Boston Judge finds RIAA denies defendants meaningful access to our courts

In a 1963 Supreme Court decision Justice Hugo Black opined that every defendant in a criminal case must have access to a lawyer. The right to a fair trial in an adversarial system such as US law depended on both sides having competent representation. Today a story broke about the recent RIAA cases here in Boston where a judge is mirroring the same sentiments. What is interesting about this is the cases in question are civil and not criminal. The RIAA has opted for civil prosecution in the majority of the file sharing lawsuits and for good reason. Civil cases have lax rules surrounding evidence and the defendant is not guaranteed a right to counsel. Judge Gertner remarked that “there is a huge imbalance in these cases. The record companies are represented by large law firms with substantial resources. [The] … counsel representing the record companies have an ethical obligation to fully understand that they are fighting people without lawyers… to understand that the formalities of this are basically bankrupting people, and it’s terribly critical that you stop it….” [warning: pdf]

Maybe its time for another “Gideon” to petition the US Supreme Court. How many thousands have capitulated to the RIAA because they can’t afford an attorney? Despite being tried in a civil court aren’t these cases criminal in nature? Judge Gertner seems to suggest that defendants in RIAA cases are not receiving fair trials which is supposed to be guaranteed by the 6th Amendment. While the 6th Amendment is about criminal law the spirit of it seems to suggest cases where the defendants lives are on the line. At the time of the framing I doubt any civil case could deprive citizens of all their money and possessions. The RIAA’s end run around our legal system is denying defendants “meaningful access to the courts”. How long will this country allow the RIAA to make a mockery of our legal system?

SourceBoston 2009 Announcement

[disclosure] I’m on the board of advisors for this conference

SOURCE Boston 2009 is taking place on March 9th-13th at our new location,
the Seaport Hotel in downtown Boston.

—====/ Confirmed Speakers /=========———

// Keynotes //
Marcus Ranum
Peter Kuper
Amit Yoran

// Sessions //
Dino Dai Zovi
James Atkinson
Adam Shostack
Jeremiah Grossman
Rich Mogull
David Mortman
Ero Carrera
Joe Grand (aka "Kingpin")
Chris Hoff
Marty Roesch
Bruce Dang
Jose Nazario, PhD
Lee Kushner
Peiter "Mudge" Zatko

Call for Papers for SOURCE Boston 2009!
Speakers wishing to participate should complete a proposal by
November 30th.

—====/ Training /=========———

This year, we will be adding two days of training (March 9th-10th)

1. Hardware Hacking – Joe “Kingpin” Grand

2. Mobile Device Programming – Christien Rioux

3. Practical Security Architecture – Rob Cheyne

4. Applied Security Visualization – Raffael Marty

—====/ Extras /=========———

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Hardware Hacking Competitions Security Trivia

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