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First Guilty Verdict In Criminal Copyright Case 278

Posted by kdawson
from the hard-time dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "A Brooklyn man has been found guilty of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement by a federal jury in Virginia. He now faces up to five years in prison, a quarter-million-dollar fine, and three years of parole, not to mention the 'full restitution' he has to make to the RIAA. The charges against him stem from his role as 'Dextro,' the administrator of one of the Apocalypse Production Crew's file servers — APC being one of the release groups that specialize in pre-release music. While he's the 15th member of APC to be charged under the US DOJ's Operation Fastlink, he's the first to be convicted. He will be sentenced on August 8th. For those wondering when infringement became a criminal matter, you can thank the NET Act, which was signed into law in 1997 by Bill Clinton."
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First Guilty Verdict In Criminal Copyright Case

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  • Well, okay then... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dirtside (91468) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @05:00PM (#23531562) Journal
    Thanks, Bill Clinton!

    ...no, wait, what I meant was, fuck you for siging that legislation, and fuck all the politicians and legislators who are fooled by the media companies into thinking we need draconian copyright laws. Copyright should have forever remained a civil matter, never criminal.

    Further proof that even politicians you like (I voted for Clinton in 1996, the first presidential election I was old enough to vote for) can do foolish things.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mrbluze (1034940)

      Further proof that even politicians you like (I voted for Clinton in 1996, the first presidential election I was old enough to vote for) can do foolish things.
      Foolish is too forgiving a word!
    • by conlaw (983784) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @08:04PM (#23532828)
      While it's possible to bash Clinton for signing the NET Act in 1997, the blame should first be applied to President McKinley since there have been provisions for criminal copyright actions in the code since 1897. The violations were considered to be misdemeanors until 1982 (Reagan's presidency) when criminal penalties were changed to make it felony for profit-making infringements of motion pictures and sound recordings.
    • by vague_ascetic (755456) <va.impietease@com> on Sunday May 25, 2008 @09:13AM (#23535701) Homepage Journal

      I just did a quick look-up on Thomas. The Bill originated in the House:

      • Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) - introduced the bill
      • Chris Cannon (R-UT) - sponsor
      • Bob Clement (D-TN) - sponsor
      • Howard Coble (R-NC) - sponsor
      • William D. Delahunt (D-MA) - sponsor
      • Barney Frank (D-MA) - sponsor
      • Elton Gallegly (R-CA) - sponsor

      On the Senate side, the following Senators voiced support in the Congressional Daily Record:

      • Trent Lott (R-MI)
      • Patrick Leahy(D-VT)
      • Orrin Hatch(R-UT)
      • Jon Kyl (R-AZ)

      I found no obvious dissent, and there were many other House members who did not speak, but were mentioned as supporting the Bill

      The Bill was passed by unanimous consent on a voice vote in both the House and The Senate, indicating that if there was any opposition, it was very weak, and they did not even consider it important enough to order a roll call vote (any legislator can call for a roll-call on any vote)

      The legislative branch makes the laws. The President can veto, but given the evidence I found from a skimming search, even if Clinton had been opposed (which I doubt), the veto would have easily been overridden in the legislature. The President usually does not waste his power pissing off legislators in a veto battle he has no hope of winning.

      The Slasdot author took a gratuitous baseless shot at Clinton, who hasn't even been in office for over 7 years now, when the congressman who introduced the bill and 5 of the 6 sponsors are still house members, as are 3 of the 4 Senators I listed.

      The arrogant naivete of American voters is astounding and obscene. I wasn't a big Clinton fan; in fact anyone who would lie under oath about a consensual blow job has an exceedingly low valuation of his own personal honour. Still the fact remains, that after 7 1/2 years of the Bush tyranny; a president's lies about a blow-job, cum-stained dresses, and exotically aromatic tobacco products is fucking minor league when compared to lies about the causes for War Upon Iraq; the lies about al Qaida licking its wounds in Pakistan, the theft of habeas corpus, the governmental imprimatur upon acts of human torture, and the blood-stained Iraqi sands.

      The Democratic Party is The Lamer of Two Evils, and the Republican Party has yet to even begin to feel the level of pain necessary for it to purge its resident evil.

      Which is a bigger lie?

      • Lying about a blow-job after distorting the attorney's own definition of sex, in a sexual harassment suit so frivolous, it was tossed summary judgment, because the plaintiff failed to advance one instance of workplace harassment in preliminary hearings.
      • After pleading guilty to Soliciting Sexual Acts and Peeping in a Public toilet, or after soliciting a cop for a $20 blow job in a city park's toilet, stating publicly for the record that you are not gay?

      Thus Speaks The Rectaltude of Contemporary Conservatives.
      But, look out behind you! It's The Penis of The President Past...

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @05:03PM (#23531592) Homepage
    Soon, they will come for you if you happen to do something that doens't make some big corp. money.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) *
      Or, you know, if you somehow were to break the law by stealing something that wasn't yours, or enjoying something without paying for it when the owner wants you to. You know, silly things like that.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Jaktar (975138)
        Just wondering....could you break the law by stealing something that was yours? This could lead us down the path of larceny. I guess that's why Matt Parker and Trey Stone put up their episodes on www.southparkstudios.com? Just so they'd stop stealing from themselves?
      • by Mr2001 (90979) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @07:02PM (#23532436) Homepage Journal

        Or, you know, if you somehow were to break the law by stealing something that wasn't yours
        Copying isn't stealing because no one is deprived of the thing being copied. That's Copyright Debate 101, man.

        or enjoying something without paying for it when the owner wants you to.
        So when I wear a funny T-shirt, can I demand money from everyone who laughs at it? I mean, I want that money, and according to copyright apologist logic, that means they owe it to me.

        You know, silly things like that.
        No disagreement here.
        • So when I wear a funny T-shirt, can I demand money from everyone who laughs at it? I mean, I want that money, and according to copyright apologist logic, that means they owe it to me.

          Well, perhaps they do? (silly analogy coming up). What if you had spent millions to hire a group of famous comedians to come up with the funniest T-shirt ever? Suppose that you planned to wear it standing inside a tent, so that you can charge people $10 admission to come look and laugh. Wouldn't you be pissed at people sn

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Mr2001 (90979)

            Wouldn't you be pissed at people sneaking in under the canvas without paying, or copying the T-shirt for their friends?

            Sneaking in is trespassing. It deprives me of the exclusive use of my property, because people take up space inside the tent.

            Copying the T-shirt for their friends, however, is fine. To stop someone from doing that, I'd have to either prevent him from describing his personal experiences to a friend ("this is what I saw"), or from putting some ink that he owns onto a shirt that he owns.

            What right do I have to interfere with either of those? Why should I get to stifle his speech or tell him what to do with hi

          • The problem is trying to prevent anyone, anywhere from relating the joke short enough to fit on a T-Shirt.

            The idea that you should be able to prevent someone from relating such a trivial idea (and we do now have sports leagues trying to do this) is absurd.

            In a less obvious sense, many current forms of copyright are absurd and so people ignore them.

            The laws around this are so corrupt that people don't respect them and the basic concept that creative types should get paid for their work is getting carried alo
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Jesus_666 (702802)

            Semantically you may be right, but insisting that copyright is not stealing is usually nothing more than a deliberate attempt to cloud the issue, and the fact that it is [i]wrong[/i] to copy an intellectual work without permission.

            Actually, I think it's the other way around. By telling people copyright infringement is something it really isn't the **AA etc. automatically deliver a flawed argument and cause confusion among the people who don't know anything about copyright law. When someone point out that co

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        or enjoying something without paying for it when the owner wants you to

        Like those fuckers who STOLE my camp fire last weekend. I put a lot of effort into making that fire, then these clowns come over when I'm not looking, put a stick in MY fire and STEAL it. I deserve money!

  • by Txiasaeia (581598) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @05:03PM (#23531600)
    It seems like the overriding issue in this case was the fact that this music was pirated prior to its street date release. The wired article even makes mention of the fact that, if you pirate a song here and there, you're not likely going to be in trouble. The fact that it's related to copyright doesn't have that much to do with sharing, in other words.
    • My company's first DMCA notice was for a pre-release Britney spears that a client was sharing on IRC. A subsequent scan of the machine showed it had a trojan and IRC client software on it. That's been the only DMCA for music that we've gotten. It does appear pre-release is watched closer than normal release.

      • The trojan _was_ Britney's album. ;) But I can see that the pre-release stuff is just like the good old days of 0-day cracks...

        Frankly, there's precious little entertainment left worth supporting from major labels.. and the tiny fraction that is generally is a band (or individual) that is well established. I'm not saying definitively that all new stuff is crap, because I'm not that old. What I am seeing is a concerted effort by the media conglomerates to flood the market with also-rans and copycats vastly
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2008 @05:05PM (#23531610)
    I hate RIAA's tactics against the common man as much as anyone here, but this is one of the few cases where I have a hard time criticizing them or the legislation being used.

    This group are hell-bent on obtaining pre-released music (that the companies have not yet had a chance to recoup their investment on) and making it available for free.

    Whether you believe copyright terms should be 99 years or 7 years is immaterial here. Whether you believe an individual should be able to rip their CDs is immaterial here. Whether you believe in teh doctrine of first sale for copyrighted materials is immaterial here. Put aside your hatred of the RIAA for a second and see this for what it really is - one of the few occasions where they have a point.
    • by 77Punker (673758) <<spencr04> <at> <highpoint.edu>> on Saturday May 24, 2008 @05:38PM (#23531830)
      Jail time for this though? He's not a dangerous person (at least by the fact of this conviction). We're talking about throwing away 10% of someone's life for what should be a civil offense. Maybe the copyright holder should sue him into the ground, but he shouldn't be imprisoned. Imprisonment is not something that should be taken lightly.
      • Prohibition (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by tepples (727027)

        We're talking about throwing away 10% of someone's life for what should be a civil offense.
        The United States still has a Prohibition regime that does the same thing, although the prohibition of alcohol [wikipedia.org] was replaced with a prohibition of cannabis [wikipedia.org] in the mid-1930s.
        • by 77Punker (673758)
          Seriously. All it takes is one joint to realize that marijuana causes far fewer social problems than alcohol. Who would ever start a fight when he's high? Now try that scenario again, but replace pot with MD 20/20.
      • by gnuman99 (746007)
        Enron executives that stole hundreds of millions and deprived others off of billions, should not go to jail either, by your argument.

        "Jail time for this though? He's not a dangerous person"

        That's what "white collar" crime is. And, as in Enron's case, it can be as devastating or even more so than some pimp or drug dealer.

        "Sorry Timmy, you can't go to college. No money. Oh, and we just lost our house because some fat cat. But it's ok, it's not like that crime affects our lives."
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Waffle Iron (339739)

          And, as in Enron's case, it can be as devastating or even more so than some pimp or drug dealer.

          I agree. Therefore, these pirates should receive punishments that are proportional to those of Enron executives, based on total economic damages.

          In the case of Enron, a few $billion in mayhem is worth maybe 30 years of prison time. These pirates probably served up a few $million worth of of CDs. That would make the applicable prison sentence about 1/1000 of an Enron: let's say a week or two.

      • by mazarin5 (309432)

        Jail time for this though? He's not a dangerous person
        He will be in five years.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by brianosaurus (48471)
      They may well have a point, but pre-existing copyright laws already made this act a civil offense. They could have gone after him. They didn't need a law that allows them to lock people away with murderers, rapists, and arsonists.

      This guy "stole" imaginary property. He shared music online. Music that the RIAA effectively stole from the artists who created it (but that's another topic completely).

      My issue in this case is not with the RIAA, but with the US government being hijacked by corporations for the
      • by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Saturday May 24, 2008 @05:56PM (#23531936) Homepage Journal

        This guy "stole" imaginary property. He shared music online.
        No, he leaked unpublished music online. Even without any copyright whatsoever, this fellow might have been prosecuted under trade secret laws.
        • HE didn't leak ANYTHING. HE simply HOSTED the content. Subtle, but VERY important difference.
        • Yes, but that is (well, i suppose "was") not a criminal offense, its a civil offense.

          I agree 100% with you that pre-existing laws were more than sufficient to cover this incident. We did not need the DMCA or the NET Act (or whatever it was. i've never heard of it until now). Those laws are overbearing and give way too much power to a few at the expense of our citizens. The police should be protecting us (the people) from murder, theft, and other crimes. It should not be their job to force us to adhere
          • by Darby (84953)
            We lock away a larger percentage of our citizens than any other country (ok, maybe not china... i don't know the current statistics),

            We lock away more people per capita *and* in raw numbers than any other country in the world. Primarily due to drug laws which cause far more harm than drugs ever have.
        • I wonder who on the inside helped him get the music? Just like screener copies of movies... SOMEONE on the inside of the great umbrella that is the rainbow-riffic RIAA member corporations _is_ helping the nasty, vile piratey types.

          But, like the War on Drugs... someone has to get pinched.. and we wouldn't want it to be the anti-soviet dictatorships who give us money. ;)
      • by megaditto (982598)

        This guy "stole" imaginary property.
        This "imaginary" property generates very real tax income. For example, Microsoft alone paid over $6,000,000,000 in taxes last year, all generated by peddling a bunch of "imaginary" 1's and 0's (for comparisson, a modern Nimitz-class aircraft carrier costs about $4,000,000,000).

        Welcome to the Grown-up world.
      • by aussie_a (778472)

        This guy "stole" imaginary property.
        This guy infringed on copyright for commercial gain. Is there no line you people will draw? I hope your job deals with physical goods or services brianosaurus, because if you had your way everyone from authors to software developers would be forced to get a second job.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mpe (36238)
        My issue in this case is not with the RIAA, but with the US government being hijacked by corporations for the benefit of a few.

        Not just the US government, many of the same corporations are trying (with varying degrees of sucess) to get these kind of laws everywhere on the entire planet.
        The other problem is that these laws are often useless against large corporations themselves. (Criminal law especially, corporations can be sued, but they can't be jailed). Otherwise something drastic would have happened to
    • Perhaps. But when a new law is tested in court, prosecutors use cases like this to establish precedents they'll later use to go after less clearly "bad" people. The law is a piece of shit, and this case doesn't change that fact.
    • I don't have such a problem because I refuse to judge the situation we face by just one case. When I think of all the people the RIAA harasses and gets loads of money from regarding alleged non-commercial infringement (consider the many informative stories promoted here by NewYorkCountryLawyer [slashdot.org]), I became convinced that the RIAA was a proponent and beneficiary of going too far, and I was also convinced that the NET Act is another step of metaphorically swatting flies with sledgehammers.

      The length of copyr

  • by compumike (454538) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @05:14PM (#23531666) Homepage
    There are some standards defined for what makes any particular act of copyright violation to be a criminal act. These are clearly defined in 17 USC 506 [cornell.edu]. But to summarize, it requires willful infringement, plus one of either 1) financial gain, 2) total value over $1,000, or 3) pre-release of material in preparation. Criminal infringement does not apply to the casual downloader. There are still valid questions as to whether the punishment matches the crime, but these criminal laws are targeting the big fish.

    --
    Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation! [nerdkits.com]
    • by Hungus (585181)

      2) total value over $1,000
      And what is the RIAA claiming the value of a single track is these days?
    • by kesuki (321456)
      "total value over $1,000,"

      I live in the backwoods of Wisconsin, but I've heard of a guy who makes his living copying DVDs to DVD-r's for $3 a pop, and i heard about this guy from my Social Worker. the person is clearly violating $1,000 a year, if he's making a Living at $3 a movie, but nobody cares about the movie industry in this town, not even the cops.

      Let's just hope that person never has a evil ex-significant other.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Yup, they were originallyintended to target the big fish, but the last several years have shown the targeted fish becoming smaller and smaller.

      Normally I'd be wary of the slippery slope logical fallacy. In this case, I think there's a proven track record that that's exactly what's happening.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      total value over $1,000,

      Which of course makes all copyright infringement into criminal infringement as no copyright holder is ever going to claim less then hundreds of thousands to millions in "losses" per piece of data shared. You see, 1000 million bazillion downloads could have occurred (yes, yes every man, woman and child and their pet parrot could have purchased the thing many times - and soon that will be the only option with "pay-to-read"!) thus depriving the poor copyright holder of a veritable mou

    • > it requires willful infringement, plus one of either 1) financial gain

      Just to be fair, the NET Act also redefines "financial gain" to include a laundry list of things. One of those things that laundry list covers is receiving other copyrighted works in return.

      Yes, that's right. In theory, joining a torrent could be "financial gain" so long as the contents were valuable enough.

      In practice, we don't have full-fledged copyright cops (yet), so they don't bother with small fry. But that WILL change [slashdot.org] if th
  • by stox (131684) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @05:16PM (#23531690) Homepage
    That makes a world of difference. If he hadn't been paid, it would have been an entirely different matter before the court.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I agree. I mean, I didn't RTFA, so I'm assuming you're right that he got paid for it, but I agree that it makes a world of difference.

      To me, copyright law's original intent is valid. The system was set up in a time when making copies and distributing them on a wide scale took serious money. So the problem was that a book publisher, for example, might front a writer development costs for writing a book. Then the publishing house prints up copies and starts selling them. Without any laws in place, anoth

    • by burris (122191)
      Except the same law also made "receipt or expectation of receipt" of other copyrighted materials equivalent to "material gain." In other words, they criminalized trading.
  • What this case says to me is that in fact the RIAA know that they will have trouble winning their civil cases in court. They have, in fact, clearly held off on bringing a suit against him until they had a guilty verdict, so they could use the verdict as a lever in the probable civil trial.

    Their first legal harassment technique, suing filesharers randomly, appeared to have run out of steam and then backfired on them so they got the government to invoke a little-known, eleven year old statute to crack him op
  • I am a foreigner, how does that compare to, for example, an homicide crime? I understand the points made that the music was prereleased, but this still makes no sense for me. I think the law has better things to do than wasting time on this issues. And five years is a lot of time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Gerzel (240421)
      In American political reasoning it is worse.

      1. It hurts big industries who grow the economy.*
      2. The money made obviously goes towards other ill-purposes, even possibly terrorism making it a terrorist act.**
      3. It is a gateway crime which with certainly lead to many more homicides not only by the original perpetrator(s) but also anyone they touched.***

      With number one it is worse than homicide because it hurts big business and without that support American citizens would die. Everyone knows food comes from
  • And we wonder why we have so many people in prison...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356)
      And we wonder why we have so many people in prison...

      In the American system almost all violent offenders are prosecuted at the state level. The federal system has more than enough room for the Enron exec who thinks that economic and property crimes harm no one.
      In other societies the white-collar criminal has been known to face the hangman's noose or the firing squad.
      An extreme remedy, perhaps. But it does tend to very efficiently strip away the technocrat's assumption that his brains and his skills make

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2008 @06:58PM (#23532404)
    He was a siteop, not a supplier. Are you retarded? I doubt mp3 was the only section on this site anyhow. Additionally, it is "aPC" not "APC".

    The funniest part is the fact that this group has been practically dead since around 2002 or so.
  • Slow down, cowboy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2008 @07:21PM (#23532582)
    For those wondering when infringement became a criminal matter, you can thank the NET Act which was signed into law in 1997 by Bill Clinton.

    From the Copyright Corner:

    Criminal misdemeanor penalties have been a part of the copyright law since 1897.

    In the 1909 Copyright Act, criminal copyright infringement was expanded to cover all types of works and all types of activities. It continued to be a misdemeanor offense with both willfulness and a financial motive required; the penalties included imprisonment.

    The 1976 Act revamped the criminal provisions by changing the "for profit" requirement to infringement conducted "willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain." This lowered the standard from requiring that the defendant profit from the infringement merely to an intent to profit or gain from the activity. The Act retained the one-year in federal prison term but increased the fine from $1,000 in fines to up to $10,000 generally, and to $50,000 if the work infringed was a sound recording or motion picture.

    In 1982 the criminal infringement provisions were amended to make certain types of first-time infringement punishable as felonies.

    The most recent amendment to criminal copyright infringement was the No Electronic Theft Act of 1997 (NetAct) which made it a felony to reproduce or distribute copies of copyrighted works electronically regardless of whether the defendant had a profit motive. Thus, it changed the 100-year standard regarding profit motive but retained the element of willfulness. The ease of infringement on the Internet was the primary reason for criminalizing noncommercial infringement as well as recognition of other motivations a nonprofit defendant might have such as anti-copyright or anti-corporate sentiment, trying to make a name in the Internet world and wanting to be a cyber renegade. So, the infringement must be either: (1) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain or (2) involve the reproduction or distribution of one or more copies of a work or works within a 180-day period with a total retail value of $1,000. Commercial infringers are subject to higher penalties.

    CRIMINAL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT [unc.edu] [2004}

    Connecticut Man Sentenced To 30 Months in Prison For Criminal Copyright Infringement - Forty Defendants Convicted In Operation Copycat To Date [cybercrime.gov] {April 29, 2008]

    • by westlake (615356) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @07:43PM (#23532702)
      Not quite sure how this ended as a posting from an AC.

      Short and sweet:

      Criminal misdemeanors have been part of american copyright law since 1897.
      The reach of the criminal law was extended and harsher penalties made available as early as 1909.
      In 1982 first-time offenders could be convicted on a felony charge.

      As for the NET act of 1997:

      The ease of infringement on the Internet was the primary reason for criminalizing noncommercial infringement as well as recognition of other motivations a nonprofit defendant might have such as anti-copyright or anti-corporate sentiment, trying to make a name in the Internet world and wanting to be a cyber renegade. Criminal Copyright Infringement [unc.edu]

  • How can music that hasn't ever been sold to anyone have any kind of value? At least with a CD that has sold millions of copies a reasonable argument can be made that the songs on the CD are worth some particular amount of money. But just the expectation that it will sell? WTF.
  • I'm glad we have such a great economy... so great that we can eat ourselves alive like this. Dumb shit like this is so meaningless.

    Our country is dieing senators...

    Mr President...

    Anyone doing anything? Anyone really care? I didnt think so. But i figure i should ask. Someone should.

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