In its ongoing campaign to fight illegal sharing of digital music files, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has marked the launch of the 2007- 08 academic year by sending 403 pre-litigation settlement letters to 22 U.S. universities. Sent on behalf of major record companies, the letters allege evidence that students have used campus computer networks to illegally download copies of music files, a practice that constitutes copyright infringement.
With this latest round of letters, the RIAA has also renewed its college newspaper advertising campaign, which features full-page ads designed by college students. The ads encourage music fans to access online music legally and they inform students of the privacy, legal and security risks tied to illegal downloading.
“The good news is that students represent some of music’s biggest fans. Unfortunately, they too often turn to illegal sites for their music. The enormous damage compounded with every illegal download is alarming — thousands of regular, working class musicians and others out of work, stores shuttered, new bands never signed,” says Steven Marks, executive vice president and general counsel, RIAA.
“Those who choose to ignore great legal services and the law by acquiring music the wrong way risk a federal lawsuit that could include thousands of dollars in penalties. With so many simple, easy and inexpensive ways to enjoy music legally these days, there’s no excuse. Don’t risk it, pay for it,” Marks adds.
Schools whose students allegedly violated copyright infringement law include Arizona State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University and North Dakota State University. Each pre-litigation settlement letter informs the school of a forthcoming copyright infringement lawsuit against an individual student or staff member, and it asks university administrators to deliver the letter to the offending network user. The letter informs the individual that he or she can resolve copyright infringement claims at a discounted rate prior to the filing of a formal lawsuit.
The RIAA reports that it has developed a set of “best practices,” which come from the schools that have reduced piracy on their networks. The schools that have had the best results have launched specific reforms “that educate students on campus network use and enforcement policies, offer affordable legal alternatives that give students access to their favorite music and, most important, implement appropriate technological tools that protect the integrity of their networks,” according to the RIAA. “
The music industry continues to develop exciting new digital models that offer fans, including college students, their favorite music how they want it and where they want it,” Marks says.
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