Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!


michael posted more than 14 years ago | from the send-lawyers-guns-and-money dept.

Music 296

Slashdot's received a lot of submissions about RIAA actions recently, and the actions of colleges taken after the RIAA sent them nasty letters. One of the interesting things about this is that the RIAA is apparently not listing any specific offenders, just sending general warnings to any and all colleges with computer networks. Under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, copyright holders acquired several new rights, with the promise they wouldn't abuse them. They're abusing them. (More...)

A good example is a demand letter to a Swiss university, ETH Zurich, which demands that the school immediately terminate all web pages with illegal MP3 files (illegal is of course a judicial decision; the letter presumes that all MP3s are illegal); that the school provide names and home addresses of all students with MP3 files hosted on the school's servers; that the school provide the date that those MP3 files were first hosted (for every MP3 on every server); and that the school provide the IP address for every machine anywhere on the internet which downloaded a MP3 file from the school's servers.

The letter closes with a carrot: we'll adjust our monetary demands based on how well you comply with this letter. Better hope your IP address doesn't appear too many times in those web server logs.

We can probably assume that the demands to U.S. schools are much the same - far-reaching, extortionate letters which are not specific about any particular infringement alleged to be occurring, but which are intended nonetheless to scare the universities into cracking down on their students. The terms of the compromise of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act were that the RIAA and related groups would do the policing of their copyrights - if they found a specific file that they alleged was unlawfully infringing, they have a procedure to follow, specific information to provide about the specific infringing file, and the ISP (college or whatever) is supposed to "do their part" by deleting/removing said file if the paperwork is correct. ISPs and colleges are not supposed to do the grunt work themselves - that results in the kind of overbroad crackdowns that we've seen. This was the subject of specific negotiations during the process of creating this law.

But the RIAA, of course, would prefer that schools and ISPs do their cracking down for them. So they send these general scare letters, hoping to trigger a reaction.

Scare tactics work. Universities scan through student computers, trying passwords on protected directories. The new Rio players will incorporate all of the RIAA's desired protections against copying of MP3 files - the price of settling the RIAA's lawsuit. The next target is Napster.

RIAA will now be filing suit against Napster, an application which effectively functions like a single purpose IRC server, connecting people who want to share MP3 files, whether legally or not. (There's a linux port of Napster; better download it quick.) Some schools, like Oregon State University, are so scared they're blocking all access to Napster servers from school systems. In the ideal world, Napster should probably win - the RIAA could monitor their servers and demand that infringing users be eliminated, but the service equally provides people with an avenue to share legal MP3 files, and this significant non-infringing use is all that is needed under copyright law. The article I just linked to and a nice Wired story both show Napster feebly trying to insist on their duties under the DMCA, saying that the RIAA needs to tell them in writing about specific instances of infringement - but the RIAA doesn't care about the law.

Napster, of course, has no money to fight a lawsuit. This is exactly what happened to the Rio: they won in court, but since the RIAA planned to appeal the suit and drain more money out of Diamond Multimedia, they settled by promising that future Rio's would include the RIAA's copyright protections. Like the Dentist's extortion tactics in Cryptonomicon[1], RIAA lawsuits are equally powerful whether they are on solid legal grounds or not - Napster will lose this suit, whether they win or lose, because the RIAA can afford the money to fight it and Napster cannot. So presumably Napster and RIAA will come to some agreement, settle the lawsuit, and Napster's next generation will incorporate the RIAA's demanded copyright protection system.

Just remember, RIAA CEO Hilary Rosen says she loves the idea of Napster to build communities, "but not on the backs of huge mega-corporations with billions of dollars of revenue quarterly."[2]

The RIAA is hardly the only abuser. The Business Software Alliance, essentially a front group for protecting Microsoft's copyrights, does similar things with regard to "pirated" software. (What a PR genius it was who thought of describing all copying of software as piracy! Probably the same person behind the "cyber-squatter" label for anyone who owns a domain that a company covets.) The BSA is now raiding homes of people accused of copying software.

The idea behind copyright is to expand the amount of information available to the public by creating a government-mandated monopoly on reproducing it - for a limited time (28 years maximum, at the beginning - today the maximum copyright term could be over 150 years). Copyright has always has the inherent give-back to society - the work would pass out of protection, and then anyone could copy it and use it as they saw fit. But copyright is now essentially unlimited - over the last twenty years, the length of the copyright period has increased by forty years, so that essentially no materials produced since World War I have entered the public domain. In about 15-18 years, copyright holders will again be petitioning Congress to extend the copyright term, so that entities like Mickey Mouse never enter the public domain. The extension is now being challenged as unconstitutional, but the challengers lost in District Court and it's far from certain that this suit can succeed.

In today's world, it's customary to speak of copyright as some sort of innate right. It isn't. It's there for the betterment of society, but its functioning, today, contributes nothing to society - all it is is a government-sanctioned monopoly transferring money from your pocket to others, with nothing ever given back - and no possibility of give-backs until 2019, under current law.

We need to rethink copyright. It's not a fundamental right of corporations to receive a 95-year government monopoly. Businesses plan on a five-year cycle - if something isn't forecast to make a return on investment in five years, it doesn't get done. A five-year grant of copyright to corporate authors would serve just as well in promoting the development of new material, and would bring a tremendous amount of material into the public domain, which is copyright's true intent. With a much smaller amount of material actually under copyright, enforcement of it would be far simpler and more straightforward.

But naturally this would cost certain companies a lot of money - they're used to wallowing in their government-granted monopoly. Disney has made back their costs for creating Mickey Mouse billions of times over, but they're used to the cash flow now and would be willing to buy an entire Congress to protect it. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act was passed with the aid of a great deal of subterfuge, but most importantly, a great deal of campaign contributions. Now you can be a criminal not just for actually copying anything, but for making a "device" (hardware or software) which facilitates copying - we're talking five years in Federal prison. Imagine doing five years in Federal prison so that Congress can protect their campaign donations, errr, I mean, Disney's cash flow.

We're extremely close to the day when debuggers are illegal. Through threats, strategic campaign donations, and outright extortion practiced on upstart companies, copyright-holders like the RIAA are building copyright protection into the very infrastructure of computing.

Making changes in this system requires a fundamental commitment from the U.S. populace that it be changed. The commitment doesn't exist yet, but as more and more people experience the power of copyright to affect what they can and cannot publish online, and the abuses of the companies dedicated to protecting copyright beyond the terms of the increasingly-protective law, perhaps it will in the future.

Some slashdot readers will no doubt say, "Open source, you idiot!" Open source is a reaction to these problems, not a solution to them. Despite the open source phenomenon, the trend is toward more and more works being locked up, and locked up permanently, behind laws and cryptographic protocols. It shouldn't have to be a war between words, pictures and code that is always free to use and words, pictures and code that is locked up for all eternity - we should demand that the social contract envisioned in the Constitution be fulfilled by forcing copyright holders to give back to society, whether they want to or not.

-- Michael Sims

[1] Gratuitous Cryptonomicon reference provided free of charge.

[2] Quote may not reflect Rosen's exact words, but does reflect her intent.

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

RIAA activities (1)

BadERA (107121) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529162)

Have any readers been affected by this? As a student at the Rochster Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, I've noticed more and more monitoring of potential warez and MP3z increase drastically over the past two years ...

Worldwide Copyright Act? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529163)

It says that a Swiss University was contacted over breach of copyright, does this copyright law apply universally over the world or was it created for use by the good ol' US of A?

What's with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529164)

the changing slashdot colors? First the FreeBSD article and now this. I hardly find it becoming.

Economics of copyright (4)

jsm2 (89962) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529165)

folks would be wanting to read this very fine text [] on the econ. of copyright, which msakes the same points as the article on copyright-as-monopoly, in a slightly more rigourous fashion.


Look at the bright side? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529166)

A look at history teaches us that these problems will reach a flashover point, and the lawmakers will be faced with amending the laws to limit the abuses or putting a large percentage of their constituencies in jail. At this point, they usually go for amending the laws.

Unfortunately, history also teaches us that many innocent lives will be destroyed in the process, and many people whose only qualifications are a complete willingness to destroy those lives will make themselves very rich.

To bad it's not realistically possible to hold lawmakers personally responsible for passing bad laws...

What is with the color scheme? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529167)

Why does this page have such a strange color scheme? Anyone else see it? Can explain it?

Recommended moderation: 0, Off-topic

Consequences? (3)

Ravenfeather (21614) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529168)

At Emory, we get the following login message:

NOTE: Any MP3, MP2 and GAME files not related to school and academic research will be deleted without advanced notice. If you need temporary disk space then type make_download and read the instructions.

Whether or not anyone is actively checking through accounts for MP3 files, I can't say (I haven't had any in mine.) It is tempting, as a friend suggested, to rename all files to *.MP3, just to see what happens. After a thorough backup, of course.

Extortion (1)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529169)

...that the school provide names and home addresses of all students with MP3 files hosted on the school's servers
So they're threatening that if the school doesn't furnish a list to which the RIAA isn't legally entitled, they'll have to pay money that they wouldn't otherwise have to fork over.
IANAL and my knowledge of US Law is limited to watching reruns of Night Court, but this sounds suspiciously like extortion to me. Which is illegal.

Re:What's with... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529170)

These are extremly bad colors.

Bad patent office good for business (2)

Greg Merchan (64308) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529171)

From my notebook of random thoughts:
(Yes, really. These are the unedited musings of me last night.)

Or perhaps consider the individual who has been granted a patent for a software engineering method in spite the existence of prior art. Most reports indicate that those being sued for patent infringement are likely to settle rather than litigate to have the patent invalidated because the accounting cost of a settlement is less. Regardless of the outcome, an injustice has been done because resources have been wasted. If litigation is pursued, some individuals will have assumed a financial burden that benefits their competitors...(absolutely and relatively)

In fact, there is another reason for a powerful corporation to settle this suit. If no one challenges the patent, then those corporations which are best able to assume the cost of settlement will gain an advantage over any rival which is not so able. If one of those lesser competitors should pursue patent invalidation, the larger corporations still gain the same relative advantage and may even recoup the cost of settlement and perhaps damages as well.

Perhaps a class action lawsuit should be brought to settle this case?

It will also be an injustice if this individual is allowed to accumulate wealth through this 'legal fraud'.

How should this have occurred? Simply put, the USPTO should not have granted the patent. But again they have every incentive to do so. Approving the patent incurs more fees. (?) The resulting litigation can only benefit them. (They will not be held accountable, there is really no penalty in this regard that does not get passed the the tax-payers.) It is in the interest of the largest corporations to permit this injustice in the USPTO because they can use similar tactics and the cost of settlement is always a relative benefit to them.

How far should Universities go? (1)

kammat (114899) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529172)

I'm both a student and a computer tech here at Drexel, and I'm seeing both sides of the issues. Everyone is having fun sharing their files, warez, etc on our campus network. Technically, we can bust them for the sharing of copyrighted software, as the usage policy we have everyone read before getting an account states that the sharing of copyrighted material is illegal. However, I don't think we've done anything against anyone in recent time, unless their server started taking obscene amounts of bandwidth, and just asked for the attention. Should the University be responsible for regularly scrubbing their network to see if any illegal activity is going on, or is this a case where it can wait until a complaint is raised by some other authority? It's always a mess, and frankly I'm not even sure if on a University level it's even feasable to constantly monitor the network for stuff like this. Any thoughts?

Re:What is with the color scheme? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529173)

I think the new color scheme is in honor of autumn and the leaves that are dying in our back yards...

It's all how you look at it (1)

Colossus11 (16269) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529174)

Why do people assume a company holding the rights to a particular creation is "wrong" or "unfair"?

If you take that right away from corporations, you also take it away from individuals, individuals who may have spent years creating or inventing something.

It's the Many ganging up on the Few to say, "We've decided you don't have the rights to your own creation anymore."

ISU (Illinois) (1)

Zen (8377) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529175)

My school's had a couple run-ins with various agencies. One guy actually had the FBI looking at him last year. But, the admins aren't freaking out over this. They peruse the network, and see if anyone has any mp3's shared, yeah. But they don't go into any password protected folders. We just have one communal password that gets you into almost anybody's shared directories, and the admins leave us alone.

Also, at least in my experience, the admins do not want to shut down ports, and kick people off the network. They would much rather ask a student who knows the network (such as myself) to leak the word that they are about to start searching for things, and to make sure that everything is passworded. There still has been some locking down of ports & such, but as far as I know, nobody has been kicked off the network since that guy last year.

I wonder how that works... (0)

miscellaneous (14183) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529176)

huh! apparently, the RIAA believes that if you link to pirated mp3's, that somehow gives you a magical right and ability to control the actions of the person who created that site.

does anybody know where, exactly, they get this idea, or how they justify it?

on a related note (repost in part):

I just saw an add banner at the top of the page that "click here" over a picture of a woman's face. to the left of that was a banner that said "X10 and Slashdot" [invite you to visit the wired home of tomorrow , or something like that]. Yep, slashdot. Trademark logo and all.

That isn't the only one I've seen, either. I saw one at zdnet or something that showed an alternating picture of the midriff of a woman in a bathing suit and "Click Here" in big letters. They should probably be tied up and made to watch three years of Brady Bunch reruns just for using an annoying animated gif (much like the VA Linux one at the top of the screen now) which was so gaudy that I had to wear sunglasses just to look directly at it, but I'm concerned about something different.

Ya know, d00d, if I wuz a chick, those ad's'd kinda piss me off (TIC). Seriously, These ads seem rather denigrating to women. Not only do they implicitly exclude women from the target market, but they use women's bodies to sell friggin' home control electronics. That's just offensive.

I'm not saying /. shouldn't run ads from X10, but does it really want to associate itself with that kind of ad by having it's name on there? I think a bit less of 'em for it, and I doubt I'm the only one.

I remember visiting the home control home page before it was revamped, and it was kind of sexist and control-freaky. So, maybe I'm biased on this, but I don't think so.

Re:What's with... (1)

Processor AL (17975) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529177)

The "baby diarrhea" yellow has got to go.

Re:Consequences? (1)

frantzdb (22281) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529178)

Either they will delete all mp3's, etc. or none at all. There is *no* way for someone to know if these files are related to school work if big brother doesn't know the context. I think they are trying to just scare people off.

Re:I wonder how that works... (1)

miscellaneous (14183) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529179)

its, not it's. sorry. i hate that.

Re:What is with the color scheme? (1)

The G (7787) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529180)

Each of the Slashdot sections has its own color scheme -- since this was a "Your Rights Online" article, it gets the gold-and-brown thing.

(or at least, so I think... or else moderate this as "just plain wrong" :) )

Privacy policies (1)

Chalst (57653) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529181)

One of the worst things about provision of computer services is the dreadful privacy guarantees that they come with. If an ISP or University has no evidence of illegal activity by a user, then they ought not to examine that users files.

Does anyone know of any organisations campaigning for better user rights. I saw an article at the ACLU complaining about much this same issue, but they don't seem to have made much of a fight out of it. Even a voluntary code as to what consitutes a reasonable conduct by service providers would be something.

They Cant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529182)

Copyright Beats "They should sample this, my pitbull!" - Chuck D

Libertarians have the answer (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529183)

It is not a problem since it's not from the government, right?
And since this is a free market, you have a right to choose your harasser, eh.

Re:What is with the color scheme? (0)

LocalYokel (85558) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529184)

Why does this page have such a strange color scheme? Anyone else see it? Can explain it?

You're in a different section of Slashdot -- "Your Rights Online", seen as "yro". Normal /. stores come with the green color scheme, but this crossed over from a specialty area into the main page. For an example, follow the "Sections" links on the left for Apache, BSD, etc.

Recommended moderation: 0, Off-topic

An AC moderated as Offtopic would have a score of -1... Then again, who cares? I'll probably get moderated down just for replying to a thread with a score of less than 1 -- happens all the time.

Re:It's all how you look at it (1)

hanwen (8589) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529185)

This is bollocks.

99.99 % of all copyrighted and traded content
is NOT owned by individuals, but by large corporations. How many individuals do you know
that 1. Spend years on creating content and 2. actually own their own creations.

Your comment implicitly assumes that copyright
is a natural human right. That is not so. RMS has plenty of writing that explains this.

Yes, and the blank will hit the fan most likely (1)

Hermelin (15608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529186)

The ironic thing is that the big companies make CDR discs and writers, which allows some people to collect massive amount of songs or illegal programs.

Also, there is another company that has fought and won. Bleem! won against Sony, and they seem to have stabilized into allowing them to sell it. Napster is quite iffy, but why doesn't the RIAA sue AOL for its ICQ and AIM network file trafficing, which is probably ten times worse due to the huge amount of people. Or maybe freedrive?

In a college network, ICQ is the way to transfer files between each other.

I got a good laugh out of the site. 109,000 jobs are lost per year to piracy. Let's see... you are just selling more copies instead of hiring more programmers, etc. So that just means more profits in reality.

I think the inflection point is the growing hatred to corporations which is actually similiar to the Roman Catholic church in the Middle Ages. The church started going for pure profit through its "Buy your way to Heaven" plan and the Protestant movement started a major change in how people viewed the church. But this is just rambling.

Subpeona PGP keys? (1)

semiriot (99245) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529187)

Suppose a university was monitoring network traffic to try to weed out a potential mp3 ftp site and they found what they think to be an ftp site except all the files tranmittied are pgp encrypted. Can they legally demand that you hand over your pgp keys?

Re:It's all how you look at it (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529188)

I would argue that the company or individual has no "right" to their creation, other than property rights to the physical instances that they create. Patents and copyrights are better viewed as privileges granted by the state for the purpose of improving the public welfare, not as natural rights.

Re:It's all how you look at it (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529189)

Not to mention that the muscle behind the GPL is strictly tied to copyright. Without copyright the GPL wouldn't mean shit. Sure you might be able to "pirate" binaries, but anybody who got their hands on any piece of source could use it any way they wanted.


I'm a College sysdadmin (1)

Garfunkel (3569) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529190)

At our place we've recieved little pressure from the RIAA (granted we're not a big U. by any means.) We've gotten one letter this year targeting a specific student which we shutdown because it was a blatant violation. We're pretty forgiving here, and we tend to look the other way on some stuff as long as it doesn't affect other users by taking up bandwidth, etc.

I know for a fact that we have quite a few people using napter here because of nightly portscans and such. However at this point we have no plans to shut them down. We have no way to prove they are providing illegal mp3s without sniffing actual packets and getting some of the songs coming from their computers (or at least titles.)
We do delete any and all "illegal looking" mp3s on the public areas of our servers, but we tend to not look at user's home directories.

I guess our philosophy is that whatever they do, they are learning, and we don't want to interfere with that unless it is outright blatant copyright violations or it starts affecting other users on the system by hogging bandwidth.

Abuses already started (2)

gorilla (36491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529191)

There have already been instances of abuses under the Digitial Millenium act, for example Sue Mullaney's webpage, which was discussed in Salon [] and also on her own page [] .

The Privacy Act, the RIAA, and racketeering (1)

coats (1068) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529192)

Isn't this grossly illegal under the Privacy Act?

IANAL, but my understanding is that it pretty much requires written permission of the student before the school is permitted to release anything to anybody. And since they are trying to coerce the university into breaking the law on that point, doesn't this open the door for student class-action RICO suits against the RIAA? (RICO, imnho, is an unconstitutionally strong law, itself, -- but is plenty strong to completely break up the RIAA, if if it loses!).

Ok RIAA broke promise. Now what is the punishment? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529193)

"...acquired several new rights, with the promise they wouldn't abuse them..."

So what is the punishment? Who has the power to take away the rights? When (exactly)? What is the due process of prosecution for this violation?

Re: Can you sue the patent office? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529194)

I just would like to know.

Say for incompetence by allowing such and such a patent with obvious prior art, like Yahoo!. Sue them for your legal fees in both cases. Something like that.

God this section of Slashdot gets old quick... (0)

Rombuu (22914) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529195)

Let me provide a quick summary of every YRO article ever written, and every one to be written until the end of time...

Giant impersonal corporation is trying to screw you. Nope, they never have a case or a legitmiate point, they are just trying to give you the bone.

Thank god for user preferences, I'm never reading another article of this crap again.

History teaches no such lesson (1)

philg (8939) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529196) least, not in the last 50 years.

As the article points out, the big corporates have been able, in practice, to make copyrights last as long as they want. They've been doing this for literally decades, and a system exists for perpetuating this process, and for silencing its critics (at least, the dangerous ones that seek legal action).

When an American is jailed, s/he often loses the right to vote (IANAL, so if someone could clarify this, please do); hence, s/he is no longer a constituent. For a politician with a strong "installed" constituency in groups not affected by this phenomenon, this is an enormous benefit -- potential naysayers are eliminated from the democratic process.

Given that political participation is higher among older age groups (most of which are ignorant of what software piracy is, let alone participate in it), it is safe to assume that a large percentage -- perhaps a majority -- of incumbents have more incentive to fill the jails with people who would either not vote, or vote against him. Hence the Drug war (which has similar demographics). Hence the defense of otherwise indefensible intellectual property laws. Hence a larger prison population per capita that many developing nations, and virtually all industrialized ones.

Of course, if the young in America were genuinely politically active, there might be politicians with their careers at stake over this. But we've forsaken them, so they'll forsake us. If there is no other incentive to elect people -- preferrably someone you believe in, no matter what their party affiliation or chance of winning -- let this be it.


"Give-back"? (2)

Nehemiah S. (69069) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529197)

So let me get this straight: authors, artists, and other people with unique talents spend their lives sweating over typewriters or playing music in shitty bars, and you want to take the fruits of their labors without payment? After they sacrifice their lives to hone their skills and abilities, betting everything on the of chance that they could become successful in an unforgiving field? Bah. I guess you have never been in a situation where your next meal depends on the royalties from a novel... or a song... or a program.

A society based on your give-back principle would be a very gray society... No one would bother producing anything new. You can't say "give me" without giving back- in this case, paying the people who produce for you the things you enjoy.


Microcasting.... Sharing music and sticking to the (1)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529198)

Once interesting place - in the middle ogf all this is - they give you 250MB of disk space to upload mp3s. The main idea is that you can access your own stuff anywhere in the world with a network connection.

But the interesting thing is their new 'Share' feature where you can make up a playlist of music you own... and let anyone hear it.....

All very nice - make your own little radio stations - 2 years ago I had to write mp3serv if I wanted to do mp3 radio.

Anyway..... you still have to follow the DMCA rules on programming. So myplay are another company who are staying within the limits they see in the legislation.

I wonder how they see the legal action against napster?

Judicial system is the last hope. (1)

isaac (2852) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529199)

I think you're preaching to the choir here.

The problem, as I see it, is that elected officials can't afford to turn their backs on corporate campaign contributors.

What legislator (or presidential candidate) is going to oppose copyright extension? Not only are the proponents of such legislation huge campaign donors, but they also provide the very advertising space the candidates want to buy!

Such a system guarantees that the interests of the IP barons will be protected abover nearly all else. Barring a complete rework of the electoral process (including campaign finance), this will not change. (And perversely, those in power have the most to lose if the system were to change, hence they've no interest in pursuing this course.)

At this point, with elected officials completely co-opted, the only hope for sanity rests in the appointed members of the judicial system, who are the only people who can afford to turn away from the Disneys of the world (without worry of retribution at the next election when Disney/GE/whomever will throw money at an opposition candidate to oust the incumbent).

And, of course, there are limits to what the judicial system can accomplish - it is merely reactive in nature. Existing laws can be struck down, but new regulations can not be drafted in the courtroom, except where existing law authorizes this explicitly (i.e. sentencing, antitrust remedies, etc).

IANAL, of course, but I'm not optimistic.

Re:Extortion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529200)

extortion is only illegal when the extortionists aren't planning on giving part of their haul to congress...

Re:Worldwide Copyright Act? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529201)

I'm not a lawyer, but I believe that the USA has a couple laws that allow suing of foreign entities that break US laws.

There was an article recently (on Yahoo maybe?) that talked about Iran writing the same type of laws to sue 'the American dog'.


Can the RIAA be a monopoly? (1)

Can (21457) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529202)

It strikes me that the RIAA behaves much the same way Microsoft does/did, and obviously those tactics lead to them being declared a monopoly. Is it possible for the DOJ to pursue the RIAA on anti-trust charges for the abuse of monopolistic powers?

The RIAA certainly does not act in the interest of the consumer (or the artist for that matter), and they abuse contractual, monetary, and legal barriers to keep new technologies, new recording startups, and even new artists from entering the market. Sure sounds like another monpoly.

I realize there is no single company here, but isn't there some kind of protection to stop an industrial group from abusing their powers?

Ah the joys of multi-user systems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529203)

Ooo! They tracked my IP to... my shell provider! Welp, there's only about 5000 of us here constantly logging on and off of the same IP address. And keeping tcpdump logs is cost prohibitive to the ISP so, oh... dang... I guess ther'll be no records to give the RIAA woodies. Heh heh!!!!

Re:It's all how you look at it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529204)

What do you think corporations are - besides groups of people? Any of the immediate benefits of copyright to corporations pass to those who are primary contractors with each other in the corporation - owners, employees,...

Greedy Corporate Scumfucks (3)

adimarco (30853) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529205)


I couldn't agree more that the copyright system is in need of serious modification, if not outright elimination. The rabid libertarians (and believe me, I consider myself one) will scream at me about the right of an individual to profit from their labor. Blah Blah fucking Blah. I agree in principle, but:

We're moving into a new world here, ladies and gentlemen. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, it's time to evolve ideas. The reason our cherished institutions (religion, government, intellectual property, etc.) are crumbling around us is because They Are No Longer Relevant. It's as simple as that. The ideas just don't apply any more. They're outdated. The world has changed. It's time to move on.

Unfortunately, "moving on" (at least as us idealist type geeks have envisioned it) involves radical concepts like giving things away for free. Ideas like this are dangerous. They scare the living shit out of the entrenched power structure (which tells us over and over again about how it nailed this guy to a tree about 2000 years ago for daring to suggest ideas like that) If we were to start thinking in that direction, we might do something really radical like abandon our current concept of money (just an example, don't go there ;).

So, keep buying those $18 CDs guys. You're supporting the artist you know.


Segmentation fault (core dumped)

We need a non-profit org for this specifically (2)

ToastyKen (10169) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529206)

I don't think organizations like the EFF actively pursue the issue of drasticly reducing copyright durations. ("Drasticly" may sound extreme, but that's only because they've already been drasticly increased, with no benefit to the consumer whatsoever.)

Are there any organizations which specifically advocate copy-right term reduction?
Maybe we should start one.

Blatant violations: (1)

blitzkreig (106483) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529207)

If the RIAA ever REALLY wanted to police the world themselves, all they would really need to do is raid one, single college campus. The same goes with other Pirated stuff....go to a college campus. The RIAA is just too incredibly lazy to do much of anything on their own and they, just like every bully on this plante, has to use scare tactics to accomplish their goals. If they were to happen to come up against a corporation larger than themselves they would surely lose, due to lack of funding and scare tactics. They, IMHO, ar ejust a bunch of overgrown sissies that can no longer function in today's society. They have proven over and over that they're nothing more than drugged-out, acid-tripping fools that can't find a better way to do things. If you want a monopoly look here. The RIAA has it. They've got control right now over the ENTIRE music industry....well...RIAA: FUCK YOU.

Even Digital Millen Cprt Act not active til 2000! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529208)

How can they be exorcising [sic] any powers from this act before it has gone into effect?


Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529209)

Damn I'm getting real tired of these writers continually ranting about corporate abuse in this country without making the slighest suggestion about how "We, the people" can do something about it. Obviously, corporate money is now controling the American government, so my question is, "How do we stop these practices from continuing?".

These types of articles only get me all fired up and them I'm left with a whole bunch of anger and frustration that I don't know what to do with. Do you know what happens when you motivate an idiot? You get a motivated idiot! Which does no good what-so-ever! So let's start working together to put an end to these kinds of imoral, and unethical practices in our government! You would think that the 200,000 people who read slashdot could come up with some type of solution to this problem!


PS: Send responses to

Photographic Memory (1)

entropy7 (113401) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529210)

Do people with a photographic memory have to buy or pay for every book they see (or image they view)? Poor buggers...

Anyone wondered about that?

And who owns the light (or image contained in it) once it leaves the projector...

We own all rights to this work and any elctromagnetic particles that are reflected or refracted through,by or from it :-)

Re: Can you sue the patent office? (1)

Greg Merchan (64308) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529211)

As I understand it - the US government claims that you can only sue it if it decides to let itself be sued. (And yes, this is a Cooper pair of bogons.)

I wasn't thinking of a class-action suit against the USPTO however. I was thinking that any smaller corporations or individuals faced with such spurious IP suits should cooperate in the invalidation of said claims of IP. This will minimize their costs and perhaps even entice the larger corporations to join in.

Re:Look at the bright side? (Slightly Off-topic) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529212)

I agree. This all reminds me of a novel or two written by Ayn Rand. Actually, a lot of Slashdot has reminded me of that. It's unfortunate that the world is still run by the parasites, but what can we do? I don't think a worldwide techie strike could ever happen. In the end, anonymity and encryption may be the best way to loose the grip of status-quo protecting, campaign money-driven government. When untraceable digital cash is perfected, we can all hire eachother and have an entirely separate economy that is untraceable, and therefore untaxable. With no tax revenue, the government will be forced to stop controlling everything and get back to providing services that are needed.

Your rights, period. (2)

DanMcS (68838) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529213)

This is a period of major disinterest in American politics, because the general public feels it cannot affect the system. Links like these scare me, but they are not only online issues. People with no access to the internet feel the same disillusionment slashdot readers do, we are merely seeing a national trend reflected here [] , in discussions I have seen in the past few days, in fact the whole time I have been reading this site. Slashdot readers have no monopoly on cynicism, look at the voter turnouts in America.

Look at the comments on the Gore/Microsoft [] story. As long as politicians need money for campaigns, they will be, or be perceived to be, in the pockets of corporations whose pockets I can't match. They want to be reelected: they /can't/ change the laws because then they risk losing that source of money to get reelected. Each professional politician, in his hubris, believes that if only he can stay in office long enough, he can accomplish his idealistic goals. But he gets so caught up in staying in office that he never gets around to those goals.

This recursion can only be broken by term limits, finance reform, and getting the corporations out of politics. But these three things are necessary to produce these three things, and I personally have no idea where to start. I write my congressman: I get a form letter back, my letter gets listed on a statistical analysis of letters that came in that day, the man never sees it. I vote: I get caught in a twisty maze of politicians who all sound alike. I'm 20 and in college, I really can't afford the time or money to run for office myself, if there are even any open to 20-year-olds. Even if I won, I would need to stay in office long enough to cause change; spot that damn recursion? What else can I do?

Offtopic/pedantic: jail and the right to vote (1)

mosch (204) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529214)

Simply being jailed doesn't remove your right to vote, you have to be convicted of a felony. There have been some interesting pieces on this phenomena with regard to a worsening situation where many demographics are becoming politically non-existant due to high felony rates, especially with low income, inner-city minorities where the charge is most often drug-related.

How do you detect a 'hidden' MP3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529215)

Just suppose I want to share my latest albums with my mates around the world, so I rip them to MP3.

Now my ISP/Collegue/etc is a bit worried about the legal implications so the're looking out for '.mp3' files.

So I change the file suffix to '.bin' to hide them further. Then I zip them up and then encrypt them.

You probably get the idea by now. How can an ISP know that the files that the're serving are illegal, there must be a million ways to obsure a file's contents....

Surely it is impractical/impossible for a server to determine exactly what it is serving. Do the have to provide a record of ALL transfers??

As another note: Giving out student names/ addresses without a very good reason must be breaching privicy policy.


PS. Who chose brown???

Oz - an example of copyrights working well (1)

RDFozz (73761) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529216)

Over the past twenty years or so, most (if not all) of L. Frank Baum's "Oz" books have entered the public domain.

There have been a variety of works based on the books; new books, graphic novels and comic books, even an animated movie. Those works have been unable to use certain characters from the books, until those characters' first appearances moved into the public domain.

Few works from 75-100 years ago have the staying power to maintain the public interest today, and to do so in a fashion that allows the copyright holders to continue to make a profit.

This (I believe) may not have been grandfathered into the "life plus 50" ruling, since all of the books would have entered the public domain at the same time.

Note that there have also been derivative works based on the MGM movie; that is not in the public domain, and presumably those works (including a (IMHO) fairly bad Saturday morning cartoon) have had to pay royalties.

Re:Libertarians have the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529217)

So you think taking property rights away from anyone is a good solution? Some libertarian, you'll have us all in the gutter...

Re:Worldwide Copyright Act? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529218)

Copyright laws are a common feature of all western countries, although the details change. Switzerland would most certainly have one. China probably only adopted one on western insistence, and it wouldn't be very strictly enforced (Chinesse culture doesn't recognize copyrights).

Re:History teaches no such lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529219)

I wasn't thinking of copyright. Traditionally, as new industries become powerful (and for all that the recording industry has been around for several decades it's never tried to extend its power this way before) the big players invariably overstep their bounds. What usually happens is that it either hits their pocketbook somehow and they back off, or the government gets involved and limits things. As with anything, though, I'm sure you can find exceptions.

Unfortunately, whatever happens to back things down usually takes decades.

Guess What (4)

adimarco (30853) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529220)

Giant impersonal corporation is trying to screw you.

I would say that this is a very defendable proposition. Wouldn't you? Maybe not all the time as you suggest, but my experience in the corporate sector has shown me that (for the most part) they don't give any more of a shit about you or me than they have to in order to get our money. The corporate world revolves around the bottom line. Keep that in mind at all times.

Nope, they never have a case or a legitmiate point, they are just trying to give you the bone.

I'm sure in many cases they do have legitimate points. We're just as wack as they are sometimes ;) Either way, discussion forums like this are a great way for people to bring into the open and discuss/debate the relevant issues in the case.

Would you rather we just shut the fuck up about it? I'm sure they would.


Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Re:Consequences? (1)

gandalf_grey (93942) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529221)

Sure, delete.... ok. But the Spanish Inquisition? I think not.

Re:God this section of Slashdot gets old quick... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529222)

That's some deep thinking there, genius...

Totally OT - Cheesecake ads (1)

Yosemite Sue (15589) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529223)

According to this /. poll [] , only 5% of /. readers are female. (The demographics may have altered since last February, of course.) But the advertisers are probably aware that the readership here is primarily male, and make some assumptions as to what will get their attention! ;-)

Anyhow, as a chick, I ignore those ads. (ZDNet shows them all the time.) Certainly, they may be denigrating to women - but then again, how many women are going to buy from them? (I should mention I have bought from Copyleft and Thinkgeek, who have more tasteful banner ads on /., so companies like X10 are losing a chance to get my business.) I don't think I care if /. runs the cheesecake ads ... but I won't be clicking on those ad banners!!!


Re:"Give-back"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529224)


How to run a campusnetwork. (1)

Raindeer (104129) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529225)

I am not talking about putting MP3's on university servers. It is illegal and they should be deleted if they are freely accessible.

A campusnetwork is a different thing alltogether. At my university in Europe, we have the following arrangement. The University acts as a Telco provider (NOT as an ISP). They have handed all control of the network over to a student foundation. This foundation is only responsible for the network and support, not for what is on somebodies pc.

Through this arrangement it is impossible for a RIAA like organisation to demand that the university take action (or the foundation) for they have no control over the pc's. Just like AT&T cannot demand that AOL takes something of their servers.

This has worked perfectly for 4 years now. Whenever a student was identified to have done something illegal, the actions had to be directed against the student and the physical location of his PC. IANA(american)L. But maybe y'all could have your uni lawyers have a look at this setup and maybe it might just make life alot easier for you MP3 sharing peoples and uni sysadmins.

Just my two cents. BTW I am not naming my uni because it is better to let sleeping dogs lie.

Corporate Unions more dangerous than Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529226)

Anyone else see that Corporate Unions like RIAA and MPAA can be extremely dangerous.

They can have the same or worse affect on the consumer as a monopoly, but the government can do nothing.

Renewing copyrights (1)

RDFozz (73761) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529227)

Do copyrights still need to be renewed? I know they used to require renewal, and that even Disney and Warner Brothers allowed some old cartoons (mostly WWII-related US propaganda material) to enter the public domain. I've got some of the tapes, which were inexpensive to purchase.

The deal seemed to be that they could state that the tape contained a Daffy Duck or Donald Duck cartoon, but they had to be very careful not to look like an actual Disney/WB product.

So, are renewals still needed under current law?

What can be done? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529228)

Okay, so all this bad stuff is happening. What can we do about it?

We can't sue them, because RIAA has more money than most (any?) of us could ever dream of having, and to get your voice heard in a court of law takes bucks.

We can't ask our representives for changes in the law, since they only care about being bribed for their votes (hey, call "campaign contributions" what they are for a change).

In U.S. society today, there is no real way for individuals alone to fight against wrongs committed by these huge corporations. Sometimes convincing the press that an issue will get them ratings will get a huge number of people together to fight... but somehow I doubt "abuse of copyright" will gather a groundswell of support.

Usually what happens when there is no real way for people in society to seek out justice, they turn to violent terrorist methods. I suggest that's what we do. Perhaps by blowing up every RIAA office in the country, they'll have more important things to do with their money than pay their lawyers to write extortion letters all day.

You can even sing a little song while you place the explosives:

"Blow away the RIAA
Teach them they have to pay
They're just lawyers anyway
Send them back to hell today!"

Oh and put the song in an mp3... just to tick 'em off.

Artists should go open! Free art now! (1)

re-geeked (113937) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529229)

Copyright was invented to protect the commercial interests of authors/artists, but publishers/studios like those represented by RIAA are now the only ones being protected. We are all familiar with the difficulty that artists, musicians, performers, and authors have in getting published, maintaining legal and editorial control of their works, and getting adequately compensated.

Further, the "art" we do end up with *must* have commercial value to be distributed to the masses -- which is why we are subjected to vapid "entertainment" instead of art. How much real art has been ignored, or never performed, because commercial interests would not be served? How much garbage has been disseminated because commercial interests are being served?

Developers created the idea of Free Software because they wanted to perform good work, and were willing to forgo possible monetary gain to do so. RMS et al recognized that Bill Gates is a fluke, and that we shouldn't punish ourselves by allowing proprietary software to make us unproductive developers, in hopes that we would someday hit the lottery.

Artists need to make the same leap. Do you all *really* want to be the next Stephen King, or Jean-Claude Van Damme, or Milli Vanilli? Or are you interested in doing something meaningful?

For artists or developers, the lesson is the same: give up the dreams of mega-bucks, and do what makes you happy, and all the rest of us richer.

Put your works on the net. Make it clear that anyone can distribute them. Also make it clear that your authorship must be recognized, and no others can claim copyright. Your work will be enjoyed, and will be experienced by many more people than any studio or publisher could ever offer. That's what you really want.

Re:God this section of Slashdot gets old quick... (1)

barleyguy (64202) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529230)

We'll miss you, man. Have a nice life.

Re:God this section of Slashdot gets old quick... (2)

Nagash (6945) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529231)

I agree that articles about corportions screwing you are tiresome, if not misleading, but I have to admit that it is tough for a big company to look good with all the crap they do. Small companies tend to do a lot better at looking good without lots of PR hype.

However, I would debate that this article, at least the way I see it, is not about that. It's about copyright and how, in this day and age where copying is so easy, that the law is in need of some major revision. Copying physical entities exactly is a difficult thing to do and copyright as of now is good for that. Copying books in physical form is not worth the effort and considering the benefit I get from them, I am willing to comply with copyright on that book in the form as we now have it.

Software and the digital form of such entities, however, is much different. Copying can take place in a matter of seconds and takes little to no effort. Old laws here become pointless. Anything in digital form is not difficult to distribute. People can easily obtain copies from somewhere other than a store or a small set of distributors. Now, it is simple to get a copy from a friend. Limiting this not only annoys consumers, but it binds their hands, so to speak. People like to be able to do this. It makes things easier for them. Some artists/creators of items distributable in digital form realize this and cater to it. However, most companies cling to the notion of old rules in a new medium, thinking that it will actually work.

There is far too much tension between these viewpoints. Obviously something has to be done. Trying to enforce these old laws will only result in more tension. Articles like this hopefully get people thinking about this and saying something about it. I think you were a bit hasty to judge this article as crap.


Re:"Give-back"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529232)

This is insightful??? please, the authors, etc. have the copyright their whole life and 50 years after they die. so 50 years after they die, is when the give-back happens. learn to think.

Re:What is with the color scheme? (0)

llamayak (104354) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529233)

Recommended moderation: 0, Damn Stupid

Re:Your rights, period. (1)

RobertEdwards (15770) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529234)

Not that I disagree with your goals, but I suspect term limits will not help one bit. The Bizpigs (as we call them in Nashville) will just hire short term contractors rather than long term employees. As the joke says, "I never bought a Senator. Cheaper to rent them."

I have no idea what the charter of you town has for age limits, but running for city council or other local office is:

A: Cheaper.
B: Can get immediate results.
C: Is where many of the real issues that effect people's lives are resolved.

Of course, being a politician takes considerable time, effort, and everyone gives you grief.

Re:Greedy Corporate Scumfucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529235)

Uh. When was the last time you checked to see if our cherished institutions were crumbling around us? Fact is, people have been talking about the church, etc crumbling for the past 100 years or more, but it simply hasn't happened. And why do you want to scrap all these things and move on if they are, in fact, cherished? Giving things away for free is fine and dandy, but creating value means that when one person gives away something to another, the other ought to give him something of value in return. That's called justice... And yes, you are supporting the artist. If you don't like it, don't buy it. People, including the people who work for corporations, ought to have the right to their property, regardless of whether lazy bums or crybabies want something of value handed to them for free.

Don't be fooled (1)

cpuffer_hammer (31542) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529236)

This is not about stopping people from copying music, proprietary
code, or movies. It is about stopping people from creating, Yes I said
CREATING. These industries are making money because they control the
tracks that information flows over from creator to consumer.

Stopping copying is just the excuse and a nice side effect of the real
intent. They will of course they will say that you can still make your
own CDs and DVDs and you may be able to. But think about this:

A future DVD player (FDVD)is created that will only read incrypted
disks. The FDVD is popular because it has better sound and picture and
all the big studios have said they will only make FDVD disks from now
on. The keys to incrypt FDVD disks are licensed so that only artists
with connections to a licensed production studio can make FDVDs. These
FDVDs would have access to the market. Artists without connections
would not have access to the FDVD market. So you could still make your
own FDVDs but they don't work most if not all of the players the
public is being sold.

With a system like this control over the creative process (and the
money it generates) is maintained. If you don't think this could
happen... well I hope not too but I am having trouble thinking that
this not happening already.

Re:Consequences? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1529237)

find /home -name '*.mp3' -exec rm -f {} \; -print | sed 's:/: :g' | awk '{printf("sh %s\n", $2)}' | sort -u >>

so there ;-)

Patent office is the source of this, sue them. (1)

commbat (50622) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529238)

IMO, the patent office is harming the public good by their actions. Maybe the 'information technology community of users' should sue them as a class.

Re:"Give-back"? (1)

isaac (2852) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529239)

Yes, "give-back"!

Your creating of a valuable artistic work may entitle you to compensation for it (should you demand it), but it should not guarantee them to you in perpetuity, as has been the trend in recent legislation (by extending the protections by 20 years every 10). The only thing this insures is that your work is lost to history, because noone has the right to publish or exhibit it, should you or your pimp/media-conglom lose interest in the same. (See abandonware)

Encumbering the flow of ideas, not over the short term as an incentive to produce them, but forever, will drag humanity into a new dark age over the long term as it not only makes synthesis more difficult, it provides no incentive to produce anything new.

Give-back is essential.

Re:It's all how you look at it (1)

Your_Mom (94238) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529240)

It's the Many ganging up on the Few to say, "We've decided you don't have the rights to your own creation anymore."
Just like how certain companies say "even though you were working on $Product at home, we still own the copyrights and profits from it because of these 5 lines of print on your contract..."
Ah.... I see... Its all clear to me now

Re:How do you detect a 'hidden' MP3 (1)

ThrobbingGristle (62723) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529241)

> As another note: Giving out student >names/ addresses without a very good reason must >be > breaching privicy policy. The state universities where I live have a online searchable index of all the students, their addresses, and their phone numbers. no shit.

Re:Oz - an example of copyrights working well (1)

jellicle (29746) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529242)

I just checked into this, and it looks like the copyright on his original book expired in 1956 - before the most recent copyright-extension craze hit. Other books based on Baum's Oz have been written since then - this is a wonderful example of how a story that has passed into the public domain provides a fertile ground for other writers/creators. The other books seem to be still under copyright, but at least the original source is free. See a FAQ [] .
Michael Sims-michael at

UIUC Blocks Napster (2)

Tiroth (95112) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529243)

Last Friday we blocked all access to the napster domain; basically, NOC freaked out when they realized that >30GB of traffic in a single day were napster sends and recieves. This is a big problem for universities b/c people don't necessarily realize that they are sharing their files, and since the connection speed is very fast, the university network in effect becomes a target.

Personally, I hate to see the 'net restricted like this, but bandwidth is $$$, and the traffic to napster had nowhere to go but up. University networks *are* supposed to be available for actual work to get done once and ahwile. ;)


Re:We need a non-profit org for this specifically (1)

barleyguy (64202) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529244)

The funny thing is, that protection of the public domain is a concept that goes all the way back to U.S. Constitutional law, and probably the charters of other countries as well. The original idea of copyrights was to allow a short amount of protection to allow for the original creator to profit from his work.

Does anybody actually follow the constitution anymore, or do they just pick and choose the parts they want to pay attention to?

I agree that there should be some sort of organization to take care of this sort of thing. But why in the hell isn't the whole constitution being protected like it's supposed to be?

As far as the length of copyrights, when the original 28 year term was chosen, the flow of information was much slower than it is now. I think a comparable term in today's society would be about 5 years. I also don't believe in imprisonment for intellectual property violations. Imprisonment was only justifiably created to protect us from violence. How about this - the original creator gets 5 years from public release to sell something that no one else can sell, with strictly financial penalties. Then the information becomes public, which allows a free flow of information and much freer learning, thought, and experience of artistic expression.

Or for that matter, we could all just choose to share our free thought, and forget this whole stupid idea completely.

Just tossing out ideas.


My thoughts (2)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529245)

Of course "scare tactics" work. The act/treaties themselves specifically make an effort to protect ISP's and providers from the liability of illegal data they're indirectly providing by way of their customer's/users' web sites, so the RIAA doesn't have that much of a case against the universities. The RIAA would first have to provide the university with details such as the IP address doing the illegal redistribution. At that point, the university becomes legally obligated to do something about it (investigate if nothing else). If they fail to remove the offending resource after enough information is provided by the RIAA, the RIAA has grounds to sue. That's the extent of the issue here.

Let's get real here: Universities know that their students are trading MP3's and warez illegally on their dorm ethernets. Some turn a blind eye to it, others devote some meager resources to fighting it. None consider it a top priority to investigate, because it would entail devoting a lot of resources.

These letters from the RIAA are in no way a summons or a subpoena. It's just a "warning" from the RIAA that states they're going to attempt to hold the universities accountable for their student's actions unless the servers in question are put to a stop. As best as I can tell, that's all the university is obligated to try and do (if that) from these letters.

Yes, all it is is a scare tactic. Since when is this worthy of a Slashdot article? These things happen all the time, and are perfectly legal. Paraphrased, their letter reads, "We will take you to court (ask a judge whether we are right or wrong and if you should be helping us) if you fail to help us remove MP3 redistributors from your network."

that the school immediately terminate all web pages with illegal MP3 files (illegal is of course a judicial decision; the letter presumes that all MP3s are illegal);

So in order to classify something as illegal, you have to have a judge order it so in your specific case? "Why yes, judge, I killed him, but it wasn't illegal!" Come on, every one of those kids knows what they're doing breaks copyright law. Every public web site/share that contains MP3 files of known artists/songs (at least) means that user is re-distributing MP3's illegally. You don't need a court case to see that. If I had a bunch of MP3's of my own private works or items not copyrighted by others, and the university came to me and told me to shut it down, all I should have to do is let the university know this fact and everything should be fine. And before you start going off about "guilty until proven innocent" remember this is a university we're talking about, not the government.

Better hope your IP address doesn't appear too many times in those web server logs.

Yah because I'm sure the RIAA is going to go to ever IP address that has ever downloaded an MP3 and track each and every person down via their ISP.

"Umm yah, hi, this is the RIAA. We have a list of 132 IP's from your ISP over the course of 18 months. We'd like you to go into your dialup logs and give us the names and addresses of the users that had these IP's at that time."

Let's be realistic here and avoid the biased slurs when reporting "news" to us.

ISPs and colleges are not supposed to do the grunt work themselves - that results in the kind of overbroad crackdowns that we've seen. This was the subject of specific negotiations during the process of creating this law.

Correct. But if the ISP's are *willing* to do so after a simple letter like this, then the RIAA has accomplished something. Granted, it's pretty evil of the RIAA, but it's all very legal.

Most major universities have a legal staff of their own that can see these letters for what they're worth. (In other words, they're not as clueless as you seem to think every corporation/non-human legal entity is.) This legal staff will no doubt become familiar with the laws in question and be able to report *factually* to the university as to what is required on their part. (Note: Factually does not include Slashdot articles or comments by 99.5% of its users.) Reasons a university might be willing to take the initiative on their own:
  • PR. If a university steps up and proudly weeds out a bunch of evil MP3/warez-trading kids from their university network, they get a reputation for it. People start to see that university as one that doesn't tolerate these types of people and one that puts scholastic achievement ahead of a waste of university network resources. Universities that choose not to comply with the conditions might be viewed as a "warez kiddie university", a haven for kiddies that like to trade MP3's and warez.
  • To avoid legal hassles. Granted, their liability is limited without specific instances of copyright violation, many small universities may not have the funds/resources with which to object to the RIAA's pleas. A handful of students can probably be much more efficiently investigated than a larger university might be able to do.
  • Because they don't know any better. Some universities may just not have competant legal staff (or may not have legal folks at all), nor would they be willing to spend money on any (see previous).
  • Because they honestly weren't aware of the problem on their networks, and generally make a huge effort to keep their students honest and legal.
The BSA is now raiding homes of people accused of copying software.

They wouldn't be allowed to do so without a search warrant, and a search warrant would require convincing a judge that it's needed. They couldn't just do this on a whim, so I hardly see how this could be construed as an "abuse" of BSA's copyright "enforcement" abilities.

all it is is a government-sanctioned monopoly transferring money from your pocket to others


If you have concerns about current copyright terms, write your congressman. Don't post some foolish Slashdot note, and PLEASE try to collect your facts before you do so. I shudder to think how many letters my congressmen get that are from just plain uneducated people that have no clue about the things they are vehemently opposed to (or in favor of).

copyright-holders like the RIAA are building copyright protection into the very infrastructure of computing.

I fail to see how this is a bad thing. If you don't want there to be such a thing as copyright and/or trademarks, just come out and say it. At least then we can be sure what it is you're fighting against. I too feel that copyright terms are a bit lengthy, but I don't think we should abolish copyrights entirely.

but as more and more people experience the power of copyright to affect what they can and cannot publish online

I'm sorry, but I cannot subscribe to your interpretation of this whole MP3 fiasco. The kids were KNOWINGLY breaking the law by redistributing MP3's illegally. I mean come on, realistically, how many of these people think they're acting legally by ripping their CD's and putting them up for download?

we should demand that the social contract envisioned in the Constitution be fulfilled by forcing copyright holders to give back to society, whether they want to or not.

If they were trying to make a statement against excessive copyright, even then I fail to see how redistributing MP3's of modern works would help that cause. If anything, it seems as though you're against excessive copyright terms. I think the new Metallica CD will still fall under whatever "new" copyright laws that come about, so it seems unfair to say that this latest MP3 thing has anything to do with limiting copyright terms. The bottom line is that these people are breaking the law, and in most all cases, they knew it. If you are successful in changing copyright law more to your liking, I seriously doubt trading MP3's like this will ever be legal.

Re:It's all how you look at it (1)

WNight (23683) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529246)

But if the GPL wasn't enforcable due to copyright laws going away, you could disassemble whatever you want.

Besides, few people are saying copyrights should 'go away', they just want them back to normal terms. Who needs copyrights for 150 years after the death of the author? That's not needed for the author, or for the care of their loved ones after their death.

The only entities who benefit from this are ones which can live that long, corporations.

IMHO, 20 years after the creators death is a good point for copyrights to end, or fifty years, whichever is longer. That way if someone wrote something and died a month later, their family would get a decent ammount of copyright protection. And fifty years is also more than enough for a corporation to profit from an idea.

Consumers need a new fair-use "bill of rights" (4)

root (1428) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529247)

We need Congress to enact a law spelling out a list of things consumers may do with copyrighted materials they purchase (CDs, software, video games, movies, etc) that are explicitly guranteed to be legal and to bar lawsuits filed directly against the consumer for exercising these rights. These rights would also preempt and override anything vendors try to write into the license.

With this in mind, I hereby propose the following "Consumer Fair Use Bill of Rights" that among these rights shall include:

(1) The RIGHT to convert copyrighted media [*] to a different format. e.g., copy CDs to to Cassette for the car or to copy a DVD to VHS for viewing in the bedroom (where a 2nd DVD player is not present).

(2) The RIGHT to make compilations of copyrighted media [*] for their own use. e.g., combine tracks from several CDs onto one CD.

(3) The RIGHT to make a backup copy of copyrighted media [*] for archival purposes. e.g., backup that PSX game, as kids are often burtal to delicate CDs and one scratch can too easily ruin a $70USD game.

(4) The RIGHT to rent copyrighted materials [*] to others for a fee. This is allowed by well entrenched precedent for movies but needs to be explicitly allowed for all copyrighted media (video games, audio CDs, and software).

(5) The RIGHT to record unowned copyrighted broadcast material (including Satellite and cable as well as over the air) for time-shift-viewing purposes. e.g., legally record a movie from your subscribed HBO channel while you're at work for viewing later that night or on the weekend.

(6) The RIGHT to allow certain other 3rd parties to view copyrighted materials you acquired [*]. e.g., explicitly allow for all residents of the household to view the DVD Dad bought or use the software Dad bought, and explicit allowance for other relatives and friends to view/use the copyrighted material in a non-commercial manner. e.g., make it explicitly legal to invite a friend or SO over to watch your DVD.

(7) The RIGHT of consumers to modify their own equipment and for the necessary parts and optional installation service to be legally available in order to carry out the above 6 rights. Additionally, the sale of already modified devices shall be explicitly allowed. e.g., I legally bought import PSX games and import DVDs and need my playstation/DVD player to play them and grant me access to what I paid for legitimately.

Write your representative and senator and copy them this message! Raise this issue on any wide-reaching media (TV, radio) you have access to. Get people talking about it.

[*] of course this refers to copyrighted material legally acquired by the consumer.

Re:Worldwide Copyright Act? (1)

knewman (94378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529248)

Copyright is the US was based upon the British Statute of Anne. Through some agreement, most large countries honor each others' copyrights, but some works are registered in more than one country. Copyright is not a US invention.

And what's wrong with that? (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529249)

What's wrong with just going through periodically and deleting all MP3 files? If the student is stupid enough to name their thesis with a .mp3 extension (for whatever twisted reason), they deserve to get the file deleted..

Natural rightrs (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529250)

I would argue that the company or individual has no "right" to their creation, other than property rights to the physical instances that they create.

Please do.

I would be interested in reasonable arguments as to why if I take a piece of clay and make a pot, I have a natural right to the pot, but if I take a pen and write a story, I don't have a natural right to the story.


Re:"Give-back"? (1)

LucaL (25364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529251)

You produce a brilliant idea. . MY convienence would be to use it without regard to you. BUT I plan for the long range, so to encourage you to produce other ideas I agree to forgo this for a while and let you enjoy exlusively the proceeds of this idea for the next x years

Then (1) you make 16 tons of money off your idea, (2) you produce nothing ever again, (3) you use aforesaid 16 tons to warp the democratic process and get another 2x years and (4) make another 32 tons of money. You Repeat steps 1 through 4 ad libitum.

What would have been my convenience initially is left as an exercise for the reader.

Re:God this section of Slashdot gets old quick... (3)

Robert Link (42853) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529252)

Nope, they never have a case or a legitmiate point

Enlighten us. What is their "case or legitimate point" for demanding that all MP3s be removed from campus networks without any proof that any of them infringe any copyrights? What is their case for demanding that products with legitimate, legal uses be pulled from the market or crippled because they "might" be used to illegally copy copyrighted material? What is their case for using the civil justice system as a club to get restrictions enforced that they could never get past a duly elected legislature (even one as heavily influenced by campaign contributions as ours is)? What is thier case for demanding that they be allowed to keep their copyrights for over 4 times the length of time originally envisioned by the writers of the Constitution? What is their case for continuing to own a copyright decades after the person who did the actual creative work is dead; for that matter, what is their case for being entitled to nearly a century of profits for work done by someone else? (Reality check: how many musicians sit on the board of recording companies? How many authors sit on the board of publishing companies?)

In other words, your objection would be more credible if you actually addressed the (IMO quite serious) issues the article raised, instead of just slinging names.

Corporations exist to maximize their bottom line profits. For the most part they will use every legal means at their disposal to achieve that goal. That means that we have to make sure the law really does do what we want it to, and only what we want it to. If any loophole exists, you can be sure businesses will exploit it. Don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to people making an honest profit. I am not even opposed to people getting filthy rich by making honest profit by the bushell (although I do think that as a society we place far too much emphasis on this dubious goal). However, if a law has negative consequences that outweigh its benefits, then that law can and should be changed. That some corporation depends on that law to make staggering amounts of money concerns me not in the least. I am not out to put anyone out of business, but I do not think they have a God-given right to make their executives and stockholders rich at everyone else's expense.

In this case, I think it is clear that there are some fairly negative consequences to the copyright laws as they stand; viz., they produce a chilling effect on legitimate uses of technology, and due to the long copyright terms, the copyrighted material is effectively never given back to the public domain, as was originally intended. We should be thinking about how we can fix copyrights so that these problems are mitigated or eliminated, while retaining the incentive to publish original music, manuscripts, programs and so on. We also need to end the abuse of the civil justice system and put the burden of proof back on the accuser. (Yes, I know, technically it is on the accuser, but having rights does you no good if you can't even afford to set foot in a courtroom to defend them.) If these reforms mean that record executives will wind up making only 5 times
instead of 100 times the median household income, (and don't let them fool you into thinking that they will be sent to the poorhouse by reforms; it just won't happen--people will always be willing to pay a fair price for quality entertainment) well, those are the breaks. Nobody promised you a rose garden.


Re:Greedy Corporate Scumfucks (2)

adimarco (30853) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529253)

Giving things away for free is fine and dandy, but creating value means that when one person gives away something to another, the other ought to give him something of value in return. That's called justice...

Uuh, no. That's called greed.

Something GIVEN has no value. Value exists only in exchange, and even then only as a shadowy abstract concept.

If you're expecting something in return, that's not giving something away at all, that's bartering. That's an exchange, not a gift. HUGE difference: In one case, you're acting selflessly (working for the good of others), in the other case, you're acting selfishly (working for the good of yourself).

Do yourself a favor and read some R. Buckminster Fuller. I can't remember the exact quote or location, but he once said that he'd figured mathematically that in the long run, it's always in your own best interest to work for the common good (possibly because the "common good" includes, guess who, *you*).

And yes, you are supporting the artist. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

Out of a $16 CD sale, approximately $1 goes to the artist. Yeah, support that artist, defend the rights of corporations to profit from the labor of others who they've signed into indentured servitude, buy that VP another yacht.

...regardless of whether lazy bums or crybabies want something of value handed to them for free.

Sound logic. Very mature. :-P


Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Re:Look at the bright side? (Slightly Off-topic) (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529254)

With no tax revenue, the government will be forced to stop controlling everything and get back to providing services that are needed.

Umm.. how do you propose the government do this without any tax revenue?

Re:RIAA activities (1)

SPorter (83284) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529255)

I'm also at RIT. If ISC notices that you're running a public ftp site with any mp3s they will cut off your net connection. And they do it more than you'd think.

I think RIT does it as much to prevent wasted bandwidth as to comply with the law.

About a year ago some administrative group sent out a letter to every student stating RIT's policy on mp3s. Basically, mp3s, regardless of their legality, are prohibited from RIT computer systems. Unfortunately, I don't see this listed with other policies regarding computer us at RIT on the website... odd.

Re:Extortion (1)

barleyguy (64202) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529256)

Actually, it's also legal when congress DOES it. Like withholding money from states (that the people gave them to start with) if they don't pass laws that are outside the congress's jurisdiction.

If anyone else did it, it would be called extortion. And it would be illegal. When congress, or the pawns or congress, do it, it is legal.

Re:Ah the joys of multi-user systems... (1)

cdlu (65838) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529257)

two words
"time" and "stamp"

Re:"Give-back"? (1)

grahamm (8844) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529258)

It is not the artists which are the problem. In many cases the artist is being hamstrung in the same was as the consumers. Just one example. I belong to a mailing list dedicated to a singer songwriter (which the artist reads and sometimes participates). She has her own website which at the moment has MP3s of songs she has written and performed, but which are not on a single or album. She has recently signed up with a new record company and there has been an announcement that, for copyright reasons, her record company will not allow her to publish any new MP3s on her website.

Re:Natural rightrs (1)

John Allsup (987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529259)

I would be interested in reasonable arguments as to why if I take a piece of clay and make a pot, I have a natural right to the pot, but if I take a pen and write a story, I don't have a natural right to the story.
If you take a pen and write a story, arguably you do have rights to the 'story' that you wrote. However, if I pick up a pen and write the same story, or write the same story into a computer, why should YOU have the rights instead of ME?

The notion of coyright is a reasonable approach to protect original authorship by saying that for a period of time after writing, YOU have rights to 'your' story regardless of who 'writes it down'. The problem is that corporations are lobbying for the time period to be made excessively long. And for the rights to do the same thing with mere ideas (as in patents).

Re:"Give-back"? (1)

wandring minstrel (99376) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529260)

Yes, I also believe copyright was created to allow folks an opportunity to derive some benefit for their creative efforts. That the term of copyright protection has recently been extended so that a person may enjoy the fruits of one's labor throughout one's lifetime should be a "good thing". Should this same protection be afforded to faceless megacorporations? I haven't made up my mind yet.

As far as "give-back to society", pshaw. The creative work is in the hands of society if it has been published. It seems the original article's author would deprive copyright holders of their rightful income. That being said, what I do consider criminal is the strangle-hold that the recording/publishing industry has on the public's purse strings. Artists see a very small percentage return on the consumer's purchase. A high-quality, publicly accessible publishing medium would allow artists to bypass the traditional "recording industry", charge more reasonable prices for their material, and keep a larger percentage of the purchase price. I believe that THIS is what the RIAA is most afraid of.

Re:Guess What (2)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 14 years ago | (#1529261)

Either way, discussion forums like this are a great way for people to bring into the open and discuss/debate the relevant issues in the case

No offense, but I think 99.9% of the people posting to YRO articles are of a like bias. Nearly every post I read in the YRO is overwhelmingly in agreement with the author's take/bias on the issue at hand.

True open discussion would require a more balanced number of participants. As it stands now, YRO pieces seem like they're more a place for privacy activists to get together and preach to each other than a place for true discussion.

At least that's how I see it.

I consider myself a reasonably educated, moderate-to-liberal guy, and while I tend to be right down the middle with a lot of relatively controversial articles, with every SINGLE YRO piece I am consistently on the opposite end of the spectrum from nearly every other poster I see here.

Now I guess an explanation for this could be that I am usually pretty main stream except when it comes to topics such as what are brought up under YRO pieces, at which point I become violently skewed to one extreme, or that there is a serious lack of "the other head of the coin" in YRO posts.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>