RIAA fights neutral hard drive examiners

Written by Ryan Garside

September 4, 2006 | 10:59

Tags: #case #court #drives #hard #judge #ruling

Companies: #riaa

The RIAA is making headlines for all the wrong reasons again today in the case of Sony BMG et al v. Kim Arellanes. The defendant, Arellanes, is arguing that her hard drive should be tested by an independent body, the RIAA, however, is arguing that it should be allowed to test her hard drive. Another controversial day for the RIAA.

The scenario does have some history behind it. In a similar case involving Delina Tschirhart, the defendant attempted to wipe the potentially incriminating files from her hard drive to evade conviction. In this case the defendant disobeyed the judge's orders, and as such the RIAA was able to obtain a mirrored copy of the hard drive and eventually won the case.

The current case, involving Arellanes, is different in that the defendant is arguing that an independent body should be the one to look at her hard drive. Obviously, the RIAA's objectivity is questionable, especially considering their recent history, suing people without computers, dead people and online radio stations. The defendant highlights this in her submission to the court (which you can read in full here):

"Plaintiff's (RIAA) Reply includes and order from an unrelated in which terminating sanctions were recently granted against a defendant who intentionally removed material evidence from her computer before producing it. This reference serves no relevance to this case, except for perhaps Plaintiff's clumsy attempt to paint this Defendant with the same brush despite any evidence.

It would be about as relevant as Defendant attaching court documents from cases where Plaintiff's have sued dead people and people who didn't own computers, or where Plaintiffs have been accused of tampering with witnesses. If anything, Plaintiffs have inadvertently underscored the need for what Defendant has called for – a neutral forensics expert and an appropriate protocol to protect non-relevant and privileged information."


Obviously, the RIAA fears that it could get stung if it isn't able to supervise testing accused hard drives themselves. Surely the courts can't consider this request for a neutral examiner anything other than reasonable? Once again the RIAA is set to face another set back in its quest to stop illegal downloads.

Do you think the RIAA should have the right to go through the defendant's hard drive? Or should there be a neutral body involved? Let us know in the forums.
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