- The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued four students separately last month for running services that searched computers connected to their college networks for MP3 song files. The students also shared copyrighted music from own machines. The lawsuits marked the first time that the RIAA directly sued students, as opposed to companies, associated with peer-to-peer piracy.
The settlements will see each student making payments to the RIAA totaling between $12,000 and $17,000, split into annual installments between 2003 and 2006.
...."The record companies indicated right from the beginning that they were amenable to settling this case," said Howard Ende, a Drinker Biddle & Reath attorney who represented defendant Princeton sophomore Daniel Peng. "In my view, this was not about Daniel Peng, per se, but was a utilization of the legal system to make a point--essentially to intimidate Internet users." [CNET]
Ende was in fact defiant:
- "Dan never felt that he was doing anything wrong, and I believe that as well," he said. The record companies "claimed that this was a Napster-like system, when in fact it's a Google-like system. It had many things on it that were academically related."
...."They wound up engendering not just fear, but fear and loathing. Rather than scaring, I think they alienated. They should be working with colleges and universities to try and find a sensible way to protect their intellectual property." [Chronicle of Higher Education]
The lawsuits--on top of a series of communications that the RIAA and other copyright holders have had with universities over the past year--have led to a crackdown on campus file swapping and the kind of network search tools created by Peng and the other students.
College officials recently reprimanded a large group of students at Pennsylvania State University for using or operating similar services. This week, the New Jersey Institute of Technology banned the use of file-sharing software on its campus, citing the danger of lawsuits, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.