Your sentence is in the mail

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Have you gotten your letter yet?

Spec reported on Friday that 20 Columbia students have recieved missives (PDF here) from the Recording Industry Association of America, which recently sent out over 400 to college students across the nation (Boston University received the most, with 50). They’re not notices, exactly, but rather warnings: settle now, or we’ll sue you later (in twenty days, to be exact). They’ve even set up a helpful site where you can pay your fine in advance.

Columbia isn’t exactly in league with the RIAA, but they’re definitely not taking a principled stand, either. The RIAA only knows you’re downloading through your IP address, and depends on the University to forward you a letter threatening legal action (at $750 per song). So far, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the only school telling them to take their letters and shove off. Columbia sends students a list of attorneys they can hire, and sets up Ruckus, which half of us can’t use (Macs 4Eva!!!).

What’s a student got to do to get her groove on?

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  1. new Badgers fan  

    "'It’s basically saying that the recording industry may think the person or people who may have used this particular IP address might have done something wrong,” Rust said. “That’s two ‘mays’ and a ‘might’ — and the university can’t punish a person on that basis.'"

    Fuck yeah, Wisconsin. And they don't even have a world-famous lawyer as their president...

  2. windows  

    run cmd
    ipconfig /release
    ipconfig /renew

  3. Does  

    anybody know what services the people who got busted were using? Has anyone gotten in trouble with bittorrent?

  4. orly?  


    Can you say that in a language other people (extremely computer savvy but not computer fluent) would understand?

  5. purple  

    They seem to bust people for sharing, not downloading.

    And go Wisconsin. I know but of your IP is static, but doesn't your IP partially depend on the ethernet jack you're using? Anyone can use the public jacks...

  6. man  

    fuck CUIT. Someone who rats under threat is bad enough, but doing it when you can't get fucked for not doing it is a real douche move.

  7. my entire

    HD is fully encrypted, my MAC changes on a daily basis, my logs correct themselves, and with ~15 keystrokes I can remove any evidence of anything having been modified to hide evidence. Linux much?

  8. when exactly  

    did cuit rat on anyone?

  9. actually  

    if you think about it, its in no way in columbias interest to have their students sued and in the public's eye for illegal activities. columbia typically only does what they're mandated to do by law. wisconsin is doing something i think is great by protecting their students, but what they're doing is pretty much illegal...that's why no other school has done it. cuit isn't going to "rat you out" unless they're obligated to. they have no incentive to see you get in trouble and further hurt columbia's rep like the idiotic iso kids do on a daily basis.

  10. A Little Bird  

    Copyright owners send hundreds of complaints per week to Columbia's DMCA compliance officer, which, as an ISP, CUIT is required to have. The complaints have a time stamp, the offending IP, and the type of service (bittorrent/limewire/etc) and the offending file.

    The letters are usually just a cease and desist that asks Columbia to take action to remove the offending content.

    Whenever CUIT gets one of these letters, they look up the MAC address (and port number) that had that IP at that time. If you're plugged into the wall in your room, that's a simple matter, and they flag your MAC address so that you're redirected to a webpage that tells you to remove the content and then "unflag" your computer. As far as I know, you get off with a warning, but the copyright owner retains the right to sue you.

    If you try to change or hide your MAC, CUIT does get mad, and then they check more logs, where they can find out which UNI has logged into which Columbia services (SSOL, cubmail, courseworks) from a given IP address or physical port.

    If you want to elude capture, you could, I suppose, set up a computer such that you never use it to log in to a columbia service (ever, even once) and don't plug it into your in-room ethernet jack.

  11. also

    i don't think it matters how many times you refresh or change your MAC. like the kind person above me mentioned, you are being logged. you are being watched. interets FTL. gl hf dd ds.

  12. and um

    it doesnt matter if you're using DoD grade shit with a shredder program. as long as your on the columbia network, you can be tracked to a dorm number and you will be subpoenaed (if you download). i think if you go to court, the argument is you're responsible for what happens in your dorm, and even if you delete, "someone downloaded something in his property." sounds shaky, but the RIAA has done that to little old grannies who's grandkids downloaded on their computer. held up in court, too.

  13. Hm...well,

    I definitely downloaded over 26 GB of The Sopranos (every episode of the series) and 18 GB of Scrubs (every episode also) earlier this semester. In addition, I downloaded every episode of The Office and Lost last semester. I also download TV episodes off of BitTorrent every week (Heroes, Lost, Prison Break, etc.)...and as far as I know, I’m not being sued (yet; I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed). Lucky me, I guess...but I’m running a wired router from the wall jack (gotta have my laptop and PlayStation 3 online at the same time), and I do have a dynamic IP (although that means nothing, according to #23). So, yeah...lucky me.

  14. #24

    In fact, I’m downloading the most recent episode of Scrubs as I type this (although I’m home for the weekend). Mwahaha...I’m invincible here, RIAA/MPAA!

  15. #24 & #25

    And also, screw Ruckus. Sure, it’s free and legal...but I have to play the files in Ruckus’ own player, I can’t put them on my iPod, and I have to pay if I want to burn them to a CD? Fuck that. I like my music unfettered, thank you very much. And I’m certainly not one of those people who exclusively downloads music (“Why buy CDs anymore?”) I still buy CDs on a regular basis (just picked up Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” last week), and to me, having a bunch of files on a hard drive will never compare to holding a physical copy of the album — with liner notes, artwork, and jewel case — in my hands.

  16. hey hey my my

    aside from the shitty selection, it's pretty easy to strip the drm from ruckus or whatever. i won't use it because i don't need my computer filled with shitty bloat, but if you even do a simple google search, you'll find that getting the files you download to revert into drm-free mp3 format is pretty simple. i don't know anything about the bit-rate they use though. it could be garbage.

    also, the easiest way to avoid the riaa is to, well, not download anything from the riaa. it's shit music to begin with. if there's something you absolutely need, find it at your local library (or maybe even one of columbia's libraries) and rip it to your computer. there you go.

    • DHI  

      RIAA has some really tight artists dude. Here's a sample:
      Bob Dylan (Columbia)
      Radiohead (EMI)
      Ghostface (UMG)
      Clipse (BMG)

      Big Four got some good shit (and some bad shit). Just because they're assholes about how they buy and sell it doesn't mean it's all bad product.

      • it makes me sad

        that dylan is tied to columbia records. but he made his music at a time when independent labels didnt have clout or the capability to cheaply mass produce. anyway, he sold his soul after 1975 and is one of the biggest douchebags ever now.

        buying cds mail-order from small labels is the best!

  17. haxx0r  

    yeah except that all those things that strip the drm are on super sketchy websites that want you to pay-- anyone know how to do this for freeeee?

  18. lol

    #28 isn't looking hard enough.

  19. I was sued, I paid  

    I was sued last year and had to pay those fuckers $4,000. I know exactly what is going on. A word to the wise: don't fuck with them, you will not be able to fight the lawsuit. I was using i2hub, and the sole reason I was caught was because of a brief period when I was sharing 'My Music' folder. DO NOT SHARE (the RIAA sends crawlers onto these sites and if they download songs from you, they put them in a long list. if you don't pay them the settlement fee $3,500, they will take you to court for $700 or something PER song)

  20. I was sued, I paid  

    also, I am a columbia undergrad and i was living in wien at the time. there's nothing you can change to avoid capture, because you will always have SOME mac address at the time you are caught, and that mac address will always be attached to some IP, which is attached to your room, which is attached to your NAME

  21. I got "Wimoweh"  

    and the rights to that song were more or less stolen by Folkways, and through them, other American record labels.

    It will be great if the RIAA nabs some ethnomusicology grad student who refuses to settle and can show in court how RIAA et al have been violating intellectual property law for years.

  22. CompSci guy  

    It's true that Columbia tracks by MAC addresses, but if you use wireless then all they can do is try to block your net access. Only with wired ethernet do they have a way of connecting a MAC/IP address to a particular room and individual. Also, wireless is faster than the old 10 Mb wiring in a lot of the dorms.

  23. what about tvlinks  

    So according to CompSci guy we're ok as long as we use wireless, which he's right, often goes a lot faster than the ethernet.

    Is there any problem with viewing videos on sites like tvlinks? I'm not downloading anything, just streaming the videos.

  24. spanish inquisition

    @35 - what's to stop a network administrator from setting up a capture on traffic to/from a node, to discern uniquely identifying information? capturing all traffic to, say, port 80, from one node, is a trivial exercise, and this can then be parsed to further establish the identity of the user...

    (if you're a thief, i would recommend not authenticating to any services if you use wireless, at all, and change your MAC. frequently.)

    or, subscribe to a service which encrypts all your traffic, end to end. and i don't mean just turning on that encryption option in your torrenting program.

    or! the easiest solution of all! stop stealing.

    @37 - as long as ACIS doesn't extensively sniff and log your network traffic, as stated above, you're okay with wireless. it is trivial to capture traffic going to a particular hardware address, and then correlate it via, say, logins to services which require authentication via your UNI...

    there would probably be a legal problem if the content you're streaming from tvlinks is not licensed. however, the *AA tends to go after those who exchange files on peer-to-peer networks, so i wouldn't worry about it.

  25. spanish inquisition

    (seriously, don't use the wireless network for torrenting or doing whatever the hell you want. if you must, take up bandwidth from an actual ethernet jack, as your network traffic on a wireless network reduces the amount of total bandwidth available to users logged into that access point. i, personally, don't give two shits if people are stealing stuff, but, man, let me check my mail in between classes, without it being lagged to fuck and back. by taking up wireless bandwidth, you're not just RAGING AGAINST THE CORPORATION, but you're making it harder on people who use the wireless network for 'useful' purposes. go jack in at butler, or something.)

  26. no one expects


    (sorry couldnt help myself)

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