Universities Realize That The RIAA Is Taking Advantage Of Them In Lawsuits On Students

from the pushback-time dept

We never quite understood why various universities were cooperating with RIAA demands that they send “pre-litigation” letters to students accused of file sharing. These non-binding letters are often used to pressure students into paying fines, even if they’re based on weak (at best) evidence of file sharing. It certainly wasn’t in any university’s best interests to basically help out a private organization in a business model dispute with its students. Yet, some university officials, falsely convinced by the RIAA that this was more than a business model dispute, decided to help out. And the response? The RIAA has increased the flood of notices, and then convinced Congress to move forward on legislation that would legally obligate universities to act as the RIAA’s copyright cops.

It appears that more and more universities are realizing that they got shafted. The EFF points out that there’s widespread anger among university officials who felt they were trying to find a middle ground by cooperating, but instead find themselves swamped with more and more notifications and this new legislation that increases their legal liability over a business model dispute. And, the worst part? Now that they’re pushing back in court, the RIAA points out that dealing with these notices before wasn’t a burden, so universities aren’t being truthful that they’re now a burden. How’s that for a thank you for helping out originally?

If it hasn’t become clear by now, the RIAA doesn’t view universities as partners in all of this — and any university that thinks of the RIAA as a partner is about to get steamrolled by the RIAA legal machine. It’s time that more universities stood up not just for their own rights, but the rights of their students as well not to be targeted by questionable “pre-litigation” threat letters without more significant evidence. And, it wouldn’t help for the RIAA to finally recognize that this entire battle has done nothing to deal with the real issue: its own inability to recognize that its business model needs to change.

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Comments on “Universities Realize That The RIAA Is Taking Advantage Of Them In Lawsuits On Students”

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Steve R. (profile) says:

Re: Capitalism at Work

Great point. If the RIAA wants a third party to protect them, the RIAA should pay for it. It get’s tiresome to hear the RIAA whine about how they need to be protected at our expense.

That reminds me, I have an old game CD that I needed in order to reinstall the game. I guess it got scratched, so it would not reload. The Box had plenty of advertising and the usual warnings to the effect that you have no rights. My point – Nowhere on the box was there any contact information on how to get a replacement CD!!!!

If companies want us to respect their rights, they need to respect our rights too. Obviously they don’t so why should we?

Pjerky (user link) says:

RIAA doesn't support Artists.

A question comes to mind with all of this. Do the artists who’s music is “stolen” get any of the money won from litigation. I would be willing to bet that they don’t see a dime. That it all goes to the head-freds at the RIAA. If they are going to win any money for this absurd litigation I think the artists should recieve the same cut as they do with normal music that is sold. After all it is their music that was “stolen”.

KD says:

How many universities vs. how many record companies?

How many universities are there (just in the U.S.)? How many record companies are participating in these activities?

I’ll bet there are a LOT more universities. Of course, not all of them have a lot of money, but if someone could get the universities to band together and each contribute a bit of money to the cause, I’ll bet they could smash the RIAA in every case. And remember, many universities contain law schools, so they ought to be able to draw on a lot of legal talent — I’m thinking alumni who are practicing lawyers, but the law professors may be able to contribute, too.

Is there any legal barrier to the universities banding together for their common defense? Is there any social barrier to it?

T says:

Black Vans

I wonder how long it will take until the RIAA/MPAA is able to convince Congress that they should be able to make people “disappear”, rushing random people into black vans into the middle of the night, no one ever hearing from them again.

Of course, the RIAA/MPAA seem to be blind as a bat, shooting at random hoping they’ll get someone; sometimes I think they get bored at the office and just start thumbing through the phone book and we all know by now that they don’t ACTUALLY pay attention to what goes on in the torrents, they just pick IPs at random…

….so I guess the real concern is: How do I protect my laser printer from disappearing in the middle of the night?

Anonymous Coward says:

Even knows . . .

Picking student pockets is the exclusive domain of Universities and thier close friends in the credit card business. I suspect had the RIAA (like the credit card companies) pledged to send some of that cash collected back to the univerities from whence it came, they would find (like the credit card companies did) a willing partner in University administrations (like the credit card companies have).

Hamst3r (user link) says:

There's way more music out there...

Than that RIAA crap. RIAA owned stuff isn’t even worth listening to with the amount of great quality free music online.

For instance:


Also, if you’re not fond of digging through thousands of songs for the best ones, there are tons of podcasts on iTunes for non-RIAA music. I even make one myself.

The RIAA isn’t even worth stealing from.

Adam says:

RIAA isn't ALL wrong here

Sorry, but if the RIAA enforces the rights to songs owned by members, those who knowingly violate copyrights by getting music without paying for it deserve punishment – even if they are just “some poor college kid”.

Their tactics are a bit extreme, and they would do much better to try and roll with the situation rather than trying to hold back the tidal wave, but laws are laws.

If theft is okay, can I come take your TV? And if you take legal action to get it back, can I make fun of you and accuse you of being unfair?

AC says:

Re: 31872 to be exact! :P

True, it is sharing that gets you into trouble, but most of the ways of downloading are peer-to-peer file sharing programs, which normally make available for sharing the files you download.

Even if you run the program only while you are downloading, it is sharing during that time, so you are exposed. I haven’t any experience with those programs, but I gather from what I’ve read that there are ways to configure at least some of the programs so that they don’t offer your files for sharing, but I think most people don’t know to do that.

KD says:



Copyright infringement is NOT theft, so your question about the TV is irrelevant. In the cases under discussion, nobody is stealing anything.

As for the law being on the RIAA’s side, technically that’s correct, but the law is out of date, and people are demonstrating that clearly. When a large enough portion of the population violates a law, that law is, sooner or later, history, either formally via repeal, or informally via lack of enforcement. We haven’t reached that point yet, but I’m pretty sure that’s what is coming.

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