Monday, May 14, 2007

Newsworthy Information

Ok.. so I'm draggin' ass this morning. For whatever reason, I couldn't sleep last night, so I'm walking around today like a zombie. I've been sucking down coffee while reading the news today and thought I'd share something that might impact you guys. I know you're all hard-core music fans and most of you who are savvy enough are also LimeWire or P2P fans as well. If you ARE downloading music from the net, take a look at this: (excerpted from Yahoo news top story this morning)


Music piracy crackdown nets college kids

By ANNA JO BRATTON, Associated Press WriterSun May 13, 4:50 PM ET

At first, Sarah Barg thought the e-mail was a scam. Some group called the Recording Industry Association of America was accusing the University of Nebraska-Lincoln sophomore of illegally downloading 381 songs using the school's computer network and a program called Ares.

The letter said she might be sued but offered her the chance to settle out of court.

Barg couldn't imagine anyone expected her to pay $3,000 — $7.87 per song — for some 1980s ballads and Spice Girls tunes she downloaded for laughs in her dorm room. Besides, the 20-year-old had friends who had downloaded thousands of songs without repercussion.

"Obviously I knew it was illegal, but no one got in trouble for it," Barg said.

But Barg's perspective changed quickly that Thursday in March, when she called student legal services and found out the e-mail was no joke and that she had a pricey decision to make.

Barg is one of 61 students at UNL and hundreds at more than 60 college campuses across the country who have received letters from the recording industry group, threatening a lawsuit if they don't settle out of court.

"Any student on any campus in the country who is illegally downloading music may receive one of these letters in the coming months," said Jenni Engebretsen, an RIAA spokeswoman.

Barg's parents paid the $3,000 settlement. Without their help, "I don't know what I would have done. I'm only 20 years old," she said.

At least 500 university students nationwide have paid settlements to avoid being sued, Engebretsen said. Students who don't take the offer face lawsuits — and minimum damages of $750 for each copyrighted recording shared if they lose.

UNL officials have been told 32 more letters are on the way. At least 17 UNL students who did not take the settlement offer have been sued, according to the RIAA, although the university has been asked to forward only five subpoenas.

But the students coughing up the cash question why they're the ones getting in trouble.

"They're targeting the worst people," UNL freshman Andrew Johnson, who also settled for $3,000. "Legally, it probably makes sense, because we don't have the money to fight."

Johnson got his e-mail in February, with the recording industry group's first wave of letters targeting college students. He had downloaded 100 songs on a program called LimeWire using the university network.

The money to settle came from the 18-year-old's college fund. He'll work three jobs this summer to pay back the money.

Johnson compares what he did to people driving 5 miles per hour over the speed limit.

"It's not like I downloaded millions of songs and sold them to people," Johnson said.

But just one song can bring a lawsuit, Engebretsen said.

"It is important to send the message that this is illegal, you can be caught, and there are consequences," she said.

The industry realizes attitudes need changing, and money from the settlements is reinvested in educational programs schools and other groups can use to spread the word that song sharing can have severe consequences.

Some of the programs are tailored to start with third-graders.

"We do recognize that by the time students reach college, many of their music habits are already formed," Engebretsen said.

Earlier this month, members of Congress sent a letter to officials from 19 universities, including UNL, asking for information about schools' anti-piracy policies.

According to the letter, more than half of college students download copyrighted music and movies. The information requested is intended to help assess whether Congress needs to advance legislation to ensure illegal downloading "is no longer commonly associated with student life on some U.S. campuses," the letter says.

Barg is still angry about her letter from the recording industry group, which she calls bullying. But she agrees sharing music is common, and that other students don't understand the consequences.

"Technically, I'm guilty. I just think it's ridiculous, the way they're going about it," Barg said. "We have to find a way to adjust our legal policy to take into account this new technology, and so far, they're not doing a very good job."

Barg thinks the university should send an e-mail to all students, warning them that the recording industry won't look the other way.

As campus clears out for the summer, UNL officials are considering launching a new educational campaign in the fall.

"If we can do anything to help educate students about what illegal file-sharing is, we're willing and interested in doing that," said Kelly Bartling, a university spokeswoman.

Bartling said no one wants students to have to worry about how to pay tuition because of an expensive settlement. "It is a hugely expensive lesson," Bartling said.

Johnson, the UNL freshman, doesn't think the threats from the recording industry group are going to solve the problem. Friends who know he got in trouble still share music online.

"People are still going to do it until they get caught, and they can't catch everyone," Johnson said.

I thought some you might find this interesting. I also looked up the RIAA's web site this morning to see their top headlines. In case you're wondering, they are:

  • RIAA Welcomes Bipartisan Push For University Accountability on Campus Piracy (Click for Link)
  • New Wave of RIAA Pre-Lawsuit Letters Targets Music Theft on 13 Campuses  (Click for Link)

Big deal, so what? What does it mean?

Well, basically it means the RIAA (whom you can best describe as the Music Industry Police) aren't playing games any more. Don't think that because they targeted college campuses and you aren't a college student, that it means you're ok. All it means is that College Campuses were really really easy test-beds for this new lawsuit program. Any student connected to a college campus LAN or WAN is going to be trafficking throughthe campus firewalls and routers. To give you a local example you can understand; it's really inconvenient for the government to track down all the indivuduals in pitt county who download illegal music, because we all use different providers, different routers, different gateways, etc. However, approximately 38,000 people can be tracked by requestinga subpoena for the campus internet logs and scrutinizing those. That's why they went after college kids first. Additionally, college age kids are also probably the largest portion of the population that's responsible for illegal downloading, but they have a good point when they state that most internet and music habits are formed at this point in life, so if you "were" a downloader of music in college, then chances are you still are, so they WILL be gunning for everyone within  couple of months to a few years in the near future. I don't know when, but mark my words when I say it's coming.

If you insist on downloading, by all means learn to use a bit-torrent client as opposed to Limewire. I've had to fix hundreds of computers due to programs like limewire and frostwire, and all that other crap-ware that's out there. 2007 is here and P2P is dead. Limewire is dead.. let it die. Bit-torrents are currently where most of the music is now, which is why limewire results keep getting less and less over time.

Anyway, that's another rant.

On a similar topic, check this news out:

Hardware-Level Content Protection Headed For More Gadgets

Relax.. that's not a complicated term. Basically it means that in the coming years, they are going to install a chip in your cell phones, desktop computers, laptops, etc that can detect music played on your PC. Then It will check to see if you've purchased a license for it. If not, you can't play it. Fun, huh?

Anyway, back to work. I just thought this was blogworthy. Comments? Thoughts?



  1. Hey cuz, The next time I come visit you need to school me on bit-torrent details. Me & mine are all big music downloaders (mind you we also buy a lot of CD's so it balances out). Oh yeah, when are you coming this way again? Call me... PS: Did you hear about Aunt Thelma? :-(


  2. No.. what happened with aunt thelma? I vaguely remember the name from growing up, but I swear I can't put a face to it.

    Actually I'm coming to Raleigh tomorrow for a meeting at 9 AM, but MAY be free by lunch time. If so, we can do lunch together. If I'm out too early though, I'll have to head on home. Love to see ya again though.

  3. You might want to use peer guardian with bittorrent as well; as they're hunting people there as well.
    Another thing Bittorrent is a peer to peer software as well, its just decentralized ( distributed ).

  4. ph, you're right of course. I just don't know how to explain a centralized vs decentralized file-sharing app in such a manner that my friends would "get it"... lol. They just care that it works.. they tune me out when I get all techy on 'em.

    Haven't tried peer guardian though. I'll have to check that out.

  5. I had it backwards, Aunt Marie DeRocco, Papa's last sibling, has cancer and doesn't have much longer. I remember her as already ancient when I met her and never without a cigarette. Me and some of the girls are going to lunch at 12 if you want to call me you're welcome to meet us. :-) Love you. PS: Johnny & I definitely want some of your Beef-Eaters.


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