the secret code 09.. ah nevermind.
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      HOT GRITS!
      *runs away

    • by KWTm (808824) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:24PM (#18981389) Journal
      As others have noted, the RIAA has been successful promoting themselves as a concept in people's minds so that we direct our ire toward this nebulous phantom group, rather than the actual companies. If you look at their list of members [riaa.com], you'll find that there appear to be many many --until you see shenanigans with member names like "Universal(1)" and "Universal(2)". Like, wow, there are so many members of RIAA that Universal is on there twice! And Sony ... well, there's Sony Direct, Sony Labels, Sony Music Special ... gimme a break.

      Wikipedia has a comment about this:

      The RIAA's website contains a list of members, which has been disputed in the past, as Matador Records, Fat Wreck Chords[4] Lookout Records, Epitaph Records and Bloodshot Records (who are not members) have been listed there.[5] Some may have been automatically included in the list as they were using RIAA members as distributing labels.
      --from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA [wikipedia.org]

      Let's name the actual companies involved: Sony, Universal, Capitol, KGB Records, Synapse Films... We might even make up a new acronym for the coalition.
    • Nice try (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634)
      As if those independent pirate-friendly artists could ever concoct music as brilliant as K-Fed's "Playing with Fire"
    • I don't understand the popular /. stance that there is some higher form of music of greater intellectual value than the stuff that /. posters suggest is being pushed upon us by **AA or some other nefarious organization. The stuff that is pirated is pirated because people want to hear it - I don't care if they want to hear it because the pirate has some inherent sense of fine music that makes them want the latest Xtina record, or if they are brainwashed to think that the latest Xtina is worth listening to,
      • I think the reason alot of slashdotters hate the RIAA, insist that what they sell is garbage or whatever and download the music anyway is: 1) most slashdotters are very tech-smart in other words because they can 2) it is easier for people to steal from an organization they hate because the RIAA actually goes after people who are suspected of stealing music although the sheer number of people who have downloaded music illegally makes the RIAA's job basically a living hell. 3) the RIAA goes about trying to
  • by Anonymous Coward
    dragged into these lawsuits, hire an attorney to handle it($$$), and then the plaintiff says "Oopsie!"?

    Is there anyway to at the very least get your lawyer fees covered? Or do you have to file your own lawsuit to get those?

    This is getting fucking ridiculous!

    • IANAL but you need to file a counter-suit for attorney fees, harassment, defamation ect. possibly name your ISP as a co-defendant. You wouldn't get must most attorneys would work on contingency for a third, fees and expenses so after taxes all you really get is satisfaction
      • Any money that comes from a judgement in a lawsuit is TAX FREE? This is money to right a wrong and/or give relief. What taxes are you referring to?
  • This will severly damage the RIAA's crediblity in the courtrooms. Stuff like this weakens the RIAA's stranglehold and now the law is starting to see things how they are.

    RIAA... the new SCO?
  • Ah the memories... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MeanderingMind (884641) * on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:40PM (#18980785) Homepage Journal
    I remember back when the RIAA lawsuits first began. While they didn't stop a lot of people from file sharing, it did disquiet a lot of people. The idea of the RIAA sniffing the P2P networks and logging everything you did was frightening, and people imagined itemized lists of dates and times their downloads were completed.

    Now the only disquieting thing is that the RIAA seems inclined to sue anyone and anybody, regardless of whether they have anything to do with it or not. The more cases they pursue, the more obvious it is that their ability to locate and pursue anyone is pathetic. Feelings of Big Brother subside, and now we can rest easy knowing that if the RIAA does sue you, it's because they think you're someone you're not.
  • by adam.dorsey (957024) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:41PM (#18980803)
    The RIAA seems to have a problem making things stick in the Windy City.

    Well, there's only so mush shit you can throw at a wall before it stops sticking.
  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) * on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:45PM (#18980863) Journal
    RIAA they knows *nothing* 'bout The Blues.

    They don't got it in their pocket or their shoes

    Chicago you know has Always had The Blues.

    I guess this time was RIAA's turn to lose.

    --

    Any good blues chord progression should do it, repeat to fit in 12 bars. Prounounce the acronym as a word. Play it until you run out of alcohol or your brains fall out your ears, or both.

  • by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:46PM (#18980871)

    ...unless the defendant turns around and sues the RIAA to recover court costs, attorney's fees, the value of the time he lost defending himself, and a hefty sum on top of that to make them think real hard about doing something like that again.

    The only way the RIAA is going to stop harassing people through the courts is when it costs them so much that they can't sustain it anymore. That won't happen simply by suing for court costs and attorney's fees -- the RIAA (through its members) is much too wealthy for that.

    • by unity100 (970058)
      there needs to be a civil rights association founded for this anti-riaa moves. they should take on this work.
    • by Frodrick (666941) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:11PM (#18981247)
      Unfortunately, Thao made the mistake of letting the RIAA drop the suit WITHOUT prejudice which means that
      1. it could theoretically be refiled, and
      2. no attorney's fees are awarded.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    While I am all for RIAA getting it in the kisser, something is fishy.

    The letter from the guy back to Earthlink states that offending IP was identified on Feb. 15 2004 (sorry, writing dates from memory). However, the letter from Covad shows that he was a customer from October 2002 till July 2004. So, in February 2004 he was very much a customer of Covad (which, I assume, is an actual provider for Earthlink DSL service). So, I am not sure how the defense of "wrong time" might have worked here. I guess he has
  • I highly think it's time laws are made to correct the use of FUD through lawsuits. Maybe a quota as to the number of lawsuits that can be filed per year by an organization? With provisions that this quota be dismissed in rare cases of course.
  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <terr@Nospam.terralogic.net> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:11PM (#18981243)
    The law suit was dismissed without prejudice which means they can sue him again... and he wasn't offered costs! His lawyer should have asked for costs and should also ask the case be struck with prejudice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by budgenator (254554)
      I'm sure the RIAA was much more likely to end it quickly if they had a NDA on how much their victim was compensated and was allowed to let it look like a draw rather than a humiliating defeat.
  • 1. Why would defendant accept dismissal without prejudice? Does the evidence not clearly show that the facts alleged in the complaint are without merit? Why should plaintiff have the right to refile?

    2. Again, why would defendant agree to accept a sharing of court costs? Are the costs so small that litigating further would not be worth it?

  • by urikkiru (801560) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:16PM (#18981299) Journal
    This mis-identified defendant issue is a bit worrying. I mean, let's say you're tracking information on a p2p network. Now, you write your own client, and sit there tracking what IP address sends you data from downloading a specific file(that is supposedly copyrighted). At that point, you have the data block(s), and can compare them against the final downloaded file, which you can verify with it's file hash. And you have the IP, and the date/time you got it from them.(Let's assume this is a p2p protocol where the client you get the data from is definitely the one that actually has the data purposely shared, and not one like say Freenet, where it's passed often by other clients)

    Then you go to the ISP, and query who had that IP address at that time. For bonus points, you ask if they have any traffic logs that will verify the IP address was participating on the appropriate ports for that p2p network.

    All that data seems enough to validly go to court. You still have to link a person successfully to the ip address, but the base level identification is enough to have a valid name to at least start with.

    So the overwhelming question for me, is how they can get it so wrong? If this is the wrong person, and they are not even a subscriber to a comcast cable modem, how is their name in the RIAA's possession? I'm throwing out the wacky idea that they are suing via random selection in the phone book :P(which would garner them insanely bad press, and make judges in courtrooms very, very angry with them)

    Obviously you have to treat each case on it's own merits, and making assumptions about guilt/innocence is a dangerous thing indeed. Also, we are not counting the times when an adult is the target in court, but it turns out it's the child of the adult who is the infringing person. But still, these *completely* erroneous identifications are very worrying. Just who are the RIAA getting their information from?
    • by wall0159 (881759) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:21PM (#18982013)
      Well, it's not hard to imagine that the RIAA contract out the process of finding and identifying "pirates". If the contractor is paid per person identified then there wouldn't be much incentive to be thorough..
    • by rearden (304396)
      The same cable company that billed me for two locations after moving my service, canceling the accounts, getting a refund and a letter. Yes, Comcast billed me after we moved for my old Apartment and new home. When they were unable to get the billing right we canceled the service. They still billed us and then realized their mistake (many, many phone calls later) and sent us a refund and a letter saying the problems had been resolved... Three months later we get a call from a collection agency saying we are
    • So the overwhelming question for me, is how they can get it so wrong?

      I know that the inventory logs that tie the modems to the accounts was never all that accurate for RCN. Techs would pull a modem from one account & swap it for one on another - and not bother to tell us. That & converting through 3 different billing systems in the 3 years I was there - lots of data that really wasn't up to snuff for pursuing a lawsuit. It wouldn't surprise me if this is another case of that - the log said MAC: AA

  • I hate Illinois Nazis...err...I mean Illinois RIAA
    • I hate Illinois Nazis...err...I mean Illinois RIAA
      Elwood: We've got 35 Gigs to download, a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.

      Jake: Hit it.

  • by iamacat (583406) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:06PM (#18981889)
    People share files.

    RIAA should be required to show evidence that a particular person rather than just a particular peace of hardware was involved in file sharing to start a lawsuit. If you have kids visiting your house, it's possible and likely that one of them will do a quick download. And, given that there is no requirement to even secure GUNS kept at home, I don't see how we can require people to keep their gaming box under lock and key. Difficult, I know. But we want one to build a good case to abridge someone's freedom by dragging them to court.
  • I think someone that files suit should be automatically held liable for emotional harassment.
  • maybe thats why it didn't stick
  • Too bad the legal system is as mucked up as it is, and the procedures that are used in it are difficult for the layman to understand.

    What would be nice, is a RIAA-lawsuit toolkit that ANYBODY could use to be a Pro-se litigant, and using templates that would hold up in court.

    Unfortunately, the system is stacked against pro-se litigants, but it would be nice to cause the RIAA to bleed money, but not defendants.
  • It seems time and time again that the RIAA should sue all Americans. This way they will be guaranteed to actually sue someone who owns a computer. Hey, if they do not know how to use it they must be guilty. The more the RIAA embarrasses themselves, the more times that can claim that they are winning.
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:42PM (#18982771) Homepage
    That gets them to a house. A house with an account holder in it, probably. It in no way identifies the person performing the copyright infringment.

    Come on, if the account holder isn't responsible then nobody is at all, ever. The Internet remains anonymous and without consequences for everyone.

    Ever try to get someone to stop brute-force cracking attempts on a system? The ISP doesn't care, or at best will just warn them so they push their attempts through a proxy. Law enforcement doesn't care until there are significant damages. So any attempts to get a script kiddy to stop results in no action until they are in some serious and deep stinky stuff. Assuming they are dumb (and almost always are) and brag about it. Because once again, the Internet is anonymous and without consequences - unless you are stupid.

    The answer to all of this seems to be "Wasn't me. Must have been someone else using the Internet connection. Come on, prove otherwise!"
    • In a civil suit it's 'a preponderance of evidence' (51%) not 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. Now, the issue is still, if there is a likelyhood that the account is wrong, and there are multiple people in the house, how do you ever get to 51% that a specific individual is responsible for anything?
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:49PM (#18982827)

    However, it turned out that Mr. Thao was not even a subscriber [CC] (pdf) of the ISP [CC] (pdf) at the time of the alleged file-sharing, and therefore did not have possession of the suspect cable modem at that time.

    When I first read the summary I thought they had tracked Mr. Thao down because he had registered his cable modem with the manufacturer (the warranty card) and they had gotten the ownership information from the manufacturer (it doesn't seem that far-fetched to me). But I guess he had an ISP-supplied device (a DSL router he wasn't buying outright) and since he was the person in possession of the router at the time the RIAA went looking for the owner, he was the one they sued, even though another customer had the router at the time of the infringement. I wonder if the RIAA can find out who that was. Do records of equipment leasing fall under the list of stuff ISP's are supposed to be keeping for a longer period of time now?
  • by houghi (78078) on Friday May 04, 2007 @01:57AM (#18984377)
    In Belgium the way to go would be to sue an unknown person. It is then up to the court to demand evidence from the provider. No evidence or identity may be given to the suer, their lawer or anybody else. Only to the court by court order.

    What has happend is that the Belgian *AA wanted to file many, many, many lawsuits. The courts said something like: go f*ck a duck. We are not going to harrass people who did just share. Please come back when you have people who are making money over it. Those are the people we will put money and efford in, but we are not going to sue the whole country.

    Sounds reasonable to me and yes, they do that with other things as well.
  • by geoff lane (93738) on Friday May 04, 2007 @02:44AM (#18984605)
    Is it an accident that the RIAA seems only to go after ordinary people in these cases? Given the thousands of cases you would expect the occasional politician, lawyer, rich businessman to be accused.

    Yet people who can barely afford the settlement costs seem to be the most common.
    • They actually sued a guy in CA who owns a regional ISP - he was not amused & he's said he's going to go the distance to smack them down. But yes, when a congresman gets on TV & publicly acknowledges that his children did file sharing, then I would think that they aught to be pursuing that too.
    • by chihowa (366380)

      Given the thousands of cases you would expect the occasional politician, lawyer, rich businessman to be accused.
      Perhaps we're seeing an economic snapshot of the majority of the US population here. I know very few people who could afford to be sued my a multibillion dollar corporation right now. How many do you know?
  • It also appears that Mr. Thao paid for all of his legal expenses incurred by RIAA's incompetence.

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