Using Internet Theft as a Defense

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has taken to recouping losses (due to the millions of people now downloading music online) by filing small to medium sized lawsuits against every day people. Have most of these people downloaded music online? Probably. The cases rarely go to trial and are usually settled out of court, because most people realize, at some point in the process, that it would generally cost more to fight the RIAA than it would cost just to pay them (Unless you have a legal plan)
But here’s something interesting. As stated on OUT-LAW,

Tammie Marson of Palm Desert, California refused to pay the initial $3,500 demanded by a group of record labels and opted to fight the case in court. Marson and her lawyer Seyamack Kouretchian of Coast Law Group argued that the fact that Marson’s computer contained illegal music files downloaded over her internet connection was not proof that she had committed a crime.

The court didn’t have to rule in her favor, because the record labels backed away from this lawsuit, presumably as a result of hearing the defense and realizing that Ms. Marson and her attorney would be willing to go the distance to take the case through trial.
The Identity Theft SuperSleuth isn’t going to make a statement about downloading music. However, this is interesting from an


identity theft point of view.
The reason that this article is even mentioned on IdentityTheftSecrets is because this sort of thing can establish case law. Case law is any law that is created from a ruling that happens inside of courtroom.
If a person actually gets a court to agree with them that there is no way that it can be proven that he/she was the actual person downloading music onto their home computer, even though there are music files and file sharing software on his/her computer, then it creates case law. The case law could be interpreted as “The individual is not necessarily responsible for what happens over his/her Internet connection.”
As far as I’m aware, no law like this exists at present. But we’re not far away.
This case law can then be used in future trials.
Now let’s play out a scenario. Let’s say that I am a less-than-honest person. I buy something online. I do it from my home computer. I receive the item, I use the item, and I throw it away. I then call my credit card company within 30 days and say that it was not my charge. I didn’t actually charge this item to my card – it must have been fraud.
The Credit Card company begins their investigation, and finds out that the purchase originated from my IP address.
“But it wasn’t me,” I say. “And I never received the item. Someone must have stolen my identity and bought that thing from a laptop on my Internet connection. I have a wireless connection, and it’s WEP enabled (Wireless security key), but the Identity Thieves must have found a way to hack in.”
But it was purchased through the Internet connection originating from my location.
The Identity Theft SuperSleuth doesn’t have problems with downloaders of music per se, but if there is case law defending Tammie Marson, or someone like her, saying that I’m not responsible for what happens on my Internet connection, well, that law can be used by people doing more unscrupulous things than downloading music.
And that’s a problem.
And who does this all really hurt?
Two groups:
The actual victims of Identity Theft
and
Everyone Else
We all end up covering the losses due to fraud.
(As a side note to conclude this post – if you have been doing a bunch of music or software or video downloading, you really should be doing something to protect yourself against the lawsuits you could face.)