RIAA cites students for file-sharing

On average, RIAA targets individuals sharing 800 or more songs. So far, two U students have been targeted.

by Mehgan Lee

Last month, University officials provided the Recording Industry Association of America with the names of two students who were sharing copyrighted music using the University’s Internet Service Provider.

One of the students has since settled out of court with the association; the other’s case is unresolved.

The RIAA discovered the students’ illegal file-sharing on a peer-to-peer network last April, said Jonathan Lamy, RIAA spokesman. The association subpoenaed the University to obtain the identities of the individuals, he said.

The University’s information technology staff identified the students, said Lorie Gildea, University associate general counsel.

The University’s Office of the General Counsel “encouraged the attorneys for the RIAA to reach amicable resolutions with the students instead of dragging them through a lengthy court process,” Gildea said.

Although Lamy refused to provide the specifics of the University students’ settlement, he said the average settlement usually includes $3,000 in monetary damages and a written letter to the court promising to never engage in the offense again.

If the other student does not settle the case, the RIAA will file a new lawsuit identifying the defendant, Lamy said.

But “no case has gone to a full-fledged trial yet,” he said. “Our interest is in resolving the case before that. The objective is not to win a lawsuit, but to encourage fans to migrate to legitimate online music services.”

The University students were among 477 people served with civil action lawsuits in late April.

The RIAA routinely accesses peer-to-peer networks in search of individuals sharing music from the artists on their record labels, Lamy said. Generally, the more music individuals share, the more likely they will be a target for charges, he said.

The RIAA usually targets individuals sharing 800 or more songs, he said.

“But that is an average, it’s not a threshold number,” Lamy said. “It is illegal to share just one copyrighted song.”

Gildea urged University students to refrain from using unauthorized peer-to-peer services.

“University students have an obligation to comply with the law,” Gildea said. “That’s made very clear to them as part of the orientation process here.”