"It was a pro-copyright ruling that stunned nearly everyone dealing with the issue of online piracy."
A federal judge in Los Angeles has determined that "a computer server's RAM, or random-access memory, is a tangible document that can be stored and must be turned over in a lawsuit." Needless to say with such a standing order, privacy issues are at an all time high with regards to web anonymity.
Ken Withers, director of judicial education at The Sedona Conference (an independent research group) states that "...people's fears about a potential invasion of privacy are quite warranted." He continues to say that: "The fear is that we're putting in the hands of private citizens and particularly well-financed corporations the same tools that heretofore were exclusively in the hands of criminal prosecutors, but without the sort of safeguards that criminal prosecutors have to meet, such as applying for search warrants."
In this particular case of using a computer's RAM as evidence, Dean McCarron--a principle analyst at Mercury Research--said that "the judge is erred by defining volatile computer memory as 'electronically stored information'." However, McCarron describes that a 'tap' can be used on servers in which it can store a running log of IP addresses and other information, but would prove expensive with so much data.
With the battle between TorrentSpy and the MPAA, the studios have, however, convinced the U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian that "it was necessary that they obtain records of user activity" where they convinced her to order the data be obtained from the server's RAM since TorrentSpy is allowed to redact IP addresses.
Judge Chooljian has stayed the order for TorrentSpy to log and mask IP's pending an appeal filed on Tuesday.
Source: C|Net News.com