U students avoid file-sharing lawsuit

Ryan Dionne

University students have escaped the most recent wave of lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America.

On Wednesday, the association sued students on 18 campuses throughout the country, in a total of 405 lawsuits.

“We haven’t been served with a lawsuit in the current wave of (the recording industry association) lawsuits,” said Bill Donohue, University deputy general counsel.

This round of lawsuits targeted people who use a sharing program called i2hub on a common college network known as Internet2, according to a recording industry association press release.

Internet2 is a research network that connects approximately 200 institutions throughout the nation, said Steve Cawley, the University’s chief information officer.

The connection speed is faster than what Internet service providers supply, he said.

Cawley said that the University has used the Internet2 network for five years and an older version of the technology for much longer.

Though the University has Internet2, the high-speed connection is reserved primarily for educational purposes, Cawley said.

Educational purposes include library searches, interactive video and other projects between research institutions, he said.

The University limits the amount of bandwidth allotted for “entertainment applications” such as file-sharing programs, Cawley said.

“There’s no speed advantage for entertainment applications (on the University’s Internet2),” he said.

Though University students don’t reap the benefits of Internet2, many still download songs.

Emily Blasczyk, an anthropology sophomore, was against file sharing before college, but now, she and almost all her friends do it, she said. Blasczyk does not, however, think that will always be the case, she said.

“When I move off campus, I probably won’t (share files),” she said.

Of the 11 universities in the Big Ten, Michigan State University and The Ohio State University were the only two with students currently targeted by the recording industry association lawsuits.

Other campuses include Harvard University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Drexel University.

Though there could be many more students or faculty members who illegally share files, the recording industry association is limiting lawsuits to 25 per school.

Of the 18 schools targeted, only six had fewer than 25 lawsuits filed against students, said Jenni Engebretsen, a recording industry association spokeswoman.

The average number of MP3 files shared by targeted users in this round of lawsuits was more than 2,300. The high end of the range was as many as 13,600 files shared, according to the press release.

The recording industry association targeted users based on the severity of their violations, Cary Sherman, the association president, said in an online chat session.

“Where we had a large number of infringements at a school, the students at that school were more likely to be targeted,” Sherman wrote.

File-sharers could be fined $750 for every copyrighted work they share, if a settlement isn’t reached between them and the recording industry association, he wrote.

“But we routinely settle these cases at far less – on average in the $3,500 to $4,500 range,” Sherman wrote.

The number of students sued last week is not the extent of abusers, Engebretsen said.

“We certainly could have filed many more suits,” she said.

In addition to the 405 students just added to the recording industry association’s radar, the association has sent letters to the presidents of 140 schools in 41 states. The list is unavailable to the public, Engebretsen said.

“The overwhelming majority of schools, thus far, have been extremely cooperative,” she said.