The RIAA has been on a renewed push to target file-sharing college students lately, trying to push them into "discounted settlements" so the RIAA doesn't have to go to the trouble of actually suing them in court, where its claims might have to face some scrutiny. Yesterday, it went up to Capitol Hill to whine that colleges and universities aren't doing enough to stop piracy. They also got some legislators, like Hollywood's rep, Howard Berman, to make some veiled threats to the schools, such as saying that "current law isn't giving universities enough incentive to comply," or say that Congress might seek to make schools liable for their students' illegal downloading. One of our favorite people, RIAA president Cary Sherman, complained that the schools aren't doing enough to enforce the law -- but last time we checked, that wasn't their responsibility, and neither is helping the RIAA prop up its members' outdated business model. Just because the RIAA has been able to get some law enforcement groups to act at its behest, or because it's put together its own private police force, that doesn't mean it gets to decide who has the responsibility to enforce copyright law. The RIAA continually tries to sidestep the legal process and keep its lawsuits -- and shaky legal arguments -- out of the courtroom and away from scrutiny. When that doesn't work, they follow their campaign contributions to Washington, and try to get legislators to change the law. Plenty of protection and legal recourse already exists for the RIAA and any other group who thinks its copyrights are being infringed. The problem isn't that colleges and universities aren't doing their part (because they have no part to play), but simply that the RIAA wants to shortcut the legal process and make the relevant laws suit its agenda above anything else.
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