A side issue arising from the Peppermint affaire is the relationship between criminal and civil trials rule of evidence.
In a criminal investigation, access to ISP owned traffic data and log files is possible only with a public prosecutor search and seize warrant. One seized, these information are strictly confidential and cannot disclosed – even to the defense counsel – before the trial starts.
The very same data – as the Peppermint affaire shows – can indeed be obtained by a private entity alleging a civivl – not criminal, then – copyright infringement, just asking the civil court to force an ISP to disclose information.
This is a paradox of the Italian legal system, since criminal action is supposed to be the only reason to allow the breach of constitutional rights, while the a civil case only gives the court limited powers. This common-sense rule has been subverted when talking about copyright. Is it fair or acceptable?
As I mentioned in a previous post, Peppermint Records GmBH a German record label started a legal action against about 3.000 Italian internet users “accused” of illegally sharing its copyrighted material – namely, a song. The label was able to obtain a (questionable) court order to force a major Italian Telco to disclose the identity of the customers whose ADSL line was – allegedly – used to commit that “devious crime”.
Next step has been a flood of letters from an Italian law firm located in Bolzano (a place with a strong german-speaking minority – or, better, majority) asking, on behalf of Peppermint Record – for a compensation of 330,00 Euros, as sine qua to drop the legal action.
Marketing geniuses strike back. Buy a printer (expensive, BTW) bundled with a supplies agreement bundled, and, only after paid the device, discover that you need a password to have your own printer working. How do you get the password? Easy: subscribe the supplies agreement at a non-negotiable price, and “own” the printer as soon as you pay for the supplies agreement. The bottom line: you think you do own a printer, while actually don’t. That’s what happens – in short – if you purchase a Xerox printer with the PAGEPACK option.