March 25, 2007

In which Joe makes himself useful (Edit: never mind)

This will be the first (and likely the only) time I will say this, but Malchow has something on his blog which it might be worth your while to read. Joe lays out some reasons why the impending RIAA letters (Dartmouth got 11, apparently) which accuse students of illegally downloading music might not be all that much of a threat.

Caveat: Please do not take this post—or Joe's—as an all-clear sign for illegal downloading—that's certainly not what I intended. I just know that some of my friends have expressed great anxiety about these letters, and I wanted to pass this information along to help ease the tension. However, two good comments to this post have pointed out reasons why Joe's read of the situation might be severely off. At any rate, I strongly recommend that all Dartmouth students follow Dean Nelson's advice regarding music sharing/music downloading.


  1. predictably, he's just talking out his ass- as he says in the update, schools are REQUIRED (not allowed) to keep detailed DHCP logs of what computer connects when from where using what address connecting to what address. joe's thesis at this point is that they can ascertain what computer had the IP at the time the file was downloaded but they can't trace that back to a name.

    they'd be pretty fucking stupid if they couldn't do that. i'm not even an IT guy, but here's a way i just thought of: if i download an illegal file from a certain IP, and you get my computer name (let's say connorcomp or something) and connorcomp's DHCP history posts 13 connections from the library's wireless router, 17 from the hop's wireless router, and 5,438 from Lord Hall Basement 08's RJ45 port, do you think that gives them a head start on maybe where to look for me?

    the updater on joe's site is wrong; my buddy rashid has a friend at Harvard who got sued, said fuck the settlement, fought it, and ended up paying out $11,000.

    the moral of the story here is that these people will figure out how to fuck you if you stay complacent (i.e., if you're still using soulseek or limewire, it is time to retire that shit in a hurry)

  2. Joe Needs Comments9:08 AM

    Joe even prefaces his speculations with the warning that he's not legally trained, so I wouldn't give them too much credence.

    Why's he talking about police and violations of the law, anyway, when property rights (enforced by a private civil suit by the RIAA) are most likely at issue, not any criminal violations?

    And why does he think that the RIAA hasn't obtained the list of IPs through discovery in some other suit, rather than from its own servers? And why, even if the RIAA is serving bogus files, would he assume that they are not partial or low-quality songs, which would be a copyright violation (instead of non-violating non-songs)?

  3. yeah, i thought the "update" was pretty telling as far as he automatically assumed the College would be using an "Orwellian" process, only to find out that the College doesn't have a choice.

    I thought this was too good to be true. Alas.

  4. Anonymous1:18 PM

    Connor, great comment! "Pretty fucking stupid," indeed. You're an indispensable part of this site.

  5. I'm confused. Why did Malchow even write that post? Virtually every sentence contains a factual error. Did he say to himself, "Because I'm a smart guy, I can figure out exactly how these internets work just by philosophizing real hard about them"? The post reads like a mish-mash of half-understood Associated Press dispatches, which is probably what it was when he pulled it out of his ass.

    Connor is right about the DHCP stuff. In fact, Dartmouth used to be a website where you could type in your computer's MAC address, and you'd get a log of exactly where you had been on campus. Hanover police uses the system to track down a stolen laptop from time to time.

    Another point: I'm pretty sure it is true that no one's ever been successfully prosecuted for downloading music. They've been prosecuted for *uploading* music. And most file sharing programs, by definition, the distinction is primarily a legal one. Though I do find it funny that Joe doesn't bother checking a single fact in his entire post, then cites an email from an anonymous reader as absolute truth.

    It reminds me of that term when the Greens sent a fake "protest announcement" to The Review, who then turned around and reported it as fact. You kids should try that on Malchow sometime and see if he bites. Maybe a fake correction?