RIAA Kicks off New School Year With 403 More College Piracy Lawsuits

Also sent out copyright infringement lawsuits against previous recipients of letters who have ignored settlement “opportunities.”

Nothing helps students get back in the swing of things like a nice threatening lawsuit.

The RIAA, on behalf of the major record companies, this week sent out a new wave of 403 pre-litigation settlement letters to 22 universities nationwide. It also sent out copyright infringement lawsuits against previous recipients of letters who have ignored settlement “opportunities.”

Along with this latest installment of letters, the RIAA is also resuming, to coincide with the new academic year, its university advertising campaign, with full-page ads, created by college students (read “collaborators”), published in college papers across the country. The advertisements aim to encourage fans to enjoy online music legally and remind students of the legal, privacy and security risks associated with illegal downloading.

As before, the legal process gives students the “opportunity” to bypass the legal process and to resolve copyright infringement claims against them at a discounted rate before a formal lawsuit is filed. Each pre-litigation settlement letter informs the school of a forthcoming copyright infringement suit against one of its students or personnel and requests that university administrators forward the letter to the appropriate network user.

In the eighth wave of this initiative, the RIAA this week sent letters in the following quantities to 22 schools:

  • Arizona State University (35 )
  • Carnegie Mellon University (13)
  • Cornell University (19)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (30)
  • Michigan State University (16)
  • North Dakota State University (17)
  • Purdue University — West Lafayette and Calumet campuses (49)
  • University of California — Santa Barbara (13)
  • University of Connecticut (17)
  • University of Maryland — College Park (23)
  • University of Massachusetts — Amherst and Boston campuses (52)
  • University of Nebraska — Lincoln (13)
  • University of Pennsylvania (31)
  • University of Pittsburgh (14)
  • University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, Stevens Point, Stout and Whitewater campuses (62).

In addition to the new round of pre-litigation letters, the RIAA also today filed 24 copyright infringement lawsuits against previous recipients of letters who have ignored settlement opportunities. The lawsuits were filed in federal court against students from University of California — Santa Cruz, Florida International University, University of South Florida, Cornell University, Morehead State University, University of Maryland — College Park, North Carolina State University, North Dakota State University, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, University of Massachusetts — Amherst, Columbia University, Ohio University, Kent State University and Marshall University. The RIAA continues to file these lawsuits on a rolling basis against those engaging in music theft via university and commercial networks.

What students I hope remember is that the RIAA has finally been dealt some pretty significant blows lately, the main one being in the case of Capitol v. Foster whereby an Oklahoma court ordered the RIAA to pay the defendant Debbie Foster some $68,685.23 in attorneys fees and costs. The judge in that case even went so far as to criticize the RIAA’s lawyers motives as “questionable,” and their legal theories as “marginal.”

The second is in Arista v. Does 1-11, in which an expert witness testified that the RIAA can’t identify users by IP address. He pointed out that “An individual cannot be uniquely identified by an IP address,” and that “…networks of networks can have many duplicate addresses” due to the fact that all connected computers reside behind the same control, or access point.

Bottom line? Don’t be intimidated by the RIAA, contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation and exercise your right to a fair trial.

Or better yet, go to Harvard whose law department has been adamant in noting that they should be committed to the advancement and education of the youth of this country, and should never be perceived as doing the bidding of corporate interests. Maybe the Ivy League really is as smart as they say.