April 23, 2006

Patel Orders Label Disclosure [8:04 pm]

Judge orders record labels to turn over documents [pdf]

A federal judge has ordered major record labels to turn over privileged documents after finding they may have used misleading information to convince the government to abandon a major antitrust probe.

The ruling late on Friday from U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in San Francisco came out of a dispute over which documents Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music Group and EMI Group Plc should be forced to release in a lengthy copyright battle over Bertelsmann’s investment in music-swapping service Napster.

Prosecutors in 2001 began investigating whether music labels secretly worked together to use two joint ventures, MusicNet and Pressplay, to discourage digital downloading and protect CD sales by fixing digital music distribution terms.

During the investigation, the joint ventures and their record label parents each submitted a “white paper” to the DOJ summarizing their arguments. They also provided documents that included redacted, or blacked out, sections to remove privileged material.

The U.S. Justice Department abandoned the probe in December 2003, citing no evidence of wrongdoing.

Napster investor Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Bertelsmann’s co-defendant in the lawsuit, charged that the arguments offered in the white papers were known to be false or misleading.

In the ruling, Patel said Hummer Winblad provided reasonable cause to believe that information in the white papers was “deliberately misleading.”

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Double-Plus Ungood Thoughtcrime? [7:47 pm]

A troubling case, where virtual child porn is enough to get a conviction — thoughtcrime?  Photographer guilty in child porn case [pdf]

A Massachusetts man was found guilty yesterday of nine counts of possession of child pornography stemming from his more than 20-year association as a photographer for a youth camp in Amherst.

[...]  Each charge alleged Zidel “knowingly possessed a visual representation of a child engaged in sexual activity.”

Zidel was a longtime photographer at Camp Young Judea in Amherst, where he took photos of campers and compiled them into yearbooks. He used those photos to create what he called his own “personal fantasy,” according to a county attorney press release.

[...] Zidel was accused of juxtaposing the heads and faces of campers onto images that depicted the youngsters engaging in sexual activity. Those images, saved on a CD ROM, were accidentally given to the camp’s director, according to the press release.

While Zidel’s attorney admitted that his client knew the campers depicted in the photos were under 16 years old, the attorney argued the images were not child pornography because the children were not subjected to sexual content, according to the press release.

Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Nicole Fortune prosecuted the case and argued that the images were child pornography, as the law was designed to protect children from being depicted as engaging in sexual activity.

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