Annals of Technology: Pirates of the Hudson

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piracyColumbia University has been named the worst school for movie piracy by the MPAA,  and word has it that the advocacy group is considering legal action against college students (per the Curb Illegal Downloading on College Campuses Act of 2007). You might be advised to delete your pirated file of You, Me, and Dupree before it costs you more than two hours of your life.

Also, Free Culture at Columbia strikes back at the RIAA with a satirical video, depicting the Columbia administration and the RIAA teaming up to lay a vicious beat-down on a student. It’s funny because it’s true? 

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  1. oh god  

    what a piece of shit video.

    Whether you hate the MPAA/RIAA or not, when people download copyrighted material, they're still knowingly committing a crime that they can easily be caught for, which is in violation of the University network usage agreement, clogs up the bandwidth and slows down the Internet connection for everyone else.

    Columbia shouldn't be rushing to take the heat for people who are acting in nobody's best interest but their own.

    • oh satan  

      And what, pray, is bandwidth for if not for self-indulgence?

      • well  

        you could download a lot more porn with your bandwidth if the Columbia link wasn't cluttered with hundreds of people constantly downloading and uploading illegal copies of music, movies, tv, and software

    • Oh yeah

      That bandwidth is wicked clogged up. Damn series of tubes, etc.

      When the hell has your University connection been slow? Whether you're engaging in piracy or not, there are bandwidth limits on every user -- me downloading Linux ISOs all day, legally, is worse than any minor bump in traffic that P2P, which is way lower-flow, could ever cause.

      Boo-hoo-friggin'-hoo. Intellectual property is a CONSTRUCT and should be treated as such. There's nothing particularly sacred about this idea, except that legislators have decided that there is.

      • huh  

        the University limits total bandwidth per hour, but they don't (at least to my knowledge) limit speed, which massive P2P filesharing degrades. Even if there is a bandwidth speed cap, P2P pushes users to below this cap.

        Of course there's legitimate ways to punish the network connection, but even if you're downloading Linx ISO's (which I don't imagine you'd have to do more than a few times per month), someone who leaves their computer all day acting as a server (be it bittorrent or any other P2P programs) could easily use up more bandwidth than you.

        All property is a "CONSTRUCT" where ownership only exists because of legislation. Will you be "boo-hoo-figgin'hoo[sic]"-ing if someone stole your laptop?

        • What?

          "Massive" P2P filesharing degrades speed, sure, but we're talking about a pretty tiny segment of users that are downloading faster than 1 megabit anyway. There's no reason to call one sort of network traffic OK, and another unacceptable, from the quality of service point of view.

          And there are some much better arguments in favor the idea of physical property than intellectual, regardless of the wording of the laws involved. Didn't you take CC?

          And I am theft-paranoid: My laptop phones home every hour with its IP address and a microphone sample of the room it's in. (Really.) But I'm also in a band, and we quit happily give music away in the hopes that people will come to concerts.

          I'm not saying there's no middle ground for IP, but the ridiculous approach taken by the powers-that-be is extremely lacking. If you can tell me with a straight face that this standard cutting-the-legs-out enforcement is the best way to solve the existing social conflict, I'd be truly impressed.

    • you  

      are an asshole.

  2. awesome

    #1? take that, us news and world report!

  3. fuck man  

    intellectual property is not bread

    anything that can be recorded will be pirated!

    • you're right  

      it's not bread. Just because you can steal something doesn't mean you should. Anyone could easily steal from 212 or many of the campus eateries, but it doesn't make it right or acceptable.

      And if you're going to argue that you actually cause a "loss" by stealing a tangible good, then think about stealing it and leaving money equal to the amount that the eatery paid for it (incl all costs). You're not losing them money, you're just denying them their rightful profit in providing a service to you.

      If you value intellectual property (and being a student at Columbia, I'd imagine you would), then you should pay whoever provided it what they request in compensation or not use it at all.

  4. If anyone

    If anyone at Columbia is presented with the RIAA's bullshit out of course settlement website option, DO NOT TAKE IT. Their case is so flimsy and their evidence so sparse, they are just hoping people will bite the bullet and GIVE THEM MONEY so they don't have to bother going and actually proving their case. Furthermore, the amount that you would pay them is completely arbitrary, doesn't ensure that you will avoid further legal action, AND is an essential admission of guilt on your part.

    Most of the time, if you send a letter like this one:


    They'll back down immediately. They know that, when pressed, they have little to back themselves up, as many court cases have proved.

    Don't let yourself be bullied.

  5. Uh oh  


  6. easy solution

    if the riaa is going to sue my friends, i'm not going to buy their product. i suggest all college students follow this. i, on the other hand, stopped listening to anything put out by an riaa label a long time ago.

  7. Dupree  

    Yeah, I agree, Owen Wilson is awesome! His nose is sooo cool, like artistic, you know?

  8. Someone...  

    ...please get these guys a steadycam.

  9. i'm not  

    sure i believe in intellectual property. people have the right to be happy and secure, but not to drink the blood of oppressed.

    i dream that one day, the red flag will once again rise about hamilton hall.

  10. Look

    Music is not an exclusive good. That is, if I download a song over the Internet, it doesn't mean that someone else now lacks that song. Stop making comparisons to stealing bread or stealing CDs or any of this garbage, because it is a false and erroneous analogy. Downloading music is essentially copying a series of 1's and 0's that, when arranged properly, can be read as music. Just because I download it doesn't mean that somebody else now lacks it. It just means that now we both have it.

    The problem seems to arise in the notion that I haven't PAID for those 1's and 0's, as I guess I am supposed to. Unfortunately, the RIAA assumes that just because I did download their information, it means that I would have also purchased their shitty overpriced CDs if that downloading had not been an option. Therefore, my download cost them a sale. This is far from true. I would probably buy much less music from them if I didn't get to hear so much of it beforehand, and downloading pirated music truly does spur me to purchase more legitimately distributed music than I ever would have before. This is because free digital distribution allows me to listen to new artists and new albums that I haven't heard yet, in more than just 30 second poorly compressed sound bits.

    The bottom line for me is that I would and do pay for downloading music, but the price really needs to make sense. As it stands, downloading from a site like Allofmp3.com is actually EASIER than getting the equivalent music through file sharing, if only because the music I get on Allofmp3.com is in the file rate and coding I choose, and is properly organized already. I like that convenience and I am willing to pay for it. And I do. They have the right idea, but they are being sued by the RIAA for massive copyright infringement (which they are guilty of, but they are based in Russia, so good luck getting them, RIAA).

    People shouldn't be using iTunes either, because it's a step forward and a step back. Music is now being digitally distributed and it's great, but unfortunately it is all DRMed to the point where you don't truly OWN the music that you paid for. They get to dictate how you use it. Also, 99 cents a track is a joke.

    • iTunes

      Try QTFairUse -- pulls the DRM right off iTunes'd stuff. Without it, I wouldn't bother with ITMS...

      • MPAA  

        Ruckus + TuneBite ... amazing combination

        Actually, TuneBite works for video as well.

        Although, for Ruckus, Id recommend using a shitty windows computer or a virtual machine so that your computer doesn't become infected with the Muckus

    • well  

      I don't think anyone with half a brain is arguing that everyone would buy every song they've ever downloaded if illegal filesharing wasn't available. The argument is that people are buying less music overall because they are instead obtaining it illegally, which gives music/movie companies something to legitimately complain about.

      You, as the individual consumer, do not get to decide how much things should cost and steal if it's above some point you decide. If the price is too high, then you shouldn't be using the service. If I decided one day that $2 was too much to pay for a subway ride, it doesn't give me license to hop the turnstile. Similarly, if $.99 is more than you're willing to pay on iTunes, then don't listen, but it's absurd to give money to some Russian company leeching off the US entertainment industry.

      • Fare strikes

        If the fare goes far above $2, I *am* going to start jumping the turnstile, actually. When I was too poor to ride the subway (different city), I used to just walk through the fare gate with an expired monthly pass -- probably did that about 200 times, because if I didn't, I'd have been out on the street.

        Transit is a public good, ultimately, and it's in the community's best interest for me to get to work and try to save some money, even when faced with the loss of a subway fare, which is just an aggregate tax expense anyway. IP is a similar phenomenon -- when you're not talking about a discrete quality, there are often reasons to reevaluate the whole property-theft model that we use to think about it. Exposure has a value to the artist, too, and exposure to people without money has a market value.

  11. Columbian  

    Has Fox picked up on this outrageous scandal yet? I wonder if there is a

  12. no...  

    What makes you think you know how much people wish to be paid more than they do? If it was really in the public's best interest for you and everyone else to use the subway freely, why wouldn't it be free?

    Record companies have millions of dollars, tons of research, and hundreds of people invested in figuring out how much to charge and what to give away free. If they really stood to benefit in the way you're suggesting, they'd be distributing their music without charging. The point is it doesn't benefit them, so they don't.

    Whatever happened to boycotting if you didn't like the price of something? I don't see how you can justify using a service someone provides and flat out refusing to give them anything in return just because it's outside of your price range.

    • I sez

      The subway should be free, or damn close. To talk about why it isn't, I'd have to make an argument about urban-suburban politics, which is kind of out of the morality discussion...

      But you're definitely right; it doesn't benefit record companies even slightly to give music away for free. But why am I interested in benefiting record companies?

      I understand the idea that if everyone behaved as I do, the system would fall apart. Except that everyone does behave as I do, and the system continues to exist. I do like to support bands directly (concerts, merch, whatever).

      I mean, essentially, it is a boycott. I'm always happy to buy CDs from local and independent bands, and do so pretty frequently. But music isn't quite a service, in the same way that me reading books at the library instead of buying them isn't theft. There's a leveling-out here that needs to happen.

      • i reply  

        Not everyone behaves the way you do, or indeed, the system would fall apart (ie record sales of major companies would drop to 0).

        It is most definitely not a boycott. A boycott shows that the price is too high and you can live without it, not that the price is so high that you'll just steal it.

        I'm not saying you should be interested in benefitting record companies. I'm saying it's incorrect to argue filesharing from the "added exposure helps musicians" angle if, in reality, it doesn't really benefit them.

        I think the core of our disagreement here is that you feel this entitlement to accept services without paying if the price is too high for you. I think if you choose to live in a capitalist society, then you don't get to just make up your own rules and prices because they happen to benefit you.

        • Yeah

          but music's not a physical object -- the library argument! Even the "services" argument is sort of dubious. If the industry can lobby against fair use, there's not much recourse available to me otherwise.

          • semantics  

            service? good? Call it what you will. Regardless, people put effort into producing CDs and by refusing to pay, you're denying them compensation while benefitting from their work.

            The library argument doesn't really apply. Filesharing is not like reading a book in a library, it's like photocopying books at a library. If through piracy you did indeed "share" a single copy of a song and you could only listen to it when nobody else was listening, then I doubt many people would participate. Additionally, libraries don't have an unlimited supply of books. If there's so high a demand for a book that it's always checked out, then they'll either buy more from the publisher or consumers will buy from the publisher if they don't want to sit around on a book's waitlist.

        • Look

          I steal Death Cab albums from the internet, and then I go and see and their shows. Death Cab is better off for me going to their shows. The band makes more from their shows than they do from their albums, by a long shot. Sure, they'd have made an extra dime from me if I had paid 16 dollars for their CD, but I wouldn't have bought their CD in the first place and never would have gone to their show.

          It's not unlike the Grateful Dead model.


    Anyone checked the news today? EMI and iTunes are now selling DRM free music at 256 kbps AAC. Or well, they will be very very soon. So that's good?

      • luddite  

        Can you explain what this is and why it's a good thing? I'm not being snide, I honestly don't understand and need it broken down into the simplest of terms. I know how to download from iTunes, sync it to my iPod, aaaaand...that's pretty much it.

        • Slashdot

          Normally, when you download files form iTunes, they're in M4P format, which is protected. You can't listen to those songs on "unauthorized" computers, which they limit to five (I think), or play it with music players other than iTunes. You also can't listen to it on any portable player that isn't an iPod (although I think you can burn them to CDs now).

          Personally, I like to listen with Winamp (iTunes is kinda slow on PCs), so it's very annoying to be stuck with iTunes. Now they're offered as regular AAC files, which any chump can play, with anything. It's a step up, although still not perfect.

  14. Call Me When  

    Rappers and pop stars aren't living in mansions and driving 20 ridiculous cars.

    That will the day I'll stop stealing from them.

    As for the capitalist argument, why in the hell should I give a crap about the record companies? They can rot in the gutter for all I care. I get the music I want for the cheapest price I can find (ie free).

    Capitalism = screw everyone else, I'm getting as much of what I want as I possibly can

    • Damn right

      I'm getting what I want when I want it for as long as I can without getting caught. Seriously. And when/if the RIAA comes after me, I'm going to fight those bastards tooth and nail.

      Welcome to capitalism, bastards.

    • phone call  

      The artist receives a small percentage of the retail price of CDs. Additionally, a small percentage of musicians are fabulously wealthy. A lot more people put work into putting out a CD than just the artist and they too are being denied compensation for their work when you steal. Regardless, just because somebody's rich doesn't mean you're justified in stealing from them.

      Capitalism = get as much as you can inasfar as people will agree to transactions with you
      Capitalism != steal from people who don't agree to transactions with you.

      Again, if you're going to agree that downloading *doesn't* benefit record companies, what does it matter if you happened to discover Death Cab from illegal downloading and thus made them concert money. In general, the money made from legitimate purchases outweighs the money made from people stumbling onto new music by chance amid their random illegal downloading.

      Are you saying you want artists to profit but not anyone else involved in producing & distributing their music?

      • ur wrong  

        money made from concerts outweigh money made from legitimate purchases from the eyes of the artist. And, i hear its more fun

        • not what i said  

          That's not what I said. I said that the money made from people who download illegally and sometimes pay for concerts is less than if they had legitimately paid for everything they're downloading (whether they go to the concert of not).

  15. ...

    don't copy that floppy.

  16. wait  

    stop arguing.
    can we just start stealing some more music!

  17. Bwog

    should definitely not be advising students to destroy evidence.

  18. Thank you!  

    The Greatful Dead model is exactly what this is. The Greatful Dead didn't only look away from, it encouraged "illegal" tapes of its concerts? Why? because they noticed that after they started circulating, more people were at their concerts.

    The fact of this whole matter is that developments of information technology are causing a re-organization of the music industry. Where it used to require vast resources to produce, promote and distribute a record, it is now -thanks to internet hosting- possible for an artist (or perhaps a consultant hired by the artist) to do so for substantially less money, making much of the record production industry obsolete, and they don't like it. The industry is slowly changing from 'label-driven' to 'artist-driven' and the powers that be are fighting the change tooth and nail, because it means their piece of the pie is evaporating. Artists benefit from the exposure, and make their real money from concert tours. The labels are losing, its true, but the fact is that they are no longer as necessary as they used to be.

  19. Lame  

    This is old news; CTV News had it on their show on Sunday night.


  20. Assapopoulos  

    I don't know about you guys, but this news release made me so nervous that I was forced to downloaded 12 gigabytes of porn to masturbate to, just so I could calm my nerves enough to continue my paper about Foucault.

    In retrospect, all that downloading may have been a bad idea!! Do you think "The Empire Strokes Black," "Lawrence of a Labia," " Titty Titty Bang Bang," "Throbbin' Hood," or "Schindler's Fist," (to honor Passover) will get me in trouble with the MPAA?

  21. ---  

    Fuck the RIAA. Come and get me.

  22. I maintain  

    Simple logic:

    I can get movies/music for free. Hooray!


    I can pay for movies/music basically as charity to someone I don't know. Boo!

  23. I'm just  

    waiting for the next big album from MC Rove.

  24. Man  

    That video made me dizzy.

  25. in simple terms

    I can steal all I want because I don't have to follow rules. Anyway, my folks will pay the fine, pay for my lawyer or bail me out of jail, if I get caught.

  26. Anonymous  

    what about downloading episodes of veronica mars?
    that video might have been funny if i hadn't gotten so fucking seasick. or rather, seesick. i am so funny.

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