High drama and low points in RIAA trial

High drama and low points in RIAA trial

Summary: High drama today at the illegal music downloading file of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, as RIAA expert witness Dr. Doug Jacobsen testified that he recently found a log file on the defendant's hard drive indicating that an external drive was used to copy files over.

TOPICS: Hardware

High drama today at the illegal music downloading file of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, as RIAA expert witness Dr. Doug Jacobsen testified that he recently found a log file on the defendant's hard drive indicating that an external drive was used to copy files over.

That information was not in the expert's report, defense attorney Joe Sibley said, and he demanded to know when the good doctor had discovered this file, Ars Technica reports.

"A couple days ago," said Jacobson.

"A couple days ago!" thundered Sibley. "No further questions."

He stalked off to his table and threw down his pen.

The jury was removed and Jacobson was questioned further. It turned out that he had recently unearthed the log file information when preparing again for his testimony, had mentioned it in passing to a recording industry lawyer, and no one had notified the defense—a massive error.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis threatened to throw out all of Jacobsen's testimony based on the RIAA's behavior in this case, Sibley complained the RIAA had "thrown a skunk into the jury box," and RIAA lead attorney Tim Reynolds apologized four times. Ultimately, only the testimony about the log file was stricken.

After that drama, the defense took a number of hits.

  • Ex-boyfriend Kevin Havemeier testified that he needed Thomas-Rasset's help to use her computer.
  • Ryyan Chang Maki, a Best Buy Geek Squad supervisor, testified that Best Buy replaced her hard drive in 2005 when it was having problems. That was big trouble, as it was that new hard drive, not the original one she provided to investigators. Worse, she testified under oath twice that the drive was replaced in 2004 and never again.

When Thomas-Rasset testified, she had to concede that she lied about the hard drive.

Reynolds finally came straight out and suggested that the hard drive that had been turned over to investigators was different from the one that had been in the machine during the alleged infringement. "That's true," said Thomas-Rasset, and with that, her testimony was over.

Topic: Hardware

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Richard, can you shed some light on a couple things.

    I don't know all the details of this trial so I'll talk in general terms about downloading files from a P2P or other source.

    Ask anyone in this forum and they will tell you I am a big supporter of copyright in concept but admit I think its gone way too far. Given I am a supporter of copyright it may seem strange to hear me say this but this entire thing of suing the end users is starting to baffle me in some ways.

    The one real sticking point to me is, how is the end user to know if the content inside the file is or is not copyrighted before examining it? I agree that if it says DVD or CD "rip" there is a good chance its copyrighted, but even that is not always the case. (Lots of bands put tracks out there for download.)

    To give a specific example concerning music. Lets say I go to a P2P site and search for a particular song and I see say 10 listings. Some of them are a copy of the original artist, some of them are a garage band doing someone else's music. How am I to tell the difference BEFORE I download it? How do I know if the garage band had permission to do a remake (is that even required today)? How do I know if that particular song has been released for public use by the original artists or the record company? I mean if I understand the law correctly, anything you or I create (your blog here as an example) is automatically copyrighted. So in essence all works are copyrighted and I as a user have no way of knowing which copyrighted work will cause an issue and which one doens't.

    Again, I am no lawyer but I've been told a law must be something the "average person" can understand, interpret, and apply to their actions to guide them. How could these laws possiblly meet that criteria if it is simply impossible to know what is in the file until I can test it?

    The other thing I question are video "cams" available on the P2P networks. It seems to me this is an original work and that original work may or may not have recorded some photons from some other work. Or, it could be a commentary with scenes from another work, it could be a critique, it could be a trailer, heck it could be just about anything because a good deal of what is found on a P2P is mislabled. But no matter how you look at it, it is still an original work that someone created with their camera, and did NOT make a direct copy. Did the person that created the "cam" violate the law? I do not know, in fact I don't know if he had permission, if it was done in another country where the laws are different or if indeed its the movie studio doing it themselves to A. Promote it, B. Running a server to catch downloaders. It would seem to me the burden of remaining leagl is on the backs of those creating and releasing the "cam", not the innoincent end user that has absolutely no possible way of know if it was created legaly or not.

    I mean heck, if I go into the local sports bar and they have the big game on TV am I required to demand proof from the bar owner that he has paid all the needed fees before I make a decision to watch or sit with my back to the TV? I think in an example like this its fairly easy to "catch" the bar owner and mos twould say its plain stupid to try and blame the bar patrons, but in the case of P2P they can't catch the ones that created the original work so they instead try to blame the user.

    Here is my question. Has anyone been in a court case as a defendant and said the law is impossible for the average person to follow because ALL works are copyrighted and there is no way to deterine how the owner of the copyright is applying it to that specific piece of work? Isn't that a lot like suing someone for not conforming to a contract they have never seen and have no idea what the terms are and when its applied?
    • No_AX.. this will urk you even more

      I am a very adament follower of this case, and let me be very clear on this. Regardless of what you download, sound exchange/RIAA owns the copyright to it immediately.

      See, the last bill they passed for this, which was also part of the internet radio bill, provided them(soundexchange) the ability to collect and dispurse royalties on all music.. even if you don't have an agreement with them.

      So, if you download a garage band, you are robbing the RIAA of their royalties, even if the band doesn't know it. If you go to the sound exchange website, you'll see bands that have not collected their 'royalties' yet, because they don't even know they're owed royalties. It's a giant scam.

      I believe, like you do, that copyright holders should maintain rights over their music. Unfortunately, with RIAA lawyers getting spread all over the Govt, there's no way we can get past it. They will continue to violate our rights for the interest of corporate greed.

      • But, my point remains

        How as an end user do I know how the copyright is being used to restrict its use or distribution? After all, a lot of it is released by the copyright holders to be freely distributed.
    • Good points Ax

      My understanding is that the RIAA doesn't go after people who have merely downloaded content but after people who are redistributing content. The crazy thing is that people like Jammie are most likely redistributing via Kazaa unintentionally. so it doesn't matter if she downloaded copyright content thinking it was a garage band (who had properly paid the composer royalty), the point is that it was copyrighted, was being served up from her machine, and MediaSentry downloaded it. therefore actual distribution.

      i'm pretty sure the law doesnt' require "Knowing" distribution - it's strict liability.
  • Great so if I copy a Hard Drive there a log kept?

    So if I copy my HD to another one there a log of that? It really shouldn't come in to the courtroom.

    Even if it the case it seems the RIAA is just making crap up. RIAA just now found she copied the HD? Come on seems like they will say anything.

    • @Randalllind - They will say whatever they want to..

      .. because there is nobody else there to disprove them. I have been thru windows over and over again.. I know of no logfiles or tracks in the FAT table, that say 'on x day, a remote drive was attached to this computer and these songs were copied to it'

      Its crap.
      • Not a "Windows" Log?

        If the files were transferred with a backup or restore utility that came with the rest of the crapware on the box, it may have recorded its actions in a log. I personally use rsync so I don't know that this is what did happen.

        Could there have been a Windows event log event having to do with plugging and unplugging a USB device?

        cardiff space man
        • Good point

          I didn't think of that. Most people if they were to copy music would just drag and drop to another device therefore no log.

          Now I doubt she is as computer savvy as the RIAA wants us top think. It sounds to me like she just a avg user that used Kazza.

          I will go out on the limb and say she is one of the 5% that actually backup her drives using Windows backup or software from one of those one touch drives there maybe a log. I made a backup of Vista using Windows backup but, I don't remember any log saying I copy this or that. In fact I don't remember it saying I copy the whole drive.

          This is a retrial so why didn't they find this out in the first one? Is she now being charge with a new charge?

          I would think in order to use this in retrial she would have to have a new charge. Then this would have to be done in another trial.

  • There's only one way to sort this out

    The RIAA MUST sell copyrights to music - and NOT "just" media. The RIAA for too long have gotten users to pay at each new media change (records, tapes, CDs, etc.) - for the same music. That model does not work anymore with mp3 files. If the RIAA would sell a "right to use copyright" - then you would be "legal" anytime you had a copy of that particular music in your possession.
    Roger Ramjet
  • RE: High drama and low points in RIAA trial

    Buy a new PC with virtual hardware support (i7/AM3 cpu). Run a virtual OS with proper encryption / password. A million years will pass by the time they can crack that. The RIAA is so screwed, nothing can save them. And there will be a million ways to bypass them in any case.
  • RE: High drama and low points in RIAA trial

    I THINK THAT AFTER THE RIAA'S victory dance, they should
    go to a play ground and beat up a few toddlers.
  • RE: High drama and low points in RIAA trial

    Is taking a picture of a work of art stealing?

    Before, there was one work of art. After, there is still the same work of art, and a copy of it.


    The RIAA is using the term "stealing" to make the act seem worse than it is. When you steal a magazine from a gas station, the gas station loses the magazine. THAT is stealing. The other party must be deprived of the original item for it to be stolen. Downloading music is COPYING. The RIAA is abusing a gray area to make thousands of dollars off of people by sueing their asses off because their old, defunct business model is failing to make them any profits. RIP RIAA. America will soon be tired of a company whos sole purpose is to sue people. You can all burn in hell.
    Curt McOwn
    • This is stealing...

      O.K., so I go to that gas station, and buy one copy of that magazine. I take it home to my super-duper color copier, and run off 1000 copies and give them away on the internet. Do you think the publisher of the magazine would be upset?

      Let's put it this way: YOU love programming, say games. You create create "Revenge of Thomas", a game that millions want. You're potentially sitting on tens of millions of dollars. If one copy is sold for $39.95, and a million copies are made from that, would you be upset? Heck, you still have 999,999 DVD copies that you made for sale. Or simpler yet -- at the end of the week, the boss at 7-11 says he's not going to pay you. You're not losing anything, right? You still have everything you had at the beginning of the week, so no harm, right? You gonna continue coming to work?