Why Do The Police Call In The RIAA To Investigate Potential Crimes?

from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept

We've long known that the boundary between US law enforcement and the enforcement wings of certain lobbyist organizations like the RIAA is way too blurry, but TorrentFreak is raising some important questions about why the police will call in RIAA investigators on certain cases, such as one where a speeding stop in Illinois resulted in a cop calling in the RIAA after spindles of writeable DVDs and CDs was found in the car. While the RIAA and law enforcement have a history of working closely together (and many people go back and forth between the two), the RIAA is still a highly biased party here, and shouldn't be involved in investigations where it has a personal stake. While some politicians are trying to turn US law enforcement into the private police of the entertainment industry, that doesn't mean that police should just consider RIAA investigators their peers. So can anyone explain why RIAA investigators should be allowed to be involved in such cases and why no one's called US law enforcement on things like this before?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:10am

    I've always thought that "piracy" would become the new drug war. Apparently, and quite unfortunately, I'm right. Just wait until piracy forfeiture laws are passed. Then the cops will be doing this sort of stuff all the time and taking your car, computer, and house in the process.

     

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  2.  
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    Anthony Cooper, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:21am

    This is a quote from one of the articles cited:

    "DeVries contacted Cook County Felony Review States Attorney Delahanty who approved two charges of unlawful use of unidentified sound or audiovisual recordings."

    If the recordings are unidentified, how do they know that the use in question is unlawful? This is the part with which I have a problem.

     

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  3.  
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    Thought Cancer, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:21am

    Hmm

    Not to sound alarmist, but isn't this one of the signs of classic fascism? The merging of state and corporate power where the line between them cannot be easily determined? I don't mean to Godwin, but it's the first thing I thought of after reading the article and Mike's commentary.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    Re: Hmm

    indeed, its called Corporatism, a form of fascism. We desperately need campaign finance reform asap. We need people in charge, not the corporations that finance their campaigns. We are well on our way to an oligopoly, some would argue that in some markets, its already here (phone, cable, cell phone, computer OS, etc).

    We, the people, need to take america back before it is too late. The longer this continues the more destructive the inevitable revolution will be.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Hmm

    and I forgot the worst of them all, Oil, and Defense/post-war reconstruction, you know, the boys in the white house

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:30am

    It is illegal under the Patriot Act to do anything of the sort. The founding fathers wanted us to have the right to take down an ineffective and corrupt government but instead that same questionable government has essential made questioning them illegal, which is actually a violation of our Constitutional rights.

     

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  7.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:37am

    Fascism is fascism

    "indeed, its called Corporatism, a form of fascism."

    No, it's just plain fascism. Don't cloud the issue with neologisms.

    Besides, the FBI works for the RIAA now, so it makes perfect sense.

     

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  8.  
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    Ima Fish, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:42am

    Re: Fascism is fascism

    "No, it's just plain fascism."

    Actually, to me it's reverse fascism. Fascism is when the government controls corporations. Reverse fascism is when the corporations control the government. That's what we currently have in the US.

     

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  9.  
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    another mike, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:52am

    since it was brought up

    here's my idea for campaign finance reform: the politicians can't spend any money on their campaigns. they can only accept free advertising from their supporters, subject to the FCC's rules on advertisements. for this to really work, the FCC would have to grow a pair. but that's my plan for campaign finance reform, no finances available for campaigning.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Hmm

    What? You didn't like how Katrina was handled? McCain's cake needed candles.

    http://bagnewsnotes.typepad.com/bagnews/images/bush-mccain-katrina-3.jpg

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:56am

    Ummm... if the police find something they have reason that might have belonged to me shouldn't they ask me about it? Saying they shouldn't be allowed to ask me because I might have something to gain (like my property or revenue) from it sounds pretty dumb to me.

     

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  12.  
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    hegemon13, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 12:02pm

    Re:

    Ummmm...but would they invite you to accompany the investigation and assist in determining charges? I think not, and the case would be thrown out if they did.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 12:12pm

    It's past time for a revolution. Someone needs to take America back. I'm all for capitalism - and even for music and entertainment companies protecting what they think belongs to them (i.e. pirated movies and music being distributed online), but not this, no way.

     

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  14.  
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    Mike (profile), Sep 15th, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    Re:

    Ummm... if the police find something they have reason that might have belonged to me shouldn't they ask me about it?

    Ask you about it? Yes. Have you get involved in the investigation? No.

    Saying they shouldn't be allowed to ask me because I might have something to gain (like my property or revenue) from it sounds pretty dumb to me.

    Unfortunately, it appears that you and the RIAA often falsely attribute "revenue" and "property" where none actually exists. If you are allowed to be a major part of the investigation, that's a big problem.

     

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  15.  
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    Truthbringer, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    The growth of pseudo-governmental politics

    This is just a result of the symbioctic and very transient relationship many individuals have between government and the private sector. This has been going on a long time, but has certainly reached a new level since 2000 or so. With lobbyist moving subtly between lobbying for an organization or industry and getting the executive appointment to oversee that same industry. This is just a lower version of the same thing, when the same people move back and forth across this line, the line becomes increasingly blurred. Eventually you have guys like Jim Baker, Dick Chaney or Donald Rumsfled who go from government to lobbyist so often its becomes difficutl to tell the difference.official government lobbyists.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Howard, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Fascism is fascism

    No, the RIAA is part of DHS. Didn't you see the secret executive order. Of course you didn't. It was one of the "Congress not in session" appointments.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Howard, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 1:06pm

    Re:

    More importantly it is a violation of our inalienable rights.

     

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  18.  
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    Anoymous Howard, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 1:07pm

    Re:

    Someone would have to care first. People are still to cumfortable.

     

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  19.  
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    Not quite as paranoid, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 1:10pm

    I know everyone is going to blast me for this, but there is a pretty reasonable explanation for this. Now granted, the fact that a private organization that is protecting a business's profit model is tied in still makes it a bit on the edgy side, but this is not unheard of.

    In most states, in order to be convicted of whatever statute applies to "Bootlegging" CDs/DVDs, you have to prove two elements of the crime. One element is intent to distribute. If you get pulled over and have 1 bootleg copy of 20 different DVDs, you can't prove intent to distribute. If you have 20 bootleg copies of the same DVD, then odds are it is not for personal use.

    The second element is you must prove they are truly counterfeit. As ridiculous as it seems, a bland DVD with "Lord of the Rings" written on it in black marker is not "legal proof". The courts will only accept the testimony of a certified expert in the identification of counterfeit CDs and DVDs. This is where the RIAA's investigators come in. They hire PI firms and certify them in being able to recognize their trademarks and production markings. In order to make a case, they must write an affidavit for the court that the media is counterfeit.

    Some jurisdictions will not invest the time in arresting someone unless the RIAA invests the time in making the complaint and prosecuting, which is why they call out the investigators to the scene. If the investigators had not responded, there would have likely been no charges.

    This is actually a good thing. This means for every case to be made on local law, the RIAA has to fork out money to get the case prosecuted. Previously, they had relied on people getting arrested and inconvenienced, only to not follow through and have the charges be dropped.

    I used to have to do a LOT of work on cases like this. So I am very familiar.

     

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  20.  
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    Craig, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 1:10pm

    Freedom is just another word...

    Simple brainwashing technique: tell someone over and over and over that they are ugly and stupid, and eventually they will think that they truly are ugly and stupid. Substitute "free" and "democratic" in there and you get the same thing. However, saying you are free and that you are in a democratic system does not make it so.

    Is this the kind of world that millions died for when fighting the National Socialists of Hitler's Third Reich?

    Average Americans and Canadians don't have the brass monkeys to stand up and really fight this kind of bullshit. The "War on Terrorism" is a proxy war to control you, me, and everyone else.

    Lambs to the slaughter...

     

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  21.  
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    PRMan, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 1:12pm

    While this may seem troubling at first...

    And I am really not a fan of the tactics of the **AA, if you read the article, you will see that before calling the **AA, the police first:

    1. Saw that the over 400 CDs and DVDs had titles of big name properties handwritten on them.

    2. Asked the suspect about them.

    3. Followed up on the suspect's claim that he was simply holding "backups" for a friend.

    4. Called friend, friend had no idea.

    5. Suspect now gave a second story ADMITTING that he was pirating for profit by giving out free CDs and DVDs to computer repair customers.

    6. Only after admitting that he pirated the materials for profit did the police contact the **AA.

    I know it's a bit of a slippery slope, but I really don't see a problem here. The police seem to have been very reasonable in following up his story and not rushing to judgment.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 1:13pm

    Re:

    "..."piracy" would become the new drug war."

    Maybe now they'll stop busting the 14 yr olds for that little bag of dope and start busting them for their 300 gig collection of emo music.

     

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  23.  
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    wasnt me!, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 1:16pm

    after spindles of writable DVDs and CDs was found in the car. so what next stop is to forbid companies like Imation and Verbatim to operate in the US? surely if owning writable media is cause for suspicion perhaps just ban those.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Freedom is just another word...

    This is way off topic, but I was lurking thru Craigslist over the weekend and found this ad.

    http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/den/816812526.html

    It made me laugh hysterically at first, but then I realized how much this election means.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Floyd the Marine, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    If the Constitution is so great...

    If the Constitution is so awesome, then why can the RIAA now arrest whom ever they like? Why are our rights gone? Why are we spied on? Why are we lied to? Why do almost no politicians do their jobs? Is the Constitution really so great? Why am I a slave to it? I didn't sign it. I wouldn't sign it. Slaves were born into slavery. Nobody asked them if they wanted to be slaves. I was born under the "great" Constitution, that allows this to happen. Who asked me? Why should the mob (majority) rule? Should my religion be chosen by the majority, too? For answers to these questions, please see:
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rozeff/rozeff210.html
    And more at:
    lewrockwell.com
    Peace

     

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  26.  
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    BaasGaas, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 2:43pm

    Illinois is the most liberal state

    1. Illinois is the most liberal state in the Union. It is completely run by the democrats. Their opposition are not the republicans, but independents. These independents are not Joe Lieberman independents, but people that believe that the Democratic Party is too conservative.

    What I would like to know is how in the world do you tie Bush, McCain and the Republicans into this issue? I dislike them as much as anyone, but I live in Illinois and this state is effed up, to say the least.

    I know most of you hate Bush (not the current government because the democrats are in charge of the government right now), McCain and the republicans, but you cannot associate anything happening in Illinois to them. This is democrat country, Obama country to be precise, and let's be honest, if this is what is in store for us when we elect him as President, then we are in for one hell of a Eff Up.

    Anyway - back to the article, I think post 21 summed it up pretty well. Next time, read the article BEFORE you post and then look at your map. Illinois is the state that is so really, really dark blue one. When the republicans have a conference over here, they rent a phone booth.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 5:27pm

    I thought that law enforcement (police) were to gather evidence and the DA then brought charges based upon examination of the evidence ......

    Guess that is no longer the case.

    WTF

     

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  28.  
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    Shaun Wilson, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 5:37pm

    Re: Illinois is the most liberal state

    If the policies of your Democrats are anything like the Australian Democrats then that sounds great! Generally I don't like what I hear about US politics so basically I would consider this to be the best state I have heard of if this is an accurate representation.

    And if electing Obama will make the rest of the US like this then I hope you do elect him - for your sakes, and even more so for the sake of the rest of the world. (For example I don't think a US of this type would go around replacing democratically elected governments with dictators like your governments currently seem to do.)

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Illinois is the most liberal state

    I know most of you hate Bush (not the current government because the democrats are in charge of the government right now)
    Yeah, George W. Bush would close down Gitmo, restore habeas corpus and bring the troops home from Iraq tomorrow if only those damned Democrats would let him!

     

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  30.  
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    Dan, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 10:43pm

    This idea comes from the same mutant gene pool that thinks underwire bras could be weapons.

     

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  31.  
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    Consider The Lobster, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 11:57pm

    Re: Re:

    I recently came in possession of the book "Ooka the Wise: Tales of Old Japan", and one of the stories, "Case of the Stolen Smell" resonated somewhat with this topic.

    Grab some popcorn, because it's time for a good story.

    Once there was a poor man who rented a room above a fancy restaurant. He was so poor that he could barely afford his living conditions. Evenings were often spent alone in his drab living quarters.

    One day a friend stopped by and the two had dinner of rice and plain noodles.

    "Wait, wait" he said to his friend "The restaurant below will be cooking food shortly and we will eat then."

    "Why is that?" inquired the friend.

    "I eat my noodles when the restaurant owner down stairs cooks for his guests. The smells come up through my window and make the noodles taste better" explained the poor man. "It is really the smell, that makes things taste good."

    Unbeknownst to the two people, the restaurant owner was outside and overheard this entire conversation. Later, the shopkeeper approached the man with fury. "Thief!" he shouted, "I demand that you pay me for the smells you have stolen."

    "A smell is a smell," the Poor Man replied. "Anyone can smell what he wants to. I won't pay you anything!"

    The next day, the restaurant owner went to the Court and charged the Poor Man with theft. The Poor Man was summoned and The Judge, Ooka, listened to the story from both sides.

    "The Poor Man is obviously guilty," said the Judge. "Taking another person's property is theft, and I cannot see that a smell is different from any other property."

    The restaurateur was happy, because he was owed several month's of smelling. But the poor man's face turned grim as he realized he could be thrown into prison.

    "How much money do you have?" The Judge asked.

    "Only what's in this coin purse, Your Honor," the man replied. "But I need it to pay my rent."

    "Let me see the money," said the judge.

    The poor man gave the small bag to the Judge, who held it for a few seconds, and then tossed it to the restaurant owner. The bag made a jingling sound as he caught it.

    The restaurant owner had a glow of satisfaction.

    "Now," announced the judge, "please return the coinpurse to me." Without hesitation, the restaurant owner did so.

    "You have now been paid. If you have any other complaints in the future, please bring them to the court. It is our wish that all injustices be punished and virtue be rewarded."

    The Judge then returned the coinpurse to the Poor Man.

    "But Your Honor," the restaurant owner interjected, "I did not get the money," as he held up his empty hands to the judge.

    The Judge stared at him gravely. "It is the court's judgment that the punishment should fit the crime. It is decided that the price of thieving the smell of food shall be the sound of clinking money. Justice has prevailed as usual in my court."


    The book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Ooka-wise-Tales-old-Japan/dp/B0007E18LO

     

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  32.  
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    JP fife, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 2:40am

    This has been going on for years here in the UK. In Glasgow when the barras got raided it was always by the police and FAST (Federation against software theft). Of course, unlike the US, Britain has no constitution, and there is very little pretense that it's not a police state.

     

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  33.  
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    Kaph, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 3:11am

    Ooka the Wise: Tales of Old Japan

    @Consider The Lobster
    I have been looking for this book for a long time. I never have remembered the name but always the picture on the cover. Thank you for that, although $175 was a bit of a surprise...
    By the way where did you get permission to reprint that story? :p

     

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  34.  
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    Twinrova, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 4:23am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Now this is a damn good story and I'm going to steal it.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 7:13am

    At this point I doubt anything short of armed revolution would have much of a chance of changing anything.

    (Dear government officials, please note I am not encouraging violence. Simply making a point about how entrenched the current system is.)

     

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  36.  
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    drew, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    Look I hate the RIAA with a passion, but...

    The police know that without a victim, you don't have a crime. In this case, the police suspect a crime and call in RIAA to see if there is a victim.

    I would be like you are work and the police get a hold of you: "Hey we think your house was burglarized/car stolen/whatever while you were away, we think we have somebody who has your stuff and can you come down and ID your property?" You would be your own investigator, respond to the police station, help "investigate" and sign a crime report.

    Same thing for a company. Hey Toyota, We think somebody stole a bunch of your new cars off the train/boat. Can you come down and help us figure out what we got?? A toyota rep would have to respond, determine if the cars were taken improperly, report each one stolen and thn eventually show up in court as a victim.

    Bottom line is that the police CANNOT operate on their own unless the State is the victim. They are just facilitators.

     

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  37.  
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    Consider The Lobster, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 11:48am

    Re: Ooka the Wise: Tales of Old Japan

    I understand! It took me a long time to find the story on my bookshelf also.

    There are less expensive compilations of "Folktales of Japan" (and subsequently, less collectible- the illustrations are great) that tell the same story. I suppose my advice is to keep an open eye at estate sales as one of the reasons the version I have is so costly thru traditional routes is because this one is no longer in print.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Sean, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 12:30pm

    Re: If the Constitution is so great...

    The RIAA can arrest whoever they want? Evidence please, a statement like that needs backup. Pretty much all of your statements are juvenile 15-year-old mySpace ranting about how unfair everything is in America now while you sit behind a computer and conveniently debate these things with nobody in particular and eat comfortable in an air conditioned building.

    Your post is incredibly stupid and you should be ashamed that, I imagine, you consider yourself an enlightened, contravening American.

     

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  39.  
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    Andy, Sep 17th, 2008 @ 7:28am

    Blank Discs?!?!

    As a teacher, and a victim of illegal police seizers of students' discs I was supposed to grade...it's amazing to me that pigs seize things like blank discs. There's not reason to believe that blank discs are going to be used illegally.

    If the pigs' logic is correct, then selling gasoline would be illegal because it could be used for a hit-and-run.

    Selling ammunition would be illegal because it might be used for illegal hunting.

    Shoes would be illegal because they might be used to trespass.

    Paper would be illegal because it might be used to draw cartoon-kiddy-porn.

    Wait...I think I see what they are getting at here, and it's all starting to make sense.

    Andy

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    footer, Sep 17th, 2008 @ 4:44pm

    Re:

    do the police call you in everytime they stop somebody on a bicycle? In theory it could be stolen, and it could be yours

    and bikes cost a lot more than a few music albums

    and doesn't the charge sound phony? It doesn't sound like a reference to a specific law that they were breaking, does it?

    or are you defending "secret laws"?

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Greg, Ohio Municipal Lawyer, Sep 18th, 2008 @ 6:07am

    Legal Searchs and Seizures

    While the issue being discussed here, is whether or not a police officer can call another organization to determine if something is legal - in this case, piracy was the question - the act of is not uncommon at all. When a police officer makes a stop and suspects alcohol, they call back up in order to handle the situation properly. If a police officer makes a stop and suspects drugs, they may call in a K-9 unit to search the car. I think the real issue that has not been discussed is whether or not the issue was a legal search of the vehicle. Did the police officer who called the RIAA have a right to search the vehicle?

    Greg

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Floyd the Marine, Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 10:43pm

    Re: Re: If the Constitution is so great...

    Actually, I've fought in Iraq and killed for 'the constitution'. I also don't have air conditioning. I'm in the Marine Corps so I probably know a couple more things than you about our government. Unless you are also a government employee, which I could understand since you are so offended by my statements.
    For evidence, read the above article. NO, strictly speaking, the RIAA doesn't arrest people, they just bring civil charges against those who have no way to defend themselves.
    Unfortunately, I'm forced to deal with whatever bozos such as yourself decide needs to be law due to the wonderful 'democracy' that we have. So we can have victimless crimes. And taxes to pay for a jail for weed smokers to sit in. Sounds like a great thing to me. Maybe I should vote about it!

     

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