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University of Kansas Will Not Forward RIAA Letters

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the not-quite-so-bad dept.

Music 126

Bonewalker writes "Looks like the University of Kansas may not be as pro-RIAA (or anti-student) as initially assumed last week from our recent discussion. From the Chronicle article: 'Kansas officials told the student newspaper that they will not heed the recording industry's request to pass pre-litigation notices on to 14 students accused of music piracy. Many institutions have forwarded the letters -- which offer students a chance to settle file-sharing claims out of court at discounted rates -- but some have declined to do so, citing concerns over students' privacy.' Of course, this doesn't make that 'one-strike' policy any less flawed, but it shows that they aren't simply throwing their students under the RIAA bus, as one poster put it."

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126 comments

What else do they decide to forward or not? (-1, Flamebait)

z_gringo (452163) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014441)

Do they forward other things sent to students? Have they just decided not to forward these items?

Will they accept packages/letters for students and then just make arbitrary decisions about whether or not to forward them on?

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (5, Informative)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014633)

The letters are addressed to IP addresses. The RIAA expects the university to do its legwork for them. Next time, read TFA.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20014853)

So it's not a privacy issue at all? UK is just lazy.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (5, Insightful)

Shimdaddy2 (1110199) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014645)

The letters don't come with the student's name on them. Rather, the RIAA gives the university an ip and time of an alleged offense, and sticks the university with the charge of tracking down who that student is. This can be quite a bit of work, especially when the RIAA waits longer than the university keeps detailed logs. At my university, nearly 30 students were to be notified, but because detailed logs were only kept for 30 days only 7 seven students got letters.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014663)

The RIAA letters aren't sent in the mail. This isn't a USPS filtering.

The RIAA contacts the university saying IPs X.X.X.X and Y.Y.Y.Y have been sharing songs. Please give the users this letter. Other universities have done the look up and found which users were those IP addresses belonged to and forwarded the letters on to the students. Kansas has effectively told the RIAA to fuck off.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014855)

Kansas has effectively told the RIAA to fuck off.

IANAL - but it seems to me they've also effectively taken part in blocking a legal action. AIUI, that can make the University of Kansas liable/responsible.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (4, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014907)

Well, you proved you aren't a lawyer here. There is a standard way to get the IP->name mapping. Its called a court order. You go before a judge, show your evidence, and if the judge agrees there's merit in the case they will order the university to hand the information over. Until then, the university is well within their rights to keep the information secret. If the state has any decent privacy laws, they may even be legally bound to do so.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (1, Informative)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015579)

You do realize that students' privacy cannot possibly (even theoretically) be violated by an act of communicating something TO THE STUDENTS as long as the students are the ONLY people to whom anything is communicated. They are not FORWARDING letters that are meant to be communications to the students. That can be done in a perfectly anonymous way. Ie., the letters can be given to the students without letting ANYONE ELSE know who these students are. So what privacy are we talking about here? All the article said is that they are not forwarding the letters.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#20017529)

Its similar to those online lottery scams.
Spam everyone and get the details of the people who bite.

Its effectively tricking people out of their privacy.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016271)

And the one flaw with this is that there isn't any "evidence" against the person until the person is identified. Woops. There is also a little problem - there is no one-to-one mapping of IP addresses to people. You can tie the IP address to a computer but it is completely unknown who was sitting at the keyboard.

Oh, you can guess. And most of the time you'd be right. But it isn't proof. I suppose in a country where people are put to death for having the wrong skin color in the wrong place that you could probably lose a lawsuit because your computer did something illegal. But the way this is set up today there is no proof. At a minimum I would think you would need a witness that saw you uploading at the exact time the alleged activity took place.

The final note on this would be if someone created a "Trojan uploader" that was installed via email worm. You get it on your computer and it uploads music and video files without your knowledge. Or, at least your direct knowledge. Then your computer is independently performing illegal acts anyone participating. This would pretty much end the possibility of prosecuting anyone for anything involving the Internet.

Emailed a threatening letter to the White House? Must have been MalMail. This is Windows, after all.

Uploading copyrighted music? That SneakUploader is going around again. Have to clean the machine.

Stabbed your wife 37 times with a dull fork? I'm afraid you're gonna have to take the rap for that one. Windows may be bad, but it isn't that bad yet.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (2, Insightful)

timrichardson (450256) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016495)

You should try that argument next time you get a parking ticket on your unattended car.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#20017251)

Well, you proved you aren't a lawyer here. There is a standard way to get the IP->name mapping. Its called a court order.

Got a cite for that claim of 'standard' procedure? Or are you just blowing smoke and being insulting to make yourself feel superior?

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 6 years ago | (#20017815)

Don't have a cite for it - but very early on in all these RIAA cases they were told the proper procedure is to file a lawsuit against a John Doe and then subpoena the ISP (or in this case university) to obtain the identity of the person. Of course this costs filing fees and is more expensive than simply mailing "settlement offers" to people.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014889)

Kansas has effectively told the RIAA to fuck off.

Ahhh, 'effectively'. That one little word that separates fantasy from reality.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015193)

>>The RIAA contacts the university saying IPs X.X.X.X and Y.Y.Y.Y have been sharing songs.

It seems like the university would be kind of obligated to at least once launch an internal investigation like they would for plagiarism - someone is claiming the university's resources are being used for illegal purposes. Until they do an investigation at least once, they have no idea how credible the RIAA and their claims are.

They would not have to give up the names to anybody outside the university, but they could determine how credible these complaints are. If they could not be substantied, then they could just blow off the RIAA in the future and say the RIAA's claims are not credible. On the other hand, if RIAA's claims could be substantiated by an internal investigation then some type of disciplinary action would be in order.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016073)

Why? Everything you do on the Internet is completely anonymous unless you (or your ISP) rats you out.

If all they have is an IP address it does not show anything about who was at the keyboard. If they get that far, they can examine the computer and find pirated files. This still does not say who was at the keyboard when that occurred. Are you responsible for everything your computer does? Ever heard of spyware and BackOrifice? Of course you can't be held responsible for files on your computer.

If the University doesn't consider the "account holder" to be responsible for all activity on the connection, then it could have been your Auntie Em or Cousin Bo. Or the guy leeching WiFi in the parking lot.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016629)

That's why I said to perform an internal investigation. They are not allowed to turn over student names without court-order, so the university would be in total control to determine what occurred and what actions, if any, should be taken.

It just seems like a university would have a policy for dealing with complaints of illegal activity by students on campus using university resources.

When I was in school, a guy in our dorm found a bunch of backpacks, books, and calculators in his roommate's closet. He reported this as being suspicious to school officials, and they launched an investigation. The guy immediately confessed to stealing them and asked for mercy, and they school gave him a hearing where he could call in character witnesses to say he deserved leniency.

As long as there is due process, there is nothing wrong with the university investigating at least once to see how credible the source of the complaints is.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (1)

wronskyMan (676763) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014671)

I think the letters are usually sent by the RIAA to a certain IP address, the college then looks up the student in the IT records and forwards the letter to them. If KU does not forward these letters then RIAA will have to file a subpoena/DMCA/etc to get the students ID info from the university.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (2, Informative)

ecklesweb (713901) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014673)

From a short article in the Chronicle that accompanies a copy of the actual letter sent by Cary Sherman to university presidents [chronicle.com] :

5. Some campus administrators already worry that the record industry's pre-litigation notices will leave colleges exposed to lawsuits. If colleges are given the task of passing on the letters, information-technology officials ask, couldn't they end up being sued by students who say they never got the notices -- and, therefore, missed the chance to settle their cases at a discount?

Issues like that have gone largely unresolved. "There are a lot of legal questions out there," says Dick Jacobson, information-technology-security officer for the North Dakota University system, which received 19 pre-litigation notices this month. "And I'm sure if you talked to lawyers in other systems, they'll disagree with the lawyers in our system on some matters."

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (3, Interesting)

exabrial (818005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014709)

Kansas University is a pretty big school (~40k students I think...) The other large university (Kansas State University) just blocks all P2P; I used to work for the Enterprise Server group there.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015681)

Close, I think its about 36k students including the Medical School in KC and Wichita, and the Edwards campus. The network is old, open, in some places not well organized, and only in the last couple years has seen major updates. K-State even had functioning campus wireless before KU, although KU's is more advanced.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016259)

The other large university (Kansas State University) just blocks all P2P;

At least you think you do.

Privacy or perhaps lazy? (1)

HitekHobo (1132869) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014731)

I'm assuming that the RIAA has sent a generic letter to 'the user of IP x.x.x.x at time xx:xx' and expects the University to do the legwork on figuring out who the student was. U of K could a) not have the logs or b) choose not to reveal the user without a court order. When we receive these sorts of requests, we may or may not investigate depending on the nature of the offense. However, we very rarely provide any sort of information to the requesting party without a subpoena.

Re:What else do they decide to forward or not? (5, Insightful)

kevinx (790831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014763)

I fail to see how it would be the responsibility of the University to do dirty work of the RIAA regardless of their stance on music/file sharing. If they were responsible that would mean the provider of internet access is responsible for the way it's subscribers utilize their service. I'm sure the school, in most cases would attempt to pass on notices to students unless it goes against policy, but what is somewhat different about this case is that the RIAA is somehow imposing responsibility on the school. Even though the involvement at this point is minimal, it's a slippery slope that could lead to the university policing it's students or acting as an intermediary in a potentially tricky legal situation. 14 letters soon becomes 1400 letters, and then starts using up university resources. Now they have direct relationship between the RIAA and the school, where it is assumed the school is going to handle this burden of distribution at a minimum.

Makes sense (4, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014465)

Well, sure they won't. They're kicking the students out after one strike, so what's the point in forwarding a letter to someone who's no longer there!

I'm JOKING... I think.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014519)

They're only cutting off the Net access. Not much difference though...

Re:Makes sense (3, Interesting)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014747)

Well, this protects the university from litigation. If they cutoff only those users they get notices on, then they have a perfectly valid justification for shutting them off. These users are locked into student housing for the remainder of the semester, but they will know what risk they are taking if they P2P in the future, and will have to live with the consequences, and schools don't include a "legal protection from RIAA/MPAA fee" in the list of fees students are forced to pay. I don't get the anger over this issue, and I'm more disposed to hate KU than anybody.

If students don't want to live with this policy, they can move off campus, and get AT&T or Cox broadband services. Sure it costs a LOT more to live off campus in Lawrence, but, if you want to do things like distribute other people's music, that is a choice you have to make. Of course, with the money you save by living on campus, you could buy the media you want and use your computer for classwork instead.

Re:Makes sense (2, Informative)

zCyl (14362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015049)

If they cutoff only those users they get notices on, then they have a perfectly valid justification for shutting them off.

Sounds like an easy college prank to play on unsuspecting people.

(That's the problem with presumption of guilt upon accusation.)

Re:Makes sense (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016101)

I did this once where I worked. It was a large multi-national corporation and had the standard official internet usage policies and such.

We were fiddling around and discovered some kind of netware broadcast tool that would pop up a message box on someones machine by IP address. So, we figured out someone's IP we wanted to prank and popped up a very official looking network message. It said something like "excessive non-work related internet usage, eliminate non-work traffic immediately" or something like that.

Worked quite well.

Re:Makes sense (1)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015165)

What BS. The RIAA/MPAA evidence is very flawed. The only reason they get people to pay is that it is prohibitively expensive to fight this. This is a guilt until proven innocent regime. This is an abuse of the legal system.

Re:Makes sense (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015991)

The real question is if the RIAA has ever actually filed a lawsuit and won. So far, all the information I've seen says they have never, ever won a lawsuit only convinced some people to settle without a trial.

If that is correct, then you are most certainly justified in your opinion.

I suspect they have won far more than they have lost and are on-target 99% of the time. For various reasons such wins are never reported. They aren't "newsworthy" in the current sense of the word. If this is the case, then things are a little different than the "popular thinking" would seem to indicate.

So, who (outside of the RIAA) has the facts?

Re:Makes sense (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015187)

Except that the RIAA have a history of sending out mistaken letters, and using legal threats as extortion. If the RIAA truly did their research, and only sent out letters to those who had actually been infringing their copyrights, you might have more of a point.

Also on the list of fees students don't have to pay is an "RIAA legwork" fee for having the school figure out which student to forward the letter on to.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Afecks (899057) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016161)

you could buy the media you want
I have no problem buying it once. It's the hassle of buying it over and over again that I don't like.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20017699)

Let me get this straight. In some universities, RIAA tries to force in a deal where students pay some money to listen to subscribed music. The money is included in the student fee whether the students take advantage of it or not. The students will still have to pay even if their computers are Macs which are automatically excluded. This is fine, but God forbids if students may share a couple songs. Combined with RIAA's penchant to sue without solid evidence, it seems the position is it's alright to screw students but not RIAA. Think about the artists!

Re:Makes sense (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20017957)

I don't know what part of Lawrence you're talking about, but in my experience the cost of off-campus housing was *at worst* on par with the cost of the residence halls. Once I moved to an apt. that wasn't ridiculously expensive, off-campus living cost me about half as much as my time in the dorms. And yes, I'm also considering the cost of utilities, cable, etc.

KU's rationale for One Strike Policy (5, Informative)

Crittias (712785) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016057)

As a faculty member at University of Kansas, I had the opportunity to talk to someone involved in the one-strike decision. Here's how he described the process of reaching their decision, paraphrased by me: Originally, KU adopted a three-strikes policy, and a few years ago, it seemed effective, as some students, when confronted with their first or second strike, pleaded to misunderstanding the policies of ResNet regarding filesharing. Basically, the three strikes allowed for learning to occur. Recently, however, the attitude of students when they received their first or second strike was, "eh." Students were aware of the policy, and they were simply ignoring it because they knew they had two "get out of jail free" cards in their pocket. Because no learning seemed to be occurring when implementing a first or second strike, the school decided such warnings were ineffective, and thus the one-strike-and-you're-out policy we have now. I'm not arguing for or against the new policy, but I thought folks would find the rationale KU used to reach their decision interesting.

BWAhahahahah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20014471)

..., but it shows that they aren't simply throwing their students under the RIAA bus, as one poster put it.

No, they're going to tie them up and leave them on the tracks in front of the on-coming train.

G.O.D. (5, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014489)

The RIAA could start a new branch, the Global Oversight Department, to oversee this stuff.
They'd probably get a better response from places like Kansas with that branch.

Re:G.O.D. (5, Funny)

BrianGKUAC (919321) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014841)

While that was quite funny, I live in town and work at the University. To outsiders, it can be hard to differentiate, but it has been said that Lawrence, Kansas, is 27 square miles of open and progressive thinking surrounded by Kansas.

True! (2, Interesting)

tacokill (531275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015679)

We used to call it "The Berkley of the Midwest" back when I was there.

Let's not forget that KU was where the student union was burnt down and classes were called early back during the Vietnam war. It was serious stuff.

Re:G.O.D. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20017739)

It *does* sound funny to anyone who has never lived there, doesn't it?

In loco parentis (2, Insightful)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014545)

I'm glad they decided to stand up for their students. College is (like it or not) partially a parent-replacement, and a good parent tries to discipline their kids before handing them over to the legal system for pirating a few bucks worth of thoughtless major label tunes. I am much more likely to send my kid to University of Kansas now!

Re:In loco parentis (2, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014631)

I don't think I quite agree with what you're saying, but I do agree with the actions being taken. The university is no position do discipline the students as you suggest. The university is doing what any organization should, protect its members' privacy.

Re:In loco parentis (2, Insightful)

reddburn (1109121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014771)

But it is in a position to cut off their internet connection if they're using the university network for activity that puts the school in danger of lawsuit. Ask some random students if that is punishment and see what they say.

Re:In loco parentis (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016797)

You're right. Universities are not supposed to be in a position where they need to discipline students.

They are, however, forced there by parents. I'm an RA at an off-campus housing project. We just finished sealing the parking lots and driveways, and I can guarantee to you that on the night of move-in day, I will be picking at least one 18 year old kid off the pavement that he has just stained with his blood and vomit. I'll have to key-in to at least one bedroom to return a beligerent, drunk teenager to his correct bedroom. And, if last year was any sign, I'll be sending at least one or two kids off to jail because they just couldn't resist pulling the (inked) fire alarm.

And let this continue for the entire year. I had a girl last year who was great, until her 3 other roommates went home for the weekend. She decided that that was the time to have 40+ straight-from-the-ghetto kids come over and snort coke all over every flat surface of the apartment, feed beer to her roommate's fish, and eat them out of house and home.

I had a kid launch an unopened beer can at me from a third floor balcony on move-in day, showering me in beer. I've had streakers. I've had people who were hallucinating, thinking their faces had melted off. I've had people put on helmets, and plow through the plastic fencing that keeps them from falling down the hill. I've seen kids slam into a living room wall, only to land inside the bathroom by breaking through both sheetrock walls. I've been punched in the face before for breaking up fights between drunk, coked out kids. I've seen kids who hang lights and other objects from their 100+GPM sprinkler heads. I - and probably 10 others - have been shot at by Daisy pellet guns. They dent the steel fire doors. Some kids have illegal pets, and since they don't want to get caught with their dog, they pick the lock to one of the vacant bedrooms in their apartment, and let the dog go to the bathroom all over it, just picking up the shit every once in a while. This isn't even a complete list!

And the best part? When they get a lease violation and get fined, their parents always call. "Oh, my son is never bad! He wouldn't do that!" - Always works out best when I know who gave them the fine. So sure, acting as Mommy and Daddy might not be part of the University's mission, but its one role they must play. In loco parentis? Fuck yeah. This place makes Animal House look like a monestary.

Re:In loco parentis (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014867)

College students (except for the rare 17-year-old) are adults, and we should never forget this. A college has no business filling any portion of a parent's role, period.

Re:In loco parentis (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015003)

In fact, as I was going through college in the late '90s, my college was having a hard time rebuffing increasing numbers of "concerned parents" who were attempting to parent remotely through the college faculty and staff.

It's what happens to parents in a country where it's acceptable to say, break into fisticuffs over your kid's [sports, academics, whatev]

And we wonder why there are so many 30+ year old people living with non-dependent parents. They never have a chance to grow up and consequently don't want to.

Re:In loco parentis (1)

linuxrocks123 (905424) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015143)

> In loco parentis

By your use of this term, you don't know what it means. College students are almost all over 18 and therefore not minors; saying a university is "in loco parentis" with respect to them is nonsensical.

Re:In loco parentis (1)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015609)

It's probably for the best that the law generally recognizes age, rather than maturity. Otherwise, we'd expect to let folks off the hook their whole lives, just because they insist on maintaining a Peter Pan existence :)

Re:In loco parentis (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016419)

I'm glad they decided to stand up for their students.

so instead of a "head's up" from the school the students get a notice of pending legal action and less time to negotiate a settlement or prepare a defense.

a good parent tries to discipline their kids before handing them over to the legal system for pirating a few bucks worth of thoughtless major label tunes.

this argument doesn't fly with a judge or a jury when your playlist looks stronger than the Clear Channel outlets in New York, Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth.

p2p implies uploading files to ten thousand or so of your closest friends on the net - it is the unlimited, unlicensed, re-distribution of copyrighted content that will kill you in court.

"Discounted [settlement] rates"? (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014567)

"letters -- which offer students a chance to settle file-sharing claims out of court at discounted rates"

Amazing, the RIAA is now in the business of offering discounted lawsuit settlements. "Our lowest offer ever! Settle for only $999, no evidence scrutinized! Limited time so act now!"

Re:"Discounted [settlement] rates"? (2, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20018055)

But SCO only charge $699! That's $300 cheaper! The RIAA are clearly a price-fixing cartel if they can get away with charging $300 above the market rate for extortion.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20018705)

I nearly spit tea on my keyboard...

My ISP forwarded a letter to me (5, Interesting)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014575)

(I'm a home user, not a student) from HBO because they caught me uploading The Sopranos. Well, actually, I was downloading it, but using bittorrent so i was of course also uploading. Anyway, I was glad to see it was just a cease and desist kind of thing and not a settlement offer. I've been a little more careful since throwing away that pair of underwear, I must confess.

Re:My ISP forwarded a letter to me (3, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014813)

Anyway, I was glad to see it was just a cease and desist kind of thing and not a settlement offer. I've been a little more careful since throwing away that pair of underwear, I must confess.

They wrote a "cease and desist" letter on a pair of underwear? Wow! They'd get a better compliance if they write it on a bra - IMHO.

Re:My ISP forwarded a letter to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20015073)

Which ISP did you use?

Re:My ISP forwarded a letter to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20015387)

charter cable

Re:My ISP forwarded a letter to me (1)

Nosferatu Alucard (713350) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015221)

I got one of those a few years back. My friend had downloaded, at his home, a game demo. The demo was not what it was labeled to be though, and it was actually marked as UT2K3, which it wasn't. When he came over, he told me about the demo, and tried to download it using the same method, clicking on the UT2K3 file in Kazaa. Turned out to really be UT2K3, and I got a C&D email. So I complied, slapped my friend for the mess, and have never downloaded a game since.

I'd much prefer a 'hey... we saw that!' letter over a 'hey, we want your money!' letter.

Re:My ISP forwarded a letter to me (2, Interesting)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015359)

Comcast forwarded me a letter from NBC (via email no less) for sharing The Black Donnellys. I freaked out a little, but then reread the letter and it was a C&D, not a settlement offer.

So I've complied and haven't downloaded any more TV shows.

Incidentally I also never watched the Black Donnellys again (it wasn't on at a great time) and I think it's since been canceled.

Re:My ISP forwarded a letter to me (1)

Nosferatu Alucard (713350) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015377)

Was a great show, but yes, it was canceled.

Re:My ISP forwarded a letter to me (1)

MarcoG42 (1087205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015551)

I got a C&D from NBC for downloading a couple of episodes of Heroes, using Optonline. Yeah, I could have watched it at their site, but I wanted to be able to put it on my PSP and watch it on the train to/from work. The only effect it's had on my d/l habits is to not d/l anything that is produced or distributed by NBC, which isn't really that much of a loss.

Re:My ISP forwarded a letter to me (1)

JazzLad (935151) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016403)

Does no one use usenet anymore? Sure it's $10-25/mo, but downloading is fairly anonymous ...

Re:My ISP forwarded a letter to me (1)

Drgnkght (449916) | more than 6 years ago | (#20017059)

Actually usenet isn't anonymous at all. It's very difficult to identify downloaders, but much easier to identify uploaders. This is why people have drifted away from it. That, and the fact that most usenet servers have lousy retention, no binary groups, or monthly download limits. Plus most people I know have no idea what usenet actually is. (Nor that it can be used to download files.)

backtracking (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014679)

Is it me or does this smell like some sort of backtracking and/or that someone may have educated the school about their rights a little?

Stil a waste of time (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014705)

Which only benefits the RIAA/MPAA. Which doesn't benefit the American middle-class, lower-class, or anyone outside of America. I know how this will all turn out though, just as smokers how nice it is that the rest of America is turning on their habit, sure they never thought that that would happen (not the best example though).

How does this help the student? (2, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20014921)

Are these sent by certified mail? Does the RIAA need proof of delivery to pursue their lawsuit successfully? Or can they just go ahead and sue, without the student getting any warning?

All the article says is that "The University will not, however, forward students the RIAA pre-litigation letter, which gives them the opportunity to settle out of court."

How does this help the student? That's a genuine question, not a rhetorical question. Anyone know the answer?

Re:How does this help the student? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20015023)

Because the RIAA has no idea who the student is until the school tells them and has them send their form letter. Therefor, no school forwarding, no student name, no lawsuits.

Re:How does this help the student? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20015089)

They can forward the letter without telling the RIAA who they're sending it too. (They should, of course, tell the recipients that the RIAA does not know who they are and cannot find out without a court order.) But holding these back is a disservice to the students. If they students are guilty (and admit it, a lot of them are), they may actually want to take advantage of the settlement. If they're not guilty, or don't think the RIAA has enough evidence to win, it gives them advance notice that a lawsuit might be coming and they can start looking for recommendations for a good lawyer.

Re:How does this help the student? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015157)

If the school forwards the letter, then it becomes clear that the school actually knows who has a particular IP address, and then the RIAA can eventually subpoena them to discover the name.

Re:How does this help the student? (1)

Daffy Duck (17350) | more than 6 years ago | (#20017141)

The school doesn't have to tell the RIAA they forwarded the letter, and they probably won't because it's just extra work with no benefit.

On the other side, the RIAA can get a subpoena whether the school forwards the letter or not. They don't need the school to "admit" it knows the student's identity - they just assume it does.

Re:How does this help the student? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015409)

Honestly, I think it's going to help the RIAA by showing that they need more help from the powers that be to enforce what the law. I'm seriously thinking this could land some of the students in a lot more trouble then the university thinks.

Re:How does this help the student? (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015439)

Until the University gives the RIAA a name, all the RIAA has is an IP. I'd think the worst they could do is sue the school for the names of students associated with an IP address, then they'd have to send letters of notification to the students.

Re:How does this help the student? (1)

babyrat (314371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016605)

The RIAA needs to tell the students nothing before sueing them. The only problem is that they only have an IP Address (or perhaps MAC ID) not a student's name. Presumably the university has that address to name mapping thus can forward the letter addressed to the IP Address xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx to the appropriate student.

This letter has nothing to do with potential court case - you don't have to warn someone that you are going to sue them. As some have mentioned, it is akin to extortion - give us money or we'll sue.

Third Time (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20015155)

Third time I've had to say this. Universities are NOT "bending over" for the RIAA. They are FORWARDING MAIL. They gave the RIAA no personal information and at least in Purdue's case said they would NOT give them that information unless there was a subpeona.

Enough with this sensationalist "omg this university is in with the RIAA". If you ask me they are hurting their student population by not telling the students they have been targeted. That is all the other universities are doing. Telling them that there is a possibility that the RIAA will take you to court.

Re:Third Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20015805)

I was under the impressions that the RIAA was sending letters with "please forward this to whoever had x.x.x.x IP on time:MM/DD/YYYY." Otherwise I would question how the RIAA got the names of the users who were file-sharing music. Last time I checked illegal search methods weren't allowed for private investigations...

As a Jayhawk... (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015269)

I'm proud that finally KU has stood up to outside pressure and is protecting its students. Coincidentally, their Academic Computing Services department (university wide IS/IT) is being completely reorganized.

Just a few days ago I was ripping into old KU for pandering to the MAFIAA, and now we've got this partial about-face. Makes me want to walk over to walk over to the chancellor's house and tell him that this was a good decision.

Re:As a Jayhawk... (1)

JayhawkBabe (1133881) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016841)

Here, here. As a KU Alumna who is now an employee, I am quite proud of Hemenway too!

I want to see.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20015503)

A University that will forward the letters, BUT charge the RIAA a "handling fee." Let's say $900 per letter...

I'm reminded of the godfather. (3, Insightful)

kinglink (195330) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015507)

After Michael (Al Pacino's character) goes into hiding, Tom Hagen(Robert Duvall) says to Kay (Diane Keaton): "If I accept that letter and you told a Court of Law I accepted it, they would interpret it as my having knowledge of his whereabouts. Just wait Kay, he'll contact you."

Somehow I don't think that's far off.

my letter to the RIAA... (3, Interesting)

bennini (800479) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015595)

i posted this letter in the last story on /. regarding the RIAA but i did it a bit late (3 or 4 days after the story appeared on /.) so i dont think anyone got to read it.

below ive appended the letter which i am sending to the RIAA.

additionally, this recent story about the University of Kansas has inspired me to write letters to the other universities that have indeed forwarded the letters to the students -- regarding my decision to rule out all of them as places to do a PhD.

i highly encourage all of you to send similar letters. its time people start doing something about this rather than just complaining about it on internet forums.

--------

Dear Sony BMG, Universal, EMI, Warner,

I would like to inform you of my recent decision to stop purchasing music produced by your record labels.

In the past, I was a strong supporter of the music industry, music artists and the Compact Disc technology. I regularly purchased CD albums for several reasons. First, I consider myself an audiophile and enjoy the quality of music offered by the Compact Disc format. Second, I collect music and have over 200 CDs. I often re-listen to an album many years after buying it. Third, I believe music artists should be rewarded for their hard work and skill. With respect to my favorite bands (Tool, the Cardigans and Garbage) I also believe it provides incentive for them to continue producing music. It was because of these three reasons that I generally opposed and condemned the idea of downloading music illegally. I considered myself to be, what many refer to as, the music industry's ideal customer.

In the past few weeks, this all changed; and since your companies' prosperity in the music industry is entirely enabled by persons like myself, I would like to tell you why.

I have grown tired of reading about the endless lawsuits and out-of-court settlement letters spewed from your companies' legal departments. I am a 25-year-old American student pursuing an MSc in Germany and find your methodology for dealing with students at American universities revolting and offensive. I also believe your companies' business model is flawed, rigid and destined to fail. Your inability to adapt to a high-quality digital distribution model (without DRM) will quickly undermine your revenue stream. There is no justification for a music CD to cost almost twice the price of a DVD movie; especially when one compares the production costs of the two.

Today, when I walked into the local music store, I took a look at the price of a new CD release, considered buying it, then decided to go home and illegally download it instead. I will continue to act accordingly until the RIAA changes its attitude, business model and pricing scheme.

This letter would not be justly sent without an offer to regain me as a customer. I therefore propose that you A) offer all music through iTunes DRM-free and with the option to download the files in a "lossless" format and B) reduce song prices to $0.50 per song with 50% of that going directly to the artist and the other 50% to be split at your discretion between the RIAA and Apple. Should you agree to said proposal, I will happily purchase your music again on a frequent basis and actively campaign for the RIAA amongst my social networks and on Slashdot.org.

Sincerely,
Benjamin P

Re:my letter to the RIAA... (1)

mantar (941076) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015737)

Do you really think these execs will take someone who listens to The Cardigans seriously?

Re:my letter to the RIAA... (1)

bennini (800479) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015949)

i think losing any customer matters. at least thats how any CEO with a brain should think.

ive bought at least 200 CDs.
lets average 1 CD at $15 (ive paid both more and less for many of them)
minimum spent on CDs, 15 * 200 = $3000

and considering ~$3000 is what the settlement letters are asking from most of the victims, id say the RIAA douche bags do indeed care about an amount as minimal as $3000. multiply that by the number of other disgruntled customers like myself...and u get a net sum on par with the number of out of court settlements they are winning. so yes, i think as a whole, they will care..

Re:my letter to the RIAA... (1)

mantar (941076) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016447)

Yeah, just messing with you :0)

The unfortunate thing is that your letter will never reach their eyes. These guys have people working to filter what passes their way... with salaries in the six and seven figures, their time is too valuable to waste with small-timers like most of us here. Either it will end up in the round metal filing cabinet, or if someone actually reads it and notices your confession of piracy, it will end up being forwarded to their legal department. You'll know for sure if you get a nasty letter in a few weeks.

Large companies such as these are slow to change, and usually only do when they have no alternative. Change won't happen from one or even a thousand nasty letters, it will happen when the people and companies that matter to their business give them no alternative. And as a sad little twist, these guys don't place average customers in that group... just look at their track record.

Re:my letter to the RIAA... (1)

bennini (800479) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016575)

The unfortunate thing is that your letter will never reach their eyes. These guys have people working to filter what passes their way... with salaries in the six and seven figures, their time is too valuable to waste with small-timers like most of us here.

which is why i plan on sending copies directly to the CEOs or any other major entity in the organizations. how difficult can it be to find out some high-profile guys address?

Re:my letter to the RIAA... (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 6 years ago | (#20017101)

Addresses are easy to find. Getting the letter to the actual CEO's eyes are whats difficult. That's what assistants are for, to filter out any letters like yours, and pass along the ones they deem "fit for the CEO". How many letters a day do you think a CEO receives?? Plenty I'm sure, most of them from nutjobs spouting off. (present company excluded)

Re:my letter to the RIAA... (1)

bennini (800479) | more than 6 years ago | (#20018285)

so ur trying to tell me that these CEOs have personal assistants at their private homes filtering all their personal mail??

Re:my letter to the RIAA... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20018025)

You'd be better off sending it as a letter to the editor of a major news publication. Letters to CEOs are read by underlings or shredders. Widely distributed letters might get through.

it's a trap!! (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015889)

How do we know you're not a goon from the RIAA sent to trick people into sending an admission of guilt?!?!!?

Re:my letter to the RIAA... (2, Informative)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#20017401)

Wow, there are an amazing number of things wrong with your letter.

  1. Like many people on /. you seem to believe costs determine price. This is not the case. The justification is that people are willing to pay twice as much for a CD. Also, I tend to get more hours of enjoyment out of a CD than a movie (a good CD at least), because of the replayability.
  2. The RIAA doesn't get a percentage of iTunes sales, the labels do.
  3. While customers certainly have a right to insist on a price before purchasing, insisting on dividing the revenue up amongst parties seems beyond what customers normally insist upon. Fifty percent to the artists seems beyond excessive. Labels assume a lot of risk and costs as far as bribing DJs to get it on the air, and such. Apple has a massive marketing machine. Most musicians are the least important cog. I'd rather have 2% of a much larger pie than have the 10 people who heard of my music d/l it off my site for a buck a song.
  4. If you are in Germany, why would the RIAA care. Yes you are American. And?
  5. Why would any part of this be believed? It's not like anything beyond the usual has happened in the past few weeks. Likely, you have been downloading music for a long time, and are claiming a recent start to increase your moral position.

Re:my letter to the RIAA... (1)

bennini (800479) | more than 6 years ago | (#20019001)

if my letter is that bad...ur counter arguments are even worse.

Like many people on /. you seem to believe costs determine price. This is not the case. The justification is that people are willing to pay twice as much for a CD.
the problem is people ARENT willing to pay twice as much any more. hence everyone downloading music. peoples value of a song has degraded so much, most people arent even willing to pay one dollar for a song. the only reason anyone put up w it before was because broadband/p2p/mp3 players were NOT ubiquitous.

The RIAA doesn't get a percentage of iTunes sales, the labels do.
excuse me for not being 100% semantically correct. the RIAA is a blanket name for the collective labels.ill correct my letter to say "to be split at your discretion between the respective label and Apple". happy?

While customers certainly have a right to insist on a price before purchasing, insisting on dividing the revenue up amongst parties seems beyond what customers normally insist upon. Fifty percent to the artists seems beyond excessive. Labels assume a lot of risk and costs as far as bribing DJs to get it on the air, and such. Apple has a massive marketing machine. Most musicians are the least important cog. I'd rather have 2% of a much larger pie than have the 10 people who heard of my music d/l it off my site for a buck a song.
u sound just like one of the record label board of directors. theres a big problem in the way people like you think. the artists could easily exist without the record labels...the record labels would cease to exist without the musicians. i believe the artists are not getting what they deserve. if the government boosted income tax to 90%, would you sit around and argue "the government sets the tax levels, therefore ill just sit back and assume whatever they are doing is correct?" and how does apple have a "massive marketing machine?" i havent seen a single tv commercial, billboard sign, or radio advertisement dedicated to the itunes music store.

If you are in Germany, why would the RIAA care. Yes you are American. And?
i dont understand your logic here. if i am in germany when i buy a britney spears album produced by jive (owned by sony bmg)...where does the money go? does it just dissappear into thin air or go to some random german agency?? allofmp3 was in russia; the RIAA sure seemed to care about them...

Why would any part of this be believed? It's not like anything beyond the usual has happened in the past few weeks. Likely, you have been downloading music for a long time, and are claiming a recent start to increase your moral position.
i said i generally condemned downloading music. yes i downloaded songs occassionally but only in the following situations:
1. the song is not available on itunes
2. the song is some random techno remix that doesnt exist on any easily purchasable cd
3. my friend wants to show me a song
4. if i would never buy the song even if the option to download it didnt exist
5. the song is on a CD that i have at home in america
6. for deciding if its worth investing in the entire CD from that artist/band
and no, the fact that i downloaded music never stopped me from buying it. it happened many times where i downloaded a song, loved it, then went and bought the cd to have a high quality version of the entire album.

what are you?? an RIAA member-label shareholder?!?!

rights (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015775)

Honestly i can't stand the fact that major universities, which are practically ran by their student population, wont even stand up for their students-- at least as far as privacy rights are concerned.

Re:rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20017199)

What country do you live in? Because any major university in the US is not "practically ran by their student population". Check an annual financial report for the university of your choice. You'll find that student tuition accounts for a small fraction of their operating income. The majority is research funding and gifts from wealthy donors.

Yes, students are paying customers. But they're heavily subsidized and they're positively lining up to try to get in. Not really a "the customer is always right" scenario.

It's Not Enough (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#20015785)

It's not enough to simply not pass on the letters. UK needs to fight the RIAA at the ex parte stage when the RIAA creates a phony case that:

they have no intention of actually pursuing,

citing non-applicable laws,

with an illegal joinder of Doe Defendants,

based on flimsy to non-existent real evidence,

and no opposition to this farce,

to get a judge to issue the required subpoena's that would force UK to turn over student identities to the Record Industry extortion machine. Only then will I feel that UK actually has their student's interests at heart first!

They don't know where the IP numbers are... (1)

ibn_khaldun (814417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016149)

This supposes that KU can associate a specific IP number with a known machine. Unless practice has improved a lot, they can't -- the allocation of IP numbers was a total, decentralized mess for a number of years, with nothing even remotely resembling a central registry. In my department, the "IP registry" consisted of a piece of notebook paper taped to a file cabinet in a supply closet. The situation may have improved over the last six months -- I vaguely recall someone wandering around systematically recording these for faculty machines -- but I don't know how it is for student machines.

For years (again, I haven't tried this lately), the standard technique for people who needed to get things done was a take an existing IP, and then just keep changing the last three digits until something worked. Yes, I know this is appalling practice; gives you some sense of the level of sophistication we've been working with. As Molly Ivins used to say, proof-positive that humans descended from monkeys, and damn recently at that, the former Board of Education notwithstanding.

Leaving open the possibility that KU's brave and principled stand is in fact merely an acknowledgment that they couldn't deliver the letters even if they had to, short of breaking down every door on campus.

Again, as a previous poster has noted, things have begun to improve over the last year, but the place was an IT zoo for the better part of a decade.

Re:They don't know where the IP numbers are... (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#20017247)

That. Is. Scary.

On a separate note, why not DHCP? I've worked in labs that were zoos like that (and worse, there were traffic generators that could produce arbitrary packets [any: source/dest IP, MAC, any datagram, any length up to 32Kb]). We had two private ranges, one DHCP and one static, they were on the same subnet, but you could have the zoo on 10.0.1.0 and dynamic on 10.0.2.0, as an example.

-nB

Re:They don't know where the IP numbers are... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20018095)

I'm not the grandparent, but my university has a similar system. They have a DHCP server of the open access machines, and everything else has a manually configured static IP. The reason for this is twofold:
  • Departments want to be able to assign addresses to their own machines, without having to wait for someone else to edit a DCHP configuration file.
  • The university has a flat network (yes, it's a bad idea, but it's been like that since the '70s, and no one knows where all the wires go anymore), so you can only run one DHCP server.
The computer society has its own firewalled network, with its own DHCP server. The firewall blocks DHCP traffic, preventing this being a problem. A few years back, someone screwed up the firewall configuration, and stopped this. It turned out our DHCP server was responding with a request denied packet a lot faster than the main server was responding with an address, which caused a lot of machines (public ones dependent on the network for login, etc) to stop working.

Re:They don't know where the IP numbers are... (1)

ibn_khaldun (814417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20019085)

We've suggested various things over the years [we being assorted folks, faculty, programmers, lab directors, etc], had some excellent outside assessments that confirm everything is as messed up as we think, etc, and basically nothing ever happened. Never clear why, though it is widely suggested that the fact that authority our IT is split between librarians and wire-jockeys, with no one who has any formal training and experience in modern (post-1990) networking anywhere in a position where they can enforce decisions. Leads to quite a bit of turnover by technically-competent people as well, particularly with plenty of good IT jobs an hour or less away in Kansas City. But we've got a new Provost who eats glass bottles for breakfast and is said to find the current IT situation here appalling, so I think things will improve.

Re:They don't know where the IP numbers are... (1)

ibn_khaldun (814417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20019161)

Truly scary. But they passed out ranges of IP numbers like candy, so for a while (even today) there were lots of vacant ones, so it worked, sort of. Apparently there was some sort of animosity almost to the level of a blood feud between network services, who put in the wires, and the folks that managed (if that's the right word...) the software side, plus some really weird pricing situations. We still don't have wireless on most of the campus, for example, because the network guys don't want multiple machines accessing a single port, as they get paid by the port. But people go ahead and install wireless nodes anyway, sometimes intelligently, sometimes not...anarchy.

How is this an invasion of privacy? (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#20016713)

How is passing the letters on to the students an invasion of privacy?

If the university were to pass on the name of the student they believe was the one using the network at a specific IP address at a specific time, then perhaps that would be just such an invasion of privacy. But I don't see how telling the student that they suspect was using that IP address then about the letter, or passing a copy of the letter to them (surely the university would keep a copy for their "files") invades the student's privacy. If that was the only action done, the student could choose to contact the RIAA, or choose to ignore it. Something else must be implied by "passing the letter on" ... such as passing names or even SSN to the RIAA?

I can only hope (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 6 years ago | (#20018437)

that my alma mater further upriver will also do the right thing. But in between the country music, rodeo, and ga-ga love Richard Meyers, it will be only a dream.
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