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!

Harvard Law Professor Urges University to Fight RIAA

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the you-know-you-want-to dept.

The Courts 180

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Distinguished Harvard University Law School Professor Charles Nesson has called upon Harvard University to fight back against the RIAA and stand up for its students, writing 'Seeking to outsource its enforcement costs, the RIAA asks universities to point fingers at their students, to filter their Internet access, and to pass along notices of claimed copyright infringement. But these responses distort the University's educational mission. ...[W]e should be assisting our students both by explaining the law and by resisting the subpoenas that the RIAA serves upon us. We should be deploying our clinical legal student training programs to defend our targeted students.'"

cancel ×

180 comments

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

wow (5, Insightful)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999687)

Finally some one with some integrity speaks on the matter.

Re:wow (3, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000645)

Just to emphasise that Nesson is a Professor of law, not a laywer, so we don't have a contridiction in terms here.

Re:wow (4, Informative)

iElucidate (67873) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000811)

On the contrary, Nesson had a short yet distinguised legal career [wikipedia.org] prior to joining the HLS faculty.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001497)

What do you mean by "laywer" and "contridiction"?

Re:wow (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001669)

a) He is a lawyer.

b) You suggest that if he were a lawyer, there would be a contridiction [sic] in terms by him being a man of integrity. The implication is that lawyers have no integrity. A person can have or lack integrity in the things they do or in the ways they do them. Since you are presumably not a lawyer, you don't have the background necessary to begin to know the ways in which lawyers do things, the tools at their disposal, and so on. So I'm presuming that you find integrity inherently lacking in the positions they argue. However, even if you found EVERY single lawsuit and prosecution to be frivolous and unjust, in our adversarial system, lawyers (almost always) exist on both sides, so even then you could criticize no more than approximately 50% of lawyers for advocating immoral positions.

Are you really going to say that the people defending IBM against SCO's suit -- and the people helping IBM at Novell -- lack integrity for what they're doing?

Anti-lawyer rhetoric is dangerous. They're the last bulwark against an oppressive government.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2005/11/13/AR2005111301061.html [washingtonpost.com]

Re:wow (0)

znx (847738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000759)

Both law and technology will continue to evolve.

There will always be a fight between those that breach copyright, those that copy under fair use and those that use the law to stop the breaches.

The RIAA is fighting the battle the only way it knows how, law suits. What we need is someone in the government to stand up and take a good hard look at copyright law. It needs .. not rewritten .. but remodelled into a law that will protect the relatively defenseless families without lawyers.

Right on Professor Nesson!

About Time (0)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999701)

Finally,the RIAA will be cut down as more and more people & institutions resist the Music Nazis and fight back.

Re:About Time (5, Insightful)

pflickner (987357) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999835)

Yeah, considering you can go to Borders, buy a cd, and bring it back. Oh, the policy is that you can't return open cd's, but if you whine a lot and ask to speak to a manager, you're good to go. The RIAA doesn't even go after them, so I can't figure out why they go after moms and kids.

Re:About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19000429)

In the UK, it's possible to exploit a technicality. Tesco sell CDs but only accept returns for the same title. However, when a big sticker says "Includes ringtones", and inside are details of how to obtain them for an extra fee, Trading Standards agreed with me that that doesn't constitute including them, as the ringtones weren't part of the package. So back it went for a full refund.

Re:About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19000457)

[Same AC as above]
I'll add that I had no interest at all in the ringtones, I couldn't care less about them. But when I listened and thought the disc was mostly a load of utter crap, it was the only thing I could pull to force them to take it back and give me a refund.

(There were a couple of good tracks... now safely stored as .flac files)

Re:About Time (-1, Troll)

archmedes5 (106202) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999981)

Except perhaps what the college might sacrifice by fighting in this manner. Education is good, and educating it's students is what it needs to do, but by resisting the law, they could lose a lot of money, or even their accreditation. Imagine, Harvard, a non-accredited school.

Authority (5, Insightful)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999705)

If this gets out all over the media, people would start fighting back more since a Harvard law professor is advocating resistance, and we all know that Harvard has brand power that is rivaled by only a few other high-grade universities. If Harvard does resist, we can have a new slogan: "Fight the RIAA because Harvard's doing it."

Re:Authority (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18999825)

so they do it for all the wrong reasons and they learn nothing from it?

-why did we fight riaa anyways?
-i dunno lol, harvard was doing it

Re:Authority (2, Insightful)

izzo nizzo (731042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999865)

People get curious, the media is a help and a hindrance, but after a while people do learn. They wouldn't learn nothing just because this was very helpful in getting their attention.

Re:Authority (4, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000021)

so they do it for all the wrong reasons and they learn nothing from it?

Not really, they learn why they should have went to Harvard.

Re:Authority (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19002503)

Better than bending over and taking it from the RIAA, yet still learning nothing. Most people are never going to care enough to learn why they take whichever course of action they take, so I'm satisfied that they do fight, whether they know why or not.

I'd rather they learned, and I'm willing to put forth a little bit of effort to teach, but I'm not going to tell them not to fight just because they don't know why.

Re:Authority (1)

Pinkfud (781828) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999833)

Yes. We should make damn SURE it gets out. Bravo for one stand-up guy!

Re:Authority (2, Interesting)

viksit (604616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999931)

_If_ Harvard ends up resisting. _IF_ Yale joins in. _IF_ Columbia, which was targeted as one of the 12 piracy-propogating schools decides to join on the bandwagon. Who knows, the ivy league might just end up doing something as a team.

Those are a lot of big ifs, imho.

Re:Authority (2, Interesting)

archmedes5 (106202) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999995)

If they lose this fight, they'll singlehandedly make the "Ivy League" a thing of the past. I'm not siding with the RIAA here, but the law, unfortunately, is on their side. Are these colleges prepared to take the risk of losing everything to stand up for their students?

Re:Authority (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000325)

yes , i now , the law is always on the side of big corporations with lots of money . but that doesn't make the law right .

colleges/students stand for the future . if anyone should fight ther RIAA, it's them .

and yes , they should take the risk . it will earn them much more respect than cowardly submitting to the RIAA .

Re:Authority (2, Insightful)

gogodidi (885953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000437)

I just sat my IB English exam, and I wrote an essay about how the youth culture is largely affected by the media (used loosely, means RIAA and pretty much everything else). I concluded that the media does largely affect 'our' culture, and that many people don't like it; it's all amount money and companies such as the RIAA are hindering college students from becoming valuable members of society, and stifling their creativity really doesn't help either. I really hope that some of those college students protest, even if just a little bit, I know I will when I get to college.

Re:Authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19000765)

The IB exams were 1) a commentary on a passage or a poem, and 2) discussion of two or three Part 3 works that you have studied during your time in IB. Where and how does a social issue come into all this? I'm calling bs on this, or you did poorly on your IB exam because there is no place on the IB English exams for a student to write about local issues in place of literary analysis.

Re:Authority (1)

gogodidi (885953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001129)

We studied the media option. I didn't write about the RIAA specificially. I am in the A2 level of English (I had to in order to take Norwegian. I also did it at the Standard Level, because I didn't want to take Physics or computer science SL). This meant that the exams were structured thusly: paper 1: Comparative commentary on two never before read works while paper 2: An essay on a particular question regarding studied literary or non-literary options. Paper two therefore asked questions on such things as Global Issues or Media. The media question I answered was somewhere along the lines of "The media creates the youth culture. Do you agree with this? Answer the question using material you studied in class." A simple question, I could have made up a whole lot of nonsense and claimed they were facts. I did however take it seriously and used real examples, and the essay was in my opinion, relevant to the Slashdot posting. Shame you replied anonymously, I guess you'll be thinking the worst of me for a while from now.

Re:Authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001263)

"companies such as the RIAA are hindering college students from becoming valuable members of society"

by teaching them that culture and entertainment has value? and is not disposable pap for which people do not deserve to be paid?
You have some weird ideas.

Re:Authority (1)

gogodidi (885953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001533)

How does suing them help them? If they can't afford college, how are they going to become something more valuable than a mcdonalds employee? Unfortunately, One can't get very far today without a college education.

Re:Authority (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001207)

colleges/students stand for the future . if anyone should fight ther RIAA, it's them .

When students' families are bankrupted by RIAA lawsuits and they can't afford college anymore, their future is called "burger flipping" and "trash hauling". They won't be in any position to do anything.

Colleges and schools are strapped for money, they can't fight an economical juggernaut like the RIAA.

Imagine you're a student: you get sued, you will probably lose, and even if you don't your opponent can afford to drag the suit out until you're bankrupted. It's either shut up and think about yout future, or a lifetime stuck with a menial job and, possibly, debt slavery.

The students and colleges don't have a chance. Big money has enough economical and political power to make resistance useless. Deal with it, it's over. It has been over since the beginning.

Re:Authority (1)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001381)

Harvard has, at last I checked, nearly a $12US BILLION endowment. That's enough to take on this challenge, I assure you!

Re:Authority (5, Insightful)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000533)

If they lose this fight, they'll singlehandedly make the "Ivy League" a thing of the past. I'm not siding with the RIAA here, but the law, unfortunately, is on their side.

The law isn't on their side when it comes to going on a fishing expedition. Also, the number of cases that the RIAA has won in court so far (that is NOT the same as people settling) isn't very high, and their cases being thrownn out isn't exactly unheard of..

I'd rather think that a law professor has some idea about this, and about the legal risks in general. I would even go as far as suggesting that he probably has a lot more of an idea then you and me together.

Are these colleges prepared to take the risk of losing everything to stand up for their students?

Is this society prepared to destoy such colleges and their future in order to protect the ill-gotten exclusive rights of an industry that is doomed to failure?

Re:Authority (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001813)

the number of cases that the RIAA has won in court so far (that is NOT the same as people settling) isn't very high, and their cases being thrownn out isn't exactly unheard of..

The number of federal civil cases that end in a verdict by a judge or jury is between two and four percent.

It takes a substantial commitment of time and money to get that far, even though your chances of winning are no better than fifty-fifty. But to lose, is to lose big.

Re:Authority (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001953)

The number of federal civil cases that end in a verdict by a judge or jury is between two and four percent.

Interesting, but no real surprise. Usually it is a lot cheaper to settle a case then to pursue it to the end even when you know you are likely to win. This is why there is little point in including those cases, and why I argued to ignore them when looking at the statement that 'the law is on the side of the RIAA'. Rather, we should look at those cases that did end in a verdict from a judge.

I think that such cases do not support the idea that the law is on the side of the RIAA in their current attempts to deal with copyright infringement.

Of course initially the law is on their side when they try to pursue copyright infringement, but not when their idea of that is throwing lawsuits at random people, not preparing their cases properly, and generally aiming for people to settle and use that in a propaganda 'war' instead of actually trying to get some kind of compensation from those who cause them actual damage (and lets nto even get into their absurd statements about the damage)

It takes a substantial commitment of time and money to get that far, even though your chances of winning are no better than fifty-fifty. But to lose, is to lose big.

So, the RIAA better be sure they have a really good case. If they don't liek the risks they shouldn't be playing the 'game'.

Re:Authority (2, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 7 years ago | (#19002517)

Is this society prepared to destoy such colleges and their future in order to protect the ill-gotten exclusive rights of an industry that is doomed to failure?

Since the society is ruled by politicians who are paid by that very industry, I'd say that the answer is "yes".

Re:Authority (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000605)

From my experience litigating against the RIAA, it has no interest in the rule of law whatsoever; its goal is to make money and monopolize as much of the digital music space as it can.

1. Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure encourage the making of all motions on notice, the RIAA does everything it can ex parte. The John Doe proceedings and motion for discovery are initiated without notice to anyone, even though it would be a simple matter to furnish the university, college, or ISP with copies of the motion and other papers, which could in turn be disseminated to the "John Does" to enable them to consult with counsel and take action if so advised.

2. The RIAA joins unrelated John Does, also in total contravention of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

3. In 2004 the federal district court in Austin, Texas, enjoined the RIAA to cease and desist from that practice. The RIAA has been in contempt of that order ever since, merely taking care to avoid litigating in Austin, Texas.

4. The RIAA conducts a sham investigation which, at best, identifies a person who paid for an internet access account... and then turns around and sues that person without any information that that individual is actually liable for copyright infringement.

5. The RIAA has invented a claim for "Making available" even though there is no legal authority.

6. The RIAA has invented a concept of an "online media digital music distributor", and uses it to tarnish people who've never engaged in file sharing in their life.

7. The RIAA never honors its pretrial discovery obligations, taking advantage of the fact that most defendants do not have the resources to engage in a constant stream of motion practice in order to get even the most rudimentary discovery.

8. It makes frivolous assertions of "privilege" and "confidentiality" solely to make litigation more expensive for defendants in other cases.

9. The RIAA will disclose, and distort the contents of, confidential settlement discussions.

I could go on and on. But to anyone who thinks the RIAA is trying to enforce copyright law.... think again.

The key, for me, is that our system of law is an adversarial system. For there to be fair outcomes there needs to be a fight of equals, a level playing field. The RIAA has embarked on a program of using colossal wealth to prey on defenseless victims, so that it can rewrite copyright law in a way that will maximize the recording industry's wealth. And it tramples on their civil rights in the process. ACLU, Public Citizen, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Amerian Association of Law Libraries. the US Internet Industry Association, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, and others have submitted amicus curiae briefs pointing these things out.

The article written by Prof. Nesson and Ms. Seltzer is a landmark.

The key message for the university, in my view, is this: "we should be assisting our students both by explaining the law and by resisting the subpoenas that the RIAA serves upon us. We should be deploying our clinical legal student training programs to defend our targeted students."

Harvard should make sure that the due process rights of its students are protected.

Re:Authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001509)

I think you have shown more than any other lawyer, to many of us, that you are not all bottom-feeding assholes.

Thanks for proving some lawyers still believe in that trash called freedom and the system put forth by our founding fathers that many of us miss so dearly.

It still maybe true that 99% of lawyers make a bad name for the other 1%, but at least I know there is a percentage of good lawyers out there.

Rule 11 or Rule 37 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001957)

Hasen't anyone gotten them on a rule 11 or rule 37 yet (sanctions for bad faith representations to the court or for not cooperating with discovery)

It seems if they are making frivolous legal arguments you can call them on that with rule 11?

Just wondering

Re:Authority (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19002287)

Ray,

This clear statement of all that's wrong here belongs on your blog, for all the people who need to see it and won't find it here first.

Re:Authority (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000003)

It must be the best - the President went there!

Personally I think he is not as dumb as he looks, likes to play dumb the same way he is playing at being Texan with the new "family ranch" and has had most of his life organised for him by other people. Is there pressure to pass students with influence there or does Harvard have more integrity than that?

Re:Authority (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000357)

Well, Havard is privately funded, and there's a saying where I come from: Those who pay dictate the way.

Re:Authority (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000719)

And at this point it's plain the MAFIAA isn't paying.

Re:Authority (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000813)

Shhhh. C'mon, do you really have to give them ideas?

Then again, it's easier and more efficient to buy laws and actions from congress than policies from schools. And probably cheaper, too.

Re:Authority- WHICH PRESIDENT? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19002325)

It must be the best - the President went there!

Which President? Not either Bush. Not Kerry, who wanted to be President. Not either Clinton.

Oh, do you mean the President of Microsoft? Yes, but he dropped out.

Re:Authority (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000291)

First off, thanks for saying Harvard has brand power as being one of the best universities and not that Harvard is one of the best universities.

With that said, you make a really good point in that people tend to listen more to things that appear to be special or great. If one of the lesser known but higher ranked law schools had a professor who said the same thing, this wouldn't have nearly as much of an effect. That's assuming that this actually has an effect, but here's to hoping.

Re:Authority (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001671)

Harvard. Meh. It's not like he was a professor at Regent University Law School or anything.

Re:Authority (1)

ajanp (1083247) | more than 7 years ago | (#19002441)

Don't forget that at the moment, there is just a Harvard law professor (albeit a reputable one) that is simply advocating resistance against the RIAA, and not the university as a whole.

Given the sheer volume of RIAA notices sent out to universities throughout the country, Harvard has yet to receive any notices for copyright infringement. Until Harvard actually receives some notices (which seems increasingly unlikely given Harvard's reputation and also that the RIAA is generally looking for students that are likely to settle out of court for $3-5k (generally a pretty paltry sum when you consider it in a context of how much they are already paying for a college education).

It's great that a reputable Harvard professor is supporting change and urging other universities to resist RIAA notices, but Harvard students still remain untouched. Until the RIAA goes after Harvard and the university decides to actively defend the students, we can't really know if Harvard would actually support the students and fight the RIAA.

This guy is doomed (-1, Offtopic)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999709)

expect Bush to call upon his minions within the CIA to appropriate this rebel to Syria for "extraordinary rendition" (whatever the fuck that means.) Business interests trump the rule of law, in these days of post-911, you better be fucking aware of who you are dealing with. Otherwise, we'll have to go on the defensive again, and this is exactly what al-queda is anticipating. Watch your fucking back, bitch.

No no no! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18999731)

Education is weakness.
Ignnorance is strength.

Re:No no no! (2, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999831)

Ignnorance is strength.

Tough guy, huh?

Re:No no no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18999869)

Tough guy, huh?


Yeah! I can point out typos, look at me!

Interesting possibilities (5, Insightful)

rde (17364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999733)

We should be deploying our clinical legal student training programs to defend our targeted students.
Ooh, this raises some intriguing possibilities. If a university's legal faculty 'n' lawyers-to-be rally around the students, a whole body of experience will quickly build up. By the time they become fully-fledged lawyers, a whole bunch of students will be familiar with the xxAA and their tactics.
Could lead to some interesting exam projects, too; "Find a granny being sued by the RIAA and prepare a suitable defense. For bonus credit, find a granny who doesn't have a computer but is being sued by the RIAA."

Re:Interesting possibilities (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999809)

no, no. Find a granny who DOES have a computer and is being sued by the RIAA for bonus marks. Not only is that harder, but the task of preparing the defence is fractionally harder too.

Intrinsic probabilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18999885)

By the time they become fully-fledged lawyers, a whole bunch of students will be familiar with the xxAA and their tactics.
And with other unis following suit, it'll be a bumpercrop of anti-MAFIAA lawyer noobs some of whom will rise up to be our political masters. Both the short and long term look bad for the MAFIAA. Ain't it grand? You mess with the bull and you get the salchicha.

Re:Interesting possibilities (2, Interesting)

IP_Troll (1097511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999887)

A legal clinics are typically free, so this also removes RIAA's threat that "you are going to spend more in attorney's fees fighting us, so you should just settle for $X,000".

Re:Interesting possibilities (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000281)

and when they have there degree, they can get high payment from said **AA, because they know the material so well.

Re:Interesting possibilities (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000369)

It gets better. "Find a bunch of grannies without a computer, prepare a countersuit and find out just how much money you can pump out of the *AA."

Professor's downloads? (-1, Flamebait)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999735)

I wonder how many songs this professor has downloaded...

Re:Professor's downloads? (2, Interesting)

rs79 (71822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000013)

I met Charlie Neesan once when the icann stuff was getting started in Cambridge. He's (very) good people. He also taught Lessig, Edeleman Molly "babe" van Howling and Zittrain.

Re:Professor's downloads? (1)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001515)

Zittrain and his Digital 9-11 crap is just as bad as that Y2K guy crying the end of the world...

If I never hear him utter "Digital 9-11" again, I'll die a happy man.

Digital Nine One One

Digital Nine One One

Digital Nine One One

Okay, I'm done.

Re:Professor's downloads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19000079)

I wonder how many songs this professor has downloaded...


What difference does it make? So far downloading music isn't illegal in the prison world called USA.

Re:Professor's downloads? (1)

Chexum (1498) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000095)

[CaptainObvious]Hah, you did not read the article![/CaptainObvious]

You probably missed the part where he's plugging Noank Media [noankmedia.com] against the old establishment.

Re:Professor's downloads? (3, Insightful)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000687)

I'm not sure if you're trying to be funny, or cynical here... My father in law passed away a week and a half ago, and I was tasked with setting up a website in his memory... My wife wanted to use a few songs for the site, which needed, or was intended to be up before the funeral (this coming tuesday)... I said that I could only use Creative Commons, or Public Domain music without permission.... the hard part was finding music suited to the event and the person... A few letters were sent out to the commercial artists she had wanted to use.

The licensing cost wasn't so much the issue (something like $30/year (USD) on a given example. The hard pill to swallow, is it required a bunch of paperwork, with two weeks to review, and decide if to grant or decline license for the song. But worse still is that it would take up to and beyond 8 weeks to actually grant said license.

Upon reviewing several thousand songs over several hours from garageband.com, we found one creative commons song that was suitable. And got permission from the author of another, very appropriate song, for use of it... The songs are encoded, and embedded into flash files, and streamed at a lower quality in mono (mainly for bandwidth issues). As much as the system in play for online/internet radio sucks... it would be nice to have a better interface for licensing a song for playback on a website, without direct access to a higher quality digital recording... One shouldn't have to jump through so many hoops...

On a side note, at least now my wife, and a few relatives have a much better understanding of how F'd up copyright law is, between this issue, and trying to get copies of photos for use at the funeral.

His daugther works on a PhD in CS at Harvard (5, Interesting)

null-und-eins (162254) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999757)

Nesson's daughter Rebecca (http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~nesson/) works on a PhD in CS after going to Law School. Hence, you can be sure that he is very well aware of the discussion inside the CS community. Rebecca won Google's Anita Borg Fellowship 2007 (http://www.google.com/anitaborg/) and I remember here as a very nice person all around.

Re:His daugther works on a PhD in CS at Harvard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18999777)

You ask what a nice girl will do? She won't give an inch, but she won't say no. -- Marcus Valerius Martialis

Thank you (4, Insightful)

aarku (151823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999785)

Thank you NewYorkCountryLawyer. Keep doing your thang!

Re:Thank you (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000587)

You're welcome, aarku.
This was a landmark article, I was very happy to see it. This could be the beginning of the end of the reign of terror.

Off topic (0, Redundant)

schlichte (885306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999793)

For some reason, anything piracy/antipracy reminds me of those old tapes shown in school which basically said, "sex is the devil." Yet how many people continue to participate in what the "devil[lawmaker/politician/lawyer]" says is "wrong[immoral, home backups of owned material] I started on the net with a 14.4 Boca Modem... Some of you are on the floor. others are like "huh!?!" But I remember wondering... how can I get this CD to fit on my 300mb HD?" In the middle of this I had a change of heart.. i think it comes down to a Marco / Polo type situation... RIAA yells out marco... and they sue the holy horseshit out of the loudest "Polo!" Fuck it, my karma is already bad.. thats my drunkewn opinion, mod me as you will... =D

RIAA Business Plan (2, Funny)

Foehg (48006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999803)

Speaking of the RIAA, I think they've been cribbing business plans from the ad for wall-size maps on the back of my granola. It says "Buy USA at retail price, get the World Free!"

RIAA business plan? (0)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999841)

1. Pick legal fight with one of the most prestigious law universities in the country
2. ???
3. Profit*

* For Harvard, not the MAFIAA.

Re:RIAA business plan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18999859)

Or...

1. Use dirty tricks to get Charles Nesson removed from Harvard
2. ???
3. Profit like it's 1982*

* For the MAFIAA and Harvard with all the kickbacks they may receive

I think his op-ed is quite a risk taken against his reputation, so I certainly respect what he's saying. All the more power to him, I hope he manages to get through to the decision makers at Harvard.

Your Rights (1)

V2-V3 (762961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999893)

Hell yes, Stand up for what is right!

Down with the RIAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18999921)

FUCK ISLAM

Copyright Law (5, Interesting)

deAtog (987710) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999947)

With all the talk about this recently, I'm surprised someone hasn't mentioned this sooner... Granted I'm not a lawyer, but last I read, copyright law explicitly states that it is perfectly legal for students attending an educational institution to make a copy of any copyrighted work for educational purposes. Who's to say the students in question weren't doing so for this exact purpose?

Re:Copyright Law (1)

Agamemnon13 (1097979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000077)

Yup. The last time I checked anybody could make a personal copy of music, movies or games that they own for back up purposes. I personally use this when I want to watch my movies or play my games without putting wear on the originals or when not near my console or CD collection. Works wonders and I guess as long as you get the files back at some point you could even loan them out to your friends. ;)

Re:Copyright Law (2, Informative)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000907)

No, that's not true. Making unauthorized copies of a copyrighted work is never permitted for any reason unless it either falls under fair use (which is on a case-by-case basis; some backups would be ok, others would not be, it depends on the circumstances involved), or there is some other exception in the law that applies (e.g. 17 USC 117, which only applies for software, but in practice, hardly ever).

Nice try, though.

Believe you to be mistaken. (3, Informative)

adam (1231) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000153)

I am also not a lawyer, but I don't believe what you are positing would fall under fair use. In 1989, Kinkos was found guilty of copyright violation [answers.com] for copying substantial portions of textbooks (up to 100 pages at a stretch), and fined $1.9M plus court costs.

Basically (as I understand it) there are several factors that fall into the test for fair use. First, is whether the use is for commercial or non-profit use. In this case, copying the music would probably pass the test. The second test is whether the work is "creative" or "informational" in its origin. In this case, the deck would be stacked against a student copying the average RIAA CD for "educational" purposes, as the work itself is probably of a creative nature. The third factor is the scope of the portion used. Simply put, the less you use, the more chance it is fair use. So copying a whole CD wouldn't pass this test. Copying a whole "hit" song probably wouldn't either. There was an actual case where a church choir director was found guilty of copyright infringement for copying essentially all of the lyrics (or something like that) from a song, arranging it to his music, and distributing copies to his choir. It was found that despite his good faith desire (not to infringe), he was still infringing. I recall the famous instance of Gerald Ford's memoirs as well, where only a few hundred words of his 100,000 word work were reprinted, and the supreme court found in his publisher's favor.

So.. in summary, I think you are mistaken. It (copyright law) doesn't state what you think it does, and the test for fair use definitely isn't "explicit" (as you said).. it is rather subjective. Nice shell game, though. Anyone who is a real lawyer, feel free to respond and repudiate my whole post ;)

Re:Believe you to be mistaken. (1)

pionzypher (886253) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000491)

I don't think the Kinkos corporation you used as an example is likely to be considered eligible.

1. They're not a student.
2. They do not attend an educational institution.

And all that other stuff too, being a business, profiting off of it, etc.
Your point stands though.

Re:Copyright Law (1)

Dracil (732975) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000297)

Um, wait. Wouldn't this apply to textbooks too?

Re:Copyright Law (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000377)

last I read, copyright law explicitly states that it is perfectly legal for students attending an educational institution to make a copy of any copyrighted work for educational purposes.
And what country where you in when you read that? Because it sure ain't the USA. You probably just heard someone somewhere say something about the component of the fair use defense that involves an educational exemption and then totally stretched it into something way, way larger than it really is.

Re:Copyright Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19000965)

common sense?

its amazing the crap that people try to pull to justify having downloaded 2000 mp3s and not paying for any of them. You would have thought that law students might know better, but I guess they are as dishonest as the rest of you.

law schools (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000073)

i believe there's 2 things they tell you in law school 1. never sue a church - they are exempt from just about everything 2. never sue a university with a well stocked law faculty - you'll become the target of the best legal minds in the world who will have 100's of students working for free.

Re:law schools (4, Insightful)

cskrat (921721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000383)

Then consider that likely a good chunk of the law student's are planning to be Nth generation lawyers. This means that you get to bring in parents, siblings and possibly grandparents that may be in firms that would like to be precedent setters in **AA style cases.

Yeah real smart for the **AA's to go marching into a den of hundreds (if not over a thousand) highly vicious (Type-A personality) lions (Lawyers). (parenthetical commentary FTW)

Re:law schools (3, Insightful)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000625)

Well, the converse to this is that a bunch of established alumni call up the trustees at Harvard and say: "why are you squandering the credibility of the University on kids who want to listen to a bunch of Brittany Spears songs for free?" The 'parents, slibings and possibly grandparents that might be in firms' might feel that Harvard has better legal stands to focus on.

Sorry for singing a different harmony here, folks...

Finally, a ray of hope! (5, Insightful)

nocynic (907095) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000449)

It is fantastic and the right thing that was needed. A reputed university such as Harvard propagates the fight against the RIAA. Why does it make such a difference when Harvard does it? Well, we all know that University of Wisconsin (Madison), albeit respected, does not match to the global reputation and brand recall that comes with an Ivy league university such as Harvard. Harvard's name is familiar to everyone around the world. Students in India, China, Pakistan the UK, everyones knows of Harvard. Even the crowd that isn't aware of the education system in other countries (the US), knows of Harvard.

So, Harvard fighting the RIAA, if publicized correctly by the media, will get the attention of everyone around the world. Take the MIT dean issue that came up recently, for example. That was splashed all across the news channels everywhere in the world!
I am currently in India and it was quite a talk here when the MIT news came out. I'm talking about local news channel covering the story! If the same happens with Harvard's move, is could almost be certain that people can will be educated more about the problem and its impact on internet downloads.

Re:Finally, a ray of hope! (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001375)

So, Harvard fighting the RIAA, if publicized correctly by the media, will get the attention of everyone around the world. Take the MIT dean issue that came up recently, for example. That was splashed all across the news channels everywhere in the world!
Really? I only heard about it on Slashdot.

"Defenseless" is no excuse for infringement (0, Troll)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000509)

I can't believe I'm about to refute a Harvard Law prof...

One can easily understand why the RIAA wants help from universities in facilitating its enforcement actions against students who download copyrighted music without paying for it. It is easier to litigate against change than to change with it.

The RIAA would not be threatening the students if the students weren't violating copyright. Stop violating copyright, and the RIAA has nothing to go after.

If the RIAA saw a better way to protect its existing business, it would not be threatening our students, forcing our librarians and administrators to be copyright police, and flooding our courts with lawsuits against relatively defenseless families without lawyers or ready means to pay.

Being "relatively defenseless families without lawyers or ready means to pay" is not justification for violating copyright. I don't have the an attorney on retainer or the means to pay, but that doesn't mean I can speed or violate traffic laws with impunity. "But judge, I can't afford the ticket so I shouldn't be prosecuted" won't fly very far in court. People in this country need to start taking responsibility for themselves.

We can even understand the attraction of using lawsuits to shore up an aging business model rather than engaging with disruptive technologies and the risks that new business models entail./blockquote)
If a software house violates the GPL and the EFF calls them on it, is that considered "shoring up an aging business model?"

Dislike the RIAA's tactics all you want; the trend is to file dubious lawsuits against defendants who seemingly don't have the technical prowess to violate copyright on the alleged scale nor have the prowess to know if their spouse/child/whatever are doing it on their hardware and bring highly questionable evidence. I dislike the tactics as well. However, copyright is copyright, ignorance is no excuse, and if you break it, do so with the knowledge that you may be called to the carpet for it someday.

If you feel that violating copyright is an act of civil disobedience in protest of overbearing, overextended copyright law, then fine--continue with your act of civil disobedience. Remember, though, that one of the responsibilities of civil disobedience is the full acknowledgment and acceptance of the consequences.

Re:"Defenseless" is no excuse for infringement (0, Offtopic)

Sukaafeisu (953271) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000577)

wanka

Re:"Defenseless" is no excuse for infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19000769)

The RIAA would not be threatening the students if the students weren't violating copyright. Stop violating copyright, and the RIAA has nothing to go after.

As it stands, you can stick a fork into copyright, it's done.

Re:"Defenseless" is no excuse for infringement (2, Insightful)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000931)

The RIAA would not be threatening the students if the students weren't violating copyright. Stop violating copyright, and the RIAA has nothing to go after.

You'd think so, but the MAFIAA has also been threatening people without computers, dead people, and small children. There's really no evidence that any of the threats they've sent would stand up in a trial, since so far the cases that have gone to trial are going rather poorly for the MAFIAA.

Being "relatively defenseless families without lawyers or ready means to pay" is not justification for violating copyright. I don't have the an attorney on retainer or the means to pay, but that doesn't mean I can speed or violate traffic laws with impunity. "But judge, I can't afford the ticket so I shouldn't be prosecuted" won't fly very far in court. People in this country need to start taking responsibility for themselves.

You may not be able to violate traffic laws with impunity, but police officers, judges, and politicians routinely do so. What does that tell you about the legal system and how people with money and power can abuse it? The MAFIAA has enough lawyers on retainer to simply scare normal people into settlements which cost less than a proper legal defense. It's pure extortion and racketeering.

Re:"Defenseless" is no excuse for infringement (5, Insightful)

grimJester (890090) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001083)

Being "relatively defenseless families without lawyers or ready means to pay" is not justification for violating copyright. I don't have the an attorney on retainer or the means to pay, but that doesn't mean I can speed or violate traffic laws with impunity. "But judge, I can't afford the ticket so I shouldn't be prosecuted" won't fly very far in court. People in this country need to start taking responsibility for themselves.

You presuppose that they are guilty, which is not the way the law works. Innocent until proven guilty, and these students have not been proven guilty. In addition, they have a right to defend themselves regardless of whether they are innocent or guilty. As things stand, they don't have the resources to defend themselves. The professor is proposing that they be given the resources to do so.

Even the guilty should be able to defend themselves in court.

Re:"Defenseless" is no excuse for infringement (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001197)

Hmm, guilty until proven innocent makes it easy. I need to get in on this.

Music, been done.

Linux, been done.

Dog Poop hasn't been done yet.

You have let your dog poop in my yard. I have experts that can confirm this.

If you pay me $3500 in fees, admit your guilt, and promise to never let your dog poop in my yard again, I will forgive any past pooping offenses.

If not, I demand you ship your dog to my experts at your expense for examination to prove it was your dog that poopped in my yard. If you do not produce your dog, I will demand the judge find you in contempt of court and imprison you. I also demand any family members that live with in 100 miles of you produce their dogs for examination.

Lame excuses like you do not own a dog, or being in the same room with a dog would kill you will not go over well with the judge. The fact that you and your dog live 3000 miles from my yard is not of my concern.

Please make checks payable to the Dog Poop Association of America (DPAA), Washington DC.

are we a little worried? (1)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001297)

much as i despise the xxaa, i think this could be potentially debilitating to the acceptance of court ruling in the us. as we are all aware, a subpoena is a court order for evidence or witness appearance. subpoena will be "translated" into "court order/ruling" for the masses and joe public is likely to hear/read this and think "hey, harvard is telling me to ignore court orders!"

can anyone else see how bad this could be? IANAL, but i think the best way to fix this situation might be a higher court ruling against the motions of the lower court in favor of them being unfounded or inaccurate... something to explain that the ruling came from evidence that couldn't hold water

Re:"Defenseless" is no excuse for infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001353)

good post, I agree 100%, but the kids on /. with a guilty conscience will mod you down anyway.

Re:"Defenseless" is no excuse for infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001379)

I think the point is that digital distribution of any type of media content has completely changed the world. The industries that make their endless piles of cash is trying to control it. It's not going to happen. The digital generation thinks differently than these old men and women. It's not going to stop, they can't control it, and when they start dying off because of old age their empires will crumble. If you can't already see this happening you are aren't paying attention. We need to be focusing on humanity rather than copyright infrigement.

Aren't you just being wrong and trolling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001385)

"Stop violating copyright, and the RIAA has nothing to go after."

Isn't the point that the RIAA is suing people who often times don't even have a computer or a computer account? While the law of statistics and large numbers say that probably a few people might have broken copyright law, the implication is that the record companies are just on an intimidation campaign against the rest of the world.

Isn't the real story that the RIAA has no technical means to determine if (a) copyright is in fact being violated (b) who is doing it.

It seems to me, their lawsuits rest on the same illogical conclusion that you are guilty of. That is, you assume that any violation of copyright is so serious that it's OK if a lot of completely innocent people are caught up, because "we" need to teach society a lesson, regard of actual guilt or innocence because it sends a strong message that copyright violators will be caught and prosecuted.

That doesn't even begin to make sense, and I don't think you've really thought through the horrible precedent that this sets for society.

There are places in this world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19000515)

Seeking to outsource its enforcement costs, the RIAA asks universities to point fingers at their students, to filter their Internet access, and to pass along notices of claimed copyright infringement. But these responses distort the University's educational mission. ...where this blabla would be reduced to a single word that people learned from history: NAZIS

The definition of Nazism might differ from nitpicker to nitpicker. But my guts tell me that your music is produced and sold by a straight Nazi organisation that desperately promotes its opinions in the news by going after little people.

Reminds me of something reported in Australia (4, Informative)

Gangrenous BoB (1000398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19000701)

"Seeking to outsource its enforcement costs, the RIAA asks universities to point fingers at their students, to filter their Internet access, and to pass along notices of claimed copyright infringement."

This reminds me of something the ARIA wanted to/wants to implement in Australia. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,21555941-2,00 .html?from=public_rss [news.com.au]

"Under this system, people who illegally download songs would be given three written warnings by their Internet service provider.

If they continued to illegally download songs, their internet account would be suspended or terminated.

Those with dial-up internet could face having their phone disconnected."

Re:Reminds me of something reported in Australia (1)

abushga (864910) | more than 7 years ago | (#19002149)

>Those with dial-up internet could face having their phone disconnected."

Um, yeah. Watch out for all those pirates who download music files over a dialup connection.

I dont understand (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19000733)

I dont want to be a jerk here, however, the labels represented by the RIAA haven't produced decent music from the time I was born forward. When I hear that someone 'stole' music that the RIAA cares about I start to question their taste and if I should care anyway.
          Get an ipod, listen to podcasts like 'Next Big Hit' that specialize in small independent labels, or support the artist directly. If you really want to buy a big label, buy the cd used, or even a used LP. I dont see why we need a Harvard law professor, lets just starve the bastards.

Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19001367)

Finally, a college with some gumption and integrity who will do the right thing. Other colleges should follow this example.

One statement bothers me... (3, Insightful)

Garwulf (708651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001639)

Well, I'm glad to see more and more people taking a stand against the flagrant abuses of the RIAA - with luck, it will soon get to the point that the RIAA can no longer get away with any of it. However, one statement in the article really bothers me:

"We need not condone infringement to conclude that 19th- and 20th-century copyright law is poorly suited to promote 21st-century knowledge."

Now, I may not be a lawyer, but I am a professional writer, and an author, and part of my profession requires me to have a working understanding of copyright law. So, this statement bothers me for a couple of reasons:

1. It does not differentiate between copyright law and patent law. Copyright law is actually quite good at allowing for the promotion of knowledge, as you cannot copyright an idea - only the exact implementation of one. Patent law, on the other hand, has become very restrictive in regards to the promotion of knowledge, and you CAN patent an idea. (You can patent a tax strategy, for crying out loud.)

2. I don't know enough about 19th century copyright law, but frankly, 20th century copyright law based on the Berne Convention is quite good at what it does, and doesn't really need to be fixed. At best, it needs minor modifications.

Expanding on the second point, there seems to be a "shiny thing" reaction in the copyright industry in regards to the Internet, and it really does miss the point. The RIAA, legislators, and even some lawyers are spending a lot of time panicking in awe at the shiny new Internet and what it can do, and failing to notice that at the end of the day, a work is either infringed or it isn't, just like it was before the 'net. As far as the actual letter of the law is concerned, how it got that way is really unimportant.

(Think of it this way - somebody figures out how to commit a murder over the Internet by making his/her victim's keyboard deliver a deadly electric shock. Do the murder laws now need to be rewritten? Of course not - at the end of the day, it's still murder, plain and simple.)

If you look at the Berne Convention, you see:

1. Respect for the creator's wishes for their work.
2. Ability for the creator to transfer rights and copyright.
3. Allowance for fair use and the use of ideas, but not exact implementations, in derivative works.
4. Allowance for public domain.
5. A recognition that these rights and provisions apply to new media.

If you think about it, it's simple, covers all the bases, allows for everything from Creative Commons to the Open Source movement to a novelist receiving royalties in any media - and has been around in its current form since the 1970s. I wouldn't call it a broken tool at all. I just wish people would stop panicking because there's a new shiny thing and coming up with daft measures (Vista-style DRM anybody?) to protect against it.

It's men like this (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 7 years ago | (#19001981)

that keep Harvard on the map.

No matter how bad a reputation the USA may have nowadays, it's top universities haven't had any problem attracting international talent, even from highly developed countries like Germany.

Unfair Copyright Laws are Creating This (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19002267)

Copyright law ceased being fair when copyrights started being massively extended retroactively. At that point it was no longer about encouraging the creation of artistic works by securing for a limited time exclusive rights to profit from those works. It was simply about money, and the perpetuation of profits of one particular industry. This is the very thing thing that USA copyright law under the Constitution was supposed to prevent, and which was going on widely in Europe at the time the Constitution was written.

Existing works had already been created under the copyright laws of the time. (28 years plus one extension of 28 more years). The laws fully served their purpose of encouraging the creative arts. No change in the law afterwards would change what had been done. These works should have moved into the public domain, where new artists could freely use them to create even newer works to enrich society. Instead, the content creation industry got Congress to enrich them by extending unreasonably the time of protection. Congress did not represent the people at large that day.

The President failed in his job by signing this bill, and The Supreme Court failed miserably in their job of understanding the intent in the US Constitution by upholding the unwarranted extensions. And the court system now fails even more miserably by permitting the RIAA suits to exist in the first place, and then be dropped in ways that cost never-convicted defendants tens of thousands of reimbursed dollars, the moment the RIAA might lose. All this while the RIAA tries to trick the courts into granting them rights never included in the original legislation. If the RIAA can fool uninformed judges into creating precedents to be used in future cases, they will have de facto created new law for themselves.

Filesharing should be viewed as an act of civil disobedience against an industry that has received out-of-proportion, and unconstitutional, protection from all three branches of the government.

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>