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TorrentSpy Must Preserve Data In RAM For MPAA 489

Posted by kdawson
from the good-luck-finding-merkin-computers dept.
Transient writes "Reaffirming a magistrate's earlier decision, a federal judge has ordered TorrentSpy to begin keeping server logs as it defends itself against an MPAA lawsuit. In her opinion, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper interpreted federal discovery rules broadly. ' Judge Cooper took issue with TorrentSpy's argument that data in RAM is not "stored." She noted RAM's function as primary storage and that the storage of data in RAM — even if not permanently archived — makes it electronically stored information governed by federal discovery rules.' Given that TorrentSpy has limited access for users in the US, the ruling may be moot. But it does set a precedent for other, similar cases. 'Under this interpretation, any data stored in RAM could be subject to a subpoena, as at a basic level it is a "medium from which information can be obtained" just like a hard drive. '"
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TorrentSpy Must Preserve Data In RAM For MPAA

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  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:31PM (#20388613)
    "Funny, the data was in there before I pulled it out of the server."
    • by jellomizer (103300) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:41PM (#20388785)
      When they install the software to read the full content of the RAM, the OS Requires a reboot before it can run for the first time.
      • This happened to an E-Gold broker recently, which the government robbed of several heavy 6-7 figure accounts. If memory serves me well, the account holders were not guilty of anything merely "suspected" and were not convicted of anything, but their "assets" were seized and liquidated.

        The reason? The broker in question is one of the few who has not yet fled to the free market of international waters. They kept their servers in the US. Lesson 1. Globalism is not just for the big boys. In fact its friend
        • by hardburn (141468) <hardburn@@@wumpus-cave...net> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:12PM (#20389297)

          According to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [wikipedia.org], passed in 1982, does not allow artificial islands to become sovereign nations. Sealand may have a valid claim to sovereignty before 1982, but any new attempts at creating a new nation will have to be based on a natural land mass.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Skillet5151 (972916)

            any new attempts at creating a new nation will have to be based on a natural land mass.
            I think a combination of tubes and big trucks could solve this problem.
      • That sounds like a job for SELinux. Lock the system down so hard it doesn't allow root logins at all, and logins under the id that the servers are running under. Have all that become enabled, say, five minutes after boot, or that it starts enabled and must be disabled from the boot command line during boot.

        Make sure the system responds with an error message that explains all this if you try to login as one of the protected accounts...that to login you have to reboot the server.

        • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:18PM (#20392329)
          Make sure the system responds with an error message that explains all this if you try to login as one of the protected accounts...that to login you have to reboot the server.

          It might be easer to explain to the judge that sound is a moving pressure wave stored in air for a very short time from the time he says something to the time someone hears it. I need him to preserve the sound waves in his house from yesterday for permanent record. It may contain evidence of a copyright violation.
          • by drDugan (219551) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @11:45PM (#20394019) Homepage
            strangely, the way I see the law, the judge is right on this. just because it is volatile, does not mean it is any less incriminating.

            the problem here is(are) the law(s), not the judge's interpretation.

            copyright is completely out of control, and *NO* reasonable discussion on any issue regarding rights for copyright holders has merit (IMHO) until the copyright terms are fixed - meaning, significantly reduced. I don't advocate copyright elimination - it is valid and useful thing to have - just that the tampering with the law by these big companies has given them exactly the opposite that they expected - they have people who don't take it seriously because it is so far skewed against the public interest.

            On a long enough time scale, everything balances.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Technician (215283)
              strangely, the way I see the law, the judge is right on this. just because it is volatile, does not mean it is any less incriminating.

              The way I see it is it is entirely impractical. Take for example the Judge's Cell Phone or Fax Machine. Both buffer and convert digital to analog and analog to digital. Care to impliment a way to permanantly capture and record all data transversing the RAM in these devices. Capturing the transient data in a server memory is equaly burdensome and useless.

              If you want tetrab
              • by delinear (991444) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:20AM (#20396675)
                That's assuming that the MPAA care about sifting that data - it's equally likely they just want to make the process of collecting the data so prohibitivley expensive that TorrentSpy can't continue, or to spread fear in their users that the noose is tightening. If they can achieve either of those aims they won't even need to use the data.
    • Typical (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sgant (178166)
      People that don't know anything about a certain subject are making rules and precedents about it.

      "It's en dem ma-sheeens! We git da masheeen, then we git who was a-stealin our movies! We will git us sum cypherers to figger out dis and weee'l put 'em all in jail!"

      Ok, they don't all talk like that I'm sure. But you get my point. This is ridiculous and this judge and others that put this little gem of a ruling together should be openly ridiculed at every opportunity.
  • Soo.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:31PM (#20388623) Homepage
    ...as the data that is put into RAM is read and erased, can they (Torrentspy) be charged with destruction of evidence?
    • by mark-t (151149)
      I was wondering the same thing, actually. Is this ruling a sign of things to come where computers no longer use regular RAM, but all memory storage in the future comes with built-in battery back up (incidentally, making it impossible to reboot your computer to start fresh in the event of catastrophic software failure)?
    • Re:Soo.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by MontyApollo (849862) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:43PM (#20388835)
      I think the basic argument is that Torrentspy is saying they can't provide IP addresses because they don't log them, and the judge is saying if they are in RAM then discovery applies and they are required to log them since RAM is discoverable. Basically the judge is tellling them to log the IP addresses and that the argument that they are only stored in RAM is not a valid legal excuse.
      • Re:Soo.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by darkmeridian (119044) <william.chuang@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:54PM (#20388995) Homepage
        The judge explicitly narrowed the ruling to apply only to a party to a litigation only for the pendency of the court action. Such a ruling is akin to the obligation parties to a litigation have to maintain relevant documents -- even suspending their document retention policies, if necessary. The entire rule of preservation is motivated by fair play.

        If this turns out to be expensive, TorrentSpy can make the MPAA pay for it. I'm not going to guess how probable that would be, but the option is certainly there to have the MPAA pay a few bucks for worthless IP information.
        • Re:Soo.... (Score:5, Funny)

          by MMC Monster (602931) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:11PM (#20389281)
          How about if they have the contents of ram printed to paper every time the ram is refreshed.

          The cost of paper may build up to something considerable after the first couple seconds...
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Xtravar (725372)
            My company got in a FUD lawsuit with another company maybe 10 years ago. As the legend goes, the judge ordered us to give them our source code but did not specify a means of transfer... so apparently we gave them a truck load of printed out disassembly.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Opportunist (166417)
            Newsflash 2008, the Amazon is being deforested to keep up with the sudden increase in demand for paper.
            • Hippie FUD (Score:4, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @06:07PM (#20390907)

              Newsflash 2008, the Amazon is being deforested to keep up with the sudden increase in demand for paper.
              Actually, no. Not at all. We get almost all of our paper from "tree farms" in the Pacific North West: Washington, Oregon, etc. The rest comes from Canada. As our need for paper increases, tree farmers plant more trees. Simple economics. There are more trees on the planet now than in the 1800s. Logging in the Amazon is very strictly controlled and licensed to have minimal impact on the environment. Of the ~100,000 sq km of forest lost between 2000 and 2005, only 3% was was from logging, more than half of which was illegal, and most of that 3%'s worth of lumber stayed in the country (so that's only ~1100 sq mi, ~600 sq mi of which was illegal, and most of it all stayed in the country).

              The other 97% of deforestation is due to the locals and the Brazilian government. ~60% cattle ranches, ~30-33% agriculture (~30% subsistence, ~1-3% commercial), and ~3% urbanization. (I found a pretty good link here, which has a nice pie graph, which is where I'm pulling these numbers since I'm not at my home computer with all my bookmarks: http://www.mongabay.com/brazil.html [mongabay.com])

              So anyway, stop blindly believing hippie FUD from the the 60s and do a few minutes' worth of research on Google. Shit, I just looked at the wikipedia article and even they have a pretty good section on Amazon deforestation. So yeah, go ahead and use all the paper you want, it's actually GOOD for the environment and has been for the better part of a century. (Oh, and totally unrelated, but if you're still believing the hippie FUD about nuclear power, you'll want to do research on that too. :p)
              • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @09:41AM (#20410633)
                I will not make funny comments on /., lest someone takes it serious and writes a rant.
                I will not make funny comments on /., lest someone takes it serious and writes a rant.
                I will not make funny comments on /., lest someone takes it serious and writes a rant.
                I will not make funny comments on /., lest someone takes it serious and writes a rant.
                I will not make funny comments on /., lest someone takes it serious and writes a rant.
                I will not make funny comments on /., lest someone takes it serious and writes a rant.
                I will not make funny comments on /., lest someone takes it serious and writes a rant.
                I will not make funny comments on /., lest someone takes it serious and writes a rant.
                I will not make funny comments on /., lest someone takes it serious and writes a rant. ...
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            No, no, no... Save paper and email it to them. Each byte in a separate email. So, 11010011 would be "on on off on off off on on". Send them a 8Gb memory dump and tell them "it's in there somewhere".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mark-t (151149)

        Basically the judge is telling them to log the IP addresses

        Then the judge should have said that, and not obfuscated it to the point of making the judge sound incompetent to be making decisions in this field.

        Of course, then the question becomes: where do you draw the line on what ephemeral data can a court require to be logged? If you don't draw the line somewhere, the storage requirements for even a week's worth of transactions and data for some places could well exceed the entire world's combined pe

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
        I'm a merchant who lacks any sophisticated technology (well, not really, just a hypothetical). Does this ruling mean, that if I'm sued for something involving my business, I may be required to write down abacus states mid-calculation?
  • Sorry, but the server power supply blew! Here's the box, g'luck! ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by daeg (828071)
      What? No, that switch I hit by the door as you were dragging me out in cuffs didn't turn off the power. I have no idea what that switch does. Oh, it did kill the power? They must have installed a kill-switch by accident! What kind of dumbass builders put in a kill switch in residential buildings?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Opportunist (166417)
        Could it be the same guy that wired that extra-heavy-duty electromagnet to get powered when the rest of the house goes black due to the kill switch?
  • power failure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:32PM (#20388645)
    So can they convict me for destroying evidence because I turned off my computer?
    • Re:power failure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:40PM (#20388783) Homepage Journal
      There is little doubt in my mind that that is the case. It does not matter what you did, but if it was intentional then it is a very serious crime to deny or destroy evidence.

      If you "forgot" to pay your colocation bill and they turned off your servers, that might work. You could claim you couldn't pay the bill because of all the money you are spending on lawyers. :)
  • 'Under this interpretation, any data stored in RAM could be subject to a subpoena, as at a basic level it is a "medium from which information can be obtained" just like a hard drive. '

    Okay, no problem. I'll just shut the server down and pull the hard drive and memory DIMMs out for you. Go ahead and "obtain" whatever information you like.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dwlovell (815091)
      If you shut your servers down, then you are no longer offering any service and the prosecution has already won.

      The decision does not mean that past RAM contents must somehow magically be retained, it merely rejects the defense that because IP addresses are currently only stored in RAM, that they are not possible to save. So basically in this case, they must start logging from RAM into a file. If they disobey that order, it is essentially destroying evidence from that point forward. This is no different from
  • Wouldn't that apply to streams also? They're also stored in RAM, after all..
  • by Joebert (946227) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:34PM (#20388681) Homepage
    Does this mean that turning a computer off could be considered destruction of, or tampering with, evidence ?
  • White Board (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:34PM (#20388689) Homepage Journal
    Does this mean they can subpoena the contents of the white board in conference nine at 7:23 AM on June the 13, 2005?

    Why can't the court grasp the transient nature of the content of RAM?

    -Peter
    • Re:White Board (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kelz (611260) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:21PM (#20389435)
      But this white board erases itself when you turn off the lights.
    • Re:White Board (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:45PM (#20389831)

      Does this mean they can subpoena the contents of the white board in conference nine at 7:23 AM on June the 13, 2005?
      More like an order that the white board be placed under constant surveillance creating a continuous, timestamped, and legible video record from now on.
    • by Steve Hamlin (29353) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:48PM (#20389867) Homepage

      Does this mean they can subpoena the contents of the white board in conference nine at 7:23 AM on June the 13, 2005?

      YES, if the court gives you notice that you must preserve everything that is written on the whiteboards in all conference rooms, then they will expect you to have it preserved, and produce it when ordered.

      Take a picture, log the contents, don't erase it - whatever you need to do to preserve the information. Saying "But I erased it!" isn't going to fly when you are subject to a prior order to NOT erase it.

      Why can't the court grasp the transient nature of the content of RAM?

      It sounds like the company was saying "But I really don't have it, it's just in RAM". That doesn't mean you don't have the information.

      Note that this is a prospective discovery order - YOU WILL HAVE THE INFORMATION IN YOUR POSSESION, I REALIZE IT'S TRANSITORY AND YOU NORMALLY DON"T PRESERVE IT, BUT YOU CAN PRESERVE IT, AND I'M ORDERING YOU TO PRESERVE IT.

      What's so hard about that?

  • Silly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stabiesoft (733417) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:35PM (#20388693) Homepage
    Sort of like the uncertainty principle. In order to "store" RAM to a permanent medium, RAM will change to write itself to the medium. This reminds me of when I testified and tried to explain that from a programs perspective, VM looks just like RAM, just slower. I never managed to convince the prosecutor. Clearly the legal system hasn't a clue about tech.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ruiner13 (527499)
      Really all they need to do is submit a random string of 0's and 1's. That is all memory contains, and it doesn't say anything about having to be readable by humans nor anything explaining how those 0's and 1's are segmented.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by westlake (615356)
        Really all they need to do is submit a random string of 0's and 1's. That is all memory contains, and it doesn't say anything about having to be readable by humans nor anything explaining how those 0's and 1's are segmented.

        Unless as the IT guy you want an intimate knowledge of life behind bars, you preserve and present the data to the court in meaningful way. It's your ass that on the line, not your boss's.

  • by Seakip18 (1106315)
    is what the Judge actually did to learn what RAM does and the suitable means to archive it. Was it the responsibility of the plantiff or TorrentSpy to educate her on what RAM actually does? Or was she left to her own devices as to how she sees RAM fitting into information storage, namely the sheer amount of data a single stick can hold?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by guinness_duck (231583)
      She probably called and asked the Geek Squad.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pla (258480)
      is what the Judge actually did to learn what RAM does and the suitable means to archive it.

      Simple answer - The MPAA asked for it (no doubt doing their best not to burst out laughing), describing it as absolutely critical to making their case, with probably a snipe about how those damned pirates would try to get out of it by claiming they couldn't realistically get to it.

      As for the suitable means to archive it, we don't really need to ask that here on Slashdot, because we already know the answer - You
  • Just a thought... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by click2005 (921437) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:35PM (#20388701)
    Doesn't Vista encrypt some of it's data in RAM (DRMd media etc)? If Apache was modified to set the memory used for logs to be DRMd, would this make the data inaccessible?
  • hehe (Score:5, Funny)

    by chuckymonkey (1059244) <charles.d.burton ... m minus math_god> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:36PM (#20388709) Journal
    tail -f /dev/mem > memlogs.txt I say have fun with that one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:36PM (#20388719)
    If RAM can be subject to subpoenas, and it's illegal to destroy information that may later be subpoenaed, which is my understanding is true thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley, that means that all computers used by all companies must keep a permanent record of the contents of computer RAM at any given time.

    I guess it's time to buy stock in storage companies. I wonder if this also applies to cache RAM? There could be an infinite loop in there somewhere...
    • your CPU's registers are a type of RAM too.

      I am going to subpoena the contents your your CPU's register for the date of August 1, 2007 between the hours of 6:00am EST and 6:01am EST. I will require it as a hardcopy please, thank you for your continued cooperation.
    • by corsec67 (627446)
      You would have to have a whole seperate computer tapping the memory bus to record all of the writes, but could you send that to any kind of storage fast enough? And then what about the tapping computer? That has ram as well.

      And then what about the cache in the hard drive?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The flip side is that when the RIAA actually asks for 'the RAM' you can send them a 10 trillion page printout. And they have to pay reasonable discovery costs to generate this.

      "Sir I direct your attention to page 0x1A86FB2 of the memory dump. Do you or do you not recognize writing the bits 101100011010111101?"
  • by weszz (710261) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:38PM (#20388733)
    So... you have to be able to log everything that is in ram as well now

    so we need faster processors and bigger hard drives to handle the extra load.

    A normal log may not be that big, but when you get to a few months full of RAM logs for a busy server... I think this precedent will get overturned when they find out just what they are asking for.

    I want to to write down every single thought you have for the next 10 weeks...
  • What about costs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:39PM (#20388741) Homepage
    I am surprised that the costs issue was not addressed. Generally, and if I recall, that if there are costs on on electronic discovery, that cost can be shifted on to the requesting party.

    For this the costs would be expensive.

    There are two ways to archive this:
        1. By snapshotting the ram.
        2. By rewriting the server code.

    By snapshotting the ram, it would require a program with root access to snap this and lots of data to be archive.

    By rewriting the server code, it would take months to rewrite it properly and test it. Then they would to license the IP2location database to perform lookups on the IP address filter out US addresses. I suspect that this filtering would require one or two more computers to perform this.

  • Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sunburnt (890890) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:39PM (#20388743)

    'Under this interpretation, any data stored in RAM could be subject to a subpoena, as at a basic level it is a "medium from which information can be obtained" just like a hard drive. '"

    Which makes sense. Imagine that I do all my shady accounting on some Post-Its, then turn their contents into a bunch of spreadsheets and a ledger that look legit. If my accounting documentation is subpoenaed and I don't produce those Post-Its, and the court finds out about their existence, I am in deep shit for destruction of evidence and/or failure to keep required records. I certainly wouldn't get far with a claim that the Post-Its were a "temporary storage medium" or something.

    I believe the fact that TorrentSpy is being compelled to keep server logs by the MPAA is fucked up on a few levels. I just wanted to point out that the last part of the summary is not as profound or earth-shaking as it might seem.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AP2k (991160)
      A more accurate statement would be that you write on the Post-Its, then at some point scribble all over them with a yellow ink pen and start writing something else. At some definite point, will you be able to produce the original text you wrote?
    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anarke_Incarnate (733529) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:48PM (#20388901)
      Except it is nothing like post its. It is more like you are using an etch a sketch to do your accounting and every new calculation, you shake it. Now you are required to write everything down.

      Worse yet, what about a digital calculator.....you can't use one. You need to have one that prints out, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rtechie (244489)

      If my accounting documentation is subpoenaed and I don't produce those Post-Its, and the court finds out about their existence, I am in deep shit for destruction of evidence and/or failure to keep required records.

      Completely wrong. "Accidental" destruction of records is EXTREMELY common during the discovery process. I'd wager that in any complex case some records are ALWAYS lost. Saying "sorry I tossed those post-its, but it's all in the ledger" really is good enough unless the court has a lot of evidence to prove you're deceiving them. Basically, in this case it would consist of witnesses saying you were doing a dual accounting system with the post-its. And even then, so what? It's still a tough case to push for de

    • Do they too fall under this ruling? After all, they do "store" information, for a while, and then it gets wiped. Do you think that companies should preserve ALL whiteboard writings.

      What about errors, if I write something and make a spelling error, I erase it and retype it. Should that too be recorded?

      What about the information of time. A whiteboard is changed over time as you add new data to it, this timeline could be important, WHEN was the information on the whiteboard added, the time the line "Make sur

    • Very surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Generic Guy (678542)

      I believe the fact that TorrentSpy is being compelled to keep server logs by the MPAA is fucked up on a few levels.

      What's really fucked up is how this U.S. court magistrate, and now Federal Judge Cooper, think they can order new evidence to be created after-the-fact. Not to mention how fucked up it is that a U.S. court thinks it can give any order outside their jurisdiction to TorrentSpy located in the Netherlands. And how further fucked up they must think TorrentSpy must be to violate European privac

  • Let's be clear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 71thumper (107491) <steven.levin@interceptor.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:43PM (#20388815)
    What the judge is saying is that just because you keep a file in RAM and not on on disk, you can't claim you aren't "storing" that data.
    • Mod parent up (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dlanod (979538)
      All jokes about RAM aside, this is the root of what's being said here - the addresses are in RAM, therefore it can be logged (and should be under the directions of the court in this case). They aren't telling them to record all data in RAM all the name, nor are they telling them RAM is a persistent medium.
  • malloc command: can only be called with copyright permission from a mafiaa member

    free command: illegal under the dmcaa

    memory leaks: standard operating procedure

    dangling pointers: stool pigeons
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:44PM (#20388845)
    From TFA:

    TorrentSpy fought the MPAA's request, arguing that privacy laws in the Netherlands--where the servers are physically located--prevented it from maintaining and disclosing the logs. The site also argued that the log data wasn't available, since it existed only in RAM, and as such, was never stored.

    The magistrate judge didn't buy that argument, and in her opinion reaffirming the magistrate's order, neither did Judge Florence-Marie Cooper. Judge Cooper took issue with TorrentSpy's argument that data in RAM is not "stored." She noted RAM's function as primary storage and that the storage of data in RAM--even if not permanently archived--makes it electronically stored information governed by federal discovery rules.
    TorrentSpy: "We could log that information, but we choose not to."

    Judge: "Choose to do so from this point on."

    RAM isn't exactly relevant. This isn't some kind of temporary storage situation. This is a deliberate decision on the part of the software author. Now if you want to claim rights are being trodden upon, be my guest. But claiming that all RAM is now state's evidence is a stretch.
    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:56PM (#20389035)
      I agree that the intent may have been to force TorrentSpy to turn on logging. However, the judgment was written in a very broad fashion - broad to the point that nowhere is it mentioned to "just turn on the damn logging". Instead, it is a ruling that states that data in RAM is governed by federal discovery rules, and as a result, needs to be preserved.

      While it is unlikely that always logging ALL data in RAM will become a federal requirement, it is quite possible that this will turn into one of those things that everybody has to violate in order to function. The result of this will be that someone, somewhere will be permanently fucked by a ruling based on this. Yes, the law might be changed after this, but only after someone's life has been permanently fucked with.

      Remember the high-school senior who got a blowjob from a 15 year old? He's doing time, because a law designed to catch sex offenders was badly written. The law was changed in response to his conviction, but it was too late for him. He's still in jail, the football scholarship is now out of the question, and he will have a criminal record.

      I'm paranoid because too many lawyers and politicians and people in general have abused bad laws for their own gain.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shadowlore (10860)
        Remember the high-school senior who got a blowjob from a 15 year old? He's doing time, because a law designed to catch sex offenders was badly written. The law was changed in response to his conviction, but it was too late for him. He's still in jail, the football scholarship is now out of the question, and he will have a criminal record.

        The first and last one of those can be alleviated by a Governor, and a good one would do it. These kinds of cases are what Presidential and Gubernatorial pardons are made f
  • by Conspicuous Coward (938979) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:53PM (#20388981)
    The commentary on this article is extremely misleading. The judge in this case has ruled that because Torrentspy can log the IP's of requests to the server it must do so and hand them over to the court. This is absolutely not about the judge misunderstanding the nature of RAM and ordering them to hand over a bunch of DIMM's, yes judges can be technically ignorant but the courts are not stupid either you know. The judge is saying that because this data can be stored it must be. This actual ruling is of course far, far more disturbing than any technical ignorance could be, as it requires torrentspy to effectively spy on their users on behalf of the MPAA, something which should surely be illegal in itself, nevermind mandated by a court of law.
  • by czmax (939486) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:02PM (#20389129)
    Folks, From TFA, we see the following, "[Torrentspy] argued that the log data wasn't available, since it existed only in RAM, and as such, was never stored". The judge, being nobodies dummy, accurately noted that this isn't an impediment to logging that data in the future and has ordered them to do so. Funny jokes about handing over DIMMs aside this is a totally reasonable concept. How many of you all think it's actually impossible to log a number that is in RAM? Are all you /. l33t programmers incapable of writing a variable out to a file?
  • by Timogen (1073018) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:06PM (#20389197)
    Oh, I'm sure, many of you are going off on this whole RAM thing as if that was the point. What you are missing is that this ruling was meant not really believing that RAM is the key, but the fact of the matter that, for torrentspy transactions, they do not, for just the exact reason this lawsuit began, log connection information, even though that information does pass through the RAM of the system. They focused on RAM as it is, in this case, the only memory device that is realistically capturing any connection information. That connection information is what the prosecution wants. Ergo, this order is, for all intents and purposes, forcing torrentspy to adjust their software to capture the connection information. That's really all it is. The courts, I'm sure, are aware of the transitory nature of RAM, and, through this order, are only addressing that the memory in RAM be captured. The reason they bring this up is because torrentspy, all along, claimed they have no logs that capture connection information, so potential downtheroad supoena's of torrentspy users cannot occur, plsu an audit trail of abuses cannot be captured. This ruling basically says 'Nice try guys, but you now need to close up that loophole'. Seriously, you all go off on the nature of RAM and stupidity of non-technites, but you fail to grasp what this ruling is really about, enforced logging of details that should be captured but the fact that it isn't is 100% an attempt to cover up any illegal activity going on with their servers/services abd leaving no trail to trace. If this was read for what it really means 'Court orders torrentspy to modify software to capture all connection info', which would be more outside the realm of the court to order, it wouldn't even raise an eyebrow save for the tinfoil hat privacy types. But that is outside the mandate of the court, so they just said what they need and now it's up to Torrentspy to figure out how to do it.
  • by janrinok (846318) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:08PM (#20389241)
    The ruling is that TorrentSpy must, in future, maintain records of IP information. How is that meant to help prove or disprove the case that the MPAA are trying to prosecute, which must, by definition, have already occurred? This is not discovery - but an imposition on the way the software is to be re-written. Or can the MPAA say that they think that TorrentSpy will commit an offence sometime in the future and they now want to have the means to prove it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      That's probably the smartest comment I've seen so far in this discussion. The MPAA is prosecuting a past offence, for which the relevant information disappeared *before* the lawsuit was even filed. It shouldn't be possible to charge them with destroying subpoenaed evidence if non-logging is a normal business practice for them and there was no suit in progress.
  • SSL Keys (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:17PM (#20389371) Homepage
    OK: lots of fun about having to provide copies of L1 cache, etc, but what the judge is saying is:

    you know that the information in RAM is likely be of interest for an X, Y, Z investigation, so keep it
    What is worrying me is this: I visit some website at a HTTPS url or I login somewhere using ssh. Later the cops say "give us the SSL keys for that exchange". Currently I can say "firefox/ssh generates these keys on the fly, I never knew what they were.". But because I ought to know that the SSL keys might be of interest - I should have kept them, I should run a browser/ssh_client that keeps this info, and perhaps the server ought to do the same thing as well.

    I fear that the above scenario is not that far off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      What is worrying me is this: I visit some website at a HTTPS url or I login somewhere using ssh. Later the cops say "give us the SSL keys for that exchange"... But because I ought to know that the SSL keys might be of interest - I should have kept them

      No.

      There is no obligation for you to store/save/retain anything until after the police or a lawyer tells you that it is of interest.

      This is one of the reason why businesses setup data retention policies such that after X days, [information] is shredded or wiped. That way, when they get sued or investigated, they can honestly say "we don't have it and we aren't obstructing justice because our policy is to scrap [information] after X days."

      Just because you could save [information], but never have, doesn't me

  • Summary sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WPIDalamar (122110) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:22PM (#20389461) Homepage
    The summary of this article sucks, most of the comments here are nothing more than ravings based on a bad summary.

    The judge wants them to start logging IP addresses. But a judge can't just order anyone to do anything they feel like, there has to be some precedent or law saying they can. This judge said in legal terms, stuff in RAM is stored data. Then he applied rules based on law that covers stored data.

    It's like if a company has a policy to burn documents every night, but the judge orders them not to burn documents until the end of the case. There's no expectation that burnt documents can magically be unburnt.

  • Just Suppose... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:29PM (#20389589)
    Just suppose it's encrypted data in RAM? Shall they be given the still encrypted contents?

    How about giving them a complete memory dump of RAM, letting them sort out what the data is that interests them? Can the judge require them to preserve it in pretty formats?

    This whole order is such an overreach by this judge, and the US Judicial system, that an immediate halt should be put to it this very instant.

    And just suppose, btw for the sake of argument, that the country were TS is located prohibits export of personal data due to privacy laws? Then who wins?

  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:40PM (#20389743)
    TorrentSpy has announced that to comply with the MPAA Puppet^W^W impartial judge orders, all of its servers' RAM cards will be replaced by WOM cards. WOM, or Write Only Memory, is the latest cutting edge technology designed to ease the learning curve of geek challenged courts and remain compliant with discovery demands. All digital access information to their website will be safely stored in the WOM cards, readily surrendered to the courts. TorrentSpy has also announced implementation of the Fair Use Circumvention Kit at a later date but has declined to provide further details, despite curious snickering under their breaths.
  • RAM log (Score:5, Funny)

    by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:44PM (#20389795)
    Your honor, a tiny portion RAM log of the time in question

    2007.08.28 15:40 set bit 1243434
    2007.08.28 15:40 set bit 1243435
    2007.08.28 15:40 cleared bit 1243436
    2007.08.28 15:40 set bit 1243437 ...

    Obviously guilty!
  • Rank this Judge (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:58PM (#20390001)
    Do you want to rank this judge's performance in a public manner? Visit The Robing Room [therobingroom.com] and let your thoughts be heard. Just be sure to get her name and state correct. Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, Federal Judge, California.
  • Who is responsible? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @06:55PM (#20391391)
    In the case of TorrentSpy, this question may be moot. But consider a case in which the provider of a service is not the same as the manufacturer of the application used to provide that service.


    In spite of all of the ramblings to the contrary, it isn't technically difficult to add a logging feature to a piece of s/w to collect and store IP addresses, or other sorts of data currently only held in RAM. This assumes that the operators of the service can either modify that s/w themselves, or contract the vendor of said s/w to add this logging feature. In the case of proprietary s/w, with licensing provisions prohibiting reverse-engineering or modification, the latter may be the only recourse.


    Now, lets suppose the operators of TorrentSpy contact the vendor, request that logging be added per the court's request and the vendor replies, "No".

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