Oregon Attorney General And University Of Oregon Tell The RIAA They're Not Its Free Investigators

from the can't-just-push-around-students dept

Earlier this year, the RIAA began to focus many of its file sharing lawsuits on college students. The RIAA incorrectly referred to it as an education campaign, when it might more accurately be described as pissing off the very people the RIAA needs to support any future business model (oops, too late for that). While the RIAA tried to force universities to just hand over the names of those it accused of file sharing, it was nice to see at least a few universities fight back. In most cases, this mean telling the RIAA to shove off, as it wasn't the university's job to help serve legal complaints. Eventually though, when subpoenas came through, most universities would hand over the info. However, it looks like the University of Oregon is taking a stand. Together with the Attorney General of Oregon, they've actually filed a motion to quash the RIAA's attempt to identify students at the school. In other words, they're not just refusing to pass on the info, they're actively pushing back against the RIAA's lawsuit.

Specifically, the Attorney General points out that with just IP addresses, it's basically impossible to identify the students that the RIAA is asking the university to hand over: "Plaintiffs' subpoena is unduly burdensome and overbroad. It seeks information that the university does not readily possess." In order for the university to figure out who was associated with those IPs, it would involve a level of investigation that isn't required (and shouldn't be required) under law. In other words, the university isn't there to be the free investigative arm of the RIAA. It doesn't get to just throw some weak evidence over the wall and tell the university to figure out who's responsible. Either it comes up with a better way to find the information itself, or it should stop filing these lawsuits. It should be interesting to see if this works... and if other universities follow suit.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. I agree 100%

    I commend the University of Oregon. Any other University that gives in to this threat should have their accreditation removed for not protecting their students. This is a very similar problem that is now being litigated in my industry.

    Several consumer complaint websites like mine are fighting new lawsuits of companies filing to obtain the IP addresses of consumers that have made complaints against their company. So far, none of the websites have complied that I know of and are still in litigation.

    The company I'm referring to is Video Professor (that bald guy that hawks his training CD's on infomercials) that states that they have no way of helping the consumer who complained unless they know who they really are.

    I have a better idea for Video Professor, don't rip off your customers by charging their credit cards or bank accounts fraudulantly in the first place. Any company that has over 600 complaints at the BBB must be doing something wrong.

    Personally I would never give up this information, regardless of the ruling. Once we don't protect our rights to allow third parties to make complaints, you lose the Free Speech aspect of the Internet and the consumers will never trust us again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Overcast, Nov 2nd, 2007 @ 7:47pm

    Careful though! It make cause the RIAA to innovate! lol

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Craig, Nov 2nd, 2007 @ 8:02pm

    Grammar Nazi

    Oregon Attorney General And University Of Oregon Tell The RIAA They're Not It's Free Investigators

    Should be "Its" as your usage is not a contraction of "it is."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    cc, Nov 3rd, 2007 @ 5:13am

    UO to RIAA: We are not your personal army!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    I like Mike, Nov 3rd, 2007 @ 6:42am

    Good for UofO

    I'm glad to see some organizations pushing back on the RIAA's blanket accusations. If they are successful, and I think they will be, it will have a dampening affect on all this litigation companies use in an attempt to suppress consumer's grievances and opinions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Hey Max, Nov 3rd, 2007 @ 6:48am

    Here's a thought

    I'm no legal expert so I don't know if this would work but why not ask the court to require Video Professor to first prove the statements in question are libel/defamatory. If the court finds the statements to be a legally protected expression of opinion, fair use of trademarks, etc. then there is no need to know WHO made those statements.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Fan of Mike, Nov 3rd, 2007 @ 7:51am

    You really should fix this headline

    Mike, I think you're awesome and brilliant. That's why the improper use of "it's" in the headline is such a bother to me: it's telling a lie about you by making you seem either careless or ill-informed, neither of which you are in the slightest. So please fix it asap. I honestly had trouble figuring out what the story was about because of it. I was thinking, "they're not, but it is? What's the sense of that?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    peoplegeek, Nov 3rd, 2007 @ 7:53am

    Re: Grammar Nazi

    Thank You.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    shmengie, Nov 3rd, 2007 @ 8:16am

    Re: Grammar Nazi

    dang, you beat me to it. i couldn't make sense of the headline until i realized that error.

    long live the grammar nazis!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Neanjo78, Nov 3rd, 2007 @ 4:16pm

    Read the affidavit by Jayson E Street to squash a subpoena by Arista records. Quite interesting!!!! IP addresses mean nothing when identifying an individual.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Bignumone, Nov 4th, 2007 @ 3:27am

    Good for UO, bad for grammer Nazi(s)

    I have wondered for a while when people were going to tell our government we are not in the business of proving RIAA cases. I don’t want to pay taxes for that, and I don’t think it is an appropriate way for a University to be forced to use its resources! I don’t think it is OK for students to steal music, but I believe it is up to the music industry to figure out how to stop it or prosecute an investigation and take it to court.
    As for the grammer Nazi, I will come out and say what so many people are dancing around with sarcasm. I like to use proper English, but it is friggen’ annoying when someone I don’t know issues an unsolicited correction! You are right, and the author might actually appreciate it.
    But please, don’t help ME! I don’t want your help! Thank you if you offered.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Azmo, Nov 4th, 2007 @ 2:19pm


    Doubtful, innovation would cost them money. That's the wonderful thing about their fishing trip subpoenas, the threat is usually enough to get people to do the work for them.

    When people stop rolling over for them and start standing up for themselves, the amount of money they'll need to spend tracking down Joe Student who downloaded a few mp3's might actually give them pause.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    U of O grad..., Nov 4th, 2007 @ 7:18pm

    nice to see something come out of our little backwoods university. No one pays much attention to the PNW...everyone thinks were just a bunch of pot smoking, tree hugging, hippies...Be that as it may, we tend to enjoy fighting for our rights, unlike many other areas of the USA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Christian, Nov 4th, 2007 @ 8:57pm


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Robert Nelson (profile), Nov 4th, 2007 @ 10:48pm

    Thank God

    At last somebody is fighting back.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    GN9182, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 1:30am

    Re: Good for UO, bad for grammer Nazi(s)

    It's Friggin' -- as in the quaintly trimmed version of frigging.

    Whatever the heck 'friggen' is, I'll never know.

    Hey, you may not want the help, but maybe your mom would be pleased if we can help you write English.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    IzanSeth, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 4:53am

    Should be interesting

    This case should be interesting. I'm kind of comparing it to the ruling of SCO v Novell case (just not quite as damaging). I mean if the UofO wins then the RIAA will have to do MUCH more homework to get their lawsuits rolling. And I hope A LOT of other organizations are watching this case carefully.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Mediaempyre, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 8:25am

    If I were the president of UO, I would have done a little bit of investigating and turned in a bill to the RIAA for some ridiculous amount, like 1 million. Then I would have donated the money to a student defense fund to fight litigation from the RIAA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Gary Rubenstein, Nov 21st, 2007 @ 10:21am

    RIAA Comlaints

    I was very happy to read about the University of Oregon and the Oregon Attorney General standing up to the RIAA. Only today I was advised by my daughter a student at the University of Utah that the RIAA has filed a complaint against her IP address. I hope that the University of Utah and the Utah Attorney General fight back, as well. Leave our kids alone. College is hard enough to deal with. Now the RIAA wants to subject them to fines and/or lawsuits?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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