MPAA Accused Of Tampering With Evidence In Key Copyright Case In Finland

from the above-the-law dept

Once again, it appears that folks in the MPAA seem to believe that they are completely above the law. In an interesting revelation in a big copyright case in Finland it came out during the trial that important evidence was tampered with, and when asked about it, IFPI officials who were in the courtroom said that it was an MPAA exec who was in the room with them when it happened, though they declined to name the exec.

The case involved some servers in Finland that were apparently used by a warez group there called Angel Falls. The tampered evidence came out when an expert investigator was on the stand, and showed some video of his investigation. However, the defense pointed out that the username in the video did not match up with the relevant entry in the logfile, at which point it was revealed that the MPAA exec had tampered with the evidence in an attempt to cover the tracks of the “user” who was a part of the investigation. According to TorrentFreak’s summary of the events:

The video, a screencast of the investigation, showed a particular username accessing an Angel Falls FTP server. However, the corresponding text log for the same event showed a completely different username.

“When the IFPI investigator was asked about this he acknowledged that the names did not match. He said that the Finnish anti-piracy people and IFPI had collected the information together, but there was also an MPAA executive in the room while the evidence gathering took place,” Hietanen explains.

The IFPI investigator was then asked to reveal the name of the MPAA executive. He declined, but did offer an explanation for the inconsistencies in the evidence.

In an apparent attempt to hide the identity of one of their spies, the MPAA executive edited the evidence gathered during the session.

“The IFPI investigator handed over the evidence material to the MPAA senior executive who then changed the text file before the anti-piracy organization handed over the evidence to the Finnish police,” Hietanen says.

Incredibly, the MPAA exec had not told the defense of this change, which is why it came out in court when they spotted it. This has resulted in the police starting an investigation into possible evidence tampering (they found 10 changes to the files), as well as the overall case ending in a less spectacular fashion than the MPAA and IFPI had clearly hoped. Two of the defendants were acquitted entirely, while the other four were given suspended sentences. The plaintiffs’ request for 6 million euros also was knocked all the way down to merely 45,000 euros.

Still, the really incredible thing here are the actions of the MPAA and their continued apparent belief that they are entirely above the law, so long as they’re pursuing someone they feel is involved in copyright infringement. It calls into question the “evidence” presented in other cases as well.

Filed Under:
Companies: mpaa

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “MPAA Accused Of Tampering With Evidence In Key Copyright Case In Finland”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Even if true that one person unilaterally decided to change the logs, I’m not sure you can credit this to the entire MPAA unless you can show more people knew about it and condoned it. If Marcus gets caught with a pound of weed while driving to his next 8-Mile showdown, I wouldn’t say that Techdirt thinks it’s above the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

We’ve got a sworn statement to a court that an executive was tampering with evidence as well as having their own inside man (corporate espionage?).

We commonly accept that an employees actions speak to his company. Without any kind of response from the MPAA I’m happy to believe that this was sanctioned behavior.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There’s a rather large difference between doing something wrong and/or illegal when acting on your own, versus when acting as a representative of a company or group though. In the first case, you’re right, all the blame would fall on the individual that did the act, but in the second the person is acting as a representative of the group that sent them, so in that case they would indeed share at least some of the blame as well.

Also, I find it rather unlikely that an MPAA representative would decide to do something so severe as tampering with evidence that they planned to bring to court all on his own, or without at least some knowledge of his intended actions being known to those who sent him.

nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile) says:

Circlejerk Justice

Why is it not apparent to the courts that these server seizures are being conducted and handled by the civilian plaintiffs?

In criminal cases, do the police let the victim conduct the investigation and view the evidence? Does an angry relative get to dust for prints on the murder weapon and determine who the murderer was?

In civil cases, do we let the aggrieved take action before a judgement? If my neighbours conifers are blocking the sunlight do I get to ‘seize’ them by cutting them down, then go to court? Or do the courts decide first if they are a menace – that I should be compensated and the conifers removed?

This is really showing up the police as a bunch of incompetent no-nothings when it comes to modern technology. They would never approach a robbery or assault in the same way by accepting the victims sole testimony as enough evidence to convict.

But in computer ‘crime’, they let the ‘expert’ gather evidence. The same ‘expert’ who tells us a crime has been committed in the first place, but we don’t actually know if it has or not – which is why we leave it to the ‘expert’!

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Circlejerk Justice

Thanks for noticing. The most worrisome fact in this article is that the IFPI and the MPAA were allowed to gather evidence in the first place.

If the justice system was actually fair we’d see the case dismissed precisely because of the interference of the plaintiffs in the process.

Or maybe not. Maybe the politicians accused of corruption by the people and representative outfits (such as the ACLU) should be allowed to go gather evidence in their homes and seize stuff? Sounds fair, right?

Natai (profile) says:

Of course, if MPAA execs feel they are above the law, this is only reinforced when they are continually allowed to accompany law enforcement officials in this capacity. As the alleged victims in cases like this, no one associated with the MPAA (actually no one other than law enforcement) should have been allowed any where near evidence in the first place.
Maybe if a few cases like this get thrown out on those grounds some of this would start to change…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think everyone who breaks the law should have to pay, no matter who they are or whom they work for. If this person broke the law, I want him to pay. Absolutely. I’m just pointing out that Mike is completely obsessed with the thought that anyone even remotely related to a pro-IP field might break the law, but then he’s completely blind to when his pirate buddies do the same. Perspective. Mike will never have it. That’s why he’ll always be an extremist zealot.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The first comment wasn’t even reasonable. It was just another attempt to attack in order to deflect yet another story of how the people he obsessively defends are abusing the law when it suits them.

Put it this way – does the news start every story about police brutality, legal corruption or other abuses of power with a lecture on how bad the criminals they’re fighting are? No? That’s because it’s both blindingly obvious to everyone already and completely irrelevant to the story at hand.

Same here. Mike has stated many times that he neither pirates nor supports piracy. But, it’s irrelevant to this story about how the MPAA are yet again abusing the law when it suits its own aims. Whether pirates are bad doesn’t excuse the MPAA’s behaviour, nor justify it.

AC’s original comment also fails to take into account a number of important nuances. e.g. if both sides are breaking the law, which one is worse – the person who gets a free copy of a song or the person falsifying evidence submitted to a court for criminal charges? There’s a whole lot of false equivalence going on if you can’t see the latter is worse.

So, no, his first comment was not reasonable. It was only couched in language closely resembling that of a thinking adult. Thankfully, he rarely keeps that charade up for long.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Absolutely. I’m just pointing out that Mike is completely obsessed with the thought that anyone even remotely related to a pro-IP field might break the law, but then he’s completely blind to when his pirate buddies do the same. Perspective. Mike will never have it.

You want some perspective? It’s only because of copyright infringement (AKA pirating) that some of television’s earliest works have survived and are available to the public (whether through legitimate or unauthorized sources).

Name one other industry that wants the entire world to bend over backwards to serve it?

“Governments? Gotta pass laws to protect us! Police? Gotta bust copyright infringers! Hardware makers? Gotta include the restrictions that we specify! ISPs? Gotta institute a “strikes” system to deal with infringers! Search engines? Gotta delete whatever links we say and add automated systems to kill links on a single keyword match! Video sites? Gotta have automated systems that flag any video that even looks like it might contain some of our content! Theaters? Gotta search people and use night-vision goggles to make sure nobody is recording our movies! Cyberlockers? Gotta put them out of business! Makers of blank media? Gotta add a tax to compensate us because people might use them for pirating! New technology? Gotta kill it! More than a certain number of people saw/heard our work? Gotta pay a license fee!”

Stig Rudeholm (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There is, however, a major difference here…

A lot of laws are anchored in the opinion of the majority. Like murder, for instance. Most people generally agree that murder is bad, so we gladly stand behind a law that says you can’t commit murder.

Most copyright laws, though, are generally not anchored in the will of the people.

I have no problem with thinking I am above laws that are thrust upon us without the support of the actual people being governed by those laws.

Stig Rudeholm (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Just because something is legal it doesn’t make it right, and just because something is illegal it doesn’t make it wrong.

A lot of things that used to be illegal are now legal, because we know better.

And “Copyright” is all about violating other people’s rights, by restricting them. When you are granted Copyright on something, you are not granted any substantial rights you didn’t already have before. You are granted a monopoly that restricts other people’s rights. Which is why I think it should be called “Copyrestriction” instead.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“decide which of your rights are unimportant and then violate the shit out of them”

As I recall, the RIAA tried doing that before in the Tanya Anderson case, deciding they had the right to fake being a grandmother to try and take her daughter out of school.

Anyone who thinks that kind of shit (let alone the rest of the things they do to “justify” extortion) is acceptable is someone who belongs in Camp X-Ray.

You can lie and call advocates of responsible copyright reform here “thieves” or “piracy advocates”, but you may never attempt to claim the high ground while you do.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Tsk… You obviously are just trolling now.

Laws that violate my rights as a person that don’t harm others (such as copyright laws) can be viewed as stupid laws.

I’m in the camp of reforming the laws we have so that people can live more freely and openly without worrying about the fact that, currently, everyone commits 2-3 felonies a day and don’t know about it. In some places it’s illegal to eat icecream on the sidewalk, or sing in a swimsuit or go to sleep in bed with your shoes on. Or how, in some areas, you can shoot at Native Americans if there’s 3 or more walking down the street as they constitute a war party.

All of those laws I mentioned above? Stupid laws, no one follows them.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You know who else thinks they’re above the law? All of the intentional pirates who violate other people’s rights.

I don’t think I’m above the law. I simply want the laws to benefit society as a whole, and to reflect the views of most people.

I’m pretty sure that most people think that laws against tampering with evidence are a good thing and they benefit society (so that everyone, even accused criminals, get fair trials). When it comes to current copyright law, the evidence is on the side that it does not benefit society as a whole and instead looks to benefit a very small number (record label execs, a few mega-stars, and lawyers), whereas a lack of copyright could benefit nearly everyone with quick and easy access to the sum total of human knowledge and culture.

How’s that for perspective?

Anonymous Coward says:

if the situation had been reversed, if it were any other industry involved, not only would the case have been kicked out of court, the perpetrator, regardless of who it was, would have been arrested straight away and sent for trial. as it was the MPAA involved, and as it was a case against alleged ‘pirates’, not only did the case continue but there have been no charges brought against the person concerned! if this isn’t a disgraceful display of how the law and the courts are totally bias against anyone accused of file sharing, i dont know what is! those accused were still sentenced even though the evidence had been tampered with and from what i read, there were at least 10 instances of this that were noticed! how many were there in reality? how many previous cases have been tainted in the same way, purely to get people convicted, fined heavily and imprisoned? for this exec to have had to do this, it must surely show that the original case was so weak that it would not have gone in the industries favour? when are governments, politicians and law enforcement agencies actually gonna wake up and see exactly how the entertainment industries are completely taking the piss out of them? disgraceful performance!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Anyone else skeptical???

Who actually believes that an MPAA Executive would know how to use a computer, much less where to find the log files and how to alter them?

I smell collusion here between this Exec, who may have been pushing the buttons, and the IFPI who was probably opening the files, putting the cursor on the name that needed to be changed, then “looking away”…. We didn’t see anything….

Just saying if it smells like conspiracy, and quacks like conspiracy, then it’s obviously a duck…

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...