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Stargate Information Archive - Federal Charges Filed Against SG-1 Archive


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Stargate Information Archive - Federal Charges Filed Against SG-1 Archive
Topic: Society 6:46 pm EDT, Jul 26, 2004

] However, instead of thanking Adam for his promotion of
] their product, officials at MGM and the MPAA have chosen
] to pressure the FBI into pursuing criminal charges. Adam
] was first tipped off about the investigation when the FBI
] raided his and his fiancee's apartment in May of 2002 and
] seized thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment.

] Adam later received a copy of the affidavit filed in
] support of the search warrant, and was shocked to
] discover that this document, prepared by the FBI,
] contained significant amounts of erroneous and misleading
] information. For example, two social security numbers
] were listed for Adam, one of which is not his. References
] were made to a cease and desist letter sent by the MPAA
] to an email address that did not exist.
His online
] friendship with other Stargate fans across the globe was
] portrayed as an international conspiracy against the
] MPAA. And perhaps most disturbing of all, it was later
] revealed that the FBI invoked a provision of the USA
] Patriot Act
to obtain financial records from his ISP. The
] FBI's abuse of its powers did not stop there. When they
] seized Adam's computer equipment, he was given written
] documentation stating that it would be returned within 60
] days. The equipment that they did return did not arrive
] until more than 8 months later, and only then after much
] prodding from his lawyer. Much of it was damaged beyond
] repair - one laptop had a shattered LCD screen, an empty
] tape backup drive was ripped apart for no apparent
] reason, his fiancee's iBook was badly damaged when it was
] pried apart with a screwdriver.

1. Welcome to the new world of criminal copyright prosecutions. This reminds me of operation Sun Devil. The FBI is usually far more professional then this. Apparently they've assigned a bunch of idiots to their copyright sqaud, which is reasonable at first glance in that its not very important, but ultimately a mistake because this issue is too controversial and too visible to be handled by thugs. These guys aren't going to stop behaving this way until a judge throws the book at them (as occured to the Chicago Secret Service agents who raided Steve Jackson Games). Therefore, I suggesting holding on to your seats. There will be a bunch more stories where this came from, and as the net is a hell of a lot louder then it was in 1991 you can expect the FBI to feel some very serious pressure over the issue as the horrors mount up.

2. The seizure of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, the destruction of said equipment, and then the choice of legal venue meant to maximize the financial costs associated with trial... This has all the earmarks of an investigation that is intended to be punative in and of itself. Punative investigations are unconstitutional.

3. This is why copyright issues need to remain in civil courts and not criminal courts. We don't need our security forces out smashing computers for the MPAA. There is absolutely no reason why the MPAA couldn't have filed a civil motion in this case in the jurisdiction the actual website was in.

It seems clear that a properly delivered cease and desist letter would have solved the problem here. No fuss, no muss. Handling crimes like this in this manner is extremely expensive for taxpayers and tends to disrupt and destroy innocent people's lives when they accidentally become the target of it.

Moving copyright cases into the criminal justice system was bad, bad, bad law. It seems like we're going to get a stiff lesson in why.

Stargate Information Archive - Federal Charges Filed Against SG-1 Archive

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