Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Does The RIAA's Silver Bullet Break Wiretap Laws?

from the looks-likely dept

The RIAA has been running around the halls of Congress showing off Audible Magic as the "silver bullet" against file sharers. Audible Magic is a system that claims to be able to identify and stop file sharing of unauthorized files in its tracks. While some have accused the product of being vaporware, it certainly is getting plenty of attention. The EFF has taken a quick look and pointed out that for all the hype, there are some simple workarounds that would make Audible Magic ineffective very quickly. However, Ernest Miller raises an even more important question: does Audible Magic violate wiretap laws? After all, it's intercepting communications without the users' knowledge. He goes through the various exceptions and points out that Audible Magic doesn't seem to apply at all. Thus, it likely is an illegal wiretap. The one way to make it "legal" is if consent is somehow given beforehand. Then, of course, the problems get worse, because you've basically had someone agree to have all of their internet traffic open for snooping. Seems like an awful lot of effort for technology that doesn't even work.

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  • identicon
    aNonMooseCowherd, 14 Jul 2004 @ 5:46am


    Many schools, under threat of lawsuits from the RIAA, will no doubt require their students to grant consent as a condition for using the school network.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Saygin(?), 14 Jul 2004 @ 6:26am

    Email Wiretap applies to Audible Magic

    I'm surprised you didn't reference the recent court decision on email and wiretap. With this precedent - and no clear proof that there is a truly serverless P2P network - the question of whether Audible Magic's software violates wiretap cannot even be considered until the Congress or Supreme Court responds to the lower court's ruling that Email is not subject to wiretap law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 14 Jul 2004 @ 8:27am

      Re: Email Wiretap applies to Audible Magic

      The article makes it clear that this actually does not apply:

      For those who are wondering, the recent email wiretap case, US v. Councilman, which I've discussed previously (E-Mail Wiretap Decision: Out of the Wiretap Frying Pan, Into the Copyright Fire), would not control in this case. Unlike the copying of stored emails, Audible Magic involves packet sniffing, which would be a "contemporaneous acquisition" and thus the equivalent of a wiretap.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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