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University of Wisconsin-Madison Bucks RIAA 203

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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  • well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:16AM (#18411137) Homepage
    They're not so much "Standing up to the RIAA", they're merely asking for due process in the form of a proper subpoena. The RIAA has enjoyed a remarkable level of convenience up until this point with regards to their university settlements, it will be interesting to see if they actually bother to take the time to get the required paperwork together. All of their other cases that have shown up in the media have seemed pretty slapdash, at best.
  • A good step (Score:5, Insightful)

    by btempleton ( 149110 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:20AM (#18411393) Homepage
    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.

    Then if the RIAA shows up, not simply with letters, but with lawsuits and court orders, you still can simply say "don't have the info."

    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.

    Yes, this means giving up using the logs for your own enforcement activities done after the fact. You can have a live database, or even keep the records for a few hours if you want to respond to problems same day. After that, no luck. But why is that so terrible? It's not like people who want to be anonymous for something truly nasty can't find an open wireless node these days. Main problem is that IT admins can't bear the thought of giving up control.

    However, this would save the universities a ton of money (no need for legal department to handle requests) and it would also save the students a ton of money ($4000 per student served, $3000 with the "discount") which they could be spending on education.
  • how it should be (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mastershake_phd ( 1050150 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:35AM (#18411445) Homepage
    This is how it should be. No company (or school) should give out anything just because they got a letter. A court order should be the only time they give anything up. Sadly this does not seem to be the case. It must be cheaper for them to just cave to demands than fight them. Customers just dont care.
  • by subsonic ( 173806 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @04:23AM (#18411579) Journal
    As most people on this site are aware of, the RIAA has been sending letters like this to colleges all over the country for years now. I'm sure the language changes, basically trying to pry open cases that they can then use to prove that University networks are somehow responsible for the continued "piracy".

    Wisconsin's response is totally in keeping with the practices of any of the major universities that have recieved such letters. And the fact that they said, "show us a court order, and we'll do it" is not "bucking" anything, unless following the law is now rebellious ("bizarro!").
  • Extortion? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aoreias ( 721149 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @04:32AM (#18411611)
    It seems to me that the threat of a lawsuit unless one pays up is exactly what constitutes extortion. Anyone know of any cases where people are standing up and taking legal action against the RIAA/corporations the RIAA is representing?
  • Re:well (Score:2, Insightful)

    by prichardson ( 603676 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @05:05AM (#18411735) Journal
    because using strong-arm tactics to corner a market, financially ruin families, and hamstring technological advances is just like committing genocide...

    The RIAA is bad, but they're nothing compared to the Nazis.
  • Terror tactics. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @06:28AM (#18412043) Homepage Journal
    How cost-effective are suicide bombings?

    You kill 2-5 people, you destroy maybe $3000 worth of property. One would think this is hardly worth the effort and sacrifice.
    But 5 or so such bombings costed Egypt a few billion dollars in lost tourism profits.

    RIAA doesn't do this to profit from the lawsuits, but to stop people from using P2P. Create enough fuss around it, make people afraid of using it, show that no matter who you are, 8yo girl, mother of 8 kids, old granny, a guy after stroke, you're not safe. They don't care that you hate them, just like you hate the terrorists. They just want to scare you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @08:39AM (#18412675)
    On the one hand: Kudos to U-W for refusing to be the process-serving stooge of its students' lazy enemy.

    On the other hand: There is a famous story about a Roman regional governor who was presented with a man accused of a crime. The governor did not believe that the man's behavior was actually criminal. He is said to have publicly washed his hands to show that he would not be involved in prosecuting the man.

    It's what U-W does next that will matter.
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:35AM (#18413241)
    So you're saying that in certain cases the university should choose to be in contempt of court?

    No! I'm suggesting an over reaching subpoena should be contested. For example, an RIAA subpoena for your ISP for the infringer using IP x.x.x.x at 2:50 UCT on Jan 24 2007 is proper. Asking your ISP for all subscriber logs, port usage including times, and to whowm they connected to is over reaching and a fishing trip for evedince of activities they have no knowledge about.

    Do you think Comcast will give all subscriber records to the RIAA to troll through for everyone who connected to a Torrent Tracker with just a simple subpoena? The subpoena has to have evidence to support it and it can't be over reaching the evidence.

    There is a reason the RIAA does not have all the server logs from Comcast, Qwest, and every University. They have asked in the past. Fishing trips into ISP server logs and subscriber databases isn't allowed.

    That doesn't keep the RIAA from trying to get a fishing license anytime possible in an investigation.
  • Re:Terror tactics. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by svendsen ( 1029716 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:45AM (#18413337)
    "RIAA doesn't do this to profit from the lawsuits, but to stop people from using P2P"

    The RIAA does not want to stop P2P, it wants to stop their music from being given away for free over P2P. However, right now, it seems the only way to stop it is to shut them down which is different. For example if all music illegally on P2P went away do you think the RIAA would care anymore? No.

    What shocks me is that a crime is committed and people on here will justify it till the cows come home. Doesn't matter if you dont like the laws you still need to follow them. 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.

  • by Stewie241 ( 1035724 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:52AM (#18413443)
    but this is different than the incident you are referring to... UWisconsin isn't necessarily saying there is nothing wrong with the actions of the students. They are only saying that they won't release the information unless forced to by the law courts. In fact, they're acceptable use policy presumably excludes illegal activity. I would look at the stance of UW, but I guess the page has been slashdotted :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @10:28AM (#18413907)

    If I had mod points, you would get them. As an alumni of UW, it's both an awesome and hypocritical place. For every 'good' protest for good reasons there another just for the sake of protesting.

    It's a university where I can attend a 300 person lecture on Medieval European history and 30 mins (of a 50 min class) are spent on the War in Iraq and Vietnam. Needless to say, I was lucky to walk into the wrong discussion room the next day and actually find a fascinating history class on American foreign policy, which as least was relevant when discussion on current and recent Wars was held. I never returned to the propaganda professor's class, which there are sadly too many of, even when I can agree with them.

    Of course, I could go on endlessly about the good and the bad. Still, it's a great school to go and I miss it and would do it again, but it's much better having been educated first before being exposed to much of the extreme political brainwashing that goes on there.

  • by jon_miner ( 182812 ) <slash@jjminer.org> on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @01:40PM (#18417553) Homepage

    The only place where someone can bomb a University building, killing a postdoc getting ready to go on vacation with his wife and three children, and then come back to the city to open a popular deli in the heart of the city, blocks away from his murder, and be welcomed back with good reviews and a healthy patronage. The Radical Rye, as it was called, was displaced by the $200M Overture Center for the Arts, but he still has a juice cart called Loose Juice that you can patronize. A this 4-out-of-5 reviewer notes, even though he "bombed the Physics building called Sterling Hall, killing a young graduate student who was unfortunately doing research in the building" it's apparently okay because it was to "protest against military research done at the school". Oh, the postdoc wasn't involved with military research? "Oops!" Hey, this guy even had a beer with him! As this reviewer notes, "you should go by and have a smoothie at Carl's stand." One of the other bombers, still at large, was a writer for the campus paper.

    Because people who commit a crime and serve their time should not be allowed to be successful after they have returned to society? They should not be allowed to operate as a normal human, and forced to live in slums and operate outside of normal society?

    Karl served his time, and instead of becoming a hardened criminal, studied while in prison, and when released opened a series of successful businesses. He's a model of what people who make the worst mistakes in life should do -- he overcame the guilt of accidentally killing someone and the stigma of being incarcerated to become a productive, tax paying, business owner. (He was even in to day trading back in the late 90's and early 2000's, which I find funny for a former revolutionary...)

    He does have the best smoothie stand around.

    jon (Who's had quite a few beers with Karl.)

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!