Court Says It Doesn't Matter That MediaSentry Isn't A Licensed Investigator

from the that's-fine dept

I know that many folks who are against the RIAA's sue-'em-all strategy have played up the idea that MediaSentry (the company the RIAA used to use to collect its flimsy "evidence") isn't a "licensed private investigator" in various states that require PI licenses. To be honest, I've always found this argument rather silly and distracting from the main point. The whole "PI license" thing is focusing on a loophole, rather than the merits of the case. And, yes, the RIAA plays dirty and uses any loophole it can find against people at times, but that doesn't mean it's worth stooping to the RIAA's level. Claiming that anyone needs a PI's license to see what IP address you have opens up a can of worms that we're better off leaving shut.

So, I actually think it's a good thing that a court has rejected this argument in one case where it was raised. That doesn't mean that the evidence is strong or actually indicative of copyright infringement, but it hopefully gets the case focused on those actual issues, rather than a distracting side issue.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    CmdrOberon, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 8:06am

    This weeks posts have been particularly weak, logically speaking.

    > isn't a "licensed private investigator" in various states
    > that require PI licenses. To be honest, I've always found
    > this argument rather silly and distracting from the main
    > point.

    What you're saying is that the RIAA is above the law.

    Would it be ok if the RIAA thugs broke into your house and
    found evidence?

    Would it be ok if the RIAA thugs plant evidence and
    then find it?

    If the RIAA can ignore laws to find evidence, why can't
    the 'people' ignore the copyright laws?

    Where do you draw the line on which laws must be
    followed and which can be freely ignored?

    You can't pick and choose the laws you want to follow
    in a civil society, you must follow them all.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    some old guy, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 9:26am

    Re: This weeks posts have been particularly weak, logically speaking.

    The judge just said it wasn't illegal... Try reading before flaming.

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 19th, 2009 @ 10:49am

    Re: This weeks posts have been particularly weak, logically speaking.

    What you're saying is that the RIAA is above the law.

    No. I'm not. And neither did the court.

    Would it be ok if the RIAA thugs broke into your house and
    found evidence?


    No, of course not.

    Would it be ok if the RIAA thugs plant evidence and
    then find it?


    No, of course not.


    If the RIAA can ignore laws to find evidence, why can't
    the 'people' ignore the copyright laws?


    They didn't ignore the law. Read the decision. *THAT* was my point. They weren't ignoring the law. People were using this lame "PI license" thing as a bogus point to knock the RIAA. MediaSentry wasn't doing PI work. It was collecting publicly available data that people exposed.

    You can't pick and choose the laws you want to follow
    in a civil society, you must follow them all.


    Sure. But that's got nothing to do with this story, now does it?

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    John, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 1:43pm

    The Can of Worms

    I'm wondering if you could expound a little more on this "can of worms" that would be opened if we required a license to be able to see IP addresses. Private Investigator licenses I understand. However, at first glance it seems to me like anything we can do to increase internet anonymity is a great idea. Do you suppose it would be problematic to grant IP viewing licenses to ISPs and Law Enforcement agencies only?

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Nit-Picker, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 1:58pm

    Nit-Pick

    the company the RIAA used to sue to collect its flimsy "evidence")

    should read

    the company the RIAA used to use to collect its flimsy "evidence")

    ... subtle difference :)

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 19th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Nit-Pick

    ... subtle difference :)

    Heh. Thanks. Fixed.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Jason, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    License to view IP addresses

    You can't require a license because IP addresses are required to make the Internet work at all. Any given server must be able to see the IP address of at least the previous hop in order to send the requested information to the correct location.

    You can "anonymize" with a pool of addresses, but the anonymizer itself must then have a non-anonymous IP to direct the traffic back to where it belongs.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Addition, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 3:11pm

    The PI accusation arises out of people's perception of anonymity on the internet because they do not understand how the internet works.

    Filesharing (legal or not) is like hauling loads of stuff (legal or not) in an open-bed truck; MediaSentry essentially looked at the truck and wrote down the license plate number.

    You don't need to be a police officer or PI to write down and report license plates of suspicious vehicles.

    It's not like the truck is in your closed garage, and someone enters your garage without permission to get the plate number, but that the truck is parked in your driveway and visible from the street.

    AFAIK, the judge wasn't talking about them accessing a closed computer system, rather observing traffic en route.

    The pertinent issue is that MediaSentry reports so many users who aren't at fault. You try and be the guy who calls the police station with hundreds (or thousands) of license plate numbers that are 'suspicious' and see where it gets you. I'm surprised they haven't lost credibility more quickly.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    CmdrOberon, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Re: This weeks posts have been particularly weak, logically speaking.

    > The judge just said it wasn't illegal...
    > Try reading before flaming.

    If the law says you need to have a PI license before
    doing investigation, and you investigate without a
    license, then it's illegal. The judge can ignore
    the law, but that doesn't make the action any more legal.

    But, my point was with the original comment:

    > To be honest, I've always found
    > this argument rather silly and distracting from the main
    > point.

    and not with the legality.

    This person believes that arguing that the RIAA didn't
    follow the law is rather silly.

    To be honest, I've always found *that* argument silly.

    The law is the law.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Re: This weeks posts have been particularly weak, logically speaking.

    Would it be ok if the RIAA thugs broke into your house and
    found evidence?

    No, of course not.


    Actually, the court seems to suggest that it would be OK. I quote:

    "Although we are uncertain of the impact General Business Law ยง 70 has on what MediaSentry actually did or may have done, by placing recordings into a shared file for the entire world to visit and capture, without the permission of the rightful owners, the Doe Defendants are hardly in a position to claim trespass, force, or fraud by MediaSentry.".

    So, if you are accused of sharing copyrighted works without permission then you cannot makes claims of trespass, force or fraud. Forcible trespass would indeed cover breaking into your house.

    I'm not saying whether this is good or bad, just pointing out what the court said.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Tired of Stupid People, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 6:19pm

    Think Please. Is it really that much to ask for?

    If you actually have a problem with the 'requiring a PI license' issue then you fight it on that level and repeal the actual law. Address the cause and not the effect.

    Everyone's in the wrong here: Media Sentry, RIAA, the judge and Mike.

     

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


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