File-Sharing Students Say The Ads Made Them Do It

from the wonder-if-they're-pre-law dept

Several students at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst who got sued by the RIAA for sharing music over Internet2 are now demanding that the founder and operator of the file-sharing network they used pay the RIAA to settle the cases. In its standard fashion, the RIAA has told the kids it will settle for payments of $3,750 from each one, and the students think the founder of the i2hub network should pay up — because they thought that since i2hub advertised on campus, they were allowed to use it to trade copyrighted music, with their lawyers saying that if they’d known it was illegal, they wouldn’t have done it. Yes, these are college students, and it’s hard to believe that more than 30 of them could honestly think it was okay to share the files, just because there were some on-campus ads. This sounds so perfectly contrived to say that the company’s actions induced the students to share copyrighted works that the cynical among us might think the idea could have originated with the RIAA, with its eye on the Grokster decision. But they’d never do that, would they?

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Comments on “File-Sharing Students Say The Ads Made Them Do It”

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Jeff says:

Re: Re: It's not too hard to believe...

Well there were on campus advertisments. The school should also know what type of flyers are being posted upon their campus. I think that the RIAA is just being themselves and being assholes to everyone who doesnt not have the money to purchse all the music they would want. I mean look these are college students man, as a college student myself I am strapped for cash also. I dont want to waste my money that I work full time for and then take 19 credits when I could get it for free. The students probally knew it was illegal in the first place but just that there were on campus flyers and the school being oblivious is a great excuse.

Scott says:

Re: Re: Re: It's not too hard to believe...

So, I should be able to steal anything you have insurance on then right?

Here is you logic: I make a copy, they keep the original, therefore it is not stealing

My logic: I steal your stuff, insurance replaces it. What’s the issue, you lose some time working on getting it replaced, they lose time trying to recover costs.

Your insurance pays for the original, just like the artists/labels pay for the original. I don’t condone their actions, but I don’t condone yours either.

StinkyKoala says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It's not too hard to believe...

That is not a valid analogy. When you steal from me, maybe the insurance will replace it, or maybe I don’t have insurance. If I don’t have insurance I’m probably poor, and you’ve just royally screwed me over. Even if I do have insurance, SOMEONE has to pay for what you’ve taken.

When you download files, you’re not taking something away from anyone. The ONLY time this can possibly be a bad thing is if you would have bought the CD if you could’t’ve downloaded the files. Even then it’s not necessarily a bad thing – but there’s no way it can be a bad thing if you’re just DLing music you wouldn’t normally buy.

This applies to software and movies, too. I download and watch bad movies that I never would have paid to see in the theatre. I get free entertainment. No one would have gained by my not having downloaded; so who gives a crap?

A good example of the “it’s not necessarily bad” rule is when your money would be going to evil people. I use a pirated version of Windows XP. If I didn’t have access to the pirated version, I would have bought it. But I believe that I have done a good deed, because Microsoft is a shitty corporation in many ways, and the only chance my money has of doing any good is if it went into the Bill Gates Foundation. Same with Metallica – I have downloaded music from Metallica that I would have purchased if not for BitTorrent. So? They used to be talented (not anymore), but they are evil bastards who do no good with their money.

I don’t support immoral actions; but the recording industry’s propaganda isn’t necessarily true. Morality isn’t screwing over an industry you hate, or following rules you don’t understand – it’s understanding very well, and doing what is right regardless of propaganda and rules. It’s all about the greatest good for the greatest number, and my getting free entertainment I wouldn’t have paid for anyway is just that.

DonTonberry says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:It's not too hard to believe...

Also, when you download for example a pirated movie or game, the lalue of what you download is considerably less than the value of the product you would otherwise (or not) buy in a store. A film, for exaple, with shitty sound, poor picture quality and people getting up in front of the cam in the theatre can’t possibly be worth even a fourth of what a neatly cellofane-packed DVD with lots of bonus material and nice cover art will be worth some four weeks later.

Also, there’s a lot of people (apparently like you and me) that wouldn’t have music or movies at all if it weren’t for pirating. It seems that some people refuse to believe that there’s a lot of persons out here that simply can’t afford things such as CDs and DVDs. And when you’re a film/music lover that’s really frustrating.

I promise you, I for one would SO much rather buy CDs/DVDs instead of downloading them – if I could only afford it. And I intend to when I get a income of some sort.

and btw – you don’t have to use windows. If it weren’t for piratting, most of us would be using some linux build instead. Go open source!

crystalattice (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 It's not too hard to believe...

Regarding the pirated XP version, why did you pirate it? If you have a problem w/ Bill Gates and Co. then use an alternative OS like Linux or OS X. That will piss them off even more than if you pirate.

What I mean is, even if you didn’t pay for XP, you’re still contributing to Windows install base (not market share since you didn’t buy it). You know, the 90%+ computers that run Windows. That’s one of the reasons they aren’t pushing hard for big-league pirates to be put away; the more people who use their software, the more people get locked in.

Even if you got the OS for free, you’re now more likely (in their eyes) to use other MS services and products, like Windows Media Player, MSN, Visual Studio, etc. Even if you never buy another thing from them, you’re one less statistic for alternative software and one more for “Big Brother”.

Denny says:

Hey quit that

Quit sharing your opinions cause they belong to you and you only. By posting a reply here someone can download the text and give it to someone else which is piracy! If the RIAA really wanted to stop piracy, or at least slow it down… They simply need to bring back the tape cassette.

Have any of you seen the commercial where the girl gets pregnant, then she says “I shouldn’t have downloaded pirated movies (or songs).” HAHA

Michal says:


good for them. The **AA don’t need to also have a monopoly on fucking with the law to suit their own purposes. I’m with anyone that sticks it to them, and I’m probably one of their best customers. My cd collection is 400+.

Really is there anyone that thinks the **AA are doing a good job.

Monopolies suck. Fuck the record labels they have broken far more laws and behaved far less ethically.

Anonymous Coward says:

i like to think im pretty safe

i tend to just borrow all my friends CD collections when i can and copy a few cd’s here and there to my itunes library. the only time i go online and download songs are when they are obscure or hard to buy/borrow. id say that of the 6,200 songs on my ipod – i purchased about 200 from itunes, 1500 of my own, 500 downloaded and the rest (roughly 4,000) are from all the times when i borrow a friends cd case for the weekend and import their whole collection.
why doesnt everyone do that and save the hassle of downloading? you have to have some friends who buy cds?
to those who think that im ripping my friends off by taking their music i should note that my friends and i go half and half on cds all the time and i give them anything they want from my library.. it comes out pretty fair.

Fuseboxer says:


If these college students were ignorant about copyright issues, do we really think that they could have created this legal defense? This is a simple matter of their defense lawyer looking to defer blame to someone else. What’s really ridiculous is that their defense sounds a lot like the one used by David Berkowitz: “The dog made me do it!”

stephen pray (profile) says:

Re: Right....

I think you have all lost the substance by grasping for the shadow. The actual issue, of paramount importance here, as I see it, is this… ummm…how did they get caught at it?
and while I’m here I want you to know..I spoke to Berkowitz’s dog right after the arrest was made.. He gave me a statement, and he sounded sincere to me…He said, “Cats, goddammit, I told him to kill cats!”

Sefu B says:


Don’t musicians make enough money. Fuck the RIAA, let the consumer set the price. It’s obvious that people don’t want to pay for the crap that is on CD but are willing to just DL it. And if that is all that it is worth, then so be it. How many billions of DL’s that haven’t happened because the RIAA wants to charge for DL’s. That should tell you that people are not willing to pay for the crap that they mostly DL. What happened to free enterprise, I guess it ain’t free.

Anonymous Coward says:

Half of what people "steal" is public anyway

Half the tv shows and whatnot people are downloading they could have done just the same with a tv tuner/dvr or vhs deck – the thing is, what about the shows that are 10 or 20 years old? Unless you know where to look for, you’ll have a hard time of finding Ghost in the Shell (movie #1) or even more niche shows and movies. How can it be stealing if it’s an episode of Family Guy that’s been rerun 10 over, giving you plenty of chances to record it conventionaly?

And as for non-public materials like music, I’ll admit, ya I downloaded THREE cd’s total (ya I know most of you guys have a few hundred, and that I’m most likely a total loser) – and you know what? I wouldnt have listened to an OUNCE of music before a friend of mine sent me a few System of a Down mp3s – once I got 3 out of 4 of the cd’s on my drive, I instantly grew to love em, I’m gonna go out and buy once I get enough back into my bank account.

POINT BEING HERE: if I hadn’t had the opportunity to hear what was on those cd’s, there wasn’t a chance in hell frozen over that I woulda ever bought em or any other cd – not because I woulda just downloaded em, but because I never would’ve given a rats ass.

And you know what? Even then, they are on the radio, correct? If I remember right, some of the better of the tv tuners out there support AM/FM radio – you could just record it strait from the publicly broadcast radiowaves (albeit only the censored versions radio stations air).

Another Anon Coward says:

Re: Half of what people

Any of you that 1) think they are not doing something illegal by sharing copywrited material and 2) try to argue that it’s “ok” cause you “get to listen to the music to decide if you will might buy it in the future” are living in some delusional fantasy where right and wrong just don’t fit.

Sharing music, movies, software and whatever are illegal activities in all of these circumstances and everyone here knows it.

Now are the tactics of the RIAA right? I seriously think not, but that has nothing to do with the legality of the activities themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Half of what people

Yeah and you know what? I ALSO drive 65MPH in a 60MPH zone. THAT is also illegal. But more importantly, it’s bullshit that I could get a ticket for it.
We all break laws that are bullshit.
If you say that you never do. You’re a liar.
At least the speeding laws are actually meant to protect people from REAL HARM (as the law should). What the hell do these bullshit copyright laws protect? They protect already filthy rich people from losing an extra million or two that they would NEVER MISS because of how ridiculously rich they already are.
I hope these kids can place the blame on someone richer than they are. It’s unfortunate they were even caught for breaking such BULLSHIT laws.

Stanton says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Half of what people

hmm.. your kinda right.. and like i said if you own the damn thing first off you are allowed to give to a few friends…but most people think oh hey a friend gave this to me there for i fully own it there wrong as hell just means that the friend can take the copie back..and tell you if you can use it or not… mehe i do that to a few people..i maybe talking about older copyright laws.. but i do not know.. i do not think thay changed.. but what this kids did was illegal but your right its bullshit how meny millions shar files over the internet? lots.. and how meny are busted less then 20 but the kids here were 1: stupid as hell 2:in compass = stupid and well thoughs two things added together means thay have high risk of RIAA coming in… for thay are on school porpety.. any ways if it was up to meh the world would be screwed… for i’ve taken test to see what kind of ruler id be and said id be a phyco dectator…. ich liebe, Befehl zu sein<BR>H?llenkennzeichnung haben 16yr im Armeemehe- und -probende, das oben WW3 beginnt o.o

Stanton says:

No Subject Given

the copyright law states that if you own the product software that you may make 3 copies and give ech one to a friend but you may make as meny copies you want for just your self so maybe some of them did not brake the law? unless ech 30 has the same software

now the person who did the giveing and the person who got the software is not alowed to give it out
only the first legal owner. any ways yea.. 30 people i dont think thay dint know it was illegal i belive thay knew 100% what thay was doing

Renae Makoto says:

In response

I find that amazingly hard to believe that for a bunch of people who get ripped off from getting identity theft from making an online payment on a pair of panties, the word ‘sharing’ is another word that has lost the truth. Just like ‘free.’ I’ve said this before on another article, the RIAA needs to seriously back off. Protect the artists? – I can understand that, but if they really break it down, the only protection they need to seriously be protected from is hundreds of fans, hackers, murderors and paparazzi. A musician if not even a director, can’t be famous without getting some feedback from people who either do or don’t like the stuff they create or whatever.

If downloading porn is not illegal, should music?

Chris says:

No Subject Given

Ok, while you can call it whatever you want, stealing, illegal activity, whatever, there’s one thing I look at the sums it all up. If you have radio, or even satellite radio (which you’re paying a small fee for), you can record all of this music directly to digital format. Ok, the quality on some of it may not be 100% super awesome, but it’s still possible. I don’t download too much, but a lot of the songs I do get are often taken off the radio. I would never know it, however I hear the beginning of a commercial break at the end. No biggie, I open up my mp3 editor and take the last 1/2 second off. It sounds perfect.

While the RIAA calls it stealing, I don’t see how you can say such a thing when there are very easy technical means to get the same thing. If you’ve ever watched an NFL on TV, you’ll always hear how you’re not allowed to reproduce the game without permission. What about TiVO?

Another argument is on the guitar tabs and lyrics. If you read actual copyright law, it is illegal to make a copy of sheet music you purchased so your friend can play along with you. So, if you have a band and want to play something (for whatever purpose), each member must pay for their copy of the sheet music. That’s ridiculous.

In my opinion, as long as you don’t make money off of it, that activity should be illegal. Reselling the CDs for a profit would not be legal. There are a ton of legalities for every issue, but the P2P argument is definitely going over the top. It can be reasonable, however the RIAA doesn’t really care and is determined to spend all of their time and money on legal fees trying to prove a point. They can go to hell.

excuse-maker says:

what it the real point here?

Who is right and who is wrong?
Lets take the RIAA out of the equation and substitute or generic entity.
Now lets remove topics and arguments (ahem, I am sure I really meant to say “debates”) about what constitutes theft and the technology behind music ripping, distributing, and the like.
Lets even take out the highly opinionated view of whether the students and their lawyers are schiesters, foolish, or both.
So, we can better avoid saying, “These students are obviously full of it, and while I applaud their efforts to liberate music and stick it da’ man, they are looking rather silly by blaming adverts.”
Lets try asking, “Is it moral, ethical, or legal for an organization who’s activities are treated as illegal (at least as precidence goes with regards to being fodder for the litigation) to be allowed to advertise on campus?”
More specifically, lets add the following clause, “…where students can easily partake in the illegal activities but without CLEAR predicate knowledge of the legality of what they are doing…”
This excludes goofy notions of “plausable deniability” and the usage of legal systems to do illegal activities.
I am really curious what the law and the University will say on matters like this.

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