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music at work

I have been putting my music collection on my computer at work so that i don't have to carry my CD's with me back & forth.  I'll probably have 8 GB when all is said and done.  I have 80 GB total, maybe 50 GB free.

What do you think about this?  Should I save up for an iPod (or something w/ a 10 or 20 GB hard drive) and not keep my music on my computer?  Think I'd get fired for having my own music (not pirated) on my work machine?  Is this unprofessional? 

nathan
Monday, December 15, 2003

Dear Nathan,
                    We have no idea who you are working for, nor what regulations they have. How therefore can we give you an answer? We don't even know what country you live in.

                    Frankly, considering how cheap an ipod is I would buy one and avoid all the worry.

Stephen Jones
Monday, December 15, 2003

I was concerned about this at my old job. Luckily my laptop had a DVD-ROM drive, so I made up several DVDs full of MP3 files (I used a company DVD-burner, don't tell).

Rob VH
Monday, December 15, 2003

I am not a lawyer but have asked this of our legal deparement; they said not to do so because your employer can get in hot water with the RIAA because even if they all *are* legal it is your employer's PC (not yours) and not covered by fair use.

I just use ShoutCast.com -- I rate all the songs I like highly and it doesn't require me to shuffle disks back and forth and/or break the law.

MR
Monday, December 15, 2003

sorry stephen & everyone else.  of course i'm not looking for company-specific information.  just wondering what other policies are (i'm in US), if this is even an issue at all, am i just worrying needlessly, etc.

I suppose an iPod (or similar) is probably my best bet... though it's nice to be able to hear my system sounds while listening to music.

nathan
Monday, December 15, 2003

shoutcast is ok - i just don't want to take up network resources.  does it take much bandwidth?

nathan
Monday, December 15, 2003

Nathan it doesn't use up a huge amount of bandwidth; at least not that I can tell.  I actually did ask the network guys about that, too, and as long as I'm the only one using it (and not everyone else in the division) it is merely a drop in the bucket.

It uses streaming WMP9 format (I think) and sounds very, very good at the highest quality.  I don't know if there's an easy way to tell what that would be, but I bet there's some documentation out there somewhere.

I do know that at home I can listen to it just fine on my cable modem connection without causing noticeable download problems.

MR
Monday, December 15, 2003

I'd burn them onto DVD, or simply keep spare CD copies at work. What your company is likely to be worried about is being held responsible for what is on its machine, so save them the worry.

Stephen Jones
Monday, December 15, 2003

ARGH!  Instead of ShoutCast I meant LaunchCast -- www.launchcast.com.

I used to use ShoutCast to stream my own MP3s but my cable modem's upload rate couldn't handle the bitrate, so I switched to LaunchCast.  It's legal and high-quality.  I recommend it highly.

MR
Monday, December 15, 2003

If an iPod is too pricey, you might also look into something like a 20GB pocket drive for shuttling music back and forth.  Just make sure it's not USB 1.x or it'll take you a week to get all the data on there in the first place.  ;>

Sam Livingston-Gray
Monday, December 15, 2003

As a separate but related issue from the music-on-hard-drive issue...

Is listening to music on headphones acceptable practice for most coders?  It's been a pretty accepted practice at 3 of the 4 companies I've coded for.

It's so hard for me to concentrate in a noisy office.  Without headphones I'd have a really difficult time concentrating. 

John Rose
Monday, December 15, 2003

MR -
Unless I'm missing something, your legal department is wrong. "Fair use" is not dependent on whose machine houses the files. Rather, it is related to who is using the material, for what purposes, and how much money (if any) the copyright owner loses by that particular use.

Applying those factors, I would feel comfortable putting ripped versions of CDs I own on a PC belonging to my employer, but used exclusively by me. And, in fact, I do.
zahid

Zahid
Monday, December 15, 2003

Zahid,

I think their point was that because the PC is not mine anyone (several thousand employees) can log in and potentially access 'my' music.

I suppose I could encrypt it/whatever, but it's not worth the hassle.

MR
Monday, December 15, 2003

"Applying those factors, I would feel comfortable putting ripped versions of CDs I own on a PC belonging to my employer, but used exclusively by me. And, in fact, I do.
zahid "

Wrong or right, legal or illegal, most of my clients would shoot a contractor for doing that. The RIAA could step in and claim that the PC was being used a server to distribute music companywide.

And it really doesn't matter if it was, does it? Now your employer is embroiled in a legal battle with the RIAA. That's why many large companies simply forbid you loading MP3's on their computers. And it makes perfectly good sense from their perspective.

Mark Hoffman
Monday, December 15, 2003

My company allows us to use headphones no problem - although hallway type meetings occur often which kinda gets annoying

Therefore - I basically use a mix between Launchcast & MP3's on my Pocket PC (512 MB Compact Flash & 32 MB SD cards).

GenX'er
Monday, December 15, 2003

I second (or is it third?) the recommendation for Launchcast.  Works great and has introduced me to artists that I otherwise wouldn't have listened to.  There are three different settings for quality (i.e. bandwidth).  The lowest setting provides adequate quality and (AFAIK) pretty low bandwidth -- probably intended for 56K modems.

Burning MP3s to CDs or DVDs is also a good solution.

Robert Jacobson
Monday, December 15, 2003

I take my iBook with me every day and play music from that. I also have an iPod, but it's the original 5GB and no longer holds all of my music.

As an added bonus, my laptop acts like a third monitor. I usually have documentation up on it.

Sam
Monday, December 15, 2003

> I suppose an iPod (or similar) is probably my best bet... though it's nice to be able to hear my system sounds while listening to music. <

An iPod or simlar is just a drive with some hardware that decodes mp3's and lets you navigate to them. You should have little to no trouble hooking it up to your PC (iPods now have USB support) and listening through your computer.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, December 15, 2003

Good point Mark.  One other possible solution is for Nathan to use a portable (USB 2 or SCSI) hard drive to hold his music.  He could plug it into his work machine during the day, and then take it home at the end of the day.  This approach might give the system administrators a case of the heebie-jeebies though.

Robert Jacobson
Monday, December 15, 2003

Weird legal stuff--so if a user has a legit copy of some text editor, is that disallowed because the BSA might come after you?

Clearly this is CYA, not because these actions are illegal but because the enforcing groups are out to make your life difficult.

mb
Monday, December 15, 2003

The general rule is that you should not install anything on your work machine, except obvious freeware.

If you are laid off are you going to make a point of deleting all the stuff that you, but not the company, have a license for.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I think most of this is just paranoia.  There was a case where the RIAA went after a company for allowing employees to keep MP3s on a server.  The difference is that this company had one server where all employees put their MP3s giving everyone in the company access.  Also, some of these MP3s turned out to be downloaded, not copied from a legally owned CD.  I believe this company was turned in by a disgruntled employee.

The RIAA is not going to come after you for "public performance" if you listen to a CD in your car with the windows down.  They also are not going to come after you if they think the lock on your front door is weak and someone might break in and steal your CDs. 

Use some common sense.  Don't share the folder where you put your music.  Set the permissions so only you have access to it.  Use DRM or encryption to tie the files to only you (in Windows, both of these can be enabled with one checkbox).  Under Windows, you'll probably end up with your music files under a folder that's not shared and only you have access to.  It's when you cross the line and enable access to these files by others that you put yourself and your company into legal danger. 

I thought it was fairly standard for companies to wipe the PCs of employees who leave or get new PCs?  If you aren't doing this, you probably have much greater things to worry about than the RIAA. 

SomeBody
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I just thought I'd mention that I work for "that company" that the RIAA went after - Integrated Information Systems.

Cost us $1,000,000. Everyone here is VERY paranoid about mp3 files now, for obvious reasons.

Chris Tavares
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

> Everyone here is VERY paranoid about mp3 files now, for obvious reasons. <

And how do you listen to music? Just out of curiousity. Everyone has their own personal iPod & listens with headphones? Everyone brings in original CD's?

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Actually, it's pretty darn quiet around the office. Not much music at all that I've noticed.

Granted, I work at a small branch office far away from corp. HQ - things may be different there.

When *I* want to listen to my MP3 collection I just use my personal laptop. I carry the thing around anyway, and if it's never plugged into the corp. network (and with all the viruses running around I prefer it that way) there's never any liability problems.

Chris Tavares
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Thanks :)

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, December 17, 2003

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