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The RIAA and their Viscious Way

April 13th, 2005 · No Comments

So, yes, the RIAA and MPAA have sued a bunch of RPI students. As a courtesy to everyone at RPI, if you find yourself on this list (link goes to a tool to tell you if you are or not), it might be time to give Dean Smith or an attorney a call…

The IPs listed here came from the original post made this morning on Here is a link to the list of RPI IPs sued by the RIAA, along with the original complaint.

Edit: (04/14/2005 02:05AM EDT) So, does anyone else find it odd they are including a computer on CoreNET, and on the wireless VPN concentrator? Are they really going to follow through with a suit on a router? If so, would RPI be liable for the transaction that they allowed to happen on their network? Apparently not, it would seem, since ISPs rarely are directly sued by the RIAA/MPAA. The same applies for the telephone network — traffic that merely uses the network without the operator’s knowledge does not constitute conspiracy or liability, as they merely provide the network on which the traffic occurs. Could the ‘ISP defense’ ever apply if, say, all connections on a campus were routed through a SOCKS proxy or some other type of semi-transparent proxy? Or, on a smaller level, what if someone was running an open wireless router and a user was hijacking their signal for this illicit use. Would the ISP defense then apply?

Considering that this hits so close to home for the RPI community, this is a good time to once again open the discussion on the business policies of the RIAA and MPAA, and how we should respond as their clients. Essentially, we all are clients at some level because of the amount of media that we consume that is protected by these organizations. These organizations made similar cries of lost business around the advent of magnetic storage. Tape cassettes and VCRs didn’t put movie companies out of business either, although it would seem that cassette technology is older than I am, and Hollywood flicks and the MTV culture seem to be more alive than ever.

It would seem astounding that rarely do book publishers file copyright infringement suits against those that pirate their materials on these same networks. Some text books are available on peer to peer networks, and textbooks after all can cost upwards of $100, if they are heavy enough. But book publishers have actually seemed to find that including the CD containing the textbook with the hardcover version itself has actually been an attractive feature to customers that do purchase it. In this way, the new technology has both increased the spread of the information and increased the salability of the product. Virtually any form of popular media that can be proliferated illegally on the internet is already being distributed.

The RIAA and MPAA just seem bent on public relations seppuku. Today during an RIAA press conference call regarding the I2Hub lawsuits, an executive of the RIAA stated publicly that no school at which students were being sued had more than 25 John Does on their list. Of course they would not dare to pursue every file sharer, although they did mention that they had evidence of at least 140 other school’s involvements across 41 states. Considering that there were 7,000 or so users on I2Hub on March 25th, they would have had to file 7,000 lawsuits. Think about how many people – how many customers – would be directly affected by that number of lawsuits. Seeing as how each of these two students, on average, would have two parents and one and four-tenths of a sibling according to an estimate of the national average, which would mean that 23,800 immediate family members would be directly impacted by a lawsuit that would levy damages often as high as tens of thousands of dollars (not to mention the uncles, aunts, nephews, and other close relatives). But it wouldn’t just be those 23,800 families that likely would have unfavorable thoughts – and highly unfavorable things to say – about the RIAA and MPAA. It would be the thousands of people that all of those people know, and all the people that were a mere degree of separation from someone who’s life likely might have been seriously hurt by similar vicious lawsuits. Thousands of dollars buys a not-so-used vehicle, or a new set of high-quality windows and frames, or a few months worth of food. But to the RIAA and MPAA, with the greatest audacity possible, not only rob ordinary people of the ability to enjoy art, but rob them of their earnings and forcibly take them out of their hands.

I’ve said it once, and I’ve said it before – I don’t buy CDs anymore, there is plenty of music out there for me that I don’t have to buy at all. Actually, when I was only 16, I set up concerts featuring local bands at American Legion halls and was able to turn not only a profit – but to a 16 year old, turning profits in the hundreds after each event – I was earning a fortune. So the RIAA and MPAA seem to find it difficult to do the same on a larger scale, which is rather pathetic considering that I was able to do it with the help of only one friend, and some old public address and mixing equipment. The live performance is always where the classic artist has shined. The massive sales of records, cassettes, and compact discs are products of the last century – and we simply have evolved our media delivery past these wasteful formats that simply do not deliver the quality, convenience, and durability that an MP3 or AVI file can deliver.

The RIAA and MPAA are like some imaginary old fashioned coal strip mining company that insists that coal is still an efficient, clean, and safe energy source, when we know that it’s really been mostly made obsolete, to the dismay of those involved in the industry. But coal mining is not an art, and employees of the coal mine don’t go down into the mines for a full work week because they are passionate about it. True artists do, and even prior to mass media, the work of the excellent artists was made widely known and was appreciated. The record companies and movie studies know that they’re being threatened – not because their customers are robbing them but because the industry was simply not sustainable in the face of a set of technologies that eliminated the need for that industry – like coal power and its gradual phase out.

It’s also ironic that they have to resort to suing college students. It’s likely that college students – already in debt from educational loans – will not seek the advocacy of a respected attorney, someone known as well as the late Johnnie Cochran. Young adults can’t defend themselves properly when they can’t even drink at a bar (to regular readers of my blog that find this statement ironic, please interpret my prior article as kindling for discussion on the drinking age, and about the way we enforce laws, and not about how much of a plague underage drinking is). RPI happens to be where I go to school, and that’s why I took personal interest in this. We’re engineers and technologists – not lawyers. But on that note, it’s interesting that so far they haven’t sued the kids at Stanford, Yale, Georgetown, or George Washington University, that likely would have both the connections to the I2Hub and affluent and outspoken lawyers ready to take a stance against the RIAA in court. As of my current understanding, no individual college student has ever actually taken a file sharing case to trial – every case has been settled for an outrageous amount likely costing as much as a semester or year of education (or about six weeks of classes at RPI, after the 7% tuition increase for the 2005-2006 academic year).

So, bearing all of these things in mind, can I please ask the readers of my site, who are all likely college students right now considering the material contained herein to collectively take a step back – take a deep breath – and take our collective middle fingers and stick them right in the face of the executives at the RIAA and MPAA. It might be time to ask your friend to borrow that CD you heard them play in their car stereo, or visit a library to rent a new movie (most “good” libraries have new releases, if you didn’t already know). Maybe tomorrow, have a couple of your friends do a movie madness day with them. I’ve done it before, but it’s pretty unlikely that the MPAA is going to take me to small claims court for walking past a few lazy ushers – or would they have the gall to actually do that too? In times like these, we seemingly can never be certain. But let’s be vigilant, and just stop buying their crap, and return to enjoying it as an art form, as opposed to being consumers of an industry or in a micro-economy.

Also, on a more amusing note, I wanted to mention that by no means should consumers avoid independent labels – you can use the RIAA radar tool to assess whether artists you like art part of the RIAA cartel. For example, it’s OK to listen to Rydia but it’s not OK to listen to four out of the five albums published by “Larry the Cable Guy” of “Blue Collar Comedy” fame (but seriously, it’s really only four of the five albums, even though you can be sure that zero of five are of any substantial entertainment value).

IP Address: Hostname: Approximate Location: (Connection Type) Unknown (Unknown) Bryckwyck, Colonie, Married Housing, Stacwyck (ResNET) Bryckwyck, Colonie, Married Housing, Stacwyck (ResNET) Bryckwyck, Colonie, Married Housing, Stacwyck (ResNET) Bryckwyck, Colonie, Married Housing, Stacwyck (ResNET) E-Dorm, North Hall, Quad (ResNET) E-Dorm, North Hall, Quad (ResNET) E-Dorm, North Hall, Quad (ResNET) E-Dorm, North Hall, Quad (ResNET) E-Dorm, North Hall, Quad (ResNET) E-Dorm, North Hall, Quad (ResNET) E-Dorm, North Hall, Quad (ResNET) BARH, Field House, RHAP, Sunset Terrace (ResNET) BARH, Field House, RHAP, Sunset Terrace (ResNET) BARH, Field House, RHAP, Sunset Terrace (ResNET) BARH, Field House, RHAP, Sunset Terrace (ResNET) BARH, Field House, RHAP, Sunset Terrace (ResNET) BARH, Field House, RHAP, Sunset Terrace (ResNET) Core Campus, RSDH (CoreNET) Barton, Bray, Commons, Crockett, Davison, Hall, Nason, Nugent, Sharp, Warren (ResNET) Barton, Bray, Commons, Crockett, Davison, Hall, Nason, Nugent, Sharp, Warren (ResNET) Barton, Bray, Commons, Crockett, Davison, Hall, Nason, Nugent, Sharp, Warren (ResNET) Barton, Bray, Commons, Crockett, Davison, Hall, Nason, Nugent, Sharp, Warren (ResNET) Wireless and External VPN Only (VPNNET) Wireless and External VPN Only (VPNNET)

NOTE: A minor modification of host name data was made to protect student privacy.

Tags: Police, Law, & Justice · Rensselaer (RPI) · Scary Stuff

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