University Of Michigan Shops File-Sharing Students To The RIAA (Or Not)

from the go-blue dept

The RIAA's aggressively going after file-sharing college students these days, offering them "discounts" on settlements before hitting them with copyright-infringement suits. Forcing the kids to pay up and settle is far preferable to the group than having to actually go to court and follow such inconveniences as proper legal procedure, and after all, what's a little bit of bullying when you can get it at a discount? It's also been using its influence in Congress to get legislators to threaten colleges and universities into doing more to stop file-sharing on their networks, even though they have no responsibility to do so. The threats are working on at least one school, the University of Michigan, where an IT administrator says it's working with the RIAA to identify students the group says are illegally sharing music. Certainly the RIAA has the right to try and find out the identity of people it thinks are infringing its members' copyrights -- but it doesn't want to do it the proper way (by filing John Doe lawsuits, then going to court and getting a subpoena for ISP records), and has a history of trying to work around the law. If the university had been presented with legitimate subpoenas, obviously it would need to divulge the records and students' identities. But from the email the administrator sent out to students and faculty, it sounds as if the RIAA never went to the trouble of getting them, and the university is simply just rolling over. This is all very similar to the way the RIAA used to try and bully ISPs, but since that avenue essentially got shut down, it appears to have moved on to schools. The RIAA is well within its rights to pursue these suits (even if suing the hell out of your customers really isn't a great idea), but it must act within the same laws and rules as the rest of us, and there's simply no reason for colleges and universities -- or ISPs -- to be its lapdog and give up information without proper legal cause. Update: As noted in the comments, the original post at Wired has been changed after some further clarification from a University of Michigan lawyer, who says the school is merely informing some students that they're targets of the RIAA, and that it cannot hand over their identities without a subpoena -- contrary to the Wired writer (and plenty of other people's) original understanding of the email that was sent out.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    billy, 16 Mar 2007 @ 6:09am


    Glad to see that UofM is standing up and now just bending over.
    They get 3 cheers.
    Although, I went to a different Michigan university (I will not say which, so I can pretend that I am anonymous online).
    I have no clue how they are handling this shit now (I finished last spring) but I do recall hearing about the RIAA coming a knockin' and getting turned away.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.