p2pnet.net news special:- It’s going to be interesting when Dr Doug Jacobson, a self-acclaimed expert in software used to monitor or block p2p file sharing applications, meets Dr Johan Pouwelse (right), a universally acknowledged expert in next-generation p2p technology.
Jacobson, based in the US, was hired by Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG’s RIAA to ferret around in a computer hard drive owned by Marie Lindor to show she is all the RIAA claims she is.
Aged 57, she’s a criminal and a thief, someone who illegally distributed copyrighted music ‘product’ online, according to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).
Pouwelse, based at the Delft University in Holland and a visiting scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has now been hired by Mrs Lindor’s lawyer, Ray Beckerman, to demonstrate conclusively why ‘evidence’ derived by Jacobson during his investigation, isn’t worth a light.
The online desperado
A file shared online equals a sale lost, somehow, somewhere, the labels claim, saying that’s exactly the same as walking into a store and stealing a CD. And RIAA disinformation specialists have been able to spin copyright infringement, a purely commercial matter, into a major crime on a level with rape and murder.
The ‘files shared = sales lost’ formula has never been proven by the RIAA, Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, or anyone else. It has, however, been shot down in flames in a number of authoritative independent academic papers, the most recent being a study by Felix Oberholzer and Koleman Strumpf from the Harvard University Business School, University of Kansas, School of Business, respectively.
Downloads have an effect on sales that is statistically indistinguishable from zero.
In truth, Mrs Lindor isn’t an online desperado. She’s a nurse’s aide, a responsible position she’s held for the last 20 years.
To her, a chip is a French fry and a computer a mystery, and she could no more “distribute” a digitized music file than she could fly to the moon.
But that doesn’t play well in mainstream media stories or RIAA press releases and statements. So she’s painted as an example of the “criminal” p2p file sharers who are “devastating” the Big 4, EMI (Britain), Vivendi Universal (France), Sony BMG (Japan and Germany) and Warner Music (US).
Mrs Lindor has a son, Woody Raymond, a paralegal by profession, and it’s a near certainty the Big 4 labels were really after him, not his mother. But it’s now Standard Operating Procedure for their RIAA to go after a parent or parents first, ultimately shifting their attention to their real targets, usually the children in the family. And indeed, Woody Raymond is also now an RIAA victim.
Inexpert ‘expert’ witnesses working for the corporate music industry repeatedly turn up in court cases, and Jacobson was to have plumbed the depths of Mrs Lindor’s system to ‘prove’ her ‘guilt’.
However, that didn’t happen and Jacobson was shown to be a considerably less than perfect witness during detailed questioning by Beckerman at a deposition hearing.
Now Pouwelse, an invited speaker at the US Federal Trade Commission’s p2p workshop a couple of years ago and who spent several months at Harvard Business School to study the economic impact of movie downloads on Hollywood, will drive the final nail into this particular RIAA coffin.
Nor will it be the first time he’s shredded so-called expert testimony from an RIAA hireling.
Singularly and quotably unimpressed
A US firm called MediaSentry turns up over and again in Big 4 cases in North America and elsewhere. But its evidence often proves to be more damaging to the labels than to their victims.
It blew the game for the CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association of America) in 2004 when the latter demanded that a Canadian court order five ISPs to hand over the names of clients. Justice Konrad von Finckenstein was singularly and quotably unimpressed by MediaSentry ‘evidence’.
Then the company blew it again in Holland when the District Court of Utrecht decided MediaSentry’s investigation of p2p file sharing wasn’t only flawed, it was “unlawful,” ruling that Dutch ISPs didn’t have to provide customer information to the CRIA’s Netherlands counterparts.
Interestingly, Delft University of Technology’s Johan Pouwelse and Henk Sips were expert witnesses in the Dutch case and the, “technical information provided by MediaSentry is limited and their measurement procedure is simplistic,” said Henk and Pouwelse.
“MediaSentry did not conduct a thorough investigation …”
The District Court of Utrecht agreed and ruled MediaSentry’s investigation of p2p file sharing wasn’t acceptable.
The chances of Jacobson surviving a meeting with Pouwelse aren’t high, but the inevitable win will represent more than just another victory over the RIAA.
Pouwelse’s evidence will be a landmark and it’ll be re-employed by attorneys the length and breadth of America who are working to prove the innocence of their clients who, like Mrs Lindor, are falsely held up to be unprincipled, hard-core criminals and thieves.
Definitely stay tuned.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
If your Net access is blocked by goverment restrictions, try Psiphon from the Citizen Lab at thIs the endSurvey: How Did Copyright Infringement Become Equated with Robbery? (of the Net) nigh?zze University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies. Go here for the official download, here for the p2pnet download, and here for details. And if you’re Chinese and you’re looking for a way to access independent Internet news sources, try Freegate, the DIT program written to help Chinese citizens circumvent web site blocking outside of China. Download it here.
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Tired of being treated like a criminal? They depend on you, not the other way around. Don’t buy their ‘product’. Do bug your local politicians. Use emails, snail-mail, phone calls, faxes, IM, stop them in the street, blog. And if you’re into organizing, organize petitions, organize demonstrations and then turn up on your local political rep’s doorstep, making sure you’ve contacted your local tv/radio station/newspaper in advance. Don’t just complain. Do something!