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A Look at The RIAA's War Against College Students 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the tomb-of-the-anonymous-peer dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "p2pnet.net has put together a fascinating retrospective on the RIAA's war against college students, commenced February 28, 2007. The campaign is described as one to 'force "consumers" to buy what they're told to buy — corporate "content," as the Big 4 call their formulaic outpourings.' In a scathing indictment not only of the major record labels, but of those schools, administrators, and educators who have yet to take a stand against it, Jon Newton reviews a number of landmark moments in the 11-month old 'reign of terror'. They include the announcement of the bizarre 'early settlement' sale, the sudden withdrawal of a case in which a 17 year old Texas high school student had been subpoenaed while in class during school hours to attend a deposition the very next day during his taking of a standardized test, the call by Harvard law professors for the university to fight back when and if attacked, and the differing reactions by other schools."
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A Look at The RIAA's War Against College Students

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  • when will common sense prevail?

    when will the courts realize that big business is assaulting citizens.

    why can't anonymous declare war on the RIAA, they are a far bigger threat to society than Scientology.

    "steal, steal, give it to all your friends, and steal some more...they're ripping people off and its not right" - Trent Reznor
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=TJ5iHaV0dP4 [youtube.com]
    • Re:when (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @01:57PM (#22283272) Homepage
      This coming from the same guy who complained [news.com] that only 1 in 5 people who downloaded Saul William's album, which he produced, chose to pay for it. I find that to be a pretty good ratio considering they didn't even offer a way to sample the album without downloading the entire thing.
      • Re:when (Score:4, Insightful)

        by multisync (218450) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @03:29PM (#22284054) Journal

        I find that to be a pretty good ratio


        I must say, he really swings from one extreme - "steal, steal ... and steal some more" - to the other - ISP tax to do things normally covered by Fair Use. How bout we meet somewhere in the middle, Trent?

        These guys made $140,000 in three months. If they used opportunities like the interview you linked to put out a positive message, those numbers could grow, maybe to the point where they could "cover the costs and perhaps make a living doing it." Hell, they could even partner with one of those evil record labels at a later data and release a physical CD ala In Rainbows.

        Whining to interviewers that four fifths of the people who downloaded the album you put on your website "stole" it and proposing to tax everyone - even those who don't listen to pop music - doesn't entice me to buy - or steal - his album.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          I find that to be a pretty good ratio

          I must say, he really swings from one extreme - "steal, steal ... and steal some more" - to the other - ISP tax to do things normally covered by Fair Use. How bout we meet somewhere in the middle, Trent?

          Trent never said he supported an ISP tax:

          "I left the conversation thinking I'd cleared up the misconception that I thought the entire release of "niggytardust" was a failure. Well, it appears the story was written before I was involved, and I woke up the next day to find out I'm a supporter of an ISP tax. Thanks, CNET."

          From http://www.nin.com/index.html#2882965178223012038 [nin.com]

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by multisync (218450)

            Trent never said he supported an ISP tax

            Well, here's what the blog CastrTroy linked to has to say on that:

            More than a week after this story was published, Trent Reznor accused CNET News.com of misquoting him about the issue of a music tax on ISPs. We have posted an audio excerpt of the Reznor interview here. For the sake of full disclosure, we have also updated this story to include the text of what he said following his remarks about the ISP tax.

            And here's the relevent quote, again according to the blog:

            Fo

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by hairyfeet (841228)
              Which is why I think it could work,if not done by greedy cartels who will take the money and sue anyway. I would prefer it to be done this way---Say to the public "Hey,you want to download all the tunes you want? Pay $5 a month and it's yours legally. Don't and risk being sued". That way those that want can have and those that don't don't need to pay for something they don't use. I would love it if they had the same for videos of tv shows,games over,say three years old,and slightly older software. That way
              • by iamwahoo2 (594922)
                I want to know how the revenues from the tax are fairly divided up. Does it just go to the big labels? How does it work in Canada with the CD tax?
      • by kklein (900361)

        I am a HUGE NIN fan. Huge. Like most NIN fans, I'm getting older, but even so, I still try to hit at least one show per tour (usually more), and have basically everything Trent has done.

        But here's the thing. NIN is a well-known, well-loved band with a rabid fanbase. Would I pay $5 for a new NIN album? Yes yes yes. Probably more as a "tip" for all the years of what I consider great and powerful and beautiful music. I'm excited to see what he does with his new unsigned status.

        This does not extend to

    • Re:when (Score:5, Funny)

      by davecarlotub (835831) * on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:31PM (#22283532) Journal
      "why can't anonymous declare war on the RIAA, they are a far bigger threat to society than Scientology."

      Scientologists get angry, real angry. makes for better lulz. as they say...
  • $$$ is King (Score:5, Interesting)

    by robinsonne (952701) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @01:33PM (#22283088)
    More and more, corporate America has been ready and willing to screw over the "consumer" in order to make more money. The media industry's stranglehold on their particular market is a stockholder's dream come true.

    As long as people are willing to shell out the $$ for the crap they keep shoveling out, not much is going to change.
    • Stranglehold? (Score:5, Informative)

      by RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:52PM (#22283724) Homepage Journal
      The media and entertainment companies' stranglehold on a dying business model is hardly a stockholders' dream.

      Warner Music (WMG) stock, 2006: ~$30, Today, ~$8.00; DreamWorks SKG (DWA), 2005: ~$40, Today, ~$25; CBS Broadcasting (CBS) 2000: ~$45, Today: ~$25.

      The market conditions surrounding the film, music and broadcasting industries are incredibly volatile right now. I'll grant you that they're pursuing mostly counterproductive strategies in their efforts to stabilize themselves, and DRM + consumer abuse is hardly helping matters. Still in all, mere perception that (Is Media Corporation) == (Rolling in Money and Laughing Maniacally) is a gratifying mental image, but it isn't exactly the case.
      • Warner Music (WMG) stock, 2006: ~$30, Today, ~$8.00 , Total Revenue 3,385.00, Gross Profit 1,562.00 In millions of USD);
        DreamWorks SKG (DWA), 2005: ~$40, Today, ~$25, Total Revenue 394.84, Gross Profit 77.71 (In millions of USD);
        Sony (SNE) Total Revenue 77,989.00 Gross Profit 16,564.27 (In millions of USD);
        Vivendi (Public, EPA:VIV) Net Profit Margin 25.91%
        EMI Group plc Total Revenue 1,808.30 (US$3,599M), Gross Profit 738.50 (US$ 1,469.83M)
        For balance,
        Exxon Mobil Corporation (Public, NYSE:XOM) Total
    • by canuck57 (662392)

      As long as people are willing to shell out the $$ for the crap they keep shoveling out, not much is going to change.

      Haven't bought a single CD or DVD since Sony/BMG put that root kit thing out. Not a one. Not going to either until this fix the problems in this industry. My form of protest to the way the music industry is treating their customers like criminals.

      • by penix1 (722987)
        It's all well and good to protest in this fashion and I applaud you for it. The problem is your protest is a drop in the bucket. Boycotts always have been since it would take a mass boycott with everyone on the planet participating for a very long time to be effective. Even if you were able to achieve that, any loss would simply be blamed on the "big bad pirates".

        I'm not saying that your boycott isn't doing any good since obviously you feel better for it. Just don't expect Sony to come knocking on your door
        • by canuck57 (662392)

          I'm not saying that your boycott isn't doing any good since obviously you feel better for it. Just don't expect Sony to come knocking on your door begging for you to stop your boycott because it is so hurting their bottom line...

          Oh, it is, perhaps only by a little bit. Used to buy Sony PCs and Sony cameras. Last PC was HP and the last camera was Canon. Walk by Sony all the time now. Don't miss them either. Spreading the word too. Maybe not a lot, but I know I am not feeding the RIAA/DRm/Rootkit machin

    • On an unrelated note, there has been quite a turbulence here in Hong Kong which basically shattered my last hopes in a fair and just legal system. It seems that the only conclusion here is that $ is king too.

      A (rather unsatisfactory) link here http://batgwa.com/story.php?id=556 [batgwa.com] . Western media coverage has been scarce AFAIK.

      I don't know how things are in the US of A, but what the police has done here is arresting unrelated people (the guy arrested was OBVIOUSLY just a random internet guy, and OBVIOUSLY he w
    • Your off topic, we're talking about the RIAA not American Corp's. Warner is the closets to being an "American corporation" and they're CEOed by a Canadian. Sony is Japanese, EMI is British, Vivendi Universal is French. It pisses me off that every multi-national infested with predatory scumbags is automagicaly American.
    • Re:If $$$ is King (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283)
      If $$$ were king, they would figure out what the consumer wants and provide huge archives of back catalog at cheap prices and people would flock to the offerings for stuff their 30 to 60 Gig media players. How many people hit the national average and only buy 2 CD's per year? Their fight to keep the ASP high has killed the sales as much as anything. There is competition for the entertainment dollar. An upgrade to broadband, better car, bigger house, new flat screen, etc are replacing the CD's as a consu
  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @01:38PM (#22283124) Homepage
    The world is starting to look more and more like the world of Max Headroom [maxheadroom.com].

    So it seems like the controversy if the rights to the TV series may actually be a facade that's used to avoid citizens to be too well-informed about the dark future that lies ahead.

    • At the time, I thought that the Max Headroom future was rather unbelievable (even though I enjoyed the show immensely) but after twenty years I've come to realize that it was, in fact, prophetic.
  • Death throes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HW_Hack (1031622)
    A large predatory animal can be quite dangerous once wounded (by lack of CD sales) and will attack anything
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The RIAA/MPAA morons haven't figured out that attacking the teens and young adults of today is the same as attacking the older adults of tomorrow. And those older adults will remember how they were treated and some will become politicians. "Death throes" is right on target.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ilikepi314 (1217898)
        That's too far in the future for them to even fathom. The whole reason they're doing this is they want profits NOW. No delayed gratification, they want to be rich right now.

        These organizations may not survive another generation if they keep bullying the younger kids, but it won't matter to current CEOs at all; by then, they'll be rich and retired and possibly even already passed away. It largely won't impact them if we aren't going to do anything about it for 20 years, so why should they care? They're getti
      • by CSMatt (1175471)
        Except that there are, believe it or not, teens and young adults that actually side with the RIAA and their lawsuits. How do we know that it won't be these people who will be running the world?
    • A large predatory animal can be quite dangerous once wounded (by lack of CD sales) and will attack anything

      By the same token, when a large predatory animal starts being a threat where they were a member of society, they find the community no longer will do business with him and only has a party when he is dead.

      He hasn't yet figured this out to fix lagging CD sales. Some of the labels are figuring it out. The RIAA radar is a hint for some.

      http://www.riaaradar.com/ [riaaradar.com]

      Being listed here is a bad dent in sales.
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        That has lot of errors though... I just looked up an independent artist I know of and it listed one of his albums as published by the RIAA which is just plain wrong.. he hates record companies, after a brief fling with them about 10 years ago, and so publishes under his own label (and does quite well in fact).
  • Incoherent article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @01:44PM (#22283176) Homepage Journal
    "The campaign is described as one to 'force "consumers" to buy what they're told to buy -- corporate "content," as the Big 4 call their formulaic outpourings.' "

    If it's really crap like you say, is it really worth listening to at all? Why even download it "for free" if you think it's crap? It just sounds like a sad excuse to download. There are alternatives to "Big 4" music, unfortunately, sometimes the anti-RIAA crowds neglect to mention them.
    • by eiapoce (1049910) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:05PM (#22283348)

      There are alternatives to "Big 4" music, unfortunately, sometimes the anti-RIAA crowds neglect to mention them.
      Here you go: http://blue.jamendo.com/ [jamendo.com] free, legal and... sounds better.
    • by Znork (31774)
      If it's really crap like you say, is it really worth listening to at all?

      To a large extent it isn't. Compare the lists at user fed sites like last.fm with billboard lists; the overlap is not particularly impressive. Apparently the RIAA labels have yet to go payola on last.fm's ass. Perhaps they'll catch up eventually and screw those listings too, but as yet they only seem to influence them indirectly through other channel payola.

      Why even download it "for free" if you think it's crap?

      Well, apparently people
  • by Mike1024 (184871) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @01:46PM (#22283180)

    The campaign is described as one to 'force "consumers" to buy what they're told to buy -- corporate "content," as the Big 4 call their formulaic outpourings.' In a scathing indictment not only of the major record labels, but of those schools, administrators, and educators who have yet to take a stand against it


    The way I see it is: If the content is so terrible, don't download it. As you will not be infringing on anyone's copyright, you will not get sued.

    If the content is good enough that you want access to it, you either have to pay for it, or accept a small but nonzero chance of being sued and fined for copyright infringement.

    I also don't see that universities need to cover for students engaging in copyright infringement. If you connect to a torrent of 'Heroes' or 'House' or whatever, your IP address gets recorded, and the copyright holders subpoena the university to know what user had that IP address at that time, why does the university need to 'take a stand against it'?

    Now, I'd certainly agree that some stories on slashdot talk about inexplicably large fines being requested. And certainly innocent people who are wrongly accused should be entitled to reclaim reasonable costs for their defence. But to say students are being forced to buy record labels' music, or to say that universities have a responsibility to cover up lawbreaking by their students, doesn't really make sense to me.

    In other words I found the article less 'scathing' and more 'worded emotively'.

    Just my $0.02.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by whthat (808519)
      Problem with just say if the RIAA's content is bad don't download it is that the RIAA has a bad track record of going after suspected downloaders. Often they "catch" other peoples copyrights in their fishing expeditions. Perfect example is in your statement: Neither 'Heroes' or 'House' would fall under the RIAA, being NBC and Fox held copyrights, but the copyright laws are so mucked up that its almost impossible for even the people who study it to clear up. The other point most people forget is not all d
    • by zappepcs (820751)

      I also don't see that universities need to cover for students engaging in copyright infringement. If you connect to a torrent of 'Heroes' or 'House' or whatever, your IP address gets recorded, and the copyright holders subpoena the university to know what user had that IP address at that time, why does the university need to 'take a stand against it'?

      Now, I'd certainly agree that some stories on slashdot talk about inexplicably large fines being requested. And certainly innocent people who are wrongly accused should be entitled to reclaim reasonable costs for their defence. But to say students are being forced to buy record labels' music, or to say that universities have a responsibility to cover up lawbreaking by their students, doesn't really make sense to me.

      I think there is an important 'other' side to this argument you pose. Lets look at how music has been sold for the last... well, since the invention of the record. Music labels decide who gets publicity and attention, then funnel your desire to hear more from them through their money making machinery. To argue that they are not trying to rob the public is fatally ignorant of the situation. There has never been a competitive alternative to the music labels. They have put smaller labels out of business, and used tactics that keep MS in court all over the world.

      Radiohead and NIN are finally showing that there is an alternative, and having to butt heads with the major labels to get it to work. Is it in the public interest that such battle should be necessary? Have the record labels EVER made 50 years worth of music available to you at the ease with which it is now possible? Are they doing so now? NO, they are using every means possible to create and foster the never ending and voracious needs of music fans to buy whatever the music labels tell them is popular right now. If the music labels were so deserving of our business, why are the working so hard to fsck over their customers? Why are they not innovating?

      The fact that they are suing customers in ALL countries is absurd, completely. People have always ignored copyrights when it comes to music, yet they made how much money? What's wrong here is that people are not taking it from them anymore, and the labels are not changing with the times. Instead, they intend to litigate everyone else in the world to become little zombies in the labels idea of the ideal world.

      Get with the program, the labels are WRONG, and no amount of justification will excuse any of their behavior.

      The schools act like ISPs for the most part, and should not be held accountable more than any other ISP. period. ever.

    • by itsdapead (734413) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:16PM (#22283426)

      The way I see it is: If the content is so terrible, don't download it. As you will not be infringing on anyone's copyright, you will not get sued.

      And an innocent man has nothing to fear from the Police... Good luck with that.

      The issue is not that people who download music without paying for it should get given a lollipop and a pat on the back.

      The issue is that people who are accused of downloading music should get a fair hearing, the chance to defend themselves (mistakes do happen) and face a punishment proportionate to the "damage" done to industry and society by their "crime".

      They should not be faced with a "Hobson's choice" of "Confess, and pay this meerly ruinous fine - or defend yourself and hope your parents don't mind selling their house & one of your little sister's kidneys if you loose."

      So how much damage is done? Well, look at your CD collection: how of them are only there because, once upon a time, someone gave you a tape (remember those?) or MP3 of the artist, and when their next album came out you bought it? Hmm...

      • by Mike1024 (184871) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:37PM (#22283596)

        The issue is that people who are accused of downloading music should get a fair hearing, the chance to defend themselves (mistakes do happen) and face a punishment proportionate to the "damage" done to industry and society by their "crime".


        Well, I did say that some of the fines talked about on slashdot are inexplicably large, and that people who are wrongly accused should be entitled to reclaim reasonable costs for their defence.

        I was under the impression that you could go to court, demonstrate (through inspection by an impartial expert third party) that there was no evidence of file sharing on your computer (e.g. your MP3s are ripped from CDs, or are from iTunes, or are distributed as MP3s by the copyright holders; and you don't have KaZaA or something installed with your MP3 directory shared, your BitTorrent client has only legitimate downloads running, etc.) and you'd be let off. It should take an afternoon, and cost no more than a few hundred dollars, which the record labels have to pay after you are found innocent.

        Does it not work like that?
        • by Khaed (544779)
          I agree with you, and I'm surprised you've not been modded to hell for these posts. But:

          (e.g. your MP3s are ripped from CDs

          The RIAA wants to say that this is illegal, too. So being able to prove that isn't necessarily going to help when fighting them.
        • by Dun Malg (230075) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @03:49PM (#22284258) Homepage

          I was under the impression that you could go to court, demonstrate ...that there was no evidence of file sharing on your computer and you'd be let off. It should take an afternoon, and cost no more than a few hundred dollars, which the record labels have to pay after you are found innocent.

          Does it not work like that?
          Are you kidding? How much does your lawyer cost? How much does this impartial third party expert cost? How much many days off work does it take? Not a chance in hell you could get away only a few hundred dollars down. When the RIAA brings you to court, they're there for blood. They want you to pay their settlement, not challenge their assertion. They'll stretch it out till the end in an attempt to run out your money. And uless you can show they brought the suit basically knowing you were innocent, don't expect a dime's reimbursement for your costs.
        • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @04:22PM (#22284546)
          Erm, no it's not that easy, and costs more than a few hundred dollars. It's not like the RIAA lawyers are going to let you go into a courtroom and say "I'm innocent! See? No evil Kazaaware on THIS computer! They get "experts" to testify that someone at your IP address was downloading songs, and you need to hire your own experts to counter them or the judge rules for the RIAA and not for you. Here in Canada an expert witness runs about $2k for a written report and at least as much to appear in court for you for a day. I'm sure it's more in the US. so we're already over the $3k "settlement offer" the RIAA customarily makes, and we haven't even hired a lawyer yet. We have one expert (you'd be lucky to get away with one -- you need one expert for every one the other side has if you're at all serious about defending yourself), and one Defendant, representing himself or having a lawyer do the work pro bono. For one day. If you won your motion (the average joe probably couldn't afford a Trial, the lost wages alone would kill you), then you get to argue for costs, which means several more days in court, and you're not guaranteed to win. All this is assuming that the Plaintiff's lawyers aren't playing dirty, which of course is false. If one side plays a dirty game you can multiply the costs and time taken by 10, easily. Now all this is assuming the most bare-bones defence you can get, and if you go against the music companies with bare bones, you will get beaten soundly. There's no question about that. To mount a proper defence you would need a very good lawyer (this may be the cheapest part, given that there may be lawyers looking to make a name for themselves in this area of law, possible assistance from the EFF; a growing body of legal resources helps too), a battery of expert witnesses, buckets of money, and lots of free time. And don't expect to recover all your costs. You can expect to be out thousands of dollars, maybe tens of thousands of dollars, and that's if you win.
        • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @11:38PM (#22287204)
          It should take an afternoon, and cost no more than a few hundred dollars, which the record labels have to pay after you are found innocent.

          Do you have even the slightest idea what you're talking about? This is the American legal system we're talking about here: there are traffic tickets that cost more than a few hundred dollars. Defending yourself against a lawsuit (frivolous or otherwise) takes a hell of a lot more than that.
      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        They should not be faced with a "Hobson's choice" of "Confess, and pay this meerly ruinous fine - or defend yourself and hope your parents don't mind selling their house & one of your little sister's kidneys if you loose."

        Or the Samurai choice of Seppuku [wikipedia.org] or Jigai [wikipedia.org].

        The actual effect of all these actions will only be that the record and movie industry will be more and more alienated from the public and that the public in general will either wait until some channel sends the film anyway or until it is o

      • They should not be faced with a "Hobson's choice" of "Confess, and pay this meerly ruinous fine - or defend yourself and hope your parents don't mind selling their house & one of your little sister's kidneys if you loose."

        Agreed, but that's more an issue with our legal system than an issue with the RIAA itself, right?

        Any large corporation can threaten to sue, and given that simply taking a case to trial is prohibitively expensive for most people, the corporations have all the power. I don't like the RI

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by itsdapead (734413)

          Agreed, but that's more an issue with our legal system than an issue with the RIAA itself, right?

          True - of course - although some organizations seem to be particularly creative in exploiting the flaws in the system!

          However, there's also the related propaganda campaign to promote casual copyright infringement as a crime against humanity. Don't be surprised if the next special DVD edition of Se7ev is re-named 8ight and features a new horrific scene in which a gibbering victim is found strapped to a table with iPod phones superglued into his ears and an inferior quality 'torrent download of "The Best o

    • > The way I see it is: If the content is so terrible, don't download it.

      I don't. Wouldn't be caught dead listening to their music. However, there are a couple of factors you've neglected:

      1) They sue the wrong people often enough. Remember that guy who didn't have a computer? I wonder if MediaSentry gave one of their boilerplate expert reports in that lawsuit? Because it would be really interesting if they had.

      2) Anything popular is crap, according to simple statistics. That's a contradiction in t
      • by Yetihehe (971185)

        You can get the same thing with wine snobs, art, sex or anything else based on personal taste.
        Wait, you mean slashdotters HAVE a chance to get laid?
    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:34PM (#22283556) Journal

      I'll admit TFA doesn't make it obvious, as they seem to be against copyright or something, but

      The way I see it is: If the content is so terrible, don't download it. As you will not be infringing on anyone's copyright, you will not get sued.

      Are you really that naive?

      The RIAA (or MPAA? I always lose track) has, so far, sued 12-year-olds, people who have never used a computer (and don't know how), people who are dead...

      Frankly, I don't care whether who they catch, or how guilty they are -- they are the worst example of a "fishing expedition". I honestly don't know how they "catch" people, but I suspect they just throw a dart at a phone book or something.

      But to say students are being forced to buy record labels' music,

      I'd have to look up the exact article, but yes, there have been cases where universities have bought subscriptions to services like Napster or the Zune Store in order to provide students a place to legally download music, on the assumption that without providing this service, students would illegally download music.

      or to say that universities have a responsibility to cover up lawbreaking by their students

      NO. WRONG ATTITUDE.

      Why should the universities have a responsibility to turn over their students? Especially on practically no evidence?

      I'm sorry, but this is pretty much like saying "You're with us, or you're with the terrorists." Refusing to cooperate doesn't mean you're suddenly taking the other side, or that you're "covering up" anything, or, indeed, that there is even something to cover up.

      In particular, if an IP-address-to-student mapping is considered private, I'd say you need more than "Well, 50% of college students pirate -- oh wait, I totally pulled that number out of my ass, but give me their names anyway!"

      • by Mike1024 (184871) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:54PM (#22283748)

        or to say that universities have a responsibility to cover up lawbreaking by their students


        NO. WRONG ATTITUDE.

        Why should the universities have a responsibility to turn over their students? Especially on practically no evidence?

        I'm sorry, but this is pretty much like saying "You're with us, or you're with the terrorists." Refusing to cooperate doesn't mean you're suddenly taking the other side, or that you're "covering up" anything, or, indeed, that there is even something to cover up.


        It's pretty easy to gather evidence - so easy, in fact, I assumed the record labels do it. You just connect to a torrent, download the content to ensure it is infringing, and log time/IP address of all the other peers who are downloading/uploading.

        You then take this evidence to court, and the court issues a subpoena for the recorded holder of the IP address (the university) to identify the person using the IP address at that time.

        If record labels have enough evidence to get courts to issue subpoenas (they could easily gather this much evidence), and have a court-issued subpoena, I hardly call that "hardly no evidence". I also wouldn't say I have a "You're with us, or you're with the terrorists" attitude.
        • by HiThere (15173)
          It may be easy to gather evidence, but they don't appear to bother. The comment about darts and phone books may not be entirely hype. Sometimes there doesn't seem to be any other explanation as to how they select their victims.

          Once you assume that most people won't dare to defend themselves, and that the costs of losing are small to you, then you don't end up being careful that you are only targeting those actually violating your rights. It's less efficient. (Of course, one who was ethical wouldn't star
        • by Anonymous Coward
          "to identify the person using the IP address at that time"

          Mike,

          this is where it all falls apart.

          You can tell the *account* that has the IP address, but in many households, NAT'ing means at least 2, if not more, computers share that address. In my house, for example, there are 6 computers, and 8 people who share in IP address.

          So you can't tell the person.

          Can you file a civil lawsuit against the account holder? It may be possible, but the burden of proof, I imagine, is much higher. That's why for speeding/
          • Then, when you consider spyware, even pinning it to a particular house or account goes out the window.

            But of course, the real problem is that they obviously don't even go that far, most of the time, or how do you explain the lawsuits against people who are mentally or physically incapable of filesharing?
        • If record labels have enough evidence to get courts to issue subpoenas (they could easily gather this much evidence), and have a court-issued subpoena, I hardly call that "hardly no evidence".
          Correct. What they have cannot be characterized as "hardly no evidence".

          I would characterize it as "no evidence at all". They have zero evidence that the defendant infringed their copyright. They have admitted under oath that their "investigation" does not detect any individual doing anything [blogspot.com].

          The reason the judges have signed orders authorizing the subpoenas is because the proceedings are ex parte -- there is no opposition, no one even knows it is going on. I.e., the judges have been hoodwinked. Occasionally, though, some judges see through it [blogspot.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      >>The way I see it is: If the content is so terrible, don't download it. As you will not be infringing on anyone's copyright, you will not get sued.

      The problem (at least according to one semi-conspiracy-theory) is that there's lots of GOOD music on those Big 4 labels as well, but the labels don't respect what they "own." They'd much rather have people encountering music through avenues they basically own, like ClearChannel radio and MTV and big chain record stores. Why? Because bands that become popul
    • If the content is good enough that you want access to it, you either have to pay for it, or accept a small but nonzero chance of being sued and fined for copyright infringement.

      We often don't have that choice. There are plenty of DVDs that are not sold and cannot be played in certain parts of the world (no Battlestar Galactica season 3 in North America, for example). And here in Canada it's hard to buy major-label music for an MP3 player that's not an iPod. (Most of us think it's OK to buy and rip CDs,

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        no Battlestar Galactica season 3 in North America, for example

        States [amazon.com]
        Canada [amazon.ca]

        And here in Canada it's hard to buy major-label music for an MP3 player that's not an iPod.

        Amazon yet again offers many different methods to get music... Be it via CDs or electronic downloads.

        In many cases the only way for us to get "content" is to download it illegally.

        I doubt it. If I can order a DVD series from the States while living in Poland, I doubt there is anything stopping you from doing similar.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If the content is so terrible, don't download it. As you will not be infringing on anyone's copyright, you will not get sued.

      I don't buy CDs anymore. I also don't download. I just don't give shit anymore. Entertainment is not a necessity, though it would be nice for some form of culture to actually exist. Unfortunately, with the slipshod way RIAA handles things in pre-litigation (I'm surprised they haven't tried to sue cloistered monks by now), there is still a chance that I will wind up getting sued.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @01:48PM (#22283202)
    This is nothing more than a mere glance at the true extend of the RIAA's campaign. The number of students the RIAA has sued, most of whom couldn't hope to pay off a settlement or a lawyer to bring the case to trial, numbers way into the thousands. The truly insidious part is just that: the RIAA has billions of dollars available to sue people, and could keep the cases in litigation until the defendant just runs out of money and is forced to settle. There is no due process here, there never could be in cases like these.
  • The campaign is described as one to 'force "consumers" to buy what clearly value enough to download by the terabyte -- corporate "content," as the Big 4 call the media that college students claim to think is all formulaic and worthless, and yet consume at an at enormous rate when it's free and easily pilferable.'
    • by causality (777677)

      The campaign is described as one to 'force "consumers" to buy what clearly value enough to download by the terabyte -- corporate "content," as the Big 4 call the media that college students claim to think is all formulaic and worthless, and yet consume at an at enormous rate when it's free and easily pilferable.'

      I'm not taking a position on whether downloading copyrighted music is right or wrong either way (although some fool will probably respond with an argument against the position I'm not taking) but

      • by QuantumG (50515)
        Agreed, economic value doesn't correspond with entertainment value.. why is that hard?
        • by jp10558 (748604)
          Indeed. While there is no way I'd ever pay to go see "Meet the Spartans" based on the reviews all over the net, nor would I likely pay to rent it from blockbuster, I might well queue it up on netflix if I can't find anything else more interesting to put there. I also might grab it from the local library or borrow it from a friend.

          Specifically, "Meet the Spartans" is more entertaining that starting at my wall. If I have nothing else to do, I would enjoy it over contemplating my navel.

          What I find really annoy
    • by hitmark (640295)
      never underestimate the power of social conformity.

      sure it stinks but everyone "must" listen to it to be "in"...

      but then i guess the very concept of being "in" is foreign to people reading slashdot...
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @01:53PM (#22283246)
    How something is 'described' by someone else with an agenda matters very little (unless a lot of people fall for it). It's just as reasonable to 'describe' millions of college students as "people who want to force their favorite artists to provide them with entertainment for free." Which is more accurate? That performers, and the studios they work with, want to actually "force" someone to buy something, or that many people who swear they love a particular performer or recording artist are none the less happy to rip of that person's work, despite the wishes of the very performer they claim to respect?

    Neither description covers everyone. But saying that a recording artist wants to "force" people to pay for the entertainment they're providing is a lot like saying that a movie theater wants to force people to actually pay for a ticket on their way in to see a movie. It's absurd. No one is forcing you to listen to a recording, and no one is forcing you to see or hear any other performance, either. Don't be a consumer of it, and no need to pay for it. Except, of course, those countries that are insane enough to think it's reasonable to levy taxes (and thus, literally force people to pay) which are then spread around to artists - whether or not the people paying the taxes would ever want to be entertained by those artists or not. That's the only "forced to pay for entertainment" that it's worth talking about. Otherwise we may as well talk about how grocery stores are forcing their customer to pay for what they want, or how a chef is forcing his customers to pay for the creative services she provides.

    Don't use the word "force" when it doesn't apply. Don't want to pay for Bruce Springteen's latest recording? Then don't acquire it, unless HE chooses to give it to you.
  • Right... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by matt4077 (581118) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @01:56PM (#22283268) Homepage

    The campaign is described as one to 'force "consumers" to buy what they're told to buy -- corporate "content,"
    Sure, because people only download stuff because it's so much better. Nobody ever downloads Britney Spears. These evil corporations don't just want money for their goods, they are conspiring to keep the real artists away from us.
  • The truth is that the corporation (or the few that benefit to the detriment of the many) only has greater power when the consumer is divided amongst themselves, consumed by fictional issues and kept ignorant.

    The day we use technology to unite in collective effort, disseminate intelligence and wisdom to dissolve ignorance and share a single intention then the consumer the citizen will take control as master.

    The "Many", the consumers combined wealth far exceeds that of the "few" because the consumer deliv

    • by causality (777677)

      The day we use technology to unite in collective effort, disseminate intelligence and wisdom to dissolve ignorance and share a single intention then the consumer the citizen will take control as master.

      They already thought of that. It's called public education [cantrip.org]. Nothing like a bunch of passive people who think that staying informed isn't very important to hinder something like that (although I would love to see it happen myself).

  • by Thaelon (250687) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:18PM (#22283440)
    So this morning I got up and waged war on eye crud. I followed shortly after with a war on two fronts. A war on full bladders and a war on clean toilets. Next I waged war on not being at my computer. Then I went to war on dark monitors. Then I declared war on Firefox.exe. Then I went to war with slashdot's servers and blank Firefox pages. Then slashdot's text had the audacity to wage photon based war on my retinas! In retaliation, I counterattacked with a covert war on the Reply button, then followed up with a brief war on empty subject text boxes. Then I engaged in a somewhat protracted war on empty comment boxes. Now in closing, I'll stage a blitzkrieg on the submit button and preemptively declare victory.
  • My main concern with RIAA's methodology is not that they are suing people, but that they are doing it at the wrong end. They should focus all their firepower on the distributing powers of the pirated software, because going after individuals will only screw up the life of a few selected ones. It doesn't scare anyone because the odds of a lawsuit are about the same as winning a Megaball lottery.

    The music industry is one of a few industries that struggles with technological breakthroughs. A car maker will
    • A car maker will obviously want to adopt to the latest gadgets.

      Yeah, right. Where are my Jet Fuel Igniters to replace those old-fashioned spark plugs. And my lifetime windshield wiper blades that are so easy to find in the aftermarket. But most of all, I want the 200 MPG carburetor that the oil companies have been suppressing for all these years!

  • by stormguard2099 (1177733) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:37PM (#22283588)
    10 rant against RIAA
    20 generic comment that piracy is still wrong
    30 tangent about DRMs originating in Nazi Germany
    40 someone yells Godwin's law
    50 next RIAA article is posted
    60 goto 10
  • Music is non-essential entertainment.

    The providers of it offer it for sale.

    You can buy it if you like.

    If you don't like the terms, or the seller, or something, the answer is extraordinarily simple - don't buy it. This won't kill you. You can live without music.

    We have laws saying you can't steal stuff. What do people think is special about music that you should be able to steal music in contravention of this general principle? (If you don't believe in the general principle please let me know where you live
    • We have laws saying you can't steal stuff. What do people think is special about music that you should be able to steal music in contravention of this general principle?

      Because it is possible to copy music, so that I get music for free, without depriving anybody else of their music.

      (If you don't believe in the general principle please let me know where you live and I'll come round and help myself to all your stuff.)

      If you have a magic wand that can create perfect duplicates of my stuff without depriv

  • I went to college in the last half of the 1980's for my undergrad. At the time, the RIAA was working very hard to push for the tax on blank cassette tapes. Fliers were frequently posted around campus strongly urging students to write to gov't officials to bring in the tax. The school administrators would frequently mention that the RIAA needed our support and to write our letters. Most students saw it for what it was, bullshit.

    At the time also, Digital Audio Tape (DAT) was in its infancy and there was
  • The big record labels know (most of) their music is crap. That's why they don't offer free, reduced quality, 30 second samples. They know that if sampled, most people will decline to buy. They'd also decline to download. I wonder just how many downloads people make end up being deleted or simply ignored because that's when they discover it's crap. I also wonder how many people who find something they like end up buying it from a legal source (but aren't do this as much as in the past just because they

    • by westlake (615356)
      The big record labels know (most of) their music is crap. That's why they don't offer free, reduced quality, 30 second samples.

      You want the free sample? Turn on a radio. Go to Amazon.com.

  • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @03:26PM (#22284028)

    More and more, the RIAA war on download piracy makes me think of the government's war on drugs. Not a perfect analogy, but think about it:

    One war spends vast sums of money to interdict a tiny percentage of illegal drugs, while overall use continues to rise. The other war spends vast sums of money to sue a tiny percentage of illegal downloaders, while overall downloading continues to rise.

    Both wars target users who do not consider what they are doing to be immoral or wrong, and who will likely continue their activities despite any laws passed against them.

    Both wars have generalized popular support from Mr. and Mrs. America, who are ignorant of or blind to the tactics involved and the overall futility and low success rate.

    Both wars snag innocent people in their dragnets. If you happen to share a house with someone who has drugs, you can be arrested. Likewise, if you happen to own a computer on which someone else downloaded copyrighted material, you can be sued.

    Both wars are stubbornly persistent and deny reality. The government refuses to acknowledge that legalizing and regulating recreational drugs would result in less crime, fewer overdoses, and far more money available for treatment and prevention and education. The RIAA refuses to acknowledge that digital technology has made their system of distribution and compensation rapidly obsolete and in need of a quantum change.

    I could go on and on, and y'all could probably come up with some of your own parallels. The only real difference is that being caught up in the war on drugs can land you in the slammer for a long time, while illegal downloading will not.

    Yet.

    • The only real difference is that being caught up in the war on drugs can land you in the slammer for a long time, while illegal downloading will not.

      Not if the RIAA has it's way. They'd prefer criminal sanctions, including significant jail time, for "piracy". And in some cases now, the MPAA in particular, has gotten that (for releasing bootlegs ahead of their opening dates).

  • Back in the day? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @03:47PM (#22284246)
    From TFA: Years ago, college students were our best customers," he said. "Now they're among our worst customers."

    Perhaps 'cause:

    • Those college students of yore are all growed up now?
    • People had fewer choices for purchasing (or acquiring)?
    • Music today isn't what it once was (a generalization, but perhaps with some truth)?
    • Music was more art than commodity?
    • Any / all of the above?

    Sure, I use to buy music when I was younger, but I don't buy much anymore -- nor have I ever downloaded anything. I've purchased 3 CDs in the last 10 years. What I already have is either better than what's new, or I'm simply just happy with it. In the car, I either listen to a CD or NPR; commercial radio is crap.

    Great music never goes out of style. Perhaps some of the younger crowd have music from their parents :-) I mean, would you really want to listen to "Oops, I did it Again" over anything in your parents collection? How about instead of a baby whining on an airplane - oh, wait, that could be Britney too.

    • I still buy CDs.

      Well, not that garbage either.

      Well, what do I buy? I download first and buy cd's to fit the collections I cant easily download. Now, my music selections is eclectic, so I search for a while before I buy.

      As of now, I've bought 2 cd's from Japan by the group known as Ali Project. Jinsei bimi raisan (praise of delicacy of human life), seishoujo ryouiki (domain of the holy girl), and sensou to heiwa (war and peace) are my current favorite songs.

      There's tons of ali project vids on youtube if one
      • As of now, I've bought 2 cd's from Japan by the group known as Ali Project... US groups couldn't cut it, so I go elsewhere.

        To be sure, there's a lot of foreign crap too, but, in any case, at least it's different. So much of what we hear is so similar that it's boring. I guess "formula music" sells, so that's in what the record companies invest. Perhaps much of all music is formula to some extent, but the foreign formula is just different enough, to our ears, to make a difference.

        For better of worse,

    • by VidEdit (703021)
      "From TFA: Years ago, college students were our best customers," he said. "Now they're among our worst customers.""
      ---

      Well, of course the RIAA is selling fewer units per capita. The number of media choices competing for the a person's money is far greater than it has ever been. The RIAA is blaming its dwindling share of wallet on piracy instead of the fractionalization of the market. They can sue 20,000 people and that won't change--the proof being they did and it hasn't.
  • Study after study shows that people 16-25 years of age are such a vanishingly small percentage of the music listening public, that any backlash is likely to go totally unnoticed. If they were actually targeting the core fanbase demographic of most artists, it might be more of an issue.
  • Don't Forget (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @06:05PM (#22285288)
    Don't forget, among the other recent RIAA college sins, their quickly pulled back "audit package" based on GPL'd software for the colleges to use in tracking song swapping. It was another clear low point in the RIAA's campaign of terror and extortion.
    • Don't forget, among the other recent RIAA college sins, their quickly pulled back "audit package" based on GPL'd software for the colleges to use in tracking song swapping. It was another clear low point in the RIAA's campaign of terror and extortion.

      Actually, I believe that monitoring software was released by the MPAA, not the RIAA.
  • Good thing I don't have mod points today. They would have all gone as TROLL -1's on this single article.
  • You're kidding, right?

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