Two legal lessons from the RIAA

Don't disobey the judge and don't sue innocent people.

Today's bit of free legal advice comes to us from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, where we learn that defendants should not use disk-cleaning utilities to wipe portions of their hard drives before turning them over to plaintiffs in the course of discovery. Delina Tschirhart did just this, according to District Judge Orlando Garcia, who was none too pleased about the situation.

Tschirhart was engaged in a lawsuit with the RIAA, which had sued her for downloading more than 200 music files in 2005. The files in question were downloaded using BearShare and iMesh by a user named "ugotburnedby21"—we're going to go out on a limb and assume that one of her two children were involved (the judge notes that these three were the only people with access to the computer). When discovery began, the RIAA asked the judge for a mirrored copy of Tschirhart's hard drive in order to look for evidence of copyright infringement. The judge agreed. The drive was turned over to computer forensics expert David Schroeder, who claimed (and the defendant's own expert did not dispute) that data was removed from the hard drive before it was turned over.

News source: Arstechnica

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