University Help Desk Employee Extorts Student Using Copyright

from the wonder-where-he-got-that-idea? dept

With various companies around the world making a nice profit by threatening people with "pre-settlement" cash demands to avoid a copyright lawsuit, it was only a matter of time until others got in on the action, even if they didn't hold the copyrights at all. Slashdot points us to the news of a University of Georgia help desk employee who has been arrested for trying to shake down a student with a copyright infringement claim. Apparently, he accused at least one student of copyright infringement, and demanded money to "clear her name." Police are now trying to find out if the guy did this to others as well. Of course, you have to wonder if he got the idea from seeing companies that are doing this on a larger scale.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    bishboria (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 3:41am

    He may not "represent" interested parties, but I fail to see why this guy gets arrested yet companies do the same thing and it's ok.

    People are second class citizens.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 4:04am

    UGAy... nice

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 5:05am

    Re:

    Very good question.

    I think Lady Justice needs a new blindfold

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    bob, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 5:55am

    Why Is It

    That the cops always go after the little guys.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 6:39am

    Lets be reasonable

    I know you have a pirated copy of Windows on your desktop, so I call you and tell you that if you don't pay me then I will turn you in. Thats all this guy did, its called blackmail. He should have been arrested for this and they did exactly what they were supposed to do. Now if you have the pirated software what are your options, pay him to make him shut up or hope he's bluffing. If you software is legit then call the cops on his ass, I would...

     

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  6.  
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    Bubba Troll, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 6:40am

    He probably read about it here. Or maybe he had someone tell him about it since Southerners can't read.

     

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  7.  
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    Brad Morrison, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 6:58am

    slow wildebeast theory

    I think that law enforcement on the whole looks at risk and revenue, rather than, you know, effectively enforcing the law as a (wait for it ...) business model.

    Yep. Your friendly neighborhood cop is ultimately acting according to financial interests. It is well known that speeding violations are not enforced unless/until the cops need money.

    So, going after companies, corporations, etc., is a bit more costly. It's easier to intimidate individuals. Also, you can incarcerate them, which means money from the Feds. Then there's the bail: You make sure that your magistrates all know to set bail no matter what, to pay back the bail bonds firms who donated to your re-election campaign.

     

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  8.  
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    Krusty, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 7:01am

    Re: Why Is It

    Because we are easier to harrass than major corporations and we have less resources to fight with.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    Re:

    Now that businesses are people too maybe we can throw documents and building in jail.

     

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  10.  
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    TMac, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 7:31am

    Sorry, but I don't get the obvious angst over companies that sue or threaten to sue over their copyrights. This guy did not own a copyright so duh! Not really a comparison.

    A copyright protects your hard work and is even in the Constitution.

    per Wikipedia -
    An example of the intent of modern copyright, as expressed in the United States Constitution, is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

    I am guessing most of those that hate corporations for enforcing copyrights are the same ones that steal their software. Try to make a living selling software and you will think differently.

     

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  11.  
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    a-dub (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    They go after the little guy because they havn't been told not to, and they dont have to worry so much about being reprimanded by their superiors.

     

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  12.  
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    Headbanger, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Re:

    "
    I am guessing most of those that hate corporations for enforcing copyrights are the same ones that steal their software. Try to make a living selling software and you will think differently.
    "

    Kind of like how all those people who hate the Patriot Act are unpatriotic, right? :/

    And its not just that they are hated for enforcing copyrights, it is that they are hated for applying ruthless legal force, pushing questionable (to say the least) evidence, lobbying for ridiculous legislation, suing people for disagreeing with their legal methods(ala Ray Beckermann), getting away with awful EULA's, trying to push this bullshit that we are buying a license to use their product and not a hard copy with which we can do as we please, etc. etc. etc.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    Wow, that's a serious logical fail. You need to shut your ignorant piehole and do some reading.

     

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  14.  
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    TMac, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 11:36am

    Re Headbanger

    What? What does a Constitutional right to copyright have to do with the Patriot Act? This has nothing to do with giving a copyright owner their share when you use something they produced. Since when did we get the 'right' to use someone else's product for free. WTF happened to this generation?

    So tell us the real story.

    Do you agree that someone should have the right to copyright their product?

    Do you believe that it is acceptable to rip off musicians by getting their music without paying for it?

    Do you believe it is acceptable to rip off software companies by pirating their product and distributing it to others?

     

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  15.  
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    Matt (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 11:59am

    Re:

    After that one, the Founders wrote some more stuff in the Constitution. For instance, they amended it to state that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press". Fair to guess that most people who hate (or at least seek to restrain) individuals that exercise their unabridged (and unabridgeable!) right to speak and write freely, including by speaking and writing things that other people originally spoke or wrote, are Communists?

    I had a (successful) career writing open source software for money, and selling consulting services. Copyright got in my way, and I continue to see it as an impediment. The Constitution certainly does not guarantee anyone a copyright, it merely authorizes Congress to offer one if doing so promotes progress (subject to the limitations of the First Amendment and elsewhere). Congress has far exceeded that extremely limited authorization, and people who recognize that generally are not doing so out of "hate," but out of patriotism and pragmatism.

     

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  16.  
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    Matt (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re Headbanger

    Do you agree that someone should have the right to copyright their product?

    No. They may have that privilege, if Congress sees fit to grant it under its limited authorization to offer monopolies in order to promote progress in the useful arts. But it is not a right, like the right to life, or liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.

    Do you believe that it is acceptable to rip off musicians by getting their music without paying for it?

    I don't believe that obtaining music without paying for it is always "ripping off" a musician. But no one is suggesting that musicians should not get paid - only that monetizing their product using a government-granted monopoliy is inefficient and counter-productive. It is a silly practice that worked for a brief period of human history, but will not work any longer.

    Do you believe it is acceptable to rip off software companies by pirating their product and distributing it to others?

    You and I probably disagree about the definition of "piracy," and distributing software only occasionally results in "ripping off" a software company. But see above, substituting "software company" for "musician" - software companies should get paid, but copyright is a thoroughly bad mechanism to get that done. It inhibits progress, and shrinks the total amount of available revenue (in other words, software companies probably make _less_ because of their reliance on copyright. I'm told and believe that that has been demonstrably true of music publishing companies.)

    As far as the "right" to use "someone else's product" for free, I think you are mischaracterizing facts. By default, new ideas and creations belong to the public domain - to everyone. That is how the world functioned until remarkably recently, and it worked well. So the question isn't "since when did the public have the right to use things that are in the public domain?" (answer: since always) but "since when did it make sense to withdraw things from the public domain?" The answer to that is, "maybe never, but certainly only if it is efficient to do so and if doing so actually promotes progress."

    Homer (if there was a "Homer") wrote his two great, epic songs without the benefit of copyright. He probably is just getting the credit for his version of traditional stories that had been orally transmitted for generations. The "Pants On the Ground" guy has a copyright. Progress in the Useful Arts?

     

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  17.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    Try to make a living selling software and you will think differently.

    Heh. That statement reads like "try to make a living selling horse buggies, and you will think differently about those who say selling automobiles is a better model."

    Yes, if you choose a bad business model, you will suffer for it. What's your point?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Headbanger, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re Headbanger

    "
    What? What does a Constitutional right to copyright have to do with the Patriot Act?
    "

    Nothing. It was an example of a general non-sequitur logical fallacy, in similar context that you used here:
    "
    I am guessing most of those that hate corporations for enforcing copyrights are the same ones that steal their software.
    "

    Hating corporations does not make you a software thief, hating the Patriot Act does not make you unpatriotic. Perhaps I should have made a better analogy.

    "
    Do you agree that someone should have the right to copyright their product?
    "

    Depends on the product. Songs? Sure. Movies? Sure. Software? Sure. Garage Door Openers? No. And the one's I do agree with being copyrighted, its only insofar as it does not step on the right to individuals' fair use and does not try to sidestep the "first sale" doctrine.

    "
    Do you believe that it is acceptable to rip off musicians by getting their music without paying for it?
    "

    Oh, of course I don't support ripping off musicians. However, I don't believe that getting their music without paying for it necessarily equates to them being ripped off.

    "
    Do you believe it is acceptable to rip off software companies by pirating their product and distributing it to others?
    "

    Of course I don't support software companies getting ripped off. Please be more specific with your terms please. The term "to pirate" is vaguely tossed around and doesn't have a standard definition, even within a context as narrowly defined such as this.

     

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  19.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

    Re:

    Only because we have so little money compared to large corporations.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Lets be reasonable

    No, it isn't what he did, but if you'd bother to read the article you would know that.

    He was in charge of monitoring the university's network, and responding to copyright allegations as reported to the university by the recording industry. Instead of delivering the warnings, he used the information to threaten students for money.

    How you would think he could tell if someone had an illegal copy of Windows on their computer is entirely beyond me.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Another AC, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 1:48pm

    Re:

    Hi, you must be new here. I'll just direct you to read some of the older articles and commentary on this site regarding this issue, since you just kind of come off as an uninformed pedestrian.

    Move along, Citizen, nothing to see.

     

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