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Intellectual Property and a Censored Slash Site?

Cliff posted more than 13 years ago | from the war-between-IP-and-Free-Speech dept.

Censorship 346

flikx sent in an issue that may affect several of us in the future, especially if you happen to work in a similar environment. It's a free speech issue, and one that puts a huge question mark on just how far U.S. First Amendment rights really extend. The short version: filkx ran a weblog called "SOS," for the laudable goal of providing an open discussion forum for student government issues. He had a steadfast rule of non-censorship, which soon landed him in political hot waters with the University of Utah. A new administration steps in, the site is shut down, and filkx now faces criminal charges, expulsion and a cute twist: the university claims that the site's content is now their own property. flikx notes, "I'd like to say up front that this is a fairly large and multifaceted issue, and would also like to draw attention to a related article up on Slashcode". You can read the details by clicking on the link.

The following is written by former-Slashsite admin, flikx:

Early last fall, I personally created a Slash site called SOS under student government for my University. I did everything myself with no outside help of any sort, and entirely volunteer. I have never been paid for my efforts in any way, and never expected monetary compensation. I did not actually work for the University, but was a student in Mechanical Engineering. I created said site with the ultimate goal of providing an open discussion forum and weblog for all students of the University.

During the course of operation of the site, I fielded numerous complaints about abuse to the site, and took them in a professional manner, though steadfastly refused to censor any content on the site. Remember that many in Utah are very conservative and dislike free speech on some levels...being fairly conservative myself, I never thougtht I'd run afoul of people. The problem is that I continuously ran afoul of politics as people threatened me repeatedly due to my failure to censor the site. The abuse was minimal, especially by Slashdot standards.

Six weeks ago, the administration censored the entire site due to the threat of legal action due to inapropriate content. The site was down for just over a week, and I was forced to implement strict posting guidelines and adopt a censorship policy for the site.

A new administration recently took over, and first on the list was to get rid of me, and the site. There's much more involved here in politics, plus scr1pt k1dd13 threats spoofed from my email and everything, but the bottom line is that the site was censored for good. The server was physically removed by the police, and the disks wiped after 'evidence' was removed. All known backups were destroyed, and they even obtained a protective order from me and banned me from the University property. I'm also suspended indefinately, and face immediate expulsion from the University. (BTW - I'm almost done with my Mechanical Engineering degree .. so this is not light by any means. If expelled, I'm forced to start over as a freshmen if I ever get into another school.)

So here's some of the problems with which I turn to the Slashdot crowd for a solution:

The administration threatened me, and had the legal team tell me that everything on the site is intellectual property of the University of Utah. Everything. That includes all stories, all comments, user accounts, even the graphic design I did. I have off-site backups of the site, and could easily redeploy the site elsewhere provided the time and hosting. I've already put 2000+ unpaid volunteer hours into the University, and they take away my work. It should be my right to operate an open discussion forum, but it seems that it's not.

What does the Slashdot crowd think about this issue? Should [or does] everything belong to my University? The only involvement the university had was hosting the site and buying the server, that's it. Obviously, the site could be moved elsewhere, and I still have a team together that could operate the site independant to the University. But as I am already being expelled and even facing criminal charges for 'computer crimes', this is far beyond your average Ask Slashdot."

Cliff: If you are interested in obtaining some context for this story, you can dig around the cached pages from SOS on Google.

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Well .. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#171386)

.. if Utah ever demonstrated more clearly that it needs to be atomized, I've never seen it. It has become readily apparent that the only way to salvage anything even remotely sane out of that state is to subject it to a cleansing thermonuclear fire, wait for the radiation to die down, and begin anew.

Wait a minute (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#171387)

"flikx" is a known associate of the Slashdot trolls and crap flooders at Geekizoid [geekizoid.com] . Has there been independent verification of this sob story? Because if there hasn't, I've got to believe that this is yet another example of the kiddies trolling the submission queue. Even if it is true, I have a hard time feeling sorry for these people. Sort of like the chickens coming home to roost, if you know what I mean.

Mark Rivaldi

Slashdot Trolled Again (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#171388)

This is the same guy who helps out with the troll haven geekizoid. Also, this guy has his own flikx_spork account. He admits to being a troll in his user bio. Slashdot, where do you want to troll today?

Re:Same Old Story (2)

jandrese (485) | more than 13 years ago | (#171392)

Flikx's motivations for creating the site are irrelvant. The site was created by him with no input from the university (other than some requests for censorship). U of U took his graphics and layout work (actually probably Slashcode layout for the most part).

The real kicker is the university grabbed Flikx's content simply because they owned the server. If I lent you my computer for you to write your dissertation on, does that mean I own your dissertation? If I let your borrow my pen and paper to write a letter does it mean I own the letter? If you put up a website on any ISP (which is what the University was acting as in this case, Flikx paid for the account with his tuition in the same way you would pay for ISP bills) does it mean the ISP owns everything you put up there? Technically, since the University has copyright on his work, the offsite backups he made are illegal and are grounds for a very hefty fine and inprisonment, and will be for 70 more years.
This is sensational but it illustrates how messed up the copyright system is currently. Technically, the university could claim copyright on any page you publish, take down the page, and the have you arrested for copying the page illegaly (for having the local working version on your computer).

Honestly, if he tries, I think he can get his copyright back in court, but the battle will be expensive and the university will probably still expell him and deny all attempts to transfer credits elsewhere. Isn't copyright law fun.

Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (4)

jandrese (485) | more than 13 years ago | (#171393)

Of course he couldn't set up anything simliar to SOS. The school has claimed copyright on his work, which means he has no rights to use it unless they are explicity given (unlikly). If he set up anything similar to what he already did, there is a good chance the school will slap him with a copyright infringement charge in addition to whatever else they are apparently doing. I'm surprised he can't get transfer credit anywhere though, certainly there are schools the country that are more liberal and will take his transfer credits instead of making him start over from square one.

If the school had simply said that they wouldn't host his site anymore and make him take it somewhere else, I'd agree with you 100%, but since they took all of his ideas and content and placed them under copyright, then I have to disagree with you. For that matter, what's to prevent ANY isp you host with from taking over your material? I mean the reason the school took it was because they owned the servers (although his tuition paid for those servers), but your ISP owns it's own servers as well. The same logic would seem to apply. I don't know many ISP TOSes that explicity protect your content from this sort of thing (0 actually).

Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.

You guys are missing the point (3)

alewando (854) | more than 13 years ago | (#171396)

SOS is based in Utah, and we have different legal and cultural norms here. The first amendment (ratified by the same idiots who brought us the secon amendment) may prevail in the Federal courts, but that doesn't mean we enforce it to the same extent in the state courts.

And even if we did, it'd be irrelevant here. The first amendment exists to protect political speech, but SOS wasn't at all about political speech. It was about student life on campus, hardly the sort of important cultural discussion governments have historically suppressed and without which American democracy cannot exist. What's more, the "speech" in question was mere anonymous insults: the lowest form of speech you can get (excluding pornography and flag burning, which aren't even speech).

When the Founding Fathers broke away from England and enacted the bill of rights, they didn't intend for it to apply to this sort of situation. Heck, judging from their own passage of the "Alien and Sedition Act", they didn't even intend to protect actual political speech within their own time. And yet you come whining to slashdot to pretend that your own personal website, hosted with the bandwidth of a private university, is somehow more important?

Dan, you need to learn to distinguish between personal discomfort and political outrage. The university is well within its rights (and upholding its duty to instill good moral character within its students) when they treat your site this way. And since you could get your site hosted for $30/mo at any number of non-Utah hosting companies, I have no sympathy for you.

This is not about speech. This is not about freedom. This is just a student bitching about the "fascist administration". Nothing to see here; please move along.

Play dirty... (2)

mattkime (8466) | more than 13 years ago | (#171401)

Make your case known on campus. See if you can get support from student organizations.

Universities tend to be very image conscious organizations. They feel you were making them look bad in the public eye. If you can make thier recent actions against you look worse than what they did to you, they may change their mind very quickly.

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (2)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 13 years ago | (#171415)

I'm surprised he can't get transfer credit anywhere though...

The school may not have an obligation to award him credit for transfer. Remember that transcripts are sent from school to school and sealed with the school seal.

Pan

Whose server & Bandwidth were you using? (1)

Evro (18923) | more than 13 years ago | (#171423)

If the server and bandwidth was owned/provided by the University it sounds like they'll win in any court. Regardless of who owned the Intellectual Property, they own the physical property. But IANAL.

__________________________________________________ ___

Play DIRTIER. . . (5)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 13 years ago | (#171424)

Yes, student demonstrations get noticed. But dissatisfaction from donating alumni gets a LOT more notice.

Find like-minded Alumni. Organize them. Then have them complain to both the Alumni Association and the University itself. And have them threaten to cut off all future donations.

It's the advice of the late Robert A. Heinlein... [spearweasel.com] :

Never appeal to a man's "better nature". He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.

It's dirty pool, but VERY effective. . . .

Let them have it? (1)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 13 years ago | (#171425)

They say the content all belongs to them? Let them have it. Insist it was their's all along. So the school is responcible for the offencive content.

Probally won't work, though. :(

--

I had a similar situation (5)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 13 years ago | (#171433)

I once ran a similar site at RumorsDaily.com [rumorsdaily.com] (it's since been disbanded due to my graduation). It started as a sort of underground news source, mainly focusing on Student Government and later on expanded to all sorts of student opinion and online discussion at Tufts University [tufts.edu] .

I was personally threatened with lawsuits from students twice, and was personally visited by the Secret Service once (someone threatened Al Gore's life). The school was very unhappy about the whole concept of open student opinion and once or twice made veiled criticisms. The school's Daily paper [tuftsdaily.com] made some low level threats at a lawsuit as well.

Basically, what I'm saying is that it's a very treacherous ground you tread upon when you start giving people in real world community the ability to attack each other anonymously in an online community. I eventually set up a list of posting guidelines which is very loosely enforced... my rule eventually became, if the person is not a public figure, don't talk about them. If they are a public figure, you can talk about whatever you like, just don't threaten or impersonate them. (I always felt dirty the few times that I removed posts, but I just didn't want to deal with the hassle of a lawsuit that I assumed I would lose).

I'm not really sure why I chimed in, but I wanted to support anyone else who's tried to run this sort of site. You get a lot of flak and you spend a lot of time to make something that people enjoy using, and then you get beaten upon, criticized and eventually shut down, all because people fail to get along. It's really a shame. My site grew to about 1000 hits a day before I removed it from the public discourse, I know what it's like.

I however, early on made the decision to get my site OFF the University's equipment and onto my own server offsite. This way the school had no grounds for officially shutting down the site, or making off with the server. They had no control over a site operating off school grounds, Acceptable Use Policy or no.

So I guess that's my ultimate suggestion, if you're going to do something like this

  • A: Be prepared for a lot of crap and a lot of threats.
  • B: Get yourself off servers or services that aren't being paid for directly by you, otherwise you'll never have the control or authority that you need.

Good luck in the future to anyone who tries this... I personally found it very rewarding, but it took a lot of suffering.

--

I think... (2)

majcher (26219) | more than 13 years ago | (#171440)

...that you're probably screwed. It's not fair, but from what I can tell, you're boned. Were you using the school's computers to host the site? Were you using the school's network? You're out of luck. For sure, make a stink, get your story heard, get the word about the Mormon fascists out there, but don't expect any resolution in your favor on this one.

Re:You guys are missing the point (2)

Penrif (33473) | more than 13 years ago | (#171449)

When the Founding Fathers broke away from England and enacted the bill of rights, they didn't intend for it to apply to this sort of situation.

How the hell do you know? How many of them have you asked about this specific case. I just love people who claim to know other's intents.

Other than that, sure, the University has all the rights in the world to pull his site. There's much more too it, however. They should not expel him or bring him up on criminal charges. They really shouldn't be claiming ownership of his work. Ug.

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (2)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 13 years ago | (#171453)

The University of Utah, as do most universities, has a code of conduct. If he violated it, then they have no obligation to support his speech by lending him their servers, bandwidth, domain name, etc.

That would be OK, if they would allow him to restart the site elsewhere. However, they're not; the U has actually claimed IP rights over the entire site - all of Dan's work, all of the stories, and all of the comments posted by users. He has been threatened with legal action if he tries to restart the site elsewhere using his offsite backups. I could see that particular action being legal (if hard to swallow) were Dan paid to create the site under University sanction...but he didn't. He did it voluntarily for the student government.

Flikx is not being oppressed, he simply lost the support of those sponsoring him (through use of their equipment), and he must find another sponsor.

As I mentioned above, he very clearly is being oppressed, since the University won't let him find another sponsor.

Contact Them (1)

addaon (41825) | more than 13 years ago | (#171457)

As a student at the University of Utah, I took it upon myself to fire off an e-mail to the President's office, to get their point of view on the issue and to make clear that I am less than pleased. I recommend all the UU students who feel strongly about this issue do the same; I doubt, though, that non-students writing in would be well received, so I shan't post an e-mail address here.

Whenever I get a reply, I'll post it in reply to this, so if you're interested, check back in a day or three.

Uh oh... (1)

Monthenor (42511) | more than 13 years ago | (#171461)

The new student administration here at NDSU wants to start something similar, with student opinions of teachers, courses, and texts...I hope nobody starts flaming it and causes something like this.

BTW, the site is scheduled to go up at Bisonpride.com [bisonpride.com] , under the watchful eye of gogeek.org [gogeek.org]

Heh, we yanked the URL right out from under them...
------------------------

This phrase "free speech"... (1)

throx (42621) | more than 13 years ago | (#171463)

...I do not think it means what you think it means (for some blatant karma whoring).

Free speech (despite the opinions of some of the /. eds and some of the peanut gallery) doesn't mean you can say anything you like, or that you can publish anything you like. Take some more obvious examples:

i) You cannot walk up to someone and say "Do you have some drugs".
ii) You cannot publish a list of where and when to stand on a particular street corner to get cheap goods if you know there is a very good probability that those goods have been stolen.
iii) You cannot (in your own privacy) group together with like minded individuals for the purpose of committing a crime (say assassinating the president).
iv) You cannot publish information the government has deemed sensitive.

[Note that (ii) above is actually very similar to what Napster does, or used to do before filters]

Basically, while you have the right to say anything you like in an abstract sense you do NOT have the right to say anything you like at all. The primary right to free speech is the right to criticize the government and publicly state what you feel would be a better way of doing things - when that right is removed you do not have a democratic system anymore.

In the case mentioned in this article there isn't even an issue of free speech involved. Someone has donated work to the university and the university has decided that work is now inappropriate. The UNIVERSITY owns the work and can do whatever the hell it likes. If the offsite backups are used then the university has the right to sue for theft of its property. Face it - the site will NEVER get back up.

As for the criminal charges: I can only assume there is more to the story - probably something to do with access to backups, or theft of some computer media (ie tapes)?

When are people going to learn that while a democracy preserves some rights, it also limits those rights with an individuals responsibility to the society as a whole. Democracy is NOT anarchy and never will be. The sooner people grow up and learn what responsibility is the better!

IANAL, however . . . (1)

Skyfire (43587) | more than 13 years ago | (#171466)

It would make sense, that if the University did not like the site they could most probably stop hosting it... However, eliminating all backups and trying to expel you is almost surely out of the realm of how far they can go...

What did you do... (1)

JediLuke (57867) | more than 13 years ago | (#171470)

...to piss them off so they'd do that. what was the final blow that made the university step in. usually its something they don't like that makes them look bad, or some complaint about how stuff works. honestly that whole expulsion thing is a load of crap. if they just were worried about bandwidth they would have just shut him down...not had the cops come and take his stuff and ERASE IT! thats way outta line. it he was running a pr0n/warez server out of his dorm room i could understand the universities desire to press that sort of action. but he was simply running an open forum for students. isn't there some law that says universities cannot supress a students rights? especially freedom of speech (or our twist on that i guess).

JediLuke

My advice: buckle. (4)

mwalker (66677) | more than 13 years ago | (#171476)

"I'm also suspended indefinately, and face immediate expulsion from the University."

I'm confused by the fact that you seem to be putting ownership of the site and your possible expulsion in the same bag. To me, the two issues are very different. Graduating is way more important. And as long as they've got that paper over you, they are God. Don't ever think the law comes into play. My advice is to suck it up, write an apology, secretly get what legal & PR advice you can afford, and do whatever it takes to get your degree.

Once you're gone, you can worry about starting up the site again, and who owns it, and whatnot. Once you're out of the state's jurisdiction, have a lawyer, and anonymous hosting in, say, Sealand, you can be as big a pain in the ass to them as you want. Right now you're a bug they can crush. The only chance you've got is to apologize and make them look bad in the public eye for expelling an innocent student.

You need that degree, man. You don't want to start over, trust me.

P.S. some more detail on the actual charges, any acceptable use policies you may or may not have violated, etc., would be useful to us readers.

They're upset? (5)

mwalker (66677) | more than 13 years ago | (#171477)

For those of you who are wondering what the administration is all upset about, I give you what I believe to be my first clue [google.com] about that.

Follow their Network Connection Acceptable Use Policy [utah.edu] to their Information Resources Policy [utah.edu] to their Student Rights Section [utah.edu] and read this:

E. Freedom from Discrimination and Sexual Harassment. Students have a right to be free from illegal discrimination and sexual harassment. University policy prohibits discrimination, harassment or prejudicial treatment of a student because of his/her race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, or status as an individual with a disability, disabled veteran, or veteran of the Vietnam era.

If I were a university administrator, taking down this site would be like shooting fish in a barrel. They don't have to be troubled by the fact that the administrator didn't write the offending posts, that's just an administrative detail to them.

The question is whether they're living up to part D of the student rights in expelling him:

D. Due Process. Students have a right to due process in any disciplinary matter involving the possibility of substantial sanctions. This includes a right to be heard, a right to decision and review by impartial persons or bodies, and a right to adequate notice.

But since we haven't been provided any of the details as to the charges he's facing, we can't really speak to that.

Re:You guys are missing the point (2)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 13 years ago | (#171481)

...the lowest form of speech you can get (excluding ... flag burning, which [isn't] even speech).

Are you from the same country (USA) as me? Here we have the right to disagree with our government. It is my civil obligation to speak up when I disagree with my government.

Burning the flag is a statement that you disagree with government, and disagree strongly. If such a political statement is not speech, and not protected speech as intended by the framers of the constitution, I don't know what is.

Call your local ACLU .... (5)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#171482)

at the very least you'll get some free legal advice, at the best maybe free representation.

Utah has a Freedom of Information act (3)

alispguru (72689) | more than 13 years ago | (#171487)

See here [reporters.net] . If the content now belongs to a state institution, you might be able to make them release it by asking to see it under FOIA. IANAL, but there are references on the page above to Utah locals who are lawyers and who know the local FOIA.
Once you get the stuff legally viewable again, you can host it somewhere other than University-owned equipment.
Also, your university no doubt has some boiler-plate in its mission statement about freedom of intellectual inquiry or something similar. Look it up and be ready to quote it to the media if/when they talk to you.

arrested? (3)

mach-5 (73873) | more than 13 years ago | (#171489)

OK, I can see them yanking your site if they didn't like it. Their servers, their right to what's on them. However, pressing criminal charges and having you banned from campus seems a little harsh. They could at least have slapped your wrist first and talked to you about it. Obviously, it seems to me like the university was hiding something that your site was bringing out. Do they want you gone because you know something that they don't want you to? I'm sorry, but expulsion and criminal charges just seem a little harsh to me.

Host it somewhere else & Appeals are good (1)

Blasphemy (78348) | more than 13 years ago | (#171492)


First of all, check with your student union. They should have an ombudsman or something. Also, check with your Uni's school of Law (if they have one). Law students will often give free advice and even represent fello students, just for practice. You need advice (and these posts don't count). After you have someone on your side, find out about your school's appeals process (they must have one).

Second, put the site back up. It seems that it was useful, at least to the students. If you can't find a place, drop me a line.

Remember, ERTW... And if all else fails, hang a VW bug from the library.

Standard /. Legal Advice Response (1)

stomv (80392) | more than 13 years ago | (#171495)

Hey kid: Get a lawyer.

Ignore everything and everyone else here until you do so. Go to the press only after you have protected yourself. This includes places like slashdot.

I repeat: Get a lawyer.

Re:You guys are missing the point (1)

Sandor at the Zoo (98013) | more than 13 years ago | (#171502)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Notice how it doesn't say anything about "only political speech", or "no whining".

Notice how it doesn't say "The University of Utah shall make no law". The first amendment doesn't necessarily apply here. I know that some of the Bill of Rights have been extended such that states cannot make laws which abridge those rights, but I don't know how that extends to state universities. Anyone?

Same Old Story (3)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#171505)

The administration threatened me, and had the legal team tell me that everything on the site is intellectual property of the University of Utah. Everything. That includes all stories, all comments, user accounts, even the graphic design I did. I have off-site backups of the site, and could easily redeploy the site elsewhere provided the time and hosting. I've already put 2000+ unpaid volunteer hours into the University, and they take away my work. It should be my right to operate an open discussion forum, but it seems that it's not.

It is U of U's intellectual property. Flikx did not create this on his own server for his own reasons. He said himself that he had created it for student government. The notion that he has IP rights because he did some coding and administration is like saying that the SlashCode team has IP rights over the site because they wrote the software.

When it comes down to it, the site was designed for U of U, run on U of U servers, with U of U's name on it. Flikx put in a lot of time and effort, but that doesn't mean that he gets the IP rights to it.

(Ooooh, challenging the open source underdog instead of big brother. See how fast this gets modded down.)

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (3)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#171506)

Yes, but he's also getting expelled for putting up the site. How would you feel if you were kicked out of school after working on degree that you're almonst done with.

His academic status is irrelevant. It's a shame, yes, but the fact that we pity him doesn't make him correct. He used U of U resources in a way that apparently violated their code of conduct.

I'm not saying "Flikx sucks, U of U rules." I can see it from the university's perspective, though. If JonKatz started posting Slashdot articles about how stupid Linux is, you can be that he wouldn't be around for long. He has a right to say those things, on his own time, on his own server.

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (3)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#171507)

That would be OK, if they would allow him to restart the site elsewhere. However, they're not; the U has actually claimed IP rights over the entire site - all of Dan's work, all of the stories, and all of the comments posted by users.

He himself said that he created the site for the university. That means that they actually do have IP rights over the site. He can create a similar site elsewhere, but that site belongs to the university. He doesn't own it any more than the guy who wrote the HTML for Microsoft's website owns the site itself.

Free Speech != Supported Speech (5)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#171509)

This is simply not a free speech issue. The University of Utah, as do most universities, has a code of conduct. If he violated it, then they have no obligation to support his speech by lending him their servers, bandwidth, domain name, etc.

When will people get this through their heads? There is a significant difference between "free speech" and "supported speech." Flikx is not being oppressed, he simply lost the support of those sponsoring him (through use of their equipment), and he must find another sponsor.

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (5)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#171510)

He is not being discriminated against. The University is censoring itself, not him. He was doing the work, but it was for their site, and with their name on it. If a leet haxor defaces Slashdot, CmdrTaco wouldn't be violating that haxor's "free speech" rights by taking it down. Likewise, the U of U was protecting its own identity by removing content that represented it, not flikx. If Flikx had his own website, independent from U of U, they couldn't touch him.

point well missed (1)

rodentia (102779) | more than 13 years ago | (#171511)

a) The First Amendment applies equally to all citizens of the US, whatever bohunk jurisdiction you happen to find yourself in.

b) As pointed out in an interview here yesterday, the First Amendment protects *expressive* speech, not some limited set of useful political speech. Your value judgements have no place here.

c) There is a body of case law surrounding just such issues as this. One off the top of my head found that HS administrators did not have the right to constrain expression within a school newspaper published under the aegis of the school, with school funds and with teacher supervision. Schools have the right to enjoin speech within some pretty narrow rules: if it threatens imminent lawlessness or physical harm, IIRC. The Supremes ruled on this one and I recall O'Conner's opinion remarking that students did not leave their constitutional rights at the doors of the school. I don't have a Westlaw client handy, but if I find it, I'll post it.

Sorry, but... (2)

Count Spatula (103735) | more than 13 years ago | (#171515)

If the site was on university computers, it's theirs. Too bad that you're being screwed hard here, but there is a code of conduct for university machines, and you obviously broke it. I'm not trying to be mean, but these are the facts. Had you had this site on an off-campus server, you would actually have a case. Yet, since it was on a server belonging to the university, you probably have no recourse.

However, I don't see how they can expel you. Sure, take away your computing 'rights' on campus, but expulsion seems a little harsh. Get a good lawyer and maybe you'll get out of the charges. Good luck.

filkx needs a lawyer (1)

keithmoore (106078) | more than 13 years ago | (#171517)

first of all, it's not clear that a publically funded institution has the right to censor its students' speech at all, unless that student is somehow breaking a law (libel, copyright violation, etc.). second, a student at a public institution cannot be suspended without cause, which generally means that the student has to have broken some university regulation. even then it should require some kind of due process. third, if the university really has destroyed the content of the site (including backups) then it may have destroyed evidence that the student could use to defend himself. a lawyer is needed to figure out the specifics - but if the article is accurate, the folks responsible for this crime should be made to pay dearly.

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (3)

Artagel (114272) | more than 13 years ago | (#171526)

Hold on -- he is entitled to not be discriminated against because of the content of the speech. If you get to continue speaking because the university legal department likes your point of view, but get gagged if they don't that's content regulation.

If the government is going to support private speech, it cannot discriminate based on whether it agrees or not. (Distinguished from the situation where the government is the speaker -- then the government gets to send the message it wants.)

fuck-the-skull-of-jesus.mit.edu (1)

wunderhorn1 (114559) | more than 13 years ago | (#171527)

maybe you should've gone to MIT? Their standards seem MUCH more relaxed:
http://fuck-the-skull-of-jesus.mit.edu/ [mit.edu]
"The home of iconoclasm on the MIT web."

Re:Move it elsewhere. (2)

Smitty825 (114634) | more than 13 years ago | (#171528)

Yea, You could also try Toolshed51.com [toolshed51.com] The owner of the site was kicked out of my University [sdsu.edu] for posting "offensive" stuff about the university president on his webpage! He's been out to get school administrators since then, so let him know who you are and he will certainly get you a special deal on hosting...

Not nessesarily screwed... (5)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 13 years ago | (#171537)

If they claim you violated some "policy" demand a copy of the policy. If they claim you violated something that was on a student agreement then
1) Demand a copy of the agreement
2) Was this agreement signed by you and by them ?
3) Were you 18 when you signed it ?

Do they HAVE any policy about student run sites (ownership/copyright/etc. ), then demand to see them.

You DO have some recourses. You SHOULD get a lawyer though as protection. You may be able to prove harassment by the school (maybe not)..

free legal advice (1)

paranoic (126081) | more than 13 years ago | (#171539)

1st - get a lawyer (Can't afford one? Think of how much a 4 year degree is really worth.)
2nd - find everything agreement with the university that you or your parents signed.

Did you sign away any intellectual property rights?
What exactly did you agree to pertaining to the use of their network?

And most importantly talk to reporters/professors and turn this into a free speech issue.

Wow, this is 10x worse. (1)

BiggestPOS (139071) | more than 13 years ago | (#171543)

Than what happened to me. I got expelled from school [etbu.edu] for publishing a web-site that ran the administration the wrong way, but I never went to jail. The real kicker was when we got a version printed and blanketed campus with them, specifically the president of the university's car. It was beautiful, once he found out about them, he sent his goons all over campus to collect any they could find. Then there was the time we broke into the school's post office and put one in everyones mail-box. The only problem with that was, when a prof checked their mail, noticed it, and immediately had all the mail-boxes searched/relieved of our foul propaganda. The lengths we went to to try and keep the student body informed.

Re:You guys are missing the point (1)

blackdefiance (142579) | more than 13 years ago | (#171549)

What's more, the "speech" in question was mere anonymous insults: the lowest form of speech you can get (excluding pornography and flag burning, which aren't even speech).

Flag burning has been protected by the supreme court. That's why there's a big push to amend the constitution to outlaw it.

Fight back hard. Call the ACLU. (2)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 13 years ago | (#171550)

The criminal charges were not mentioned. Or was it just the University police.

Check the rules of the University, see if they own whatever is placed on their server. If not, then they destroyed your copywriten code. Since they were not your employer, they don't have any sort of automatic right to it -- which means unless you explicitly given it to them and they compensated you for it, it's yours! Since it's a state school you have due process rights.

Re:You guys are missing the point (1)

eaolson (153849) | more than 13 years ago | (#171552)

SOS is based in Utah, and we have different legal and cultural norms here. The first amendment (ratified by the same idiots who brought us the secon amendment) may prevail in the Federal courts, but that doesn't mean we enforce it to the same extent in the state courts.
Fiddle, faddle. Unless the Civil War turned out significantly different than I remember from high school civics class, Utah is still part of the Union. As such, the US Constitution trumps the State Constitution and certainly any such "legal and cultural norms."
And even if we did, it'd be irrelevant here. The first amendment exists to protect political speech...
No, (IANAL) the 1st amendment protects all speech. Political speech is just held to a particularly high degree of protection. Plus, this site apparently was for discussions of the student government of a state instiution, so it was a form of political speech.
Dan, you need to learn to distinguish between personal discomfort and political outrage. The university is well within its rights (and upholding its duty to instill good moral character within its students)
Yes, good moral character. When someone does or says something you don't like, don't respond to them in a civilized fashion. Instead, try to destroy their career.

Re:Same Old Story (2)

Misch (158807) | more than 13 years ago | (#171558)

I have to agree. It's in many of the agreements you have signed with your university. They get IP rights over your work. More often, they get full IP rights. Look at Mosaic. Netscape had to start from scratch because they couldn't use the Mosaic stuff that had been previously developed for use. Your thesis are also copyrighted (read: owned) by the university too. They can republish your work as they see fit. (Note, you usually get a little more control over what gets done with your thesis.), but generally, anything you create that goes over the schools network belongs to the school.

What are the charges? The rationale? (1)

TTop (160446) | more than 13 years ago | (#171560)

I noticed a curious lack of details about what criminal charges have been made and the reason for the obtained protective order -- hopefully the author can fill us in. I wonder if this is something that the Electronic Frontier Foundation would get involved in? Maybe not, but maybe the ACLU? The University of Utah's argument to owning the content is strange -- if someone at the same University wrote an original poem on a blackboard in the classroom, would the University own that poem? How about a new mathematical theorem? Why is this different because the data stored electronically?

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (1)

RedOregon (161027) | more than 13 years ago | (#171562)

Agreed. As long as you're using the school's equipment and bandwidth, you're probably out of luck. Now when you get set up on an outside server... that's a whole new can of beans.

____

Call a lawyer - But I'm not surprised. (1)

Moosifer (168884) | more than 13 years ago | (#171565)

Having lived in Utah for the past ten years, I've seen too many episodes of this sort for this story to surprise me. It is all too common for the various institutions of the state to conduct witch-hunts designed, ostensibly, to do little more than utterly ruin people in the name of morality. My solution has been to never align myself with these sorts of institutions; somewhat difficult to do - but becoming increasingly less so. Remaining distanced from and independent of them saves you having to live in constant fear of ever becoming one of the bad-guys, and being ostracized. Sure, I'm not one of the boys, and I'm denied certain privileges, but it's still worthwhile for me - I recognize it as one of the prices I have to pay for choosing to live in Utah. Is this normal? Should it apply to a University? A University in Utah other than BYU? No - it isn't and it shouldn't. But that doesn't change the fact that it still does - even at the UofU. Again, things are getting progressively better here, but we'll still have to wait about another generation before reason reigns over perceived moral superiority, and the ensuing compelling need to make the world a better place by crushing your fellow Utahn gone astray.

First, get a lawyer. You REALLY need a lawyer. (5)

arete (170676) | more than 13 years ago | (#171566)

Get a lawyer first. No question. Only they can really work out all the details.

More than likely they can kick you out (although they may not have followed their own due process giving you ample opportunity to remedy) and they can certainly choose not to host it.

They might even own whatever you did because it was on their server. Maybe. But I'd guess probably not. And even if they own whatever you did, they might not own all the posts.

If they give you an option to stay in school, I'd take it, personally.

Now, if someone who wasn't a student and didn't use your code were to restart it, well, that wouldn't be a problem. _IF_ they actually expel you, I would probably let someone else start it back up. And I'm not convinced a more liberal school wouldn't accept you, possibly even some with transfer value.

The rest of the story? (2)

edp (171151) | more than 13 years ago | (#171567)

There must be something you are not telling us. The administration is not likely to just "threaten you" as you report without some basis. What is it they say you did that gives them grounds for banning, suspending, and expelling you? Do they say you violated school rules? Which rules? Do they say you violated an agreement? What agreement?

Re:I think... (4)

Sawbones (176430) | more than 13 years ago | (#171578)

... get the word about the Mormon fascists out there...

You're thinking of BYU [byu.edu] . The University of Utah is a state run school. I doubt the administration's possible religious following makes a difference anyway - would you have include a comment about the Drunken Irish Catholics if this had happened at Duke?

I hate intollerant people.

One sided.......... (2)

RobertAG (176761) | more than 13 years ago | (#171579)

All I see here is one side of the story. Maybe the university WAS right in taking down the web site. Were slanderous comments posted? Who knows? Was this person abusing bandwidth? Did he refuse to comply with the university's rules?

This is a VERY one-sided article and therefore it is difficult to draw ANY conclusions. As far as I know, the US Constitution does NOT protect against all speech. That deemed slanderous or intentionally harmful (ie yelling "FIRE" in a crowded place) is not protected. However, if you were hosting a politically or religiously critical web site, then you have every right to state your opinions.

You said that all backups were destroyed. Well, don't YOU keep any backups for yourself? Just what was being kept, anyway?

Whining won't get you sympathy. You must show valid proof that you were persecuted. For all I know, you're a Nazi Skinhead.

Overstepped authority (2)

DeadVulcan (182139) | more than 13 years ago | (#171585)

The University of Utah, as do most universities, has a code of conduct. If he violated it, then they have no obligation to support his speech by lending him their servers, bandwidth, domain name, etc.

I generally agree. However, the issue is different: flikx was hosting a site that allowed others to speak freely.

That the university can claim ownership of the site's design is debatable, but likely to fall in favour of the University.

It seems to me that the central issue is whether flikx had the authority to give others permission to speak freely on what is essentially a University-owned web site.

I don't see any easy way out of that argument, although I do not think it warrants criminal charges.

--

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (2)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 13 years ago | (#171586)

Its deeper than that. He was allowed to operate by his own rules for a time and then the rules were changed right out from under him. Its the facing getting tossed that bugs me.

Re:You guys are missing the point (1)

WildBill1941 (187641) | more than 13 years ago | (#171589)

alewando, you are missing the point:

The university may be within its rights in taking down the server as it may have been their property - as crappy as it sounds, they may be within their rights to expel him. (IANAL). However, the student is within his civil rights to, as you put it, "bitch about the fascist administration".

Who are you to judge what's free speech and what's not? To quote the exact wording of the Bill of Rights:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Notice how it doesn't say anything about "only political speech", or "no whining". He's free to bitch and moan about the administration as he pleases. The key mistake that was made was (possibly) using university equipment to do that. Hypothetically, if he owned the server, and paid for the bandwidth, this would be a non-issue - but it sounds like this was a student-body site.

And FYI, pornography can be considered free speech. Freedom of the press. Just cause you don't like it, doesn't mean that you can dismiss it. If you don't like it, don't buy it, or turn your head if you see a Hustler in the 7-11. But I'll be there, grinning, reading the thing.

Move it elsewhere. (2)

sulli (195030) | more than 13 years ago | (#171614)

Go to SlashHosting [slashhosting.com] or some such - they're cheap. Restart the site under a new name, at a domain name you own. Then if the university sues you for use of "their intellectual property" you will have a stronger case - unless you signed an agreement that the U. does in fact own your IP, which is not too bloody likely.

Also don't forget the court of public opinion. Newspapers eat this shit up. Think of Teacher Review, [teacherreview.com] a site that some teachers San Francisco State University unsuccessfully tried to shut down. Press coverage was very sympathetic to the students who ran it, and hostile to the objecting teachers who (correctly) were perceived as whiners who couldn't take some criticism.

why not host it yourself (1)

jchristopher (198929) | more than 13 years ago | (#171618)

It always makes me wonder when I read an article such as this - if you're working on something controversial, why would you host it on your University or Employers server? Cough up the money and get your hosting.

Come on, you're in UTAH and you're surprised when they want to sanitize your content?

this guy is a moron (1)

jchristopher (198929) | more than 13 years ago | (#171619)

I think you're a total dumbass. You're in UTAH and you're surprised when they want to censor it?

You built it using their server, and their bandwidth, and now you're mad that they want to control it? IT'S A UNIVERSITY WEBSITE.

Next time pay for the hosting yourself, preferably in a state outside Mormon-ville, and chalk this up as a lesson to NEVER host anything important on your employer, or a university, webserver.

If you want it to be "yours", then put it on YOUR server that YOU pay for, work on it on YOUR time, and then there can be no question of ownership. Anything else is foolish.

P.S. I think it sucks that you could be expelled for this. Unfair. You're still a dumbass though.

ACLU (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 13 years ago | (#171621)

The ACLU would rip these guys a new asshole....

Jaysyn

What are we missing here? (1)

yali (209015) | more than 13 years ago | (#171623)

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like there's some info missing from this story. What was the "inappropriate content" that the university objects to? On what grounds are they threatening to arrest you, flikx -- is it because of the site, or because of the spoofed emails (that they might believe really came from you)?

Not that I necessarily don't believe you, but the university's reaction sounds awfully harsh for what you describe. If they believe you did something genuinely bad that you didn't do, like make threats (or instigate others' threats), that doesn't make them right, but it might make them sound a little more reasonable. If so, your defense might be more effective if it's based on presenting evidence that you didn't do the genuinely bad thing(s) they think you did, rather than asserting your freedom of speech.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171624)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171625)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171626)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171627)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171628)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171629)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171630)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171631)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171632)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171633)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171634)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171635)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171636)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Such a site at the U. of U. is asking for trouble (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 13 years ago | (#171637)

Utah is quite different [deserettribune.com] from the rest of the US. Unwritten rules of many kinds are of far greater importance than the first amendment there.
Although the University of Utah [utah.edu] is rather open-minded compared to, say, BYU [byu.edu] , I'm not at all surprised that this site got shut down.

Emotional arguments (1)

Sheepdot (211478) | more than 13 years ago | (#171639)

Do you have any more specifics? I'm interested in *where* the site was hosted, *what* you had on it (any university-owned fonts?), and if they had given you any prior warning that you would be in trouble.

I'm empathetic at times, but before I send the University of Utah a nasty email in your defense, I'd like to be certain of the exact situation.

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (3)

Cirvam (216911) | more than 13 years ago | (#171645)

So because they don't support his speech they are allowed to sue him, expel him and confisctate his intelectual property? So if /. doesn't like your speech they can declare that they own your comments and pursue legal action?

Sounds like he is getting the short end of the stick.

University Policy (1)

frostyboy (221222) | more than 13 years ago | (#171650)

The university of Utah's "Information Resources Policy" is here:

http://www.admin.utah.edu/ppmanual/1/1-15.html [utah.edu]

Since the site in question was hosted on a university server, or at least was using the university's network the first ammendment is not a valid argument here.

The university owns the equimpent and resources and can give and take away what they want. From the policy:

The University of Utah makes available Information Resources which may be used by University students, faculty, staff and others. These resources are intended to be used for educational purposes and the legitimate business of the University and in a manner consistent with the public trust. Appropriate use of the resources includes instruction, independent study, authorized research, independent research and the official work of the offices, departments, recognized student and campus organizations of the University.

Access to computer systems and/or networks owned or operated by the University of Utah imposes responsibilities and obligations on its Users. Access is granted subject to University and Board of Regents policies, and local, state, and federal laws. Appropriate use is ethical, reflects academic honesty, and shows restraint in the utilization of shared resources. Appropriate use is consistent with intellectual property rights, ownership of data, system security mechanisms, and rights to privacy and to freedom from intimidation, harassment, and annoyance.

This does seem a bit harsh though, and although I've read some of the google cache, I can't help but feel that perhaps we're missing part of the story, and the univeristy has it out for this guy for other reasons as well.....

Intellectual Property (1)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 13 years ago | (#171651)

Seems to me that unless your site had a specific message to the contrary, the rights to the posts belong to the authors. As for the rights to the material you wrote, unless you signed something (or clicked through an agreement) stating that all material you placed on the system became the property of the University, such a restriction cannot be retroactively imposed. Note that you could have previously agreed to this in any of a number of documents, starting as early as your application to enter the University.

Of course, if you signed an agreement like that and failed to inform posters of the loss of their rights, there may be cause for a class action suit :-)

Re:You guys are missing the point (1)

buthaggler (226441) | more than 13 years ago | (#171656)

I agree. You should have hosted elsewhere. But I do empathize with the oppression that you are experiencing. Sue them anyway !!!

Some quick thoughts... (1)

fallen1 (230220) | more than 13 years ago | (#171660)

It appears that the University has forgotten to read their own Student Handbook and Bill of Rights [utah.edu] .

Quoting from the opening paragraph:

The University supports the intellectual, personal, social and ethical development of members of the University community. These goals can best be achieved in an open and supportive environment that encourages reasoned discourse, honesty, and respect for the rights of all individuals. Students at the University of Utah are encouraged to exercise personal responsibility and self discipline and engage in the rigors of discovery and scholarship.

And under the Bill of Rights:
D. Due Process. Students have a right to due process in any disciplinary matter involving the possibility of substantial sanctions. This includes a right to be heard, a right to decision and review by impartial persons or bodies, and a right to adequate notice.
F. Freedom of Expression. Students have a right to examine and communicate ideas by any lawful means. Students may not be subject to discipline because of their constitutionally protected exercise of freedom of association, assembly, expression and the press.

So, it seems to me that under the school's very own rules our slashsiter has legal and school recourse. The ACLU will run with this...

Re:Your pretty much SOL here. (1)

acceleriter (231439) | more than 13 years ago | (#171663)

After all, it is their stuff,

It is not "their stuff." The stuff belongs to the taxpayers of the State of Utah and the U.S. (since the Federal government is more probably partially funding the education of >50% of their students). As a public university, which is a government agency, the school is subject to the First Amendment. If they don't want to allow hosting on university servers, they might be able to pull that off, but there's no basis for criminal charges. I'm looking forward to seeing the ACLU v. Utah in the news soon.

Be even funnier to see them lose their eligibility to process Federal aid over this.

Re:missing the point (Univ of Utah != private) (1)

cthon (239632) | more than 13 years ago | (#171666)

If this was a private institution there would be much less of a problem. But as a publicly funded entity they have additional rules and limitations on what they can and can't do, and I think they may have overstepped those bounds. Univ. funding on both State and Federal levels can be lost if they don't comply with all the 'rules'. So in addition to a lawyer, contacting your representatives and presenting your case could be very helpfull.

Something missing... charges? (2)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 13 years ago | (#171669)

This just doesn't add up... while it's certainly within the University's rights to refuse to allow you to run this site on their servers and bandwidth (effective censoring you), expulsion and charges just don't seem to be justified by any means!

Is there something missing here? Are there documented "incidents" or did you fail to comply with directives they gave you? Was there a warning of consequences? What are the specifics of the charges (they must detail specifically what infraction occured and when)?

I've looked at the Google cached pages, and can only come to three possible conclusions:

1. You've left out some important details, and they have better reasoning for these charges than you lead us to believe.
2. Your University has been taken over by fanatical conservatives, and they're trying to make an example of you, legal or not.
3. You'll be rich once you hire a lawyer and sue them for malicious prosecution.

Keep us informed, it'll be interesting to see where this goes.

MadCow.

Doesn't suprise me a bit (2)

jhaberman (246905) | more than 13 years ago | (#171671)

I live in Idaho, just north of Utah and we have as many mormons per capita as Utah. I see a lot of the same sorts of things here. The ULTRA conservatives feel they have the right... nay... the necessity to limit the lives of everyone else around them. Whether they believe the same or not.

Boise is now looking into about a dozen different ordinances to limit "Adult Businesses". Everything from strip clubs to book stores to some theatres where they might... GASP... show nudity in a play. One of the funnier ones is that they want to not allow any of "these undesireable businesses" within 1000 feet in any direction of any residence, park, church, school, government building, and about 10 other types of places. That doesn't sound all that bad until you start to think about it. There end up being exactly 2 locations in this town of 200,000 which meet these requirements. Hmmmm... not like they planned it that way, eh? It really is a pathetic exersise to watch. Any one who stands against them, (Much like this student) gets attacked in every way the authorities know how.

I would assume that you could find a lawyer to make a pretty good case against expullsion. That seems to be a VERY harsh punishment for nothing more than providing a forum.

When are they going to learn? I really loathe these authority figures who think that as long as they can keep people from doing what they want or expressing themselves that everything in they're little world is OK. *sigh*

My $0.02

Jason

Re:Same Old Story (1)

kilgore_47 (262118) | more than 13 years ago | (#171680)

While I agree that his work is pretty well theirs from a legal standpoint, I would think that the comments should be property of their authors. Since not all people posting on the site are uou students, they havn't all signed their rights away. So are the comments still the IP of uou?

On another note, I'm interested in what kind of offensive posts could lead to police removing the server! I'm guessing that there is a lot more to this story.

-

What can he do? (1)

Husaria (262766) | more than 13 years ago | (#171682)

He's in quite a pickle. The Uni can do whatever with his servrs, as draconian as that sounds.
It is outrageous though, that he gets kicked out when he is so close to finishing. I'd take this in mind from now on and veer anyone that i know that is going to the Univserity of Utah, not go to there, or any of its other schools.

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (2)

Husaria (262766) | more than 13 years ago | (#171684)

Yes, but he's also getting expelled for putting up the site. How would you feel if you were kicked out of school after working on degree that you're almonst done with. If my school did that to me, I'd be steaming mad, as well as my fellow students..
But, ya can't riot here, UB is "riot-proof"

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (1)

anon757 (265661) | more than 13 years ago | (#171686)

I think that the real problem here is that the university declared his intellectual property his own, wiped all of his backups (lucky he had offsite ones) and won't even let him bring the site back up even if it's offsite on his own hardware. And arent universities supposed to support free speech?

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

anon757 (265661) | more than 13 years ago | (#171687)

If the site was on university computers, it's theirs How can you say that?? Unless it's explicitly stated in the TOS, that's just plain not true. Most hosting companies do not take possesion of the IP rights of people who are posting web sites, why should a university be any different?

Re:You guys are missing the point (1)

anon757 (265661) | more than 13 years ago | (#171688)

Did you even bother to read what he wrote??? He can't get the site hosted for $30/mo, they threatened legal action, because they say they own his intellectual property. And who are you to say his speech isn't worth protecting? Just because it may not be important to you doesnt mean it's not important to someone.

Re:Same Old Story (2)

anon757 (265661) | more than 13 years ago | (#171689)

I suppose the question is did he sign an agreement that gave IP rights to the university? If not, then the IP rights are his, because he created it. Unless he was explicitly doing this for the U of U (ie: there was a contract for it), then he was doing it on his own, hosted on their servers. Just because i host your data on my servers, doesnt mean that I own your data, unless you agree to something that says i do.

All your post are belong to us. (2)

Bistronaut (267467) | more than 13 years ago | (#171690)

I think that the main issue here is not that they have removed their support, (which is certainly their right) but they have threatened him with legal and/or university action and warned him not to republish his site elsewhere. Depending on what agreements he signed or made by attending the University or putting up his site on their servers, they are very probably well within their legal rights. Of course, that does not mean that what they are doing is not morally reprehensable. Students at the University of Utah should protest its actions. My advice to Flikx, though, is to do everything that they say. Having to start your degree over elsewhere is no laughing matter, legal reprocussions aside.

Your pretty much SOL here. (1)

Chakat (320875) | more than 13 years ago | (#171699)

They do have the right to take away the server/bandwidth. After all, it is their stuff, they have every right to take their ball and go home. All that said, however, I do agree that they crossed the line when they threatened you with expulsion for hosting a site that the previous administration was at the very least indifferent to.

Still, talk to a lawyer, perhaps the ACLU, see if you have any legal recourse to keep your transcript intact. With the hostility this new administration is showing to you, I doubt you could recieve any semblance of a fair education at your current school, so in my opinion, you're almost certainly going to need to transfer.

Re:You guys are missing the point (1)

neutron2000 (409922) | more than 13 years ago | (#171703)

However, the student is within his civil rights to, as you put it, "bitch about the fascist administration".

Sure, but the school is well within its rights to decide what it will and won't tolerate on its campus.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; [...]


Notice how Congress hasn't; the school has.

Dave

Look at the cached pages (2)

mkelley (411060) | more than 13 years ago | (#171706)

I looked around and it all seems innocent enough. I can see that they might get disturbed that some site is questioning the term limits and such.

m.kelley
www.mkelley.net

They're called (1)

jhill (446614) | more than 13 years ago | (#171709)

Lawyers.... Look in to them...And just in case...go to your closest convience store and pick up a tube of KY.

Re:Free Speech != Supported Speech (1)

Ziwdam (457273) | more than 13 years ago | (#171724)

If he violated [the code of conduct], then they have no obligation to support his speech by lending him their servers, bandwidth, domain name, etc.

Did it say anywhere whether it was his server or theirs? Even if it was their server, did he own the content? I didn't notice a copyright notice when I looked at the cached version.

If the University never asked him to make the site, then I think that it's his.

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer. A lawyer is probably a better person to ask about this issue rather than Slashdot...

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