RIAA Begins Round 7 of its Fight Against Campus Piracy

503 "lucky" new students get to start the Fall Semester even deeper in debt.

The RIAA has announced that it has targeted 503 new students in its latest "deterrence program" aimed at eliminating college campus piracy across the country. This brings the approximate number of targeted students to 2,926 and counting thus far.

The pre-litigation "settlement" letters, as it refers to them as, once again target those with the fewest resources and ability to fight the charges in an actual courtroom before a judge and jury. As usual, the RIAA offers a convenient method to bypass the legal system altogether and "…resolve copyright infringement claims against them at a discounted rate before a formal lawsuit is filed." What nice guys right?

Maybe somebody should remind them that you can’t definitively identify somebody by an IP address, that "Many computers can be connected to the Internet with identical IP addresses as long as they remain behind control points such as routers, firewalls, proxy servers, or similar technologies."

In the seventh wave of this new initiative, the RIAA this week sent letters to 58 schools including:

  • Boston University
  • University of Tennessee – Knoxville
  • North Carolina State University
  • Duke University, University of Maine System,
  • Columbia University
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Boston College
  • Carleton College
  • Georgetown University
  • Indiana State University
  • Marshall University
  • New York University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Virginia
  • Bethel University
  • California State University, Fresno
  • California State University, Sacramento
  • Colgate University
  • Emory University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Mississippi
  • Allegheny College
  • Gettysburg College
  • Lehigh University
  • Seton Hall University
  • University of Kentucky
  • Washington University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Bucknell University
  • California State University, Chico
  • Creighton University
  • Florida Institute of Technology
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Rice University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Bowdoin College
  • Haverford College
  • Mt. Saint Mary College
  • Pepperdine University
  • San Jose State University
  • Smith College
  • Trinity College
  • University of Minnesota – Duluth
  • American University
  • California State University, Stanislaus
  • San Diego State University
  • University of Hawaii
  • Villanova University
  • Oberlin College
  • Swarthmore College
  • Virginia Military Institute
  • Wellesley College.

The RIAA would like to also "kindly" point out that because of the summer schedule it is extending the amount of time that targeted students have to contact its lawyers to work out a settlement.

As usual, the RIAA also tries to claim that it is doing universities a favor by helping them crack down on illegal file-sharing on campus. It tries to emphasize that its lawsuits help curtail the use of P2P and file-sharing programs and therefore assist college administrators by protecting their network from potential viruses and spyware, as well by increasing the amount of available bandwidth. The harm to the fiscal and psychological health of our nation’s students and the danger posed by filtering content via file-sharing restrictions is apparently of little concern.

The RIAA closes its announcement with the same old tired argument as well, that it’s "transforming how it does business and embracing digital distribution models of every kind." Kind of makes you laugh right?

“The music industry is transforming how it does business and embracing digital distribution models of every kind,” said Steven Marks, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, RIAA. “For students, many of these high-quality digital music options are available at deeply discounted rates – or even free. Those who continue to ignore great legal services and the law by stealing music online risk a federal lawsuit that could include thousands of dollars in penalties. With so many simple, easy and inexpensive ways to enjoy music legally these days, why take that risk?”

Simple? Easy? Inexpensive?

The RIAA. Same story, same plan, same way of doing business, and they still can’t figure out why their profits aren’t the same.

Jared Moya

I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates.

John Milton
John Milton

How come that the american universities don't stand up for their own students? Providing legal help for start would be nice. It's not illegal if you don't sell it. Well at least it's not illegal in my country unless you try to sell what you've downloaded. There were a few cases like this one in Serbia also but the Serbian courts and magistrates just didn't give a shit about it. If you don't try to earn money on someone else's copyright then there is no infringement. It's the letter of the law. Simple as that.


> How come that the american universities don't stand up for their own students? Many do. In some cases the University won't forward the letters at all. In others they will forward the letters but not disclose student information to **AA without due process of law. Unfortunately many students that get the letters visit the RIAA settlement website and end up disclosing their identities all by themselves.


Why are the universities letting the riaa probe their systems anyways? isnt that sort of like hacking.


@VB I guess that'd be too easy.. :(

John Milton
John Milton

@the5cardstud I'm afraid that I don't understand. Why would anyone for the love of God disclose his or hers own identity to the **AA? One of the cases here in Serbia was the one when an ISP disclosed customer information to the Universal studios without direct court order. They're probably retarded or something. The kid who downloaded Universal studio's movie simply changed the ISP afterwards the DA's office didn't even want to take a notice of prosecuting the kid the ISP got himself pretty bad PR and that was that. The more I read you guys the more confused I am. I'm starting to believe that all this harassment is made possible to the **AA organizations by the American jurisprudence system. Isn't the justice supposed to be free and equal for all? How come that no one is willing to step up and say on court: Yes I will download until I die! If you want to stop me shutdown the goddamn internet! I'm sure that is something that the vast majority of downloaders would do where I live. But then again the legal fees are ridiculous where I live.


It Is Us Poor Slobs Who Will Prevail Against RIAA..... WHY? At least in NY STATE THE LAW IS CLEAR..... If you receive your income from these sources.... = WELFARE WORKMAN's COMP SSD SSI SS [but is less than 15000 per year] YOU CAN NOT BE FORCED TO PAY ON ANY LAWSUIT AGAINST YOU AND YOU CAN NOT BE FORCED TO GO INTO JAIL BECAUSE OF YOUR INABILITY TO PAY IN A LAWSUIT AGAINST YOU = Us poor Slobs Will Prevail Over RIAA someday and that someday is getting closer.


NY State has lots of laws that are different than other places. However state laws are superseded by federal laws and if a federal court overrules that law it means that these people could actually face garnishment and further the hardships that they encounter. For example here in Utah there is no such protection. We have the same law about pedestrian right-of-way but very different laws regarding tenant right (currently a list of 3 items that have been won in court cases versus a list of over 150 rights that landlords retain). As to the requirements to disclose identity the owner of an IP address (e.g. the ISP) is required to "play ball" with the RIAA because if it doesn't it's complicit in breaking the law. Universities at least have the right to notify students that their IP addresses are being sought for suit and a Federal judge (for Utah Colorado New Mexico Nevada and California) has stated that students may retain their anonymity in order to respond to the "John Doe" subpoenas. Students who receive these notices often panic and disclose their identities lest they be viewed as flouting the law. And in some cases they don't really think the RIAA has a case since what they're doing would normally fall under "fair use" in anything but music. And I notice that not one college or university on that list appears to be in the 9th Federal Circuit with the exception of those in California (who will likely side with the RIAA because it's their primary money-maker and tax revenue generator). The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 is how these organizations justify their actions. It specified changes to copyright law that specifically protected one industry's product and this is why we're in the mess we're in today. It essentially allows invasion of privacy circumvention of due process of law (in my opinion since I'm sure most judges would require my pages-and-pages long explanation of how) and is a direct erosion on the freedom of speech. It also neatly circumvents the fair use clause in federal statute and now there are members of Congress trying to classify file sharing as a threat to national security. This is still an uphill battle because we must overcome the inertia that has been put into place for the past 25 years (or so) and we must overcome the instantaneous fear tactics that people within the industry have sought to further by their "Chicken Little" proclamation about their sky falling ("It's killing our business!"). Truth be told it's a failing of a business model and has nothing to do with stealing really. If it did then wouldn't it be criminal? And if it's criminal why hasn't it been pressed as a criminal charge? The answer is because copyright law is a civil matter unless you're making money. And if you're not making money you have to be doing the equivalent of reading a book and having someone walk up to you and demand money for the privilege of reading. These are the same arguments that have been promoted in the past. They've been dusted off given a new face new numbers and new medium and then presented as completely new. And yet those who copy anything from the past are infringing upon copyright? Riiiiight. Mr. Milton we're not able to step up and say so in court because (unlike British common law) the community actually has no say. the "community" in this case must speak independently until a preponderance shows that it's a majority of that community. This is why groups like the Pirate Party and the EFF are even necessary because there aren't many people in the world who are allowed to know what's happening in the legal system and still afford to live. The news media treats this stuff as boring passe and uninteresting and so why shouldn't the entire population of news consumers (who are lazy thinkers to begin with in general) believe it to be so?


> I'm afraid that I don't understand. Why would anyone > for the love of God disclose his or hers own identity to the **AA? Because they get a very litigious-looking letter (http://www.lolcollege.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/wmpg1.jpg) stating that suit will be filed and that their IDs will be disclosed and by visiting such-and-such site they can settle for a substantial discount. And a suit of some kind may actually get filed someday but there are several hurdles between that and a student paying a money judgment (which hasn't happened ever AFAIK).


For our friend in Serbia: Don't you know the good old U.S. of A. is the Greatest Country in the World? Our government spies on our citizens sends them to illegal wars for which the only purpose is to make the rich richer ignores the crimes of the rich and government officials and--instead--concentrates on the trivial "law breaking" of college students (Imagine sharing music! What a sin!!) You have to understand how our country works these days: the Constitution is selectively applied we make "trade agreements" which do not elevate the condition of workers in other countries but rather lowers the status of workers in our own country. More people vote for "American Idol" on television than they do for candidates in elections. And they all shop at Wal-Mart (which gives its workers next to nothing...grudgingly the minimum wage): if they don't have enough money they use credit until they owe too much to ever pay off in their lifetimes (and our great government helps them self destruct by changing the bankruptcy laws). Wall Street makes a mistake and is bailed out by our government. A citizen makes a mistake and s/he loses home security and sometimes life. So much for the "Pursuit of Happiness". Health Care? Don't even ask! It's no wonder the RIAA gets away with the crap that it does in such an environment. This is the kind of garbage that George Bush wants to spread to the rest of the world. When he shows up at your doorstep say "No thank you!" (Of course it won't help: he'll just "surge" forward and invade your country.)