FBI Apparently Has Nothing Better To Do Than Arrest GNR Album Leaker

from the what,-no-more-phones-to-tap? dept

Back in June, we were bothered by the fact that the FBI was wasting its time investigating a blogger who had posted some unreleased Guns N’ Roses tracks on his site. Music gets leaked all the time, and it’s difficult to see why this is an FBI matter in any form. Turns out that the FBI takes its GNR leaks seriously. They’ve now arrested the blogger for posting the songs to his website. This seems questionable for a variety of reasons. First, why is the FBI involved at all in what should be a civil matter, not a criminal one? Why is it so important to track down this particular leaker, given how many music leaks happen all the time? And, how, honestly, is this going to hurt the band in any way? The music was going to get leaked sooner or later anyway. It’s not going to change who will and who will not buy the CD. And, most importantly, doesn’t the FBI have more important things to be working on?

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Comments on “FBI Apparently Has Nothing Better To Do Than Arrest GNR Album Leaker”

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53 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

"The music was going to get leaked sooner or later anyway"

Well now they have less “premier value” when they make thier deal with MTV, VH1, G4 or whatever other “cool” outlet they are negotiating with to do the “official premier”.

Im not sure why the FBI is involved here except if maybe the blogger violated an injunction or commited some other “contempt” violation?

Dewy (profile) says:

FBI was sent so they could seize his property and to make a loud, clear message from the RIAA… “We own the government thru lobbies.”

GnR has had 12 years to decide how to release this material and seize its “premier” value. Its been on fileshare for 3 years, and now this fellow is made a scapegoat for streaming it.

Much like the Patent Hoarder’s often talked about on this site, the best way for Axl to capitalize on this low quality product is to sue and claim its crap because it wasn’t ready.

Another fine example of an artist with poor ability subsidized by an outdated industry, and crying foul because new technology has exposed their inability to innovate.

jsnbase says:

Why the FBI

Why is the FBI involved? Seriously? Have you forgotten about the FBI warning that’s on every video? That line on the CDs that says “Unauthorized reproduction of this recording is prohibited by Federal law and subject to criminal prosecution?”

The FBI is exactly the group that gets involved when Federal law is broken.

Whether or not that’s right or good is a separate issue; let’s stay on point.

Yakko Warner says:

Re: Why the FBI

Further, this: “The music was going to get leaked sooner or later anyway.”

Really, really bad argument.

That’s like saying police shouldn’t arrest a particular shoplifter, because the merchandise was bound to get stolen sooner or later anyway. Or that cops shouldn’t pull people over for speeding, because people are going to speed anyway. No, the crimes may not be equivalent, but the fact is that a crime was committed. Whether or not someone was going to do it at some time shouldn’t let the specific person off the hook.

If you want to argue whether the crime itself should in fact be a crime, fine. That’s open to discussion. But saying this one guy shouldn’t be punished for committing a crime just because it was “going to happen anyway” is a really lousy defense.

Beefcake says:

Re: Re: Why the FBI

That’s like saying police shouldn’t arrest a particular shoplifter, because the merchandise was bound to get stolen sooner or later anyway.

It’s actually a great argument when you factor in the rest of the point, which is the “better things to do” aspect and the lobbyist aspect.

Let’s incorporate those factors into your scenario and we’ll see how well it compares: The police divert resources from investigating a serial killer so they can track down a shoplifter because the shop owner is a contributor to the mayor’s election campaign.

Doesn’t that seem like a decision not in the interest of public safety?

Yakko Warner says:

Re: Re: Re: Why the FBI

Yes, let’s.

So the police shouldn’t track down shoplifters, because they have a serial killer to catch?

Your statement assumes that the serial killer investigation is somehow hampered by an officer catching a shoplifter. Or that resources must necessarily be diverted from one to the other.

If you get pulled over for speeding, I highly doubt that the argument “you shouldn’t give me a ticket, you should be trying to catch that murderer they reported on TV” is going to get you out of anything.

The “better things to do” argument seems to say that *all* resources of the *entire* department must be committed to the *highest* priorities *all* the time, otherwise it’s just “wasting time”. That’s lousy management. It means your lower priority tasks *never* get done, no matter how long they’re on the list.

I’d suggest that it is definitely not in the interest of public safety to let all lesser crimes go unpunished while the entirety of your force is focused on the major ones. How long would it take for people to figure out that they can get away with shoplifting, breaking and entering, armed robbery, speeding through school zones, whatever so long as there is a serial murderer or rapist on the loose?

So no, it is not a great argument.

Beefcake says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why the FBI

My original point was that you can’t effectively refute an argument by basing your point on only one cherry-picked and out-of-context sentence of that argument. It’s like saying Phelps didn’t win a race because he wasn’t in the lead at the first turn. It’s ludicrous, and flat-out incorrect.

Your new points are no less problematic.

My statement assuming investigating one crime over another diverts resources is absolutely accurate. The FBI (or police) have a finite resource base from which to investigate crimes and threats. To argue otherwise is just silly.

I did not suggest making a statement like that to police when getting pulled over. In that case, the resource has already been assigned traffic duty so of course that argument won’t help.

In your next paragraph, you have assumed one nuclear-type method of resource allotment which is plainly not used in the real world. In the real world, the police and FBI don’t focus all their finite resources on ONE investigation at a time, just like they don’t focus infinite resources on ALL investigations at one time. They prioritize. Come on, stop being silly.

If you want to continue to believe that a Guns-N-Roses song leak is worthy of the investigation resources of the FBI, by all means go ahead.

But when arguing that point, at least make your arguments based on reality and fact and not diversionary tactics that don’t consider real-world parameters and that only stand up against out-of-context cherry picking of parts of the whole thing you’re arguing against.

Yakko Warner says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why the FBI

Fine. Yes, I believe that the FBI has the duty to investigate crimes that fall under its jurisdiction. While these laws exist and place these crimes under their jurisdiction, I believe that they have the responsibility to allocate various resources to the various crimes as they see fit. While I think severity of the crime is certainly one way to prioritize the use of resources, I do not believe it is the only way, nor do I think it must be the driving force behind allocating all resources.

I take exception to the way the original post implies that the FBI should not have been doing its job in this case, or at the very least that it was not doing anything else but this “unimportant” job (note the title reads “FBI Apparently Has Nothing Better To Do…”, emphasis mine). I am not arguing with the part of the article that implies the law is invalid, meaningless, or shouldn’t be under their jurisdiction. I’m sorry if you feel like that’s “cherry-picking”, but I don’t see how I should be required to either agree with or argue against the whole article in its entirety.

I still believe your argument about diverting resources is a big assumption. It assumes that the resources used in this case could or should be used on another case. Without knowing the skills of the particular agents used or the resources available to the department at the time, it’s a rather bold statement to say that these agents can and should have been assigned to something more important.

Perhaps the answer to that lies in a hypothetical answer to the question in the post: Why is it so important to track down this particular leaker, given how many music leaks happen all the time? Could it be that they had a solid lead and knew this case could be closed relatively quickly, with a minimum of resources or with some less-experienced agents?

I don’t know. But it’s enough for me to maintain that just saying they shouldn’t have bothered with this case because there are more important things to do, is a very bad argument. It doesn’t take into account a whole slew of real-world parameters.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why the FBI

I am sure the FBI has a Copyright Infringement Division or something of that nature. Does it have 100 employees or does it have Scully and Moulder? I don’t know. But if it is something the FBI is supposed to enforce then I am sure this division exists. Did the FBI use half of their forces to bring this guy in? That info isn’t available but I highly doubt that. Did the two guys working copyright infringement files bust the guy? More probable.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why the FBI

Re #13
Your analogies are flawed.
When people speed, they are putting others at physical risk of harm. Their decisions could kill somebody. A leaked album kills nobody and puts nobody in physical harm’s way (except maybe the person who leaked it when Axl finds out where they live, but thats only if he cannot control himself).

As for shoplifting, that is depriving somebody else of that good, and depriving the store of the money it would have made from it. That is why it is theft. This is copyright infringement. Altogether different. Nobody has less of anything because this was shared. It is infinitely available.

And as post #14 said, the FBI has Better things to do other than chase down copyright infringers. Or, as another posted mention, I guess they don’t. Too much free time.

Yakko Warner says:

Re: Re: Re: Why the FBI

Irrelevant, and I already acknowledged that the crimes I mentioned are not equivalent. The fact is, it is a crime, and the FBI is tasked with investigating and prosecuting federal crimes. The nature of the crime doesn’t change the fact that it is a crime, and it is their job to do this.

You can read my response to #14 as to what I think about the “better things to do” argument, which is equally bunk.

If you want to debate whether the crime should be a crime due to the perceived lack of harm caused, that’s a different point.

Nasch says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why the FBI

The fact is, it is a crime, and the FBI is tasked with investigating and prosecuting federal crimes. The nature of the crime doesn’t change the fact that it is a crime, and it is their job to do this.

You can read my response to #14 as to what I think about the “better things to do” argument, which is equally bunk.

Your argument is fine if one of the following is true:

A) All crimes are equally important to investigate
B) The FBI has enough resources to fully investigate every crime committed in its jurisdiction in a timely manner

or if neither A nor B is true, then:

C) The investigation of this crime was important enough to devote resources to it rather than another crime that is less important

I’ll go out on a limb and assume you don’t think it’s A or B, but correct me if I’m wrong. So that leaves our disagreement over C. I don’t know if you think copyright infringement is a really important thing to investigate, or if you think the FBI has all the important stuff totally covered, leaving them enough time to go after this. Personally I don’t think it’s either, and their (IOW our) resources would be better spent elsewhere.

Another possibility occurred to me though:

D) The FBI does not have the resources to investigate everything, so they randomly choose some crimes to investigate and crack down on suspects as an attempt at deterrence. Others see that it’s possible the FBI will get involved with little or no warning, and decide not to engage in the illegal behavior in the first place.

Now, I don’t know if this is actually what the FBI has in mind, and I don’t know if it’s been proven as an effective crime fighting tactic. Even if both of those are true, it doesn’t prove that this is the best use of resources, since even random enforcement does require resources and they have to choose which crimes to investigate. It does offer a possibility that they’re trying to do something rational though.

Yakko Warner says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why the FBI

Let’s assume for a moment that they considered the crime committed here to be a very low priority. The assertion being made is that they should not expend resources on this, because it takes resources away from higher priorities (i.e. “more important things to be working on”.

However, nothing here describes the resources being used.

I could throw out a few scenarios:

A) The agents are new to the FBI and would not have the experience necessary to work on a “high priority” case (an AC suggested this earlier)

B) The agents in question were experienced, but on probation for some disciplinary problems and got “busted” down to low priority cases

C) The agents were experienced, but had been working on high-priority cases and needed a break for their own well-being

D) The department threw a couple experienced agents at this, knowing they could get it done very quickly and efficiently and thus saving money

E) GnR or the RIAA paid someone a lot of money to get this case pushed up the docket

F) With a solid lead, they knew they could close this case quickly and chose to act now rather than wait until things grew cold

G) This case was randomly chosen as an example, for deterrence (your suggestion)

H) The high-priority case the agents were working on had reached a standstill, so they worked on this while they waited for more information on the other

I have not at any time claimed that this crime should be a high priority. My claim is that, just because it is a low priority does not mean that it should not be processed.

dg says:

Felony

“First, why is the FBI involved at all in what should be a civil matter, not a criminal one?”

Answer is right in the article “The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 makes the sharing of pre-release copyright material a felony punishable by up to three years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines”.

Not saying the law makes any sense or should have been passed but… Not just a civil matter, felony = crime.

Izzy High says:

Re: Felony

The question is, since the material hasn’t been released, is it even copyrighted? Publishing material provides automatic copyright protection, but as this hasn’t been published yet, unless they specifically filed a copyright for it, it may not be copyrighted and therefor not subject to the “Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005”. Simply writing something doesn’t confer a copyright.

Anonymous Coward says:

whoa whoa calm down everyone!

Just calm down. While it’s highly odd the FBI is involved if the guy did some sort of hacking that made it a federal crime the FBI throws these cases towards new agents as a sort of target practice. So they have practice chasing down people that don’t really matter. I knew a guy in high school that got caught by the FBI after hacking into some computer way after the fact. They just slapped him on the wrist and sent him home in shame. It just sat on a desk somewhere till they had some green behind the ears rookie to throw it to and say “Find this guy”. This guy however will probably get more than a slap.

Shelley (user link) says:

Copyright law

Don’t like the law? Change it in Congress. Otherwise, people need to be familiar with the law.

relevant section

“Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed —

(A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain;

(B) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000; or

(C) by the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.”

Incredulous says:

Utter Nonsense

That this thread even exists is beyond believability.

I cannot conceive that there are any actual people who are mentally capable of tying their own shoes who actually believe that it is NOT a crime to steal anything, let alone any specific item, such as music. Theft is theft, regardless of the lame justifications the criminals make to themselves to assuage their guilt.

Plain and simple, if it doesn’t belong to you, and you take possession of it without the owner’s consent, it is theft. Theft is a crime. Commit a theft, you are a criminal. Got it? Let it sink in a little.

What a bunch of oxygen thieves…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Utter Nonsense

I’m sorry, you must be new. we aren’t talking about stealing a book from a store.

we are talking about copying itty-bitty digital bits into a second set of itty-bitty digital bits. it does nothing to harm or deprive the original owner, only creates an exact duplicate.

is taking a picture of an art piece theft? no. you are making a copy of it and do nothing to harm the piece.

LostSailor says:

Re: Re: Utter Nonsense

Stealing itty-bitty digital bits is theft just as boosting a truck-load of CDs is theft. Why do you think that just because something has a less-visible physical nature that stealing it isn’t theft?

Taking a picture of a piece of piece of art may be a violation of copyright, though that may also depend on what you do with that photograph.

Anonymous Coward says:

If he broke into a computer system to steal the content, then I can see a problem. But if he just acquired the songs and put them online, how is that a CRIMINAL act? How can he be arrested for that? It sounds like the article headline being used everywhere is just hyperbole to get a reaction out of people when what he was arrested for was really not putting the album out there (after all, where is the THEFT there?) but the steps he used to acquire it (illegal tampering or breaking into a computer system, etc).

KGWagner (profile) says:

Could just be a red herring, or harrassment

Local police often issue tickets or make arrests on things they don’t care much about in order to make a point or get custody of someone they’d like to talk to but can’t arrest for the real reason. A broken tail light, spitting on the sidewalk, jaywalking, etc. are all against the law, and justify attention. Maybe they strongly suspect this guy of something else and just wanted to get his fingerprints on file where they could be “discovered” and linked to the crime the FBI is really interested in.

TheMultiProxy, ProxyWayLover. says:

the fbi does not care about the people first.

fbi is not for the people, there for being dicks and making money. as long as they get paid, they dont care. and thats the truth, sure they do some good. but what if say al qaeda has an agreement, that they will take all downfall problems of the USA so fbi and other enforcement looks good? they want to track computers, and know what everyones doing. why? correct! to fight child pornography. pathetic. thats fucking pathetic. do u have anything else better to do? no, they dont. how bout 1/100 of the fbi worries about that. because right now, thats all there worried about apparently because thats why they want ISP to track ppls data. just to fight child porn. and damn right one thing, the only ppl getting arrested should be adults. no teens flirting with other teens. thats called ruining lives.

so just like the irs, (they dont care, how its done, they just want there money.) the fbi wants money, and to be dicks, and to be mad with power, THEN help people. chris hansen, that guy and his team. should be the only ppl working on this. the rest of them, to go do REAL WORK. i know for damn sure, the CIA does real work. and i doubt this kind of bullshit happens as often. and if it does, not to americans at least.

now watch as they try to take this down and say who is this guy. im someone with free speech, in the socialist country america. soon there will be no free speech, so im using it now.

another thing, if ppl were just smart like me, hackers couldnt touch them.
multiproxy. isp-fooler. proxyway. programs like that will give hackers a headache. so if eveyrone just knew to take care of themselves, we wouldnt have this problem. and there are versions of all 3 programs free.

i’d wait for a response, but its probably just someone gonna harrass me.
talk to somebody smart else who is also smart as i. here.
bethany.roxanne@hotmail.com

Notthefbi says:

Re:

Wrong! It is a felony to do what he did to begin with… Which is bullshit. What made the fbi get involved, the fact that it did cross state lines, makes it federal. Hence fbi…der. You would think with everything else going on in tbe world that the fbi would have something better to do. Like building a god damn wall around our borders or kicking out all the fucking niggers killing cops that say africa is better. Fuck all of you. How about that eh?

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