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RIAA Recommends Students Drop out of College 869

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the always-has-your-best-interests-at-heart dept.
boarder8925 writes "An MIT student accused of copyright infringement has been documenting her struggles with the RIAA. Upon trying to negotiate her settlement, a representative told her that "the RIAA has been known to suggest that students drop out of college or go to community college in order to be able to afford settlements.""
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RIAA Recommends Students Drop out of College

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  • This is ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dobedobedew (663137) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:24AM (#15066784)
    Are any of you still buying RIAA label cd's? If you are, you are supporting this crap.
    This has to stop.
  • Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:25AM (#15066801) Homepage
    The RIAA is suggesting she may want to drop out of college to pay the settlement IF she agrees to it, because she was complaining that she couldn't afford it. It seems like they're doing what most bill collectors do, which is suggesting you get rid of pretty much every unnecessary expense you have in order to pay them. Of course, what they consider unnecessary may not be the same as what you consider unnecessary.

    To agree to the settlement is basically to agree that you wronged them in some way, and should pay them. Once you've agreed to that, how you actually pay the settlement isn't their problem. They may make suggestions, some of which you might find distasteful or even absurd, but the bottom line is they don't care how you pay a settlement you agreed to, so long as you pay it.
  • Unbelievable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geldon (444090) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:28AM (#15066844)
    I can't believe that the RIAA would stoop to such a level. The scariest part is that perfectly intelligent people believe that everyone who is sued by the RIAA deserves it and is guilty. I wish that there was some simple way to explain to a lay-person how knowing the IP address of someone downloading music doesn't mean much in linking to an actual person. People assume that an IP address is like a social security number, that always links to a single person and always to the same person. This fallacy is one of our biggest problems in infroming lay-people about what the RIAA is doing. Maybe this bit of info will help people to see how evil the RIAA actually is.
  • by immakiku (777365) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:33AM (#15066892)
    Yes if you download copyrighted music, you're commiting a crime. Maybe it shouldn't be a crime, but it's a crime all the same. Yours is a weak justification of why the RIAA might want to not keep this illegal, but for the moment it still is illegal and so making a stand in court will probably not do any good.

    I think the point here is that RIAA's methods are objectionable. From what I've read about them, I get the impression the RIAA is like the secret police in the way it works. People should be making a stand outside courts - like boycotting or setting up organizations to oppose RIAA.
  • by AviLazar (741826) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:33AM (#15066895) Journal
    I can't wait for someone to make a stand against them in court.

    Anti-**AA lawyer "Your honor, I am making a stand in court"
    Judge - "What is your stance"
    Anti-**AA lawyer "To put restrictions on the **AA, a group who malignantly, vilely, evily, uncaringly, and in a mean spirited fashion sue people who pirate music/movies"
    Judge - "Isn't pirating illegal, and punishable by law"
    Anti-**AA lawyer "Well yes but..."
    Judge - "Whats your point son"
    Anti-**AA lawyer "The **AA do it malignantly, vilely, evily, uncaringly, and in a mean spirited fashion"
    -Dead silence fills the court room.
    Judge - "Get out"
  • Bingo. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by C10H14N2 (640033) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:34AM (#15066912)
    I don't understand the problem. If you think they're evil, don't consume their products. Why the hell do people treat CDs like friggen crack? You DON'T NEED IT. Paid, free, physical media or downloaded, just stop. The artists are part of the beast as well, why respect them if they're willing participants as well? Don't even listen to it on the radio.

    You can't simultaneously support something you find evil and retain a shred of credibility, so just stop. If you can't stop and are willing to break the law for your fix, I humbly suggest that you quite literally have a substance abuse problem and should seek professional help or a twelve-step program or something.

    Hell, spend your CD money on booze and then join AA so you can sit around and blame the RIAA for your alcoholism.
  • Re:Why pay at all? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:35AM (#15066922) Journal
    Because outstanding judgments can be listed on your credit reports. Since so many employers are now checking credit reports, probably not a good idea even if you don't care about your ability to get credit. Never mind whether you eventually want to get a mortgage or buy a car... even if you are issued credit, you'll pay for it many times over via an increased interest rate.
  • by The-Bus (138060) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:36AM (#15066950)
    Or... if you still like the artists but hate the RIAA, buy the CD used. No more money goes back to the RIAA and you still have the CD.

  • by dr_dank (472072) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:38AM (#15066964) Homepage Journal
    Are any of you still buying RIAA label cd's? If you are, you are supporting this crap.

    And when their profits fall, they play the victim card again and start cranking out ever increasing numbers of lawsuits. As long as they have legislators in their pockets and shyster lawyers that'll pressure settlements out of people, this will continue.
  • Re:Perfect... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CPT Carl (222361) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:40AM (#15066985)
    I'm surprised the RIAA hasn't tried to re-introduce the concept debtor's prisions. That seems to be the timeframe they think they're operating in...
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:43AM (#15067011) Journal
    "Go and invest that $150,000 in your own business and you'll be much happier (and successful)."

    Sure, because all businesses succeed (hint: less than 1 in 10 do). Or because it's easy to get financing for a business plan when you're 18 -- don't forget that student loans and other financial aid are pretty much guaranteed. Or because people at the age of 18 all have the skills to run a business.

    That "education" you speak of so disparagingly is what gives us a workforce that innovates, that has the knowledge necessary for complex jobs... like in the fields medicine (practice or research, you pick), or engineering, etc.
  • Re:thats nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gonk (20202) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:43AM (#15067016) Homepage
    She made a choice. Choices can have a lasting impact on life.

    robert
  • Morally bankrupted (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dark Coder (66759) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:44AM (#15067023)
    RIAA no longer represents me nor Western Civilization.

    The executives of Recording Industry of Artists in America is now antithema of our advanced society.

    By advocating a lower educational pursuit in hope that they selfishly hope to attain a goal for a subpar economic society in which they can continue to rob from the budding artists (and engineers) of our great society.

    I hope our court systems and governments recognize this foolishness and put an end to this organization.

    Nothing is gain anymore from such a facists dream.
  • by cascadefx (174894) * <morlockhqNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:44AM (#15067025) Journal
    I download music from the internet quite frequently, if I like the song I have downloaded I will usually buy the album if I don't like it I delete it, does this mean I am commiting a crime?

    Yes. You are breaking the law. Whether you get caught or not or whether or not it is a good law is a different question.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:44AM (#15067041)
    She did the action in question. She is responsible for the penalties for undertaking that action.

    We all have to make hard choices every day.

    The last time I broke a speeding law, it was pretty bogus. I still paid for the ticket and took the classes. IMHO- that particular speeding ticket set up was unfair (basically 70mph /hill\ 55mph construction zone - cop at bottom of hill).

    She chose to download songs. She probably also foolishly didn't use programs like peer guardian. She also got unlucky.

    Yes- Riaa are weasels. But by now, surely we ALL know that if you download copyrighted material you are risking a 3kish fine (or being ruined in court if you tried to fight it).

  • Re:Perfect... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:45AM (#15067047)
    causing you to pirate more material because you can't afford it

    Why is pirating allowed if you cannot afford it? i learned that if you cannot afford it, you don't get it. Fricking commies
  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:47AM (#15067082) Homepage Journal
    I haven't ever really understood what the RIAA hopes to achieve from all their lawsuits and extortion rackets,
    Just "lawsuits". The only "extortion" they're doing is going around people who are guilty of copyright infringment against their members, and negotiating relatively cheap (compared to the fines you'd suffer if they took you to court) out of court settlements. This is usual, "out of court" is generally not refered to as "extortion" outside of the lunatic pro-piracy fringe, it's actually pretty usual and beneficial to both parties.
    I mean all they are doing is alienating their core market the way they have been going recently I can't wait for someone to make a stand against them in court.
    The RIAA's core market consists of the music publishers who are concerned about copyright infringement and the negative affects it has on their business. By initiating lawsuits against those who willfully, without the consent of the copyright holders, infringe copyrights, it's hard to see how they're "alienating their core market". They might possibly alienate the core market of their customers/members, only those whining about these lawsuits have been very careful to blame the RIAA for them, not, say, "Sony's representatives" or even "Metallica's publisher and its representatives".

    And it would be questionable even if they did. The RIAA is acting like a private police force, in some senses, only with relatively little power. Suppose it was the real police, the FBI perhaps, responding to complaints of copyright infringement. Then what? Would Metallica or Sony suddenly get the blame?

    If we use a more clear example of an unfair law: suppose a landlord tells the cops he doesn't want his residents smoking dope any more. Does the landlord get the blame for the bust? Rarely, it's generally the cops and the government who do.

    I download music from the internet quite frequently, if I like the song I have downloaded I will usually buy the album if I don't like it I delete it, does this mean I am commiting a crime?
    Possibly, and it strikes me as likely, unless you're vetting your downloads, that you're guilty of copyright infringement which can be a crime, but is more often a civil matter. The key is that the copyright holders haven't given consent for this. You may feel you're doing them a favour, but they either don't feel the same way, or feel that the net effect of the consequences of you being allowed to do what you do is negative for them. That is, the infrastructure you're contributing to may result in you buying more CDs, but it may be that the existance of the infrastructure means a lot of people don't, and that, overall, more people will end up buying less than can be made up for by people buying more. Who are you to say they're wrong? Or to force them to engage in your particular choice of marketing scheme simply because you happen to buy CDs.

    In the end, if a copyright holder wants to use free MP3s as a marketing system, they have that ability anyway. Look at most major band websites, and a great many have free downloads available. Hell, I recall going through most of Garbage's *videos* only a few months ago - free for viewing and listening to on their website.

    The current law says "If you create something new and wonderful, we'll give you limited control over how its copied and distributed so you have a chance to make money from it to cover the costs of making it." Nothing forces anyone to buy into that law. Listeners can act like works that rely upon the law were never invented and never listen to them. Music creators can always put music into the public domain, or else make use of the myriad of distribution systems available today, should they chose. There's little excuse for copyright infringement of the type we're talking about today. And, quite honesty, in 2006, if you're being sued for distributing someone else's work on a network that makes them available to millions of anonymous strangers, then you only have yourself to blame.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:48AM (#15067084) Homepage Journal
    Simple as that. They abuse there customers left right and sideways. I find it funny that they wonder why sales are going down. They blame it on piracy but the truth is concert sales are also dropping.
    1. Music is too expensive. I can buy a DVD of a Movie for the same price as a CD. Don't give the crap about how I will use the CD more then the DVD that has NOTHING to do with the cost to produce the product.
    2. I can not find any music I really want to buy. I have gone to Launch to see what new artists are out. Nothing really grabs me. I listen to the radio. Nothing really new there. The fact that concert sales are also dropping should make it clear it is the product and not the piracy that is causing the issue.
    3. I really would love to see the record companies get a real hard look from the government. Their accounting, business practices, and yes dealing in drugs. How many recording artists have died from drug use? How many of them have had drugs provided to them by employees of the the music industry? This will never happen. They Music Industry will hide behind "artistic" freedom and start screaming about how it is just like McCarthy in 50s.
  • Evil (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Britz (170620) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:48AM (#15067089) Homepage
    I never used the term "evil" seriously before, because the concept of good and evil is pretty alien to me (I am a moderate Christian from Europe). But suggesting to drop out of college to pay a settlement for some p2p music stuff... (stealing would be if the company looses something, which is not the case with copying digital content).

    I do think content producers (and software writers for that matter) need protection, but that?

    Ask yourself, if you worked your butt off for some software and someone who is not willing to pay for it and would not use it if they had to but copied it and offered it for share, should they be made to drop out of college to pay for the settlement?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:49AM (#15067096)
    I have to agree.....
    question 1. Did you download copyrighted material without monetary recompense inviolation of current civil law? (notice how I avoid the use of the words "steal" or "pirate", nor did I use the word illegal)
    question 2. Are you not an adult, legally responsible for your actions?...

    You see, I have many things in life that I need, like my house, which I need as much as this person needs his/her education. I could get a cheaper house, she/he could get a cheaper education. If I were to be hit with a lawsuit that would surely bankrupt me, I would be forced to sell my house (or give it up in other ways) As an adult, I am responsible for my actions, and if I take actions that endanger the stability of my life, and those things in my life that I consider important, I do so knowing that I may be called upon to live up to that obligation. College is not just a place to get the book knowledge, its a place to learn to be an adult. This is a big lesson.

    You violated the law, you must make restitution. Either settle for what they want, or take your chance with the court, like an adult. No sympathy.
  • by Thaddeus (14369) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:52AM (#15067127)
    You wouldn't have a problem with this if you didn't have anything to hide.

    Sorry, but you're wrong. All the RIAA needs is for someone to tell them (maybe your own ISP, erroneously) that your IP address was associated with an illegal music download. Doesn't matter if they got it wrong. Only way you can prove it is to go to court, at which time the court will order your computer seized to be scoured for evidence, and you will incur thousands of dollars in legal bills even if you win (unless someone takes your case pro bono). Alternatively, you can shell out a few thousand to the RIAA and it will all go away.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:58AM (#15067224)
    no, she was not found guilty, and she can go to court if she wishes. The RIAA has put a price on what they think her violation was worth. If she agrees that she did wrong, and that the amount they have set is a fair estimate of what the violation was worth, she can pay. If she believe she was not guilty, so may go to court and force the RIAA to prove her guilty. At that point, the court will place an estimate of the monetary value of her violation and not the RIAA. Of course they will ask for a higher value than they are willing to settle for now, settling out of court will save them the court costs and time.
    I have a problem with the RIAA suing kids and folks who don't share music, but if you distributed music in violation of civil law, you are guilty. If you believe the law to be unjust, then fight to change it, but until it changes, it is the law.
  • by Surt (22457) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:01PM (#15067261) Homepage Journal
    It's extortion when you haven't committed the copyright infringement but have no hope of defeating their lawyers.
  • by AllahsAvatar (887555) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:01PM (#15067263)
    If she does not believe she is guilty she can take it to court. She was on their phone line with them discussing how to pay it because she knew she was guilty.
    OT: Nice sig.
  • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:04PM (#15067305) Journal
    there is only one objective: get paid, either in a pre-lawsuit settlement or a post-lawsuit judgement, and thereby vindicating their perspective. The money, and the "points" the money represents, are critical.

    Like all "bill collectors", they want you to agree with them in this. "Paying me is the most important thing you can do with your money. A nice, expensive college is optional. Any college at all is optional. Food is optional. Paying me is mandatory."

    It's a strong negotiation position, that's all. If you make the mistake of agreeing without pushing back...well...remind me again, who's quickly parted from his money?

    I'm actually a little bit surprised part of the *AA's bill collector's spiel didn't start "Do you have life insurance..."

  • Re:Perfect... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScoLgo (458010) <<scolgo> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:04PM (#15067311) Homepage
    "Why is pirating allowed if you cannot afford it? i learned that if you cannot afford it, you don't get it. Fricking commies..."

    Piracy, schmiracy. I don't see any eyepatches, parrots, or bottles of grog being passed around. On the other hand, copyright infringement isn't legal and the OP's statement doesn't make it so. But s/he's still correct - it's gonna happen. With every subsequent action, the RIAA continues to prove their irrelevancy in the modern world. They need to just die already...
  • Blah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <<spydermann.slashdot> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:09PM (#15067375) Homepage Journal
    The only "extortion" they're doing is going around people who are guilty of copyright infringment against their members, and negotiating relatively cheap (compared to the fines you'd suffer if they took you to court) out of court settlements.

    Oh, that's the ONLY "extortion"? Oh my, how mistaken I've been, the RIAA is just worried about doing justice, how heroic of them!</sarcasm>

    And, quite honesty, in 2006, if you're being sued for distributing someone else's work on a network that makes them available to millions of anonymous strangers, then you only have yourself to blame.

    Yes, the problem is when you didn't do it but the RIAA says you did.
    It's NOT justice if you have to spend thousands of dollars to prove your innocence.

    Another thought: Is that law good if it forces you to pay extra taxes to get a product that is under absolute control of a monopoly?

    I'd agree with the lawsuits if the RIAA didn't force people to buy only their products - I'm talking about forcing distributors and radio stations NOT to publish music from independent artists. If I bought an original CD and later I download one of the files in it (because it got scratched or something), I'd get sued by the RIAA anyway.

    And don't get me started into DRM.
  • Re:Perfect... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oirtemed (849229) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:13PM (#15067439)
    except this isn't even a legal debt this is extortion... You OWE me or I'll take you to court. In a way I hope it lasts till I graduate from law school.
  • by MarkByers (770551) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:14PM (#15067458) Homepage Journal
    Any person commiting a crime must not be tolerated and the law should apply completely on them

    So if $evil_company makes a law that means it is illegal to breathe without paying them for the air, should everyone on the planet be punished? No!

    Sometimes it is the law that is wrong, not the offender. That's why laws are changed all the time. The RIAA has found a loophole in the law which allows them to get away with price-fixing, so it's the law that needs to be fixed. Soon.
  • by wuffalicious (896539) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:15PM (#15067480)
    I suspect, when it comes right down to it, the RIAA's policy as far as lawsuits are concerned really have nothing to do with enforcing the law. When you look at the pattern of their lawsuits, it almost seems that they intentionally avoid sparing anyone - be they children, old women who have never used a computer before, or people who more than likely had someone sneak onto their unsecured wi-fi network. These are people who are either obviously innocent, or don't deserve to be subjected to lawsuits that could cost them tens of thousands of dollars. At their worst, most of these folks a being nailed for a few bucks worth of music. The punishment doesn't particularly fit the crime, in this case, and the RIAA likely knows this. Frankly, the penalty for downloading copyrighted material is rather terrifying. The lawsuits filed by the RIAA are an attempt to capitalize on this terror. They're not designed to stop dedicated pirates. As many people have pointed out in the past, dedicated pirates will get what they want regardless. However, by creating an atmosphere where you just don't know who's going to get sued next, they intimidate your 'average Joes' into sticking off the filesharing networks. The fact that these lawsuits pretty much pay for themselves is an added bonus.

    What really gets my goat about this entire campaign is that it's done at great expense to many of its victims. These are people who are being subjected to lawsuits for no purpose other than to make an example to the rest of the country of just what happens when you mess with the music industry. They bear an unfair burden, under the law, to scare those the industry can't catch in the act into getting in line. I hope this madness comes to an end soon.
  • Re:Perfect... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by twistedsymphony (956982) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:18PM (#15067507) Homepage
    the RIAA continues to prove their irrelevancy in the modern world. They need to just die already...

    So very true, I propose we make a new group the "DMAA"; Digital Music Artists Association. Bylaws include that fact that the original artist are REQUIRED to own their own copywrites, if they have a problem with something someone is doing they can use the DMAA's force, but the DMAA is not allowed to act on anything without the artists consent.

    Also any member of the DMAA can not also be a member of the RIAA

    You want a group to help protect you and not rob you AND your customers blind... The RIAA wouldn't have a leg to stand on if the Musicians went and formed a new group altogether. Unfortunately I fear it would eventually fall into the same problems the RIAA has.

  • by Vancorps (746090) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:20PM (#15067526)
    There are people in every country which do not care about the laws that govern them. Of course that all changes when it directly affects them but thats another story.

    The problem here is that there is too much product on the market to support a cd distribution system. P2P and iTunes services provide a fast and convenient way to both find and listen to new music. Every spent an hour and a half at a record store looking for a particular album? Lord knows I have and its annoying as hell. Of course the only reason I was willing to spend that time to find it was because I had listened to a few songs I downloaded. It is a weak justification but I am provided no alternative. The one exception is of course satellite radio; the last place I can listen to new music without being inundated with advertising.

    FM Radio wouldn't be so bad if they broke up their advertising so it wouldn't make it sometimes more than a minute between songs. There is nothing worse than enjoying a song, having it come to the end, and then hearing a loud ad pushing a product you couldn't care less about. You want more music, not just one song at a time.

    Back to the issue at hand, the RIAA has criminalized the issue and in the process alienated a lot of their customers. One need only to look at the top selling software to see that pirating does not hurt sales but in fact helps it. Think how much Windows was pirated in the past and how much other software has profited from having a computer that can run it. Music is obviously different since it only has one step, nothing to build off past works.

    The RIAA needs to stop wasting time and money on this and start working on an online distribution system that works without killing their customers. They want format change after format change, the only problem is existing formats are digital. My father repurchased a lot of his LPs on CD and has since converted almost all of his cds to MP3s which he will always be able to listen to. Why would he want to repurchase it ever again?

    If they was a subscription based revenue stream then they should provide one, not force people to spuradically rebuy the stuff they've been enjoying for years. Until they realize this people will download illegal software. Might add downloading is in no way criminal, its the uploading part that is in question. Downloading is fair use, just like I can copy a tape and give it to a friend perfectly legally.

  • Re:Perfect... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Moofie (22272) <lee@@@ringofsaturn...com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:21PM (#15067541) Homepage
    I wonder if there's some sort of cautionary tale that should make people skeptical of organizations that attempt to re-define emotionally charged terms...

    Newspeak is doubleplusgood.
  • by vinn (4370) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:22PM (#15067556) Homepage Journal
    There's more you can do than just boycott RIAA labels. Here's some ideas:

    1. Write your congressman - you can even do it via email. Follow this link [citizen.org] for a really simple way to do that. Will they listen? If enough of you complain they will. (Don't be negative and say democracy doesn't work.)

    2. When you talk to your friends, let them know this is going on. Believe it or not, a lot of people don't know about this issue. The more people you tell, the more this becomes an issue.

    3. This stuff is making the mainstream news. When you see this issue come up in a newspaper, write a letter to the editor about it. More people read letters to the editor than articles in the paper. Tell people the ideas in this message to get them to not support RIAA.

    4. Complain on artist websites and give artists bad press. Not planning on buying the latest Bruce Springsteen CD? Why don't you write him and tell him you're not doing it because he's on a RIAA label. Big artists are not "victims" of decisions by their labels.

    5. Buy indie labels and let people know you're buying indie labels.

    6. Buy a t-shirt about this. Here's some to choose from:
    #1 [jinx.com], #2 [cafepress.com], and #3 [cafepress.com]

    Your other alternative is to not give a fuck like everyone else. Everyone has to have their issue and maybe this one isn't yours. Hopefully I've given you some ideas for getting involved about something though.
  • Re:Common sense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stlhawkeye (868951) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:23PM (#15067568) Homepage Journal
    I'm no lawyer, but anyone with common sense (and one who sits infront of a judge hopes the judge will have some, if any) would realize that dropping out of college is a non-logical choice.

    You would be surprised and a little outraged to know how arbitrary a judge's decision can be, as well as damage awards. Especially in the second tier courts. Whether or not you have to drop out of college is your own choice. If you have been tried by a court of this land and found guilty, you may be liable for damages, and in that case, you must pay them. That's how the law works. That you might have to sacrifice something very important to you is your own problem, and you should have thought of that before you broke the law. That's theory, anyway. In practice, it's hard to justify abandoning an Ivy-league education because you illegally copied some CDs, I agree. TFA says, "The Recording Industry of America would rather see America's youth deprived of higher education, forever marring their ability to contribute personally and financially to society -- including the arts -- so that they may crucify us as examples to our peers." No, they'd rather have you not pirating their shit in the first place. If you've done no wrong, don't settle. If you have done wrong, what are you bitching about?

    It will diminuish your chances of having a safe financial future, which makes you even less likely to be able to pay that fine. Having students dropping out of college or switching over to community college should NOT be considered as a valid option.

    But it is a valid option. It's a crappy one, but if you broke the law and don't think you can get out of it in court, then this is called a consequence. I know consequences are all but unknown in the current crop of college students, but they do occur. I agree with the general sentiment here this is shitty and that the RIAA is utterly unsympathetic and over the top, but at the root of all of this are individual people who made the decision to engage in illegal activity. They got caught and now they have to pay the piper. As much as I think the RIAA is being a bag of dicks about this, I have little sympathy for the people who put themselves in this situation.

    It's a tough issue. I despise the RIAA and the insanely stupid and short-sighted approach they take to their business, but I still can't get past the fact that we're rising up to defend people who unquestionable and admittedly and knowingly broke a law and are now pissed that there are consequences for it. Sorry. Zero sympathy.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:29PM (#15067661) Homepage Journal
    Either since the day I visited my first aquarium or the day Goldie came into my family's life, our parents have told us not to tap the glass of the fish tank. It's cruel to Goldie -- I understand and respect that. I mean, heck, I am a vegetarian.

    Ok, sounds good. Be nice to animals because she's a veggie.

    But would we have many qualms over a little water perturbation if Goldie were, say, a bloodthirsty shark? I'd knock on that glass to the near-cracking point.

    Except if they're not cute and cuddly.

    Please, RIAA -- if any competent representative happens to enjoy flipping through The Tech -- please tell me Bowie is a moronic tool who can't help what the Superior Gray Coverage Golden Blonde hair dye does to her mental facilities.

    Calling your accuser a moron does much to further your image as someone who is innocent.

    Your evil pirates are people too,

    So you're admitting you're a pirate. Acceptance is the first step.

    people who enjoy music and almost always still purchase it legitimately.

    Almost only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.

    Each has an individual life and circumstances that deserve consideration, if not for the sake of empathy for your fellow man, then for the sake of business sense.

    Your life and circumstances are irrelevant to the situation. You chose to make a decision about whether to pay for a product or service. You chose not to pay. The RIAAs business sense tells them that to allow people to not pay for the product would mean they and the music industry would not survive. Self preservation and all that.

    Sure, if you commit a crime against someone, you should be held accountable.

    Which is exactly what is taking place.

    But I find it horrifying that anyone would single-mindedly and without compassion process people like a meat grinder set to purée.

    No one said the penalty would be pleasant.

    So while the RIAA continues to play the part of shark, I'll continue to stand behind the glass, tapping away, wondering which of us is on displa

    Which goes back to my opening remarks about your lack of resolve about being a vegetarian and being kind to all animals.

    She's whining because she got caught and contradicts herself about being cruel to animals. Guess what girlie, you're boned. Suck it up and deal with it. Maybe you'll learn something about taking something which isn't yours and being nice to all animals.

  • by Headcase88 (828620) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:34PM (#15067709) Journal
    Are you sure they were "from Mexico", or just had Mexican descent?

    I mean part or my ancestry is Irish, would you assume I speak Irish? Or that I'm "from Ireland"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:35PM (#15067721)


    Don't do the CRIME if you can't do the TIME.

    And did you know that "copyright infringement" gets you more time than theft ("grand larceny")? Do the first, get busted, go to jail for five years AND a $250,000 fine. Do the latter, get busted, and maybe go to jail for one to three years, and maybe pay a $10,000 fine.

  • Re:Unbelievable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:36PM (#15067739) Homepage
    Meh. The greater problem is with the clients. The lawyers are just doing what they're directed to do, and it's not as though the organizations shouldn't be able to get representation.

    (Besides, from what I understand, there are relatively few lawyers involved anyway. It's regular employees or contractors who find infringers and offer canned settlements. It wouldn't usually get bumped up to a lawyer unless someone wouldn't settle.)
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:46PM (#15067838) Homepage
    That is generally incorrect.

    As the Napster case, and many other cases have held, downloaders infringe on the reproduction right. There is a question as to who is responsible for downloading, but the Marobie-FL case puts the responsibility on the person who caused the downloading to occur; generally, this is the downloader. In the rare case that someone hacked your computer and made it download files, it would be the fault of that person. But if you're just using ordinary P2P software, it's your own fault.

    Uploaders, OTOH, are liable for infringing the distribution right, by making the files available for downloading.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:47PM (#15067849) Journal
    "In my experience, the number is closer to 6 in 10 if not more. "

    Your experience is obviously out of line with what the rest of the country experiences.

    " I've had 2 failures out of about 20 that I ran in my entire life, so I feel I'm ahead."

    Good for you. But that doesn't mean anyone else can also expect a success rate like that.

    "You can start a business for less than US$20,000 right now"

    Depends on the business. Some require far more capital than that.

    "That's funny because I've worked with medical research companies (two large ones in Lake County, Illinois) and I'm amazed at how many research doctors are foreigners with foreign educations"

    You'd be surprised, I think, with how few of them completed their educations outside the US. Not only that, but regardless of where they got their education, they still got an education. I know your point here is that the US system is broken, but your original point was that college education is not worthwhile.

    "On top of that, I travel the world at least 2-3 times a year, and I see more innovation outside of this country than I do here."

    This anecdote is worthless to the discussion, there's no need to toot your own horn so often -- frankly, your business success and/or world travel has no bearing on the merits of your theoretical arguments. I doubt that your 'extensive world travel' is anywhere close to exhaustive enough to make base assumptions about the level of innovation occurring worldwide and in different countries.
  • Re:Unbelievable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:48PM (#15067860) Journal
    Yea, but the incident happened at 4:35 PM, and your car was seen in that space at 4:35, since I assume the Parking Garage (ISP) has a camera (logs) which show that your car (computer) was parked in that spot (IP addy)
  • by Headcase88 (828620) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:49PM (#15067866) Journal
    What if he downloads it, likes it, doesn't delete it, and doesn't buy the CD?
  • Re:Bingo. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mshiltonj (220311) <mshiltonj AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:49PM (#15067868) Homepage Journal
    If you can't stop and are willing to break the law for your fix, I humbly suggest that you quite literally have a substance abuse problem...

    breaking the law != doing something wrong.

    The law is a ass. -- Charles Dickens
  • by nuzak (959558) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:12PM (#15068117) Journal
    > The only "extortion" they're doing is going around people who are guilty of copyright infringment against their members

    You misspelled "accused". Glad I could clear that up for you.
  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:14PM (#15068145)
    But let's accept that the grandparent shouldn't have used the phrase "guilty". Even so, here's what we have: a student, who has has all but admitted to illegal file sharing, is being offered a settlement to avoid being sued for rather more money than that (likely). Is this a bullying, stronghanded tactic by the RIAA? Sure. Is it extortion? Absolutely not. Unless you (ahem) think that people should be presumed guilty of extortion before it's proven in court.

    You're right - in this case. However, the problem is that the RIAA is adopting the same tactics against people who *haven't* all but admitted to being guilty. That combined with their threats to bleed people out of legal fees if they don't settle is certainly questionable. I don't think one need be a "lunatic" to see that as a threat.

    If the RIAA were carefully vetting their cases to at least convince themselves of someone's likely culpability, that would be one thing. They're not.

    Where's the limit here? Can I go to my neighbor and tell him to give me $3000 or I'll sue him because his tree is casting a shadow on my lawn? That wouldn't be extortion or anything, right? Because in some of these cases, the level of probable guilt is comparable. Not all, mind you, and maybe not even the majority. But the point is that the RIAA is making basically no effort to check.

    Aside from that, I agree with your sentiments regarding the specific case. You knowingly do something that has enormous criminal and civil penalties, don't cry to me when they bust you. Maybe the punishment didn't fit the crime, but you knew what the punishment would be...

  • It is extortion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snowwrestler (896305) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:24PM (#15068266)
    When a person is sued they can either a) pay a lawyer to defend them or b) pay the plaintiff to settle the suit. The RIAA makes it clear that they will do whatever it takes to make sure a is greater than b.

    This is extortion.

    Why? Because it does not depend on whether the person has actually done anything wrong. Instead the RIAA wields a side-effect of our justice system (cost) as a weapon against whoever they please. Whether they can prove anything makes little difference, it is simply a matter of cost.

    Consider this: although piracy can be prosecuted as a crime, the RIAA never follows that path. They always go civil. This way they can neatly avoid the solution of a court-appointed attorney, and they do not have to deal with the police and DA, who have a pesky habit of actually evaluating the merits of cases before going forward. By keeping it civil the RIAA is free to file against whoever the hell they want, no matter how slim the evidence.

    By initiating lawsuits against those who willfully, without the consent of the copyright holders, infringe copyrights, it's hard to see how they're "alienating their core market".

    How do you know that the defendants are in fact willfully infringing copyrights? They never have the cash to make their case and fight it out in court. From my perspective it's pretty alienating to know that I could be taken to the cleaners for thousands by an industry association, even if I did nothing wrong.
  • by keyne9 (567528) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:30PM (#15068356)
    If one cannot afford to pay to mount a legal defense, you either pay, or you PAY. Innocence does not mater.
  • by eaglej (552473) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:39PM (#15068480)
    Way to go. You've picked apart, line-by-line, a lot of hyperbole and metaphor. Just to make this clear, the "shark" is actually the RIAA. When people talk about sharks in a context like this, they mean to bring up the images of a scary, ruthless predator. This is not really how all sharks actually are. I don't think she's actually going to "knock on the glass to the near-cracking point."

    Also, she's implying that she's a veggie because she's kind to animals, not the other way around.

    The woman with the hair dye is not her accuser, as you state. The RIAA is her accuser (corporations = people in court). The woman is a representative of her accuser, and it is perfectly reasonable to consider the possibility that she is a moron. The specific sentence you quote is in fact an appeal to those components of the RIAA which are not moronic - the author is assuming they exist and hence admitting the likelihood that this particular representative does not represent the intelligence level of her actual accuser.

    The point of this story, which parent ignores, was the absolutely bizzare quote about how people should drop out of college to pay their settlements. I find it bizzare for two reasons:

    1. It's completely disgusting that any representative of the RIAA would suggest that. That's just wrong, for reasons that other posters have certainly pointed out.
    2. Why that's even remotely necessary in this case is beyond me. $3750 is pretty reasonable, even for a college student. Yeah, it hurts, but it's supposed to. I disagree with the tactics, the concept of the RIAA in general, and the copyright system, but given the situation, that's not that bad. It certainly wouldn't necessitate dropping out of school. The author of the article is right to try every possible angle to negotiate, but can she really say with a straight face that dropping out is even under consideration? Unlikely. If the RIAA rep really did bring it up, it goes a long way in comfirming author's assertion that rep is a moron.

    How parent got modded insightful is a mystery; the "insightful" poster seems to be reading at about a third grade level.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:42PM (#15068505) Journal
    But I find it horrifying that anyone would single-mindedly and without compassion process people like a meat grinder set to purée.

    No one said the penalty would be pleasant.
    You seem to be missing the difference between justice and law.

    Everyone knows that laws are hard and fast rules, but when you go before a Judge, it's to receive justice... as justice is a much more flexible concept than "the law".

    If you take justice out of the "Justice System", you lose almost all of the fairness present in the system. I mean, the Government has a Department of Justice, not a Department of Law Enforcement.

    Police States are all about law enforcement. I assume that this particular Democracy is interested in Justice, considering their rebellious roots.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:47PM (#15068565) Homepage
    Yes- Riaa are weasels. But by now, surely we ALL know that if you download copyrighted material you are risking a 3kish fine (or being ruined in court if you tried to fight it).

    Allow me to clarify --- if someone accuses you of downloading copyrighted material, you are risking a the fine; regardless of anything so sticky as the truth of wether or nor you actually did it.

    The RIAA doesn't need to prove anything. They just claim it, demand a settlement, and strong-arm you into settling. They are never obligated to prove a damned thing. And since it's a civil matter, they know it's cheaper to settle even if you're innocent.

    I could claim you're a child molester, but since I have no basis to make the claim, it would be unfair to tar you with that brush (this is a metaphor, not a personal attack, I'm sure you're a perfectly nice person around children).

    What if someone who legitimately has NOT downloaded material is accused by the RIAA? They're expected to settle out of court, accept responsibility and blame -- or, they spend a godawful amount of money defending themselves.

    People hate these suits from the RIAA because they are brough forth without evidence, without any objective 3rd party, and a whole passle of cranky lawyers. I've said before, the RIAA is effectively acting as their own court system without supervision. And, they can effectively do any damned thing they want to any poor schmuck whose ISP was strong-armed into giving up their information.

    The fact that there are no checks and balances on the way this is done, means it's a situation that's just rife with chances for abuse. Oooh, the latest Brittney SPears album didn't sell well? Fine, we'll just make up a couple of people to sue and recoup our losses. It would be no different from the complete vapour trail they provide now.

    Any situation in which your accuser seems to automatically be able to force you to settle for thousands of dollars, or be bankrupted in court, is completely broken.

    Now, it sounds like the person in this article may have actually downloaded stuff. But if, and I can guaran-f'in-tee I've never downloaded music, I was accused of this same thing, I'd be left with the bullshit choice of settling and accepting guilt, or fighting it and paying through the nose.

  • by X86Daddy (446356) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:50PM (#15068590) Journal
    If you're giving money to the RIAA cartel, then you're funding their legal bullying, and you're funding their legislation-purchasing efforts. This is simple to realize, and not some bullshit argument like buying weed from the neighborhood grower funds terrorism.

    I am not suggesting that you stop buying CDs! Although I do suggest that you do not purchase new CDs from the companies that contribute to this problem. In addition to boycott, there are other legal ways to make your point. Use RIAA Radar [magnetbox.com] to see if an album is tainted; tell your friends about the service. Buy directly from small artists. Browse MySpace to find new stuff by indie bands. Go to Used CD stores. Tell people about how you spend money on music and how you will not spend money on music. Warn people about corrupt Sony CDs and whatever the next violation is. Tell people what copyright was supposed to mean versus what it means today.

    You may not topple the giant alone, but when the daughter of a senator learns about the issue and feels strongly about it, when an exec of a smaller music label makes *less* money with the cartel and drops out of the RIAA, when a cavalier journalist with CNN or Fox hears about today's story and decides to air it, you've made a difference.
  • Re:Bingo. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EzInKy (115248) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:18PM (#15068936)

    Hell, spend your CD money on booze...


    Funny you should mention booze. So do you also think Prohibiton would have been rescinded if nobody had broken the law?
  • by Seraphim_72 (622457) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:20PM (#15068948)
    How can you have "no hope" of defeating their lawyers in a crime that you didn't commit? If there was "no evidence" then you would have all sorts of legal avenues for reprisal, many of which could possibly lead to a large pot of gold.
    You obviously have never been through the "Justice" system. I suggest you look up the names of those who have been put to death and later found innocent. Try deathpnaltyinfo [deathpenaltyinfo.org] to watch people getting railroaded in almost real time.

    Sera

  • Re:Perfect... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:35PM (#15069083)

    or, not break the law in the first place. If you break any law, dont go crying that it might have messed up your schooling

    Yeah, and on that note, we should also hang all jaywalkers ! Sure, it may seem rough, but jaywalking is against the law, and anyone who breaks the law is a black-hearted subhuman scum and deserves to lose their life ! Down with this silly idea that the punishment should be in some proportion to the crime ! I say: death penalty for everything !

    Doing otherwise might mean that some corporation doesn't get quite as much profits than it might have gotten in some alternative reality, and that is much more important than some antiquated concept of "justice" or "fairness". Only an unpatriotic terrorist communist hippie in his drug-induced haze would disagree !

    Hmphhh... To think that the punishment can be too harsh... What's this world coming to ?

  • Re:Perfect... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ILikeRed (141848) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:37PM (#15069102) Journal
    They don't think of their son or daughter sitting in a dorm room at college downloading mp3s.
  • by Tweekster (949766) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:39PM (#15069128)
    Yes they are....and you can dick around for decades before paying anything signicant. Civil judgements in this country dont exactly have the biggest weight in the world. Particularly when you have no income to speak of, yeah. hell you could putz around deciding on a payment plan through the courts (cheaply) for years.
  • How things work (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Z34107 (925136) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:58PM (#15069337)

    Actually I don't think making copies of songs should bankrupt anyone

    And I don't think that fluffy puppies should die, either. But, it does - if you're pirating a song instead of buying it, that's not exactly good business for the record label, is it?

    There are some many problems with equating copyright infringment with theft I can't see how any reasonable person would try to do so.

    No, there aren't. Theft is taking something without paying. In music piracy (a special case of copyright infringement), you took music without paying for it.

    Does anyone else see a problem where a country punishes people more for copyright infringment than murder?

    Hrm, I want to find this country. There are a few people I know who I'd kill for $4k.

  • Re:Perfect... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grqb (410789) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:01PM (#15069370) Homepage Journal
    Isn't that the definition of a settlement?
  • Re:Perfect... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Crussy (954015) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:10PM (#15069475)
    If the party is guilty. The RIAA is leveraging it's finances against people who obviously cannot compete in court and have no chance of proving their innocence. The RIAA even has a policy of no negotiations (from TFA). So in this way it is extortion.
  • by TheJediGeek (903350) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:23PM (#15069603)
    What the RIAA is doing is extortion. Plain and simple.
    She is SUSPECTED of committing a crime. It has not been proven yet.
    The RIAA is trying to extort money from her. If the RIAA simply wanted to protect their copyrights, they would simply file a suit immediately upon finding out. Instead they send threatening and intimidating letters to people to extort money.
    Whether or not the girl is guilty of copyright infringement is not relevant to the fact that the RIAA is using that as leverage for extortion.
  • by garyrich (30652) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:03PM (#15070666) Homepage Journal
    "Just seems like an organization responsible for distribution would want to embrase a new distribution medium"

    People hate change. Corporations hate change even more. They have never operated in a "free market" and have no desire to. /. Has a high representation of people that Alvin Toffler would call "change junkies". In the rest of the world these type of people are very very rare. I didn't really understand this until I worked for a few years for a dow 30 company, the feeling that what worked 50 years ago should still work now is so pervasive that you breathe it with the air. As far as I can infer - that's how normal people think.

    The RIAA isn't even the record companies that they represent. They are paid to represent the industry as a whole. That interest is selling a million copies of the same thing to everyone. They make the most $$ when the record stores all sell the same 30 products. I could write a 10 page screed on the law of large numbers to prove that point, but frankly nobody cares except investors and economists. It's the mega-platinum sellers that subsidise everything else according to the current (obsolete) business model. It really will be a bit sad to lose that.

    Jaince Ian has written about how cool it is to be truly wicked famous. We are going to lose that as part of this transition. It's kind of like losing the romance of whaling. I don't miss it, but Moby Dick was a hell of a book. We did lose something.

    The RIAA can't stop that, but their clear mission is to stop it or die trying. They *will* die trying, and it won't be pretty. The Hillary Rosen's and Jack Valenti's will cash their checks, sangine that they have done the best they possibly could at something that had no chance of success and move on to the next gig.

    This industry is going to die. But it is going to go out kicking and screaming like every other doomed business model that used to work so very profitably.
  • Re:Sorry, no. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by curunir (98273) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:43PM (#15071098) Homepage Journal
    My problem isn't what goes into making you want it, but what goes into preventing you from wanting anything else.

    Music's impact on the human mind is quite profound. It can alter mood, attention span and many other brain functions. For many people there is a primal, subconscious need for music. This can even be seen in cultures that are not exposed to the marketing hype that consumer-driven societies are. You can point to the marketing (MTV, movie tie-ins, etc), but what I believe is more important is that all of this is preventing us from hearing non-corporate music. There's two ways to shut people up, either shut them up (in a free society, this can be quite hard) or you can simply yell louder than they're capable of talking (in free societies, this tends to be quite easy, since money translates quite well into elevating the volume of your message). The marketing, P2P squashing and everything else is not so much about getting people to pay for their product, it's about drowning out any chance for independent music to inform us of its existance.

    They know we'll actively seek music...we're conditioned as humans to do so. They're only concern is that they be the only type of music that we're able to find. That's where the DRM/DMCA/typical /. rants come in. These technologies are tools being used by the established media corporations to monopolize the channel between themselves and consumers in order to maintain the illusion that there is nothing else out there.
  • Re:Perfect... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shaneh0 (624603) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:47PM (#15071132)
    Actually, I think it was lumped-in a long long time ago and he's just bringing it up. Besides, not all drugs are narcotics.
  • by Sabriel (134364) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:54PM (#15071192)
    If she does not believe she is guilty she can take it to court. She was on their phone line with them discussing how to pay it because she knew she was guilty.

    How on earth did you get 'insightful' for this? Nowhere in the article is her guilt or innocence admitted or confirmed, so please feel free to share your hidden knowledge or psychic powers.

    She was on their phone line because SHE COULDN'T AFFORD TO TAKE IT TO COURT. What part of that INJUSTICE do you do not clue, or are you just being a shill or a troll? These idiots are suing infants and grannies, they don't give a crap about justice or innocence, only how they can exploit the system.

    (throws soapbox and walks off fuming)

  • Re:Perfect... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KarmaMB84 (743001) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @06:29PM (#15071463)
    I think the issue most geeks have with the RIAA and these "settlements" is that the RIAA won't even listen to you when you tell them you didn't do anything and can prove it. You get a letter saying "pay us $X or we'll bury you in court costs with our multimillion dollar law firm" and they don't want to hear it if you think they're wrong because they know you're going to pay or lose even bigger.

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