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File Sharing Remains a Perk of College Life 288

An anonymous reader points out a story on the effect of a new law on file sharing on campuses — in short, it may not make much difference. "Students who are about to graduate often hand down the tricks of stealing music and movies to the next senior class. ... At the College of New Jersey, that means surreptitiously finding a new home each year for a computer holding an enormous directory of illegal files on the campus. ... The machine runs software called Direct Connect, which lets people on a local network easily trade files among their hard drives in a way that is usually undetectable to anyone outside the network. ... Educause recently unveiled a website with information about the new regulations. It provides case studies from six 'role-model campuses,' listing the steps they are taking to combat piracy. Another page lists 57 legal sources of music and movies on the Web. But when asked which campuses have forged new policies in reaction to the law, Educause officials were unable to name any."
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File Sharing Remains a Perk of College Life

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  • not going to work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stonewallred ( 1465497 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @02:50PM (#31888902)
    You are never going to stop folks from trading files. All you can do is try and make it difficult. And that brings its own problems because it usually causes the stuff not to work well and attracts people who like challenges to break your "protection". I believe the model of charging less would work better.
  • In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DMiax ( 915735 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @02:52PM (#31888914)
    Copyright infringement remains different from stealing. As in "we will stop stealing when you stop calling it stealing".
  • by Rob Bos ( 3399 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @02:55PM (#31888952) Homepage

    If nothing else, there's always USB keys. Now pushing 128GB. My coworkers and I trade entire television shows pretty regularly.

    Who needs fileservers? Sneakernet is becoming more and more efficient.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @02:57PM (#31888966)

    You don't need 100% success to have a victory. Sure people will still do it, but if you don't make it easy for them to do it less people will go ahead and do it any ways. If you make file sharing so hard that only the geeks can do it. Then that is enough to stop all the non-geeks.

  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:04PM (#31889010) Homepage

    Exactly music is a service and should be treated as such, that's why I like to say I purchase tickets not albums.

    And what about when the music cannot be taken around on tour? Not all music is performed by small bands that can go from venue to venue. There are for electronic works for tape created at places like IRCAM. Sometimes concerts are so costly to put on that ticket prices are unlikely to cover the expenses -- I've gone to hear music at concert halls where it's hard to believe that ticket sales even paid for the huge amount of people hired for the venue's coat check, let alone the orchestra.

    Some amount of public subsidy and patronage is already present to support music that either can't be put on in concert, or isn't profitable to put on in concert. As it becomes increasingly less realistic for artists to expect payment for every copy made of their work, it's worth supporting public subsidy and patronage models at the same time as calling for people to buy tickets to see their favourite rock bands in concert.

  • by Rix ( 54095 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:06PM (#31889038)

    The Napster/Grokster lawsuits spawned BitTorrent. Killing suprnova caused a bloom of (better) torrent aggregator sites.

    Excessive use of antibiotics just gets you antibiotic resistant strains.

  • who cares? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:13PM (#31889088)

    why are these colleges worrying about piracy of movies and music, does society benefit from the creation of the vacuous nonsense that is entertainment? does humanity progress by the creation of these petty distractions? No? then screw them, why should we worry about the moral integrity surrounding superfluous crap.

  • by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) * on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:27PM (#31889192)

    At my school, we just used SMB shares. This article reminds me of the time we were discussing the possibility of building a machine to replace that of a graduating senior, just so the location of his massive Simpsons collection wouldn't change. I also remember very fondly when I heard in conversation that my machine was down over the weekend - from a person I had never met before, and who didn't know when he mentioned it that he was talking about my machine.. When your computer is known by people before you yourself are, that's an achievement. :)

    So really, all this article has accomplished is to fill my Sunday afternoon with waves of happy nostalgia. Was I supposed to be shocked and outraged?

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:33PM (#31889258) Homepage

    ... causes the stuff not to work well and attracts people who like challenges to break your "protection"

    At least for many, breaking the "protection" is not the goal ... making stuff work well is. If the people making DRM were to come up with a way that provided the "protection" they (claim) to desire, while also working well on every platform, there wouldn't be as much interest in "breaking" it.

    As a user exclusively of FOSS platforms, I consider that every content provider that fails to make sure that my platforms are supported is a content provider that has no interest in revenues from me or other users of these platforms. As such, if WE somehow manage to access their content through means that don't involve any payment, I see no loss to the owner. They didn't have sufficient interest in our money to make an effort to get it. So it is by their own decision that they won't get revenue from us; now ours.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:42PM (#31889324)

    At my university (40k students), we have a DC network and the IT here are not just aware of it, but some of the IT guys are the same guys who maintain it. Our university is happy to look the other way because the sharing is virtually undetectable outside the network, and we have plenty of bandwidth in network to move gig files around in seconds while not compromising the connection to the outside world. The less we share outside the DC network, the less letters they get from the RIAA (which they already ignore for the most part).

      By the way, its articles like this that shed light on these networks, which we certainly don't need.

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:42PM (#31889326) Homepage

    If we mark off those resources for legal downloading (in the "comprehensive list of alternatives" link at the Educause site) that still don't work with FOSS platforms, how many remain? I know at least Magnatune is among them.

  • by manicb ( 1633645 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @04:10PM (#31889552)

    Trent Reznor is a very talented man. What about musicians who are weak performers while a genius in the studio? People who suffer from serious anxiety problems? People whose target demographic is small and distributed across the world? There are plenty of very capable live bands out there who are having trouble pulling in big enough crowds ends meet, and we're supposed to believe that every niche electronic act can put a show together and do the same?

  • by Tei ( 520358 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @04:11PM (#31889560) Journal

    Students don't have much money (much less than people with jobs), but still have the same needs, created by the industry and our dynamic culture. The only way for these people to fullfill these needs is to piracy. I don't condone piracy.. but I have to say that the other option is frustration.

    I don't theres any solution. But theres also no damage either: these people will not buy anyway. Once these people finish his studios and get a job, these same people will start buying things again, wen buying is easier.

    Let students warez his music, there are things more important for us.

  • by TheJediGeek ( 903350 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @04:51PM (#31889886)
    But the general public won't buy the alternatives. The mass computer-using public has only heard "photoshop" to the point it's a verb not unlike google. Most people will want to get Photoshop because everyone knows that's how you edit pictures. Anything else just sounds like the salesman trying to sell some cheap crap. When the average non-techie computer user looks for Photoshop and sees it for over $600, they won't look for alternatives to purchase. They'll find their nearest computer nerd friend who can get a pirated copy. Everyone uses computers these days. The non-tech people that use computers follow the marketing and mass media: The iPod is the first digital music player ever, any other kind is someone trying to copy Apple. Google is the first search engine, bing is the new guy. Photoshop is the only way to edit digital pictures, anything else won't do it right.

    We tech people know there are viable alternatives, but the general public don't. Hence there is a valid question to be asked if the "mainstream" marketed software would do well to have affordable alternatives. How many people would buy a legal copy of Office if the new version of Word, Excel, and Power Point could be bought for a reasonable price? (Historically, this was not the case, but MS did release a 3 license pack of Office 2007 that was only Word, Excel, and Power Point for home users priced sub $200.) Software Piracy could likely dramatically drop if the "household name" products were priced at better price points.

  • Shock! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMspad.co.uk> on Sunday April 18, 2010 @05:34PM (#31890214) Homepage

    Students trying to get stuff for free? Never!

    I had a friend at uni who used to buy packaged foodstuffs and then send them back to the "If you're not completely satisfied" address with a fictional complaint. 9 times out of 10 he'd get a crate of said product by way of compensation; he survived for 3 years, barely paying for anything he ate or drank in this manner and you're amazed that people are swapping music without paying for it?

    If any single group of people can find a way to get things without paying for them, it's student. Intelligent, poor, lots of free time = win.

  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Sunday April 18, 2010 @06:03PM (#31890386) Homepage Journal

    Students don't have much money (much less than people with jobs), but still have the same needs, created by the industry and our dynamic culture. The only way for these people to fullfill these needs is to piracy. I don't condone piracy.. but I have to say that the other option is frustration.

    I don't theres any solution. But theres also no damage either: these people will not buy anyway. Once these people finish his studios and get a job, these same people will start buying things again, wen buying is easier.

    Let students warez his music, there are things more important for us.

    You used the wrong word above when you said "needs". Music and movies are not needs. They are "wants". They are wants that are skillfully created by advertisers, marketers, producers, and talented artists and engineers, and they are presented as needs and sold as needs, but they are not. Any confusion you have between needs and wants is a lesson you really should learn now in order to survive in the modern world without going head-first into debt. People who don't learn this lesson soon think they need a sports car, and they need a big TV, and they need a mansion. Then they find they need shovels full of money to pay their debts. Then they go bankrupt, and discover that nobody will even put gas in their car without cash up front.

    So there's a perfectly workable solution that's existed since the dawn of trade: if you can't afford to pay for a thing, go without it. You do not need music to survive. You will not perish or get kicked out of school for not having a copy of Avatar. You will not starve, you will not freeze to death, you will not go homeless because you don't have a copy of the latest movie on your iPhone. If you still think music is a need, go petition your government representative to have them hand out "welfare music" to homeless people so they don't die of inadequate culture. See how far that proposal goes.

  • by dylannika ( 1523113 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @06:05PM (#31890402)
    If they don't have wide appeal would they be making any money off of physical discs? I doubt it.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @06:06PM (#31890410)

    Excessive use of antibiotics just gets you antibiotic resistant strains.

    Sure, and if you have an incurable disease affecting one limb, as a last resort you amputate rather than allow the disease to endanger the entire system.

    If you think the pirate community is going to overcome the entire weight of the legal profession, the political players and the big money spinners through sheer force of arrogant denial, then I suspect some time in the next two or three years, you are going to learn a painful lesson. I'm only sorry that quite a few innocent people are going to be deeply inconvenienced when the remaining healthy tissue in the limb is sacrificed to be sure the disease is contained.

    In the long run, of course copyright in its current form will have to evolve. That is already recognised and as the political climate adapts to this reality the balance will slowly but surely swing back to something more reasonable. But first, I expect there are going to be some nasty, nasty laws passed, and some horrendous and high profile punishments handed down to people as examples, and a lot of people are going to get scary letters and realise that they aren't as safely anonymous and immune to consequences as they thought, and a lot of mostly young people are going to get the point.

    I suspect that regardless of the ethics or practical merits of copyright reform, such a shock would be no bad thing in the long run. We have a generation growing up today who have never known a world without the Internet and mobile phones and social networks and P2P. In far too many cases, they have a sense of assumed entitlement, a lack of awareness of privacy, poor manners, problems with social interactions in the real world, an obvious dependence on technology instead of self-reliance, an assumption that the way to do well academically is to cheat on-line instead of actually learning stuff, poor fitness and health because they spend more time playing with electronics and less time playing sport, and a whole bunch of other unhealthy trends. If this continues, that whole generation is going to be royally screwed, but because they are effectively children thrown into an adult world before they are fully prepared for the consequences, they are like the frogs that haven't noticed the water around them boiling. The kind of discussion about copyright here is just one symptom of a greater malaise, and the longer it goes untreated, the worse the prognosis becomes.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @06:10PM (#31890444) Homepage

    It's a bit of a catch-22. Most of those bands would not exist without the immediate dispersal methods of file sharing: people aren't likely to plop any sum of money down on an 'unknown'.

    Are they 'entitled' to profit from their ventures when people like them? No, they're not; that's not how it works in this world. Should they be compensated by those who like their work? Of course - if they want to continue to see the fruits of those people's labors (assuming those people are not content to work for free).

    It's a trade-off of sorts. You can't have both bounty and high cost in a medium which is, essentially, free for the taking. Human nature doesn't allow for it (and I'd argue, laws to the contrary are immoral).

  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @06:15PM (#31890494) Homepage Journal

    the entire legal system may bow down to one woman sitting on a bus.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2010 @08:00PM (#31891160)

    Before 1940 these people wouldnt of even had an industry. Technology giveth, and technology taketh away.

    Music is freely distributed in radio and now on streaming sites, and have always acted as a advertisements.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2010 @08:24PM (#31891306)

    " Or do you actually believe it's a right that's being wrongly suppressed?"

    Until public domain is taken back from all the IP industries piracy is one of the few things we can due to resist the corporate dictatorship. We have closed codebases for abandonware that can't be repaired and the whole concept of software licensing is fraudulent to begin with since no one really owns their software and that should have been illegal to begin with to "outlaw" ownership of things your customers buy.

  • by tftp ( 111690 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @08:37PM (#31891406) Homepage

    I think they will sacrifice the relatively free and open Internet we have today

    In context of this article it won't do a thing. If you have thousands of students living together, they don't need Internet to trade songs. The horse - an exact digital copy - has left the barn long ago; MP3 codec and pocket-sized multi-gigabyte players just make it practical. There is a a huge mass of music out there - essentially everything is there - and if the government introduces artificial scarcity by clamping down on copying then students will make sure to copy and store *everything* they come across, even if they don't like the music - just because it may be harder to do in the future.

    Internet is important only for geeks who don't meet anyone, ever. But such geeks are probably sophisticated enough to get what they need - the government will be using a pretty rough net; they can monitor standard ports, but they can't look into SCP traffic or decode everything that is posted in a.b.*.encrypted, or try to figure out why foo.o is 4 MB long and the linker says it's corrupted, while foo.c is just "void foo() {}" ...

    Laws are being proposed to mandate spyware, which you can bet will also restrict the use of "dubious" alternative systems like Linux and OSS if they get passed

    All the spyware in the world is useless on a computer that is not on the network. With prices of computers going down fast, it is not unreasonable to see more and more people having two computers - one for Internet and one without a network card. The government would need to set up a Computer Police to bust doors and search premises (since a 1 TB portable drive fits in a shirt pocket.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2010 @08:57PM (#31891518)

    Sounds like you're trying to make that an "Us" problem. That's definately a "You" problem.

  • by macshit ( 157376 ) <snogglethorpeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday April 18, 2010 @09:38PM (#31891778) Homepage

    I have to ask: do you see filesharing to be kind of like pot-smoking, in that "some other people say it's wrong, but it isn't hurting anyone else, so who cares?" Do you believe it's wrong, but participate anyway? Or do you actually believe it's a right that's being wrongly suppressed?

    If it's either of the first of those, why do you think it is that nobody challenges the ethics of these private servers? Do you not have any peers whose moral code says "No, filesharing is wrong, you guys are ripping off my favorite band, I'm turning you in to the ethics board?" Are you're saying that really, out of the thousands of students your university, and of every other university situation you are aware of, that not a single student complains about the inappropriateness of it?

    I'm not trying to fish for snitches or get anyone in trouble with this question, but I'm just pretty much surprised that nobody complains. Not even the sons or daughters of (RI|MP)AA execs or artists, whose very education might be paid for by the media being copied?

    I think that's pretty much reason that everybody around here seems so confident that the RIAA and their ilk are going to lose in the end -- for the vast majority of people, sharing of "trivial" stuff like music really isn't a bad thing; at most, it's just sort of "wink-wink-nudge-nudge wrong".

    Even the industry's attempts to demonize it (like happened with marijuana) are ineffective, because it's something that most people have already done themselves, so they know in their gut that it's a natural and healthy thing. The histrionic pronouncements and clumsy flailing about by the RIAA may even weaken their case, as they simply don't ring true.

    The pop music industry's traditional emphasis on trying to promote mega-stars may have hurt their case too, as it's hard to feel very guilty about copying a song by someone who's obviously mega-rich and flaunts their excessive lifestyle (and in many cases seems far more concerned with the lifestyle than the music). If it were humble local bands who were coming out against copying, maybe there would be at few pangs of guilt -- but AFAICT, it's the relatively unknown bands who are most likely to support sharing of their songs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2010 @11:29PM (#31892396)

    Sucks to be them. Or should we have a law that allows me to get paid for making airplane noises and flapping my arms, because you know I am afraid of heights. Because I am FUCKING GREAT in a simulator.

  • by daver00 ( 1336845 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @11:45PM (#31892470)

    Recording still is costly.

    Give me $10,000 and I'll build you a studio that will return sound quality so close to a multi million dollar equivalent that 99% of people would not know the difference. Recording is very cheap these days, and does not justify the exorbitant rates we are charged for digital media.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @12:10AM (#31892604)

    What about musicians who are weak performers while a genius in the studio? People who suffer from serious anxiety problems?

    TOO BAD!

    Having a talent doesn't automatically entitle you to be able to make money from that talent. And it *absolutely* does not entitle you to take control of the legally-purchased hardware away from every person in the world.

    Non-performing musicians can set up a voluntary-pay web store like Jonathan Coulton, or something similar. But if they can't or won't perform, that is *their* problem, not mine.

  • by countertrolling ( 1585477 ) on Monday April 19, 2010 @12:16AM (#31892640) Journal

    They can still get a contract to do studio work for soundtracks, advertising, etc. They can release one song and get you to pay for more if you like. All sorts of new options will pop up once the gates are broken down.

  • by shadowbearer ( 554144 ) on Monday April 19, 2010 @12:28AM (#31892704) Homepage Journal

      You put your best works out there and you take your chances.

      That's how it should be. Nobody - and especially not the middlemen - should be guaranteed a living by law.


  • by randyleepublic ( 1286320 ) <public@randolphmlee.com> on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:11AM (#31892906) Journal
    >> What about musicians who are weak performers while a genius in the studio?
    They aren't going to be rich. Get over it.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.