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MPAA caught abetting criminal activity?

In what is obviously being denied up and down by MPAA spokesmen, a suit filed in CA alleges that the industry group paid $15,000 for a hacker to dig up information about TorrentSpy. This included email correspondence and financial information. The offical court document (PDF) alleges an illegal wiretap, appropriation of trade secrets, and aiding and abetting criminial activity. I will reserve judgement until I see proof however the idea isn’t really all that suprising. If one looks at the activities of RIAA henchmen (like mediaEnforcers and BayTSP) we see what amounts to DOS (file pollution) and entrapment. One of the vexing questions that I’m sure I would need three years of legal training to answer is at what point do these self appointed “enforcers” bear resemblence to actual police? I ask because I read (somewhere) that in cases where groups like this are acting on behalf of law enforcement (LE) or even acting as LE then they are bound by the same rules. This came up in a recent discussion on the Free Culture (Harvard Chapter) mailing list. Entrapment is only a criminal defense and not a civil one. So RIAA henchmen could possibly setup “honeypots” to catch “pirates” downloading songs and then attack with their “settlement centers”. If LE tried this it would of course be completely illegal. Similiarly, LE and government agencies are well known for their use of hacking to “sneak and peek” an alleged criminal’s computer to obtain information for case building. This sounds like what is being alleged here. MPAA representatives employed a hacker and private investigators to dig up as much information as possible against their new legal adversaries.
An amusing quote from the MPAA spokes person, “These claims (by Torrentspy) are false,” Kori Bernards, the MPAA’s vice president of corporate communications, said in an e-mail to CNET “Torrentspy is trying to obscure the facts to hide the fact that they are facilitating thievery. We are confident that our lawsuit against them will be successful because the law is on our side.”
I won’t comment on the double talk or the fact that Kori is blatently shifting topics from the allegation of MPAA’s wrong doing to a different case all together. I will comment on the last bit of that sentence. The law is “on [thier] side” because of decades of successful lobbying on the part of the MPAA and other industry groups. That does not mean Morality or Justice is on their side. I think it’s an interesting distinction she didn’t mean to point out.
After a little more Googling I found this older article where the MPAA was caught pirating a movie submitted to them for classification (they run the rating system). Ironically we have Kori crying foul over the very same tactics the MPAA is being alleged to have commited!
from the article…
A lawyer for the MPAA justified the organization’s apparent hypocrisy by saying that Dick had invaded the privacy of some MPAA staffers, which justified the MPAA’s actions.

“We made a copy of Kirby’s movie because it had implications for our employees,” said Kori Bernards, the MPAA’s vice president for corporate communications. She said Dick spied on the members of the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration, including going through their garbage…”

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