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The RIAA and MPAA Target Day-Job Downloaders 293

Posted by timothy
from the say-isn't-that-a-cash-register-over-there dept.
BrianUofR points to this USA Today article, which says "the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America are sending a six-page brochure this week to Fortune 1000 corporations with suggested policies -- including a sample memo to workers warning them against using company computers to download songs and movies."
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The RIAA and MPAA Target Day-Job Downloaders

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  • at work? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by astrashe (7452) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @08:27PM (#5310990) Journal
    I wouldn't want people I was managing screwing around with p2p software at work.

    For managers, this is going to be a no-brainer.
  • Good For Them (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pave Low (566880) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @08:28PM (#5310994) Journal
    What the fuck does this have to do with my rights online?? My "rights" in the workplace are limited all the time at work.

    My company has blocked access to p2p applications, all sorts of website, and limit my access to my PC. Should I be crying about my rights being violated?

    Where is it part of my rights that I can illegaly download music at my desk, thereby wasting bandwidth and company time?
  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @08:29PM (#5311002) Homepage
    Companies will take action and institute policies against downloading copywritten materials. This will be their defense against the company being liable for the downloading.

    The RIAA/MPAA is doing this to aim at deep pockets that can order lots of people to do, or in this case not do, specific acts.
  • by El Pollo Loco (562236) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @08:33PM (#5311016)
    What I don't understand is the whole innocent until proven guilty thing. Just because they have a log saying an IP from a company was downloading illegalsong.mp3 doesn't mean that the person doesn't actually own that on cd. Why are they guilty until proven innocent. I see how an individual couldn't fight them, or a small business because of the legal costs involved, but a fortune 1000 company should be able to. At least, I'd hope they could fight them, and I'm sure they'd be able to recover legal fees in court.
  • by Effugas (2378) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @08:44PM (#5311076) Homepage
    ...for the law you punched through is crunchy, and good with ketchup.

    The crux of the RIAA/MPAA's case is that the law makes corporations liable for providing the net connection that people are using to abuse the present definition of copyright. The recommended solutions end up being:

    A) Firewall the network to the extreme, reducing network reliability while incurring direct costs for firewall maintenance;
    B) Fire employees who violate RIAA/MPAA policy, reducing human reliability while incurring (again) direct costs for retraining;
    C) Randomly pay multimillion dollar settlements for copyright liability, reducing per-quarter revenue reliability while incurring direct costs to pay off the lawyers and their suits.

    Let me summarize: "Dear Corporate America: Please spend lots of money. Get nothing in return. Your Friends In Hollywood, Jack Valenti and Hilary Rosen."

    Hmmm. Seems to me that the harder the RIAA and MPAA push the megacorps, the quicker they realize their exposure to unreliability and reduced profitability. Unlike individuals, or even ISPs, these are power aggregates that have stuck around precisely because they've been able to crush any threat to their bottom line.

    Yes, RIAA. Thank you, MPAA. Please, do everything in your power to bother the big guys. That way, while you're wondering where all that congressional support for compulsory licensing came from (heh, we never got that when we were just harassing DVD Jon!), I'll be quite happy to be part of the Internet community taking the credit, and the power, that you just lost.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • Re:at work? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NetJunkie (56134) <[jason.nash] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday February 15, 2003 @08:46PM (#5311080)
    Please explain hos this means treating employees like kids? There is no reason for an employee to be using a P2P app at work. I don't care if you own the CD you're downloading, rip your own at home and bring it in.

    P2P apps should be banned just for the security problems alone...not even considering legal liability of the company.

    Grow up. Get a real job.
  • by dmaxwell (43234) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @08:48PM (#5311091)
    The problem is that the mere act of viewing a webpage involves "downloading copyrighted materials". The browser cache even retains copies of some of it for awhile.

    Such a policy taken literally means that the organization in question will have to pull their net connection entirely.

    A better policy would forbidding downloading of copyrighted material without permission. Normal websites give implicit permission to do the downloading necessary to view them. This also has the advantage of forbidding illegal mp3 downloads while still permitted downloads of legal mp3s and software.
  • Re:at work? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2003 @08:54PM (#5311119)
    There's something to be said for moral. Most techies intermix their day between doing solid 100% and doing solid 100% play and doing a mix of both for part of the day. It's only reasonable that we bring some of our play to work since most of us TAKE OUR WORK HOME.

    Fortunately, my employer has me work from my house a couple thousand miles away and I use my own machines and bandwidth in my boxers in my den - so what I do *really* doesn't matter to anyone.
  • by TopShelf (92521) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @08:55PM (#5311129) Homepage Journal
    Remember, this went out to Fortune 1000 companies, presumably to their legal departments, who would then consider what to do with it in-house.

    A manager with any common sense, however, might well note this article with their direct reports - giving them a heads-up (if they already didn't know) that P2P at work is a bad idea...

  • Re:at work? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bryanthompson (627923) <logansbro@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday February 15, 2003 @08:55PM (#5311134) Homepage Journal
    The bottom line is a lot of employees need to be treated like school-children. Not everyone's a happy little drone sitting there working away all 8 hours a day. they'll sit on kazaa all day downloading movies or listening to movies if you let them.
    the bottom line is that there's no reason for kazaa being on a network/business system in the first place. it sucks resources and is a security risk. I know, a good network has virus scanners and whatnot, but the bottom line is that if a program can be used to get viruses, it will. We use Eudora and still get viruses all the time.
  • by droleary (47999) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:02PM (#5311170) Homepage

    The admin at my work was way ahead on this one.

    Wow, I'd fire him immediately if I were his boss. He just opened up the company to massive litigation. It'd be akin to the phone company saying "we're going to monitor phone traffic and don't want common carrier status anymore". Moronic.

    Thats one way to stop this stuff at work.

    Stop what stuff? Creating a pleasant environment to do your job? There is nothing illegal about having music on your computer at home or at work.

  • by The Man (684) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:05PM (#5311177) Homepage
    I'm a network admin, not a manager, and I'm happy to have something like this to give my boss to hand out. I'm neither for nor against the "free everything" mentality - I consider each person who produces something to have the right to distribute it under whatever terms he or she sees fit. Personally I distribute my work freely, and encourage others to do the same; not everyone chooses to do so. But regardless of your beliefs about the RIAA (evil) or the MPAA (evil) or whether you should be permitted to steal their property (you shouldn't), using your employer's property for personal purposes is always wrong. Viewing free porn is not illegal, but unless that is your job, doing so with your company's systems and networks almost certainly goes against both professional ethics and your employment agreement or contract. Therefore you should not do that. The same argument goes for downloading or viewing or listening to non-work-related material - if you're using company property to do it, you are in the wrong. Whether the material is legal or illegal, copyrighted or public domain, offensive, harmless, or valuable is irrelevant. Do it at home, not at work.

    So I'm happy to have someone giving ammunition to help put these slackers out of business. The company doesn't need them, and they waste the resources for which I am responsible. Whether they are canned because the CEO worries over his company's legitimate potential liability to the evil conglomerates or because these people are being paid to work and are goofing off instead, means nothing to me. They are abusing company property for personal gain and should be fired. A warning letter like this is a valuable policy tool. That I personally do not care for the conglomerates' heavy-handed tactics does nothing to lessen the validity of their fundamental argument, and does nothing to diminish the value of a document issued by Legal telling slackers to knock off the network abuse.

    Your use of Kazaa to steal from those who purchased the musicians is for any reasonable person equal to Microsoft including linux/sched.c in the next version of Windows or to that scruffy-looking man outside stealing my car. All three hypothetical offenders are taking from others without permission. A pity they don't hang cattle rustlers any longer.

  • Re:at work? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NetJunkie (56134) <[jason.nash] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:07PM (#5311187)
    The problem is legal liability. If I know my employees download this stuff and don't do anything then the company can be liable. I'm not going to get in trouble and possibly fired so people I manage can warez Britney Spears.
  • RIAA is too late (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:09PM (#5311195) Journal
    Any company that doesn't have this in place already as either a copyright-infringement policy or an unnecessary burden on resources is too dumb to read the RIAA's threats anyway.
  • Re:at work? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:09PM (#5311197)
    "Yeah, managers who think that their employees should be treated like school-children."

    Who says it's about treating coworkers like 'school-children'?

    I'm a sysadmin for a small company. I used Kazaa at home quite a bit. I'm against the RIAA's stance on P2P. Despite all that, I don't want it used at work, and I will (and have) told people to remove it. Not because I'm an asshole or because I wanted to use my 'power'. I did it to make sure that my company doesn't invent mindless policies as a result of problems that arise from it. If the net connection gets bogged down and it's traced back to P2P usage, then my company will respond with a strict internet policy. That would suck because my company has a "It's only a problem when it's actually a problem" stance on things like that.

    The dude you just got shitty with is right. Don't put businensses into a position where they WILL have to create policy. Especially when it is completely unnecessary.
  • Re:Good For Them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:10PM (#5311202)
    no shiznit

    you can't do a lot of things at work. you can't wear what you like, you can't practice your religion in public (unless it involves praying to a certain deity, then you're patriotic), you can't tell a pretty co-worker that you think she's pretty, you can't set your own hours, and you can't use the computer for personal use (though somehow they don't mind the phone used for personal stuff).

    I'm self-employed. That means I can wake up at 10, I can work in my undies with my cock hanging out, jerking off to porn, and I can download Britney till my MP3 player deletes itself in protest.

    Don't people read their employer agreements?? You're a PIECE OF A MACHINE, and if you don't function correctly you will be adjusted!
  • by nlinecomputers (602059) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:26PM (#5311265)
    I happen to be a business owner.

    MY bandwidth and My PCs are just that - MINE.

    Don't like it. Don't work for me.

    Maybe I don't want to be sued just because you are a thief. Personlly I think most of the IP laws are crap but that doesn't mean that I desire(or have the money) to be the fucking test case just because you are NOT adult enough to *gasp* ask my permission before you put MY company at risk.

    So after I fire your ass I'll have your ass arrested for theft of MY bandwidth and MY storage space.

    Is THAT adult enough? You self-centered little troll.

    I sorry that you think that putting the rules down in writting is a "childish" act. It isn't. It is what adults do. Adults don't assume what others should know or expect. They explain out in front what is and isn't expected. Why? Because some people like yourself will assume that employment GIVES them the right to do it. It doesn't. Only if the employer is willing to allow it. And if he is then he should put THAT in writting too.

  • by tzanger (1575) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:26PM (#5311268) Homepage

    Wow, I'd fire him immediately if I were his boss. He just opened up the company to massive litigation. It'd be akin to the phone company saying "we're going to monitor phone traffic and don't want common carrier status anymore". Moronic.

    This is in no way anything like the telco doing that. I think that is an excellent way to curb the behaviour. If you want the music at work, bring in your CDs or even your own computer (geez, a headless P2-233 with 64M of memory would be more than enough) and leave it off the fucking corporate systems. It's not opening up anything to litigation, as the computers are already property of the companies, and can be used for whatever legal purpose the company wants.

    Stop what stuff? Creating a pleasant environment to do your job? There is nothing illegal about having music on your computer at home or at work.

    Agreed on the pleasant environment but there is nothing in my employee handbook granting me the ability to use the company systems for anything non-company related, including playing music whose legality is in question. It's not up to the company to prove that you own the CDs, and in fact I bet that given the choice between policing that or outright forbidding mp3s, they will chose the latter every time.

  • by Peterus7 (607982) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:31PM (#5311287) Homepage Journal
    And the RIAA is still up to it's same old empty threats and unjust lawsuits.

    What I don't get is how the RIAA plans to enforce this... Unless they for a RIAA gestapo, or something like it. Or put spyware on corporations, which would get them in even more trouble. So there's really nothing they can do about it. Except spew the same old BS they've been spewing, and of course that type of stuff sells on slashdot, lol...

  • by sawilson (317999) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:42PM (#5311314) Homepage
    But Seriously, I agree with most of what The Man
    has to say from a purely (owning the network
    and having to deal with all the bullshit)
    perspective. I'm all for anything that's going
    to mean that I don't have to waste a considerable
    amount of time writting/revamping scripts to look
    for the latest file sharing software. A few places
    I've been already have strong stances on this stuff
    because it costs a company a SHITLOAD of money for
    bandwidth to support the 15 girls in customer
    service, 10 guys in tech support, and ALL the guys
    in admin that are downloading 30 gigs of movies,
    mp3s, and warez a day. My opinion is, what happens
    out of work is out of work. Do that shit at home.
    Hell, I don't care if you bring a cd you burned
    at home to work with your 200 alan jackson songs
    on it. Just don't create work and trouble for me.
    Stick to playing solitaire and minesweeper and all
    the other important things you do on your wintel
    machines. Save the bandwidth for important things
    like first person shooters.
  • by Proneax (609988) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @09:51PM (#5311358)
    Since this sounds like something that well-managed corporate networks should be doing already (maybe not individal audits, but blocking p2p), this may just be a symbolic act so that later they can say, "Hey, we even sent out letters to all these companies......blah blah" and make up some case for themselves in court.
  • Yes, and? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Duncan3 (10537) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @10:23PM (#5311589) Homepage

    Well, you are stealing their shit. And it is shit, least-common denominator teenie-bopper crap.

    Maybe if people would get off their asses and explore the net for local bands they can go watch live, 99% of which will give you their mp3's online so you'll come see the shows.

    No artist has ever made a cent off record sales, they make it from CONCERTS. So stop feeding the beast, and feed the artists. Go see something local, buy the Tshirt and CD at the concert if you must.

    Stop all your damn whining about how people get mad when you steal their shit. You have two options, but you have to vote by spending your money. Stealing or bitching about it are both not voting at all.

  • The next letter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by diabolus_in_america (159981) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @10:39PM (#5311687) Journal
    This letter, in my opinion, is simply the calm before the storm. The RIAA and MPAA are really after the home user, specifically the home user with a broadband connection.

    But, how do they get at the home user? Instead of targeting them initially, it appears that their strategy is to set the stage with a series of meaningless letters to Fortune 1000 companies.

    Why are they meaningless? Simply, most Fortune 1000 companies already have policies in place against downloading files, viewing adult material and even surfing that is not work-related. My company is nowhere close to the Fortune 1000, but we have policies like these in place and have for some time.

    What the RIAA and the MPAA are trying to do is to create a climate where it will be viewed as appropriate to target the home user *next*. Once this letter and memo has been distributed to Fortune 1000 companies, the RIAA and MPAA will in effect have created a precedent that logically extends from the workplace into the home.

    They are sneaky, and they seem to realize that they need to be careful about targetting home users; after all, the home broadband user is also a key revenue source for both of them. They realize this. I just hope the American public wakes up to the devious nature of these two organizations before the real war against the broadband user begins.
  • Freenet -- (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bonker (243350) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @10:46PM (#5311726)
    As long as the Freenet project continues distribute its main download in the form of a Java class and not platform specific binaries, it will *never* work well enough to be useful to people in the same manner that Kazaa, or even Gnutella are.

    You can whine and kvetch all day long about how wondeful are, but the simple fact of the matter is that the fact that you have to install a virtual machine [freenetproject.org] to run Freenet makes it useful only to people who understand how to install a virtual machine.

    There are ways to compile Java to platform-specific binaries that don't require a virtual machine to run. The freenet project should make binaries like this available for download for PC and Macintosh. Doing otherwise is shooting themselves in the foot for the sake of shooting themselves in the foot.
  • by Nugget (7382) <nugget@distributed.net> on Saturday February 15, 2003 @10:50PM (#5311745) Homepage
    Would you stop the guy outside from taking a picture of your car?

    Would you try to stop Microsoft from using GPL'd code in a closed-source product? After all, if someone uses GPL'd code in a closed-source product it's just a copy.
  • by jellybear (96058) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @11:31PM (#5311977)
    There would be no problem in Microsoft taking GPL code and putting it in their software. The problem would be with Microsoft taking GPL code, putting it in their software, and then suing others for copyright infringement if THEY copy Microsoft's software containing the GPL code.

    The point of GPL is to say, yes, you can copy my code, and then others will copy yours as well.
  • Re:at work? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2003 @11:43PM (#5312043)
    Actually, at my job, we need to test a lot of stuff. Sometimes a customer will use something odd at his site and complain that it's doing weird stuff to our software. The amount of time and effort it would take me personally to somehow effect a change in our company to convince them to shell out money to legitimately buy a license for a copy of that third party software that I need to reproduce the problem the customer is having at their site is so enormous that I would be chastised and harpooned for not solving the problem long before the actual resources to solve the problem arrived.

    Often, a quick P2P download of a pirated version of the software the customer is using gives me what I need to reproduce the problem for them and fix it in about one five-thousandth of the time it would have taken to go through corporate bullshit.

    Not to mention, work is where I get all the cool wares from my employer, co-workers and various other people.
  • Re:The next letter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danoatvulaw (625376) on Sunday February 16, 2003 @12:33AM (#5312266)
    While your thought is admirable, I have to go ahead and disagree with you. I understand that the home user is the one who typically downloads more then the office user, and that they pose more of an infringer. But from a cost/benefit analysis standpoint alone, they would never start filing suit against more then a handful of home users. Litigation is expensive as hell, and they would have to sue millions of people to make it worth while. Not to mention that they'd be suing a bunch of judgment proof individuals. The real money they hope to get is from the corps for contributory/vicarious copyright infringement - they have the deep pockets. If they are just doing this as a scare tactic, then it might be an effective way to get the average person to stop trading mp3's for fear of liability, but to actually follow it through on a large scale would be completely cost ineffective in the long run....
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday February 16, 2003 @01:25AM (#5312449)
    Well first, they have gone after some universities but second, universities can be a much tougher target. The large ones have lots of lawyers and many are state schools, ie the government. Also there is the whole academic freedom thing and teh concept of not putting up general restrictions. The "common carrier" defense would probably work at this point and that is NOT something the RIAA wants tested in court. It would be rather bad for them to have case law backing that ISPs were common carriers just like the telcos. At this point, if they e-mail with a specific violation, that erson will get their access terminated just like someone on an ISP. If they tried this and lost people might just give them the finger on the common carrier grounds and tell them to go prosecute the person responsable.

    It's much easier to tell a bussiness they should restrict P2P since they tend to have plenty of restriction on their network anyhow.
  • Re:Freenet -- (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jrockway (229604) <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Sunday February 16, 2003 @01:48AM (#5312541) Homepage Journal
    Uh, isn't Limewire Java? It sure is on my machine! :)

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