Those eminences would prefer that those they accuse simply hold still and allow themselves to be punished, even without going through the steps considered prerequisite for prosecuting anyone for stealing anything:
- A clear test of what it means to violate copyrights or ownership of digital content;
- Clear definitions of who is doing the infringing when one person stores a file in the cloud and another downloads, or even reads it; and
- How proven rules of evidence can be applied to "stolen" files that appear never to have gone anywhere or been exploited for commercial purposes by someone other than their creator.
Reflexively it's easy to say that both MegaUpload and the FBI acted improperly by copying, moving and benefiting from the digital files in the case.
Applying concrete, anal/retentive analysis to the specifics makes that much less clear, however, leaving other individuals and companies in danger of being similarly accused, without a solid, defensible set of criteria they could use ahead of time to decide whether or not they were breaking the law.
In some circles that may not be a big deal. In those populated by those who like to be called the Right Honorable or Esquire, though (legislators and lawyers) it's a fundamental requirement on which everything else is built.
Overall it would be better to actually have one, especially if the FBI and RIAA are going to be pushing so hard for the prosecution of those who violate it (or don't).
Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.