p2pnet news view RIAA | P2P:- A student in Chicago told me she was going to kill herself because she’d heard from someone from the RIAA promising her she’d be taken to court unless she came up with almost $10,000 to ‘settle’ an alleged copyright file sharing case.
She told me she was already up to her neck in debt because of school loans and had absolutely no way of finding that kind of money, or anything like it, “that she couldn’t sleep, couldn’t study, couldn’t live a normal life because of the worry”.
Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music’s RIAA claim the girl was guilty of illegally distributing digital music files online.
Their ‘evidence’ came from a company called MediaSentry, itself accused of operating illegally in states across the US.
It’s long gone time for an official government inquiry into MediaSentry and the RIAA.
Going, going, gone …
The term ‘Bad Actor’ is popular with politicians and the many and various representatives of the Big 4 music labels.
A person that attempts to lie, cheat, or deceive …
MediaSentry is a bad actor.
For years it’s been the lynchpin of RIAA file sharing cases against innocent American men, women and children.
Which makes the deeply troubled RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), virtually owned and operated by Vivendi Universal (France), Sony (Japan), EMI (Britain), and Warner Music (US, but controlled by a Canadian), an even worse actor.
‘Evidence’ produced by MediaSentry — bought by SafeNet Digital Rights Management for cash and stock consideration of $20 million in 2005 – is still openly presented in US courtrooms by the RIAA just as though it’s accurate and reliable and developed by credible sources.
But yesterday, the company was sold to rival MediaDefender for a paltry $136,000 in cash and a promise of $800,000 in a year.
Just $136,000 for a company which only three years earlier SafeNet – with Chris Feede (right) running it – had bought for twenty million dollars?
MediaDefender is owned by ARTISTdirect.
“MediaDefender boss Randy Saaf and sidekick Octavio Herrera, who watched helplessly as their most sensitive documents ended up online for all to see, recently left the company for pastures new,” said a recent p2pnet post.
“Parasitical MediaSentry, in turn, was recently fired by Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music’s RIAA.”
One its principal ‘experts,’ Dr Doug Jacobson, has repeatedly been shown up as an expert in junk science, not hard facts.
“For those of you litigating or investigating the investigative work of MediaSentry, we have made available online the MediaSentry exhibits that were used at the October, 2007, trial in Capitol Records v Thomas, along with the report of the RIAA’s ‘expert’, Dr Doug Jacobson, which recites that he relied upon these materials,” says Ray Beckerman in Recording Industry vs The People
Doug Jacobson – the RIAA’s inexpert expert
Not one of the approximately 40,000 or so RIAA attacks on innocent America men, women and children has reached a successful court conclusion.
People around the world have heard of Jammie Thomas, the single mother of two who has the unenviable distinction of being the only one of the thousands of RIAA targets who’ve actually appeared before a judge and jury. And her case â declared a mistrial is now scheduled for June 15.
But the chances of it resulting in a win for Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music and their RIAA are slim indeed because among other things, the RIAA relies to a significant extent on Jacobson’s ‘evidence’.
Thanks to a $3,000 grant from the Expert Witness Defense Fund administered by the Free Software Foundation, Jammie now has in her corner Yongdae Kim, a specialist in group and network security at the University of Minnesota.
His report has just been filed and neither MediaSentry nor Jacobson, the RIAA`s inexpert expert, already seriously embarrassed by Dutch P2P expert Johan Pouwelse, survive.
Among many other things, “Dr. Jacobson’s expert witness and supplemental reports contain multiple factual errors and mis-statements of fact regarding the technologies relevant tothis case, and show evidence of faulty logic in making conclusions,” say its conclusions.
“Dr. Jacobson not only does not consider any alternative explanations for the log data provided by MediaSentry other than what is alleged by the plaintiff, but also fails to definitively bridge the gap between the evidence presented by MediaSentry and the identity of the computer used in the alleged infringement.”
MediaScan, MediaNotify, MediaTarget, MediaIntel, MediaManage, MediaExchange
MediaSentry, “provides anti-piracy and business management services,” says a BusinessWeek description, continuing »»»
Its solutions include MediaScan that monitors online forums for copyright infringement and track unauthorized online distribution; MediaNotify, which enforces copyrights using legal notification to stop unauthorized online distribution; MediaTarget that prosecutes those who engage in illegal and unauthorized online content distribution of property; and MediaDecoy, which minimizes unauthorized distribution of digital assets across the Internet. The company also offers MediaIntel that accesses rich market data and analysis to gain insight for marketing, distribution, and anti-piracy initiatives; MediaManage, which manages digital assets from production to distribution supporting online channel; and MediaExchange that educates consumers about piracy and drive legitimate marketing, distribution, and sales.
And here’s MediaSentry’s former owner SafeNet, as per the Wikipedia »»»
- 1983: Industrial Resource Engineering founded.
- 1987: IRE renamed to Information Resource Engineering
- 1989: IRE’s IPO raised $4 million
- 1989: IRE listed in Nasdaq
- 1995: IRE released the first VPN system, called SafeNet
- 1999: IRE renamed to SafeNet, Inc. after the VPN product line
- 2002: SafeNet acquired a Dutch company Securealink
- February 2003: SafeNet acquired Cylink and Raqia Networks
- October 2003: SafeNet acquired the OEM business of SSH Communications Security
- March 2004: SafeNet acquired Rainbow Technologies [also see SafeNet /Rainbow class action]
- December 2004: SafeNet acquired Datakey, Inc
- April 2005: SafeNet acquired DMDSecure B.V.
- June 2005: SafeNet acquired Mediasentry
- December 2005: SafeNet acquired Eracom Technologies AG
- 2006: SafeNet got caught up in the options backdating controversy (see above)
- April 2007: a Californian equity company Vector capital bought the firm for $364 million, making it private
- April 2008: SafeNet acquired Ingrian Networks, Inc.
- May 2008: SafeNet acquired Beep Science AS
Now, in April, 2009, SafeNet hands MediaSentry to a rival for nothing.
Why was that?
Could it be SafeNet, with important US government connections and contracts, could no longer afford to be even loosely associated with a company which apart from anything else, stands every chance of being prosecuted across America for practising illegally as a private investigator?
Fedde is also an AuthenTec board member, serving alongside Robert Grady , former deputy assistant to president George Bush; executive associate director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB); associate director of OMB for Natural Resources, Energy and Science; and chief speechwriter and senior advisor for the 1988 Bush/Quayle Presidential Campaign. He’s also the Advisory Committee on Trade and Policy Negotiations (ACTPN) and the NASA Advisory Council’s Task Force on the cost and management of the International Space Station.
Moreover, SafeNet’s Joseph J. Moorcones, “served on the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, which developed a report of national policy and strategy recommendations for the President to ensure the availability and continued operation of the United States five critical infrastructures (Information & Communications, Energy, Banking & Finance, Physical Distribution, and Vital Human Services).
Additionally, SafeNet has just announced it’s establishing common management with Aladdin Knowledge Systems, “as a result of Aladdin`s acquisition by Vector Capital, SafeNet`s private equity owner, ” it says, stating, “Aladdin is expected to be fully integrated into SafeNet in the future.”
But it has yet to live down the scandal when ex-SafeNet president and COO Carole Argo was jailed on eight counts of securities fraud and conspiracy in connection with backdating millions of dollars worth of stock options, according to the US Department of Justice.
Anthony Caputo also resigned as chairman. Not that SafeNet seemed terribly concerned about either departure.
“On behalf of the Board, I wish to thank Tony and Carole for their many contributions to SafeNet,” said Walter Straub, “an independent director” named chairman and interim CEO, according to CFO.
Today, Fedde clearly wants to get as far away from MediaSentry – a fully paid up member of the corporate pirate fraternity – as possible, as quickly as possible.
Across the USA
SafeNet may have hurriedly divested itself of the RIAA ‘private eye,’ but it’s named alongside MediaSentry by Tanya Andersen in a class action which has yet to run its course.
And when Central Michigan University filed a complaint against it with Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Growth, it was the second such, the first having gotten the RIAA’s unlicensed investigation firm into a pickle when its lawyer made statements directly contradicting statements he’d made a month earlier in UMG v Lindor, said Recording Industry vs The People`s Ray Beckerman, going on:
“The 32-page complaint (PDF) cites to MediaSentry`s problems in 8 other states,” citing MediaSentry`s own promotional materials and the RIAA’s court papers as, “evidence of the illegal activity”.
As well, Randy Kruger, the father of Brittany Kruger, a student at Northern Michigan University in Marquette who’s accused of illegally distributing copyrighted music online, would like to see a criminal prosecution launched against MediaSentry for violating state law which require PIs to have investigators’ licences.
Whether or not Michigan will eventually do the right thing and launch a case, and, if it does, what effect it’ll have on its new owners, remains to be seen.
But it’s far from being the only state in which the company may have plied its trade without the proper authority.
In July last year, “We have just learned from court papers filed in Capitol v. Doe, one of the six (6) John Doe cases targeting North Carolina State University students in Raleigh, North Carolina, that a Grievance Committee hearing, to determine the existence of probable cause, has been scheduled by North Carolina`s Private Protective Services Board, in connection with the complaints that have been filed charging MediaSentry with the crime of unlicensed investigation,” said Recording Industry vs The People.
Earlier, p2pnet had wondered just how many states MediaSentry was operating in illegally, reporting »»»
MediaSentry and/or SafeNet are not licensed to operate within the State of Arkansas, says Derek,
They may not be licensed in Arizona either, says a Recording Industry vs The People post, pointing out, No variation of `Media Sentry` or `SafeNet` [its parent] gets any hit of an active license via Arizona Department of Public Safety web site. note: try media or safe for examples of active licenses. more AZ info here.
Said Drew, I found a business listing for MediaSentry in California. You should check it out here: http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/corpdata/ShowAllList?QueryCorpNumber=C2749889 It is an interesting listing in that they were listed but current status is forfeited
Add Connecticut to the list – see Public Act 04-192, says another post on Beckerman`s site. ` no record I can find `
According to the North Carolina Secretary of State`s office, MediaSentry isn`t licensed to investigate in that state, Cecil told us.
Looking at the Ohio Homeland Security webpage, the Private Investigation and Security Services Commission has an online searchable database for licensed private investigators, said Bill, continuing, The page is http://www.dps.state.oh.us/ALRS/alrshomepage.aspx, while the PISSC page is : http://www.homelandsecurity.ohio.gov/pissc.htm. I plugged in MediaSentry, SafeNet, inserting spaces, dashes, etc, etc. and there is no record I can find. This doesn`t mean they haven`t secured licensure under another name or a misspelling or something of that sort, but it`s certainly a data point.
They may not be legally operating in Tennessee, either, says Alex, wondering, Do they have to be licensed as private investigators? If so, they are not listed with our Department of Commerce and Insurance, who has a complete list of licensed private investigators in our state. http://licsrch.state.tn.us/default.aspx
I checked with the UCC in Utah and this is the reply I received, says Tanna:
I`m not sure if I understand your question But there is no entity with the name MediaSentry in our database as a registered business in Utah. I hope that helps!
So, Looks like you might as well add Utah to the list of states they are not supposed to be operating in.
In Virginia, it appears that the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is responsible for licensing private investigators, posts by davide marney on Slashdot going on:
They provide a Private Security Services Business Directory Search form at http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/ps/directory/businessSearch.cfm [virginia.gov]. In my search, I could not find `Media Sentry` anywhere in their database.
According to the Private Investigators Association of Virginia (http://www.piava.org/directory_info.shtml [piava.org] ), Consumers should always:
1. Ask for the company`s DCJS license number or request a copy of the DCJS license.
2. Verify the validity of a DCJS license for their own protection.
3. Be provided with a written agreement that includes scope and cost of services.
4. Report possible unlicensed activity to DCJS. Anonymous complaints are accepted.
5. Contact the DCJS to obtain complaint information @ http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/privatesecurity [virginia.gov]
However, I do not know if Media Sentry has operated in Virginia. If someone can show me that they have done so, I will be more than happy to issue a complaint.
Pat confirmed the Virginia government site.
And we’re sure the company was operating illegally in other states as well.
It tried to remove the problem by deleting “investigation” and “gathering evidence for litigation” from its web sites.
But it was too late. A Recording Industry vs the People reader had made a screenshot.
Heavily tainted MediaSentry ‘findings’
As p2pnet first reported, the RIAA finally fired MediaSentry, presumably because the latter’s ”evidence’ had been shredded so many times as to make it worthless.
The Big 4 are now using DtecNet, a Danish company, as official data gatherer.
But their RIAA hasn’t dropped any of the copyright infringement allegations launched against some 40,000 innocent Americans who are still being constantly and publicly pilloried on the strength of MediaSentry evidence, much of it obtained under possibly illegal circumstances.
And to compound an already terrible situation, the RIAA continues to open offer up heavily tainted MediaSentry ‘findings’ as legitimate support material in RIAA sue ‘em all cases.
One would have thought this alone more than justifies a long, hard look by the Department of Justice.
However, even if someone in government could be persuaded a far reaching probe is called for, given that under the new Obama administration, RIAA lawyers with clearly vested interests now occupy top DoJ positions, a fair investigation would be an impossibility.
Says Alan Wexelblat on Corante, “The new Obama administration is shaping up to be a disaster for Copyfighters everywhere. In particular the new Department of Justice is stacked with lawyers who’ve been on the wrong side of copyright and intellectual property lawsuits for the last eight years.”
He goes on »»»
First off, there`s the #3 man at Justice, Thomas Perrelli, accurately described by CNET as beloved by the RIAA. Not only has this guy been on the wrong side in the courtroom, he`s fingered as instrumental in convincing the Copyright Board to strangle Web radio in its crib by imposing impossible fee structures.
Then there`s Neil MacBride, who used to be the Business Software Alliance`s general counsel. The BSA, to its credit, hasn`t been suing teenagers. Generally their name is associated with large-scale raids on companies that are mass-producing illegal copies of software. Still, it`s an industry flak group.
Then there`s the #2 man, currently slated to be David Ogden. If that name only rings a faint bell it`s because you have to cast your mind back to Eldred v Ashcroft, the argument on whether retroactive copyright term extensions were legal. Sitting over there on Ashcroft`s side? That`s Mr. Odgen. For extra-bonus ick points, Ogden also was involved in defending the heinous COPA legislation, fortunately now dead and buried (but not forgotten).
The capper on this line-up of suspicious characters is Donald Verrilli, now up for Associate Deputy Attorney General. This specimen of legal acumen is front and center in the Cartel`s jihad, having appeared for Viacom when it sued YouTube, for the RIAA against Jammie Thomas, single mother. And if we peer back a little farther, we find Verrilli`s dirty fingerprints on MGM v Grokster.
Two days ago, 19 public interest groups and trade associations stopped just short of demanding president Barack Obama re-think his recent appointments to the Department of Justice.
But the coalition should have gone further, demanding a full-fledged investigation not only into the DoJ appointments, but into the practices and conduct of Vivendi Universal (France), Sony (Japan), EMI (Britain), and Warner Music’s (US) in their crimes against human decency.
Student threatens suicide over RIAA lawsuit
Portfolio.com’s Julian Sanchez is quoted in Corante as saying the RIAA legal help at the DoJ will, “behave and recuse themselves properly and just because a lawyer consistently goes to bat for a certain kind of client doesn’t mean much about their professional views”.
A very senior copyright lawyer told me recently »»»
As far as I know, Perrelli did not invent the RIAA’s painfully wrongheaded approach of suing its own customers because it was conceived before he assumed his representation of the member companies in these cases.
Instead, he stood forward as willing to commit the full resources of his law firm to implement that tactic – one that failed miserably in achieving its stated goals and that caused serious harm to many regular folks. The personal impact on the defendants of those attacks were predictable and intentional.
It was an ugly business. Lawyers of his stature and skill know exactly what they are doing. These were not unintended consequences.
Verrelli seriously mis-stated the RIAA and member company positions with respect to the duplication of masters for use on an iPOD in the Grokster argument and the court ultimately rejected his attempt to reshape and overturn the Sony decision. Maybe not his fault but hardly a victory or an example of a great result.
Messrs Verrelli and Perrelli have come under special scrutiny because they’re now members of Obama’s legal teams, I said in the story in which the quotes above appeared, adding:
“But whether or not they’re shining examples of what’s right and good in the legal profession doesn’t matter. Because they were only hired hands. In their hearts, did they disagree with what they were tasked to do, but nonetheless went on to do it? Excellent question. But it doesn’t matter, either, because they went ahead and did it.”
So who’s to blame?
It’s time for an investigation
Somewhere, a few people, almost certainly lawyers, recommend tactics to be used by the RIAA and all the other Big 4 **AAs around the world.
In the US, the RIAA, run principally by a lawyer, Cary Sherman, and a politico, Mitch Bainwol, is responsible for using MediaSentry evidence and, presumably, instructed its ‘investigators’.
It’s time for an investigation into not only how and why hard-core RIAA lawyers were appointed to influential positions within the Obama government, but also into how the people who ran, and run, the RIAA have for years been able to use the American legal system to terrorise people they knew were perfectly innocent of any wrongdoing, and with active government help and encouragement.
The idea seems to be, basically, they’re clever guys – nice guys, really - who are only doing their jobs, I said once, wondering where I’d seen that excuse before. No doubt they love their children and take their dogs for walks.
RIAA victim Brittany Kruger told me, “I have problems sleeping, my hair is falling out in ungodly amounts, I’m having a hard time concentrating in class, but most of all I hate the fact that I’ve pulled my entire family into this,” and, “Right now it doesn’t seem like this is ever going to end, I’m just now entering the tunnel and the light is miles away.”
In the same post, I wrote about another distressed student. But this time, she said she was going to kill herself because »»»
“… she’d heard from someone at an (the?) RIAA extortion settlement centre categorically promising her she’d be taken to court unless she came up with more than $9,000 to buy the RIAA off, I wrote, going on, She said she was already up to her neck in debt because of school loans and had absolutely no way of finding that kind of money, or anything like it, that she couldn’t sleep, couldn’t study, couldn’t live a normal life because of the worry.
Further down, I posted, “I eventually had a long telephone conversation with girl I mentioned earlier, the one who was threatening to kill herself, and she said she, too, would write something about her experiences. But she changed her mind after her parents agreed to bail her out. She wouldn’t tell me the price, but she said she now hoped she’d be able to get back to her studies and on with her life. I hope she does. But I have to say her escape is at the expense of providing the RIAA with another statistic, and another reason to keep on with their brutal sue ‘em all campaign.”
As I said on my post on Brittany, it’s interesting how threads on profits, licensing formulas, costings, and so on, always elicit lots of learned responses, but mention of the people in the centre of it all draws nothing but cold silence.
It’s like they don’t even exist.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Obama administration will have the basic honesty and decency to decide it’s now time to correct the terrible wrongs still inflicted by the corporate music industry on innocent people, including children as young as Obama’s own daughters.
Meanwhile, however, if promises by MediaSentry’s new owner, Dimitri Villard, come to fruition, the combinbation of MediaDefender with MediaSentry will allow him to, “dramatically expand its effectiveness by providing customers with a wide range of options to meet the constantly evolving challenges in copyright protection and enforcement”.
The, “combination of MediaDefender, the leader in Internet Piracy Prevention (IPP) with MediaSentry, the leader in business and marketing intelligence derived from P2P channels, creates a true powerhouse in the field of intellectual property protection”.
MediaSentry rides again?
Only if justice is dead in the Obama administration.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
Use free p2pnet newsfeeds for your site. It`s really easy!
Subscribe to p2pnet.net | | rss feed: http://p2pnet.net/p2p.rss | | Mobile – http://p2pnet.net/index-wml.php
Net access blocked by government restrictions? Use Psiphon from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. Go here for details.
restrictions? Use Psiphon from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. Go here for details.