Beta
×

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!

Congress Asks Universities To Curb Piracy

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the hey-cut-that-out dept.

The Almighty Buck 405

The Illegal Subset of the Integers writes "According to Ars Technica, Congress has sent letters to 19 universities identified by the RIAA and MPAA as havens for copyright infringement. In it, they not only seek to discover what these universities are doing to dissuade students from infringing activities, but give the implied threat. House Judiciary Committee member Lamar Smith (R-TX) was quoted as saying, 'If we do not receive acceptable answers, Congress will be forced to act.' One wonders, though, what the universities are supposed to do when international disrespect for imaginary property rights is so widespread that there are currently over two million hits on Google for a certain oft-posted illegal number, up from the three hundred thousand hits from sometime yesterday."

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

I would like to ask Congress... (4, Interesting)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991043)

To curb the bullshit. (And they seem to be off to a good start during the past few months, except for this.)

I mean, as long as we're asking for stuff we're not going to get...

Investigate HJC's Lamar Smith for corruption (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991259)

The HJC has no business being a mouthpiece of the MAFIAA.

The fact that such corruption is now being done so openly highlights how bankrupt our public institutions have become. This is going to end in civil war.

Re:I would like to ask Congress... (5, Funny)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991299)

I completely agree. Congress needs to work on more attainable issues, like bringing peace to the Middle East.

Re:I would like to ask Congress... (2, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991757)

I completely agree. Congress needs to work on more attainable issues, like bringing peace to the Middle East.
I don't think that word means what you think it means...

Re:I would like to ask Congress... (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991883)

I suspect he means obtainable. Or completable. Or possible. Take your pick.

Re:I would like to ask Congress... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991975)

Curb the bullshit? If it makes government any bigger in terms of power or revenue, we're all for it.

-- Your Humble Public Servants

Re:I would like to ask Congress... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992017)

Did you ask them? You can you know.

DC++ (5, Funny)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991059)

I just searched on DC++ for "Spider-Man 3" and the results gave me "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

Then I come to /. and click the link to this article, and I got a page saying "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

They're out to get me. *huddles in a corner, grasping at his tinfoil hat*

"Please don't download" (5, Interesting)

zehnra (1076641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991095)

I believe that a number of universities have taken this approach and left it at that. There are a number of things that are done in a university setting that would be considered illegal anywhere else. From what I understand, the general consensus is that this should fall under the same protection. After all, isn't college a collection of curious students trying to learn?

Re:"Please don't download" (4, Interesting)

squidfood (149212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991639)

There are a number of things that are done in a university setting that would be considered illegal anywhere else.


That's more of a "don't ask, don't tell, and don't abuse the privilege", and it doesn't make the activity legal. For example, underage drinking, recreational drugs... many colleges don't want to police it on a room-to-room level, but will if parties are spiraling out of control or it comes to media attention. And this issue has media attention.

Re:"Please don't download" (1)

squidfood (149212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991767)

Followup here: What universities loathe is bad publicity. For alcohol, it's a matter of perceiving to do something about the "problem". The filesharing is a more delicate balance. As you can't point to a "binge-drinking think-of-the-children" reaction to copyright infringement, what will give press in the eyes of alums/parents/students/media: "illegal" filesharing or draconian policing?

Re:"Please don't download" (4, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991799)

That's more of a "don't ask, don't tell, and don't abuse the privilege", and it doesn't make the activity legal.

I think someone is confused about what copyright infringement is. Copyright infringement isn't theft, has nothing to do with drugs or underage drinking, and while it might have to do with partying as people may play the infringed music during, I won't put it in the same ballpark and neither should you.

Re:"Please don't download" (4, Insightful)

squidfood (149212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991935)

Copyright infringement isn't theft, has nothing to do with drugs or underage drinking, and while it might have to do with partying as people may play the infringed music during, I won't put it in the same ballpark and neither should you.


Actually, I would, because I find laws on drinking age and (certain) recreational drugs as unjust as current copyright laws, as do many in acadamia and acadamia admin. All of these issues are a matter of separating "fair/reasonable/moderate" use from abuse. The analogy from a university standpoint is quite apt (I am involved in such institutions and have seen many cycles of this go though).

Re:"Please don't download" (2, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991971)

Irregardless copyright infringement isn't theft and thus isn't criminal. Illegal drugs and underage consumption, regardless of our personal feelings on the subject, are criminal and are handled in criminal court. *That* is the big difference and why they shouldn't be compared.

Re:"Please don't download" (2, Interesting)

mcguiver (898268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992047)

College is the fountain of knowledge and the students are there to drink

Re:"Please don't download" (5, Insightful)

ameoba (173803) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991901)

Why should universities be under any more of an obligation to stop copyright infringement than any other ISP?

Who sent the lettters? (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991111)

TFA isn't clear if the letters were sent by Congress as a whole (unlikely, that would take a joint resolution of both houses), by a particular Committee, or by a handful of members of Congress. The only member clearly involved is a member of the minority party who isn't even in the minority leadership on the Committee mentioned, who is also, apparently, the source of threats of action.

Re:Who sent the lettters? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991465)

The Consumerist had a more detailed take on the letter/survey here. [consumerist.com]

Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a co-signer of the letter told Variety: "By answering the survey, universities will be required to examine how they address piracy on their campuses."


So, it looks like this a bi-partisan effort to do the MPAA/RIAA bidding. Gee, isn't it great when the representatives of the two parties can put aside their ideological differences and work together being complete whores to monied interests?

Re:Who sent the lettters? (4, Insightful)

xnt_hehe (629889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991771)

Why not just cut to the chase and put the MPAA/RIAA in charge of the entire country? I mean they need a test ground before we can trust them to rule the world, otherwise it would just be irresponsible of us! Courts are so bothersome and expensive, why use them at all?

Response (5, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991115)

University students ask Congress to shorten copyright terms.

Re:Response (5, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991593)

Look, I'm all for shortening the copyright terms, but 80% of what students at major universities are pirating is NEW stuff, like 0-5 year old movies and books. It's not Casablanca or anything. I say this as a university student who knows people who pirate, and from the understanding I've been able to gather, that's the majority of it.

Re:Response (5, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991755)

If copyright expired after 5 or 10 years, they could download legal movies and TV shows made recently enough to be culturally relevent. In that world, asking them not to download the most recent episode of 24 or the chinese CAM release of Spiderman 3 is much more defensible.

Depends on how they "act" (5, Interesting)

markbt73 (1032962) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991123)

If Congress is forced to "act" by re-evaluating the entire copyright system, discovering the unfairness and complete futility of the DMCA, defining fair use, and shifting the balance of power back to the citizens (not "consumers"), then that could be a good thing...

...but I'm not holding my breath.

"Imaginary property rights"? (0, Flamebait)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991125)

"Imaginary property rights"? The right to have the right to say how something you own is used is an imagenary right? Artists have assigned control over their art to representatives, as is their right. Clearly this is the issue, than.

Re:"Imaginary property rights"? (1, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991329)

The right to have the right to say how something you own is used is an imagenary right?

      No one is stopping them from putting a fence around a concert and charging people an admission fee. But going after the people listening in the parking lot is over the top.

      We can tape music from radio, and we can record programs on tv with a VCR. What the fuck is the difference between that and downloading a song? There is NO DIFFERENCE.

      This is a battle for the control of YOUR COMPUTER, not "intellectual property". And THEY are winning, what with DRM and "Trusted Computing", etc.

Re:"Imaginary property rights"? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991357)

artists give control over recordings of their work to cartels who have lawmakers in their pockets.

Re:"Imaginary property rights"? (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991383)

Really it's a privledge granted by the people.
It can be taken away by the people as well.

There are a lot of very good and strong arguments for not ahving copyright.

Personally, I thin a limited copyright is a good thing, but for about 14 yaers. Longer then that then you give power to corporations to dictate your culture.

Re:"Imaginary property rights"? (2, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991553)

Yes, it is imaginary because they don't own anything. Copyright is attempted theft with government backing. It exists for the sole benefit of an industry of entrenched interests. The artist is frequently left holding the bag. They shall get paid when they perform, just like the rest of us peons. They deserve no special privileges. They are welcome to use their organizations to promote their work and upcoming events, not to make law and claim authority they wouldn't have without the bribing of government officials and the might of the police and the military.

Re:"Imaginary property rights"? (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991751)

Yes, it is imaginary because they don't own anything.


Ownership of a thing is nothing more than a legally enforceable power to control what other people do with regard to something. Ownership of a copyright is no more "imaginary" than ownership of a stock, ownership of land, or ownership of a hand tool.

Copyright is attempted theft with government backing.


The same argument has been made of property more generally, and is no more true in the narrower case of copyright than the more general case.

It exists for the sole benefit of an industry of entrenched interests.


No, it doesn't. Though, of course, many of the details of copyright law serve various industries of entrenched interests.

Re:"Imaginary property rights"? (5, Interesting)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991953)

"Imaginary property rights"? The right to have the right to say how something you own is used is an imagenary right? Artists have assigned control over their art to representatives, as is their right. Clearly this is the issue, than.

I believe the "imaginary" substitution is somewhat warranted. What is it, exactly that you believe these "artists" own? Is it the chords [olga.net] and how the song is played on an instrument? Because being a guitarist/psuedo-pianist/instrumentalist myself, I find the idea highly objectionable that anyone, that's right anyone can own chords or combinations of chords (known as chord progressions). If it's not the chords they own, is it the lyrics? Because as I've seen it, lyrics often contain information such as cliches and phrases borrowed from other sources. I find it difficult to believe that someone can "own" phrases.

Is it the chords combined with the lyrics? What exactly do they own?

The truth is that "intellectual" property is imaginary. It was only until I read that phrase in this very article that the issue had been nailed home so clearly in my head.

Nobody owns the plot that everyone [towson.edu] uses in modern movies, popular culture, or "folk songs" and things were never before subject to such legislation. They were never "property" before. Myths and tales permeated the countryside. That was until plays could be captured forever as "movies", and music could be stowed away on "records." The truth is that media provided these now hugely successful recording artists with a brief window in which to make millions. That window was only provided by the fact that recorded media could be scarce. That limitation is now gone. Records don't require media anymore and are now as free as they were via word of mouth or through strolling minstrels. The truth is that it was a very small amount of time and their business model should *not* be protected. The reason why people say that artists ripping off other artists makes for great artistry is because it's true. Artists for centuries simply innovated and were free to do so by the free society of culture which has been cut off with records and movies. Well, gentlemen, welcome to the other side of the mountain. If you give something out to the free air that can be copied and played again, it will be. You have no power to stop the echo of your voice once you've used it to scream something from atop a mountain, it is then no longer yours to contain. And as such you have no power to stop the spread of your content. Culture is now back in the hands of the people, where it belonged to begin with. All your justifications and ideas of "intellectual property" are now gone. Get used to tightening your belt and practicing your craft...or find a new trade.

What's the opposite of Progress? (0, Offtopic)

ZWithaPGGB (608529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991149)

Well, if the English Language were consistent, it would be Congress.
"No one's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.", Mark Twain

Why? (3, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991165)

The students at University will often end up in Software Development, Law, Arts etc.. they know what they are doing. Students don't have the spare cash that employed people have.

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991373)

No they don't but then homeless people don't have the spare cash that you have. And poor people in general have less spare cash than you have. This doesn't make them entitled to take evereything they want for free. Unless of course, you are a communist. That is, after all, a communist ideology.
Why would students bother learning and getting a good career, when you give them the impression they can just leech stuff from everyone else in life?

"imaginary property rights" (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991169)

there is nothing imaginery about the fact that if you work for years producing some digital content, you have the right to decide what to charge for it. The fact that a lot of people willfully ignore the law and take what isn't there's anyway does not make the property rights 'imaginery' any mroe than the preponderence of people breaking the speed limit makes the speed limit imaginery either.
I guess the submitter would prefer it if the whole concept of copyright and IP did not exist, but I wouldn't get your hopes up for any new movies, TV, music, softwre or games in that case.

I wish all the people moaning about the fact that 99% of entertainment content is commercially produced and requires payment would stop moaning and just produce some free content instead. Could it be that its way easier to complain about the content produced by other people than it is to actually contribute anything yourself?

Re:"imaginary property rights" (3, Insightful)

kahei (466208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991297)


Yeah, fair point.

But consider this: if a number can be illegal to distribute, how do you know your post was legal? Maybe some part of that post is some part of the key to something. It's impossible to know until someone accuses you. Maybe some bit of information in your post facilitates the cracking of some form of protection on some content. Or maybe someone just *thinks* it does. Maybe your post is actually the encrypted version of some illegal data -- can you *prove* it isn't? (that last one is UK-only)

See the problem with indiscriminately criminalizing more and more simple actions in order to enforce existing (and justified, though sometimes abused) rights?

I think it's that, rather than the fact that some things are copyrighted and you have to pay for them, which is bothering people.

Re:"imaginary property rights" (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991519)

"I guess the submitter would prefer it if the whole concept of copyright and IP did not exist, but I wouldn't get your hopes up for any new movies, TV, music, software or games in that case."

This is a fallacy. Please stop spoutting it.

In fact, all the media venues have things which are free of restrictive copyrights.

Not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991603)

If you DID spent all those years creating content, there is a high probability that such content would be overshadowed, shelved, or not seen simply because the studios will blind any competitors with their money and advertising. This issue is not about anyone's right to their own property, but the idea that everyone's rights to a even playing field is upset by a company that uses the money you give them to monopolize the stage. That is why artists should be upset as well as their chances of even a modicum of success are diminished.

Re:"imaginary property rights" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991923)

"I guess the submitter would prefer it if the whole concept of copyright and IP did not exist, but I wouldn't get your hopes up for any new movies, TV, music, software or games in that case."

Actually, we might start seeing products created as ART for the love of ART (as opposed to money), instead of aimed at some unintelligent demographic. And I'm fine with that.

On behalf of universities everywhere ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991181)

On behalf of universities everywhere, I'd like to ask Congress to stop being the RIAA and MPAA's bitch.

Piracy definitely needs to be stopped! (4, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991187)

Last time I was stopped at a light on the perimeter road of my local university a vessel approached me and demanded all the tea and spices in my hull. When I told them I didn't know what they were talking about, they shot a canonball at the side of my car.

It's about time Congress stepped up to protect the people from these pirates! I had to miss class that day (that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Re:Piracy definitely needs to be stopped! (2, Funny)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992055)

My school is too busy dealing with those pesky ninjas [msn.com] to turn their attention to pirates just yet.

what can they do (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991199)

what does congress expect universities to do short of outright CENSORING school computers? What they don't realize is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to stop students from using other computers that they have no way of controlling. Even if they did CENSOR the students online what can they do to stop encrypted/TOR/off network access? What about the tried and true downloaders who share wifi hot spots at cyber cafes etc. utterly hopeless for them me thinks.

Certain oft-posted illegal number? (1, Offtopic)

Sputicus (304059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991203)

OK, I must be out of the loop. What is this talking about?

Re:Certain oft-posted illegal number? (1)

firemoose (471723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991649)

Why is this modded offtopic? It seems to refer to the posting: "... there are currently over two million hits on Google for a certain oft-posted illegal number, up from the three hundred thousand hits from sometime yesterday." I was wondering the same thing.

Re:Certain oft-posted illegal number? (1)

bencass (1030748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991835)

You should take a look at the other Slashdot articles [slashdot.org] for reference.

My response. (1)

Cheezymadman (1083175) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991209)

Dear Congressmen:

When you pass a bill lowering my tuition from $30,000 a year, and room and board from $9,000, I will stop downloading the same amount in copyrighted material. Until then, I'll ask you to please cram it up your ass.

Sincerely,
The student body of Ashland University
Ashland, Ohio

And in other news (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991215)

Several high level members of the RIAA and MPAA were reported coming out of the offices of Lamar Smith and several other congress members, smiling and waving, along with an odd white frosting on their lips.

Here we go again (5, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991231)

Internet Whack-a-Mole is a game that you can not win, not even if congress tries to help you. The problem is that when the **AA tries to play IWaM(TM) they don't have enough hammers, and never will. Colleges are one of those places where people who want to share music can and will share music. Refer back to the sneaker-net theory of file sharing:

One student and 25 of their best friends join a pool. The pool members make a list of the music they would like to have a copy of. Each of the pool members buys a music CD from the list and 25 blank CDs. After making the requisite 25 copies, they all get together for some beer and a CD swap party. If done with discretion, nobody at the RIAA will ever know. The quality of the music is high, there is no record of the transaction that the school or ISP can hand over to the RIAA, there is no way to detect this copyright infringement. BTW, 26 x 25 = a loss of 650 CD sales in one night, in one location.

If the RIAA continues on their path to destitution, this is how music will be shared in the future, the same as it was shared in the past. IWaM is stupid, stupid, STUPID.

If the RIAA member companies were to do something that would make their product (distribution of someone else's content) more desirable, or valuable then they would again see rising revenues. Their business is outdated, and dying. Congress can't save them. God himself (if he exists) couldn't even save that business model.

Re:Here we go again (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991717)

That's how it was done in the 1970s. Of course, it was tapes back then, but the same theory applies. Everybody in the group has a first generation copy, and with metal tape and a good dual deck, the copies were effectively identical. Oddly enough, the "popular" music is very susceptible to this type of piracy since there is such a limited amount to be pirated - and the "first push" is what pays off the recording. The big advantage of the internet for file-sharers is that the entire back-catalog (you know, where the production costs have been paid many times over already) is downloadable from "unknown friends."

Heck, if you're so hell-bent on getting cheap music for "free", don't bother to buy the retail CD, just go get one off ebay for a miniscule fraction of the new price. Then sell it back when you're done with it. I used Columbia House as a DVD rental store for years. I'd buy 6-8 DVDs at a time, watch them as I had the opportunity (sometimes over the course of 3-5 months), then resell them for nearly what I paid (~$7 ea). Since I keep the ones I will re-watch, there was no need to rip the discs, though I'll admit that I could have ripped then resold immediatly so as not to have the cash tied up (ooooh, $50, better wait an extra day on the rent, huh?).

But I digress. The internet does make copying music much easier, but you're right that it is merely a facilitator and there are other, practically undetectable ways of sharing should it become "necessary."

Re:Here we go again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991821)

Colleges are one of those places where people who want to share music can and will share music.


I wonder why colleges are being targeted. The RIAA must know this goes on all over the world...
Targeting colleges is a strategic move, what could the benefit be?

Re:Here we go again (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991845)

Perhaps it's bad form to reply to your own post but I was just thinking. Even before the **AAs revenues started their downward spiral, the sneaker-net file sharing was in full force. That is to say that today's college students are making no more of a dent in their business revenue than college students of 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Any college student with 25000 songs in their MP3 collection wouldn't have paid for that many if buying them was the only method of acquiring them.

I continue to fail to see the **AA's point. They have yet to prove that file sharing is what has ruined or is ruining their business. The auto industry, airline industry, buggy whip industry, dotcom industry and many others have gone through bleak times. Why should the entertainment industry be immune? Why should they deserve federal protection measures? I want to know why my tax dollars are being spent to support a broken business model and the people who profit from it. Tax dollars are spent on legislation, courts, law enforcement etc. The entertainment industry is probably spending more of our tax dollars on this impossible quest of copyright infringement litigation than they could possibly have made if no copyright infringement ever occurred.

Re:Here we go again (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991915)

Correct. Sharing within colleges is difficult to impossible to stop. But colleges could do something about external sharing. When a student at a college can get an uplink of 2-4 Mbps that's relatively untraceable with little effort (like I could do right now if so inclined), that dramatically affects the outside world's download speeds. In theory, said student could easily saturate the top real-world speeds of half a dozen external downloaders. With 4 MB songs, that's 3-7 songs per minute.

Additionally, if students have a hard time downloading, that'll cut down on the number of AxxO or VTV releases making into the above mentioned untraceable campus cloud. You sneaker-net offers limited selection (what the guy down the hall has), whereas places like ThePirateBay or MiniNova or IsoHunt have thousands of CDs to pick from.

It's not about stopping piracy, it's about putting a damper on it, and the **AA think that colleges are a very juicy "low-hanging" fruit. If they can reduce campus piracy by x%, or reduce the efforts it brings the outside world, they're gonna be pretty happy.

Re:Here we go again (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992057)

"The quality of the music is high, there is no record of the transaction that the school or ISP can hand over to the RIAA, there is no way to detect this copyright infringement."

But isn't making a copy for a friend fair-use?

I have a better idea... (4, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991273)

From TFA, House Judiciary Committee member Lamar Smith is quoted as saying:

"Universities have a moral and legal obligation to ensure students do not use campus computers for illegal downloading. These schools do not give away their intellectual property for free, and they should not expect musicians to do so."
So the solution to the problem is either (1) for the universities to act as enforcers of copyright law, or (2) for them to begin giving away their "intellectual property" for free...

I personally think they should go for option (2). I mean, many universities are already going that route. For example, MIT course material is being made avaiable via Open CourseWare [mit.edu] . Also, many academics are pushing for open access [wikipedia.org] to all academic publications.

So, really, given that universities are supposed to be (and frequently are) institutions dedicated to dissemination of information, free speech, intellectual progress, and radical ideas... isn't it entirely consistent with the ethos (even their mandate) to not act as enforcers of copyright law? (Note: I'm not claiming that the universities have to actively encourage copyright infringement, merely suggesting that it is not their role in society to enforce those laws, even on their own campuses.)

option 2 (5, Insightful)

rodentia (102779) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991483)


Unspoken is the fact that up to a generation ago, universities did just that. Universities have recently seen an opportunity to monetize their innovation and defray growing costs. There still has not been sufficient public debate about the law and ethics surrounding publicly-financed institutions patenting, licensing and in some cases directly capitalizing IP developed with public funds, often explicitly funded by DAPRA, NIH, etc.

Illegal numbers? (5, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991305)

From the blurb: ... there are currently over two million hits on Google for a certain oft-posted illegal number...

Tell me: how can a number be illegal? What if they had used a normal word as the key, would that word then suddenly be illegal?

Re:Illegal numbers? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991517)

I would really like an answer to this myself...

Re:Illegal numbers? (1)

sparcnut (775902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991549)

It already is a word; it can in fact be any word, because there are an infinite number of ways of decoding that particular combination of hex digits into plaintext. It doesn't have to be ASCII.

Re:Illegal numbers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991681)

0xC0FFEE

Re:Illegal numbers? (2, Interesting)

MrDomino (799876) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991849)

NB, all digital representations (including, yes, those of songs and movies) are at base level just numbers.

Re:Illegal numbers? (1)

lmnfrs (829146) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991873)

Trying to make numbers illegal is quite common. If you haven't noticed, over the past few years they've been trying to outlaw 64 69 73 73 65 6e 74.

Illegal under the DMCA "Trafficking" Provisions (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991913)

> Tell me: how can a number be illegal?

Under the DMCA "trafficking" provisions, they're claiming that the 09 F9 number you've seen if you read Slashdot is part of an illegal circumvention device. Never mind the fact that it's totally useless without some complex software I doubt most of us have a copy of (I sure don't). The one bit of good news is that the DMCA is a US law. The bad news is that the US has a bad habit of "exporting" bad laws and enforcing them against people like Dmitri Skylarov who aren't even US nationals when they get the chance.

> What if they had used a normal word as the key, would that word then suddenly be illegal?

You seem to be under the mistaken impression that the law has to make sense. I sincerely wish that were true, but we live in a world where courts have declared that tomatoes are vegetables, even though botanists insist they are technically fruits.

My non-lawyer, uninformed guess would be that they wouldn't sue you for using the word itself, but for letting people know that it happened to be the key to whatever, just like they've nailed people for posting links to sites if it was clear they knew there was illegal content there, even though the people in question weren't distributing anything illegal. The irony being that they most likely included the very same "illegal" links in their own legal filings and on the court records.

No sir, I'm sorry, but I think you'll find that the laws are written by highly imperfect beings and interpreted by judges who do their best to make due with a lot of self-contradictory rules and flawed legal principles.

In short, yes, they really can write laws and make rulings that make no sense whatsoever, that contradict incontrovertible facts, and which are self-contradictory. It doesn't make sense. It never has made sense. But, alas, it does happen :(

Re:Illegal numbers? (1)

apt142 (574425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991925)

Tell me: how can a number be illegal?

You obviously didn't see that number bust a cap in the two 7-11 clerks and then drive off with the slurpee machine. It plowed through two grandmas and a whole squad of boy scouts on the way out of town.

I mean really.... Numbers don't kill people. Numbers with a pension for slurpees do.

Ugh. (2, Informative)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991309)

While congress ensures that the rich don't stop getting richer anytime soon, we still have pressing social issues with which to deal.

The fact that copyright infringement, no matter how widespread, seems to regularly top news feeds lately is just further evidence we as a society are losing sight of our real threats: Further absolution of previously vaunted personal liberties, the lower class continuing their gradual attempts to topple society, and every special interest group out there with their pet right they're trying to get removed.

Thank you congress, for accomplishing nothing beyond the placation of your idiot single-issue voter bases and largest campaign contributors.

imaginary property rights.. (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991319)

Good to see that I'm not the only one who sees things as they really are.

Re:imaginary property rights.. (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992005)

The whole 'intellectual property rights' name is deliberate propaganda and fairly recent. In other languages the concept is more commonly called 'immaterial rights' or 'intellectual rights', thus avoiding the whole intellectual debacle that comes from confusing a monopoly right with a property right.

Just for the record... (5, Informative)

Tokimasa (1011677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991325)

I attend one of these universities. I don't think I should name which one, but I like their anti-piracy policy.

The university does not monitor student activity. If the RIAA or MPAA determines that a student's activities are possibly illegal, they must formally request the information from my university. Following this, the university will begin an internal investigation to ensure that wrong-doing was going on. If it was, only then will anything be turned over.

It's not the job of a university to police its students. The job of the university is to educate.

Re:Just for the record... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991979)

"Following this, the university will begin an internal investigation to ensure that law-breaking was going on."

There, fixed that for you.

Students, Do your part. Share your voice. (1)

casings (257363) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991335)

As a student of the one of the mentioned universities, I have already taken it upon myself to write to my chancellor in response to this story.

I charge other students of mentioned universities to do their duty and protect their university and fellow students in the same manner. Universities should not be punished for anonymizing or protecting the privacy of students as long as due diligence is taken to try and stop copyright infringment.

Do your part and write to those in charge, and tell them that they should defend their university and their students from arbitrary threats from the music cartels.

Re: Congress (0, Troll)

jswigart (1004637) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991347)

Dear Congress, MPAA, RIAA, Go fuck yourself. Sincerely, University of x.

Why do we keep letting Congress shill for corps? (3, Insightful)

ChicagoBiker (702744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991389)

I'm so tired of watching congress protect the corporations from the people. It's supposed to be the other way around!

Whats next (1)

rambag (961763) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991391)

They want to hold the universities responsible for what the students download or search out? That's absurd. Next they are going to send a C&D to the ISP that provides the connection we use to obtain a widely known key that on this site alone has been posted over 1 trillion times. I validate that by saying 73.5% of all online statistics are made up as they are typed.

yuo fai7 It (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991409)

FrreBSD because lead tO 'cleaner

Cost (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991417)

This would cost an awful lot of money, simply because of scale, and the diverse needs of the community. There are 15000+ students at my (not on the list) school, with at least 7000 of those on campus residents. About 80% of the off-grounds people have laptops, and maybe 15% bring them to class daily. That means that during the day you have in excess of 2000 laptops connecting throughout the day, in addition to the 6000 computers in people's dorms, and the 1000ish in libraries and computer labs, and you hit 9-10 thousand computers on your network on an average day. You can't monitor or sort that traffic cheaply.

Given that no University (especially not a top-25 one like mine) wants to be seen as anti-digital-freedom to prospective students, no college can really afford to go to a locked-down system of "block everything but ports 80, 8080, and AIM", because, well, they can't afford to politically, and there are dozens of departments that need to use Technology X on Port Y.

Essentially, colleges have to chose between massively inconveniencing legitimate uses and spending truckloads of money badly needed elsewhere at colleges.

Nice to know (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991423)

It's wonderful to know that what with nuclear proliferation, thousands of Americans dead in Iraq (not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis), a President that insists on a millitary "carte blanche" despite his downwardly spiraled track record, international tension at its highest levels since the Cold War, and the highest fuel prices the world has ever seen (with no alternative in sight), it's wonderful to know that the US government has time for the really IMPORTANT issues.

Re:Nice to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991871)

Couldn't possibley have said that better myself. But, thus is the way the world works. Corporations protected by governments, who should be protecting the people... do we see the glaring mistake? The people in power, the people who we put in power, the people who govern us, have no background in the Citizens they should be protecting, but a background in the Corporations they protect. The gap continues to grow.

Congress will be forced to act (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991433)

Oh my, what might congress do. Use this as an excuse to cut taxes even more to the improvised super upper class. Or allow even more banks to cheat students in their quest for education, while increasing the public subsidies to said banks. Or perhaps, they will just take a lesson from Kent State [toledofreepress.com] .

My best hope is that they simply shut down all access to the commercial music that today's kid enjoy so much, so the kids will have to learn to survive on college made jam, and the labels will receive no revenue whatsoever.

Haven? (2, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991435)

Haven for piracy?

Did that mean they didn't volunteer to hand over private data of their students to the RIAA when asked?

If that is the definition of a haven for piracy, then I want to attend those schools.

Yeah, well... (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991441)

If students didn't want to have congress work against their privacy rights, they should have voted for someone else when the election they were likely too young to take part in was held!

Proof that RIAA bribes Congressmen (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991451)

And thats that. And apparently RIAA rules united states, not "the people".

Lamar Smith (R-TX)

Re:Proof that RIAA bribes Congressmen (2, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991857)

there are thousands dying in an UNJUST war.

yet our congresscritters spend their time on bullying students on behalf of a mega-evil corp cluster.

I wish we (as a people) could fix the REAL problems first before worrying about payola and crap like that. PEOPLE ARE DYING and yet we care more about ensuring fatcats get their unfair cut.

if there is a hell, congress and its sponsors are most surely going there. (I just wish I believed in such a thing)

History (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991455)

To mirror Texan sentiments from their Revolution against Mexico, "Come and take it"
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_and_take_it)

What their response should be (4, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991463)

"Judiciary Committee member Lamar Smith (R-TX) was quoted as saying, 'If we do not receive acceptable answers, Congress will be forced to act.'"

What the schools should say:

'Here's what we're doing to curb piracy: we respond to subpoenas signed by a judge to their full extent. We remove infringing content that has been identified by its owner in full compliance with the DMCA.

Oh, you wanted us to do your job for you? Don't think so.

Congress Threatens to Make Students be Creative? (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991479)

I'm in favor of anything that makes students work harder to get a measurable and meaningful reward, e.g. music & videos. Any barriers schools put up will only encourage students to learn more computer science in order to evade the barriers.

Make college affordable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991485)

Make college cost $10K a year again and maybe students will be able to afford $700 software.

Well sweet!!! (1)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991511)

Only 4 of the 11 Big Ten schools were singled out. I feel honored to include my own Purdue University among the few.

Go Boilers!

Another thing that just wont work... (2, Insightful)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991533)

add this to the list of ways the RIAA/MPAA try to stop P2P but actually end up pissing off its own customers. You know, if they spent half the time and resources they do in their witch hunts on a education/PR campaign they would have much better results. Instead of using FUD, educated the people on what they are doing and what it constitutes. Downloading a CD from thePirateBay is stealing, but copying a CD you bought is not. Draw some lines, let them be known, and maintain your image while still fighting your fight. Probably to late for that now though... oh well...

These brainwashing tactics actually work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991615)

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but Universities/Schools are now spreading MPAA/RIAA/IP/Copyright propaganda all over the place. They have special courses/subjects dedicated to spewing this propaganda (and you don't get the marks on the paper unless you play along!). As a result, graduate students (even from school) are getting into the real world believing that making a backup copy of your own legitimate store-bought Windows CD is not just illegal, but also immoral. They're being taught that you can't transfer your music from a legit store-bought CD to your iPod, without paying for it a second time using iTunes.

Their propaganda certainly works, and I've had to reeducate quite a few people to relieve them of this brainwashing.

Most people aren't as smart and intelligent as Slashdot users. All too often I hear people justify the MPAA/RIAA with "it comes up at the start of movies and it says you can get a huge fine for breaking the law". This represents the majority of the population. Whatever is shown on their TV or movie screen, is truth and nothing but the truth.

Besides, why does Congress think that colleges should be the ones enforcing and policing someone else's laws/problems? That is the task of the police and the copyright holders, not the job of TAX PAYERS who contribute towards the running costs of schools and colleges (which waste their time solving the MPAA/RIAA's problems).

it doesn't matter what congress or universities do (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991617)

in one corner, grumpy old men who simply don't understand the full ramifications of the internet, issuing law after law after law

in another corner, technically astute, highly motivated, media loving, and most of all, poor teenagers

it doesn't matter what some corporation thinks is right and wrong. it doesn't matter what out of touch with reality laws a bought and sold congress passes. it doesn't matter how huge their financial war chest. it doesn't matter how large their army of lawyer whores. it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter

what matters is what is going to happen, and what is already happening. events now surrounding media and the law and internet seem to have an air of inevitability about them to me. time will simply take care of the details, but the ending in sight seems fixed and immutable: unenforceable and universally ignored and shortcircuited intellectual property laws. a colossal joke. for better? for worse? who knows. but inevitably so

riaa, mpaa, dmca, etc. used to infuriate me. now i am more sanguine about events. because i don't see how history can be changed, how the genie can go back in the bottle. some old grumpy men simply do not get what is happening, and never will. and the only solution is to let them die off. and so they will. and so time will take care of this problem

people who get into legal incriminations and moral hysterics about the inevitable unstoppable alterations the internet is making to media and the law just put me to sleep now: they simply don't matter anymore, and they are the only ones who don't realize that. let the dinosaurs die, and simply avoid the swings of the old dumb lizard's faltering weakening tail. let time take it's toll on those with minds too brittle and sight too dim to adapt to the new reality. the new reality: the full ramifications of media on the internet and what it fully means for society and companies and how media is produced and consumed

Netcraft confirms... (1)

alienmole (15522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991645)

...Congress is dying.

Does this clarify Congress' priorities? (3, Insightful)

awfar (211405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991705)

Can it be any clearer to average Americans; Government will allow all your hands-on, technical, dirty, manual, but well-paying jobs go to other countries without hardly a gasp, but fight tooth-and-nail to protect an elite few who own, run, and work in the movie industry. An industry that cannot possibly own all mindshare as globalization continues, a pointless industry that actually produces nothing long-lasting, bankable, and advanced(like a pyramid or a profitable niche industry; just fake sets and technology), an industry that captures, monopolizes, and narrows popular culture draining away money and attention from local venues and real talent, an industry that simply cannot support all Americans.

Re:Does this clarify Congress' priorities? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991919)

Can it be any clearer to average Americans; Government will allow all your hands-on, technical, dirty, manual, but well-paying jobs go to other countries without hardly a gasp, but fight tooth-and-nail to protect an elite few who own, run, and work in the movie industry.


Members of Congress want to stay in office. They will do what it takes to get votes. If an issue is one where few people pay attention and vote based on the issue, they'll do whatever will get them the most campaign cash to sell themselves to voters.

If substantial numbers of people pay attention and vote based on the issue, then the votes are a factor in decision making.

If you care about an issue, pay attention, vote accordingly, and make sure your representatives know that you are doing that.

It wouldn't hurt, if you have the resources, to give money to organized groups lobbying for your interests, too. If you've got a good paying job that you are trying to protect, for instance, consider what its worth to you to protect that job, because you can be sure that the elites that stand to profit off every dollar they can shave by employing cheaper labor someplace that doesn't have the same environmental or working conditions rules that exist in the US will be considering what it is worth to them, and spending money to influence policy accordingly.

If this is any indication... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18991811)

...of which side Congress is likely to turn out to be regarding the CRB royalty decision, the Webcasters may be due for a severe disappointment.

I didn't vote for Lamar Smith last time... (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991823)

... and it looks like I probably won't vote for him next time, either.

Forced to act? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991863)

"If we do not receive acceptable answers, Congress will be forced to act."

Funny, I thought government had the monopoly on force. Or do corporations (the MAFIAA) have more force than the government now?

the round filing cabinet (2, Insightful)

geoff lane (93738) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991867)

Just because someone is at university, it doesn't mean that they have surrendered their rights. The University can set policy and punishment for misuse of University facilities, but they do not exist to support and prosecute the legal claims of others.


The university administrations should say a polite "Thank you for your letter" and file it in the round filing cabinet.

Oft-repeated #: which looks better on a t-shirt? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991943)

Hex, octal, binary, Base64, or Base32?

St George and the Dragon (1)

palladiate (1018086) | more than 7 years ago | (#18991959)

One wonders, though, what the universities are supposed to do when international disrespect for imaginary property rights is so widespread

Nice. We have the worlds LARGEST market pirating entire theme parks, and we are worried about a little economic loss from cash-poor college students? Don't we bleed them enough with Fannie Mae loans?

Once upon a time, we were the world leaders in the free exchange of ideas. Many of our universities surpassed even institutions like Oxford, because we cherished the idea of free ideas. Today though, St George has become the dragon he slew. Today, all ideas are to be owned and monetized, and information is valuable enough to wage war over. Once, we killed each other over ports, trade, gold, and mines. Today, we have nothing left to fight over, so we must imagine property to kill and enslave each other for. Movies, music, literature hold no value without a reader or listener, their value is purely virtual. Do we really need to threaten our youngest with a future police state over things that do not exist, and never will?

Their reply (3, Funny)

slapout (93640) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992007)

Dear Congress,

    As requested by the MPAA we are currently doing everything we can to ban the numbers 0, 9, 11, 2, 9, 74, 5, 8, 41, 56, 5, 63, 56, 88 and the letters f, d, e, b, and c from our campus. The math and english departments are giving us some resistance, but we should have them under control soon.

--The University

mod 3own (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18992045)

please moderate rivalry, and we'll being GAY NIGGERS. mod points and other members in Juliet Are together a 5ad world. At mutated testicle of Here, please do faster chip Fly They looked more grandiose and/or distribute If you have need to scream that be a lot slower gig in front of started work on Surprise to the architecture. My [amazingkreskin.com] the resources that though I have never don't want to feel there are only NetBSD posts on dim. Due to the world's Gay Nigger confirmed that *BSD It a break, if every chance I got for the record, I FreeBSD went out BitTorrent) Second, Of *BSD asswipes as WideOpen, COULD SAVE IT to the transmission MOVIE [imdb.com]
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?