Morning time is the time I hate most at work.
The trip up the steps and through the main floor is always deceptive. There are only a few people there already and one can sleepily drift toward one’s desk. And that’s where the problems start.
No sooner did I sit down then I received an email from our ISP. Apparently Warner Brothers took great offense to someone offering a copy of a current movie on file-sharing. They indicated it was our IP address through which it was available. They politely requested that we cease and desist.
Someone Higher Up indicated that someone was downloading files at a satellite office. A quick perusal of the email revealed that someone at the main office was making available a file. Yes, it’s a tiny difference, but I couldn’t do my job if I didn’t point it out. That’s why they get the Big Bucks<tm>.
The funny thing is that we’re obviously all behind a firewall. The offending IP address mentioned in the email is simply the outside address of the firewall. There is no identifying information as to which of three hundred pc’s hosted the file. The firewall prevents most but apparently not all file-sharing.
So here I am, at the Twilight Zone<tm>, where I toil daily, wondering how to combat this social disease. I’m not packet scanning nor do I wish to scan three hundred individual hard drives for a file that might not even exist (there’s no alleged date of infraction).
In the Twilight Zone<tm>, we are imbued with the most exaggerated sense of entitlement I have ever seen. We have a very open environment; so much so that we have few official policies. One of the hard-fought and hard-won policies is the IT Workstation Policy; in which It Is Written that Thou Shalt Not Use File-Sharing. It is distributed to each employee and signed. Informally, the company doesn’t really care what you view, so long as it’s legal and no one gets offended. This clearly falls under the latter, with the unique twist of Warner Brothers’ phalanx of legal eagles and that little thing the country like to call Copyright Law.
We quickly cobbled together a `policy reminder’ email, ran it up the chain, and sent it to all. The person responsible for this potential nightmare is now advised that in addition to Warners’ Legal Representatives, he or she is going to have to deal with our Legal Representatives (a fate much more painful than death), the Human Resources staff (more annoying than Legal), the CEO (few have lived through this), and the owner (I’ve seen grown men poke their eyes out with pens rather than see her). And worst of all, me.
This is a very interesting event on many levels.
- As a regular citizen consumer, I detest the RIAA/MPAA monopoly. It has proven throughout this debacle that it is only out for itself. All the proceeds from the lawsuits go to the Monopoly: the artists aren’t getting compensated. Plus I still remember when the RIAA told me that cd’s were so expensive because they were just coming out. The price would be going down `soon’. It never did.
- As a citizen who sincerely believes in (few)laws, violations are wrong.
- As an artist, copyright need to be respected, although the business model needs to change. Or rather, the Monopoly needs to admit that the model is changing.
- As a department mangler, the refusal to follow one simple rule is infuriating. We could be a draconian company that scans hard drives and forbids all non-business surfing. We’re way more open then I’d like, but that’s not my call.
- As an employee, this person also put his (and my) employer in potential legal jeopardy.
As an IT person, I have frequently had to send messages companywide. Anyone who has done this knows the pain of which I speak. Whenever you send an email to more than one person, you are going to generate replies – there is no choice in the matter. The replies come in a few distinct forms, which I will share, for the benefit of the folks who haven’t felt the pain.
ME: Don’t use file-sharing software.
Reply #1 – EH?
What is file-sharing software?
Reply #2 – WISEASS
What about file-loaning.. is that ok?
Reply #3 – CARDBOARD
Does it work with Excel?
Reply #4 – UPPER MANGLEMENT
You know us… we don’t know a thing about computers. Can you do a PowerPoint presentation for the entire group?
Today’s winning entry falls across most of the above categories. In answer to the Policy Reminder email:
“Rest assure – it’s not me, because I don’t understand anything you wrote. I’m so glad I’m stupid.”
[received from the long-term head of a very important department]
People don’t believe me when I tell them the motto in the Twilight Zone<tm> is:
“We’re not only stupid, we’re proud of it. ”
Let’s face it: I couldn’t write anything this good if my life depended on it.