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Education Your Rights Online

Univ. Help Desk Staffer Extorts Over Copyright Violations 153

Posted by timothy
from the judge-jury-and-accounts-payable dept.
McGruber writes "The Atlanta fishwrap is reporting that an University of Georgia 'IT security support' employee was accusing students of copyright violations, then demanding money to clear their names. Sounds like he's been caught stealing the RIAA business model."
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Univ. Help Desk Staffer Extorts Over Copyright Violations

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:16AM (#31010050)

    Seems like universities don't understand who's paying the bills... this job shouldn't have existed in the first place. Nobody from the school should be in the business of making copyright accusations. That's the RIAA's job, and they're doing a heck of a job.

  • by Logibeara (1620627) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:41AM (#31010354)
    Can anyone name a carreer field where corruption hasn't existed? Seems like there's always at least one guy(or girl) figuring out if it's profitable or not.
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:55AM (#31010600) Journal

    I'm really sick of all the idiots on the Internet who really see no difference between someone protecting the legal rights granted to them by Congress (who received a mandate [or if mandate is too strong a word, at least explicit permission] to do so directly from the Constitution), and some idiot who has no right to ask you for money.

    Now, I know someone is going to bring up an argument that RIAA are a bunch of rent-seeking squatters who screw the artists, and it should be the artists who hold the copyrights, not RIAA which is a third party, so how is the RIAA any different from the guy in this article? Here's the simple truth: the difference is that the artists agreed to the terms offered to them by the RIAA member labels, and received compensation. Now, I'm no fan of the RIAA. I think the best thing that could happen to music would be for a few other labels to arise that truly compete with the RIAA (both competing to sign artists with more favorable terms, and competing to sell the products to customers with more favorable terms), but the fact remains that the artists signed away their copyrights and accepted the money. Even though they may have been in a position where they didn't think they could get better terms from any other labels, ultimately they are adults who voluntarily accepted those terms, and made a business deal, and the RIAA has done nothing illegal. The copyright statutes allow for the transfer of copyright.

    So long as the RIAA-members have legally obtained their copyrights, they are well within their legal rights. If you don't like the way the copyright laws currently exist, then you need to work hard to get them changed. But, it's easier to just violate copyright law than to actually effect change (either by getting a popular movement started to change copyright and convince people that the changes are just and necessary, OR by starting up some competition and letting the Free Market solve the problem - both of which are hard work), so people take the lazy way out. They just make illegal copies, and blame everybody else.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:11PM (#31010828) Homepage Journal

    My guess is that the university hired this guy to avoid having to provide legal aid to students -- i.e., catch them before the RIAA does and handle the matter internally. It would be nice if they took a hard line in defense of students' rights instead, but you can't necessarily expect them to do that. It seems like universities' responses to the RIAA's anti-student campaign have been all over the map. A few do defend their students to the end, more actively collaborate with the RIAA, and most are somewhere in the middle. State schools are in a particular bind, of course, since (a) most of them are having serious financial problems these days, and (b) they depend for much of their budgets on easily-bought state legislators.

  • by Pharmboy (216950) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:34PM (#31011212) Journal

    ?It should be a selling point to students that they'll be okay if they just need a little help by proving they did nothing wrong.

    The fact that the burden of proof is on the students to begin with shows how fucked up the system is.

  • by ClarifyAmbiguity (683603) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:55PM (#31011580) Homepage

    This is why we need business method patents!

    The Mafia would have prior art claims over the RIAA and MPAA.

    And the government would have prior art claims over the Mafia!

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:15PM (#31011870) Homepage Journal

    "but the school certainly has every right to monitor their networks."

    I disagree - strongly. The school is NOT supposed to be a police force, period. The ONLY things a campus should police is the physical safety of it's staff, students, and visitors. No school should attempt to be the moral enforcement arm of government, or of corporate America. I find it offensive to think that some schools aid and abet the extortion racket that RIAA engages in.

  • by JerryLove (1158461) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:21PM (#31011980)

    And if the RIAA were practicing due dilligence to avoid accusing the innocent, and if the RIAA were making sure to only persue copyrights it actually owns, and if the RIAA were behaving legally and ethically in its investigation, and if the RIAA was attempting a good-faith protection of copyright (they seem to just see this as a revenue stream), and if the penalties were sane, then I would agree with you.

    I support copyright, though I oppose that it's been extended to a century or more here in the US. I oppose piracy when there are good legitemate alternatives. That's a far cry from supporting an organization that takes exorbitant money from the innocent because it can.

  • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@nospaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:14PM (#31012762)

    So Rosa Parks was wrong for not giving up her seat.

    Right.

  • by tkohler (806572) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:15PM (#31012776)
    TFA says the position was to monitor "University Computers". The university DOES have a right and obligation to keep their own computers (I assume this means office workers, staff, labs and etc.) free of "illegal" downloads, especially since the RIAA would likely see the university as a deep pocket, not to mention viruses, malware and other costly IT problems. I agree with your point for student-owned computers, even using the university network.
  • by MiniMike (234881) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:54PM (#31013278)

    Are you equating the battle for equal civil rights to allowing people to freely download songs they don't want to pay for? Really?

  • by ottothecow (600101) <ottothecow.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @03:24PM (#31013656) Homepage
    Wow guys...seems kind of harsh. Detecting bittorrent or generic p2p equals an access ban? Are you sure you are a regular /. poster and not a clueless manager?

    My school did NOT do this. My school did nothing at all unless they recieved a DMCA notice from a content owner. I believe my school even maintained a page with instructions on how to disable content uploading in popular programs like limewire. No administrator of an academic network in their right mind would disable any port/protocol...college students get really uppity on things like freedom of speech and computer science students get really angry when they can't pull down legit linux ISO torrents (and lets not forget about the wow players who need their updates).

    You should only be disabling access after a confirmed infraction. My school took the DMCA notice and compared it to their logs before taking any action...and yes, there were occasions where they determined that it was an incorrect notice and the user could not have caused the infraction.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @03:25PM (#31013674)

    So long as the RIAA-members have legally obtained their copyrights, they are well within their legal rights. If you don't like the way the copyright laws currently exist

    To be fair, I think there are a number of issues at stake here:

    • How fairly were those rights obtained? We live in a much more complicated society today than in the mid 18th century, and the extent to which a small number of organisations have systematically set themselves up to screw the very people upon whose output they depend and yet continue to get away with it was probably never dreamed of. If there was real competition, a record label could openly embrace a "Do no evil" policy and promptly swallow up the rights to every new, interesting artist for years to come. As it stands, the only record labels to have such policies are by and large minute - and certainly won't be getting anyone to number 1 soon.
    • Is the purpose of copyrights to encourage the arts or to encourage idleness? If the former, why is it necessary for them to continue for decades after the artist dies? There's a whole industry dedicated to providing for your loved ones if you die suddenly - it's called life insurance. Did that industry not exist back then? (Serious question, it may not have done)
  • by ottothecow (600101) <ottothecow.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @04:28PM (#31014368) Homepage
    Except for the fact that for a residential university, you are acting as an ISP. Why not do like everyone else and require a firewall to join the network and be done? Security on a personal computer is the student's problem...not yours (even though they will want your help when something goes wrong). As for the extra traffic...Academic institutions usually get fat pipes at favorable rates and your students are definitely paying for access...if comcast can still offer a neutral pipe for $60 a month...why can't you?

    Don't you have computer science students/professors or anyone else who might be interested in investigating new technologies that rely on p2p? As for the code of conduct...if they sign a code of conduct that says they won't pirate stuff (or face the consequences), then you should either hold them to that code of conduct and allow unfettered access or trash the code and enforce. This is the ivory tower--there should be freedom.

    What I would imagine is going on instead, is anyone smart enough (or with savvy friends) has figured out a bunch of workarounds and everyone else is just getting screwed. Glad I didn't go to school wherever you are.

  • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @12:36AM (#31018908)
    The university has no obligation to do a god damned thing with their computers. Sure, they might want to keep it free of certain stuff, but there's no obligation to. What the RIAA says the university should be responsible for and what they're actually responsible for are two separate things.

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