Following through with its new strategy for curbing illegal music downloading, the Recording Industry Association of America has dropped pending lawsuits against seven students at the University.
Charges were also dropped against students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina State University and Rhode Island College.
Jack Bernard, the University’s assistant general counsel, said he was glad to hear that the RIAA had dropped the lawsuits.
“I’m all for it,” he said. “(The RIAA) said they weren’t going to pursue college students anymore, and it looks like they are sticking to their statements.”
The RIAA has dropped all of the cases without prejudice, which means that the group retains the right to sue the students at a later date.
In past cases, immediately after filing a lawsuit against a University of Michigan student, the RIAA would issue a subpoena to the University, giving it 30 days to disclose the individual’s identity, Bernard said.
Throughout the five years of the RIAA’s litigation strategy, the trade group relied on the University to pass along settlement offers to students whom it accused of file-sharing. Students could then decide whether to settle by paying fees to RIAA, fight a lawsuit in court or do nothing in hoping that it would not sue.
The decision to drop the lawsuits comes on the heels of the RIAA’s announcement in December, which said that the body is employing a new strategy to deter illegal file-sharing. Instead of suing individuals, the RIAA said they would partner with Internet service providers to slow or stop the Internet access of individuals who infringe on copyright laws through illegal file-sharing.
LSA sophomore Erin Breisacher said she stopped downloading music illegally after hearing about the possibility of receiving a lawsuit, but now that the RIAA has stopped pursuing lawsuits she “might start downloading again.”
“I think it is going to be a big deal,” LSA junior Amber Clark said. “A lot of people are going to download more, especially college students.”
LSA senior Chad Nihranz, said he thinks more peer-to-peer downloading sites will come out as a result of the dropped lawsuits.
“I figure, if there aren’t as many lawsuits they will come out with more software to allow students to download more,” he said.