The Motion Picture Association of America didn't mean to anger the corporate world when it filed suit for copyright infringement against file-sharing Web site TorrentSpy in February 2006. But that's exactly what it did when it filed a motion to compel the Netherlands-based company to produce key server information that's temporarily stored in random access memory (RAM).
All computers use RAM to store data temporarily. Its contents change frequently, and once a computer is turned off, RAM is completely wiped clean.
If the MPAA case becomes the standard, companies could have a duty to preserve all types of temporary information. That means companies could even have a legal obligation to preserve phone conversations conducted over VoIP networks.
"With VoIP literally every conversation over the phone exists briefly in the memory of the computer," says Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on Internet users' rights. "So do in-house counsel now have the obligation to record every phone conversation to search for potentially relevant information?"