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Judge Excludes 3 "John Does" From RIAA Subpoena 225

Posted by kdawson
from the sue-doe-actions dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In one of the RIAA's 'John Doe' cases targeting Boston University students, after the University wrote to the Court saying that it could not identify three of the John Does 'to a reasonable degree of technical certainty,' Judge Nancy Gertner deemed the University's letter a 'motion to quash,' and granted it, quashing the subpoena as to those defendants. In the very brief docket entry (PDF) containing her decision, she noted that 'compliance with the subpoena as to the IP addresses represented by these Defendants would expose innocent parties to intrusive discovery.' There is an important lesson to be learned from this ruling: if the IT departments of the colleges and universities targeted by the RIAA would be honest, and explain to the Courts the problems with the identification and other technical issues, there is a good chance the subpoenas will be vacated. Certainly, there is now a judicial precedent for that principle. One commentator asks whether this holding 'represents the death knell to some, if not all, of the RIAA's efforts to use American university staff as copyright cops.'"
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Judge Excludes 3 "John Does" From RIAA Subpoena

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  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:48AM (#25884059) Homepage

    ...a new law requiring better IP tracking built into all new routers and laptops.

    • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:38AM (#25884313)

      Sad but true. just leaving the problem that I can change my mac address and even with username/pass systems pilfering a login/pass from a com girl or arts student in my uni would be childsplay

      • by Alarindris (1253418) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:51AM (#25884667)

        Sad but true. just leaving the problem that I can change my mac address and even with username/pass systems pilfering a login/pass from a com girl or arts student in my uni would be childsplay

        I would like to see more discussion on that actually. I understand that anonymity is sort of the thing that makes the internet great.

        Is having a static home address (123 Cherry Lane) preventing anonymity in the real world? Is that a valid comparison?

        It seems like the point above could/should be a concern to an average user, retaining your identity?

        • by SkyDude (919251) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @09:29AM (#25885629)

          I would like to see more discussion on that actually. I understand that anonymity is sort of the thing that makes the internet great.

          I'm not so sure that total anonymity is such a great thing. It allows too many cretins to make personal attacks on people, essentially convicting someone of a perceived crime, when none may have occurred. Certainly, those who have been the victims would agree.

          Is having a static home address (123 Cherry Lane) preventing anonymity in the real world? Is that a valid comparison?

          When you realize that your home can be seen by anyone via Google Earth or similar service, it does call into question how private is your life. Of course, the view is not real time, but it is a snapshot and who knows what was happening that day? I think a closer comparison might be your landline telephone. It's not completely anonymous, can be traced to an physical address in most cases and there are laws that disallow the use of the phone for certain things such as uttering threats or causing a fraud to be perpetrated.

          I am in no way condoning the actions of the RIAA, but until the failed business model they were assigned to protect is gone, they have the right to stop the unfettered sharing of copyrighted materials. Just like a trace that can be put on a landline phone, and the identity of the phone subscriber found, the RIAA has an obligation to its client to find out who is causing the client to lose revenue and changing one's MAC or IP address may seem like a cool way to beat it, but the law may not be on your side at this time.

          Having said all of that, one has to ask how much longer the recording industry will continue this folly.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I am in no way condoning the actions of the RIAA, but until the failed business model they were assigned to protect is gone, they have the right to try to stop the alleged unfettered sharing of copyrighted materials.

            Fixed that for you.

            Just like a trace that can be put on a landline phone, and the identity of the phone subscriber found,

            This is the same stupid justification that the RIAA uses in all its John Doe suits. The phone subscriber may not be the one using the phone.

            the RIAA has an obligation to its

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by aadvancedGIR (959466)

          "Is having a static home address (123 Cherry Lane) preventing anonymity in the real world?"
          As long as you are not required to display it on yourself everywhere you go, no.

          "Is that a valid comparison?"
          Maybe, changing the MAC address of your computer to someone's else (or spoofing an IP address) to do something wrong is similiar to yelling "I am " to the police while running away from the police.

          "It seems like the point above could/should be a concern to an average user, retaining your identity?"
          Absolutely, b

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Would randomly shuffling IP addresses nightly across the board and purging the previous assignment records fairly quickly be a relatively good defense against the RIAA from an administrative standpoint?

        If you can't associate an IP with a person, you can't sue them. What would they do then, sue the college?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          They very well might try, on grounds of their "impeding the investigation".
          • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:30AM (#25884973) Journal

            How can you be "impeding the investigation" if you took these measures before any such investigation existed? It would be one thing to destroy evidence after being issued a subpoena but I'm not aware of any law that requires IT departments to retain logs of IP assignments.......

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by qwertphobia (825473)
              You're assuming they apply logic where logic is appropriate. I think you give them too much credit.
            • by Sancho (17056) *

              The problem is that then you have no leads if you really do need to track down the person associated with an IP address for some reason. "Someone hacked into your gradebook? Sorry, no clue who it may have been."

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Shakrai (717556)

                Then I suppose you have to decide what's more important -- having the ability to track people down for other purposes or preventing your shop from being used as RIAA's evidence gathering team.

                • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                  by Sancho (17056) *

                  Well, gosh, when you spin it that way, who'd let themselves be used?!

                  Besides, it's not about gathering evidence. The RIAA and their investigative agencies do that. Universities just provide a name.

                  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @09:30AM (#25885647) Journal

                    Well, gosh, when you spin it that way, who'd let themselves be used?!

                    Eh, I wasn't spinning, that's how I really see it. My job as an IT person is to make sure that the network is functional for my users. My job isn't to help RIAA build a case that will be used to bankrupt one of my users based on some thin argument like "making available". Not having logs of IP assignments (or keeping those logs for very short periods of time) isn't going to be a huge hindrance to me -- so I choose not to keep them in my shop.

                    The RIAA and their unlicensed investigative agencies do that

                    Fixed that for you :)

                    • by Moryath (553296)

                      The MafiAA and their illegal, unlicensed thugs do that

                      Fixed it for you. Gotta make sure you use the right terms. An "unlicensed investigative agency" is an oxymoron, call them what they are.

                    • by Shakrai (717556)

                      I didn't want to be accused of spinning again ;)

                      But yeah, it is a mafia. Funny thing is that RIAA's antics have made me more likely to purchase music -- from non-RIAA labels. Before I was likely to just download whatever I wanted (yeah, guilty as charged) -- now I check out RIAA Radar [riaaradar.com] and hand over some scratch if I hear a song that I like and discover the artist is signed with an indie label.

                      I doubt my purchases matter much in the grand scheme of things but I'm going to vote with my wallet anyway.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      I check out RIAA Radar [riaaradar.com] and hand over some scratch if I hear a song that I like and discover the artist is signed with an indie label. I doubt my purchases matter much in the grand scheme of things but I'm going to vote with my wallet anyway.

                      They matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                      I hope so. I was actually pleasantly surprised to discover how much non-RIAA music is out there and how often my favorite radio station plays it. That actually surprised me the most -- the radio station in question is owned by Clear Channel yet I've discovered a lot of good indie music through them. Who would've thought? Pandora is another good source in my experience, although it seems to take them longer to get new albums up for some reason (licensing issues?)

                      Yes. And I'm making a collection. I have a list of free links to indie music sources which I call "Liberated Music [blogspot.com]". And I have advertising links for indie-only music [blogspot.com] where I and my blog actually get a commission if you buy something.

                    • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:57AM (#25887725) Journal

                      The latter is far more likely than the former to have the desired effect. It seems to me that downloading whatever you want has been proven repeatedly to be used by the RIAA to justify their tactics.

                      Oh, I wasn't downloading whatever I want to make a point to RIAA. I was downloading whatever I want because it was free. I think most people would acknowledge on some level that it's wrong to do that -- what I would dispute is that the person who engages in file-sharing deserves to be punished more harshly than the person who shoplifts a CD.

                      If somebody got a $222,000 fine for shoplifting a $20 CD I'm fairly certain that it would cause public outrage and probably be ruled unconstitutional. Funny RIAA uses the civil system to accomplish what the criminal system would acknowledge as being completely disproportional to the "crime" that was committed......

                      Personally, I hope they all burn in hell.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                      Oh, I wasn't downloading whatever I want to make a point to RIAA. I was downloading whatever I want because it was free. I think most people would acknowledge on some level that it's wrong to do that

                      Fair enough - I've just seen that used as a justification for it often enough that I tend to jump to conclusions on the matter.

                      what I would dispute is that the person who engages in file-sharing deserves to be punished more harshly than the person who shoplifts a CD.

                      On the other hand, shoplifting a CD can get you jail time if you do it often enough. At least they haven't successfully reached that point in their lobbying (yet).

                      Multiple thousand dollar fines is /extremely/ disproportionate to the act performed - all the more so because they have no proof of damages; no real proof that anything happened (at least on the information we've had in

                    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                      by RobertM1968 (951074)

                      Multiple thousand dollar fines is /extremely/ disproportionate to the act performed - all the more so because they have no proof of damages; no real proof that anything happened (at least on the information we've had in cases so far); nor any proof of amount of distribution that was actually done.

                      That being said, there is a difference between shoplifting a CD for yourself, and making copies of that CD and giving them away on a NYC streetcorner. I don't think it's unreasonable to have financial penalties beyond what shoplifting merits. The major stumbling block there is that it should require definitive /proof/ - something that is literally impossible to get given the current architecture of the Internet.

                      And one is a civil matter, while the other is a criminal matter. Everyone seems to forget that here. Downloading (or otherwise acquiring) music (whether through legal or illegal means) and then distributing that music en-masse for profit or in a fashion that hurts the profits of the copyright holders (where it can be successfully argued some form of benefit is gained by the person doing it) is a criminal matter (that may also include a civil component).

                      Currently, file sharing/P2P/etc is seen as a civil mat

                  • universities can try to provide a name but if someone spoof my mac address or steals my login for the wireless by one means or another then I could be wrongly accused.

                    Ask the university for the name attached to a student ID and you'll get a name, ask them who was using a certain IP on a certain date and you'll get evidence of who it might have been using that IP on that date.

            • I didn't say they would succeed, merely that the RIAA is clueless enough to still try to make it the universities' fault.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I believe that the last round of funds approved by the U.S. Congress for higher education included a provision requiring any educational institution receiving federal funds to make "all reasonable efforts" to combat illegal file sharing. I am confident that the federal government would regard your suggestion as the opposite of making "reasonable efforts" to combat illegal file sharing.
              • by Shakrai (717556)

                I am confident that the federal government would regard your suggestion as the opposite of making "reasonable efforts" to combat illegal file sharing.

                Perhaps. But there are other "reasonable efforts" that one can take -- and besides, who said I work for a higher education institution that receives Federal funding?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ACMENEWSLLC (940904)

        So you assign RSA tokens to the University children, errr, students. When they hook up to the University Network they are given access to a locked down VLAN with a host specific subnet and access only to the RSA login page. This prevents the users from setting a bypass proxy on an multihomed PC.

        The student has to enter their userid, password, pin, and RSA Token. Once this is done then the MAC address is given a short lease on the real student network. The software updates the Cisco CAM tables so that m

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HungryHobo (1314109)

          Shh! stop giving them ideas!!!
          Also that sounds expensive... and hell to deal with 10K students who can barely use a mouse trying to understand why they need to remember those passwords and why it wtopped working after they deleted those files etc....

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by HungryHobo (1314109)

            Really it raises the question: could the total cost of fighting file sharing like special equipment, thousands of lawyers, legally mandated logging at ISP's etc surpass the total wealth generated by music. Would it be cheaper to buy the hardware and hire the people to police/admin your network to avoid litigation or just cut a deal with the mafiaa for protection from their thugs.

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:12AM (#25884189)
    When file sharing your music and movies, use public wifi points to crush any lawsuit potential from the RIAA!
  • We can hope... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wild_quinine (998562) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:52AM (#25884389) Homepage
    ... but there's little hope to be found.

    The suddenoutbreakofcommonsense shown on this small scale is coming too late, I fear. Because even now, ISPs are caving to big media. Phorm worms its way through many UK ISPs, apparently undiminished. A consortium of service providers have agreed to keep tabs on the situation for the record insdustry, amongst others, and send out warning letters to infringers. Usenet has been all but dropped from the roster of ISP services.

    Unlike the naysayers, I always believed that the internet would remain free. After all, ISPs have always been protected as carriers, just like the postal service - and the postal service is not subject to search and seizure without due process. Nobody can open my private mail (unless it crosses borders) and check for pirated DVDs, without a really good reason to suspect that I'm pirating DVDs.

    But I was wrong, and stupid, and for once in my damn life, too optimistic.

    Because for every smart call like the one above, there are ten stories of companies we need to be able to trust voluntarily caving to pressure. It's too damn late.

    • Re:We can hope... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jambox (1015589) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:32AM (#25884985)
      You may be right but I don't think it's over yet - it wouldn't be too tough to routinely encrypt most or all traffic. Anyhow, even if the media companies do manage to maim the internet by throwing lawyers at ISPs, I doubt this'll save the record companies, because the internet is only part of their problem. If I want to I can get 100+ free albums just by asking people who sit near me at work, without having to be online at all. Virtually everyone's got a cheap USB hard disk plugged into their laptops, each one of which can store enormous amounts of music.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by oreaq (817314)
        Of course it will not save the record companies. The problem is the damage they do while dying.
    • This line in particular caught my eye:
      "...the death knell to some, if not all, of the RIAA's efforts to use American university staff as copyright cops"

      I thought, well ... hm. They just got a federal law passed creating those copyright cops, didn't they? Minor setback here, if that?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      After all, ISPs have always been protected as carriers

      That's one huge stick that can be used against American ISPs who get too aggressive in their traffic monitoring: the "safe harbor" clause of the DMCA [cornell.edu].:

      (a) Transitory Digital Network Communications.â" A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief, or, except as provided in subsection (j), for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement of copyright by reason of the providerâ(TM)s transmitting, routing, or providing connections for, material through a system or network cont

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:08AM (#25884451) Homepage

    In 2001, my alma mater had 2 45mbps lines for the university and they were consistently hammered by the students doing file sharing. It got to the point that some people in the CS department joked that banging out packets across tin-cans-on-strings would be faster than using the campus network when classes were generally over for the day.

    Then, the university instituted packet shapers across the network and it got usable again. Usable to the point where I didn't feel like I was on a 14.4k modem again.

    If you want to bootleg content, then pay for your own connection.

    • by Skye16 (685048) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:38AM (#25884593)

      Isn't that what I'm did by paying the obscene "technology fee"? What ELSE is that 1224$ going toward?

      Is it hookers? Hookers and blow? You can tell me the truth. I won't be half as mad if you tell me it's hookers and blow.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        If you're spending $122 for a hooker and her drug habit, you're paying WAY too much.

        • by Shakrai (717556)

          Tell that to Elliot Spitzer ;)

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            I guess the citizens of New York paid too much!

            (damn, I got penalized for typing too fast again. "Slow down cowboy it's been 19 seconds since you hit reply)

            • by Shakrai (717556)

              Yeah, we did. It's a shame too because we had really high hopes for him. He won 61 out of 62 counties too so he actually had a mandate to do some of the stuff he promised. Then he burned up his political capital on drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants instead of reforming Albany.....

              Guess you can't win them all. At least we got a funny blind dude who isn't afraid to crack jokes at his own expense out of the deal ;)

      • We paid $125/semester. Granted, our school also didn't feel the need to keep up with the Jones WRT bandwidth.

      • Maybe the money's going toward Package Shaping software...
    • by wild_quinine (998562) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:42AM (#25884613) Homepage

      If you want to bootleg content, then pay for your own connection.

      I have to disagree with your final point; in almost any University environment the students ARE paying for their connections one way or another. The terms under which they can use it, however, are usually a bit more restrictive that your standard ISP.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aztektum (170569)

        Simply putting up the money doesn't mean you have the right to impact other peoples use of the same infrastructure they're paying for. Downloaders aren't the only ones using the network.

        I agree that when you pay for something like an iPhone it's yours to do with as you please. A uni, however, is offering you a service for a fee. They're free to dictate terms on the use of that service. Don't like the terms, goto a different uni.

    • by h4x354x0r (1367733) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:09AM (#25884755)
      I work at a U, and they charge the students, faculty, staff, departments, and everything else that has any money, an obscene amount of money for a network connection. Students ARE paying, and barely getting their money's worth, even when file sharing.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:36AM (#25885027)
      Please note the change I made to your thread title. A huge difference exists in the concept and implementation of policing vs managing a network.

      Policing the network requires a mindset which assumes the students will do bad things and the administration is determined to catch and punish accused systems perpetrators.

      Managing the network, as your example shows, is the proper implementation of policies and configurations which allow the University community to effectively perform their work.

      Managing the network is more effective and provides a more collegial atmosphere.

      In my CS Department, all the information which could be used by the RIAA to track student usage of systems is NOT logged. Attempts to obtain unauthorized access are logged; but not successful authorized access. [All you security types can take your immediate objections and stuff them in your policy orifice.]

  • spoof::poof (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lq_x_pl (822011) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:19AM (#25884491)
    The means to spoofing one's variety of e-identities (including MAC, IP, Useragent) are light years ahead of the means of tracking use!
    The RIAA could demand some draconian cerberos system, but I doubt that rendering large campus networks unusable will garner them any support from the already annoyed campus IT admins. Anyway, much like the AV companies vs virus-writers, this battle is an entirely defensive one.

    It's nice to see something logical leaking out of the judicial system, however.

  • Death Knell? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thyamine (531612) <<thyamine> <at> <ofdragons.com>> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:20AM (#25884501) Homepage Journal
    Isn't every one of these stories tagged as being the death knell for the RIAA? Don't get me wrong, I'm always glad to see the RIAA losing in these types of cases, but 'death knell for the RIAA' is getting to be 'Year for Linux on the Desktop'.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by azgard (461476)

      'death knell for the RIAA' is getting to be 'Year for Linux on the Desktop'.

      So, in 2009?

    • Re:Death Knell? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sj0 (472011) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:39AM (#25885059) Homepage Journal

      Depends how you define "the year of linux on the desktop", doesn't it?

      The fastest growing segment of the PC market, netbooks, are split between Windows XP and linux. That, along with reaching mature status on important projects like web browsers, office software, media players, and Instant Messagers, is slowly making linux a viable alternative to Windows, as the netbook market is showing.

      Similarly, depends how you define "death knell". I don't think any one of these bad things is going to spell the end of the RIAA crusade against their customers. I do think, however, that the slow build-up of legal ways to avoid being attacked will make their crusade more effort than it's worth. They'll go from being able to sue 3000 people in a single lawsuit to having to focus on a few, then maybe one. At that point, it's not economical to sue potential customers anymore, and they'll just have to figure out ways to make money instead.

      • by chaim79 (898507)

        Also, the fastest growing computer company is Apple, and OS X is based off of BSD (cousin to Linux?). So Linux (BSD) is growing faster then the rest of the industry.

        And just to preempt the trolls, Yes I am a Mac fan/user, own 2 of them, I also have 4 Unix boxes up and running, and Win XP in a VM.

        I would Love to see someone else come up with a really nice desktop system like OS X, simply because competition is good and I don't want Mac to get to monopoly status, ever. (And no, they are not a monopoly because

        • Re:Death Knell? (Score:4, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:02AM (#25886903) Journal

          BSD (cousin to Linux?)

          It's pretty hard to class OS X as related to Linux. OS X is UNIX, with code from AT&T UNIX via 4BSD and later via FreeBSD and code from CMU Mach. It is UNIX(tm), as it has passed certification by The Open Group.

          Linux is a clone of UNIX, shares no code with UNIX (except a few small bits taken from BSD, mostly headers), and is not certified as UNIX(tm).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      Don't worry, the release of Duke Nukem 4ever will be the death knell for the RIAA and the year of Linux on the desktop!

      And ponies. Can't forget the ponies.

    • Re:Death Knell? (Score:4, Informative)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @09:10AM (#25885377) Homepage Journal

      Isn't every one of these stories tagged as being the death knell for the RIAA? Don't get me wrong, I'm always glad to see the RIAA losing in these types of cases, but 'death knell for the RIAA' is getting to be 'Year for Linux on the Desktop'.

      Well look at it this way. If this case stands for the principle that no John Doe information can be divulged unless the ISP can identify the "alleged infringer" to a "reasonable degree of technical certainty", and that principle is followed by other courts.... very few, if any, "alleged infringers", will ever be identified.

    • by Thaelon (250687)

      As long as people continue to buy physical CDs and DVDs, the *IAA will never go away, and neither will the labels and publishers or whatever.

      However, they will experience a rather severe drop in profits since their business models for the last hundred years depended on control. Control of the ability to make copies of intangible things and distribute those corporeal anchors of intangible things for a heavy profit. The problem that they've failed to adapt to is the creation of a very easy and very accessib

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DavidTC (10147)

        There isn't any music 'they can face'.

        For copyright to exist, it required a minimal level of effort required to violate copyright, especially at the 'mass production' level.

        That no longer exist. Ergo, copyright no longer works. I'm not saying that as a moral judgment, I'm not saying it's a good thing or a bad thing, I'm not saying whether I like it or not, I have no idea what that will do to the production of creative works.

        Copyright was always aimed more at commercial interests than anyone else, because

  • Change of direction (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345)
    Is it just my imagination or is there a subtle change of emphasis since the US Presidential election?

    This isn't flamebait (I hope) but a genuine query. I have the distinct impression that, now people know that, specifically, Cheney is on the way out, judges are perhaps slightly more willing to assert the rights of the individual and liberal institutions and politicians are starting to find their backbones. (I'm reminded of Jay Gould's joke about the biologists who discovered a creature with a very small bra

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by infalliable (1239578)

      Doubtful. The president/executive branch has very little influence on the lower courts. They weigh in on matters that will directly affect them, such as national security, but file sharing tends to be pretty low on the list of important things to the executive branch.

      Biden has also a history of being pretty pro-copyright, so that would actually skew it the other way.

      I think it has more to do with the courts (especially specific judges) getting sick of the RIAA.

    • After all, the President-Elect is an expert on the Constitution

      Given the astonishing number of right-wingers usually to be found on /., I give it about ten minutes now before someone demands to see a birth certificate.

      • Given the astonishing number of right-wingers usually to be found on /.

        You're kidding right? Slashdot is overwhelmingly left. Not that that's good/bad, but if you think slashdot is a right-wing haven, then your right/left equilibrium is completely out of touch with reality.

        • You're kidding right? Slashdot is overwhelmingly left. Not that that's good/bad, but if you think slashdot is a right-wing haven, then your right/left equilibrium is completely out of touch with reality.

          Slashdot has a very strong right-wing bias. Seriously. Read any discussion along the lines of 'Unions: good thing or bad thing?' and tell me this crowd's left-wing. The consensus here seems to be 'Unions are a Bad Thing and we should all negotiate individually with the bosses, even if that means programmer

          • by Shakrai (717556)

            Read any discussion along the lines of 'Unions: good thing or bad thing?' and tell me this crowd's left-wing

            I think your mistaking the crowd with pudge and his friends ;) This site isn't Daily Kos by any stretch of the imagination (thank god) but I've never heard it called right-leaning before. Do you have any links to all these anti-union discussions you are thinking about?

            That's pretty dedicated right-wing ideology

            I don't think being skeptical about Unions is automatically a right-wing ideology. I'm a registered Democrat and I'm skeptical about Unions. I think that a lot of them started out with the best of intentions but got corrupted overtime and

          • It's libertarian (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Nerdposeur (910128) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @09:50AM (#25885887) Journal

            I think the problem here is poor definition of "left" vs. "right."

            Ask a question pertaining to abortion, and most of the answers here are "anything goes," which sounds left-wing. Ask a question about the economy, and the answers are more "government isn't your sugar daddy," which sounds right-wing.

            I think the most common /. viewpoint is best described as "libertarian," which can be summed up as "leave us alone and don't tell us what to do."

            • I think the problem here is poor definition of "left" vs. "right." Ask a question pertaining to abortion, and most of the answers here are "anything goes," which sounds left-wing. Ask a question about the economy, and the answers are more "government isn't your sugar daddy," which sounds right-wing. I think the most common /. viewpoint is best described as "libertarian," which can be summed up as "leave us alone and don't tell us what to do."

              Precisely. The tendency is towards old-fashioned American rugged

              • So you're defining "left" and "right" in purely economic terms. And someone else defines it differently, leading to confusion. Which was my point.

                Human viewpoints come in many flavors, and labels are always oversimplifications. A graph like this [wikipedia.org], which shows dimensions of personal and economic freedom and at least four possible viewpoints, is better, although still a simplification.

                I think the fact that the moralistic Christian tendency happens to be aligned with the right wing parties is a quirk of America

            • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:21AM (#25886303) Homepage Journal

              I think the problem here is poor definition of "left" vs. "right." Ask a question pertaining to abortion, and most of the answers here are "anything goes," which sounds left-wing. Ask a question about the economy, and the answers are more "government isn't your sugar daddy," which sounds right-wing. I think the most common /. viewpoint is best described as "libertarian," which can be summed up as "leave us alone and don't tell us what to do."

              I think any attempt to distill a prevailing political orientation on Slashdot is doomed to failure. There is, in truth, a great deal of diversity here.

              The only common thread is that each of us is right.

          • Slashdot:
            Leaning left for civil rights/privacy
            Leaning right when it comes to money

            also:
            " A left-wing group would be all in favour of workers' collectives striving to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof."
            I can't believe you said that with a straight face.
            Sure unions are a good thing to the extent that companies will be so afraid of getting a union in their shop they'll treat employees decently. (assuming the right to join a

  • by The Second Horseman (121958) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:57AM (#25884703)

    Via other legislation, it looks like colleges and universities in the US are going to be expected to take active steps - training and education, and likely technical as well - to curb piracy or else risk losing federal funding. It's part of the "Higher Education Opportunity Act". They're now in the "rulemaking" phase, but I find it hard to believe that the Department of Education is going to be particularly accommodating, and I'm not confident that the new administration will be substantially better than the old on this issue. I think this case is going to give the RIAA/MPAA and their allies in congress something to point at to say "See! We need more protection".

    If we're required to do blocking and monitoring, the BU defense won't hold, because we'll have the data. At this point, the biggest factor is the delay. If you're a university buying service through a provider, and the letter goes to them first, it takes at least a week, often more, to get to you. By that point, there's usually not even any reason to look for the torrent they're complaining about.

    • by Sun.Jedi (1280674) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:57AM (#25885237) Journal

      If we're required to do blocking and monitoring, the BU defense won't hold, because we'll have the data.

      I wonder what kind of ridiculous fine structure or penalties there will be for not logging what you monitor?

      How about a well documented disk failure event on the file system containing all the logs? "Sorry, Your Honor, we logged everything, and then the disk failed."

      Are we going to be legislated into complete backup strategies? I doubt it.

      I think the Senate/Obama stance is that bad business models can be allowed to fail (See GM, Ford, Chryseler). It that holds true, the business model of the RIAA/Big 4, which was a sinking ship before Sep08, will certainly have some scrutiny before legislation. Couple that with overwhelming projections of a poor buying season, and I can't see how the RIAA has much of a leg to stand on here.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      active steps - training and education, and likely technical as well - to curb piracy or else risk losing federal funding

      The universities are sending warships to Somalia?

  • " One commentator asks whether this holding 'represents the death knell to some, if not all, of the RIAA's efforts to use American university staff as copyright cops.'"

    We can only hope, and keep fighting this kind of tyranny being hoisted upon us by the RIAA.

    I do not think copyright 'law' needs tossed out, as it seems to be the baby in the bathwater, but there is some disruptive changes needed.**

    **Disruptive to current models of music distribution, and if you think the current 'woolly mammoths' won't go to

  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:27AM (#25884937)
    This was, by my count, slashdot article #921431008 which slants positively for the "less power for rightsholders" side. I'm still waiting for slashdot article #1 where somebody presents a decent and fair plan that both acknowledges new technologies and the possibilities that they bring AND the rights of the rightsholders to be fairly compensated and to reasonably punish/recover from wrongdoers.

    Of course, it would be so very socially awkward to point out that virtually all policies slashdot have supported so far amount to in effect a regressive wealth transfer from the poor to the wealthy, where the poor who are for whatever reason unable to use a p2p service and thus purchase CDs subsidize the entertainment of those who otherwise generally can afford it. Oh no. Pointing out such things is just not cool.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @09:11AM (#25885389) Homepage Journal

      I'm still waiting for slashdot article #1 where somebody presents a decent and fair plan that both acknowledges new technologies and the possibilities that they bring AND the rights of the rightsholders to be fairly compensated and to reasonably punish/recover from wrongdoers.

      Sorry bud, but it ain't gonna happen. The "rightsholders" are the labels - this is only one of many reforms that need to be made. The recording artists should own copyright; they should NOT be "works for hire".

      Copyright lengths need to be brought back down to sane levels. I should NOT have to pay for a Jimi Hendrix download.

      Copyrights need to be registered again. Automatic granting of copyright is madness.

      Out of print works should not be covered by copyright.

      it would be so very socially awkward to point out that virtually all policies slashdot have supported so far amount to in effect a regressive wealth transfer from the poor to the wealthy

      I don't know where you got the idea that Sony-BMI executives (who actually own the copyrights) are poor and the downloaders are wealthy.

      I suggest you read Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture [free-culture.cc]. The following quote is abridged:

      File sharers share different kinds of content. We can divide these different kinds into four types.

      A. There are some who use sharing networks as substitutes for purchasing content.

      B. There are some who use sharing networks to sample music before purchasing it.

      C. There are many who use sharing networks to get access to copyrighted content that is no longer sold or that they would not have purchased because the transaction costs off the Net are too high. For content not sold, this is still technically a violation of copyright, though because the copyright owner is not selling the content anymore, the economic harm is zero--the same harm that occurs when I sell my collection of 1960s 45-rpm records to a local collector.

      D. Finally, there are many who use sharing networks to get access to content that is not copyrighted or that the copyright owner wants to give away.

      Whether on balance sharing is harmful depends importantly on how harmful type A sharing is.

      While the numbers do suggest that sharing is harmful, how harmful is harder to reckon. It has long been the recording industry's practice to blame technology for any drop in sales. The history of cassette recording is a good example.

      The fact is, the labels are on the wrong side of history. Independant (non-RIAA) artists have learned to use the internet to their advantage. The RIAA wants to use copyright law to kill the independant competetion, who use Lessig's "D" as a means of promotion.

      It isn't about music lovers "stealing" music -- study after study shows that "pirates" spend more money on music than non-pirates. It's about squashing competetion. The RIAA has radio, the indies have P2P, so the RIAA wants to kill P2P.

      Nobody outside the industry who understands the situation is on the RIAA's side.

    • by Binestar (28861)

      You suck at counting.

    • If you have a solution that is a decent and fair plan that both acknowledges new technologies and the possibilities that they bring AND the rights of the rightholders to be fairly compensated and to reasonably punish/recover from wrongdoers, I for one would be interested in hearing it.

      Here's the thing about copyright in the digital age. For software, music, videos, the marginal (per additional copy) cost is zero. Now, given that it takes no effort to copy it, and anybody can do it in his own home (or his parents' I suppose), how can you realistically stop that, without invading everyone's privacy? How can you even really know that they're doing it? Same thing with downloading it: the only way to know is to invade the privacy of the people by monitoring all their transfers. And even then, it's an imperfect system. How do you know what they have the right to down/upload? How do you deal with authorization? What about false positives? False negatives?

      Also, your argument about how it's a regressive wealth transfer from the poor to the wealthy is a bit off-track. If the government(s) imposed a tax on everyone that was used to compensate artists for the creation, it will most likely be nowhere near as draconian as you make it seem. It's not like the government will charge a flat tax on everyone. Presumably, like other "progressive" taxes, it will be charged at a percentage, based on your ability to pay. Thus rich people will pay more and poor people will pay less. There will most likely be a group who pays nothing into this at all, like with income tax. Also, is it really a transfer to the wealthy? I know when you think of artists, you imagine the pop sensation of the day who has millions and millions of dollars, but there are still lots of "starving artists" out there.

      You're making the issue too emotionally charged by using terms like "regressive wealth transfer from the poor to the wealthy", which a lot of people emotionally oppose. But it's not really like that.

    • This was (a) a news report about a judge quashing a subpoena, (b) followed by a quotation of an opinion by a commentator. There was no slant in the news, and it provides a link to the actual document. The expression of opinion was clearly denominated as such. I'm under no obligation to come up with a "plan". I have no training as a "planner", I'm a litigation lawyer. Me coming up with a 'plan' would be like asking me to do your plumbing.... I don't think you'd be very happy with the end result.
      • by Shakrai (717556)

        Me coming up with a 'plan' would be like asking me to do your plumbing

        Ray the plumber? Is that you? ;)

      • Unfortunately, some people just have an axe to grind of some sort, and they will happily throw their opinion into any thread that's even vaguely related to their pet topic.

        Also, far too many people live by "disagree with me = bias". But I guess as a lawyer, you deal with all sorts, so it's probably not necessary for me to tell you that...

    • And I'm still waiting for a copyright law that presents a decent and fair plan that both acknowledges new technologies and possibilities that they bring.

      Poor people don't purchase cds. If they don't have a computer or can't use p2p they get a copied cd from their friends. Sneakernet. Who do you think seeds these downloads? Someone, somewhere had to buy the cd to begin with. If you ask me it's the exact opposite of what you say. It is robin hood in effect. (minus the fact that there is no money involved and

    • by skeeto (1138903) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:54AM (#25886795)

      AND the rights of the rightsholders to be fairly compensated and to reasonably punish/recover from wrongdoers*.

      In the US, where the article takes place, there is no right for writers/artists/developers to be "fairly" compensated**. None whatsoever. In fact, it is quite the opposite: it is our right to share culture freely. The purpose of copyright, as described by the US constitution, is meant to serve the public by encouraging the growth of the public domain. The public temporarily waives their natural rights to freely share their culture in order to encourage writers/artists/developers to write/sing/develop. Before the digital age, this was a right individual people couldn't even exercise in the first place, so they were getting a real bargain out of it.

      The problem is that the temporary part is gone. Copyright terms are way too long, longer than human lifetimes. We really should be legally allowed to freely share everything from (at least) the 80's and before. All these works should be in the public domain by now. This is why you might see this slant on /., because copyright is way out of balance and unconstitutional. It needs to serve the public again. I bet you will find that many, if not most, works on P2P networks would be legal to share if we had reasonable copyright terms.

      * As a side note, you said "wrongdoers" to describe people breaking laws. Please don't mix up right/wrong with legal/illegal. These are completely unrelated.

      ** In other countries authors may actually have rights that don't exist in the US. For example, in the UK there are a set of non-transferable "moral rights" for authors. Since I live in the US I don't have to worry much about this, though.

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