The Court of Technology

Mikey 9 comments
  • Legal and Law
The Court of Technology

Having just heard the news that Torrentspy lost their court case while defending themselves against an RIAA law suit, a comment made by Andrew Norton (Spokesperson for the US Pirate Party) caught my attention.

When asked to comment on the decision, Norton said:

"This case shows again the need for radical reform in the US legal system, as well as educating our judges to deal with modern technology. This is not the 1970s, where the basic underpinnings and mechanics of technologies were readily understandable by the layman, but require significant knowledge in the technologies involved. Perhaps it is time we had specific courts with jurists who are kept up to date on technological progress, so that justice can be sought, rather than judgements based on which side has the most lyrical attorney."

The idea of specific courts is not only reasonable, but also necessary during times like these. A judge and the average jury member on today's court cases can not be expected to understand the complexities of modern technologies, specifically Internet related matters. We already have lawyers who practice specific areas, such as criminal defence and copyright law for example. So the idea of a genre specific deciding collective is not that far fetched.

The recent case of Julie Amero comes to mind in this regard. Amero, a school teacher, noticed that pornographic pop-ups started appearing on the class computer screen. Not knowing what to do, she covered the screen with a jumper but not before several of the children had been exposed.

"A technically minded expert Judge fully up to speed on related technologies would have thrown the case out of court right from the start"

Every person who knows Internet and related technologies knows Amero was wrongly accused. During the trial, an 'expert' witness falsely stated that because the computer browser (an old version of Internet Exploiter Explorer in this case) showed links to the pornographic sites in the History, that was conclusive proof that Amero had deliberately visited the sites. This might seem feasible to average Joe Surfer, but people like you and I know that your browser history logs every web page, even pop-ups caused by spyware and alike, whether you have deliberately visited them or not. It should also be noted that the school computers in question were not behind a firewall and had anti virus software with a long expired licence.

Amero is still yet to face a new trial and is looking at 40 years in prison if convicted. A technically minded expert Judge fully up to speed on related technologies would have thrown the case out of court right from the start. But instead we are seeing a waste of everyone's time and money to pursue what is essentially a case based on severe technological ignorance.

I think this is long overdue. When we have Judges daft enough to claim that RAM is a document and should be turned to the court clerk to examine it's contents, it really is time for a change.

The right people for the right job. And let me hereby cast my vote for a panel of judges consisting of Tim Burners Lee, John Carmack and Kevin Rose.

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Wednesday 19th December 2007 | 05:35 PM

Very true, article.

Still - I'm not so sure I want the guy who made Doom (John Carmack) and coming up with new punishments! :-P

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Wednesday 19th December 2007 | 05:45 PM

Carmack: "It is the judgement of this court that the accused be taken to a place far from here where he shall live out the remainder of his natural life fighting Nazis and Zombies with a chainsaw"

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Wednesday 19th December 2007 | 10:35 PM

What a wonderful idea. The Julie Amero situation was such a disgrace.

Another thing you could have mentioned is that the jurors although maybe ignorant in this situation were trying their best, and having an independent system for technology cases would means jurors can avoid the guilt associated with discovering at a later date that their verdict was wrong based on bad evidence presented to them.

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Thursday 20th December 2007 | 12:08 AM

Stumbled in and what a wicked site you have here Rusty. Why Kevin Rose?

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Saturday 5th January 2008 | 01:59 PM

Hi Marge. I guess Kevin Rose because he has his finger on the pulse of what people really understand when it comes to Internet and related technologies. Rose is the founder of DIGG if you didn't know.

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Sunday 6th January 2008 | 10:39 PM

Kudos on a great initiative. We al lknow this will never see the light of day though which means more people will be accused and convicted of 'crimes' the presectors, judge and jury on subjects they are totslly ignorant of. Julie Ameros case I ave followed and it was so frustrating. Everyone involved in that trial needed a kick in the head.

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Sunday 24th February 2008 | 10:46 PM

This court is in session. The honourable Judge Dredd residing.

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Sunday 24th February 2008 | 11:13 PM

it is a good one in this computer

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Jim- Just a Guy

Monday 25th February 2008 | 05:54 AM

There really is too much going on in technology to expect some one that is not versed in it to try and make a decision when it comes to that technology. zI think a Technocourt is a great idea. Have judges that have an understanding of how all this stuff works. However that would be in favor of us the users. One thing that will keep it from happening is lobbyists. The MPAA and RIAA have too much money to throw at lobbyists to keep technocourt from becoming a reality. If it did they lose a lot more of their cases.

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