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I am a grouchy, bald headed old fart filled with opinions and not the least bit shy about sharing them.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Some colleges thwart the RIAA's attacks on their students

Ft. Myers, FL - This is a follow up to my "The RIAA's war against their customers goes to College" post. From that post you know that Recording Industry Association of America took their pursuit of music pirates to various colleges around the country by firing off a blizzard of "settlement letters" (also read "extortion letters") to college IT departments around the country. Most of the colleges rolled over and played dead, giving the RIAA what they wanted and forwarding the letters to the offending students.

However the University of Wisconsin flat out rejected the RIAA's demands.
The University of Wisconsin went against the national trends Friday by warning students about its policy regarding illegal file sharing but refusing to forward settlement letters to violators from the Recording Industry Association of America.

According to Brian Rust, communications manager for the UW Division of Information Technology, the university sent an e-mail reminding students of the “appropriate use guidelines” for downloading to protect them from what could amount to thousands of dollars in out-of-court settlements.

“These settlement letters are an attempt to short circuit the legal process to rely on universities to be their legal agent,” Rust said. “It basically says, you are illegally downloading and/or sharing information; and before we take legal action, you can remedy this situation and pay for the music or movies that you’ve downloaded.”

The Badger Hearld: UW warns students
Way to go UW!

Two other colleges, the University of Nebraska and the University of North Dakota both have their IP logging systems set up to hold only 30 days or so worth of data. After that it is forever purged.

To say the RIAA minions were not pleased with this turn of developments would be putting it mildly.
RIAA spokeswoman Jenni Engebretsen said the NU problem is "unusual and inconsistent" with what the recording industry had heard from other schools since it announced last month that it would file music piracy lawsuits against 400 students at 13 U.S. universities.

She criticized the university for failing to keep computer records that would have made it easy to track down the UNL offenders.

"One would think universities would understand the need to retain these records," she said.

The Omaha-World Herald: UNL proves safe haven for music pirates

Oh I understand why the RIAA thinks they should hold the records longer then 30 days. However, I can think of a dozen reasons to shorten that term to around ten days based on the RIAA's actions over the last few years. They can't sue the wrong person if you don't give them any names at all.

It is interesting to me that in the same article it is mentioned, almost as an after thought, that the RIAA is pressuring the University of Nebraska into buying software that can stop peer to peer pirating of music. The price tag for that software is around $100 thousand. I wonder if it's the same software offered by Palisade that RIAA expert witness Dr. Jacobson helped develop?

Looks like the message is clear. You either buy the anti-piracy software or we will come after your students. I wonder... Of the schools are under attack, how many of them purchased the software the RIAA is pushing?

More Links
Bismark Tribune story on the RIAA's frustration at the University of North Dakota
Transcript of a deposition of Dr. Jacobson in an RIAA case The questions about his connection to Palisade begin on page six.

A tip of the hat to The Recording Industry vs. The People Blog for keeping us posted on all the legal wrangling.


The virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom.
- Aristotle


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