MediaSentry slapped by Massachusetts

February 6, 2008 // 9:04 a.m.

Tags: #legal #mediasentry #riaa #sue

A student at Boston University who is currently being sued by the RIAA for alleged copyright infringement has uncovered an interesting – and potentially embarrassing – fact as he prepares for his case: the RIAA's favourite 'evidence gathering' company MediaSentry has been told to back off by the state of Massachusetts.

The lawsuit, Arista Records v. Does 1-21, was brought by Arista Records via the RIAA in an attempt to ascertain the identities of the twenty-one students named as John Doe so they could be hauled over hot legal coals. One of the Does, currently trying to keep all the fellow Does identities a secret, has submitted a supplemental filing bringing the evidence offered by the RIAA into question.

The filing shows evidence that the state of Massachusetts has issued a cease and desist order for “conducting private investigations” without a PI licence. If true, it could be grounds for the court to throw the entire corpus of evidence provided in the Arista Records v. Does 1-21 case out of the window.

The filing asks that the court considers “issuing a subpoena, or alternatively having plaintiff’s counsel produce a copy of the cease and desist letter received from the Commonwealth before allowing the MediaSentry evidence to be considered in this action.

MediaSentry is a company that sits on Bittorrent streams and waits for a user to request a file. The company then records the IP address of that user along with a timestamp so that the users identity can be subpoenaed from the ISP and the hapless downloader sued. As pretty much every case the RIAA has ever brought against alleged file sharers relies on information provided by MediaSentry, a legal ruling against the company would hurt their chances of successfully suing in the future. At worst, it could even lead the way to appeals on already-decided cases.

One in the eye for the RIAA, or is it just legal wriggling from people who know they've done wrong? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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