Several file-sharers on campus are on the verge of lawsuits with the Recording Industry Association of America in a second round of legal action involving the University.
As of Jan. 27, the University has once again been notified of impending lawsuits against illegal file-sharers, University Assistant General Council Jack Bernard said. The RIAA will be submitting a subpoena requiring the University to release the identities of three individuals who may have illegally shared files over the University network, he said.
The University will not release the identities behind the IP addresses until the subpoena has been proven valid, Bernard said. Once it reaches that point, he added, the University’s hands are tied and it is legally compelled to release the information. The individuals then must deal directly with the RIAA.
The RIAA issued the newest round of lawsuits against 717 file-sharers nationwide Jan. 24 in the latest attempt to eliminate file-sharing. Sixty-eight of the total file sharers utilized networks at 23 universities across the nation.
The RIAA’s move is reminiscent of the lawsuits filed last January against nine University-affiliated individuals for the same infractions. All nine settled the dispute out of court for unspecified amounts.
The RIAA lawsuits targeted individuals who shared a large amount of copyrighted music through peer-to-peer networks, which allow others to download files from someone else’s computer.
The RIAA is only able to detect illegal file-sharing if the user is allowing other sharers to access his files. However, because of the ever-evolving technology of systems like Kazaa and Limewire, some students are unaware of how to work or disable the peer-to-peer networking feature. LSA sophomore Melanie Younger was unaware of the alternatives. “I can’t tell if I’m sharing or not,” she said.
The RIAA is able to record the IP addresses of users who share copyrighted material, including the time and date at which the file sharing occurred. The RIAA contacts the Internet Service Provider, such as the University, to obtain the name and information of the person who owns the IP address.
“The reason we receive the subpoenas is because students often use University computer networks to download, store and upload the files,” University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said,
The University will not release the identities that are behind the IP addresses until the subpoena has been proven substantially valid, Bernard said.
Once it reaches that point, he added, the University’s hands are tied and are compelled to release information. The individuals then must deal directly with the RIAA. Peterson said that the University is not being sued; the RIAA uses the University as a mechanism for contacting the individual file-sharers.
According to the Jan. 24 press release, the RIAA contends that university and college students are more likely to engage in downloading and file sharing of copyrighted music. As a result, Steven Marks, General Council for the RIAA, stresses that the purpose of the RIAA’s continuing crusade is to enforce the morality of the issue among college students.
Since this is the second time the University has encountered this problem, repercussions issued by the University might be instituted to curb students’ negligence. “I think we have a generation that is used to illegally downloading music,” Bernard said. “This is potentially a problem and could result in the loss of account privileges.”
Although Bernard is cognizant of the three individuals and has contacted them, the RIAA has yet to submit the subpoena, which is expected to arrive later this week.
“We tried very hard last time to dissuade (the RIAA) from pursuing file sharers on campus,” Bernard said. “Our approach is through education; the RIAA doesn’t do this.”