Thoughts on the RIAA trial

Disclaimer: The following is opinion. Don’t like opinion? Don’t read on. Completely subjective piece based on the little facts I have about the trial from my linked source on the trial and my own expertise on the technology.
Been following the RIAA trial a little bit and a couple things bother me. One is definitely the music industry and this really annoying and hateful but powerful special interest group. The question really is… who doesn’t like them?
But another is this defense strategy. The defendant claims she’s innocent and victim of a “spoof”? What the hell. Seriously. Someone didn’t consult a technical person before filing this ridiculous claim.
First. Who hasn’t downloaded music or copied a tape/CD/VHS/DVD. There’s not many people in this world that haven’t. Even the so-called luddites usually have received such a thing if you were around in the last two decades.
Second. A spoof? Give me a break. Spoofing is a term used by hackers to make you look like someone else. But here’s the thing. Why would anyone use spoofing for sharing music? No hacker or script kiddie in their right mind would ever use spoofing for such a thing. There are many other ways of sharing across a network and in fact hackers and script kiddies don’t really care about sharing on a network…. they’d much rather break into one. Total no-brainer here.
Third. When the Iowa computer scientist (based on the reporting) said that there was no way a person could be outside of the window because then Kazaa would show a private IP address? What the heck is this guy talking about? Not knowing how this lady set up the network, I’ll make a few assumptions.

  • Wireless signal came from a wireless router.
  • Kazaa functions the same way as many other P2P programs do and allow you to show either external or internal IPs.

The second bullet isn’t as important, but it plays a factor. First, if the wireless signal came from a wireless router, then one assumes that you would plug the desktop into the router. Thus the IP address would be a …. dynamic IP address. Most people do not set static IPs in their homes, and while it’s conjecture, I assume that the defendant isn’t a network guru. Thus, a private IP would show up just as much as the next wireless signal private IP would. If the external IP is showing, then the defendant would be outside the router, and that’s assuming that Kazaa doesn’t show either IP (choose between private or public). It’s been a while since I’ve touched that scary program, but I remember something actually allowing me to choose.
So from a technical standpoint, there was a very easily found way to create doubt. It’s a long shot, but it’s a possibility.
On the side of technicals, the judge also made a serious error in defining that a person could be liable for sharing with by having something visible without actually committing distribution. This made absolutely no sense. Basically, this definition is along the same lines that… I see a gun in someone’s house, so we should jail them because they’re going to take a life with the gun. You think that’s bizarro? Go figure that. I see this as a flaw in the definitions and a kink in the prosecution. Unfortunate.
Realistically? In my opinion, the chances of this lady winning appeals is next to nothing based on the fact that most sharers have one thing in common. They “share”. Taking the stance that you didn’t do the sharing because some hacker spoofed your account even though you use the same name for MySpace (Tereastarr)? Pretty silly in my opinion. On top of that, a hacker would use their own handles and such and not use yours.
In my opinion, both sides, regardless of how good the attorneys are or are not, didn’t do their homework and in the end presented some pretty lousy cases for either side to find kinks in the armor. We won’t be hearing the last of this. This lawsuit does nothing but make it more difficult for P2P to exist due to non-techies trying to lay judgment on a distribution method without full understanding. It’s like people trying to speak a Chinese in China, after mastering their first day of Chinese. On the flip side, it makes the RIAA look even worse, because of the terrible tactics they’ve sought out to bring down pirates. Piracy is bad for business, but to judge people by thinking they’ll buy your album due to the fact that they pirated it is a crock in itself. That’s like saying people that buy third-party brand food would also buy the original brand. Maybe, maybe not.
Maybe they need to re-name this lawsuit to Stupid vs. S.T.U.P.I.D.
At least I would get a laugh out of it.

  • Sue

    I haven’t read the case but I know that it’s possible for someone else to d’load Kazaa onto a friend’s computer and that friend has no earthly idea what Kazaa did in the background. I deal with less-informed folks more than you do, I’d guess.
    Did the suit mention that she had used the music? Was it played? Moved to an iPod? Shared only among Kazaa users from her HD because she might not know it was there?
    Kazaa is evil (for most users) and it VERY difficult to remove. I hear stories all the time of someone’s “brother in law” visiting and “helping” with their computer. Unless that was ruled out (and no, I didn’t read the details), I’d never have convicted her.

  • Sue

    I haven’t read the case but I know that it’s possible for someone else to d’load Kazaa onto a friend’s computer and that friend has no earthly idea what Kazaa did in the background. I deal with less-informed folks more than you do, I’d guess.
    Did the suit mention that she had used the music? Was it played? Moved to an iPod? Shared only among Kazaa users from her HD because she might not know it was there?
    Kazaa is evil (for most users) and it VERY difficult to remove. I hear stories all the time of someone’s “brother in law” visiting and “helping” with their computer. Unless that was ruled out (and no, I didn’t read the details), I’d never have convicted her.

  • One key point here. If you downloaded Kazaa onto a friend’s computer, then that wasn’t brought up in the trial.
    She claims she was hacked.
    When you get hacked, it’s impossible to “set up an account” where the name is Tereastarr. I mean seriously. How the heck does the hacker know what account name to use?
    That little key point makes it so that she’s actually easily convictable.
    The problem is, the defense didn’t say any of these things that I could tell. They claim she was hacked or spoofed, which while possible, is not plausible.

  • darkmoon

    One key point here. If you downloaded Kazaa onto a friend’s computer, then that wasn’t brought up in the trial.
    She claims she was hacked.
    When you get hacked, it’s impossible to “set up an account” where the name is Tereastarr. I mean seriously. How the heck does the hacker know what account name to use?
    That little key point makes it so that she’s actually easily convictable.
    The problem is, the defense didn’t say any of these things that I could tell. They claim she was hacked or spoofed, which while possible, is not plausible.