Thursday, March 01, 2007

RIAA Launches New Offensive Against College Students

This report in from

RIAA targets university students
Recording industry launches antipiracy effort

The Recording industry launched an antipiracy-educational initiative aimed at university students that includes a chance for a "discounted" settlement and no record being kept of the illegal downloading or file-sharing.

Citing a recent survey that showed some 50% of students continue to download or swap illegally, Recording Industry Assn. of America officials said Wednesday they had sent 400 "pre-litigation settlement letters" to students at 13 universities.

Previously, the RIAA has first filed suit after identifying a screen name and computer address, then sought ought the owner of the screen name.

But now, the org is going first to the alleged infringer by contacting the school and asking for the letter to be forwarded to the relevant student. The letter proposes a "substantially discounted" settlement and a promise of no lawsuit and no record if the student responds cooperatively within 20 days.

Complete article

And see coverage by's Jon Newton on the RIAA's "Incriminate Yourself" website:

RIAA 'incriminate yourself' site news:- "Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, the members of the Big 4 music cartel, think they've figured out a neat way to save themselves embarrassment in the courts, and costly lawyers' bills, as they try to sue you into buying their 'product'," p2pnet posted in today's (February 28) lead story intro.

"Their 'incriminate yourself' web site is now online."

The idea is: American students get to admit they've been 'illegally' downloading copyrighted songs without Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, the members of the Big 4 music cartel, actually doing anything themselves.

Complete article

Commentary & discussion:

Knoxville News Sentinel
Heise Online (German)
ASU Web@Devil
North Dakota State University Spectrum
Athens News (Ohio University)
Athens News (Ohio University)
College Times (Arizona)
Download Squad
Knoxville News Sentinel
LSU Daily Reveille

Keywords: digital copyright online download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs


Scott Ferguson said...

The RIAA "incriminate yourself" site is going to be as ineffective as your typical police department gun buyback program. The premise is stupid.

Did HR&O dream this up? More to the point, does HR&O actually care whether or not the campaign they're waging is hurting the business of their clients?

We can never know whether the RIAA is waging this campaign against the better judgment of HR&O, or if HR&O is egging the RIAA on so that the firm can keep the bills flowing. If it's the former, then I pity them. If it's the latter, then it's a thumb in the eye of the legal profession.

To reiterate from an earlier comment, lawyers are trained to think tactically, not strategically. Hiring a law firm is a tactical decision and is often appropriate; but if it's based on bad business strategy, then the best tactics in the world won't save the business.

From the outside, it sure seems like the lawyers are running the music industry. Molto stupido, Edgar.

Alter_Fritz said...

Ray, you might be able to hepl me out here:
One point that I don't understand;
Those students that the RIAA want ot reach with this "program", they download a product that is NOT offered legally by those copyrightholders themself.
If someone does not offer to sell a product to these students in the form they want to have it, how can the RIAA as the mouthpiece of the copyrightholders claim that they suffer any damage? No offer to sell = no request to buy = no damage suffered I guess.

And as a subpoint of this argument; the "not for sale" product that those students wish to have on their PCs and Musicplayers is only a, by ~90% of the original artistic and copyrighted creation, reduced piece of information.
Why haven't we seen any defense yet that the files that are alledgedly copied in those cases are NOT the copyrighted work?
Using only 10% of a copyrighted work that is not even legally available from the copyrightholders - should that not be no copyrightinfringement at all but fair use?

Scott Ferguson said...

One other thing: Don't colleges and universities believe in defending academic freedom anymore? The RIAA is obliquely assaulting that.

Also: I'm interested in knowing whether HR&O is targeting the music industry's customers in the state of Colorado. If not, I would like to know why.

Anonymous said...

Are any of these colleges actually defending their student's privacy? One would expect that the payment of $10,000+ tuition a year would entitle the students to some privacy on the networks of the schools. I sent an email to my alma mater (Miami University) to find out what their particular policies are policies are regarding the students who go there. If I don't like their answer I'm done giving to them forever. I would encourage students and alumni to find out what their universities' policies are when they recieve a request for student information.

2L at OSU

raybeckerman said...

I hope that the universities will defend their students and will help their students find out what their legal rights are.

StephenH said...

I think that someone ought to sue for violation of "innocent till proven guilty" here. I also think that Ray Beckerman should offer to debate Mitch Bainwol on the usefulness of this program and this lawsuit campaign.

Alter_Fritz said...

Mr. Kelso of HRO already wrote the first letters!
For those that aren't students any more or those students in Colorado/10th circuit court district that might not get one of those themself, this is how they look like:

raybeckerman said...

Thanks for the tip, alter_fritz.

Kate said...

My son just recieved the April 11th version from his university. I have contacted 2 lawyers and am waiting to see their opinions on how we should proceed. He had 44 recordings some of the others had thousands. Can you negotiate based on the amount that you have?