p2pnet news view | RIAA News:- “A judge ruled Monday that a defendant had willfully and intentionally destroyed evidence of his P2P activities after being notified of pending legal action by the RIAA,” says Ars Technica, going on.
“Furthermore, since it was done in bad faith, it ‘therefore warrants appropriate sanctions’.”
The case centres on Jeffrey Howell, who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer.
That got him into trouble with Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG’s RIAA which maintained that it’s illegal for someone who’s legally purchased a CD to transfer that music to his computer.
But, the story goes on, “Judge Neil V. Wake denied the RIAA’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that ‘a distribution must involve a “sale or other transfer of ownership” or a “rental, lease, or lending” of a copy of the work. The recording companies have not proved an actual distribution of 42 of the copyrighted sound recordings at issue, so their motion for summary judgement fails as to those recordings.”
“After that ruling, it appeared as though Atlantic v. Howell was headed for a bench trial this fall …….”
But, “According to the RIAA’s brief, Howell destroyed evidence on four separate occasions after first receiving the prelitigation settlement letter and later being served with the lawsuit,” says Ars Techinca
The RIAA’s forensics experts found that Howell uninstalled KaZaA and deleted everything in the shared folder, reformatted his hard drive, downloaded and used a file-wiping program, and then nuked all the KaZaA logs on his PC.
Wake will tell Howell, who represented himself, what’s in store for him and, “presumably the amount of damages he’ll have to pay,” in a written order, it says.
Meanwhile, “Come to think of it, Jammie Thomas, the first defendant to go to trial in the RIAA’s campaign against file sharers, was also accused of destroying evidence, says Jon Healey in the Los Angeles Times, adding »»»
Thomas had her computer’s hard drive replaced after the alleged infringements were detected but before she was sued. What is it with all these unreliable hard drives?!?
Should file sharers be bringing a class action? But I digress. The EFF’s Fred von Lohmann said in an e-mail that Howell’s experience highlights “how difficult it is to defend these cases without a lawyer.” The RIAA had lawyers and experts arguing that evidence was destroyed in bad faith, Von Lohmann wrote, while Howell was on his own — and “he clearly wasn’t able to adequately articulate his side of the story.”
On the other hand, if you’re going to admit to using Kazaa, as Howell did, it’s probably a good idea not to mess with your hard drive, even if it goes bad. Howell claimed he downloaded only porn, but hey, the porn guys sue too.
2,000 music recordings – Rip your legal CD? You’re a thief: RIAA, December 31, 2007
Ars Technica – RIAA wins P2P case after defendant reformats hard drive, August 26, 2008
Los Angeles Times – RIAA nears win (by default) in Atlantic vs. Howell, August 27, 2008
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