Go ahead, splain it, I will wait

So the Foo Fighters are a little annoyed at John McCain for using their song at rallies (and a bunch of other artists are annoyed too).

Forget the Republican/Democrat part of this for a moment – that’s a whole other post (that likely I won’t write) – I really don’t care about that.

What I’d really like to know though – is that the ASCAP guild – part of the Music Labels Thug and Liars (aside, is “Music Labels” and “Thugs and Liars” redundant? – discuss) – well they seem to call such music playing as a public performance

And as a “public performance” – permission and/or licensing are required.

So I’d like to know why the labels – through ASCAP aren’t filing lawsuits against the McCain campaign.

You know, on behalf of, and for the artists?

Building the Spartan Wall

EAST LANSING, MI – Michigan State University officials today announced that they were placing the campus on “lockdown”, and never allowing the faculty, post-docs, graduate students, and select undergraduates to leave the campus again. In a statement released from the office of University President Lou Anna K. Simon, the University said that “We had recently taken the principled position that our faculty were under no circumstances allowed to use modern information sharing tools and collaborate online with their peers and the public. We felt that this position wasn’t strong enough. Our world class faculty and students carry important and critical University Intellectual Property and business records in their minds, and we just can’t let them get out and risk them sharing that property and exposing those records. We attempted pilot projects where each faculty member was given a stack of permission forms for each person they encountered to sign. That pilot was not successful. So we had to take the next logical step.”

“Not successful is an understatement”, said J. Allen Farnsworth, a tenured Classical Biological Anthropology professor, “I got a bloody black eye when I asked the lady at the lawn and garden shop to sign this form after I gave my lecture about the history of all art that includes references to caterpillar segments. The University told me that I had to do this any and each time I shared their Intellectual Property.”

Pressed for more information about such an unprecedented move, a spokesperson for Simon said that “we realize this may cause some consternation. But our IT department created this thing they call a ‘wallfire’ for our computers, and we really liked that wall idea. We absolutely must protect our Intellectual Property, and our Business Records. Especially all those emails from the facilities department about why my request to the move the light switch closer to my desk hasn’t yet been completed. However, we feel that our faculty and students will be well cared for and comfortable here. We have the finest in Spartan accommodations.”

“Spartan is right.”, agreed Professor Farnsworth, “all they gave us was a cheap plastic air mattress, a toothbrush, and some toilet paper. And it’s not even two-ply.”

Asked for additional comment, a spokesperson for David Gift, Vice Provost for Libraries, Computing, and Technology told us that “David couldn’t be more pleased. He’s taken a lot of criticism for being such a classicist on this issue. Forcing everyone to use our crappy custom developed webmail client really has been hard. He’s been having administrative meetings and lunches, and golf outings every day, to try to get the budget increased now that we told everyone they can’t use better products. And that’s hard, you know? If we don’t get more budget, we may never be able to back up our mail server ever again. By locking up all our faculty and students, which of course was the next logical step, it takes some of the pressure of me, er, him. And with Jack [Valenti, late head of the MPAA] gone, it’s been hard to find a sympathetic shoulder to lean on. I’m really doing everything I can for our fine University! I’m trying to protect our Intellectual Property! Oh, excuse me, I have to meet with some RIAA representative to install their monitoring software on our ResNet”

Asked why the Administration wasn’t covered by this policy, a spokesperson for Chris Hanna, Interim Assistant Vice President for Human Resources responded simply “well, we do keep some business records, but we’ve been assured that we are neither intellectual, or have any brains.”

A joint Engineering/Natural Sciences research initiative that would allow the faculty and students to dump the University contents from their brains each night showed some early promise, but some of the key neurological research needed to implement the filters properly, so that the faculty and students didn’t forget the names of their pets and partners was only available from Stanford. And with the new IT policies, MSU wasn’t able to share in that information for risk of exposing their own Intellectual Property.

So, for now, MSU faculty and students stay locked in their offices inventing new Pong games while waiting for the mail servers to be rebooted. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.

Thanks to Kevin Gamble for information contributing to this report

2008 Will Be Great! (for the comedians)

So the Democratic National Committee hired Jenni Engebretsen – RIAA Director of Communications to be their Deputy CEO for Public Affairs – i.e. in charge of PR. (thanks to Boing Boing for the news).

I can’t think of a single better decision – what better way to get out the message for a national political party than to hire the person responsible for delivering the message from a organization that does their best to treat every constituent like a criminal, picks out at random several to ruin financially, wants the right to lie and get personal information to ruin them financially, would like to destroy the net, appears to use management strategies similar to the same management strategies as drug cartels, and negotiates quite one-sided deals with their content producers?

The only way this gets even better is if the Republican National Committee hires its PR director from Halliburton. Or Don Imus. However, don’t worry folks about all the fun being one sided – I assure you the RNC will certainly do something equally as stupid (like their NRCC counterparts using telemarketing spam and fake awards to raise money).

Which all, of course, means that for most of us, 2008 will be absolutely the best entertainment possible. Leno/Letterman should have a field day.

PSA of the day

Today a colleague emailed a campus mailing list and let us know that with the increased activity of the RIAA targeted college students (NC State University is one of the top-ten targets) – they had received 37 “pay us or we’ll sue” letters. My colleague’s note was a good reminder that these things are pretty serious, and could have serious ramifications for the staff caught up in them and for the people they help with technology issues.

If they are illegally redistributing music, that’s one thing, but a lot of innocent people get tarred by the RIAA’s actions.

I wrote a followup to the list, letting folks know that the EFF guide about the P2P lawsuits is a good resources and saying:


I’d personally encourage each of you to find a way to express to your congressperson to support legislation that strengthens your fair-use rights (including Congressman Rick Boucher’s “Fair Use Act” – H.R. 1201) and to encourage your congressperson to investigate the activities of groups like the RIAA.

While it can be legitimately argued, and it has held up in court, that redistributing music and movies in violation of the default terms of use granted by copyright is illegal and is an activity that should not be condoned by either us individually, or the University, the organization bringing these lawsuits uses legal practices that are at best unethical, and have a strong appearance of corruption.

Remember that the RIAA has sued for file sharing:

  • A family that didn’t even own a computer
  • A 66 year old woman that owned a Macintosh for allegedly sharing “gangsta rap” using Kazaa (at the time Windows-only)
  • Dead people, more than once. At one time, sending a letter to the dead person’s family that they had a 60-day grieving period, before the RIAA would depose the children in the suit against the dead man’s estate.
  • In one case, they dropped a case against a mother that fought back, then sued the mother’s 20-year old daughter and got a summary judgement
  • In another case, they were unable to produce evidence in a lawsuit against a mother, then sued the 13 year old daughter, and demanded that the court order the family to get a Guardian Ad Litem (a legal guardian, paid for by the family). Guardian Ad Litems are typically used for divorce proceedings, child abuse cases, and other cases involving the child’s welfare to insure the best interests of the child
  • The CEO of the Warner Group announced last year that he was fairly certain that his kids downloaded music – but yet, the RIAA didn’t sue his child.

It’s not limited to file sharing, last year, the RIAA apparently starting sending DMCA takedowns to users that posted home videos of their kids dancing to music on You Tube (I don’t have a good secondary source for this).

There are, I’m sure, countless other stories. The RIAA files lawsuits in bulk, placing the burden of proof on the target of the lawsuit, often at tremendous financial burden. Last year, the MIT student newspaper reported an MIT student that was sued told the paper that she was encouraged to “drop out of college or go to community college in order to be able to afford settlements.”

While illegally redistributing copyright materials is not it, some kind of revolution is necessary. Somehow, someway, these kinds of business practices of the RIAA have to be stopped, and the only apparent place to do that is in Congress.


There you go, your PSA of the day.

12 Days of User Support

_Hey! Why is your head down on the desk there? _

Oh nothing, it’s just a normal support day.

Support day? What’s that?

Oh that’s…

** Five Thousand Spams Four broken apps Three new installations Too many phone calls …And a stuck floppy in a PC **

Hey that’s rough, but it sounds like you are just doing a rip-off of the “12 days of Christmas”. Except you’ve only got 5.

Well, I’m waiting for the other seven to download off BitTorrent. Oh here they come!

Oh no!

Oh yes.

** Twelve spreading virii Eleven IE exploits Ten RIAA summons Nine Windows Holes Eight logins failing Seven server reboots SIX STUCK ON CAPSLOCK Five Thousand Spams Four broken apps Three new installations Too many phone calls …And a stuck floppy in a PC **

Man, you aren’t kidding. How’d you get all that?

Users.

Users?

Computer users.

You know, like when you are surfing the net to read the Onion and Nothingsworth over in Research calls you because his christmas eggnog recipes won’t print?

Or when Doozi, with an “i” over in accounting calls because her sound for that dumb snow screensaver that’s really Claria-laden spyware doesn’t play?

Or when old Mr. BimbleWits can’t mail his “spreadsheet” when you know it’s just vacation pictures from Aruba?

You know, computer users. The ones that give you:

** Twelve spreading virii Eleven IE exploits Ten RIAA summons Nine Windows Holes Eight logins failing Seven server reboots SIX STUCK ON CAPSLOCK Five Thousand Spams Four broken apps Three new installations Too many phone calls …And a stuck floppy in a PC **

I’d like to really go to Aruba

Great! Take them with you.

Who?

Are you not listening to me? Those folks that sent me

** Twelve spreading virii Eleven IE exploits Ten RIAA summons Nine Windows Holes Eight logins failing Seven server reboots SIX STUCK ON CAPSLOCK Five Thousand Spams Four broken apps Three new installations Too many phone calls …And a stuck floppy in a PC **

_Hey my screensaver’s not working.

Wait! Where are you going?

WHY ARE YOU SCREAMING?_