The RIAA is doing itself a grave disservice by calling public attention to its battle against file sharing: by employing increasingly aggressive tactics against sharers they run the risk of inflaming the public at large against them, which may force politicians – heretofore largely in the industry’s pocket – to address consumer grievances with the DMCA, extended copyrights, and the industry’s entire manner of doing business. Fine with me:
- The suits-filed by the Recording Industry Association of America, the music industry lobby-ask three U.S. District Courts for injunctions to shut down the file-sharing systems that live inside the computer networks at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich., and the Ivy League school.
The four defendants were chosen because the RIAA found them to be among the most active, enabling thousands of songs to be freely shared, the industry group said. The music industry considers such file-sharing to be in violation of copyright and fair use laws.
The RIAA suits allege that these four students offered between 27,000 and 1 million songs for free trading. The Washington Post is seeking to reach the students for comment. [Washington Post]
No warning this time:
- The RIAA did not send cease-and-desist letters to the defendants before filing the suits.
This displeases Bob Gilreath, the telecommunications engineer at Michigan Tech:
- His university has a long record of cooperating with the recording industry, he said. The institution runs copyright-education programs and routinely shuts down the Internet access of students who share copyrighted material. He said that the recording industry had never notified the university about Mr. Nievelt’s alleged infringement.
“We have had this relationship with them for years, and for them to come in and do what they are doing here — taking a different route without going through our channels — is basically flabbergasting,” he said. He added that the lawsuits will “send the wrong message to colleges and universities” that are trying to help the recording industry stop file sharing. “In these tight budget situations, [colleges] are going to say, Why should we spend time and money on this when they are going to go ahead and sue anyway?” [Chronicle of Higher Education]
Low-tech investigation this time:
- The RIAA employs software that scours the Internet looking for what it believes are illegally traded songs. But the networks named in the lawsuits are internal college networks, known as “local area networks” or LANS, and are not seen by the RIAA software.
Instead, the RIAA discovered them by reading college newspapers, in which the LANS are discussed. Several Princeton sites were listed in a November article in the Daily Princetonian, which also included a statement from the school’s information technology department saying that it is against university regulations to use the Internet to violate copyright laws.
As someone remarked, it is not wise to really piss off computer science students, who now more than ever will be spurred to create untraceable sharing systems; and I don’t think you are going to see any more bragging in school papers about internal systems.