I just read this article by Analee Newitz about how media giant Columbia is changing the legal system in this country.
Some judge in California, Jacqueline Chooljian, decided to agree with Columbia. Here are the details:
Random access memory, or RAM, can best be described as working memory. Computers use RAM to hold all information necessary for the current operation to take place. It is considered volatile, meaning that when the computer is powered down all information contained within the RAM is lost.
Columbia argues that since users populating the site Torrentspy use the site's search feature to "infringe" on copyrights owned by Columbia, Torrentspy must turn over all evidence so that Columbia can prove that. The problem is that Torrentspy does not keep any records of its operations because all the information is run through their systems' RAM. Remember, RAM leaves no trail.
The judge agreed with Columbia. And if Torrentspy loses their appeal they must find a way to record all information that passes through their systems' RAM so that they can produce this information in the event that a future lawsuit occurs.
What this could mean is that any information that passes through a computer's RAM is subject to search and seizure. IM conversations, VoIP conversations, or anything produced by a computer are all subject.
This is a bad sign of things to come.
Alternet.org article: Megacorp Columbia Forces Frightening Legal Precedent