Tue, Aug. 24, 2004

Caught Red Handed

CK - Washington.   A corporate membership association representing the interests of audio-visual rights exploiters was caught red-handed by German attorney Udo Vetter as holding itself out as an expert witness assisting police in the analysis of CDs seized from a PC user. The association also holds itself out as the industry representative that causes police to seize such material and to prosecute alleged violators of their rights to exploit the musical works of artists under contract with its members.

Persuasively and passionately, Vetter points out in a written submission to the prosecution the illegality of appointing such an organization as an expert. At its most basic, expert witnesses are by law required to be individuals; organizations do not qualify. Most obviously, there is an inherent bias. From the perspective of evidence management, releasing evidence to an unqualified outsider can break the chain of custory.

Currently, the group is soliciting tips--by email to antipiracy@gvu.de, telefax or telephone--on flee markets and internet sales. The group promises to collect such information in a database. Query whether the data collection meets applicable data protection laws.

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