Like father, like son: RIAA still receiving unfair treatment

I’ve complained previous about the unfair treatment the RIAA was facing in its cases, particularly from defense lawyer Kiwi Camara (1 2). If you’ve been following the case, you will have heard that the defendant, Jammie Thomas, lost. From what I’ve heard, this sounds like a good news to me, because she seemed to have been lying quite blatantly throughout her testimony. I guess I might as well go over this briefly.

First of all, Thomas was asked to submit the harddrive that was in use during the alleged copyright infringement, so they could scan it and look for evidence of filesharing. She submitted a different harddrive instead, and got caught when they checked the manufacturing date of the harddrive and realized it had been built after the date of the alleged infringement.

Second, she claimed that she had never heard of Kazaa, the program she was accused of using. While we can’t prove that she had known of Kazaa, her claim is pretty implausible since she wrote a research paper on filesharing back in college.

Third, she claimed that hackers had hacked into her wireless network and they were the ones who downloaded the songs. This lie was blown when it was revealed she has never owned a wireless router.

Finally, during the trial, there was a dramatic moment when an expert witness mentioned seeing a log file on the harddrive indicating that there was evidence of an external harddrive plugged in. The defense objected, saying that they were never told about this evidence (apparently any evidence which is intended to be used in court must be presented to both the defense and the prosecution so that they can adequately prepare to handle it). The judge asked the jury to leave the room temporarily while the defense and prosecution approached the bench to discuss the issue. The prosecution claimed that it was a simple and honest mistake: The prosecution had indeed received a note about the external harddrive, but did not realize it was new evidence, and so never brought it up. According to the expert witness, the external harddrive was only attached to the computer after the alleged infringement, and so the prosecution agreed to basically drop this particular evidence from the testimony, as it was pretty irrelevant to the case. So the Jury was invited back into the room and told to ignore the part about the external harddrive, but to keep the rest of the testimony in mind. So far, no terrible lies or anything like that. But a couple days later, during the closing testimony, Ms. Thomas took advantage of the confusion the jury must have been under from that scene by “reminding” them that the RIAA had brought in a witness to bear false testimony against her. As soon as she uttered those words, the judge was outraged and told the Jury to disregard that last statement. See, the Jury didn’t know what the commotion was about with that witness; all they knew was they were asked to leave the room momentarily, and to disregard the statements about the external drive. They were not told that it was because of a technical legal reason and that the evidence was mostly irrelevant to the case, and so Jammie tried to misrepresent the scene in her favour.

So all in all, I’m relatively glad that Jammie Thomas was found guilty. I’m not sure her fine (over a million dollars) is an appropriate amount, but it’s difficult for me to have sympathy for such blatant liars. It’s disrespectful to the court and you’re basically wasting everyone’s time. And this rant of mine is just about Ms. Thomas! It doesn’t cover my complaints about her lawyer, Kiwi Camara’s, behaviour. But I’ve covered that in past blog posts already, so I won’t get into them again here.

With the RIAA-vs-Thomas case over, it seems like there wouldn’t be much more left to say. Unfortunately, there’s another similar case going on, RIAA-vs-Tenenbaum, and the defense lawyer in this case is one Charles Nesson, who coincidentally was a former mentor of Kiwi Camara. And apparently, Nesson is just as obnoxious in his court behaviour. Perhaps instead of “Like fatherm like son”, I should have written “Like mentor, like disciple”.

I haven’t been following the Tenenbaum case as carefully as the Thomas one, but the two acts that stand out to me are Nesson recording and publishing conversations illegal, and even directly filesharing the songs in question himself!!!

The Court’s indulgence is at an end. Too often, as described below, the important issues in this case have been overshadowed by the tactics of defense counsel: taping opposing counsel without permission (and in violation of the law), posting recordings of court communications and emails with potential experts (who have rejected the positions counsel asserts) on the Internet, and now allegedly replicating the acts that are the subject of this lawsuit, namely uploading the copyrighted songs that the Defendant is accused of file-sharing.

Nesson apparently took the seven songs that Tenenbaum was accused of filesharing, and posted them on MegaUpload. Seriously, what the fuck?

 
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