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Congress Asks Universities To Enforce Copyrights

chrisd posted more than 11 years ago | from the college-adminstrators-as-cops dept.

Music 451

Wes Felter writes "In CNet, Declan McCullagh writes that members of Congress are concerned that universities are not enforcing the 1997 No Electronic Theft Act which made simple copyright violations into a federal crime. Should universities be responsible for tracking down illegal sharing on their networks? Will ISPs be next?"

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fp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5394959)


Slashdot celebrates Negro Month: Sammy Davis Jr. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5394962)

Sammy Davis Jr.

On November 19, 1954, the career of Sammy Davis Jr. almost came to a sudden and tragic close. While driving to Los Angeles to record the title tune of the Universal International picture "Six Bridges to Cross", Sammy was the victim of an automobile smash-up and narrowly escaped death. He was so seriously injured that his left eye had to be removed. In spite of the terrible shock, Sammy rallied and went on with his work; he even insisted that he was the "luckiest guy in the world".

Since his accident, Sammy's courageous spirit and ever-growing talent have won him increasingly enthusiastic audiences. Let's hear it for Sammy Davis Jr. !

Celebrate Negro Month 2003 with Slashdot.

leave them alone (5, Insightful)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 11 years ago | (#5394963)

Universities have enough to deal with concerning their students, before they start wasting their money policing filesharing.

Just let them teach the classes. Let the students worry about the law.(or lack thereof)

Re:leave them alone (5, Insightful)

ratamacue (593855) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395030)

I agreee. If the law cannot be enforced without coercing private organizations into becoming arms of government, than the law is not just in the first place.

Re:leave them alone (-1, Insightful)

jmu1 (183541) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395257)

Universities at large are not private organizations. Most are state run. Therefore, if they want to continue recieving federal aid(which they do), they should get in gear and stop the lawbreaking.

Re:leave them alone (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395148)

I'm a system administrator at a medium-sized state University. If my superiors were to tell me to start policing file sharing, I'd probably have no time left to actually maintain and improve the systems, as well as moral issues with violating user privacy.

We very quickly nail people who are sucking down ridiculous amounts of bandwidth sharing files, simply because they are slowing down the network connection for everyone else. However, we specifically make a point not to police traffic based on its content. Respecting students' privacy it utmost in our philosophy.

Hopefully I won't be getting orders on high to start inspecting traffic for media sharing. It's something that I, as a sysadmin, would really hate to do. Law enforcement is the job of the police, not sys-admins.


Re:leave them alone (1)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395237)

I'd probably have no time left to actually maintain and improve the systems...

Let alone posting to /.
But in all seriousness, should this evil come to pass, how far is far enough without harming users rights. Content based policing may not be an option, but what about content throttling, traffic graphs, etc. And as a byproduct, all the new equipment needed to do this would have the added byproduct of improving network quality. Now if you could only get the government to approve grants for the upgrade, you'd be all set.

Re:leave them alone (2, Interesting)

Organic_Info (208739) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395203)

Your right the Uni's do have enough to be doing without policing thier networks - but then perhaps no one would mind a law enforcement agency monitoring the network......but then the privacy argument starts and "Help help my rights are being infringed upon blah blah blah".

At the end of the day if people can get away with it they will some one must enforce the law - you have two choices:
1) Do it in house
2) Have the government/police do it for you

What would you prefer?

Yes, but... (5, Insightful)

theeds (300421) | more than 11 years ago | (#5394965)

At my school off campus trading is something that's been actively looked down upon... however trading over the campus network is encouraged... I think if anything is going to happen a standard needs to be found first.

Re:Yes, but... (3, Funny)

#!/bin/allen (136622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395217)

Put each of these scofflaws in prison. That would get all the un-Americans out of college and onto road crews where they belong. Or change the penalty to six years in the Marines. That would teach them respect for their betters.

They should be using their computers to write papers about how the Music Industry is just standing up for the musicians. This law is philanthropy at its best.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

inputsprocket (585963) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395227)

We actively monitor our networks, but looking for congestion spikes. If certain subnets appear to be showing bottlenecks, we track down the source and sort it out. More often than not it's a router that's going gaga, but sometimes it's a lab server that someone has set up to fileshare. That then gets closed down prompto, and we leave it upto whoever is in charge of the dorms to track down who is responsible.

The dorms however are a different kettle of fish. One quick peak at network activity during university hours (when network usage should be at a minimum) tells us that filesharing is going on in there. We throttle now and then when there's a slack in the workload and even set up port filters for the well known sharing servers, but to try and prevent it would involve employing a group of netadmins whose sole job is to prevent it (or report those responsible)

If the government is going to implement these laws, then they are going to have to subsidise the universities with federal money to pay the extra manpower required.

Why not? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5394971)

Dont most universities already have a policy
that internet access can only be used for academoc purposes? Ours does.
that said, no one tried enforcing this yet.

"Academic" purposes (4, Funny)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395107)

If that's the case, most of the sites I visit will be classified as art sites, where I can truly appreciate the female form. Especially with another female form.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

Dr.Enormous (651727) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395161)

Well, my college only had a statement that basically said "don't commit fraud or hack anything using our resources".

However, having a policy against something is not at all related to actively monitoring it. If you rent an apartment from me and the lease says "no dragging a keg inside and trashing the place", surely you'll agree that it's not my job (nor should it be) to install video cameras in the living room just to be sure. The same thing is true here: they can tell you not to share copyrighted files, but that shouldn't imply a responsibility to go through your shared files and determine which are copyright violations.

Which is not to say it won't be their responsibility by the time the lawyers are done with them...

Don't worry (5, Funny)

JustAnOtherCodeSerf (181281) | more than 11 years ago | (#5394972)

Not to worry... the thought police will be around to handle this sort of thing soon.

Re:Don't worry (1)

arvindn (542080) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395154)

Not to worry... the thought police will be around to handle this sort of thing soon.

This is becoming less and less of a joke, and it horrifies me.

Look what the Department of "Justice" is doing [] .

Once DRM gets well established, it will be only a step away from the govt. being able examine anything on your computer, no questions asked. And that is frigteningly close to the Orwell's thought police.

If you haven't yet, go read Stallman's a right to read [] . On second thoughts, why bother? We'll be experiencing it in a few years anyway.

Maybe (4, Funny)

Bendebecker (633126) | more than 11 years ago | (#5394980)

Maybe the university administrators have more important things to do (like, say, running a university) than hunting down students dling mp3's. Maybe congress doesn't understand that some of us have REAL jobs that require more than going around and kissing other people's asses.

Re:Maybe (1, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395069)

Maybe the university administrators have more important things to do

Actually, I would have thought it was the students who had more important things to do. Not to get all "back in my day" here on y'all, but how do kids today find the time for all this MP3 crap after handling the books, beer, and babes?

I'm here to save you from a life of bitter regret: You have the rest of your lives to "trade" music, guys, but there is only a narrow window of opportunity for kegs and co-eds!

Re:Maybe (1)

Tarpan (114764) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395129)

[..] but how do kids today find the time for all this MP3 crap after handling the books, beer, and babes?

Easy, you see the babes (or, more accuratly pictures/movie clips of them) is a huge part of p2p :)

Re:Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395133)

A typical college party.

Woah man, Im drunk.
Yah, me too. Anyone got any greens?
Sarah has some.
Yeah, I got some, but I wanna grab some music before we smoke this.
Okay, here.. use winmx.
Right, thanks.
*searches for her favorite chick garbage rock crap*
Yeah! Avril Rules!
Wtf is this crap? Just light up. Alright.
Man, Im stoned.
Anyone wanna order a pizza?
Yeah! Yeah! So good, I mean, yeah!
Got money? No, No, I got 10 bucks!
Man, you guys suck, gimme that 10 bucks, ill throw in 5.
Lets play vice city.
Naw, thats one player. You need more 2 player games bro, im starting to get sick of sitting around.
Lets play bust a move!
Sarah wins again, lets pop that badboy in and puzzle away.

*40 mins later.*
Dammit, I fucking hate this game.


Dude, its the doorbell, remember? We ordered a pizza.
Oh yeah, gimme some.
Someone shut off that avril crap, weve been listening to it for hours.
sorry, here, ill download some floyd instead.
that works man!
Woo! Darkside!
Floyd rules.
Someone pack another bowl.

Re:Maybe (1)

ahfoo (223186) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395145)

Just because you limit yourself, don't pin your shortcomings on others. I know guys in their sixties who nail coeds every weeek and if you live in a touristy area keg parties are not exactly rare.

Re:Maybe (5, Insightful)

GammaTau (636807) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395139)

Maybethe university administrators have more important things to do (like, say, running a university) than hunting down students dling mp3's.

Recently there was a story about spammers using students as relays [] . If it was up to me, I'd say that the university administrators should spend time hunting the spammers.

The biggest problem, from the perspective of law, is that no one but very few people care about illegal filesharing. If I start sharing files illegally from my home computer, it's not like anyone would care (with the exception of a few companies the media giants fund). If I started sending spam, I'd be having hard time trying to keep my connection to the net because there are people who would immediately try to trace and report my actions. Illegal filesharing is not frowned upon like most other crimes are. That's a fundamental problem that all the anti-p2p measures have failed to address. If they are serious about fighting illegal filesharing, they need to get the support of netizens and so far "they" have done nothing but stomp on our rights and values.

Responsibility? (5, Insightful)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 11 years ago | (#5394981)

Why is there always an assumption of guilt when dealing with file sharing?
This type of draconian heavy-handed measure is an insult. Why is the burben of proof on the individual and not the government?

Re:Responsibility? (-1)

s10god (409764) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395002)

So much for "Inocent until proven guilty"

Re:Responsibility? (1)

Organic_Info (208739) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395263)

Yeah but in all truth most people are guilty...

I would wage most people have an illegal copy of some sort (software/music/videos).

If most people can get away with it - they will try it.

Re:Responsibility? (2, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395004)

Because if the files you were exchanging were legitimate, you wouldn't need to use peer-to-peer systems like Gnutella, Freenet etc etc, which add a lot of inefficiency just to make it harder to find the source of a file. If what you are sending weren't in some way illegal, you would just stick it on a web page.

There is the possibility that peer-to-peer can prevent Slashdotting by using bandwidth in different places rather than all at a central server, but I find it hard to imagine that students using P2P are doing so out of the goodness of their hearts to cut their university's bandwidth bill.

Re:Responsibility? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395036)

Thats bullshit, It can also offload downloads from sites that use p2p links, shareaza can be set to be ur default download manager.

Here is a size 9 spoon to remove ur cranial lobe from ur anal cavity.

Re:Responsibility? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395180)

While I think that Ed Avis is a moron, he at least has managed to string a coherent sentence together. The word is "your", or "you're" or even "you are". If you're having difficulty remembering which is which then look it up, but stop using "ur" you illiterate moron.

Re:Responsibility? (2, Informative)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395046)

Yes it is inefficent to use P2P, but if you don't have a web/ftp server running then it becomes much easier just to load up a P2P client.

Re:Responsibility? (4, Informative)

SIGBUS (8236) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395055)

Because if the files you were exchanging were legitimate, you wouldn't need to use peer-to-peer systems like Gnutella, Freenet etc etc, which add a lot of inefficiency just to make it harder to find the source of a file. If what you are sending weren't in some way illegal, you would just stick it on a web page.

Not necessarily. Consider etree [] , for instance. Etree specializes in trading live music from trade-friendly bands such as the Grateful Dead and its sucessors, Phish, etc. However, etree trades involve lossless formats such as FLAC or Shorten, which take far more bandwidth than MP3 or Ogg Vorbis.

FTP and Web servers serving these files tend to be overloaded, so a peer-to-peer solution such as BitTorrent [] can be very handy for such trading.

Re:Responsibility? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395165)

Because if the files you were exchanging were legitimate, you wouldn't need to use peer-to-peer systems like Gnutella...

Excuse me, but says you. Unless I missed the memo, since when did you become the spokesperson for the entire net community?

If I want to share stuff on P2P then thats my own business. Did you stop to consider that maybe the amount of stuff I want to distrubute may not warrent paying for web space? No, of course you didn't, because obviously if you wouldn't do it, why, no one would!

You are a fool, and I hope you realise how stupid you have made yourself appear.

Re:Responsibility? (1, Funny)

fraudrogic (562826) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395045)

Yesh...the goverbment should provide...the bourbon of proof...(hiccup)

Re:Responsibility? (2, Insightful)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395072)

Why is there always an assumption of guilt when dealing with file sharing?

Probably because when you search places like Kazaa, the chances of finding any software, images or music that isn't copyrighted is extremely low.

Of course, just because of this doesn't mean that there should be this assumption of guilt, however unfortunately more and more these days it's tending towards the "guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent" way of thinking.

Re:Responsibility? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395104)

That could be the title of a Dirk Gently novel: "Burbon of Proof".

A sense of proportion? (5, Insightful)

Hittite Creosote (535397) | more than 11 years ago | (#5394984)

"If on your campus you had an assault and battery or a murder, you'd go down to the district attorney's office and deal with it that way," said Rep. William Jenkins, R-Tenn.

Either someone is taking the mickey, or this politician really needs to get a sense of proportion.

Re:A sense of proportion? (1)

JimDabell (42870) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395040)

"If on your campus you had an assault and battery or a murder, you'd go down to the district attorney's office and deal with it that way," said Rep. William Jenkins, R-Tenn.

Either someone is taking the mickey, or this politician really needs to get a sense of proportion.

He has the right perspective. It's a federal offense, where simple assault is not, so it's more serious. He's simply responding to that.

It's the law that has the wrong perspective. This shouldn't be a federal offense at all. Is any reasoning behind this Act, or have they done away with that completely, and just consider corporate sponsorship now?

Re:A sense of proportion? (2, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395064)

IANAL, but whether something violates federal or state law isn't an indicator of the severity of the offense, but rather the body of government that has jurisdiction. Copyright is something that is more in the area of interstate commerce, thus it is more easily managed at the federal level, as opposed to labor standards or gun control, which is more local in nature.

Proportion (2, Interesting)

cameleon (149744) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395043)

Well, given that, according to the article, you can get 5 years in prison for sharing files, I'd say the law considers it pretty serious.

I wonder what would happen when a college student is jailed for 5 years for sharing his cd-collection over the internet. Would there be massive demonstrations, and public outrage, or would everyone still be either indifferent, or posting about it on Slashdot?

Re:Proportion (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395090)

the problem with that is the utter laziness and apathy in the general american public.

College studen get's 5 years in a federal prison for violating a copyright. 99.997% of the american public could care less. It's the reverse NIMBY... or it wasn't in my back yard so why should I care.

The local University here took a poll of 1000 people for a project.. and over 78% did not care about copyrights and though that current laws were good. while the same group had a 95% of not knowing WHAT the current laws even were. (First question asked, and then second question asked.)

Hell if people cant be bothered to learn about basic laws that affect their day to day lives, you cant expect them to care at all about some college punk kid who's life is getting completely ruined for no reason what-so-ever.

welcome to america.. we have so many laws we can put you in prison for a long time for any reason we want.... but if you want to get off light.. kill or rape someone... those are our lower crimes.

Re:Proportion (2, Funny)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395259)

welcome to america.. we have so many laws we can put you in prison for a long time for any reason we want.... but if you want to get off light.. kill or rape someone... those are our lower crimes.

Just kill the RIAA goon that caught you sharing the files... you'll get to do less prison time, and you've made the world a better place too!

Fight language FUD!! (4, Insightful)

arvindn (542080) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395083)


This is a serious issue. We are not talking about a single misguided politician here. This is the result of an insidious, deliberate, and concerted effort by the *AA to abuse language in order to confuse people's sense of proportion and their sense of ethics. False analogies, shock-treatment and abuse of language are very effective propaganda tools, and that is what we are seeing here.

See what RMS has to say (from :

Publishers often refer to prohibited copying as ``piracy.'' In this way, they imply that illegal copying is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnaping and murdering the people on them.

If you don't believe that illegal copying is just like kidnaping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word ``piracy'' to describe it. Neutral terms such as ``prohibited copying'' or ``unauthorized copying'' are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as ``sharing information with your neighbor.''

Fight this language FUD! Refuse to use FUD terms. Read the above mentioned article on and point people to it. It can go a long way in putting things in true perspective and controlling the power of the *AA.

Pfft (4, Interesting)

dolo666 (195584) | more than 11 years ago | (#5394988)

And now instead of not getting to graduate because of thousands of dollars in library fines, students get to be ousted for copyright infringement.

Ironic, however, this connection between P2P and a Library. Wha?

Here's an idea... (4, Interesting)

swordboy (472941) | more than 11 years ago | (#5394993)

Create a P2P *wireless* sharing device. Just load it up with stuff and go cruise around at your favorite public sharing area... I'm sure that we'll see this in campus yards as soon as students lose the right to steal their music and other stuff. They'll just create their own network to share stuff on...

notforawhile (1)

deadsaijinx* (637410) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395211)

right now a wireless network is too expensive for a student. After all, so many students are in dept from loans to pay for college in the first place. Maybe when wireless becomes cheaper, the entir city will be a giant p2p network. Yum! ^^

University Responsibility for Adults (5, Insightful)

Cognito (101290) | more than 11 years ago | (#5394995)

Educational institutions are no more responsible for student file swapping than they are for student drinking and driving. "Loco parentis" is NOT the responsibility of educational institutions, thoght many folks think they are and should be, including the university administrative class known as "Diaper Deans"

Students are adults and responsible for their own behavior.

Re:University Responsibility for Adults (2, Interesting)

khendron (225184) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395100)

Actually, there are cases before the courts (in Canada anyway) that are challenging this. If a person gets into an acident when drinking and driving, it is being argued that the place that provided the drinks is at fault. That is, it becomes the responsibility of the bar, the restaurant, the host of a private party, whatever, to take away your keys.

So, by extension, if you provide the means to make illegal file sharing possible, you also have the responsibility to make sure it doesn't happen.

Frankly, I don't have a problem with this except for the fact that it can't be done. The whole debate around illegal file sharing (note the word "illegal") isn't whether or not it should be legal, but how to stop it. I can't look at an mp3 file and tell whether or not it is a legal copy. I don't expect universities can either.

Copyright breach not an offence (4, Insightful)

saphena (322272) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395000)

The NET Act [] asserts criminality in the event of deliberate money making or valuable materials copying as opposed to simple breach of copyright.
Is Congress asserting that universities are overlooking that or merely that copyright breaches are possible and not investigated?

Re:Copyright breach not an offence (1, Interesting)

Zep1 (112721) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395034)

i got to a smaller university in Pennsylvania having an on campus sharing network is a help to our campus networking, now they would never personally announce that but before the sharing the network was constantly bogged down because under some policy they are not allow to block "entertainment" from the internet so having the p2p on campus helps out outbound traffic substantally allowing for greater bandwith for it acutal purpose

Last I heard, they wanted to redefine money making (2, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395159)

They wanted to define "sharing copyrighted material with the purpose of recieveing copyrighted material" as having commerical interest in sharing, in short making all illegal P2P sharing criminal offenses. Anyone know if they succeeded, sounded like a pretty cheap shot to me, but that's not exactly a surprise.


And the NET Act has never been used (1)

ahfoo (223186) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395197)

in a prosecution because it is so badly written that prosecutors won't touch it.
Correct me if I'm wrong.

Traffic fingerprinting (5, Informative)

Scott Hussey (599497) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395005)

I went to the University of Missouri - Columbia which suffered from severe bandwidth shortages due to file sharing. So they implemented some traffic fingerprinting technology (PacketHound [] ) to keep the file swappers from eating all the bandwidth at prime time, then let them play during the middle of the night. I suppose similar technology could be used to totally disallow file sharing, as I think it has to be all or nothing. You cannot really watch each file traded and then check for copyrights.

Re:Traffic fingerprinting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395127)

Traffic fingerprinting would be near impossible with the proliferation of encrypted file sharing protocols. These products look for known traffic patterns in order to succeed, as soon as someone uses a non-cleartext protocol, their software becomes a lot less reliable.

Give Uni's more Federal Money (2, Interesting)

ShelfWare (457545) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395009)

If the government wants Universities to start cracking down on Copyright infringement, or ISP's for that matter. They should either give them money/grants to fund the resources necessary to do this or send them a couple of people trained on how to do this.

I always thought it was the governments job to enforce the laws - not public/private organizations.

Re:Give Uni's more Federal Money (2, Interesting)

Moofie (22272) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395050)

Come on! If you can't get the government to enforce your store-bought laws, why would you buy it in the first place?

In other words, yours is a very pretty thought...that has nothing to do with reality.

Universities??!! (5, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395015)

Wait a minute...

If they think that ".edu" network admins (who are often students themselves) will enforce stupid RIAA rules, they are, in effect, asking the foxes to guard the henhouse!

Seriously, I remember, at my old university [no names given, for obvious reasons] that the admins used to have close to 50+GB of mp3s archive... =)

This being said, this has also been the case in the past 3 companies I work with... Maybe this is the solution to piracy: ask that kind of admins to take care of the piracy problem... then, turn around and pretend the problem has been solved! Case closed! =)

Re:Universities??!! (1)

cipset (550887) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395164)

You know what's funnier? Everybody looks at the US university but no one looks also in Europe or Asia; there are also some, and soon many more, univeristy to get good bandwith, and if you take a look an IIPA [] website, there are other countries that are top of the piracy not USA.

They'll find a way. (1)

termos (634980) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395016)

I think it sounds useless, since whatever they do to prevent sharing of illegal software, the students (the smart once anyway) will find a way around it somehow. They could always set up their own networks for example.
At my school they blocked the FTP port and IRC port, but students found ways around that too. It just won't do, unless they have a supersmart mastereplan of some sort.

More for the net admins to do... (3, Interesting)

LordNor (605816) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395021)

At our school, we seem to have someone that carefully watches everything. This man must spend hours a day trying to stop people from using Kazaa and other P2P programs. Everyonce in a while he'll get an e-mail from the MPAA stating that someone has been sharing a movie that's not even in the theater yet and they'll sue the school if it's not stopped. As long as you have an open network, people are going to find ways to share files. Putting pressure on the University is just going to make life a lot more difficult for administration and for students.

ISPs will be next, and be libel (5, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395026)

Once they are forced to monitor, they will be legally accountable for any 'leaks' or 'actions' they don't catch. As well as the end user of course.

Its a dangerous thing to hold accountable 'carriers' of content that flows across them..

Whets next, the phone company? The US Postal service? FedEx? A gun store? Wal-Mart?

How about AMEX when someone uses a purchase for illegal activities...

In Soviet Russia! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395029)

Universities are paid for buy our great Surpreme Soviet!

OSS Concerns? (3, Interesting)

Asprin (545477) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395037)

Under a 1997 law called the No Electronic Theft Act (NET Act), it is a federal crime to willfully share copies of copyrighted products such as software, movies or music with anyone if the value of the work exceeds $1,000 or if the person hopes to receive files in return. Violations are punishable by one year in prison, or if the value tops $2,500, "not more than five years" in prison.

I hope they mean 'value' as in 'sticker price' and not 'value' as in 'worth money' because Mozilla alone has saved me **AT** **LEAST** $1000 in therapy and counseling over pop-up ads, spyware and stupid-ass animations so its overall value is probably much higher than $0.

What about other OSS like Enterprise RedHat? Can't you install that on a bunch of boxen for the after you pay the $1500 price tag?

Just to be safe... (5, Insightful)

shoppa (464619) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395059)

For the administration or IT department to enforce "no digital copying of copyright materials" is difficult, because it's not always clear what is copyright and what isn't. That *.mp3 file might be a music student's solo performance in a Beethoven - or it might be the latest hit tune from Sony or other RIAA memory. That text file might be a term paper - or it might be instructions on how to install DeCSS. That *.jpg picture might be an art project - or it could be a frame from some pirated movie. That *.c file might be source code for a first-year programming class - or it might be ripped off from Microsoft's driver database.

Just to be safe, college administrations have to assume that all files are copyright by Hollywood and the RIAA. No original work should be done on college campuses. It's just too risky - when big business, backed by jackbooted government thugs, will question every file that every student has. Instead, colleges should buy all course materials straight from Hollywood and the RIAA, with (of course) Digital Rights Management software on every computer giving big business the right to monitor everything that goes on.

Re:Just to be safe... (1)

mrpuffypants (444598) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395188)

we get that here at my college too. Occasionally the NT admins go through all of the student's network drive space looking for *.mp3 or other digital media files. If they even find a match for *.mp3 they throw a fit and deactivate the account.

It's guilty before proven innocent, what's to say that a music major can't put his master's work on his network drive in mp3 format. They don't, however, search for *.wav, but anybody who uses Waves and tries to keep any free space on their drive is just retarted

Already Started (2, Interesting)

da3dAlus (20553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395062)

According to a recent article in the newspaper at my former college [] , they've already recieved letters from Peachnet (keepers of the 'net connection). I heard rumors for years about FBI raids in the dorms, and almost yearly people would go in a panic backing up harddrives and taking their computers home for the week. Looks like the threat is finally real. Not that I'm saying anyone was actually guilty...I'm just saying :)

quick answer... (5, Insightful)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395063)

yes, they should be clamping down.

As an edu admin myself, I have a repsonsibility for the content of my networks, which includes those nodes attached to them.

The same way that i am liable for illegal use of unlicensed software, not the premises. (Bizarre, and a pain, hence why I'm a tad zealous...)

Cracking down... (1)

imehler (461005) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395076)

Although the university I went to didn't go out of its way to track down those who used file sharing, they did try to clamp down on it with bandwidth limiters, prioritizing common ports and packet types. But those of us who were good enough were always able to get around it. Hopefully we'll still be good enough when they start monitoring traffic to try to catch us. But then that's what libraries and laptops are for...

moron asks fraudulent payper liesense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395079)

stock markup felons, to stop being such Godless greed/fear based fauxking whinIE pukes.

that should do it. lookout bullow. run for your options, if you have any.

hmmm (4, Interesting)

a8f11t18 (614700) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395095)

every time there's a story like this, someone will
come in and say that filesharing has legitimate
purposes as well etc etc..

BUT.. fact is.. the vast majority of, and I mean vast, files
on p2p are illegal.

Now.. consider this.. say there was this little bar.. where 5% drank beer and were jolly happy.. and the rest, 95%, were trading illegally stolen properties like furniture and microwave ovens and whatever.. and they were doing it casually, and everyone in the entire city knew about it.. it was widely known in every media like internet, tv etc.. so what do you think the police would have done? Exactly.. and it would have hurt those 5% who actually did what you're supposed to do in a bar.

Would this imply that all bars should be shut down because people could do illegal stuff there? Hardly.. BUT.. if there is a place that is known for illegal stuff, even though it also has legal uses, shold it not be shut down?

So basically.. it is easy to observe p2p networks.. those who are legal, should be let alone.. those which are mostly illegal, should be shut down.. it doesn't matter..

and in fact, the vast majority of p2p networks are mostly illegal in their contents. Because let's face it, there is simply NO WAY the majority of files on big p2p networks WON'T be illegal.. you could say it's the right thing to do to give humans the benefit of doubt, but it is a simple facet of human nature that if people can share illegal digital files on p2p networks, they WILL do so.. and it is also so in real life.

If 9 out of 10 people in a place are doing criminal stuff, surely that should be enough to shut down the place, even if it would hurt the rest 10%.. this is how it works elsewhere, why shouldn't it be the same for p2p?

wtf is the matter with all of you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395219)

What ever happened to personal responsibility? You don't shut down a highway because people speed on it. You don't shut down a motel because hookers and crack dealers use it. You would shut down a pawn shop that was fencing stuff, but only because the owner would be put in jail and be unable to run the shop.

You arrest the people breaking the law and remove *them* from the equation. If 9 out of 10 people in a place are doing criminal stuff, enforce the law against THEM.


Re:hmmm (1)

jmacleod9975 (636205) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395228)

I have used P2P, and found them very convenient to get things that I want. I hope that they do not shut them down. However this post is a really well thought out argument to examine them.
Does anyone have a halfway decent couter-argument to this? I can kind of see where the government is coming from after reading this. Why has no one modded this up?

Just block the internet in dorm rooms (-1, Troll)

SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395101)

Universities, even though most firewall p2p programs heavily, do not do enough -- the internet should be completely blocked out in dorm rooms across the nation.

The internet in dorms is hardly used for anything constructive -- 99% of internet usage is for piracy, online gaming, chatting, and wasting time browsing the internet. No work gets done, and if it is done, it usually results in plagiarism.

Having a huge internet connection to every dorm room drives tuition costs way up, and taxpayers often foot the bill -- internet usage in Universities should be limited to either off-campus connections or to computer labs and libraries, where real work can be done, instead of wasting students' time (either working or being social), stealing billions of dollars of artists' work, and/or creating more nu-geek drop-outs.

Re:Just block the internet in dorm rooms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395202)

And that 1% that is useful attributes ~80% of the work on *BSD, Mozilla, Linux and KDE. Just to name a few minor projects. Jeah, I think that's a great idea, really suitable for a free country too.

Just think of the precedent! (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395108)

I can hunt down those responsible for stealing my car!

Re:Just think of the precedent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395226)

You can already do that... it is what you do when you find them is what would still be illegal (assuming you mean harm and not giving them a "thank you" gift... I don't know what kind of car you have).

Foxes and henhouses. (3, Interesting)

puregen1us (648116) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395113)

Any filesharing servers that were on our networks protected them selves with heavy logging. The computing department became surprisingly lenient when faced with evidence that the largest downloaders were on their staff. Of course our esteemed leader was less than competent, not even know which official servers were running. Foxes guarding hen houses is not such a bad idea. They will protect them for their own and they will know best how to. Not only that but i imagine that they are heavy net users and will throttle filesharing during normal hours for their benefit as well as other users. The best person to see if a system is vulnerable is a good cracker... employ them instead of fighting them.

Total control won't be possible (2, Insightful)

cipset (550887) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395118)

No one can and no one will force people find ways to share whartever they want. It might sound either as a truism or just hope, but that's what's gonna happen. Wheather someone wants it or not, they are allways going to be people able to circumvent any control measure, it is the human nature. And if this is going to be free or at low cost that will mean popularity...

Freedom is not policing (4, Interesting)

wytcld (179112) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395124)

"If on your campus you had an assault and battery or a murder, you'd go down to the district attorney's office and deal with it that way," said Rep. William Jenkins, R-Tenn.

Colleges will generally go as far as possible to avoid bringing in the police. Cynically, it's bad public relations to be connected with crime. It's only been in recent years that most campuses have been shamed into encouraging rapes to be reported. Rapes are the obvious case where we should want the police in. But what about gay sex in the states where that's still illegal? What about kids having a beer? Smoking a joint?

The law is traditionally less restrictive on the privileged - trusts them to have a native sense of good that may be more refined that that in the code books. Thus Geo. Bush Jr., faced with a law that said he had to serve in the military, got into the National Guard and got away with skipping duty - didn't even show up for that - for a year. Okay, so there are times where this exception is regrettable. But his grandfather stole the skull of an Indian child from a cemetary as a Skull & Bones prank. There are pretty serious laws about this, but they weren't applied - he was a privileged student.

Still, the law is a regrettable intrusion that should only be applied when human beings are not behaving themselves - when real harm is being done to someone other than themselves. Busting a student for drinking a beer or sharing a song does more harm than good to people. Beer and songs are both positive things, on the whole. And anyone who has behaved and studied well enough to get into college should be trusted to be not as in need of supervision by the law as someone who had neither the internal discipline nor intelligence to get there.

A society overly concerned with enforcing laws - especially laws which serve business but not human interests - is violating the fundamental right of humans to live a good life as they see fit. Policing, in itself, is not a virtue, and is a value only to dictators.

Ludicrous (4, Insightful)

wfrp01 (82831) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395125)

So university administrators should be held reponsible for the actions of their clients? Among other things, remember, students are not (typically) employees.

If this flies, then I think members of Congress should also be held personally responsible for any and all undesireable actions taken by any resident of the United States. Obviously they could be doing more to prevent criminal behaviour. Because they are not, because criminals still roam the streets, they should be held liable.

Can anyone point to a good place to read more about all the idiot ideas floating around in Congress? I'd like to get a better handle on who the real bozos are who float this kind of stupid shit.

my problem (5, Informative)

mrpuffypants (444598) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395131)

I'm sitting here wading through a mountain of requests from the media companies while I work at my campus helpdesk. They demand that we "deactivate their accounts" and "block their IP addresses" immediately or face punishment ourselves.

Here's a copy of the email that they send:


RE: Unauthorized Distribution of the Copyrighted Motion Picture Entitled
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Dear xxxxxx:

We are writing this letter on behalf of New Line Cinema, a division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P. ("New Line").

As you may know, New Line is the holder of rights under copyright, including exclusive distribution rights, in and to the motion picture(s) listed above.

No one is authorized to perform, exhibit, reproduce, transmit, or otherwise distribute the above-mentioned work(s) without the express written permission of New Line, which permission New Line has not granted to

We have received information that an individual has utilized the above-referenced IP address at the noted date and time to offer downloads of the above-mentioned work through a "peer-to-peer" service.

The attached documentation specifies the location on your network where the infringement occurred, the number of repeat violations recorded at this specific location, as well as any available identifying information.

The distribution of unauthorized copies of copyrighted motion pictures constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, Title 17 United States Code Section 106(3). This conduct may also violate the laws of other countries, international law, and/or treaty obligations.

Since you own this IP address, we request that you immediately do the following:

1) Disable access to the individual who has engaged in the conduct described above; and
2) Terminate any and all accounts that this individual has through you.

On behalf of Warner Bros., owner of the exclusive rights to the copyrighted material at issue in this notice, we hereby state, pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Title 17 United States Code Section 512, that we have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by Warner Bros., its respective agents, or the law.

Also pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we hereby state that we believe the information in this notification is accurate, and, under penalty of perjury, that MediaForce is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive rights being infringed as set forth in this notification.

Please contact us at the above listed address or by replying to this email should you have any questions.

We appreciate your assistance and thank you for your cooperation in this matter. In your future correspondence with us, please refer to Case ID xxxxxxx.

Your prompt response is requested.

Methinks that this mediaforce place needs to be firebombed. Take a look at their website and you'll see some pretty creepy things that they do, like 24/7 scanning of P2P, IRC, FTP, and other networks for copyrighted works. Worst of all, they reinject corrupt copies of the data back into the networks to much downloads up for the users.

If I worked there I'd just go home and slit my wrists every damn day

Here's hoping we go wireless (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395132)

We've been very fortunate that ISPs haven't been bending easily to help track and control copyright enfringement. But there's a good chance the ISPs won't stay out of it forever. I'm hoping wireless mesh networks take off. Eventually it could mean no more ISPs at all. Buy your hardware and you're in. The next time we can worry a little less is when there's no service provider needed to wire us into the internet.

Sad News ...Mr Rogers Dead at 74 (-1, Offtopic)

sithkhan (536425) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395134)

PITTSBURGH - Fred Rogers, who gently invited millions of children to be his neighbor as host of the public television show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" for more than 30 years, died of cancer early Thursday. He was 74. Rogers died at his Pittsburgh home, said family spokesman David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely on the show. Rogers had been diagnosed with stomach cancer sometime after the holidays, Newell said. "He was so genuinely, genuinely kind, a wonderful person," Newell said. "His mission was to work with families and children for television. He produced not only these thousands of programs, but these books and records. That was his passion, his mission, and he did it from day one." He was truly an American icon. He will be missed.

University's Work for Corporations ? (1)

NSupremo (161699) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395138)

Copyrights and patents are pathetic. It temporarily protects an individual entity's profit. And at the same time halts progress on a piece of work or invention to make it better.

Don't you think there could be a better microwave by now?

don't share that directory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395143)

if you're running samba, nfs or a nt machine (which has entire hard drives shared automatically), then you're guilty as well.

congress would do better to stop this sharing of "files" by restricting network traffic to text http only and requiring everyone to use lynx. innovation just frustrates big money entertainmentand must be stopped.

The thing is... (2, Insightful)

NetGyver (201322) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395144)

Since when were universities law-enforcement? However it's not surprising that congress would be riding schools about it. After all, someone's probably lining their pockets to do it.

Breaking a law, is breaking a law. The responsibility of enforcing laws falls on law enforcement, like the police, FBI, you get the picture. Schools have a job to teach their students, keep them fed and safe. Not to be baby-sitters and watchdogs for the government.

The irony is that student tuition is income for the schools. They use it to pay teachers, get books, computer labs...and bandwidth as well.
A lot of schools already took voluntary mesurements to limit the p2p bandwidth hogging. This i can understand.

What exactly is the incentive for universities to become the copyright police? What are they getting out of this? As far as I can tell, there just getting bitched at by the RIAA and congress. Unless either one of them gives scools financial support to aid in napping copyright offenders, there isn't any incentive for them. What are they going to do? Take schools to court because there's songs floating around their networks?

Some things cease to amaze me. Other things however, never cease.

Security.... legal and job (1)

Ghengis (73865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395181)

Ever heard of campus security? This could be considered an extension of it. Also, a sysadmin is responsible for his network. If his network is determined to be the source of violations, officials come to him. If he can't track down the offenders, then it's HIS ass and HIS job on the line, which is more than enough incentive for him to keep his network in check.

Meanwhile in Canada (1)

Sgs-Cruz (526085) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395152)

We have universities actually giving out things like ShareScan [] (e.g. university of Toronto). At McMaster they give out ResX, a KaZaA clone that works within the university only (to only take down the LAN, not the pipe to the net at least :D ). In fact of most of the universities I've visited (I'm in grade 13 getting ready to go next year) the universities have been basically anti-file-sharing in press releases but in reality very much pro-file-sharing. Whatever keeps the students happy I guess.

What a great idea! (3, Funny)

Lethyos (408045) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395153)

Certainly, I think it's important for universities to put an end to the free-flow of information through their campuses. I mean, imagine the damage caused to society if universities just flagrantly allowed students to share intellectual property without a whim for who owns it! What a disaster it could be, as profit margins begin from students acquiring someone else's IP. I cannot imagine anything worse.

Re:What a great idea! (1)

Lethyos (408045) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395179)

Sorry, that was supposed to be "...begin to slip from...". :-)

Real Laws are being broken (5, Insightful)

zerus (108592) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395160)

There are murders, rapists, and other offenders of such unspeakable crimes walking the streets in our country, yet a college student downloading "Margarita Ville" is a criminal that deserves to be arrested for breaking a copyright law. What the hell is going through congress' minds? We have a budget crisis enough as it is and we can't even rid our streets of homeless people but we'll spend millions of dollars protecting an already overly-wealthy industry from an 18 year old kid that just wants to listen to a song? Where are the priorities in this country?

Palladium... (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395163)

Don't worry. Palladium will come along and solve all of your 'fair use' problems.

Deputize Network Admins (3, Funny)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395170)

Just cut out the middleman. The government wants someone else to do the law enforcement? Deputize the Netwoirk Admins...Uzi and pocket protector snandard equipment.

I can't believe my eyes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395184)


Reading all this, I get the impression that most people don't mind being spied upon, if it doesn't burden the admins too much :-(
Are you really that brain washed? What will be next? Reporting students that are using the net to gain access to ideas that are too liberal. Well, they are all potential terrorists, after all. I mean, people who would steal money from those poor music publishing companies, are obviously terrorists.

Federal crime? (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395195)

What? Merely a "federal crime", and not an act of terrorism yet?

Moral outrage because law-breaking is bad? (3, Insightful)

EnlightenmentFan (617608) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395198)

An impressive display of moral outrage--but--

Why are they screaming about P2P? What about radar detectors? Radar detectors are there to help drivers break laws--they have no other purpose. Breaking the speed-limit laws makes a driver much more likely to kill someone.

Unfortunately, people killed by speeding drivers don't make campaign contributions. File-sharing hasn't caused any deaths that I know about...

Omigod.... (1)

Doctor Hu (628508) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395206)

...these subcommitee members must be getting really worried about losing their re-election campaign contributions from Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley.

Hey, man, don't bogart the bong. (2, Funny)

BFaucet (635036) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395207)

Yeah, I'm sure universities will be just as able to stop file sharing as they will with stopping pot and underaged alchohol use.

How can they unilaterally know it's theft? (1)

adzoox (615327) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395209)

While I would say this kind of scenario is probably less than 1/2 of 1%, it is a case to study none the less.

If P2P networks were not allowed for file sharing and music sharing, what's to say, I don't call home and ask my little junior high school brother to go into my room, grab a "Jimmy Buffet CD" and rip it then put all the songs on LimeWire, call them "Rus's Own Collection 1-15" - I go on LimeWire and get my OWN songs for a party that night. Who's to say, that just before my computer at home is scrapped that I want all the programs off of it. I own legitimate copies at home on my shelf in MY bedroom. I ask my Dad to hook up the hard drive into an external enclosure and put the files up on LimeWire for me to download?

Further, what the RIAA (pushing this "mentioned in the article enforcement" with Congress) doesn't understand is, it's been college students who have SOLD MILLIONS of singles because of p2p. They saw the Mitsubishi Commercials, went on KAzaa or LimeWire or Napster and typed in "Mitsubishi commercial" not knowing the artist or title of the song. Less than a month goes by, each Mitsubishi commercial has been a #1 or top 5 hit. EVERY ONE. Mitsubishi even claims on their website selling 6 million singles for Telepopmusik (Just Breathe), Wiseguys (Start The Commotion), Dirty Vegas (Days Go By) - all three of those songs were almost certainly spread because of college P2P and then subsequent college Radio play. NO ONE (less than 5% of the US population) had ever heard of ANY of those groups I'm sure before the commercials and before p2p.

Take the same example. I hear the Mitsubishi commercial, go into Tower or Sam Goody, or ANY music store. I say, "Do you have that song off the new Mitsubishi Commercial?" You get one of three replies: "Howzit go?" "Whozit by?" - "I don't watch TV or no I haven't seen it" - in any case even if they can gather what song it is, if it's a new Mitsubishi Commercial THEY NEVER HAVE IT!

I downloaded, recently, the entire Chicago (movie) soundtrack. I wanted to see if it was better than the Broadway CD I own. It was. I went out and bought it. I can't sample like that in ANY store and none of the songs have been on the radio.

It will never work (2)

warpSpeed (67927) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395215)

Gee, let me see.. Where could you possibly find lots of bright, entrprising, "think out of the box" people, with some time on thier hands, who might be able to circumvent any measures taken to stop file sharing. Well I would have to say in dorm rooms.

It will be a major uphill battle for institutes of higher education.

If anything more creative and private means for file sharing will be born, accelerating the demise of the RIAA.

Bring it on!

piracy? (1, Funny)

lethalwp (583503) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395220)

What about universities/schools themselves using pirated software!?

Software for "free" like Windows, Office, Rational Rose, Visual Studio (and .NET), and many more other tools.

Giving them away to the students.
And you want to stop filesharing between students? Yeah yeah yeah

moron bullowing smoke up yOUR .asps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395231)

people, for the most part, automatically give fair value for value recieved. the small # of folks who avoid paying for things, does NOT affect legitimate commerce.

the badtoll here is: how much more monIE can these greed/fear based stock markup frauds, extract from US, without returning anything?

it's write in the pairabulls. those who graft without adding value, shall see their 'fortunes' fade in the gnu millennium.

remember, people will almost AWAYS, automatically, PAY fair value for goods/services received. the only need for excessive .controll, is to fuel the dying gangsterious last gasp efforts of the evile ill eagle kingdumb, & IT's phonIE payper bullshipping industry. we cannot afford to support such execrable (yesterdaze word).

tell 'em robbIE.
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