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MPAA Spying Case To Be Appealed 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the let's-see-what-you-got-there dept.
esocid writes "Back in 2005, the MPAA hired Robert Anderson, a former associate of TorrentSpy's owner, to illegally obtain internal emails and trade secrets. He did so by routing the email from the internal server to his own Gmail account. He subsequently sold 34 pages of stolen information for $15,000 to the MPAA. TorrentSpy owner Justin Bunnel sued them for spying, but lost the case due to a ruling that stated it was not illegal since the information was not intercepted under the Wiretap Act. The EFF called this decision a 'dangerous attempt to circumvent privacy laws,' since it implies that the unauthorized interception of anyone's personal email is legal. The appeal could have ramifications for MPAA president Dan Glickman, as the decision is expected around the time of his contract renewal."
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MPAA Spying Case To Be Appealed

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday April 13, 2009 @04:56PM (#27562911)

    Maybe it's not right to consider it "spying" because of the Wiretap excuse... but what about considering it "theft of intellectual property"?

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by LeafStorm (1471173)

      ...but what about considering it "theft of intellectual property"?

      It would be very ironic - the MPAA, who is always accusing movie pirates of committing "theft of intellectual property", being charged with that in a court of law.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:04PM (#27563031)

        Yes, indeed it would be very ironic. Thanks for clarifying that one, I don't know where the world would be without Captain Obvious!

        • by bami (1376931)

          Yes, indeed it would be very ironic. Thanks for clarifying that one, I don't know where the world would be without Captain Obvious!

          "Whooosh!" never sounded so elaborate!

      • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:10PM (#27563103)
        Oh, yeah, that's right. "Theft of intellectual property" isn't a legal charge.
        • Oh, yeah, that's right. "Theft of intellectual property" isn't a legal charge.

          "intellectual property" as in stealing books and paintings?

          • by Volante3192 (953645) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:16PM (#27563193)

            No, cause books and paintings are tangible.

            Now, if you were able to reach into someone's brain and steal the synapses that recorded how to create that book or painting, then yeah, that'd be theft of intellectual property.

            • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

              by Decameron81 (628548)

              heheh, nice definition :-)

            • by Dekker3D (989692)

              well then. it Ãs possible. actually using those stolen synapses, though.. phew. if someone could figure that one out, they wouldn't even -need- to steal anything. they'd be filthy rich!

            • by nog_lorp (896553)

              I always thought taking brains out of someone's head was piracy, but I guess it is actually theft.

              • by rts008 (812749)

                I always thought taking brains out of someone's head was piracy, but I guess it is actually theft.

                Theft is the right word, unless you are a Zombie Pirate, then it's just dinner. "Mmmmm...BRAAAIIINS!!

                Or if the brain is taken by a Mad Scientist, then it's just research. *Zzzzaaappp!* "It LIVES!!!!

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by LostCluster (625375) *
            Books and paintings are physical objects. "Intellectual property" would apply only if you're copying them.
        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday April 13, 2009 @06:46PM (#27564165) Journal

          Copyright infringement is, however, and any creative work - including an email - is copyrighted automatically by the sender. The recipient receives an implicit license to do anything normally associated with receiving an email, but no one else does. If you intercept an email, you are copying a copyrighted work without the consent of the copyright owner. I believe the fine for wilful infringement currently stands at $7,500 per work in the USA. The fact that the MPAA has engaged in lawsuits prosecuting people for doing exactly this could almost certainly be used to justify a claim that they knew it was illegal, that they did it for financial gain, and all of the other requirements for the maximum fine.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rts008 (812749)

            While I agree that it would be short term satisfaction to see them hoist by their own petard, I think it would set precedent in there favor for the long run. Society would lose more in the long term than the gain from short term gratification.

            I think they need bitch slapped hard for this, but most likely they will get a 'stern' talking to and not much more. Nothing with real teeth in it to seriously dissuade them. I also hope I aam wrong, but....

            • by Dan541 (1032000)

              On the other hand would it not invalidate all MPAA lawsuits?

              They sue people for doing the exact practice they are engaged in, this could indeed justify the actions of people the MPAA wishes to sue.

              • by mpe (36238)
                On the other hand would it not invalidate all MPAA lawsuits?
                They sue people for doing the exact practice they are engaged in, this could indeed justify the actions of people the MPAA wishes to sue.


                It would require such cases to actually "go to court". IIRC The technical term is "unclean hands". In many cases the MPAA (together with the RIAA) tends to threaten legal action. Without actually suing...
          • As sweet as it might taste to use copyright against them, that sure sounds like a bad tack.

            First, you can only copyright works with some creative content. So that means the MPAA would be off the hook for, hypothetically, a short email containing a one-word noncreative reply like "yes" -- such an email could perhaps be damning information, but arguably devoid of creative content and therefore not protected by copyright. I don't like the sound of that (that you can spy on me as long as I'm not writing anyth

            • IANAL.

              Creativity is a low bar.

              • by LandruBek (792512)

                I agree, it is a low bar, but don't you agree it isn't low enough? Copyright essentially protects creative work, not information; it's privacy law that protects you and your information (papers, effects, etc.). IP laws were not designed to protect privacy, and my spidey sense says they wouldn't do that task well.

                If current privacy law does not provide adequate protection, then we need better law. I don't mind if we can squeak by using a (silly IMO) copyright defense, but that's basically a workaround, an

              • Or was the above satirical? If so, good show, Chance! Have you seen Being There [imdb.com]?
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by mysidia (191772)

              The collection of e-mails would be a copyrighted work, even if some of the individual messages didn't contain very much aesthetic value. Copyright works don't have to be creative; there are a lot of factual works like pages of an almanac that contain simple facts about their subjects.

              hired Robert Anderson, a former associate of TorrentSpy's owner, to illegally obtain internal emails and trade secrets. He did so by routing the email from the internal server to his own Gmail account.

              As sweet as it mig

              • by LandruBek (792512)

                Perhaps you misunderstand me; "factual" and "creative" are not mutually exclusive; and I'm not trying to make any aesthetic judgment. What I have in mind is this: [sciencecommons.org]

                As a general rule, copyright is said to protect "expressive, creative works" that are fixed in a tangible medium. The requirement that a work be expressive and/or creative to attract copyright protection means that it has to be the product of someone's effort and ingenuity. Mere facts and ideas are not protectable.

                My point is, copyright law is a

              • by mpe (36238)
                How about prosecution of the former associate under computer fraud and abuse act, for gaining access without authorization,

                N.B. reconfiguring the mailserver to make copies for a third party would be such abuse, even if they did not have to "hack into it".

                This is no different from a company paying a sysadmin working for another company to plant a virus on a server to forward them trade secrets.

                Plus paying him once they had received the information...
      • by mpe (36238)
        It would be very ironic - the MPAA, who is always accusing movie pirates of committing "theft of intellectual property", being charged with that in a court of law.

        But it wouldn't be that much of a suprise. Considering that the MPAA have previously been caught "pirating" software, even a movie...
    • by PriceIke (751512) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:13PM (#27563139)

      The real irony here is that the MPAA is paying someone who did NOT create the content for the use of that content (the emails and the information therein), which to anyone with common sense is plainly a crime. I am quite confident Anderson will distribute his earnings to the content creators in a manner consistent with that in which the MPAA distributes their earnings to their artists.

    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday April 13, 2009 @06:23PM (#27563939) Homepage Journal

      I'm pretty sure that there are laws against industrial espionage. "Spying" is a sort of general, while industrial espionage is more specific. Describing the above offense as "spying" is fairly accurate.

      http://nsi.org/Library/Legis/bill1556.html [nsi.org]

      The person who committed the crime is obviously liable. The people who payed him for the information are only slightly less obviously liable.

      And, oh yeah. There are a myriad of conspiracy laws on the books. Everyone involved in stealing the information obviously conspired to perform the act, and to pay for the information.

      While the espionage charges are pretty serious, it must be pointed out that the conspiracy is FAR MORE serious. Ask any judge, lawyer, legal advisor, or even a cop.

      An INTELLIGENT prosecutor can put some people into prison over this, with some pretty serious sentencing time.

    • I'm perplexed now. I think I may have completely missed your point.
      My original reply I just blockquoted[below], but after review, I think I would be wrong in using it as is for my reply to your comment.
      *further review, and RTFA, and TFS*

      Uhmm... Forgive me for being an idiot, and 'knee-jerking' my own head from my shoulders.! :-)

      I should have caught the 'tongue_in_cheek:...Maybe it's not right to consider it "spying" because of the Wiretap excuse..." bit, but totally fscked up the rest.

      Really, no sarcasm int

    • by mpe (36238)
      Maybe it's not right to consider it "spying" because of the Wiretap excuse...

      Which really is an excuse, considering that copying documents is a classic method of "spying".

      but what about considering it "theft of intellectual property"?

      As well as paying to receive stolen property.
      Possibly the most important question is "Why is not being handled through the criminal justice system?"
  • I guess this fellow who intercepted the emails was some sort of Internet vigilante? He was hacking for the MPAA, which is apparently a quasi-government organization at this point. Stealing tangible mail is still a felony, however.

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Stealing tangible mail is still a felony, however.

      That seems a little backwards.

      What sensitive information gets sent via post these days?

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:00PM (#27562979) Homepage
    So, let me get this straight. It's not illegal to break your employer's confidence and send a full dump of sensitive emails automatically to your private email account where you sell them to an interested third party?
    • by Decameron81 (628548) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:08PM (#27563079)

      So, let me get this straight. It's not illegal to break your employer's confidence and send a full dump of sensitive emails automatically to your private email account where you sell them to an interested third party?

      That's on of the advantages of the new Geniune Advantage Privacy Act.

    • Only if you are a protected NGO and/or represent a government agency.

    • by flaming error (1041742) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:16PM (#27563185) Journal

      It would seem that "legality" is proportional to the cost of your legal counsel, and inversely proportional to the virtue of your cause.

      • by pleappleappleap (1182301) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:33PM (#27563383) Homepage

        That has always been the case in this country. And in most other countries, for that matter.

      • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Monday April 13, 2009 @11:08PM (#27566057) Journal

        I guess it would seem that way to people who frequently (if not exclusively) read sites like Slashdot who report on these cases in such a biased light. The problem you're facing is that, as far as the courts are concerned, intellectual property infringement is a serious developing problem, and sympathy is currently firmly with the copyright holder. They worked to build their empire, and aside from technically legal payola, they haven't really abused it. On the other hand, there are millions of people leeching from them, every day abusing them. It's no wonder the courts sided (initially) with them.

        I know from experience that the concept of someone rich having the moral high ground over the common man is a difficult concept to grasp, and it's becoming increasingly difficult as the MPAA and RIAA insist on, more out of desperation than anything else, constantly abusing their positions of power in order to cheaply nip the problem in the bud. But, despite their shifty tactics, they are being wronged, and there needs to be a solution. Not just for them, but for their competitors and the entire industries they represent.

        If you object to them, but still want to help out, start buying only indie works, and ignore the **AAs. It's not a wrong against them to support their competitors, and in fact, it's healthy competition. Who knows, we may see kinder, more gentle **AAs? It is, however, wrong to take a slice of their intellectual properties' value for yourself without paying for it first, and this will only make the courts side more with them over you. Who knows, we may see the **AA's every whim realised in legislature?

    • by StikyPad (445176) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:30PM (#27563347) Homepage

      It *is* illegal, but if those emails also document an illegal (or legally actionable) activity, then they can be used as evidence.

      The rules of evidence [wikipedia.org] are more strict for law enforcement than for private citizens. That's just the way it is.

      In my nonbinding opinion, I think the case against TorrentSpy should stand, AND the responsible parties should be prosecuted for gaining access to a computer system without authorization. To my knowledge, this is fully allowable within the bounds of the law, and would rightfully discourage the RIAA (or anyone else) from using such methods in the future.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The rules of evidence are more strict for law enforcement than for private citizens. That's just the way it is.

        ITYM "That's the way it was [freep.com]. HTH, HAND.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        In my nonbinding opinion, I think the case against TorrentSpy should stand, AND the responsible parties should be prosecuted for gaining access to a computer system without authorization. To my knowledge, this is fully allowable within the bounds of the law, and would rightfully discourage the RIAA (or anyone else) from using such methods in the future.

        It would only discourage the RIAA if the penalties outweigh the gains, probably by a significant margin.
        Otherwise, like many other companies do when the fine is less than the [gain], they'll just factor in the penalties as the cost of doing business.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Danse (1026)

          It would only discourage the RIAA if the penalties outweigh the gains, probably by a significant margin. Otherwise, like many other companies do when the fine is less than the [gain], they'll just factor in the penalties as the cost of doing business.

          Whoever was involved in paying him for the emails should be in prison for at least several years. That might serve as a bit more of a deterrent.

      • It *is* illegal, but if those emails also document an illegal (or legally actionable) activity, then they can be used as evidence.

        At least in Germany, illegally obtained data can not be used as evidence. Is this legal in the US?

        • by rts008 (812749)

          Is this legal in the US?

          It depends on the nature or category of the specific case.** Mostly, no...but there are exceptions that increasingly seem to be added to the list lately.

          For example:
          "The War on Drugs" cases, pretty much anything goes, as it does for 'The War on Terror'. See also 'Media Sentry's' role as a non-licensed investigator in previous RIAA cases.
          Any more, it seems to be tied to 'revenue', or '$$amount' in the specific case. The more money/revenue involved, the less civil rights protections enter the picture, and get

        • by Corbets (169101)

          Are you sure about that? As noted by the GP, evidence obtained illegally by law enforcement can not be used, but evidence obtained the same way by a private citizen can.

          Our constitution is built around protecting citizens from an overpowerful federal government (not that that we seem up to the task of defending it lately), and a lot of things that your average joe thinks are illegal (such as "censorship") are only illegal if done by the government.

          It's not the rules are looser for citizens; they're tighter

      • by shentino (1139071)

        If it was evidence of a criminal action, it should have been turned into the police as evidence, not sold to the MPAA as a juicy tidbit.

        The profit of selling it to the MPAA should be confiscated as proceeds of crime.

        I seriously doubt the MPAA wasn't somehow complicit in this "breach". If they knew it was stolen, and accepted it anyway, then, apart from possible guilt for receiving stolen property, they should also be deemed to have unclean hands, and be estopped from using the ill-gotten evidence to suppor

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)

      So, let me get this straight. It's not illegal to break your employer's confidence and send a full dump of sensitive emails automatically to your private email account where you sell them to an interested third party?

      Only if you get caught, and only then if you don't have a good lawyer and lots of money (which you should have plenty of after you sold all that private information). In summary, it's only illegal if the little guy does it.

      • I think you'll find that the "little guy" gets caught far less often than the big guy. In fact, I would say, even with good lawyers and lots of money, the little guy still has less chance of being prosecuted than the big guy. And, I think the little guys who are so inclined, know that and callously exploit that.

        But hey, why get in the way of nice little stereotype?

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      It certainly is not illegal.

      It could quite likely be actionable and subject to a civil lawsuit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arkhan_jg (618674)

      It's theoretically not illegal for the MPAA to use those clandestinely gathered emails as evidence in their own separate case - they can't be sued for obtaining them.

      Think whisteblowers; even if the evidence they gather is done by secretly dumping off their boss's email and then passing it to the FBI, the company doesn't get to sue the FBI for privacy violation to have the evidence supressed.

      Of course, Torrent Spy/Justin Bunnel could have sued Robert Anderson directly for breach of contract, illegal access

      • doesn't the FBI use that whistleblower stuff as justification to go and get non-tainted evidence? They don't usually present the very documents provided by a whistleblower in court, do they?

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        How do you prove the authenticity of an email?

        Quite simply you can't, if you were to send me an email just once I would have all the data needed to fake the header and submit an entire email as evidence and there would be nothing you could do to prove the email is fake just as I could never prove it to be real.

        I honestly can't see email being submersible as evidence since it is just one persons word against another.

    • Well, anymore it seems that if you are:
      Big Media (TV Networks, MPAA, RIAA),
      NSA,
      Haliburton, or Blackwater,
      Banking Industry,
      [add favorite MegaCorp. here],
      or the Prez,
      then it's all National Security, ACTA, or WTO...
      and are exempt from scrutiny and prosecution.

      For those not on the above list, to accept the Corporate New World Order, you need to lube your rectum and get braced to have all 555 feet 5 inches (169.294 m) of the Washington Monument [wikipedia.org] assrape you.

      Why yes, observation and experience are making me somewh

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      When your assisting the overlord of your country, no.

  • Two separate issues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:12PM (#27563125) Homepage

    If you break into someone's house because you think they stole your things, and you find your things there, you can use that as evidence of the theft, especially if you document your break-in. You could sue the person for stealing your things in the first place, and probably win.

    At the same time, it was illegal for you to break into the thief's house, and the police may well charge you for B&E. But that doesn't mean we all have to pretend that you didn't find your things there.

    • by PriceIke (751512)

      I'm not a lawyer, but from what Law and Order I watch (which is a lot), I would suggest that professional evidence-gatherers (aka the police) who do not follow strict guidelines on how to go about acquiring evidence routinely have said evidence disregarded by the court, and so, yes, the jury and the attorneys involved very much indeed MUST pretend they didn't find what the police actually found. I think it happens quite a lot, actually.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Chabo (880571)

        But he was saying that his understanding is that the general public is not held to the same standard; it's not a First Amendment violation, for example, if you were to chain the doors of a church shut for no reason, but it is if the government does it.

        In the same way, an illegal search performed by a private citizen is not subject to the exclusionary principle -- the evidence found in such a search is not automatically thrown out.

        Like you, much of my knowledge has been gleaned from "Law & Order", though

      • by mooingyak (720677)

        The rules are actually stricter (in a perfect world at least) for the police.

        IANAL or a cop, but what I understand as far as evidence goes is:

        1. Cops can't break in and search without either a warrant or probable cause.
        2. Cops also can't solicit a non-cop to do it for them.
        3. If I am in your house (break-in or invited or whatever) and find some evidence of wrongdoing and turn it over to the cops without them suggesting the idea or asking me to do it, they are free to use it.

        I'm sure there are subtler nua

    • So...two wrongs do make a right?

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Uh no, you cannot use that as evidence, there's some interesting 4th amendment issues but you are basically incorrect. Not only that, but you'd be unable to use the evidence of the stolen goods for the same reason. Not that a judge or jury will agree to the same conclusion, but it's very likely the thief would go free before you did, as they would have evidence of your breaking and entering.

      • by StikyPad (445176)

        Private citizens (or entities) are not subject to the 4th Amendment rules of search & seizure. The Constitution affects the powers of government, not the people.

        Like I said, you would be violating *criminal law* by breaking into a thief's house; not the rules of evidence. Those are completely separate issues.

      • Do you have any support for your statement?

        My not-very-informed opinion is that a private party probably can use evidence illegally obtained in a civil case, but that he is setting himself up for both criminal prosecution and civil liability.

        Gee, here's a web page that backs my guess up. "[A] private citizen may use illegally obtained evidence, as long as he or she did not obtain it on orders from law-enforcement personnel. [jrank.org]"

        -Peter

        • by KiahZero (610862)

          The exclusionary rule does not apply to evidence gathered by private citizens.

          See, for instance, U.S. v. Hood, 748 F.2d 439 (8th Cir. 1984), available at http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/748/748.F2d.439.84-1525.html [resource.org]

          • I manifestly don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, but US v. Hood is a criminal case involving evidence turned over to a law enforcement agency. You cite the exclusionary rule, which, as far as I can tell, specifically applies to law enforcement in criminal cases.

            Allow me to quote myself, "a private party probably can use evidence illegally obtained in a civil case". The page I cite expressly states in their definition of the exclusionary rule, "a private citizen may use illegally obtained evidence,

    • Just be careful what state you are in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_law [wikipedia.org]
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      How can evidence gained during/via the act of a crime be admissible?

      It doesn't work for the cops, why should it for us citizens?

    • If you break into someone's house because you think they stole your things, and you find your things there, you can use that as evidence of the theft, especially if you document your break-in. You could sue the person for stealing your things in the first place, and probably win.

      At the same time, it was illegal for you to break into the thief's house, and the police may well charge you for B&E. But that doesn't mean we all have to pretend that you didn't find your things there.

      Yeah, just ask O.J. Simpson. I'm sure he understands the law around this exact scenario a lot better now than he used to.

    • by rts008 (812749)

      If you break into someone's house because you think they stole your things, and you find your things there, you can use that as evidence of the theft, especially if you document your break-in. You could sue the person for stealing your things in the first place, and probably win.

      Hah!Hah!1Hah!

      You must not live in the most of the USA.

      If you break into my house for whatever reasonwithout a court warrant, the only 'evidence' will be your sorry, dumb ass will provide is you in a body bag, as 'evidence' of a forc

      • by Gnavpot (708731)

        If you break into my house for whatever reasonwithout a court warrant, the only 'evidence' will be your sorry, dumb ass will provide is you in a body bag, as 'evidence' of a forcible entry, with me defending myself, family, and property. END OF STORY!

        We need a "-1 Gun-obsessed nonsense" moderation option.

    • I don't where you live and your local laws, but here in USA it is different:
      The constitution "guarantees" that your Home CANNOT be invaded without your permission without the due process of law.
      Which means that if you try to enter my home without my permission OR a warrant, am authorized to use "deadly force" a.k.a Your face would be peppered with the cold slug shots from my .38 magnum.
      And while you are singing your way to heaven on your Golden Harp, you will notice that no court in USA will convict me for

  • by russotto (537200) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:16PM (#27563183) Journal
    But wouldn't this be covered under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986?
  • Since when... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quantos (1327889) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:16PM (#27563191)

    TorrentSpy owner Justin Bunnel sued them for spying, but however lost the case due to a ruling that stated it was not illegal since the information was not intercepted under the Wiretap Act.

    Since when does something have to be illegal for a lawsuit?

  • Hmm. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but no actual theft occurred; the original data is still there. If you're going to make a big stink about terminology then please be consistent with it at all times, not just when it suits you.

    • by Burdell (228580)

      Okay, how about this: he pirated the email!

    • by khchung (462899)

      Maybe TorrentSpy should sue them for unauthorized reproduction and distribution of copyrighted materials, have FBI raid MPAA offices/computers to fish for evidence and ask for bazillion dollars damages in court.

  • ...I wonder who would be receptive to bribes at MPAA HQ?
  • Interesting (Score:4, Informative)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Monday April 13, 2009 @06:04PM (#27563735) Homepage

    Since a great deal of US law is prohibitions on what law enforcement cannot do, there is currently a large amount that is open to private citizens that simply doesn't come up very often. For civil cases there are rules about obtaining evidence, but most of these rules relate to things like stolen work product from attorneys and things like grand theft.

    The problem here may quite likely be that the person "stealing" the email did nothing that is directly illegal. It might not have been very nice, but in terms of a law being violated there just might not be anything. Even ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act) is going to be a bit of a stretch here.

    If the email in question was accessible to the person "stealing" it in his job, then I suspect about all you could try for is some kind of theft of proprietary information, i.e., trade secrets. This would apply to stealing a customer list but email? Might be tough.

    Of course, he can be sued for his actions, but trying to categorize the lawsuit on the basis of wiretap? I think you would have to sue under the same grounds as you would for stealing a customer list, that techically there isn't much in the way of law against it.

    Remember, I can sue you for spitting on your sidewalk if I want. There is no reason I cannot other than common sense. So suing someone for trading supposedly secret emails can certainly be done. Just don't try to characterize your suit as being on criminal grounds.

    • by Renraku (518261)

      I guaran-fucking-tee you that if this were some rogue employee stealing the email of a company and selling it off, they'd go to jail for a long long time. I bet there's something behind the scenes keeping the email thief from going to jail and/or being sued.

      Immunity clause, maybe?

      Some bribery of public officials?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13, 2009 @06:14PM (#27563843)

    So quickly we've forgotten that "rubico" fellow that accessed Palin's e-mail account. When it happens to our politicians (who should be accountable to the people), it's a federal crime. When it happens to individuals or businesses, whatever floats your boat.

  • it is incredible that the MPAA thinks that this sort of attitude will help them with their cause.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Huntr (951770)
      Their (the --AA) cause isn't to win hearts and minds, it's to throw enough shit at the walls that eventually some of it sticks. It's been an effective strategy thus far.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aaandre (526056)

      Corporate lawyers live in an alternate reality with calculable monetary penalties and rewards for every possible action, no matter how immoral. Their advise is based on the size of the monetary rewards and risk calculation.

      Everything else is irrelevant.

      The logic is there, just not quite human.

      • You're 100% right. This also goes for consultants, btw. It's is perfectly possible to advise a client to go into direction "A" and advise him to go into direction "B" half a year later - if you find a client who doesn't have a clue (like a government, for instance) you can more or less print money for as long as it happens. Afterwards you then use this as reference for new victims..

  • Corporate email monitoring systems do the same thing. If you have ever been part of a HIPAA security compliant organization then you know this is true.
  • Industrial Espionage (Score:4, Informative)

    by ExRex (47177) <elliot@@@ajoure...net> on Monday April 13, 2009 @06:32PM (#27564017) Homepage

    Unfortunately, while such activities fall under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 [wikipedia.org], according to our friends at Wikipedia:

    "The Act authorizes civil proceedings by the Department of Justice to enjoin violations of the Act, but does not create a private cause of action. Thus, victims or putative victims must work with the U.S. Attorney in order to obtain an injunction."

    And we all know how eager the DOJ is to chastise the MPAA.

    • by DragonTHC (208439)

      I agree about the doj, however I was under the impression that corporate espionage and stealing trade secrets was a crime. so why wouldn't the doj prosecute a crime? Theft is a crime.

  • So wiretapping is illegal but re-directing traffic is not?

    Wow. Simply WOW.

  • There is a big case here at the moment involving the PMs adviser in an email discussing how to smear opponents [guardian.co.uk]. The question no one seems to be asking is, how did the emails get leaked.

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