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RIAA Adds 23 Colleges to Hit List, Avoids Harvard

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the actually-has-some-educational-value dept.

The Courts 282

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA has added 23 new colleges and universities to its hit list, but deliberately omitted Harvard, apparently afraid of the reaction it's likely to get there, having been told by 2 Harvard law professors to take a hike. 'Under the new scheme, the RIAA sends out what it calls 'pre-litigation' settlement letters. Actually, they're self-incrimination documents and they're designed to extort preset amounts of around $3,000 from students with the empty promise that by paying up, they'll remove the threat of being hauled into court on charges of copyright infringement. In reality, all the students are doing is providing the RIAA with personal and private information which can conceivably be used against them ...'"

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Surprising? (0, Redundant)

Vaticus (1000378) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952519)

Should we really be surprised by this?

Re:Surprising? (0, Redundant)

Vaticus (1000378) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952533)

At least I'm not - they only went after a few colleges in their first round attack, the RIAA were bound to go for more if the first few were "successful".

For those too lazy to read: (3, Informative)

beckerist (985855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19954201)

Colleges singled out:

State University of New York at Morrisville
Georgia Institute of Technology
Pennsylvania State University
University of Central Arkansas
University of Delaware
Northern Michigan University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
George Washington University
Ohio State University
New Mexico State University
Eckerd College
University of Minnesota
California State University - Monterey Bay
University of Kansas
University of Missouri - Rolla
University of San Francisco
Case Western Reserve University
Northern Arizona University
San Francisco State University
University of Tulsa
Franklin and Marshall College
Western Kentucky University
and Santa Clara University.

Re:Surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19952577)

Yes, sadly. I just cant help it, when i here things like this, im very surprised, and always angered (thus why i like to avoid the news these days). Oww, its just beyond me how people can be so evil to order such actions, others so un-proud that they follow them out instead of refuse to do them, and a law system that continues to allow such people to prey upon the weak, and recently, universities (obviously, they dont deserve that name) that now help those predators. I now, i should have learned my lesson a long, long time ago, but i guess i just hold people to a higher standard then they are worth in the USA.

Now if you will please forgive me, i have to go shed some tears over the pathetic existence of such evil people, and their profoundly angering ways.

Re:Surprising? (5, Insightful)

BakaHoushi (786009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953349)

Only if we're surprised to think that people can lie, cheat, threaten, and extort college kids, generally one of the poorest demographics around, for the sake of a couple thousand dollars when they already make millions/billions.

In other words, as much as I'd like to be, I can't say I'm shocked in the least. At this point, the MAFIAA is little more than an extortion ring, trying to squeeze money from wherever you can. "Well, Mr. Dean, you have such a lovely list of students at this college. It'd be a SHAME if a dozen of them were to suddenly drop out because they were sued into oblivion, all because you wouldn't cooperate..."

This isn't about copyright anymore. This isn't about Intellectual Property anymore. This is about a group of thugs in suits trying to use the judicial system to make a quick buck wherever and whenever they can, regardless of the legality or morality of it.

Re:Surprising? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19954121)

I still wonder if they're really making any money on all of this. I suppose now that they're mass-producing settlement letters, but I'd imagine they're paying their lawyers enough that it would take hundreds of settlements to break even. I think it's more likely to be about fear and power. They just want to frighten everyone away from downloading music, going on the assumption that everyone that would otherwise download music will go out and buy CD's instead. The power rush of being able to create new laws whenever they want probably also contributes a bit.

The problem may also be their own fear. Like politicians, if they appear to be doing nothing about a problem, they'll lose their jobs. Enough (important) people would rather see them do the wrong thing than nothing.

Re:Surprising? (4, Informative)

yurnotsoeviltwin (891389) | more than 7 years ago | (#19954013)

No, it's not surprising at all, but it sure is infuriating, especially considering that my school (University of Delaware) is on that list. Thankfully I don't live in the dorms or use the campus network for sharing, so I'm not worried, but it's still horribly wrong if they cooperate. I plan on writing the president a letter about this, maybe even getting a petition going.

Thus far, two of my friends have been accused of file sharing by the University and neither of them even do it. Most of my friends DO share music, and those ones haven't gotten caught yet. Of course, neither of my friends who did get "caught" were allowed to appeal the decision so they both had to pay IT services $100 to "clean" their computers (the cost was regardless of whether or not anything was found) and they lost their internet access for a month.

Illegal? (5, Interesting)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952543)

This is nothing short of extortion. I never download music w/o paying for it, but now this just makes me want to bleed them to death by a thousand cuts--or megabytes.

Re:Illegal? (1)

Mister Kay (1119377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952989)

I am with you on that one. It's just what my legally acquired music library needs. Lots and lots of unpaid for music to slap the RIAA in the face. Thank heavens I live in Canada.

Also, has the RIAA sued any deaf people yet? I mean, I know they've sued people without computers, stroke victims, the dead (does that count as deaf?) and children, but have they sued anyone who was deaf yet? I really feel that would be the final shovel of dirt in a case to bury them once and for all.

Re:Illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19953055)

You could do what I do. Download a CD full of random, but popular songs, then burn a couple thousand and spread across campus, or where ever. I do it twice a month, and other I know are doing simaler if not the exact same thing. FUCK THE RIAA, they can't stop us.

Re:Illegal? (4, Insightful)

eat here_get gas (907110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953643)

it's mindless idiots like you that make legitimate music collecting all that more difficult for the rest of us.

Thanks.

Re:Illegal? (5, Insightful)

Optikschmoptik (971793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953803)

Wish I could mod you up for that. What good does it do to spread the RIAA's top-40 tripe around and give it free publicity? GP(AC) does little more than two favors for the RIAA:

A. Free advertising for their artists, and by extension their cynical business/art model.

2. Support their sue-everyone campaign by showing that everyone has their music, and no one has paid for it.

So we have more people getting sued, more outrage from the clueless and influential over all this 'rampant lawlessness', and a bunch more terrible music coming out of speakers. hooray.

Re:Illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19954005)

indeed, I've never expected much in the way of reasoning ability or brain cells from people who think its fine to steal music.

Re:Illegal? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19953911)

actually yes they can mate. lets revisit your bolshy attitude the day you get a letter for downloading copyrighted material. Of course, you could GROW UP and stop taking stuff that isn't yours, but what are the chances of that?

Re:Illegal? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953339)

This won't cause them any loss of profit. Much better would be to PRETEND you download stuff, by going to known RIAA honeypots. Then hire a good attorney :)

Re:Illegal? (2, Insightful)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953367)

But you won't do it, because downloading music, as opposed to stealing, doesn't harm them.

Re:Illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19953925)

So, you're obeying the law, but the fact that there are thousands of kids out there breaking the law by blatantly stealing music makes you want to steal music as well? That's just stupid. So, if a bunch of people start robbing liquor stores, that makes you more inclined to rob a liquor store too? Stealing is stealing is stealing.

Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (5, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952553)

You know what? If you all actually cared, you'd be spending less time on WoW, and more time writing your senators/organizing festivals to educate the public/burning crosses/whatever it takes. It is obvious the court system doesn't have a clue about the whole picture... how many of them do you think read slashdot a day? Probably -2. They need to get the info from somewhere. Make it common knowledge.

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (0, Redundant)

gustolove (1029402) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952593)

lol @ the WoW comment +1 funny

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (2, Informative)

Vaticus (1000378) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952645)

Hey, here in Australia, It's not really our place or even possible for us to write to U.S. Senators and Congress people about the state of the law in your country! I completely disagree with what the RIAA is doing, but somehow I think that the members of parliament here will quite happily ignore the state of the 'states, and won't get involved, even if everyone here wrote them about the issue!

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (2, Insightful)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952759)

Hey, here in Australia, It's not really our place or even possible for us to write to U.S. Senators and Congress people about the state of the law in your country! I completely disagree with what the RIAA is doing, but somehow I think that the members of parliament here will quite happily ignore the state of the 'states, and won't get involved, even if everyone here wrote them about the issue!

Be patient, my friend! These stupid laws will be dumped on your country really soon.

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (2, Insightful)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952811)

Actually I believe the aussie government is already well on the case.

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/19/22 14254&from=rss [slashdot.org]

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (2, Funny)

Mike89 (1006497) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953073)

Actually I believe the aussie government is already well on the case.
Correct, as a resident Aussie this is already the case over here too. Hooray for not being able to sing Happy Birthday to you, happy birthda... be right back, someones at the door.

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19953303)

yup, thanks to our wonderful "free" trade agreement with the US.

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953061)

Here in Oz they go by the name ARIA, they are not a great deal different to the US version. The laws are also just as fubar'd as in the US - just ask the lawyer in Melbourne who has a patent on the wheel.

Fortunately the PBS was quarantined from the free trade agreement so we still have reasonable prices for prescription drugs, however everything else covered by IP laws is in the process of being "harmonised with the US" with Ruddock leading the charge ( For non-aussies: Ruddock is our Attorney General and all round slime bag ).

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (2, Funny)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19954131)

The US owns the patent on having a slime bag Attorney General. We'll see you in court.

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#19954321)

Divorce court?

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (0, Offtopic)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952715)

You know what? If you all actually cared, you'd be spending less time on WoW,

I've never played WoW in my life, so how could I possibly spend less time on it?

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (1)

Radres (776901) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952737)

Then what is your excuse for not writing your Congress critters?

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (2, Insightful)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952827)

It's a pointless waste of time? Seriously, thousands of letters against thousands of dollars, what do you think wins?

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953213)

I don't know about you, but if I were in a position of power and greeted by a shitstorm of letters every day, I might consider doing something. The real problem isn't that our opinions aren't worth anything, but that we all think they are. Maybe one or two people will write in, but no one else thinks anyone cares, thus giving every congressman and all of the corporations in their pockets a license to do whatever the hell they want.
What we need is some kind of organized effort. Here we have network that spans the entire developed world, but what's the most people do with it in that direction, online petitions? ...
Of course, it's not like I'm going to do anything beyond this little rant; I'm busy playing Civilization. I'm sure someone else will do it...right?

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19952751)

You know what? If you all actually cared, you'd be spending less time on WoW, and more time writing your senators/organizing festivals to educate the public/burning crosses/whatever it takes.

Writing senators will likely get you form letters. Festivals will be a great excuse for college students to get drunk.

What will work would be to hit these schools in the wallet. If the school will not only not lift a finger to protect their students, but hand them over to the RIAA to a silver platter, then don't attend these colleges!

And not only should prospective students be aware, but their parents too! Honestly, the RIAA's scattershot method of filing lawsuits means a lot of students are targetted who didn't do a thing. If I was a parent I would certainly think twice of sending my offspring to a university where they have a good chance of being randomly sued for tens of thousands of dollars (which I would likely be responsible for, or their credit would be ruined.)

If a concerted effort were to be made to educate them, the schools would certainly feel the negative backlash and grow a spine.

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952837)

If the school will not only not lift a finger to protect their students, but hand them over to the RIAA to a silver platter, then don't attend these colleges!

I take it that you have some meaningful explanation of why a university should protect students from consequences of a currently unlawful activity. Are we talking about students making highly creative derivative works from copyrighted music? Is copying taking place because the music conveys political protest and got censored? If this is just a student who didn't want to pay a tenner for a rap CD, I am not sure what educational/social value is there to protect.

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952955)

I dono about values but you left out one question: is copyig taking place at all?

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19952969)

I take it that you have some meaningful explanation of why a university should protect students from consequences of a currently unlawful activity. Are we talking about students making highly creative derivative works from copyrighted music? Is copying taking place because the music conveys political protest and got censored? If this is just a student who didn't want to pay a tenner for a rap CD, I am not sure what educational/social value is there to protect.

They should go to every length possible to protect a student who might not have done it, and certainly offer no assistance to outside organizations fishing in their pond for students to make examples of!

The question in my mind isn't whether downloading music is right, I could care less. I prefer vinyl, but that's neither here nor there. The question is whether I would want to attend, or want my college-age offspring to attend, a school that would not only allow but in many cases facilitate random RIAA lawsuits.

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (1)

Morlark (814687) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953253)

I take it that you have some meaningful explanation of why a university should protect students from consequences of a currently unlawful activity.
If by "currently unlawful activity" you mean trying to extort money from students, then I submit that it is up to you to provide a reason why they should not be protected, rather than the other way around.

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (4, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 7 years ago | (#19954235)

I take it that you have some meaningful explanation of why a university should protect students from consequences of a currently unlawful activity.

Because they're only being accused with no reason to actually believe those accusations?

Re:Shamelessly stolen from bash.org and changed (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952943)

Have you ever written to your representative? If you have has it ever made a difference? What chance do you think you have against someone that's donating money to his or her next campaign ?

They are... (5, Informative)

akkarin (1117245) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952575)

The universities are: State University of New York at Morrisville, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, University of Central Arkansas, University of Delaware, Northern Michigan University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, George Washington University, Ohio State University, New Mexico State University, Eckerd College, University of Minnesota, California State University - Monterey Bay, University of Kansas, University of Missouri - Rolla, University of San Francisco, Case Western Reserve University, Northern Arizona University, San Francisco State University, University of Tulsa, Franklin and Marshall College, Western Kentucky University, and the Santa Clara University.

Re:They are... (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953469)

Sigh....

Why do Harvard (and the other Ivies) receive so much more sympathy from the media and general public than these sort of anonymous, (and mostly small) state colleges?

Does this mean that the RIAA is deliberately avoiding chasing after those with money? Because, by avoiding the Ivies, that's exactly what they're doing. (GWU being the exception here -- their tuition is frightening)

Even so, given that we're talking about the RIAA, I'd love to see them try to target one of the more high-profile schools, and have their asses handed to them in court. What they're doing is nothing short of extortion and racketeering.

But then again, I guess this is becoming the status quo for the education and legal status in the US.

Re:They are... (1)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953539)

Playing devil's advocate here for a moment: most college students are willing to settle for 3 grand given their finances. Their parents' money doesn't (generally) come into play here. Of course, if you had a lot of it you could fight the claim. But only if you were provably innocent AND were willing to spend more money on lawyers than it would cost to otherwise settle the case.

If anything, the RIAA is chasing after larger schools. More students leads to more profit with less expense.

Re:They are... (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953917)

Why do Harvard (and the other Ivies) receive so much more sympathy from the media and general public than these sort of anonymous, (and mostly small) state colleges?
Because politicians will come out of them ? And they don't want to alienate the ones who's support they'll need later ?

Re:They are... (2, Funny)

chazzf (188092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953967)

The RIAA may have over-reached this time. I'd be impressed if they can even find Northern Michigan University, let alone transport themselves there.

Hope you boys like US 2!

I Can Only Hope... (4, Insightful)

CWRUisTakingMyMoney (939585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952615)

As a student at one of the named universities, I can only hope, for their sake and for the students', that the schools take a good hard look at their situations and view their internet account holders as paying customers and not criminals upon first accusation (looking at you, University of Kansas!). Throwing their own students in front of the RIAA bus would only lose them potential (and maybe current) students, and all the revenue they represent.

Re:I Can Only Hope... (3, Informative)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952651)

Good luck. Every higher education institution I've ever been to (a total of five) has treated the student as a terrificly inconvenient debtor and nothing more.

Re:I Can Only Hope... (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952697)

The obvious solution to this is to change the logging policy and erase the IP logs after a few days. Since there are no laws (yet) that require you to keep any sort of logs, changing this policy would instantly relieve the universities of this uncomfortable position.

Re:I Can Only Hope... (4, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952977)

Somthing about dropping logs & being relieved just sounds right.

Re:I Can Only Hope... (1)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953151)

Customer? How about considering students members, since after all, they do "apply" and are then "accepted" as a member of the student body. And most colleges and universities have some sort of charter which makes the education of these students the primary goal and focus of the institution.

Re:I Can Only Hope... (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953317)

Call them what you will, the universities wouldn't be around without the millions of dollars coming from their students. As such, a boycott of a university wouldn't be too bad an idea. (Though I'm sure most people would move off-campus instead of switching. Much more convenient, especially if you're on a scholarship program.)

Extortion... (4, Insightful)

drosboro (1046516) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952639)

Extortion sure does sound like the right word for these "pre-litigation letters". Makes me glad I'm Canadian. We just have to pay a ridiculous levy on our iPods and CD-Rs because we're bound to use them to pirate music.

Re:Extortion... (2, Insightful)

AngryJim (1045256) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952801)

If I lived in Canada and purchased an iPod that included a fee that went straight to the record companies, I'd naturally assume this gave me immunity and just pirate to my hearts content. It's just logical because I've already paid my pirating fee. But hey that's just me.

Re:Extortion... (1)

drosboro (1046516) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952865)

It's not just you. Most of us who pay the levy feel the same way! Incidentally, the iPod levy was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada a couple of years ago, but the CPCC (Canadian Private Copyright Collective) is currently in the process of trying to ram through another levy, this time covering iPods and flash cards for your camera as well (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/2112/125/ [michaelgeist.ca] ).

Re:Extortion... (2, Insightful)

basic0 (182925) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952807)

This is totally off-topic, but I don't remember anyone asking me or any other tax-paying Canadians if we approved of a tax on our iPods.

AFAIK, legally, corporations have all the rights that a person does. They are essentially a "person". You're a person too, try going to the government and demanding they do anything and see where you get. I remember 10 or 15 years ago, almost half the population of Quebec (that's ~3 million people) wanted to separate from Canada, which ended up in a referendum on the matter. Yet, a handful of "people" in the form of record labels can go to the government, ask for something, and get it without it even being mentioned on the evening news.

In a way, I don't blame the corporations. A corporation is a greedy, socially dysfunctional "person". That's their nature. No, I blame the politicians and lawmakers for being equally greedy, and us regular citizens for not holding them accountable in any meaningful way (i.e. bitching about it on internet messageboards, then paying the tax or obeying the new draconian law or voting Conservative or whatever anyways). We're a continent of pussies, allowing ourselves to be ruled by some of the most fucked up people you could possibly find to put in charge of things. We're all guilty. This record labels vs. the world stuff is just a microcosm.

Re:Extortion... (5, Informative)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952909)

When you wish to take somebody to civil court you must first show them your intention to do so.

You must clearly state your grounds for claim and allow the other party reasonable time (weeks to months, usually) to either counter your argument or settle your claim.

If the other party disputes your claim you should attempt to resolve the issue by negotiation before you file. If you make it to court without proof that you attempted to negotiate and the other party claims you refused to enter into negotiations you'll usually get ordered to seek mediation and lose costs as well.

If you have not made steps to solve the matter out of court then you usually cannot take anyone to the civil court. There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule. This rule exists to prevent every RIAA, Dick and Head from suing every random person for which they can find a name and residential address.

"pre-litigation" letters are the first step before even attending the court registry to file papers.

That said, you also need to be able to identify the person(s)/entity you are filing against along with their residential address. An IP address is not sufficient information to do that. This seems like another RIAA scheme to kill two birds with one stone; fish for information about IP address holders and also cover the pre-litigation step required to actually haul them into the court.

With all that's going on in this industry it makes me sad that so much is being invested in tracking down people who download copyrighted music and movies yet there's millions of unsolved actual crimes including kidnapping, rape and murder each year. What about the drug dealers on the streets?

Q: Why aren't we investing more time and money into catching all the really bad bastards?
A: Because it doesn't help corporate suit-wearing wankers get ever fatter pockets and make ever larger "donations" (s/donations/bribes/) to candidates.

Re:Extortion... (1)

permaculture (567540) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953669)

drosboro said: "Makes me glad I'm Canadian. We just have to pay a ridiculous levy on our iPods and CD-Rs because we're bound to use them to pirate music."

Let me guess, this doesn't mean you're legally allowed to fill your CD-Rs and iPods with pirated music, even though you pay a tax for that.

Re:Extortion... (1)

NemesisNL (843573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953969)

No but, I live in the Netherlands that has the same tax scheme, here downloading is legal and uploading is not. So you have to be carefull with the software you are using. In emule I set an empty directory as shared. I'm not sure how things work with bittorrent since the software downloads and uploads at the same time. I do however remove the torrent when the download is finished. Someone might get pieces of a song but never the entire file. I don't know how tracable that is. Can you identify a song when all I'm sending is 10% of the file?

Here politicians have suggested everybody pay a small extra overall tax in return for legal free downloads. This tax would then be distributed in the same way the levy is now. I wouldn't mind that if it makes the downloads legal.

Harvard may have clout but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19952641)

Just because Harvard was not singled out for this round of "pre-litigation" does not mean the RIAA is running scared from the university. A couple of law professors are not representatives of the school.

Re:Harvard may have clout but... (4, Insightful)

rs79 (71822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952829)

"A couple of law professors are not representatives of the school"

Heh. Charlie Neesan is not just "a professor". He's a law professor that started the Berkmen Center for Law and Technology. He's the last guy in America the RIAA wants to annoy. Where do you think Lessig got his ieas on coyright from? He was a student of Charlie's. Charlie is way cool.

Neesan's point is simple and quite legal: the RIAA should not outsource their investigation to universities.

Re:Harvard may have clout but... (5, Funny)

laejoh (648921) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953101)

Harvard will be the RIAA's Vietnam; fighting a guy called Charlie :)

Re:Harvard may have clout but... (2, Informative)

Ubi_NL (313657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953897)

I think you meant Charles Nesson. It's kinda polite to spell the name correctly.

Re:Harvard may have clout but... (4, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953079)

"A couple of law professors are not representatives of the school."

No, but one of those professors at Harvard is former Governor of Massachussetts William Weld(R).

Can you say "we better not piss off the politicians and people with strong connections"?

I knew you could.

--
BMO

These letters are quite ridiculous (5, Interesting)

Aellus (949929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952647)

I work as an undergrad for the IT office of one of the universities near the top of the hitlist, and I've personally read the letters that they send. To actually read the letter in person really gives you the feeling like "Holy Hell, they're actually doing this." The letters are such bullshit, and it is obviously just a scam to save them the legal fees of taking people to court. The sad thing is that its working for them, and for backwards reasons; In the first batch our school received (which was about 30 letters), only one student didn't respond to the letter. They got sued, and i assume had to pay up in the end. The RIAA got 30 people's worth of payout from the cost of one court battle. Even if they lost that case, they still wound up with 29 payouts for the cost of 1. I'm sure if no one responded that some people wouldn't be sued, but who wants to take that risk? While i have a problem with the strong arm court tactics they've been taking in the past few years, at least the "sue everyone" tactic was still properly using the legal system to resolve their disputes. However, these letters are extortion, and its that simple.

Re:These letters are quite ridiculous (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952885)

Mad Propz to you for giving up those 30 students names! You've earned some real street cred in my hood.

Re:These letters are quite ridiculous (4, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953013)

I got one of those letters & I've never even been to college.

to: joebert@gmail.com
from: riaa2007@hotmail.com

Dear joebert,

It has come to our attention that you've been downloading music illegally at school, we have records of you using one of the file sharing programs that can be found at download.com to recieve the files after being tipped off by your schools IT department.

If you send $3,000 to our paypal account we will not proceed to sue you for upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.
If you prefer you can send cash to P.O. Box 1234 somewhere FU & nobody has to know about this.

Thankyou for your prompt action,
RIAA

Re:These letters are quite ridiculous (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953033)

I'm sure if no one responded that some people wouldn't be sued, but who wants to take that risk?

It's a modified prisoner's dilemma. If you cooperate you get a smaller penalty than if you don't cooperate and others do. If noone cooperates, then you have a chance at getting no penalty but you have no way of knowing what everyone else is doing.

LK

Re:These letters are quite ridiculous (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953487)

I'm curious:

How did the RIAA get the identities of your students?

If your college's IT people gave the RIAA access to your students identities without a proper subpoena, you guys are every bit as much to blame.

From what I understand, the subpoena bypasses the extortion letters, and sends the case straight to court where it belongs.

I've dealt with this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19952665)

Alot of times the university gets a cease and desist and (at least at the university I was at) deals with it internally through their judicial affairs department. I had to write a paper and pay a $50 fine because the RIAA said that I had some music on my computer (I was an idiot and used gnutella.) When I went into the judicial affairs office and said that they could never prove that I had the music on my computer and that they were really just throwing letters around, the university decided that I still had the music (which I did) and that I broke THEIR rules.

Motherfuckers.

To a New York Country Lawyer (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952687)

The lawyers I've known have been careful about the language they use - the language they quote. The polemic you link to strikes me as singularly adolescent and inflammatory. It will fire up the crowd. Of that much I am sure. But it doesn't tell me what I need to know.

Re:To a New York Country Lawyer (5, Informative)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952889)

A mafia gang providing high-priced laundry services to a hotel is still extortion if the Feds can prove that cheaper laundry services were the norm in every other laundry company in the same street.
Similarly, if RIAA tries to sue the student, the student can claim extortion based on false information, even if the student had been downloading music and sharing the same.

The law works for the student's benefit too.
Get a lawer like Ray Beckermann (am not benefitted by this recommendation), or someone good enough and sue RIAA under RICO for sending threatening letters demanding payment.

You don't even need to understand the language written, just highlight words like "sue", "$3000", "failure to pay", etc. with a highlighter and say to the Judge that you received an anonymous note under your door and demand protection.

Re:To a New York Country Lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19953249)

Why not go after the lawyers? Find out who they are and send polite letters to their familiy and friends informing them that the lawyer is helping RIAA ruin people's lives.

Why not go after the record companies? Make it publically known that by buying CDs from a record company, you are supporting RIAA. There are (a few) alternative record labels out there with good music.

Go after the lawyers, and they will find it harder to get good lawyers willing to take the work and shame.

Go after the record companies and they will lose money

This is all far worse than the taxes.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19952703)

you were complaining about just recently.

So why don't you get your guns and go and murder a few lawyers? AFAICT your constitution says you should. Isn't that what 'Land of the Free' means?

Re:This is all far worse than the taxes.... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952739)

AFAICT your constitution says you should.

You're confusing that with the declaration of independence, which, of course, advocates nothing of the kind. It makes statements of the right and obligation to overthrow a corrupt, tyrannical government. Rebellion is not murder. The constitution, on the other hand, authorizes the government to repress such a rebellion in any way it sees fit. That would include murder. But when the government does it, it's not murder.

Hey baby, troll here often?

I don't normally like giving props to Harvard... (1)

alflauren (1124651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952717)

But it's about time that a university stood up for its students. My guess is that worries over future endowment contributions will mean that universities begin to take the defense of their own a bit more seriously.

The spy in the sewage.. (4, Interesting)

wanax (46819) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952725)

I think the thing that shocks me most is that many universities law faculties aren't going off on the current cases. I mean, these are supposed to be the 'liberal' part of the law. And ONLY Harvard is PUBLICLY strong enough to defend these charges? Where is that oft touted liberal element in the US university system?

But getting back to the core of the matter, I have to wonder why colleges are bending over about a matter so core to their own liability:

Colleges 'pirate' thousands of documents every year in a way that is NOT allowed by current US copyright law.. and they want to believe it's students.. not professors downloading papers that their library hasn't subscribed to? Taking a hard line on music copyright will only kill the colleges that take it up! They won't only drive away students... but also professors who suddenly can't do their research because of miserable libraries (BU COUGH).

Re:The spy in the sewage.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19952815)

Do you have any idea what you are talking about? My wife was in charge of copyright verification for a large university library and I can tell you they are VERY strict with copyright laws.

Re:The spy in the sewage.. (1)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952971)

Exactly the GPs point. The libraries are anally retentive, so the faculty staff get their illicit copies from the 'net (or multi-generation photocopies, as it was in my day)

Re:The spy in the sewage.. (1)

lessthan (977374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953331)

Wait... wait... are you saying that properly implemented copyrights are stifling the innovation libraries are supposed to foster?? It can't be true!

Re:The spy in the sewage.. (2, Insightful)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953779)

Where is that oft touted liberal element in the US university system?

In the minds of wingnut Republicans, that's where.

They are right in what they do (1)

efceeveea (1128063) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952757)

They may be doing it for the wrong reasons but people are seriously stealing thousands of dollars of music. Its good for the world because music develops the brain proof [youtube.com] , but we cant just bash the RIAA for helping itself.

The letter is more dangerous for RIAA than student (2, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952761)

If RIAA was to sue the student based on the information in the letter, they would open themselves to counterclaims of deceptive business practices and even racketeering. Given that a student would be able to declare bankruptcy for any significant judgement while RIAA members have billions of dollars in the bank, risks would far outweigh the benefits of such a lawsuit. I say the letters are exactly what they look like.

And It's not just the RIAA (5, Informative)

Aellus (949929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952787)

As I mentioned in a previous reply, I work for the IT office for one of the universities. Apparently the RIAA has been lobbying congress (duh), as we also received a 20-something page letter from congress which essentially slaps our wrist for being such a naughty school for allowing our students to be such heinous criminals, and provides us with a survey to gauge how we prevent students from committing these crimes. I believe the letter was also sent to all of the top 10 schools in the country. The survey asks questions about how much we limit/filter student access to the internet, whether we monitor student access, whether we report illegal activities, what sort of punishment we inflict on students who get a DMCA complaint, etc. The wording of the letter also seemed to suggest that schools should actually be doing these things. For the record, my school does none of those things, and everyone in the the whole IT and Network office building scoffed at the idea. It's a place of learning, not a prison. I really get the feeling that the RIAA's direct dealings with schools and students wont be a problem in the future if they can somehow convince congress to make it required that schools monitor student access, and prevent students from using certain applications.

Re:And It's not just the RIAA (1)

Aellus (949929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952817)

Err, after re-reading what i wrote, i was _not_ implying that it should happen. I was pointing out that its a problem, and that it definitely _shouldn't_ happen. Its late, i chose bad wording.

Not a prison? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19952953)

It's a place of learning, not a prison.
Thankfully, that can still be said about many of the universities in the US. I can still go to class at my college without having anyone question me or violate my privacy. Unfortunately, that no longer applies to most high schools. In high school, I had to walk through metal detectors to get on the campus. I had to deal with cops walking the halls at all times. I had to deal with being captured by security cameras in nearly every square inch of the building. I had to deal with random searches by police (including drug dogs) of the lockers and student parking lot "looking for contraband."

Metal detectors, guards, security cameras, random searches for contraband, and you don't have a choice whether or not to be subjected to all of this... Sounds a lot like prison to me. If anything comes of the VT shooting hearings I'm afraid the same thing will eventually happen to universities.

Our young people are growing up being conditioned to accept police-state behavior. God help us, as a country, a couple of generations from now if this continues.

Re:Not a prison? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19953663)

Worse yet, our young people are getting used to the idea of no privacy. With all the changes limiting freedom in our society now, imagine what these young people will agree too when they get power.

My locker partner in high school had some problems with drugs. He learned that the police were doing a search one day and went home "sick". He left his coat in the locker. The drug dog went off on the locker. As they knew my locker partner had gone home, I was pulled out of class. I was questioned by the principal, two law enforcement officers and one of the school security guards for twenty minutes while the drug dog was at my croch. The reason he went off was my friend's coat. It smelled like pot and had trace amounts in one of the pockets. It was not enough to get him in any trouble, but it sure taught me a lesson about searches. They wasted my time, pulled me out of class (one I actually liked which was rare), and I had to deal with accusations. I was labeled a drug user after that. Teachers would publicly accuse me of using drugs. My grades fell because they thought I couldn't possible do my work on drugs. I must be cheating. In reality, I was mislabeled a drug user and had a shitty home life.

I don't have a lot of respect for any rights violations. This happened to me in the 90s (97 i think). What do they do to high school students now?

CONgress IS full of criminals (0, Troll)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953995)

Except the 2 or 3 that voted against the war and Ron Paul.

The rest.... they would be sacked by Donald in an instant for not doing their job, ie growing govt beyond akira size.

IP Evidence? (5, Interesting)

FieroEtnl (773481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952803)

Elsewhere on the website, Mike O'Donnell, a University of Chicago law professor, gives a good discussion [p2pnet.net] of why the RIAA's policy of identifying people solely by their "unique" IP address is a load of crap. I'm honestly surprised more people haven't used this kind of a defense when the RIAA targets them. Maybe it's because it's not well-known knowledge yet?

In any case, I'm glad that I'm living off-campus next year as my university is on that list and is now notorious for its one strike policy. WTF is up with the idiots in Kansas anyways?

Re:IP Evidence? (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953357)

The IP number given as return address in a packet is provided initially by the actual sender, which may (and in the case of an attacker often does) provide an address used by another interface not at all involved in the production of the packet. So the return IP address in a packet received by an RIAA detection effort does not indicate even the IP address of the actual sender in any reliable way.

So some how, some magical third party C is somehow able to not only forge packets with my IP, but successfully somehow negotiate a transfer of data between uploader A and downloader B by having a one-sided conversation with A?

I think the evidence they use is somehow more then just a single packet's worth of data.

Re:IP Evidence? (3, Insightful)

Garen (246649) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953503)

Think about the bazillions of open unsecured wifi routers out there that people also often use as a network switch. Someone could easily connect to them and download something 'illegal'--meanwhile the externally visible, internet-routable IP that the RIAA identifies is associated with a customer. RIAA then sues said customer, who had nothing to do with the alleged infringement.

Harvard Deliberately Omitted? (5, Insightful)

Gibbs-Duhem (1058152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952821)

Just like how they "deliberately omitted" the 5,673 other schools not in the list of 23 they didn't omit?

Seems strange to assume that the RIAA is scared just because they picked other targets. They're choices in every other instance seem completely random, why would this one be any different?

This is like saying that MIT is "conspicuously absent" and claiming it is because MIT refused to log traffic for the RIAA on their internal network because of the sheer technical insanity of the request. Correlation != causation.

Re:Harvard Deliberately Omitted? (2, Informative)

c0p0n (770852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19954263)

They deliberately omitted Harvard because Prof Nesson's [wikipedia.org] other activities [wikipedia.org] . They don't have so big a pair of bollocks as to defy the power of the Empire.

Call me stupid (1)

Askmum (1038780) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952861)

or better: uneducated in American law, but isn't this standard practice in any criminal investigation? Admit to a lesser crime to avoid the risk of being sentenced for a higher crime (that you didn't commit). Plea-bargain it is called, and in my eyes it is the worst form of extortion on the planet.

woot (1)

scapermoya (769847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19952873)

no UCs on there either. I guess I can keep azureus open after all.

Another RIAA mistake? (2, Informative)

cheros (223479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953043)

I haven't seen the letters yet, but it would not be unreasonable to assume that they hold a threat of litigation without there being a factual basis, i.e. an as yet unfounded accusation. IANAL, but if I recall correctly there are laws against that. If their past "evidence" is anything to go by I would actually like to see ONE case that has been proven properly. Just one, to see if they can actually get this to work without abusing the law and mob tactics.



Add to that the fact that no proceedings exist until the RIAA has all your personal details I think it'll be harder creating something that will stand a chance in Court, especially since recent rulings where judges have started to ask the RIAA to follow proper legal process instead of trying to selectively dodge the bits that allow a recipient to ask some rather painful questions. Oh, and why are people asked to self-incriminate?



Copyright infringement is *not* good, but there's such a thing as proof and due process. Even if that is inconvenient, it has to be followed.



With rights come obligations - on both sides.

Each time I read about the RIAA on Slashdot... (3, Informative)

CaptainPotato (191411) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953047)

... I cannot help but think of the Cock Sparrer [fsworld.co.uk] song "Take 'Em All" about record labels:

We worked our way up from East End pubs
To gigs and back stage passes
Ex-boxing champs, West End clubs
Americans in dark glasses
Driving ten grand cars, they drink in hotel bars
They're even making money in bed
They wouldn't be no loss, they ain't worth a toss
It's about time they all dropped dead.

[Chorus]
Take 'em all, take 'em all
Put 'em up against a wall and shoot 'em
Short and tall, watch 'em fall
Come on boys take 'em all

Well tough shit boys, it ain't our fault
Your record didn't make it
We made you dance, you had your chance
But you didn't take it
Well, I gotta go make another deal
Sign another group for the company
I don't suppose we'll ever meet again
You'd better get back to the factory.

[Chorus]

Take 'em all, watch 'em fall [x4]

[Chorus Repeat...]

K.U. not O.K. (4, Insightful)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953143)

> The RIAA has added 23 new colleges and universities to its hit list, but deliberately omitted Harvard, apparently afraid of the reaction it's likely to get there, having been told by 2 Harvard law professors to take a hike.

So I lawyers trained at Harvard Law Degree are pretty sharp. All it took from them was a sternly written letter back, presumably quoting the L.A.W..

Colleges that cave-in should consider, what sort of a message does it send prospective students? "Get your law degree with us, and you too can learn how to fold like a wimp" Probably not the best places to learn about Constitutional Rights.

[...] , Aviods Harvard (1)

ascendant (1116807) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953373)

Who else Laughed Out Loud when they read this?

Extortion, pure and simple (4, Interesting)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953407)

We've seen ample evidence that an IP address does not necessarily correlate to an individual. In an actual court case, the RIAA would have to also show that copyrighted material exists on the computer in question (through an actual forensic search of the hard drive), that the files were placed in a shared folder that can be accessed by others, that those same files have been actually distributed to others through a P2P network, that no one else has access to the computer in question, that the person in question was actually the one who placed the material there and that the computer has not been compromised through hacking of any kind, etc., etc., etc. WAY easier just to extort a quick $3K a pop through fear.

I wonder why certain schools are targeted, and certain individuals at that school. Are certain universities passed over because they have a law school? A savvy law or pre-law student may well see through the bullshit and give the RIAA a run for its money in court. (And may well have relatives who are lawyers and/or sympathetic professors willing to knowledgably defend them.) Someone in another message said that 30 letters had been sent to the college he works at. Now, unless that is one tiny little college, I find it hard to believe that only 30 students file-share. I wonder if they target specific schools and dorms within those schools because of the type of students likely to be caught up in the dragnet? (I.e., naive freshman, yes; senior pre-law student, no.)

It's not for nothing that so many of you refer to the RIAA as the MAFIAA. The tactics are the same. Tell me, who does the Mafia go after when they run a protection or extortion racket? The big corporation with a bevy of lawyers and a lot of power and influence? Or the small businessman, the store owner who has few resources, barely keeps his head above water, and may well be an immigrant of questionable status or otherwise afraid of losing what little he has? Bingo -- they go after the weak, ignorant, and vulnerable.

The RIAA has been VERY lucky so far in that they have only in a few cases gone after the "wrong" sort of target that will fight back. No matter how careful they are, hopefully sooner or later they will hit a few more people who can really make trouble for them.

Let's help out the RIAA (2, Interesting)

Genda (560240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953571)

Hey Everybody... let's all get together and help out our favorite greedy, draconian, ass monkeys!

Is there anybody out there who'd like to instigate an attack against Yale, Harvard, and the rest of the Ivy League in the name of the RIAA? I mean if they're so hot to trot, smacking colleges up side the head, they should go straight after the big guys! Put them in their place. Put the fear of God into the rest of the Universities in this country! Yeah, that's the ticket!

Someone needs to make them put up, or shut up.

Either their case has merits, and therefore they should be going after every college... or it is groundless, and they're guilty of frivolous lawsuits in the name of extorting those least able to protect themselves from legal harassment. So we need to all step up and let them know, that they can't just go around picking on smaller schools and weaking institutions.

The RIAA wants to poke a horets nest with a stick, they should get all the stinging their money can buy!

Just wondering... (2, Interesting)

DeeVeeAnt (1002953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953837)

How many of the kids of the RIAA/Recording industry/Ruling class elite attend Havard?

But the schools listed WILL cave (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19953961)

You know they will. And eventually the 'big' targets will stand alone and they will cave too. I kind of hope that in the end the RIAA figures out a sufficiently robust DRM that coupled with their legal tactics just drives people away from their content and no one pays it any attention at all. Then maybe Jay-Z and the RIAA can sue each other. Because really your only weapon is to stop paying them for anything at any time for any of their 'content'.
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