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Amy Alkon

"If students had the money, maybe there would be more incentive to pay."

Fair use is one thing, but the justification above is just ridiculous. Here's a comparable one: "If bank robbers had more money, maybe there'd be less incentive to rob banks."

I'm a newspaper columnist and I create copyrighted material for a living. You can copy part of my column and link to it for purposes of discussion, but you can't reprint the whole thing. That's stealing, same as it would be if I downloaded a copyrighted TV show without paying for it, or walked out of your house with your TV without your permission and some exchange of cash.

I'm always stunned by the people I know -- especially those who are themselves copyright holders -- who steal music and other content over the Internet. They always say, "Well, such and such rock star has so much money, and the CDs are so expensive." Yeah? Well, it's their content, and they can sell a CD for $5,000 if they want, and if you don't have the cash, or think that's too much money, don't buy it. But, certainly don't steal it.

If you download copyrighted material off the Internet without paying for it, you are, quite simply A THIEF.


I just saw this on BoingBoing and I have give kudos to you for taking a stand against stupidity. I feel that if they are going to take action they should at least have their facts straight about when you commited the so-called offense.


Since USC hasn't responded, I'll respond (I'm a USC student too...if that counts for anything)

Your first and second points seem valid, but I'm not so sure about the others...

3) You were busted for downloading copyrighted material, not "file sharing" in general. I don't see how you can play the research card when you were downloading a TV episode for entertainment purposes. While BitTorrent, etc are primarily used for sharing copyrighted material, there a lot of legal torrent and torrent sites which you *could* use for "research"

4) As far as I know, USC protects students and other users of their network when they can. They won't turn over your name or any other information unless legally forced to do so.

Granted I don't know if this is their policy 100% of the time, but in my case when I was busted for downloading the Windows source code after that leak a couple years ago they forwarded me the letter from Microsoft and said they had NOT disclosed my name. Microsoft requested I contact them to assure them that I had deleted the code, cease and desisted sharing, and tell them where I obtained the code. I also contacted [an administrator] who was very helpful, and advised me that often this was a ploy by the company to get the infringer's name and information, and that I might want to consider ignoring the notice. I did, and haven't heard from Microsoft since.

It would be nice to see the letter you got, with appropriate parts censored if needed.


I've always wondered why students don't counter-sue on the grounds of affordability issues such as the price of CDs, DVDs and cable TV, not to mention the insane cost of tuition, meals and housing. If students had the money, maybe there would be more incentive to pay.

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