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RIAA Targets New Colleges, Still Avoids Harvard 159

Posted by Zonk
from the back-up-off-of-the-uw-if-you-don't-mind dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Billboard reports that the RIAA has filed its eighth round of 'early settlement' letters to twenty-two colleges. Continuing its practice of avoiding Harvard, the RIAA's new round does not include any letters to that institution, where certain law professors have counseled resistance to the RIAA and told the RIAA to 'take a hike'. The unlucky institutions on the receiving end of the 403 new letters include Arizona State University (35 pre-litigation settlement letters), Carnegie Mellon University (13), Cornell University (19), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (30), Michigan State University (16), North Dakota State University (17), Purdue University — West Lafayette and Calumet campuses (49), University of California — Santa Barbara (13), University of Connecticut (17), University of Maryland — College Park (23), University of Massachusetts — Amherst and Boston campuses (52), University of Nebraska — Lincoln (13), University of Pennsylvania (31), University of Pittsburgh (14), University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, Stevens Point, Stout and Whitewater campuses (62)."
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RIAA Targets New Colleges, Still Avoids Harvard

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  • 403 Error: (Score:5, Funny)

    by creativeHavoc (1052138) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:36PM (#20713155) Homepage

    403 new letters
    I accidently associated the 403 letters with the 403 error, and thought it was some geeky way of describing them, haha. 403 letter: Forbidden You may not download our musics!
    • by budgenator (254554) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @03:56PM (#20713809) Journal
      Now it is, this will forever be apart of geek lore like the 419 scams, in Korea jokes, in Soviet Russia jokes, goatse.cx and most of all the Cowboy Neal option.

      I guess now every nerd will be sending the MafIAA a 404 reply letter saying sorry resource not found, go blow smoke up somebody Else's ass because it wasn't me.
    • Whoah, some of the other replies to your post are venomous, what is wrong with these people?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:37PM (#20713157)

    Cornell University (19), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (30), Michigan State University (16)
    They should be careful. Didn't they hear that MIT students are Fearless [slashdot.org], bomb-wielding [slashdot.org], genetic-mutant creating [slashdot.org] hacking [slashdot.org] terrorists?
  • by mind21_98 (18647) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:37PM (#20713163) Homepage Journal
    If the RIAA really had a case, they'd talk to kids from Harvard too. And since the Harvard kids were told to say no, the RIAA could sue the Harvard kids to oblivion. This only means one thing: the RIAA letters are extortion, plain and simple.
    • Duh! Everyone knows this. It is just that most people have second thoughts when they are facing the dripping fang vampire all alone. Harvard just let the students know they would not be alone. The other schools are willing to throw the students under a bus. Not surprising, really...
      • Duh! Everyone knows this. It is just that most people have second thoughts when they are facing the dripping fang vampire all alone. Harvard just let the students know they would not be alone. The other schools are willing to throw the students under a bus. Not surprising, really...
        One interesting note on that point is that the Chairman of the Computer Science Department at Boston University is acting as an expert witness on behalf of the students [blogspot.com].
        • by pikine (771084)
          Is that why he's no longer the chairman? I don't know if it's official yet, but compare this [bu.edu] with that [bu.edu].
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Daffy Duck (17350)
            Chairmanship of a department is not an honor (at least in an engineering field). It's typically passed around as a hot potato (haven't been chairman yet? you're next!) because it's a huge time drain and a distraction from the research the faculty want to do. I expect his shift was just over.
            • by Bobartig (61456)
              This depends on the department, but "mathy/sciency" departments tend to have non-honorific/rotating chair positions amongst senior professors.

              At my undergraduate school, the math chair rotated in a nonsensical fashion. The physics department chair went to whoever wanted to be involved in school administration, and was more stable as a result.
      • >It is just that most people have second thoughts when they are facing the dripping fang vampire all alone.

        Agreed. Where is the legal defense fund for these guys?

        Personally, I won't buy CDs not because I am cheap, but because I don't want to support corrupt dinosaur industries acting in such immoral ways towards consumers. I would gladly pay a few dollars of the hundreds and hundreds I've saved by downloading music to an organization that would give the students involved legal advice, and eventually figh
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2007 @03:15PM (#20713459)
      Following a shipwreck a lawyer, priest, and newspaper reporter were stuck in a raft close to shore, but in waters clearly infested by sharks. After many hours of miserable huddling the lawyer screamed "I can't take it any more!", dove into the water and swam towards shore. The others shouted protests, but to everyone's surprise the sharks parted and let the man swim safely to land.

      "It's a miracle!" exclaimed the priest.

      "No... professional courtesy", explained the journalist.

      And that also explains why the RIAA isn't going after the Harvard kids.
      • And that also explains why the RIAA isn't going after the Harvard kids.

        It would be interesting to know how many of the RIAA lawyers have their law degrees from Harvard? Perhaps they are avoiding Harvard because they do not wish to become persona non grata at their own alma mater? Where do their own children (yes even Dr. Evil and lawyers have children) attend university? Perhaps Harvard is a popular choice among the rich lawyer with children set (and Harvard might be more inclined to mysteriously deny j
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What's the alternative? That RIAA is prejudiced against Harvard? Not likely. When you have a trademark, you can't make the decisions about who you enforce it against. You have to treat all cases without prejudice and enforce it across the board. Why is it not the case here?
      • by Frank Battaglia (787673) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @03:34PM (#20713613)
        For starters, it's different here because Copyright and Trademark law are completely different, with different justifications and goals.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by fishbowl (7759)
        >When you have a trademark, you can't make the decisions about who you enforce it against.

        Of course you can. You're confusing doctrines related to defenses, with obligations.
        There's not a word in the law that supports your exaggerated view on trademark enforcement.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Copyright infringement suits can be filed against any alleged perpetrator in any fashion. They don't have to do it evenly. In fact, it's impossible for the RIAA to even sue all file-sharers, as there are dozens of millions.

        To answer your main question, the reason they're not hitting Harvard is because Harvard's cyber law guys are willing to stand up for the students [harvard.edu]. Specifically, they oppose the idea of serving as the "unpaid enforcement arm of the provincial interests of the RIAA". While not anti-cop
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BakaHoushi (786009)
          Or, to sum up your post a little better, the RIAA only goes after people who can't fight back.
          The RIAA likes to take candy from babies, but avoids the ones with guard dogs.
    • by budgenator (254554) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @04:01PM (#20713847) Journal
      Maybe potential law students would be wise to consider which school's the RIAA consider's easy pickings and which ones are untouchable when sending out applications.
    • This only means one thing: the RIAA letters are extortion, plain and simple.

      Piracy being such a large, widespread, and hard-to-quash problem, the RIAA can't really afford to invest big money into big suits. If they start spending large amounts of money on individual cases, and the risk of losing becomes too high, it will no longer be worth their while to sue. That would be problematic, because without their resistance to piracy, piracy itself would just snowball as people realise nothing is stopping them. T

  • On way... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eggoeater (704775) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:38PM (#20713165) Journal
    This wouldn't exactly do the torrent community any favors, but if I were running a torrent client from a campus LAN, I'd block inbound connections from IPs not on my campus. If they cant see me sharing, they cant sue me.

    Kinda find it interesting that one of the best law schools in the country isn't receiving these threats.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Just because *they* can't directly see you violate copyright, doesn't mean other people can't report you. I'm sure the RIAA/MPAA isn't below hiring a bunch of 'snitches' or setting up 'snitch' lines to report ANti-American behaviour. Respecting copyright is the American way, sharing is communism!
      • by PlatyPaul (690601)
        Sadly true. I attended Purdue myself and (years before the RIAA started mailing out these letters) knew several people who had received notices that they must cease and desist or face the possibility of not graduating. To support this effort, certain parties [sony.com] would periodically identify Purdue IP addresses on common sharing grounds (i.e., Kazaa) and notify the school. To their credit, the official use policy of on-campus internet included a "I will not pirate" paragraph, and the administration only seemed
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Music and movies are being traded on Freenet under a 'culture freedom' movement. You shouldn't be able to be caught if you don't want to be, it's all a matter of your risk tolerance.
    • by morcego (260031)
      If you call that "culture"...
    • You shouldn't be able to be caught if you don't want to be, it's all a matter of your risk tolerance.

      My risk tolerance is quite low. I've never lost the lottery, or received a settlement letter. Both for the same reason. I didn't play.

      The RIAA has played. I find less new music. I find more and more CD's infected. I find more incompatible file formats, most with defective by design DRM. They blame the lost sales on Piracy. They are wrong. The legal product is broken and overpriced.

      Instead of fixing
      • My risk tolerance is quite low. I've never lost the lottery, or received a settlement letter. Both for the same reason. I didn't play.

        Oh, don't think that'll stop 'em. There have been plenty of cases of the RIAA sending letters to people who've never violated their copyrights.

        • There have been plenty of cases of the RIAA sending letters to people who've never violated their copyrights.

          And after they found I have a P-P program installed "Bittorrent" and the files downloaded is Ubuntu and such. I also use filtered DNS which happens to block The Pirate Bay and other locations. (Link from Slashdot to an article hosted there showed up as blocked) I have BitTorrent because it is as much of Ubuntu as Windows Update is part of Windows. I attempted to un-install it once, but there was
  • More Absurdity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anarking (34854) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:44PM (#20713207) Homepage
    UMASS Boston doesn't even have dormitories, so how do they expect to be targeting specific students?! These blanket accusations to "set examples" and try to deter file sharing is absolutely despicable, and more colleges need to take hints from Harvard and not be intimidated by baseless claims that are already crumbling in the courts. All colleges that don't stand by their students and hand them over to the pack of lying dogs at the RIAA are complacent with the same absurdities and the students ought to wonder what they've been paying for at their respective colleges. The insanity continues, Fight the RIAA, Fight for your Rights!
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      All colleges that don't stand by their students and hand them over to the pack of lying dogs at the RIAA are complacent with the same absurdities and the students ought to wonder what they've been paying for at their respective colleges

      I was under the understanding the students were paying for a college education, not a safe harbor to commit copyright infringement. So I don't see what the cost of attendance at a school has to do with RIAA lawsuits. Why should students be subject to any more protection than

    • by sco08y (615665)
      All colleges that don't stand by their students...

      What colleges *do* stand by their students nowadays? They've been extorting vast sums of money from them for a while now, and they treat them like children, they take away their right to defend themselves and they let cheating run rampant. Granted, I'm disgruntled, it was frustrating and lonely finishing my degree, but I hardly think my situation was unusual. "Alma mater" my ass.
  • Perfect picks. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RobertM1968 (951074) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:45PM (#20713211) Homepage Journal

    Wonderfully, it seems the RIAA is picking a bunch of colleges with both the money and the staff to assist in defending their students. With other colleges already taking similar stances, I expect that many of the current round will do so as well. Thus, I expect the RIAA to soon learn that this method is fraught with enough reasons to ensure they fail.

    My only worry is their attempts at creating circumstances and/or laws that "coerce" the colleges to give up their (possibly) innocent (or not) students without due process.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by krayzk9s (993828)
      I go to the University of Pittsburgh, and they want no part of getting in the way. If the RIAA files a notice the University will tell them whose IP it belongs to and even assist them.
    • by jo7hs2 (884069)
      Plus, they've decided to pick out quite a few public institutions of higher learning, who will bring to bear their considerably larger legal resources, being both entities of the state AND members of large university systems. On a side note, I was wondering what took so long to get the University of Maryland on there. Um, Go Terps?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      In the case of Carnegie Mellon in particular, I remember the policy being that CMU will pass the information requested by the RIAA right through to them, and has explicitly told its student body that it will not shield them from investigation and prosecution. I wonder if these institutions were cherry-picked for having such policies. Can anyone comment on (a) whether CMU's policy is unchanged, and (b) whether the other schools operate to a similar strategy?
      • In the case of Carnegie Mellon in particular, I remember the policy being that CMU will pass the information requested by the RIAA right through to them, and has explicitly told its student body that it will not shield them from investigation and prosecution. I wonder if these institutions were cherry-picked for having such policies. Can anyone comment on (a) whether CMU's policy is unchanged, and (b) whether the other schools operate to a similar strategy?

        I think it is time colleges (like CMU)understand that "not shield(ing) them (the students) from investigation and prosecution" is far different to caving in to requests that the colleges have no legal requirement to fulfill. The colleges should be forcing the RIAA to follow the law - to the letter - and then after that (or during that process) fulfill their (the colleges) obligations under the law.

        Just my one cent on the matter - that I wish the colleges (and every other OSP/ISP) would consider. I'll le

    • Wonderfully, it seems the RIAA is picking a bunch of colleges with both the money and the staff to assist in defending their students.
      Unfortunately, it has been my experience that universities have money for everything except the students. (Yes, I attend one of the universities in the notice.)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by safXmal (929533)
        Don't worry. The university will start protecting you the moment a son or daughter of a big donor shows up on the list. That shouldn't take too long before it happens.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Granted, I haven't read the fine print on OIT's position, but based on their ads on the busses and what's been run in the Diamondback (school paper), the University of Maryland will be doing absolutely no assistance for students whatsoever.

      This is good for the institution overall because we already don't have any money left over, but OIT has been warning students for quite some time that they're not invincible or invisible, and it's only a matter of time before someone gets upset at them.

      Looks like th
  • by Oktober Sunset (838224) <sdpage103@nOspam.yahoo.co.uk> on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:50PM (#20713247)
    If The RIAA were an ice cream flavor, they'd be pralines and dick.
    • by dkf (304284)

      If The RIAA were an ice cream flavor, they'd be pralines and dick.
      Yes, but without the pralines.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:50PM (#20713249)
    ...that the RIAA is run by Harvard grads.

    Figures, corrupt lawyers and all...
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:51PM (#20713255)
    Harvard professors receive 22 requests for counsel about 403 RIAA letters ...
  • How to beat the RIAA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kimvette (919543) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:58PM (#20713319) Homepage Journal
    * Don't listen to artists from member labels. Well, at least not new artists
    * Don't buy their product. If you MUST buy, find a way to buy directly from the artist, or download artist-authorized bootlegs and send your money to the artist.
    * Don't download RIAA product. Downloads only help them to justify their whining.
  • by rbabb (134729) <`ten.bbabr' `ta' `bbabr'> on Saturday September 22, 2007 @02:58PM (#20713323) Homepage
    If Harvard's professors really do have a valid defense that is intimidating the RIAA from suing them, they should do some pro-bono work for the other schools that ARE getting sued! Help out your fellow institutions for the betterment of everyone!
    • If Harvard's professors really do have a valid defense that is intimidating the RIAA from suing them, they should do some pro-bono work for the other schools that ARE getting sued! Help out your fellow institutions for the betterment of everyone!

      One would think that Harvard's position on this would hold some weight with other schools, who seem only too willing to fold. If schools as a group got together at put up a common front to the RIAA, either the RIAA would back off, or there could be a single test ca

  • Bullies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomz16 (992375) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @03:05PM (#20713377)
    Perfect life lessons in this one...

    - Bullies won't go after you if they are afraid that there's a chance of getting their nose bloodied.
    - Don't have to run faster than the bear... just faster than the slowest guy running from the bear.

    Harvard students are excluded from these notifications, not because of their innocence, but because of the fact that there are literally thousands of easier targets to go after that have no chance of fighting back!

  • by neapolitan (1100101) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @03:07PM (#20713403)
    I went to Harvard for college...

    http://www.thecrimson.com/archives.aspx?SearchTerms=RIAA&SortField=0&PageSize=10&News=1&Opinion=2&Sports=3&Magazine=5&Arts=4 [thecrimson.com]

    I hope the Crimson's servers stand up.

    The RIAA frequently targeted students individually, and AFAIK continues threatening letters occasionally to individual students if they can figure out who you are. As you can see from the Crimson archives there was some pushback from the law school profs.

    Back in the late 90's, your (fixed, non-DHCP) undergraduate IP at Harvard mapped to username.person.harvard.edu or something like that, making it trivially easy to see who was where, and you would 'magically' get spam for visiting websites, as your email was username@fas.harvard.edu. This was changed around '99 or so, now it is a roamXXX.student.harvard.edu I believe, and DHCP'd to a real IP address. This helps protect anonymity and individual student's activity, and Harvard does not give out the mapping to individual students.

    Harvard internally sends curious emails reporting "excessive bandwidth" use to us, which also still continues AFAIK. Several of my friends received these, we think it was in the neighborhood of > 10 GB per day use. They basically said to quit it, or we might look further as to what you are doing, or bring you in front of a disciplinary committee. This was back in the days of i2hub (remember this?), and most of my friends just throttled their bandwidth with no further problems -- very scared of the hassle of defending yourself even if it is "legit" activity.
  • Mickey Mouse... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @03:16PM (#20713463)
    The day I can use Mickey Mouse in my own work is the day I give a damn about the RIAA's "losses".
    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @03:39PM (#20713653)

      The day I can use Mickey Mouse in my own work is the day I give a damn about the RIAA's "losses".

      This is a very wise, if obscure to many, comment that copyright law has been so skewed towards the big corporations that civil disobedience is more than justified. Study the history of copyrights and you'll understand why the Founders of the USA democracy specified that secure for a limited time was part of the United States Constitution. Unfortunately, Congress (Republicans), the President (Clinton), and most of all, the Supreme Court of the United States have totally let us down on this issue over the last decade. The RIAA is now hard at work to steal back what little of the Public Domain still remains.

      At the very minimum, DRM should be legally required to expire on the day that the copyright for the work it's protecting expires!

      • by eean (177028)
        I'm sure the computers 70 years in the future will have no problem dealing with whatever "DRM" we put on our stuff now.

        Granted eventually Moore's Law will end and that principal will no longer be true. Hopefully the charade of DRM will be over by then though...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chandon Seldon (43083)

          I'm sure the computers 70 years in the future will have no problem dealing with whatever "DRM" we put on our stuff now. Granted eventually Moore's Law will end and that principal will no longer be true.

          The evidence strongly implies that Moore's law will end long before it becomes feasible to crack AES (and therefore AACS) by brute force. DRM is a social problem that should be dealt with - ignoring the problem because you think that it will magically get fixed in the future would be a very bad decision.

          • by eean (177028)
            Nah, we'll have quantum computers that can zoom through any encryption we come up with today. :)
            • Nah, we'll have quantum computers that can zoom through any encryption we come up with today. :)

              Contrary to the reports from some sensationalist tech journalists, quantum computers don't magically obsolete today's encryption algorithms. Take a look at the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] for details. To summarize, for algorithms like AES, a quantum computer may be able to attack keys as much as twice as long as the keys that a classical computer can attack - margins of error that large are built into many systems that us

    • by stubear (130454)
      Copyrights on Steamboat Willie could expire tomorrow but you'd still need to obtain permission to use a trademarked character. The best you'll ever be able to do is distribute out of copyright Disney films. Also, even if the copyright on Steamboat Willie expired tomorrow and Mickey Mouse was not a trademark, the only depiction you would be allowed to use would be the Steamboat Willie version of Mickey Mouse, not the Red trouser, yellow-button wearing Mickey Mouse we all know and love.
    • by rs79 (71822)
      "The day I can use Mickey Mouse in my own work is the day I give a damn about the RIAA's "losses"."

      Nice. Kudos.

      I'd be happy if in this lifetime I was able to download all the music I had but lost because they wore out or lost in the past 3 and a half deacdes of paying for the same music sometimes up to 4 or 5 times over for the same work.
  • side bar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jahz (831343) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @08:50PM (#20715955) Homepage Journal
    I've seen numerous high rated posts on to this article with comments about how universities are failing to protect their students from the RIAA. As a general statement, I disagree with that assessment. Read before replying... As a recent grad from a major university in Boston, I can attest that universities are not charged with protecting or providing legal assistance for their students. In fact, pretty much any news story that I see about a student or group of students breaking the law includes expulsion of the students involved. The exception is that minor drug and alcohol offenses are treated as addictions and resolved with some form of mandatory counseling. Sometimes students are expelled for being arrested off campus (nearby)! Universities largely take a cut-and-run approach to problem students. So, the way they are acting with the RIAA is NOT a surprise at all.

    When a college passes a RIAA extortion letter to a student that they believe is the intended recipient, the college has done nothing wrong. In fact, I think it would be a liability to not pass the information along. I know that I would never want my university to act as a legal threat filter on my behalf because in the end, it isn't the university being held responsible, its me! The bottom line is that everybody who receives a threatening letter - be it legal or other - should consult with a lawyer and respond appropriately.

    Many of the posts did recognize the *real* problem with some of these institutions: unethical cooperation with RIAA. Providing *any* information about a student, whether that information be an IP address, mailing address or name should be illegal. I know that recent laws have made it impossible for even my parents to access my student records and GPA without my express permission (which I have given :-) ). It should be the same for every other bit of personal information I have on record with my university. Every school that receives a bunch of these letters should have their legal counsel reply with another letter stating something like:

    "This school acts as a neutral internet service provider. The intended recipients/users have been notified. It is up to them to respond individually. If you require any additional information, please obtain a court-ordered subpoena."

    So for now, the real problem seems to be that many schools lack a fair and effective internet/data privacy policy.
    • .. if that's a given it puts any school who actively collaborates with the RIAA in violation of privacy laws. Now that's going to be fun, and that's without the fact that most of the RIAA's methodology and so-called "evidence" has suffered some serious dents.

      They almost make me deliberately start copying just for the hell of it. Nveer felt like that before..
    • Re:side bar (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray AT beckermanlegal DOT com> on Sunday September 23, 2007 @12:03AM (#20716847) Homepage Journal

      As a recent grad from a major university in Boston, I can attest that universities are not charged with protecting or providing legal assistance for their students.
      Yes but they should not be jeopardizing and destroying their students' due process rights, either, as many of them are doing. This [blogspot.com] is what they should be, and in my view are legally obligated to be, doing.
  • .. I mean, if this [bbc.co.uk] is anything to go by.

    Stupid idiots.
  • ...for a court where this is settled with prejudice.

    But that's too much to hope for...

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