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University of Wisconsin-Madison Bucks RIAA 203

Posted by kdawson
from the not-your-agents dept.
stephencrane informs us of an interesting development at UW Madison. The school, along with many others, has been sent "settlement letters" by the RIAA with instructions to forward them to particular students (or other university community members) that the RIAA believes guilty of illegal filesharing. The letters order the assumed filesharers to identify themselves and to pay for the content they are supposed to have "pirated." The university has sent a blanket letter to all students, reiterating the school's acceptable use policies, but has refused to forward individual letters without a valid subpoena. This lawyer's blog reproduces the letter. The campus newspaper has some coverage on the university's stance.
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University of Wisconsin-Madison Bucks RIAA

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  • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:01AM (#18411063)
    I think instead of the blanket statement that they will submit to a subpoena, they should have narrowed it to a subpoena for an alledged violator. Anything less may open the university to full access to student and campus network server logs in a driftnet subpoena. That should be fought tooth and nail.
  • Re:well (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:23AM (#18411187)
    My first thought when I heard about this was rather similar. That is "why did they send the notices to the university, if they knew the exact students?". A subpoena is usually served in person, to the person it is intended for and I believe it is usually signed for by the recipient (if the delivery person can sucker them into doing it before they figure out what it is).
  • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:54AM (#18411293) Journal
    The University is in no way responsible for what students do on their networkNo, but it's up to them as to what policy they enforce on the students regarding network usage. If they say "no piracy", that's their perogative. This isn't the RIAA trying to bully the University into enforcing the law, this is the RIAA bullying the University into providing evidence against the students (they weren't interfering more than a witness interferes with any other case). The Uni was unfazed and asked for a subpoena. End of story.
  • by nacturation (646836) <[nacturation] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:13AM (#18411361) Journal

    I think instead of the blanket statement that they will submit to a subpoena, they should have narrowed it to a subpoena for an alledged violator.
    So you're saying that in certain cases the university should choose to be in contempt of court?
     
  • by Gus (2568) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:45AM (#18411471) Homepage
    Actually, as someone from Wisconsin who now lives in Seattle, I can tell you the difference is in the pronounciation.

    In Wisconsin, it is "you-double-you"
    In Seattle it is "you-dub"

    I have no opinion on why Washingtonians are too lazy to pronounce abbreviations fully.

    Additionally, as a proud alum, the University of Washington was still a mud pit when the University of Wisconsin was shaping the minds of influential thinkers.
  • Re:A good step (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @04:32AM (#18411609) Journal

    This is what librarians do at many libraries. After you return the book, they destroy the circulation record. There is no record of what books you have read.
    ISPs should be held to the same standard. It would be difficult if not impossible to differentiate between someone innocently browsing and someone mischievously pirating, so the onus is not on them to maintain IP address logs but rather on the RIAA to prove copyright infringement. In the same way, it's not the library's responsibility if you OCR or xerox one of their books, it's up to the litigant to prove you infringed on their copyright.

    Given our panache for a Big Brother surveillance society, I fear the notion of having no record of books we have read is already a relic of the history books. We must fight those who wish to record our every movement and action lest we succumb to totalitarianism.

  • Re:low moral (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @05:45AM (#18411869)
    Is it really a problem? Are they making record profits? More importantly, do you really think it can be stopped?

    Why does the "Spies like Us" DVD cost $16 when the VHS costs $6? Is the movie itself worth 6 or 16? Which is it?

    What happened to lower prices for CD's as touted by the RIAA in the late 80s/early 90's? What occured that a medium that costs lest to produce actually increased in price?

    It's too bad that the RIAA has become as greedy as they are. They have no one to blame but themselves for piracy, and nothing you can do will stop it. You can shut down P2P, and people will have LAN parties. Let me ask you this: The parties you love so much, are you paying the RIAA to play the music for a crowd? You or the host of the party should be, but just try to bring that up and see how many people want you drinking their beer. If you attend any party that isn't paying royalty for the music, you are a hypocrite. You are part of the problem, Mr. Holier than thou.

    Once people pirate once, they don't think about it much the 2nd time. Make things reasonably priced, luxury or not, and I doubt people will be so willing to break the law.

    I used to pirate, but now it's pointless. Most music is crap and I can just use iTunes for the 1 good song on any record. One thing you and the music industry must learn is that a song stolen does not equal a lost sale.

  • Re:well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mpe (36238) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @06:00AM (#18411927)
    My first thought when I heard about this was rather similar. That is "why did they send the notices to the university, if they knew the exact students?".

    If they knew the exact students they could have addressed the notices to the students. Most likely the university dosn't want to play detective for free.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @06:49AM (#18412125) Homepage

    UW has a long history of being a center of political activism, as far back as I can remember. Some of my oldest memories are the riots in Madison protesting the Viet Nam war.

    Another incident I remember is a student body president who raided the student association funds to create a life size copy of the head of the Statue of Liberty and the torch and park it out on the frozen lake one winter. Instead of getting kicked out for wasting funds, they were re-elected by a landslide and followed that trick by covering the commons with pink plastic flamingos. The details are hazy but that's mostly accurate.

    This is the school that for years had the Budweiser song as the unofficial school song. They'd play that song before football games and the entire stadium would shutter from tens of thousands of people stomping their feet in time to the music and at the end yelling, "When you say Wissss-con-sin. You've said it all!"

    It's the town where a man got arrested for walking naked down State Street at 2 am. In those days he would not have attracted the attention of the police even then had he not been dragging a dead muskrat at the time. The cops said they stopped to ask where he got the muskrat.

    The point is if there was going to be any place that would tell the clueless mofo's at RIAA to go stuff it's little surprise it would be UW.

    So do people still go to the Stone Hearth (aka The Stone Hole)? Used to listen to this really loud little band there...you may remember then as Cheap Trick.

  • Re:well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by heinousjay (683506) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @07:00AM (#18412175) Journal
    The pirates are mad, and apparently they have mod points.
  • by purpleraison (1042004) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @08:11AM (#18412475) Homepage Journal

    I think instead of the blanket statement that they will submit to a subpoena, they should have narrowed it to a subpoena for an alledged violator. Anything less may open the university to full access to student and campus network server logs in a driftnet subpoena. That should be fought tooth and nail.

    Unfortunately, they don't get to choose which type of subpoena they submit to. If a court ordered subpoena is issued, regardless of what they would like to share they are required to share whatever they subpoena demands (unless the university's lawyer can somehow contest the issued subpoena).

  • Re:A good step (Score:2, Interesting)

    by VShael (62735) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @08:14AM (#18412497) Journal
    But there is a vastly simpler way to stand up to the RIAA on matters like this.

    Erase your logs after a short period of time. Don't keep a record of what IP address was allocated to what account at any given time.

    Oblig : I am not a lawyer...

    I'm pretty sure Europe recently passed a series of data retention laws, forcing any net provider to keep their logs for some period of time. (Might have been something insane and impractical like 7 years... memory not the best right now)

    Considering that Europe usually follows America, in its insane IP laws, I'm very surprised America doesn't have some sort of similar data retention law already.

  • Re:Extortion? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @08:15AM (#18412507)
    Unfortunately, a federal judge threw out the argument that RIAA's actions were in violation of the RICO (racketeering) statutes. Funny how RIAA's actions violate both letter and spirit of RICO. Even funnier how the difference between a criminal enterprise and a legitimate business seems merely based on the efficacy of its lobbyists.
  • Re:Terror tactics. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @10:30AM (#18413923) Homepage Journal
    You can work on changing them but I don't think we want groups of people deciding what laws they will or will not follow for any given day.

    You are naive in believing laws are made in service of people.
    Laws are a product like any other. Laws are commissioned, built and installed by request of highest bidder. Laws are made to protect profits of those who create them. Laws are made to destroy competition. If you blindly follow laws, you're a slave. If you work on changing laws without breaking them, you'll be either of the three: ignored, destroyed, absorbed. If the change you propose is in opposition to interests of these at power, you laws will be made to prevent you from opposing current laws and current rulers, and they will use them to destroy you.
  • Re:Terror tactics. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @01:00PM (#18416813) Homepage Journal

    "How about laws protecting children from molestation?"
    A man found guilty and sentenced to 2 years of prison for child molestation, for crime of washing his half-year-old daughter without using a rubber glove.

    A vote of an ignorant or an idiot counts the same as a vote of an expert or a genius, but the former are more common than the latter. Therefore laws are made to appeal to ignorants and sound smart to idiots. They don't serve solving problems, they serve reelecting the lawmakers. Noble ideas like protection of children, freeing the oppressed and equality of sexes, religions and races change into empty slogans, facades on law duds intended to look good and bring votes. They make children suffer, they limit freedoms, they create unequality between different groups - but they assure reelection. Look at anti-corruption regulations. They are in fact pro-corruption ones. Look at child protection. They are about running an angry mob against scapegoats, not about protecting children. Look at the wonderful freedom and democracy you brought to Croatia and Afghanistan. That's your law.

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