Wednesday, February 21, 2007

not your grandpa's pirates

Apparently, the recording industry is cracking down on college kids who pirate music. It's oh-so-so-very easy to steal music when your school has a wireless cloud and what appears to be unlimited bandwith, and the industry is starting to send complaints (like, thousands of them) to schools to try and have the schools curb the illegal downloading. Of course, the most eggregious offenders are being sued.

You know, when I started law school in 2003, we were given a spiel during orientation by the Computer Services Department. Amongst all their other info, someone spoke briefly about using the school's internet for file-sharing, commonly understood to mean: "stealing music off the internet and each other's computers." I braced myself for the heavy hand of the law to come down on us, to explain to us that stealing music breaches copyright law and that, as future lawyers, we would be held to a higher standard, etc, etc. I expected him to tell us not break the law.

Instead, he simply said: "Look. Don't do it. It uses WAY too much bandwith and it slows all the computers down. So please, for the love of bandwith, don't do it."

He also mentioned that they would quickly and easilly identify anyone who was using more than her fair share of bandwith and she could expect a promt visit (ie: wherever you are on campus, you will be found within minutes) from a very unhappy Computer Services person who will see to it that you stop immediately. Because, we can't have the system hemmoraging bandwith like that people. Come on. THINK OF THE BANDWITH!

Nobody mentioned that it was illegal. I wondered if they even noticed that part...


Anonymous Shelley said...

(Disclaimer: I'm friends with some of the computing services folks.)

Tremendous amounts of piracy went on at law school when I was there. I imagine every single person who did it knew it was illegal...and did it anyway.

If the administration made it a violation of the honor code, and made it a mandatory reporting thing, then yeah, the whole thing would have teeth. But from the computing services POV (who field bitching about bandwidth every day) this is the best appeal they can make.

11:02 AM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

interesting to know that side of things. i can definitely appreciate why, for the computing services people, the practical issue of bandwith was the best way to approach the problem. i mean, technically, that's the only reason it *is* a problem for the people running the computers. and i have to say, the potential for embarassing run-ins w/ the computer people, having tracked me down and caught me red-handed, were enough to keep me from even thinking about doing it. however, i am still surprised it isn't an honor code violation or there isn't that same level of gravity around it. honestly, i knew it was illegal, but being such a neophyte, i was so surprised that the illegality wasn't mentioned that i actually wondered if maybe the illegality wasn't 100% settled. i just imagined somebody would stress that particular point, being that we were all just starting law school, you know. but whatever. it's all behind me now.

11:31 AM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

ps -- mentally insert the "d" i left out of "bandwidth" throughout, please. thanks.

11:33 AM  

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