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US Fed Gov. Says All Music Downloads Are Theft 451

BenEnglishAtHome writes "Nearly all US government employees and contractors are subject to mandatory annual information security briefings. This year the official briefing flatly states that all downloaded music is stolen. The occasionally breathless tone of the briefing and the various minor errors contained therein are funny but the real eye-opener is a 'secure the building' exercise where employees stumble across security problems and resolve them. According to the material, the correct response to an employee who is downloading music is to shout 'That's stealing!' No mention is made of more-free licenses, public domain works, or any other legitimate download. If this were a single agency or department that had made a mistake in their training material it might not be so shocking. But this is a government-wide training package that's being absorbed by hundreds of thousands of federal employees, both civilian and military. If you see a co-worker downloading music, they're stealing. Period. Who woulda thunk it? Somebody should mirror this. Who wants to bet that copies will become hard to find if clued-in technogeeks take notice and start making noise?" Warning: this site gives a whole new meaning to "Flash heavy."
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US Fed Gov. Says All Music Downloads Are Theft

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  • Non-Flash Equivalent (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @04:31PM (#29207593) Journal

    Warning: this site gives a whole new meaning to "Flash heavy."

    They have a non-flash site [disa.mil] if you need to complete this training and receive your certificate and you can't have flash. Not sure how they are running the audio but that's available as well.

    I gotta admit it's not as entertaining as the zoom down into the city flash animation when instead of that you get:

    Screen 1 of 48. Screen title, Intro. A block in any city, U S A. The camera zooms into a bank A T M. The A T M screen reads, no funds available. The camera zooms into another A T M, and again, no funds are available. Cut to an office in a building. Camera zooms into computer screen on desk. C N N website is on screen, displaying news headlines that support audio. Camera zooms to P D A on desk. P D A displays news headlines that support audio. Camera zooms to fax machine. Document on machine displays news headlines that support audio.

    Also, you might encounter some problems with words and acronyms that are pronounced like IA (Information Assurance)

    Screen 4 of 48. Screen title, What is I Ay? Image of worker at desk with computer. The computer monitor displays a warning ...

  • by djrogers ( 153854 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @04:45PM (#29207829)
    Troll - you lose. iTunes has never been capable of making DRM encumbered copies of CDs. Windows Media Player on the other hand has been capable of it, and in fact that was the default setting for several versions.

    All music ripped via iTunes goes into non-DRM'd MP3, AAC, or ALC (Apple Lossless Codec). Any or all of the above formats can also be burned back to CD by iTunes. in fact, even the old DRM'd FairlPlay AAC files from the iTunes Music Store could be burned to CD.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @04:58PM (#29208027)

    I've worked in the defense industry, with a security clearance, for going on twenty years now, and you have to understand, this kind of stupidity is not at all unusual. On the military side, the security officers are usually MPs (or SPs, for the Air Force) who've been dragooned into doing information security. They aren't stupid (well, most of them aren't), but they also aren't trained for that kind of work--they're supposed to be cops. But "one size fits nobody," so they get assigned by their branch to information protection slots, receive a couple of weeks of Power Point slide training, and then they're placed over engineers and techs whose knowledge of the IT systems runs rings around them. As a result, their response to anything new is hard-wired: "no."

    It's even worse on the civilian/contractor side. Security jobs don't pay well, and because you get what you pay for, the dregs of the organization tend to filter down to those positions. What's worse, once there, your average security guy/gal has power over smarter/more competent people for the first time in their careers, and a small but very present minority of them proceed to abuse that power and act arbitrarily, usually out of ignorance, but occasionally out of pure spite. This kind of mindless "training" presentation is what most of them do all day. As you can see, the results are less than impressive.

  • Strange (Score:3, Informative)

    by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @05:34PM (#29208577) Homepage
    When I got to http://www.bong-ra.com/ [bong-ra.com] I can download music for free from the artist. How would this be stealing? Unless they mean they might not get as many donation from music lobby groups unless they make the employees think downloading any music is stealing.
  • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @05:40PM (#29208671)

    Let me clarify - it's not a Flash-heavy site, because it's not a site. It's a course. It's an online course entirely written in Flash, not a Flash-heavy web site.

  • by HikingStick ( 878216 ) <z01riemer&hotmail,com> on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @05:50PM (#29208821)
    The flame of the article is based on the phrasing of the general question. If you click the "Learn More" link, it is clear that the warning is about downloading via P2P file sharing networks. The use of P2P networks is a violation of the DOD Information Systems network use. That's the thrust of the training.

    It may not be clear from the phrasing in the question, but in the context (i.e., when administered to people who are constantly exposed to DOD Information Systems training and reminders), it will likely be understood by the reader. Chances are, there is likely a prohibition against personal software (including *legal* music downloads) too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @06:00PM (#29208949)
    I had to do this training, and yes it was awful. The quality is on par with all the other generic training we receive annually so some manager can check a box and get a bonus. Most people I work with just do these as quickly as possible so they can get on with their work day. Speaking of terrible training, tomorrow I get to do courses on H1N1 and OSHA compliance, sure to be just as exciting.
  • by gruhnj ( 195230 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @08:34PM (#29210707)

    In a DoD environment I Tunes, Amazon Downloader, and other legal forms of downloading music are prohibited from being on the systems as being outside the baseline. I can only speak for the Army but the regulation does not consider music in general stealing. Quoting from AR 25-2 page 27 [army.mil]...

    (7) Certain activities are never authorized on Army networks. AUPs will include the following minimums as
    prohibited. These activities include any personal use of Government resources involving: pornography or obscene
    material (adult or child); copyright infringement (such as the sharing of copyright material by means of peer-to-peer
    ; gambling; the transmission of chain letters; unofficial advertising, soliciting, or selling except on authorized
    bulletin boards established for such use; or the violation of any statute or regulation.

    In short DISA wrote bad flash training on this one scenario. DoD 8500 series and agency specific regulations DO NOT refer to it as stealing.

  • by MynockGuano ( 164259 ) <hyperactiveChipmunk+slashdot.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @09:12PM (#29211037)

    That's still no reason to falsely accuse someone.

    Some people might not be bright enough to distinguish from actual downloading
    of some sort and streaming from some site like Hulu or Pandora. How does Pandora
    or radio streams fit into this particular bit of government propaganda?

    Both are blocked outright on DoD networks, along with all other mainstream music/video distribution sites, so no worries.

  • Re:Lol (Score:4, Informative)

    by 31415926535897 ( 702314 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:30PM (#29211983) Journal

    You mean that same USPS that is going to have a $7 BILLION deficit this year? Yeah, you can look really efficient and super cool if you can blow through $7B you don't have.

    And look, I like the interstate system as much as the next guy, but our state won't stop construction on I-88 because then they'd have to take down the toll booths. And believe me the work is not necessary or helpful. I'm not saying we should let private companies build our roads, but regardless of what it is, IT SUCKS when the government does it. There's an interstate in Washington State that has an exit in DuPont (yes, the city and the company). The state was going to build the exit and charge DuPont for the privilege. DuPont said, 'if we can build it to your specs, can we do it ourselves?' The government said yes and DuPont built it for half the price the state was going to charge them.

    As far as health care, there's a lot more to be said about it than just comparing the government's job of doing other things. I don't know what the answer is there. I think that we've lost the 'insurance' aspect of health care. People want their insurance company to pay for everything (why don't we have car insurance cover tuneups?). If people paid for all the little, routine things and had the insurance for catastrophic things (like cancer, or having a limb reattached), then there probably wouldn't be any "crisis". And I think the whole system would probably be in much better health if 64% of American's weren't overweight/obese. Perhaps you shouldn't get insurance if you've caused your own demise through negligence.

  • Nobody cares (Score:3, Informative)

    by npsimons ( 32752 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:30AM (#29212349) Homepage Journal

    I work for DoD. I remember thinking about posting about this the first time I saw it, years ago. The truth is, nobody cares. Everyone where I work has headphones on and is listening to MP3s, either on their portable music players (not all are iPod . . . ) or on their computers. About the last damn thing we need our government security tax dollars being wasted on is a quixotic quest to rid all government assets of "stolen" music.

    It does sicken me a bit to see such propaganda bandied about as official government policy, but I figure if you aren't smart enough to know the difference between downloading data you have rights to (by fair use or otherwise) and an honest to goodness security breach, you shouldn't hold a clearance.

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe