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RIAA suing students

By Julio Franco ยท 15 replies
Apr 4, 2003
  1. The recording industry has stepped up its campaign against campus music swapping, filing suit against four university students who operated file-search services on their school's internal networks.

    The lawsuits, filed against two students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and one each at Princeton University and Michigan Technological University, ratchet up the pressure that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recently has been putting on universities to block campus file-trading. The trade group still has not filed suit against average file-swappers who use more common services such as Kazaa, however.

    Read more: CNet News.
  2. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Every time I hear about these RIAA people, its in reference to something they are doing that seems very spiteful and petty. Like taking some kid to court for downloading 600 mp3s in one day is going to stop worldwide internet music piracy, or that making some useful and intelligent technology like firewalling illegal is going to somehow stop people from burning copies of CDs full of commercial software and giving them to each other.

    Get with the program here, nothing is going to stop people from trading music and videos on the internet. Nothing. That for this moment in time is what the internet is largely about. People get the broadband internet connections that all of these cable companies are shouting at us to buy because we get the internet for legitimate things like on-line gaming but also for downloading movies and songs. What's needed is some different business model.

    What's not needed is ruining the education and careers of some very bright students who were able to run some nice networking stuff on their campus LAN. Its like some sad, bully of a teacher "making an example" of some school kid. Its childish and pathetic and quite frankly mildly laughable; whatever these kids were doing, its nothing compared to whats going on all over the internet constantly. Is someone going to turn up at my doorstep soon??
  3. vassil3427

    vassil3427 TS Rookie Posts: 640

    Sometimes I think the RIAA can be a bit radical...but I strongly disagree with people downloading whatever they want instead of paying for it. It's stealing, if you, the reader of what I'm writing, downloads software illegally, think about it. Everytime you download a song, a game, or OS, and obviously havent paid for it, you've stolen it, it's only a little different than walking into a store and shoving a piece of software in your coat and walking out. In my opinion, software prices would drop somewhat, and quality would probably go up, because of people actually PAYING for software. A thief is a thief is a thief...there's no difference... If you say for instance Windows Xp is over priced, well think of all the time and money, Microsoft and its developers spent producing it. I believe they deserve every penny of what they earn...and perhaps there'd be less bugs in MS software if they had more money to spend on it, because less was stolen from them. Whats the difference between a processor and an Operating System? nothing really...both are essential to running a pc....So maybe you ought to buy a little less expensive hardware, so you can help support software developers, and the economies of the world...by actually PURCHASING your software....

    :grinthumb My 5 cents....
  4. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Thanks for your input.

    If you think that illegally sharing software over the internet is morally wrong, what do you think about the trading of television programs? If I am paying to get cable TV to see the latest eps of Enterprise, etc, should I not then be able to download and swap it as well - does this differ from taping shows onto VHS?

    Also, if the present system isn't working, but you don't advocate theft, how do you feel about the open source movement?
  5. vassil3427

    vassil3427 TS Rookie Posts: 640

    I never said anything about cable television, I think thats more or less something you have to decide about, personally I dont see a problem with downloading an episode of Star Trek or something...because how else are you going to be able to watch that episode again? I dont think you can buy every single episode....Thats a bit different than software and I dont know about the laws surrounding that...

    I was speaking of Movies, Songs, Software..etc..That you could easily go purchase..or even(for songs) sign up for one of those downloading services..(though they're a bit pricey)...As for software, comapanys create these programs, its their ideas, their investment, I dont believe anyone has the right to just steal away from them, when they could pay for it, and support the company that produced it , so they can produce more(same with movies)....

    I do have to say, its hard to think of how they'll be able to slow down piracy...perhaps Pallidium is a good thing:blackeye: ...

    About Open-source, what do you mean by that if you dont mind me asking?

    I feel the way I do because, I believe if someone creates something, shouldnt they be entitled to the benefits(profits) it reaps? And not just have all their hard work taken from them..
    ^ I was referring to Copyright protected stuff, stuff that isnt meant to be freely distributed...
  6. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,413   +809

    Ideally, I believe there should be a middle point but it might take us sometime until we can find that.
    You may say music/movies downloading is illegal however I have heard from both cases in which people 1) have stopped buying original CDs or 2) have bought CD's after downloading music and liking the product.
    In some manner domestic music downloading may not be all that bad, in the other hand, big distribution of illegal copies of both music and movies should be the main targets of authorities.

    I'm writing this post from the top of my head and not trying to bring up non-sense discussion, here are some relevant points I could think of pretty quick:

    * The internet could be used for mass distribution of media files at a fee, I could agree with that.

    * Ever since MP3 downloading became widespread, we are starting to see more thought albums with a bigger number of good songs (not just fillers) & even with special features built into them. We are getting a better product.

    * Music Record companies have been exploiting musicians for quite some time now, specially those not so famous. The internet will most likely change this in the long-run.
  7. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    I agree it is wrong and hurts the companies involved, but stealing is not the word for it. Stealing would imply a direct loss of product or service... To actually take away their product... which is not happening.

    "Copying" and "Stealing" are two different things and I think people need to remember this to fairly judge 'electronic piracy'. Stealing requires a direct loss of product.

    Example: You have a product. Now, lets say I have a device that can clone your product and I made many copies. I then distribute them freely. Would you consider this stealing?

    This will hurt your business for sure, but under no court of law should this be considered theft. Perhaps infringement of copyrights or something along the lines of such.. But not actual stealing.

    And I think this grey area is what makes 'piracy' popular.. That and not having the type of enforcement needed to prevent it.
  8. vassil3427

    vassil3427 TS Rookie Posts: 640

    Well you may not be stealing a physical cd, or whatever, are you not stealing the ideas, the lines of code? I cant see much of a difference between copying and stealing, either way your taking from that company something that doesnt belong to you.

    As to what As to what Julio said,
    I can see paying a small fee for downloading things like music, actually I'm waiting to see that program that is supposed to exchange clock cycles for credit to get songs and stuff...that sounds kinda neat...
  9. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    I think if you get a pirated copy of something, and you would have otherwise bought that product legally, then it can be considered stealing. But only under certain other conditions. I am not sure how exactly these should be worded, but here are some ideas-

    In my work we go to great pains to ensure that we have licenced copies of everything. And to be honest, through that I am sure software companies make so much money that they can afford to give me as a private individual a free copy.

    Maybe as a private citizen, its in the interests of a software company to give me copies of commercial software, so long as its only used in my home. Its better for them. I get to learn the software, and then insist that its bought at work.

    But if my work started to install pirated software, and its a business making money from the use of that software, then it should pay the licence.

    I think that if software and music companies were limited to collecting the licence from parties who used the media to make money themselves, and only them, and for everyone else it was legal to copy what the hell you liked, there would be virtually no piracy and these corporations would make enough cash.

    Its all about greed, basically. Like Microsoft needing you to activate your copy of Windows. They are already making so much, why must they squeeze out even more? Its like flogging a corpse....

    I know this model only works for software used at work, or software used at work and home, not for home only products like games. For those, I think you should get the game free, but that it should be impossible to play the game on the net without paying a licence.

    Do you see where I am going? One should get the software free for non-commercial use, and then pay a licence for additional features, support, etc. That's where these companies should concentrate. People should WANT to pay a license fee for good, proper support, not the crap you get from some spotty call-centre working little ****, as is predominately the case these days for support from large corporations.

    All I am saying is give me more for the money and I will spend the money. Make me pay for using media to make money, sure. But don't turn up at some random kids doors, ready to take them to court because the current business model isn't working any more. That's just stupid. Unless those students themselves were selling the media to make money, I don't think it deserves the punishment it shall no doubt receive.
  10. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    The fact is the RIAA is a bunch of whiny little know-it-all losers who are too small for their big pants and need to get a REAL job. Go after the source you fools. It's pathetic how dumb one organization can be. It sure reflects on every single employee working for the RIAA. I don't care what they think they are doing or who they think they are. You can not sue students for swapping files online. Like someone just said what good is it gonna do? You might as well be a drug law enforcement agency going after the damn pot smokers and not the sellers. Millions of people smoke pot, but only about 1/10 of that number actually sell. So, what is easier? Go after the seller or the smoker? What the RIAA is actually doing is just like someone said being damn "petty" and in the process possibly ruining some college kid's career. If you GIVE candy to a baby, the damn kid is gonna take the candy for God's sake! You can't sue him for it!

    Edited for naughty words... tut, tut!
  11. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,977   +15

    Umm, Im a little left in the dark about part of this - Who/What is RIAA? So far they seem like a buncha guys that are "important" sitting around with their heads up their @$$. Sure they're doing their job but, maybe they should get down to the source, not the 'smoker'. I feel bad for that poor kid, if you ask me he didnt do anything.
  12. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    Recording Industry Association of America
  13. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    ...and unfortunately, young Agissi, there's been some fairly nasty legislation passed that lets them do pretty much whatever they want in the name of stopping people from illegally obtaining copyrighted media.
  14. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    You know, that's true. I am sure that anyone who remembers buying music in the decade or so before the internet remembers buying an album for 3-4 songs on there, and the other 6 or 7 were just space fillers. Also same with the B side of records - more crap, usually some song the band have found it hard to sell.
  15. Krugger

    Krugger TS Rookie Posts: 173

    this kid from our school (sorry, Princeton) didn't DO anything. he was one of four, yes four people here that ran network search engines. he didn't provide MP3's himself. Yes he had some, but who at college doesn't. his site just happened to be accessible off campus. the RIAA could've sent him a cease and desist and been done with it, but they have to be dicks. They didn't warn the school either, just named him in a lawsuit. they didn't name the school, even though the school knew what these kids were doing, b/c they knew they'd lose against big-time Univ. hired lawyers. so now here's this 20 year old kid being sued for millions of dollars... for running a network file searching website. yea, that's the problem with this world... and that'll stop copyright infringement... right?
  16. DigitAlex

    DigitAlex TechSpot Paladin Posts: 536

    To respond to Phant about the Open Source model ...

    YES, some companies already live like that :
    1) Providing FREE software (anyone can distribute and copy it)
    2) Offering advanced support for money to business people, to developers, hot lines, books (oreilly's) & stuff ...

    If it works for ones, why whouldn't it work for the others ??
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