- BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A story we talked about yesterday want to pick up again today. The recording industry opening up a new front in its fight against file sharing over the Internet. For the very first time, individuals are paying damages for the very first time over accusations of music downloading. Four college students have agreed to pay between $12,000 and $17,000 to settle a lawsuit. None has admitted to any wrongdoing. On Sunday, students at Rensaleer (ph) Polytech Institute in upstate New York showed their support for one of the students, Jesse Jordan. Jesse’s an RPI freshman. He’ll pay $12,000 in that settlement.
Jesse Jordan is live with us today from Albany, New York, along with his father, Andy Jordan, who’s live in New York City.
Good morning to both of you.
Hey, Jesse, why do you think the government came after you?
JESSE JORDAN, SETTLED LAWSUIT WITH RECORDING INDUSTRY: Well, actually it was the recording industry association. I believe they came after me to make an example, because they are trying to fight piracy at college campuses.
HEMMER: You run a search engine at your campus, right?
JORDAN: Yes, my search engine is much like Google. You can pretty much use it to search for any type of file.
HEMMER: Jesse, could I access music on that search engine?
JORDAN: You could search for music, you could search for any other type of file as well.
HEMMER: So If I found music, could I download it to my computer?
JORDAN: Yes, you could download music. You can do that from any search engine as well. Actually, Alta Vista has their own MP3 search engine which you can use to download music.
HEMMER: So if that’s the case then, what did the government — or I’m sorry, I apologize again — what did the RIAA, the recording industry, come after you and say that you were guilty of?
JORDAN: They said I’m guilty of contributory copyright infringement, which would mean that I assist people in downloading copyrighted material and direct infringement.
HEMMER: So you agreed to pay $12,000. You’re not admitting any guilt here. Why pay the money, Jesse?
JORDAN: I don’t really have the resources to defend this case in court, so I don’t really have much of a choice. I also don’t have the time, because I’m very busy in college.
HEMMER: Andy, do you think, with the case of your son right now, how do you categorize this? A case of intimidation?
ANDY JORDAN, JESSE’S FATHER: Well, it’s — I categorize it as an elaborate publicity stunt. Nothing more, nothing less.
….HEMMER: You know, Andy, I think a lot people — and I asked your son this; I’ll ask you it as well, if you weren’t guilty, why pay the cash? It’s a lot of money, especially for a college student.
A. JORDAN: We didn’t have any choice. The RIAA had a deadline. What they didn’t tell the press, when they first hit Jesse with the papers, is while they were serving the papers on him, they also had a letter that they didn’t give to the press and they told us that, oh, that was supposed to be the cover letter to the papers that he received, gee, we’ll get it to right away. It was an offer to settle.
HEMMER: Jesse, now this has been settled, I’m assuming you’re able to go back to your studies and find some work as to make up for the lost cause here. Can the record industry, do you believe right now, knowing the efforts with Napster going back a few years ago, can the RIAA shut down search engines and prevent them from sharing music at any point, whether it takes a month, a year, or five years down the road?
J. JORDAN: I don’t believe so. I don’t believe that their intimidation really is going to work, just like the recent rulings about Grokster (ph) and Morpheus. I think that the search engine that I ran is legal. I did plan to bring it back up in the next day or two.
HEMMER: You used the word intimidation. Do you believe that’s what it is?
J. JORDAN: Yes, basically. I don’t think it’s going to work either. People are still sharing the same amount of files. There’s still actually a search engine available right now at RPI.
Legal action as theater of intimidation – it may deter a few, but it will anger and alienate many more. When an organization with virtually unlimited legal resources threatens individuals with financial ruin to make a point, the karma will come around very quickly.