The Recording Industry Association of America slapped two individuals who used University Internet service providers to share copyrighted music with lawsuits Wednesday.
The RIAA civil action suits – filed Wednesday – target 477 illegal file sharers, including 69 individuals from 14 universities.
The university-linked individuals used university networks to illegally distribute copyrighted sound recordings on unauthorized peer-to-peer services, according to a RIAA press release.
“This is the second wave of lawsuits. But this is the first time the University’s been involved,” said William Donohue, University deputy general counsel.
Donohue said the RIAA is seeking a court-ordered subpoena to send to the University because it does not know the names of the individuals – only their Internet provider addresses.
If the University is subpoenaed, Donohue said it will respond accordingly. If the individuals object to the disclosure of their names, the case would go to court, he said.
“If it went to this point, I expect we’d be required to turn over their identities,” he said. “It could take 30 days (from now) to come to fruition.”
He said he did not know if the individuals were aware of the lawsuits against them.
Jonathan Lamy, RIAA spokesman, said the association found the students by accessing a peer-to-peer network – which anyone can use – and looking for copyrighted songs from individuals sharing many files.
“These are serious offenders. In all cases we’re talking about file sharers offering hundreds of songs on peer-to-peer networks for millions of people to download for free,” he said.
The primary offense is distribution of the copyrighted materials, which includes uploading and sharing files, Lamy said.
He said these individuals are causing enormous harm to the recording industry. He said thousands of employees have been laid off, royalties for artists and songwriters have been slashed and thousands of record stores – particularly around college campuses – are closing.
“It’s not a victimless crime,” he said.
The association expects most lawsuits to settle, he said. So far it has settled 437, on an average of $3,000 per case.
The individuals from the University were sharing music from artists such as Beck, Sublime, Billy Joel, Green Day, Ben Harper and Van Halen, among others, according to court papers.
Junior Matt Rogers said RIAA’s actions would not stop him from downloading music.
“They couldn’t possibly have enough money to find us all,” he said.
But junior Tim Swanson is concerned.
“Recently, it’s kind of made me a little more apprehensive about it,” he said.
Junior Nick Dilley – who said he occasionally downloads songs – said he does not think the lawsuits will completely stop file-sharing.
“People are always going to find a way around it,” he said.
– Bridget Haeg contributed to this report