Last week, the Recording Industry Association of America announced it would be strengthening its campaign against people who download music illegally on college campuses.,”
Illegal music downloaders beware: The recording industry is cracking down on song-snatching activity and isn't afraid to file lawsuits.
Last week, the Recording Industry Association of America announced it would be strengthening its campaign against people who download music illegally on college campuses.
The RIAA sent out its first batch of "pre-litigation" letters on Feb. 28. There were 400 letters sent to 13 university administrations, which are responsible for getting the letters to the appropriate students.
The same number of letters will be sent out each month to school network users who frequently visit illegal downloading Web sites.
The letters offer the offending students an opportunity to settle at a "discounted rate" with the RIAA to prevent them from filing a lawsuit.
"Because we know sometimes that some audiences – particularly campus music downloaders – can sometimes be impervious to even the most compelling educational messages or legal alternatives, these new efforts aim to help students recognize that the consequences for illegal downloading are more real than ever before," said Cary Sherman, RIAA president, in a press release.
According to Mary Simmons, director of security for Marquette's Information Technology Services, the RIAA can track Internet Portal addresses that visit illegal downloading Web sites. From there, it can determine who owns the IP addresses, and then send notices to the address owners.
"(If we receive a complaint) it's our job to figure out who on campus uses that address," Simmons said.
Since September, Marquette has received 96 RIAA complaints. None of these complaints have asked for settlements. Simmons said the university is required by law to investigate them.
If a student gets a complaint, he or she is asked to sign a notice that he or she will not download illegally anymore, Simmons said. If there are further offenses, the student's Internet access could be shut down.
Simmons said Marquette's Acceptable Use Policy outlines the expectations of students using campus computers.
According to Kenneth Green, founding director of The Campus Computing Project, which studies the use of information technology on college campuses, 85 to 90 percent of schools have active acceptable use policies.
Students are not the only internet users who choose to download illegally. According to Becky Farina, director of corporate communication for Napster, Inc., illegal downloaders can be anyone from students to grandmothers.
However, Green said he thinks college students are an easy target for the recording industry.
"Students have a fairly cavalier attitude toward digital copyright and it's very unfortunate," Green said. "Some students do know it's illegal and choose to do so anyhow."
Green said colleges and universities make a greater effort to educate people about illegal downloading than the consumer market.
"I think legal action is one answer," he said. "Education is important, but it needs to be done before students go to college."
Napster does make an effort to discourage students from downloading illegally with its Napster University Program, which offers free or discounted memberships to its service.
"I think Napster is the poster child of illegal downloading before we became a legal site. We're as active as possible in trying to prohibit illegal downloading," Farina said.
In the RIAA press release, Sherman said the RIAA hopes its new campaign will lead to university administrators further educating students on ways to prevent music piracy.