I have a lot of questions about how the RIAA and MPAA lawsuits actually
proceed. This curiosity is mainly akin to the rubber-neck traffic phenomenon.
One question I have is, why don't people just wipe their hard drives once
they've been notified? There may still be evidence of having possessed some
files, but it seems like in many situations this would significantly weaken the
Well, here's one reason; a District Court judge ruling in a case involving
Lemony Snicket's: A Series Of Unfortunate Events that the
defendant (Davis) should be subject to "spoiliation sanctions" because he wiped
his hard drive. Here's the PDF opinion.
At least the judge rejected Paramount's summary judgment request, which was
made on the basis that Davis's wiping of the drive (before Paramount named it
as evidence) proved his possession of the files. But he promises to apply the
sanctions at trial.
It's an interesting legal question, anyway. Davis provided a reason why he
needed to erase the hard drive; because he was getting ready to sell the
computer to someone. But the court said that he should have still preserved the
computer's "memory" [sic].
So was this destroying evidence and something that should be sanctioned? Or
should Paramount have filed a proper subpoena? Could they have?
There should certainly be a limit on how much a suit should be able to hold
your life hostage. Taken to the extreme, you wouldn't be able to alter anything
on the hard drive in question at all, because temporary files (for example)
stored on it might turn out to be evidence. To what degree is an accused person
responsible for guessing what might be evidence against them in a suit? I kind
of thought that this is why we had subpoenas to begin with.
It's probably a better idea to delete the selected files than to wipe the whole
drive, assuming you can delete them in such a way that they could not be
recovered without spending more money than Paramount would want to spend. I
wonder what the judge would say in that case. Have there been opinions