Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Education Movies Music Piracy Television Your Rights Online

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

File Sharing Remains a Perk of College Life

Comments Filter:
  • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @02:59PM (#31888982)

    That's basically what we did when I went to college. Someone would host the DC++ server, and everyone else would connect to it and share files over it. You had to have 1 GB of shared files to join.

    ResNet didn't give a shit, and in fact for a couple of years the guy who hosted the server was about as high up in ResNet as a student can get. We were using a ton of bandwidth, but as long as it was on the internal on-campus network they didn't care. In fact, I heard that we were kind of wink-and-nudge supported by the actual network administrators - college students are going to pirate stuff anyway, so they'd far prefer we do it on the local network, and leave the gathering of new materials to guys who'll use a VPN to a dedicated usenet box.

  • by RapmasterT ( 787426 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:03PM (#31889004)
    WTF does that mean? Sounds like college students are still as arrogant and clueless about life in the real world as when I was one 20+ years ago.

    There's no shortage of file sharing outside of college campus networks, life in the real world just doesn't spoon feed you.
  • by Da Cheez ( 1069822 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:28PM (#31889194)
    We have the same system with DC++ here, including support from ResNet, though the minimum share level is 5GB. Problem now is that since the system is tolerated by the admins, to cover their own skins (understandably) file sharing has been restricted to non-copyrighted files, with violators being permanently banned from DC++. As such it's hardly used anymore except for finding things like Linux distros without cutting into internet bandwidth allotment, and sneakernet's becoming more popular again.
  • Re:not going to work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:32PM (#31889238)
    Then it's not worth listening to.

    Mike Oldfield. Multiple instruments, multiple tracks, all played by one individual. You cannot do that live.

    Now...if you want to say "he sucks", that's ok, you can do that. But other peoples tastes differ.
  • Re:In other news (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:41PM (#31889322)

    The reason the media distributors call it theft isn't because copying removes the product from the rightful owner. It's because copying removes the MONOPOLY from the "rightful" owner. When you copy something whose copyrights belongs to someone else, you are destroying their monopoly on distribution. However, I figure that since you don't obtain the monopoly for yourself when you do this, it's still not theft -- it's more akin to vandalism or willful destruction of (private?) property ;)


    (captcha = "entitled")

  • It's what we did too (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2010 @04:14PM (#31889576)

    and I'm WAY too old for this, there was no internet to speak of when I was in college. We pirated music the old fashioned way, which analog cassette tapes. One guy would buy a new album (an "album" was like what we now call a compact disk, but it was about 1 foot in diameter and made of black plastic) and bring it back to the dorm, and pretty soon everyone who wanted it would have a second or third generation cassette dub (and yes, these were perfectly listenable). That was actually better than file sharing because it meant you spent a lot of time actually listening to music with your friends while making these dubs, instead of being an antisocial geek copying files over a computer.

    Now get off my lawn.

  • Re:not going to work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YourExperiment ( 1081089 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @04:53PM (#31889900)

    You are never going to stop folks from trading files.

    I don't know. You could always name and shame a particular college on the front page of Slashdot, citing the exact method that the students use to share files. That'd probably do enough to drop a few people in the shit.

  • I'm old, but (Score:3, Interesting)

    by speedlaw ( 878924 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @05:06PM (#31890000) Homepage
    Back in the day, we'd hook up five or so cassette tape player in a row when someone got a fresh album, and make five tapes. We had lots of posters in the Student Union (we could even get beer there, that's how old I am) which said "home taping kills music". When CD's came out for twice the price of the vinyl, we saw how true that was. NOT. I've advised my kids to not upload, and share only with those they know in the real world. So far, I now have more music than I could listen to in a a normal lifespan, with no p2p or dodgy websites. Students hiding data from the RIAA (actually their terrified school ISP)-imagine that ! I have no fear for the new generation.
  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Sunday April 18, 2010 @05:23PM (#31890138) Homepage Journal

    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?

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @06:13PM (#31890470) Journal

    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.

    You think they'll sacrifice computers and the internet to save the music and movie industry? Sorry, there's a lot of them who would like to, but it's just not going to happen. And the legal profession will fight for any side; they're hired guns in this, not interested parties.

  • by dcposch ( 1438157 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @06:39PM (#31890676)
    I think it's not a question of ethics, and here's why: you can't share a secret with a million people and expect them to keep it.

    The idea that you can "lend" something that consists purely of a stream of bits (such as a song or video) to someone, or sell it to them while preventing them from sharing it, is a myth. (Software is a bit different, because software is more than just bits; for example, MS does have partial success in getting people to pay for Windows by denying pirates the aspects of Windows that are a service, such as Windows Update.) It's fundamentally impossible; this manifests itself, for example, in the way DRM schemes consistently turn out to be weak.

    I think that actions can be moral, and they can be legal; fortunately, there is strong correlation between the two. However there are actions that are legal but not moral, and there are actions that are morally acceptable but not legal. I think that filesharing falls into the latter category. I think that most people on Slashdot would agree with me: copyright law is the result of corporations' desire for guaranteed profit, not necessarily the result of artist's needs and certainly not a reflection of moral truths.

    Information wants to be free. I see piracy as a temporary condition, a response to a legal system that's currently in deep denial. The sooner we fix it, the better, both for artists and for consumers.
  • Not always... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bensam123 ( 1340765 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @07:12PM (#31890890)
    See, I'm on the other side of the bridge with this one. I came from one of the new campuses that provide notebooks to all their students. They do hand off MPAA and RIAA letters to students and I, as well as other friends of mine, have gotten at least one. It goes from 'we shut off your connection' to 'we will put you on academic probation' to 'we will actually kick you out' based on media influences outside of the school. They actually have a scanner on campus that scans open SMB directories for infringing material and shut off your connection and they have a eMule server that sends out random bad data... right on campus.

    Coming from a more tech oriented campus they decided to be on the bleeding edge of copyright protection as well. Even though I was well aware of file sharing on campus, we never had anything on the scale of DC servers everyone knew about... at least outside of little circles that no one knows about except for a handful of people. Maybe everyone on a floor in a dorm, but it never got bigger then that. Our local LAN club also had copious amounts of sharing going on during actual events, but that usually ended when the event ended.

    Our network admins are either retarded, confident they're doing the right thing, or more then likely they're receiving fringe benefits through large copyright holders for making sure the campus is 'free' of bad stuff.
  • by Rix ( 54095 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @07:49PM (#31891088)

    Much like culture would without piracy? ;)

  • Re:not going to work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <> on Sunday April 18, 2010 @08:12PM (#31891236) Homepage

    I, OTOH, am on neither 'side', but think copyright is dead. Not that it 'should' be...that it is.

    The practical fact is, without some degradation per copy, and/or high costs to copy, there can be no such thing as copyright

    If things are infinitely copyable over 'free' channels, with no work per copier, and almost no work to originally copy...that's it. it's over.

    This isn't some 'Copyright should be dead', it's not any sort of moral judgment at all. Hell, for all I know, the death of copyright will cause a cultural disaster. It's just a fact.

    Copyright was created to stop people from taking a work, spending time and money, and reselling it. That's the point, that's what it manages to stop. It stops the business of copying, when copying had to be a business because no one was out there making their own 35mm film copies, and even if they were, the echos of those copies would quickly disappear as the copies got worse over time...and no one would fund that without any sort of profit possibility, which exposed them to legal sanctions as any illegal business would be.

    Without that effort required...well...

    Imagine a hypothetical world where sex was a heavily regulated industry, and, for some reason, took an amazing amount of prep work and skill. Certain people were allowed to charge for it, and did.

    Others operated outside the law. Sometimes large illegal brothels would spring up and provide mostly identical sex (Piracy rings.), and eventually get shut down by the law, and sometimes people would setting up crappy locations and manage to provide really bad sex. (Aka, analog copies.)

    And now imagine someone figured out how to provide 100% identical sex using a standard bed everyone had in their house, as long as someone who had had sex at some time showed them how.

    And now imagine someone figured out how to copy stuff exactly using the standard computer everyone had in their house, as long as someone had a copy on a computer somewhere.

    Copyright is dead, or at least has been fatally wounded and will be dead soon. It's coasting right now on the fact that a) they own congressmen, and b) citizens are amazingly apathetic. But I suspect in, very soon, the laws will change, simply because people are not following them. I am not, in any sense, arguing this is a 'good' thing, just a 'true' thing.

  • Product placement (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tempsi ( 1657783 ) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @10:28PM (#31891996)

    "Pirates" are in fact paying for some content by exposing themselves to product placement in movies and TV-shows. Anheuser-Busch doesn't care whether the viewer sees their product "legally" or "illegally", as long as they see it.

    In fact, I have personally even downloaded (illegally!) some superbowl commercials intentionally for my viewing pleasure! I'm pretty sure the copyright holders don't really mind though. Or if they do, they are mentally insane.

  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Monday April 19, 2010 @10:16AM (#31895632) Homepage Journal

    I think it's not a question of ethics, and here's why: you can't share a secret with a million people and expect them to keep it.

    The ease of doing a thing doesn't change the ethics of doing a thing. It's easy to drink and drive, too, but in doing so you place other people at risk. Ease doesn't make it ethical.

    The industry uses DRM to reduce the ease of copying. Breaking the DRM does not grant you the right to copy, only the ability. Whether the music is protected or not, copying it is still unethical.

    In the case of file sharing, you reduce revenue to the artist. Arguments about "I never would have bought it anyway" simply further attests to the ease of file sharing. If you have a copy and listen to it, it obviously has some value to you; but as the producers, they get to set the price. Supply and demand. If you disagree with their asking price, walk away. If you have a copy and don't listen to it, perhaps the next person to download it from you will find value in it. In any case it doesn't change the ethics of your having a copy.

    Complaints about industry greed are not valid arguments. Music is not a basic human need. They are under no obligation to provide you with music, and you will not suffer without it. They may dangle it enticingly in front of you. They may market it with videos of attractive people. But if you want it that badly, go play by their rules, as they created it. If they say "pay us $1,000 for a single song", whether or not they are behaving ethically doesn't change how the ethics apply to you. You always have the ethical choice of walking away without it.

    Complaints that "the industry profits but not the artist" are simply not your problem. If the artist chooses to sign a contract that gives them $250,000 plus 0.1% of all album revenue, and commits them to producing five albums, well, then the artist is stupid and gullible. The label is certainly acting unethically towards the artist. If you don't like it, your ethical choices include not purchasing from the label, picketing the label outside the record store, or creating a Hollywood campaign for artist's rights. Copying their music in no way helps the artist, (and simply further inflates industry arguments about "piracy.") It is in no way an ethical response to the mistreatment of artists.

    Note that it's also not legally permitted to "screw them because they tried to screw you." Our society does not permit acts of revenge or vigilantism. If you have been wronged, the application of justice is reserved exclusively to the courts. (I find it ironic that the movie industry makes billions of dollars off movies that show "villains getting what they deserve" yet complain bitterly when it happens to them.)

    Complaints about copyright law itself are similarly flawed. Copyright has existed in this country for two hundred years, and was not created at the behest of corporations but of artists and authors. The most recent changes have been around the extension of the law well beyond the death of the artist (granted by the Congress on behalf of the Disney corporation.) And the DMCA is primarily punishment around the circumvention of the existing copyright law and stiffer penalties for violations of the law, but didn't really change the foundations of copyright. The law has been there longer than the technology for recording music.

    But if you're saying that "numbers somehow make it ethical", now you're finally on to something. If you say that "90% of people think file sharing is OK, let's change the laws", great. Change the laws. Then it all becomes ethical. Until the law goes away, however, it is not ethical.

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde