Arizona man hit with $40k file-sharing fine


A court fined Arizona resident Jeffrey Howell $40,850 for sharing a Kazaaful of files on the internet. The case was closed early after the judge discovered that Howell wiped his machine. From Ars:

Howell, who served as his own counsel throughout the trial, did himself no favors by intentionally destroying evidence of his computer activity after being ordered by a judge to preserve it. According to the RIAA, Howell uninstalled KaZaA and deleted everything in the shared folder, reformatted his hard drive, downloaded and used a file-wiping program, and then nuked all the KaZaA logs on his PC. Anyone who has seen even a single episode of Perry Mason knows that this is a huge no-no

Moral of the story: If you actually are sharing music files, you're probably better off paying the few thousand dollars that the RIAA extorts from you to avoid a trial. It will cost you more just to hire someone to defend you competently, which is the point.

Howell verdict: RIAA wins $40,850 P2P judgment [Ars]

Published by Rob Beschizza

Follow Rob @beschizza on Twitter.

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  1. So what happens if a person wipes their computer when first getting a notice from RIAA? Or even suffers a random hard drive crash and tosses the drive, let’s say..

  2. If nothing else, wiping the computer after getting a threat from the RIAA means you’ll have no evidence to counter whatever evidence it has. It also makes you look guilty.

    What targets should do, though, is get legal advice from a lawyer with experience fighting the RIAA. That’s step 1.

  3. Here is a great little thing for the RIAA to keep its scheme going, send any user at random a threatening letter saying pay us $40k now we have evidence of infringement, and when people look at the harddrive claim they used wiping software to remove all traces of the program and resulting files. Then PROFIT!

  4. Anyone who has seen Perry Mason knows that what he should have done was had his brother-in-law “break into” his house and steal his computer and french-fry maker.

    Then, he could have just reported the break-in to police, who never even investigate such crimes, and he’d be $40,000 richer today and he could have told the RIAA to go jump in the lake.

    Instead, he’s writing those goons a check thanks to their bought and paid for “enforcers” in the judicial system.


  5. Man, the courts are getting seriously lazy these days. “Listen, we know you’ve broken the law… now don’t go and tamper with this evidence that proves you’re guilty… Though we’re going to leave it with you…” WTF?

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